On the last day in Essaouria I left the hotel about 5:30am and went walking around and took some photos of the amazing doors in the city.
Here is a selection of them.
We did not sleep at the Auberge but we spend a couple of hours resting and wasting away the afternoon prior to our Camel journey into the desert.
The Auberge is probably in the 3 star range, but it was a great way to spend an afternoon.
We travelled from Erfoud to Dunes D'or in a 4x4 vehicle - we did not know how far it was and it was infact quite a way, approx 20 KM over some very rough but very flat terrain.
We have some great photos of our travel on the camels into the desert and here are a few of them.
This is a page from their home page http://www.aubergedunesdor.com/
I got up early about 7am and went for a walk to see the early morning in Essaouira.
When I opened the door to the Riad Dar Loulema it was quite disgusting with lots of litter everywhere.
It got worse as I got further into the tunnel.
I walked along IBN Nafiaa, and went into a hotel Pam & I saw last night called Hotel Sahara.
It looked quite good and I asked to see a room, it looked better to me than the Riad and it was only 300 DH per night.
I then went towards the port, and went for a walk around the walls of the medina away from the port.
I got some nice photo’s that show the rough Atlantic Ocean.
Returning near the port I saw a camera crew and found that it was Chef Wan’s crew setting up for a shoot. They were going to cook Fish Tajine. I waited around for a few minutes and then went back to the Riad to see Pam.
Pam & I went down for breakfast which was nice, but typical, bread, juice, jam, and croissant.
After breakfast I went to see the owner of the Riad and said that we did not want to stay any longer and paid for 1 night which ended up at 1045 DH, which was quite steep!
We then went back to our room and cleaned up and left – we only had to walk about 100-150 meters to the Hotel Sahara.
Pam loved the new room, and it had a nice view over the IBN Nafi road. The windows opened and we had a nice cool room. The room was more spacious and light. We both enjoyed it a lot more than the Riad Dar Loulema.
We moved in and then went for a walk along the beach front. The beach front has quite a few private areas for hotel guests, and others who want to pay 25 DH for a seat.
We walked along and then found the booze shop that was closed the day before, it is off the main road and off a side street that was made of gravel. I am not sure of the name but I believe it was just off a street called R.P. Lalla Amina
We bought 3 bottles of wine, a white for Pam which was mostly Sauvignon Blanc, and Uni Blanc, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and some other red.
Total Price 112 DH for the 3 bottles – all untested as I write this!
The day starts out good with Pam & I packing our things to travel from Marrakesh to Essaouira. We have a simple breakfast, bread, jam, and juice + I had espresso coffee. We had arranged last night with Erik the owner of Riad Mapia to use his driver to take us to the bus station at 10am. He said the cost would be 50 DH, which was slightly over what we could have done with a barrow boy and petit taxi which would have been 40 DH but the possibility of more hassles.
10:10am I ask the house keeper where is our ride? she did not know anything about it!
She phoned Erik who must have said to ring a taxi and for us to get our own way to the Square. This was not good since we paid for a service which was not done. I went outside and found a guy with a barrow and asked if he will take us to the square and I would pay him 20 DH. He agreed and we loaded up, the taxi that was arranged was not in the square or not where we could find it in 10 seconds, so we got another taxi and agreed a price of 20DH.
Put the bags in, and off we went, so all up we paid 90 DH - a completely wasted 50 DH to Erik - almost $10 NZD.
We got to the bus station at 10:35, and we not sure if the bus had left or not. It had not since it was scheduled to leave at 11:00, but our ticket had something about 10:30 on it. We waited around, and then everyone put there bags onboard, we waited since we had some fragile things and wanted to put our bags on last or close to it.
When we went to put the bags on we were told that we needed to have baggage receipts and we had to go and buy them. They were very slow and again we thought we may have missed the bus. We did not miss the bus, the baggage receipts were 5DH per bag.
After 1 hour we stopped for what Pam heard was a 10 minute stop. We got out and strolled around and bought a drink- 10DH instead of the bottle Price of 3DH. We did not leave for 40 minutes; it looked like the driver went for lunch.
We ended up getting into Essaouira at 2pm, so 3 hours all up. We were told it would be 2.5 hours. So I suppose the 40 minute break instead of 10 counts for that.
Our new Riad called Riad Dar Loulema sent us an email yesterday saying that they would send a barrow boy with a sign with our name on it. This did not happen!
We had to arrange for a barrow boy to help us, another 20DH.
Pam and I checked in to our Riad after having to walk along a sort of tunnel. Not so bad during the day, but at night a real dive with weirdo’s hanging around.
We then went to our room, pretty small, no real niceties, like phone, TV, fridge, air conditioning, fan, wireless Internet, so basically room with bed, small couch, and toilet, shower and vanity.
Overall pretty expensive at 95 EURO per night we thought!
We then went for a walk around and went to the port area, stinking fish smells everywhere and seagulls, but this is what we expected and the gulls are what we have seen in pictures. Also if you stand upwind from the fisherman gutting fish then you do not smell them.
Took a few photos and then went for a walk along the market area and looked at some nice wooden products in the small shops around the Ramparts.
We walked around to the SupraTours office and purchased our return ticket to Marrakesh and onwards to Casablanca by train.
The trip to Marrakesh was 65 DH each on the bus (2nd class - they only have 2nd class), and the train from Marrakesh to Casablanca was 125 DH each in 1st Class.
The bus leaves at 12pm and the train at 3pm, so I hope the bus trip back is not 3 hours.
After this Pam & I caught a petite taxi to take us to a super market to buy some wine. The cab driver did not speak English and so it was pretty much hit & miss. He took us to one but it did not sell wine or any booze at all.
We asked him to take us to somewhere that sold vino (wine), and in the end he knew what we meant, although it took a few minutes. We ended up in a small street, but the place was closed because it was Friday afternoon when Moslem people go to pray. So we took the taxi back to the medina. We then returned to our room and rested before dinner.
We went back out at 7pm to find some dinner. We choose a restaurant AFTASS not far away and ordered the following:
Grilled mixed seafood consisted of Calamari, Prawns, Sole, Tiny Sardines.
All were crap!
Calamari was not even recognizable.
The sardines were pretty horrible as well, and we may as well add the grilled fish to the same category.
The man came to ask us if we had finished, I told him it was very BAD, BAD BAD BAD
I then said BAD COOK, and this is CRAP food
I then threw a piece of leather calamari on the floor ( a cat quickly stole it )
The bill was probably 105 DH including a drink. I gave him 65 DH and said he was lucky to get that and we walked out.
This restaurant was called AFTASS and was along Place Moulay Hassan.
We then went for a small walk around and then got a drink and came back to the Riad.
About 10 minutes after that a band started up next door really loudly. It reverberated through the room, and in the end after 15 minutes I went downstairs and told the staff that I was unhappy staying here with this noise.
They phoned the owner and I spoke to him and said that I will pay for tonight but we are going to move out tomorrow.
It is now 10pm and the music has started up again.
So we will be looking for somewhere else to stay for tomorrow and the night after.
Hopefully tomorrow will be better!!!!!!
Today I woke in the Sahara Desert at 4:45am, since the sun was soon to rise I got up, and walked up the large dune near our tent. I only got about 20 meters high as the sand was very soft, gaining 1 foot for every 2-3 taken. I sat there and waited for the sun to rise in the cool morning.
At 5:30am the sun started to become visible in the sky and the dunes started showing their colours again.
I stayed there for about another 15 minutes taking in the view and snapping pics.
I then went back to the tent and Pam got up and we walked around the area taking some more pictures.
Apparently only the white ones bite!
One of our more mellow camels
We then returned to our tent and had breakfast ( bread, butter, jam + slices of orange and Mint Tea )
There were two small boys who had some wares to sell and Pam bought a few little necklaces for 20DH each.
We then departed the Sahara on our camels (6:30am), we returned to Auburge Dunes D’Or where we met with our Guide and we headed back to Erfoud in the 4x4 vehicle.
The outside of the Auberge
We travelled by 4x4 from our hotel to Auburge Dunes D’Or. The road was good for about 6 KM and then we were off the road for about another 20 km. The Auberge is about 12 KM from the town of Merzouga.
We arrived at about 2:30pm and it was decided that it was too hot to leave right away and we would leave at about 5:30pm.
We basically just rested in the Auberge for 3 hours which was nice and cool.
As the time approached Pam was getting nervous, she did not like the idea of being on a camel.
When the time came we went outside and met our camels and then we were on them. No messing around. We were very lucky as there was only Pam and I on our trip. So it was like our private journey.
It is quite easy to get on the camel, just sit on the seat, but when it gets up it is another story.
The camels front legs move a bit then his back legs go up so you end up facing and leaning down holding on hard, then his front legs come up and you are horizontal and ready for walking.
The Camelier, Mohab (person who leads the camel) walks the whole time; he walked with bare feet and did not worry about anything biting him.
We leisurely strolled over the many dunes, the camelier walk taking the easiest route for the camels so there are not too many rises and falls, but there are still a lot of these, maybe it is for the people on the camels?
The dunes were very beautiful at that time of day and especially as the sun was setting at about 7pm
I was taking a lot of photos so hopefully we will end up with some nice shots. Pam was holding on for grim death and had bruises to show for it.
Just before sunset we got off our camels to watch the sun come down, it was truly a wonderful sight.
Pam was moaning, she wanted to get going before the sun set, but did not want to get back on the camel, did not want to walk, did not want to be out in the dark. So we waited until the sun set ( I came 1/2 way round the world to see this).
We then got back on our camels, and Pam held on for grim death again.
I was quite relaxed on my camel, just being cautious when going down a dune as you are forced to the front of the camel, and the camel often sinks into the sand a wee bit when doing downhill.
I pulled out my MP3 player and started listening to some low groove music, and just really enjoyed the moment.
After about 25 minutes we came to the site with Tents, the sky was nearly dark now and we got off our camels.
There was a square of small tents, not very high, maybe 3 feet or so with a clearing, the centre about 20 feet x 20 feet.
Mohab bought out mats and placed them around and placed a table in the middle. It was now very dark and a kerosene lamp was bought out. It provided a nice ambient light around us.
About 30 minutes later we were eating bread and a tajine and berber whisky (mint tea) that Mohab had made for us.
There were no knives or forks, we were eating berber style, with our fingers.
You rip some bread off and use it to scoop up the food, there were two rules
We finished up with slices of melon and oranges.
After dinner we were asked if we wanted to sleep in the tent or under the stars. We choose the stars. They removed the table and placed 4 mattresses 2x2 down and put a sheet down, and 5 large blankets on top.
It was very nice, sleeping under the stars, the only problem was the moon was out so you did not see as many stars as if the moon was not showing.
A very nice ending to a great day looking up at the stars and moon.
Today is the last day in Fes, in fact we were up early as we were going to be picked up by a guide for Experience IT Tours to take us on the next part of our journey.
We mentioned to Jennifer the owner of the Riad that we were being met by our driver/guide and she said that a lot of people did not know where her Riad was and often they do not turn up.
We were thinking of how we would be able to contact the company when we were told our guide/driver had arrived.
We have a great time in Fes, and the Riad Dar Roumana was great.
Our driver/guide was Mr Namir, and he was a nice man with a silver Mercedes which meant that our trip would be done in style.
We began our journey to Midelt at about 8:45am after saying good bye to Jennifer and Sebastian.
We stopped for lunch at a small village and Pam has Tajine, and I had BBQ Beef, both were served with Bread, and Mint Tea.
The butcher owned the meat and restaurant part and the BBQ. So we only had to pay the one man for everything.
The total bill was 65 DH
We leave Fez this morning in about 15 minutes. We have booked a driver to take us to Midelt, Erfoud, Merzouga (Dessert), and on to Marrakesh
We will probably not have Internet Access until we get to Marrakesh in about 4 days.
A walk long the souk bring you to shops selling everything from Meat, Vegetables, Spices, Watches, Ceramics, and pretty much anything in between.
This vendor is sellking Dates, Almonds, and Apricots + many other things on his shelves.
This young girl was on a stand selling rose water in bottles
The animals are the main way to move goods around the Medina, this one was carrying wool from the Tannerie.
Pam showing off the bread or is it really the meat!
Meat is hung and not refridgerated, and you select from the vendor by what is on display.
Pam and I went for a stroll along the small streets to get to the Souk ( Market )
Along the way we met Chef Wan - he was filming along the street with his entourage of camera men and Ministry of Tourism officals.
We got a photo with him
For more details about chef Wan see http://www.chef-wan.com.my/
We met Chef Wan on the flight from Dubai to Casablanca, he is a popular TV Chef