Text & Photography by Stephanie Lagopoulos
When the traffic, scents, and bartering of Marrakech finally became too overwhelming, we boarded a bus for the seaside town of Essaouira, which sits on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean in western Morocco. This quaint little town is known for its surfing due to high winds and being home to an 18th Century town linking Morocco to Europe for trade purposes.
Like Marrakech, Essaouira also has a Medina (old town), previously named Mogador and the bus from Marrakech drops you right outside these old city walls, which lure you in to walk the historic lanes and escape the high winds that these walls hold out. Upon disembarking the bus, we began our search for lunch and stumbled upon Chez Yassine down the small alleyway of Rue Zayan. We were a little bit early for their daily lunch service but were greeted by the friendly owner as if we were family and invited inside anyway. The proud owner of this small establishment asked us to step over to the oven and in English, went through several different tagines (he only makes a small selection daily, and when he sells out, lunch is over). The tagine is a Berber dish from North Africa and is a combination of meat, dried fruit, and spices, named for the domed style pot that it is cooked in. We ate tagines daily on our four-day trip of Morocco and this tagine was without question, the best. The ingredients were fresh, the meat was tender, and the pairing of sweet and savory was exactly as it should be.
After lunch, it was back to the souks of Essaouira for some bartering and then a walk along the beach wall and over to the port. The port was previously one of the most important in the country but today it is no longer commercial other than for fishing. We saw several fisherman bringing in their daily catch as we stopped off for a cup of Moroccan tea and coffee before heading to relax on the sand beach for a few hours. After watching the wind surfers get tossed around in the Ocean, we made our way back to the bus stop and coasted back to Marrakech feeling much more relaxed than we had on our way out in the morning.
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