I travelled from Marrakesh to Essaouira with Mustafa, an approximately three-hour drive. Along the way, we saw many horse-drawn carts, which people in the smaller communities use for transport.

Essaouira, a captivating coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean, was known as Mogador until the 1960s, a name with Portuguese origins meaning small fortress. The town's history is rich and intriguing, with the construction of the Castelo Real of Mogador by the Portuguese King in 1506. However, the fortress fell to the local resistance of the Regraga fraternity just four years after its establishment in 1510.

Essaouira's history is a testament to its resilience, not just one of fortresses and resistance. The town stood firm despite facing numerous challenges from powers, including Spain, England, the Netherlands, and France, during the 16th century. It remained a haven for the export of sugar and molasses and as an anchorage for pirates, showcasing its ability to adapt and thrive in the face of adversity.

From 1770 until the end of the nineteenth century, Essaouira played a pivotal role as Morocco's principal port. It served as a gateway, offering the goods of the caravan trade to the world. The strategic location of the port, along the route that brought goods from sub-Saharan Africa to Timbuktu, then through the desert and over the Atlas Mountains to Marrakesh, was a critical factor in the King's choice of this port rather than the many others along the Moroccan coast.

Whew - that's the history portion of the blog!

Essaouira's Medina is a Unesco site. For fans of Game of Thrones, Essaouira was the locale for filming the home of the Army of the Unsullied.

So, how did I end up here? I am a member of Home Exchange. We have had some success with exchanges; getting something to work takes a lot of communication and organization. The idea is that you are willing to exchange your home with someone else who is a member. You can each stay at the other person's home simultaneously, or you can get points for allowing someone to stay at your home while you are elsewhere, or you can use points to stay at another member's home without an exchange. Luckily, Nicole was willing to take points so I could stay in her apartment for two weeks. (should you want to sign up for Home Exchange, please use my code, as we both get a discount. gayeandjohn-b6b11)

The accommodation was a true home away from home. Nicki's apartment, as depicted in the pictures, was accurately represented. She has created a cozy and comfortable space, and after staying for two weeks, I wanted more time there! The apartment is well-equipped with everything needed, including a large outdoor patio, resulting from being on the top floor, which is a delightful bonus, as long as you don't mind the 48 steps up. The condo has a washer and plenty of room on the patio to hang your clothes (and still have room to relax).

One of the best things about the condo is Nicki herself. She lives nearby when she is not travelling herself, and she took me under her wing and was very inclusive. Being a new widow who hasn't travelled much internationally solo in 35 years, this gave me a great start to a long trip. Thanks, Nicki!

She introduced me to several expats, and they invited me to lunch, which was in keeping with my relaxed requirements.

Some guy was drumming on the streets three mornings (not early). I climbed the stairs to the roof to better see what was happening.


I made the mistake of wearing socks, and on my way down after videoing the drummer, I managed to slip and fall down the stairs. That shocked me a little. Just before I left home, I wrenched my back by missing a step. I'm getting a complex about going downstairs! I never did find out what the drumming was about.

I used my time in Essaouira to relax, get a massage, and, as mentioned, have lunch with the expats!

I visited the Medina many times, just a 20-minute walk from the apartment. Medina is the Arabic word for city, and in Morocco, it has come to mean the city's historical centre. Essaouira's Medina, which borders the ocean, is one of the most beautiful in the country. I saw people sitting on the city walls, enjoying the fabulous view, loving life together, painting and contemplating life. I wandered around at various times on various days. Seeing herbs labelled Viagara for women and Viagara turbo was amusing - what is that? There are many cats everywhere.

On the outside of the walls are people selling their seafood. The gulls watch, hoping that remnants end up on the ground. So, so many boats, all blue.

And more pictures....

If you look closely at the picture at the top left, you can see that the women have spotted the camera and covered their faces.

Many of the locals took rides around the city in the carriages. It was the least expensive way to get around.

Another random bit of information I learned from Mohammad is that a widow can only remarry after four months and ten days have passed. This is to ensure that she is not pregnant.

There you go - lots and lots of pictures!

Would I go back? Yes, especially if I could stay at Nicki's place!

Back to Marrakesh!

Until next time.......

Subcribe - if you haven't.

Gaye Tims

My name is Gaye and I am travel junkie in need of a fix. I have been torn between travel, creative arts and the law. Now I am giving into my creative side by including travel and lifestyle in my blog.
Vancouver, BC, Canada