Local time: May 1, 2015
Longest tiring drive in a long time.
Rejoining the car at Marrakech station
On this day, we went from sea to mountain. It was a trip to enjoy the nature of Morocco. It was sunny all day long.
First of all, I checked out of the riad and picked up a taxi near the riad and drove to the railway station where I parked my car. 50DH. 50DH was the price I asked for, but I was told that a petit taxi would cost 20 to 30DH. I had to walk on the unpaved road to the main street, so it was OK.
Arriving at the station, I saw my car for the first time in two days and it was safe. I was worried about the parking fee (I parked by the station for two days), but it was only 50 DH, very cheap and surprising!
To the port town of Essaouira
After safely reuniting with the car, we headed for the port town of Essaouira. It takes about two hours from Marrakech to the west by car. The road to Essaouira is not a high speed road, but it is well paved, and we had a comfortable drive. On this day, we refueled in Marrakech right after our departure. It was a national holiday on May Day, but I was glad to see that many gas stations were open as usual.
The old town Medina is surrounded by the city wall, and we found a parking place in the space outside of it. By the way, by the way, there was a attendant (a street watchman) peculiar to Morocco by the example. On the contrary, it is safe.
The Medina of Essaouira, with its characteristic whitewashed houses, has been recognized as a World Heritage Site. The Medina of Essaouira, with its whitewashed houses, has been a World Heritage Site since prehistoric times, when it was a colonial city for Carthage and Rome. Today, it is known as a city of art, and perhaps because of its open atmosphere, it is ranked as one of the top cities that Moroccans want to visit (according to Globe-Trotter). As far as I could tell, there were many tourists in the city, but most of them were from Europe.
Well, it was just noon when we arrived and we were hungry, so we decided to have lunch in this town. Since it is a fishing port by the sea, we chose fish dishes for lunch. There are many restaurants in the city, so I was worried about where to go, but I decided to go to a restaurant run by a very kind man. I ordered the fish of the day on the grill as he recommended. I also ordered tuna salad (salad niçoise?) and couscous. and couscous. I’m still not tired of couscous.
Probably sea bass, it was delicious. The taste was a mixture of Italian and Moroccan flavors, I think. By the way, the degree of grilling was normal, and Italians might be better at this area, but it was not bad. It was delicious enough.
After a hearty meal, we went for a walk around the city. It is a very beautiful old town with a very European atmosphere. Just strolling around and taking pictures is enough to enjoy the city.
As it is a popular tourist destination, the souvenir shops seemed to be very well stocked. I think there were certainly many things that made me feel art. Among them, carpets were the most colorful and impressive.
We also went to the city wall by the sea. We saw some citizens sitting and relaxing on the cannon models that were set up facing the sea. Do they have their favorite cannons?
Along that sea wall, we ended up at the fishing port.
It reminds me of the harbor in Malta, with the bright blue ships lined up in a row.
From the gate at the entrance of the harbor, I went back to the city to see the old town and finished my sightseeing.
Over the Atlas Mountains to “Ait Ben Haddou
After the sightseeing tour of Essaouira, we had a long drive. From here, we will head back west to Marrakech, and then south from Marrakech over the Atlas Mountains to “Ait Ben Haddou”, located on the south side of the mountains. We will stay here today. Hopefully we can arrive before nightfall… As I mentioned earlier, the route to Marrakech was solid and smooth, with only a few traffic jams, but the route from Marrakech to Ait Ben Haddou, crossing the Atlas Mountains from the north, was the hardest route I’ve ever experienced, even when driving abroad.
And it was an even harder trip because I had just recovered from the effects of a food poisoning a few days earlier, and my physical strength was not yet at full strength.
Just past the outskirts of Marrakech it’s such a good road.
It gets harder and harder…. The curves were tight, but the road was not paved enough in some places and it was very hard to drive.
In addition, there is no overtaking lane in one way, and there is only one main route to go south, so if there is a big bus or a truck in front of you, you will be stuck in the middle of the road, and it was very stressful drive. You can’t get out of the way in a place like this.
Even so, the bus in this picture was driving really fast…
At the highest point, the altitude exceeds 2,000 meters. Because I have to concentrate on driving, I can’t take photos as I expected. Or rather, it is impossible. (By the way, the photos of the drive in this post were taken by my wife in the passenger seat). I wanted to stop the car at the highest point of the pass or something to take a break and take photos, but it was already around 7:00 p.m., so I had to give up crying. I’m sorry I can’t introduce it.
This area is supposed to be quite high in elevation.
If I had more time and was in good shape, I could have stopped the car at a good point and taken some pictures.
Nevertheless, I was able to drive while being impressed by the grandeur of nature seen from this rugged road.
It was already dark when we arrived at Ait Ben Haddou.
Somehow we managed to get through the tight Atlas Mountains Road and arrived at Ait Ben Haddou, where we would stay today. The sun had already set and it was pitch black. But I’m glad to have arrived safely.
The hotel staff was very kind and came to pick us up at the entrance. I think they were worried about us because we were late.
They prepared our meal as soon as we arrived. It was a huge amount of brochette. It was really delicious.
I was so tired that the pictures were appropriate (laughs).
But still, it’s hot! There is no air conditioning in the room. The south of the Atlas Mountains is a desert area, so I wondered if it would get cold at night. I was very worried about it, but I opened the window and slept, and indeed it became much cooler in the middle of the night, so I was able to sleep well because I was tired.
Tomorrow we will visit a nearby traditional Moroccan town called “Kasbah” including Ait Ben Haddou. (To be continued)