Sea, Sand and Jewels: Morocco
Part 2: Essaouira
3 hours from Marrakech, Essaouira offers a treat. An escape. From the madness and mayhem of the souks to the rewards of fresh sea air, sights and sounds of the beach and the sea. This is a very welcome change in vibe, so much so, it could be in a different country.
In Morocco, time seems to slow, almost defying the natural pace of daily life. We're also here during Ramadan, meaning the days are a little more docile than normal and you only get to see the locals really do their thing after 9pm.
But for one day only, Essaouira takes our attention. It's characterful coastline, with ramparts, port and old medina are wonderful to explore. We'll only get a few hours, but over here it feels like a full day.
Starting in the port, the fish market gives a glimpse into everyday life - old fishing boats come in, followed by endless armies of seagulls. People standing around bartering for best prices and children playing in pockets of water and the smaller boats. It almost feels like a kids adventure park. High views are achievable as well, looking down over the whole show, well worth the few dirhams for the privilege.
Photographically, I’m spoiled - but using the Lytro sparingly means that I'm really getting the chance to pick out those details that take my eye from my iPhone. The instalenses are proving incredibly useful out here for gathering expansive wides and greater close up details. I have with me the 5x optical zoom, wide angle and macro attachments, along with my favourite - the iPhone's own panoramic feature. While I'm sure that most photographers wouldn't be caught dead without something that gives them greater control and undeniably better picture quality, there's something to be said about keeping it low key and unassuming.
Look around and there's everything to see, almost always accented with turquoise colouring.
Elsewhere, exploring the medina and its expectedly mazy streets gives you a more relaxed shopping experience - all the regular items make appearances, but high on the list is Argan oil - produced locally, boasting all manner of health benefits for the hair and skin.
This is only a day trip for us, but we passed enough riads and smaller hotels that would make a stay a wonderful experience. But we've sacrificed the privilege for more time elsewhere on the journey.
The next move on the compass takes us South East, and into the desert at 6am in PART 3
Tip: Play with photography, and if you're travelling with a desire to take a variety of looks and styles back with you, try everything - you'll find a technique you've never used before that works wonders!