Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunset in Essaouira
Monday, we left the Palais Salam and Taroudant behind, we head west to the coast and Essouaria. We go through the city of Agadir, which holds very little appeal from what we could see, but is a big beach & casino vacation spot for Europeans. Up the coast a bit more, through more argan tree/goat territory, and we reach the seaside town of Essouaria for lunch. I've got the name of it someplace, and while it certainly caters to the tourists, it was good food. All fried (but not greasy) -- calamari, sole, red snapper, and something else I know don't remember. Then to the hotel, the Hotel des Iles, right on the water and by the entrance to the medina.
As they say, location, location, location, and hate to say it, but that's all this place has going for it. Things have been a small comedy of errors. They didn't have a room for our guide, because they overbooked; they couldn't find our room key when we came back from a walk, and it turns out they gave it to another duo in our group, but it seems that ALL the keys open ALL the room doors. Great. The light above my bed didn't work, and while the wiring is clearing coming out of the wall, the bulb was dead. They came and replaced it, but then it turns out something else was wrong with it and they couldn't fix it til morning. Dinner was a huge buffet for us and the other tour bus of Israelis, a few other Americans here too. The buffet wasn't exactly stellar, with a lot of raw veggies that we cannot eat, some poorly cooked fish, and flavorless chicken. The pomme frits were the hit of the night, though actually, the desserts were good too.
We had the opportunity to walk around the medina for a bit before dinner. It does have a nice relaxed feel, and not the pressures to buy stuff like in the big cities. Old hippie, surfer town, fairly tranquil. My mother WAS offered 1000 camels, plus a cat named Mimi for me....
Tuesday, we took a quick drive over to a woodworking studio, which is one of the main crafts they are known for here. It was incredible to see the inlay work they do, I've never know how it was done! I think almost all of us walked out of there with some treasures. We had the rest of the day on our own. Wandered around the medina a bit more, and ate some very good thin crust pizza for lunch, a nice change of pace!
I've take too many cat photos! These were at one of the street-side shops.
We had our farewell dinner just inside the medina, at a place called Dar Loubane, which is owned by a French woman. On the heels of our great meal at the Riad Maryam, this too was one of our better meals (and the portions were just right!). We sat out on the courtyard, with portable heaters in the wings. We started with wine, olives, eggplant, tomato sauce, calamari w/ tomatoes, a nice pastilla, and a trio of tagines: lamb with apricots, beef with eggplant, and a firm white fish with caramelized onions & raisins. Monkfish kabobs appeared, as well as rice & sauteed squash. Dessert was a trio of chocolate mouse, different Moroccan cookies, and a creamy white sauce, sort of like melted ice cream. Back to the hotel for another night of seagulls squawking all through the night....