Medieval Medinas, Atlas at Altitude and Sunsets at Essaouria – Annie hits the peaks in Morroco

The UK summer, other than those glorious Olympic weeks, had been a tad disappointing – so it was time to find some sun, sea and snow……..3 hour flight, 36 degrees, no Euro in sight and hills of 4200 metres, St Tropez without the yachts, Marrakech  oh yes.

After a stupidly early but perfectly good Easy Jet flight and an insane and over priced (100 dh max) “grand taxi” ride that dumped us in the midst of the medina we had arrived…..or had we?  Dragging our bags, whilst chasing a string of small boys, Mohammed, Mohammed and you got it Mohammed, all communicating via a busy bush telegraph, down a series of dusty alleys…..the searing, smoggy heat of the medina all mopeds, mules and  madness finally led to this calm paradise, Riad Anyssates, gawjus.

The heart of the Medina, glorious colours, smells and atmosphere

The Medieval Medina with blacksmiths, charcoal makers, wool dyers, all manner of “fine” food and of course the tanners, provides a quite staggering impact on all your senses, worth a visit but if you are buying check do your prices and bargain hard.  The Ben Youssef Madrasa nice and cool in the midday sun – quiet, calm and very photogenic – highly recommended.

14th Century Islamic College in the heart of the Medina – lovely

Time for a taxi to the high Atlas.  Hurrah.  Imlil in three hours and off to find the Refuge,  350 metres and up to the right, nope that wasn’t it.  Ooooops miscalculation, 5 hours and over a 1000 metres later we arrived, dusty and tired and just a little nervous about the snow that had settled on the surrounding peaks, the peaks we would be climbing in the morning – wardrobe malfunction.  Ummm

OMG – Mount Toubkal has snow on it – t-shirts & shorts may not quite cut it….

The Refuge is glorious with its simplicity all wood burning stoves and cold showers……..but don’t expect a bottle of wine.  Kit disaster averted – jacket hired, wooly hats donated and pjs under our shorts  – our fab Berber guide, Mohammed helped us hit the 6 am deadline with time to spare.   As the sun rose behind us we marched past, well everyone,  faster-and-faster, harder-and-harder what was going on?

Outstanding views but shifting shale and altitude make it harder than it might be – well worth the effort.

Ah – turns out we were the only ones who were doing the up and all the way back down in a day…..ooops second miscalculation.  Eleven hours later and with the help of a sturdy mule for Alessandra, we made it….off to the beach.

Lots of mules for hire to carry luggage, beer, water wine and of course tired trekkers….LOL

Medieval medinas maybe but a very modern bus service, Supratours, less than a tenner each and 3 hours later we were downtown Essaouira.  All Atlantic and dramatic, this is a busy fishing port rather than a coral sand beach but plenty of top grade hotels / riads with pools / gyms  and spas and sunsets to die for.

Best bar / the Taros, best restaurant just try any of the seafood joints on the front or down by the port, remember this is the Atlantic so big bold cold water fish.

Nice little “ring fenced” beach spot – nice beer and a sea bass to go. Just Do It.

A slightly different tale from Rufus….more a travelogue than a giggle.  Get yourselves over to Morocco – it won’t go away but why waste your holiday hours by waiting.

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