Bucket List: Visiting The Tranquility Of Essaouira By The Sea

Bucket List: Visiting The Tranquility Of Essaouira By The Sea

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I’ve found that one of the best ways to appreciate the significance of any place is to attach it to a story. Before Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, we had the likes of Homer, Marco Polo and Ernest Hemingway who spun tales of places far and wide enchanting their readers and opening to stories and descriptions of places far beyond their reach.

I remember watching a scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where they rode through a rocky passageway opening up to a building carved into the mountains. When I found that it was a real place in Jordan called Petra, it became one of places I had to visit when I began traveling the world. When I finally did, it did not disappoint. The place was amazing by its own merit, but it was more than that to me because I was walking in the footsteps of Indy.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been to grand palaces and forts in India with so much historical value that did nothing for me. It was just another palace or fort that was “just like the other palace or fort” I just saw in the last town. That’s not really the best attitude, but it’s a honest reality for a lot of traveler. And it’s a little sad.

Stand Still And Take It In

To avoid this, I try to just stand still in those places and pretend that I’ve been transported back in time. I imagine the lives of those people who lived in the palaces beyond the stiff and formal portraits that hung on the walls. I imagine their daily routines, the secrets they kept and the ones that spread through the mouths of gossiping servants. For just a moment, the place comes to life because I feel like I’m seeing a story come to life. Luckily for you, if you’re reading this, you’ve come across Essaouira by way of Game of Thrones.

The best guides I’ve had encountered regardless of the tour have always brought a place to life with stories, rather than just facts. HBO’s done that for us now with locations in this beautiful city serving as the fictional city of Astapor, where Daenerys, Queen of the Andals, First Of Her Name, etc, freed the people from the slavers and then proceeded to burn those slavers to a crisp.

That’s the image I want you to have in your head when you visit Essaouira and damn did I wish I the show had come out before I came here.

Relaxing in Essaouira

Fun Fact:

A little known factor if you’re not a complete Game of Thrones nerd: the town of Astapor where Daenerys Targaryen comes into control of her Unsullied soldiers was filmed in the seaside town of Essaouira in Morocco, using the Medina as an actual set rather than creating it as a CGI backdrop. Now I want to go back.

So back to Essaouira, and how it was for me. Before Game of Thrones, this was a quaint seaside town that I didn’t expect to find in Morocco. It was a great place to unwind and relax after a whirlwind few weeks of haggling in the souks, Sleeping in the Sahara, and getting Lost in Fes.

I walked the streets of this walled town and ate fresh fish, cleaned and cooked right in front of me. I napped on hammocks staring at the clear blue skies from the open-aired terrace of my hostel. I watched families take their children out swimming when the sun began to dip and boys playing soccer, kicking up sand as they zig and zagged around each other. It reminded me that despite our geographical differences, life carries on in very similar ways wherever you are. I hope that you can still find a bit of that.

Vendors in Essaouira, Morocco

Old woman sitting at the gateway to the Medina in Essaouira, Morocco

Herbs and vegetables in baskets in Essaouira, Morocco

Herbs and vegetables in baskets in Essaouira, Morocco

Fresh fish caught in Essaouira, Morocco

Fish Market in Essaouira, Morocco

Fresh fish on ice at the fish market in Essaouira, Morocco

Old man sitting outside the walls of the Medina in Essaouira, Morocco

Passage into the town of Essaouira in Morocco

Child Playing On Beach In Essaouira Morocco

Updated on January 5, 2022


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