A Travellerspoint blog

The jewellery conundrum

sunny

Today was a bit of a nothing day. Our transport to Marrakech did not leave to 3:15pm so we had the morning in Essouaira as free time. As this is only a smallish fishing town I had pretty much seen it all yesterday. I took the available time to watch Game of Thrones, season 5, episode 1. Afterwards I made my way down to the port area which was used in GoT season 3 for part of the Yunkai scenes including when Dany freed the slaves :)

Once I ventured out of the room, I went back down to the fish market to watch the daily catch be brought in followed by some jewellery shopping for the girls back home. I really am out of my league when it comes to this. At least I should now be welcome back home! The afternoon was spent on the public bus to Marrakech.

Twirling hat

Twirling hat


Essaouira old city wall

Essaouira old city wall

Flake for lunch??

Flake for lunch??


Morning stroll

Morning stroll

Posted by adtamo 11:13 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

A fishy day in Essaouira

sunny

Hooray, a travel free day. We spent the day in Essaouira, a fishing town on the Atlantic coast which reminds me a bit of parts of Malta, in particular some of the architecture and the blue fishing boats. The morning saw the group join a guided tour of the old area of Essaouira, complete with the obligatory 'factory' visits.

For lunch the group purchased some freshly caught seafood from the fish market, which included some John Dory, Flounder, Sardines, Sea Bass, Calamari & Octopus. Once our shopping was complete we made our way to a local restaurant where our haul was cooked us fresh on the spot. I'm still salivating now, dare I say the best seafood meal I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

The afternoon presented some overdue free time which allowed me to complete some overdue souvenir shopping for people back home.

Looking through the peephole

Looking through the peephole

Essaouira old city

Essaouira old city

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

Fish eyes

Fish eyes

Bread

Bread

Colourful powders

Colourful powders

Sunset over Essaouira rooftops

Sunset over Essaouira rooftops

Posted by adtamo 12:25 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

A precious place

I dream of jenie

all seasons in one day

Friday1
This morning I was greeted by a beautiful sunrise over Ait Ben Haddou, which could be seen from my balcony window. After the best breakfast of the trip, though I am still craving some cereal, we were back on the road making our way towards the High Atlas Mountains. The scenery was spectacular as the road wound its way up to the desolate Tizi n’Tichka Pass (2260m) leaving behind the arid lands of the Sahara. The coastal side of the High Atlas range receives much more rain and as we dropped altitude the landscape soon turned green with fertile soils containing agricultural crops and plenty of spring wildflowers, including red poppies, purple irises and yellow something that looked like weeds to me ☺ The days journey ended at Imlil where we left the mini bus, packed our overnight bag onto a mule then undertook the 1 hour trek up to the mountain village of Aroumd (1900m elev.) in the Toubkal National Park for the night. This surely must be the Switzerland of Nth Africa
The view from our hotel balcony

The view from our hotel balcony


Toubkal National Park 1

Toubkal National Park 1

Lunch is cooking

Lunch is cooking

Saturday
The morning saw us have the option of a 3.5 hour trek up to 2400m for views of Mt Toubkal (Nth Africa’s highest peak at ~4200m) or a shorter, easier walk through the nearby valley. 3 of our group accepted the challenge so again we were up early only to be greeted by a thick fog. We decided to walk despite the conditions with visibility lucky to be 50m. The path took us through blossoming apple and cherry orchards, past still bare oak trees and evergreen juniper bushes. As we climbed up towards our destination, there was the occasional break in the mist allowing us a brief glimpse of the snow-capped ranges before the fog would soon again obscure the view. As we continued to climb my mind wandered to Lord of the Rings and I imagined we were climbing the Misty Mountains, and I’m sure that hidden by the sound of the rushing waters in the below valley I could hear the faint whispers of ‘ My preccciousss’.

Our guide assured us the weather would clear by the time we reached our destination but as we closed in his promise seemed hopeful at best. Incredibly within 10 min the conditions went from thick fog to blue skies with perfect visibility and was the scenery was breathtaking. We were surrounded by snow capped peaks in a deep rock valley. Our destination saw us reach a small outpost which included a shrine which local people believe contains a jin (genie). They believe if you sacrifice a goat in the shrine then the jin will cleanse your soul of evil thus clearing sickness or improving fertility. This is still practiced today, which was clear as we descended the mountain as some people on Mules made their way up to the shrine with a goat strapped in the carry pack. The guide advised people with mental illness often carry out the sacrifice to rid themselves of the evil spirits. I’m just glad I was not there for the sacrifice! I wondered if I sacrificed 1,000 magpie supporters would this sate the jin to rid the AFL of it’s evil and grant a Bulldogs premiership ☺.

The trek back down under clear skies was magnificent with the valley showing us all it had hidden on our upwards journey. Back at base, we joined the rest of the group for an early lunch followed by the 1hr trek back down to our mini bus. The afternoon saw us drive for 5 hours to the coastal windswept town of Essaouira.

Toubkal National Park 2

Toubkal National Park 2

Watch out for the headless horseman

Watch out for the headless horseman

peek-a-boo

peek-a-boo

Tea is served

Tea is served

Posted by adtamo 22:33 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Roc' the Kasbah's

sunny

You knew it was coming it was just a matter of when ;}

A chilly start to the day saw us leaving the Todra Gorge region onto our destination for the day, Ait Benhaddou. The road took us through the Draa Valley, also known as the 'land of the 1000 Kasbah's', consisting of both crumbling old mud brick relics overgrown by date palms and the more contemporary pinkish versions. As we passed through the Draa Valley I located The Clash song 'Rock the Casbah' on my iPhone and played it over the mini bus sound system.

First stop was at a local weekly market with the usual colour of the fruit & vegetables. The added attraction in Morocco is the inclusion of dates and damn they were tasty :) The afternoon was spent exploring the crumbling 7th century Ait Benhaddou Kasbah which has been used in movies such as Indiana Jones 3, Gladiator and more recently Game of Thrones season 3 for some of Khalessi's scenes. This evening we had a cous cous cooking demonstration followed by a delicious chicken & vegetable cous cous for dinner.

Ait Benhaddou

Ait Benhaddou

Tangines for sale

Tangines for sale


Spice colours

Spice colours

Posted by adtamo 13:16 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Mo'Roc'n'Rollin on a Gorge-ous hike

Up early this morning, well by Intrepid standards, for an 8:00am start. 4 out of our group of 16 signed up up a hardish 10km walk through and over Todra Gorge. Todra Gorge is 300m at its highest point and only 10m wide at it's narrowest point. I was nervous starting out hoping my improved left foot would not give me problems during the hike. I am pleased to say it did not. The first 2 hours was mostly up following a 'path' that was just loose rocks. This made the going very difficult as the ground kept shifting under almost every step, hence the bad 'Mo'roc'n'rollin' pun. The unstable surface made going down later even harder. The views were outstanding only marred by some kit in the valley.

Near the top we stopped at a nomad dwelling for some Thyme tea. Why is it that I enjoy Bedouin tea in Jordan, Chai in India, Mint & Thyme tea in Morocco but all tea back home in Australia sucks! The nomad family were so kind, especially since this was not a planned visit. The mother was making goat butter using the goat skin shaking method as T & I saw on The Amazing Race. We each got to nurse a kid goat which was so cute. This was a memorable, authentic experience. Afterwards we continued to make our was carefully down the gorge to our Moroccan berber pizza lunch. The afternoon was spent lazing around the hotel.

Todra Gorge

Todra Gorge

Making butter

Making butter

Posted by adtamo 08:49 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

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