Essaouira has far too many vowels (in fact all of them), double its consonants and like its name the place is unusual. In fact it's fair to say it far exceeded our expectations.

The port and old Medina are fortified, the city walls on the north bastion climb 20 meters straight out of the crashing Atlantic waters, old cannons point westward through crenellations, these are views film sets are made of.

There is a more laid back feel here than Marrakech, exploring the Medina is a relaxed enjoyable affair with very little "hassle", certainly nothing which can't be handled with a smile and a la shokran (no thank you). Each night's pre-dinner amble rewards with surprises, interesting artisan shops, art exhibitions, unusual architecture and Arabic culture full on in the souks. This is a very French resort though many visitors are from Maroc, Essaouira is I think Marrakech's Brighton.

For restaurants, explore the alleys and passages by following the many Riad... or Dar... signs. Whilst at first daunting, many excellent restored courtyards and homes can be found hidden away here, you will not go wrong with the marvelous Passage 24, Aude will welcome you in French or English and introduce her menu personally. We ate here twice and gave us by far our best meal in Morocco and we had many good ones, including Le Cinq at Riad Madada Mogador.

The constant sea breeze makes for bearable days and cooler nights, a welcome relief from the heat of Marakech. For Kathy and I, the temperature on an evening was perfect for short sleeved shirts. It was odd though to see the Moroccans wrapped up in jumpers and coats!

A week is too much in Marakech, too full on, too hard. Sharing your time with Essaouira will provide an extra depth to this facinating country.

In the morning we're back to Marakech for our last night before home.
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