We rolled into Essaouira on the SupraTours bus from Marrakech and felt the ocean tugging. This laid back beach town has a wonderful maritime history and culture exquisitely preserved in the port and Medina. The setting is storybook. Perched on rocks jutting out into the blue Atlantic, the walls bear witness to countless storms and sieges through the centuries. The Ramparts and old Dutch cannons overlook the bay from the Medina in breathtaking swaths of beauty. Blue on white give buildings a Greek Isle persuasion matched by a complementary pace of life.
The working port is bustling with activity and a prelude to the expansive courtyard entrance to the walled city. Once inside, old and new mix seamlessly into a visual delight. Artisans, restaurants and services provide travelers with a great variety of things to see and do. Kate went off to the Azur Spa for a traditional hammam and massage while I ventured into the narrow alleys to scout for a lunch spot.
This is a very manageable Medina. I did let myself get lost and it wasn't hard. Unlike Fes, where you might as well have your mail forwarded if you take a wrong turn, the Medina at Essaouira is a simple delight to explore on your own terms. Lots of photo ops on the high walls with an impressive view of Iles Purpuraires and its ancient ruins out in the bay. Worthy of UN Heritage site status and genuine in nature, Essaouira is really relaxed and wonderful.