After a long week of midterms and checking out classes at Moulay Ismail University, we finally reached our midterm program trip to Marrakesh and Essaouira!
Day 1: We met up at 7 am in Meknes to grab the bus that would take us to our first stop, Marrakesh. After a few stops for food and bathroom breaks we eventually reached our hotel and got into our rooms around 3 pm. Luckily our hotel was only a few blocks away from the other location of the stir fry restaurant I had loved in Casa, so we grabbed lunch there before relaxing at the hotel for a few hours before dinner at Marrakesh’s main square, Jam’a al-Fna. After some difficulty in finding a corkscrew (the wine store we found for some reason didn’t carry them…), my friends and I closed out the night with a few bottles of wine and an episode of Gilmore Girls, which was a perfect way to end a long day of travel.
Day 2: We started off Sunday morning with a tour of Marrakesh - our tour guide spent most of the time walking us around the old Jewish quarter of the city (called the Mellah) and talking to us about the history of Moroccan Jews. The tour got pretty awkward when we stopped at a barbershop so the guide could point at the owner and tell us that he was Jewish, but then he took us to the Saadian Tombs and the Bahia Palace, both of which had amazing architecture that we got to stand around and admire for a bit.
After the tour we got lunch as a group at a women’s cooperative that focused on teaching local women skills like cooking that could help them reach financial independence. Once the group activities were over, Caroline and I left to explore the souq in the old city where we were both able to stock up on gifts and souvenirs to bring home in December. After returning to the hotel to get ready for dinner we realized that the Indian place we wanted to go to was closed, so we ended up heading back to the stir fry restaurant to get one more serving of tofu before leaving the city.
Day 3: Once more, we were off early on Monday morning to head to the next city since Essaouira is another 3-4 hours away from Marrakesh by bus. After grabbing lunch at a cute pasta place with only 4 tables, I rested at the hotel before a group dinner, after which a few friends and I grabbed drinks at the hotel restaurant before heading to bed.
Day 4: On our first full day in Essaouira, we took another guided tour in the morning. Walking around the fishing port was probably my least favorite part of the trip since it involved looking at a lot of dead animals, but once we moved past that section of town I found Essaouira super beautiful.
After the tour, I went to a vegetarian restaurant in town with the 2 other vegetarians on the program as well as a few other friends. We got to enjoy amazing sandwiches and super fresh fruit smoothies in a cute little courtyard in the old city.
I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering through town and admiring the art scene - Essaouira has a really cool hippy, artsy feel, so I loved just wandering and exploring new beautiful places within the city.
That evening, we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant where I had good ravioli for the first time in 4 months! The only ravioli you can buy here is made with dried cheese that stays really hard when you cook it, so I was super excited to see a lemon ricotta tortellini on this menu. The restaurant also had live music and great desserts, making it the perfect way to end the night.
In the next blog post I’ll talk more about the rest of our time in Essaouira!