Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Chic in Morocco: Funky Old Medina

I originally intended to post about my trip to Morocco in chronological order. The first oasis resort at which we stayed, while gorgeous, didn't seem like a true reflection of the country so I'm going to start with the medina in Essaouira.  I will also be putting together a "chic travelers guide to Morocco" on what to pack, where to visit and what to expect.  My Eyewitness Travel Guide was handy but left out a few key details that will hopefully help you plan an amazing trip to Morocco.

The town of Essaouria is a walled harbor city located on the Atlantic coast. It was  called Mogador meaning "the wall" by the Portuguese who created a trading and military base in the city in the 16th-century. Essaouira was actually founded in the 7th century but it was French architect Cornut who laid out the plan for the town itself between 1760 and 1764. 

Essaouira is now a popular resort destination due to its pleasant weather and great surfing.  It had rained right before we arrived making it a bit muddy but after a brief shower the next day, the sun came out and we enjoyed a beautiful day exploring the medina.  As with all medinas in Morocco, it is a labyrinth of winding streets where you can buy spices, fresh fruit, and hand crafts like tooled leather, metalwork, wooden pieces, and painted pottery.  You can also spot lots of cats who are owned by the shopkeepers making the city completely free of rodents. Enjoy!

Oranges and clementines are plentiful in Morocco.

We loved the small size of the bananas which are also sold everywhere in Morocco.

Not sure what these were but treats and desserts are also very popular.  Many are made with orange blossom water which I later decided was not my favorite flavor.  While Moroccans eat a lot of sugar, we never saw anyone overweight.  This is probably due to the fact that everything else they eat is fresh, local and free range.  They also do a lot of walking and manual labor and don't sit in front of a computer all day.

More fruit.

This is a cart full of salt.  It has a different texture and I regret not buying any in Morocco.

As with the mosque I posted on my first day, patterned tiles are seen everywhere in Morocco.

The colors of the spice stands were gorgeous.

Yummy dried apricots.

Golden raisens.


In the medina, I saw a lot of barber shops for men.  Cleanliness is very important in the Islamic faith both physically and spiritually.  We partook of a traditional hammam on the trip and took home the black soap, clay mask and exfoiliating mits.

More amazing tile patterns.

Les chats.  French is widely spoken in Morocco in addition to Arabic so brush up before your trip.  It comes in handy because not everyone is fluent in English although it is also widely spoken.

Leather slippers were a popular purchase in Morocco.

I kind of regret not buying one of these toys.

Photos by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic

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