On a long sandy strip of Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Essaouria, is the kind of place you can imagine Lawrence of Arabia riding in to off the desert, though these days you’re more likely to see the skies over head as he reaches the ocean filled with kitesurfers. A protected natural harbour has made Essouira an important trade port and supported its massive market, which is still around, in slightly different form, today. The port was originally protected by a fortress, with a town surrounding it, but it became a fully fledged city in the 18th Century, but the lovely old fort – the name Es –saouira actually means ‘beautifully designed small fort’, is still one of the main attractions, as well as the medinas. The labyrinth of streets has been famously recorded in photos and on film by many and is a delightful tangle of treasure, and is a nightmare for cars so visitors are treated to similar pathways to those of the sugar sea pirates who influenced the layout of the town.
The beach is long, curving and quiet and the hotels – generally – more boutique one offs than Travelodge, so the vibe is so far more independent traveler than tour group. The streets are too narrow for those big tour busses.
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