Coming from Europe and arriving in Morocco can be a bit of a shock to the system. Things are very different. For us it took a few days to adjust.
After reading up about Morocco and trying to decide where we should stay, we decided that Essaouira would be the best place for us as a family to spend just over a month in. It’s more relaxed than Marrakesh and is an old medina town so will have that common Moroccan feel that we know of.
We made our way from Ronda, Spain all the way to Casablanca in our first day. This consisted of a taxi to the Ronda train station, 1:45min train to Algeciras, 20min Taxi to Tarifa, 1hr ferry to Tangiers, 10min Taxi to Tangiers train station, 6hr train to Casablanca, 10min Taxi to the hotel where we stayed for two nights. It was an extremely long day of travelling and our daughter did so well apart from the last hour on the train to Casablanca. For a 3yr old, that is amazing.
All those journeys i did to visit my mum regularly paid off and she is definitely a veteran of travel.
Our first stop in Casablanca was an interesting one. Casablanca is a city of around 7 million people, it is a working city and not really a place for tourists who have no idea about Morocco. We managed to find a little gem of a restaurant where we had our first proper tagine. It was the best introduction to Morocco. It was so full of flavour and made us feel happy and content.
After the restaurant we had to find a place to get a few snacks that we need for the next day journey to Essaouira. They have a lot of snacks like sweets, biscuits yoghurts, fizzy drinks. So trying to find something that was at least not full of sugar was a bit hard. We settled for dates (at least it’s natural sugars) and some pretzel sticks. We had some fruit from room service the night before and also some food that I had brought from Ronda.
Our train from Tangiers to Casablanca was really interesting. We wanted to get a first class ticket but they were fully booked so we got a send class one. Our push chair didn’t fit through the walk way so we made a few trips to get our bags to the cabin. Each cabin had 8 chairs which would be filled during different parts of our 6 hr journey. First we met a lovely lady with her daughter. Eris gave the little girl two little Lego people, and in return the little girl gave her one of the two new hair clips.
The first hour of the trip was full of conversation in Arabic, quite loud and not really what we need after just arriving in Morocco. That died down as people left. Most of the trip was me offering my extra fan to the ladies as the cabin was so hot. It was much appreciated. A young Moroccan couple entered and after a while Kris and I decided to figure out our Moroccan SIM cards. Through a mix of French, english and French and the help of our phone app, we were almost able to get help. Mostly getting lost in translation. In the end the guy had given us 1GB of internet to help us recharge. It didn’t really help as we needed to buy the cards from a shop. We had some internet though to help us when needed, so that was so very helpful.
Casablanca to Essaouira.
We decided to get the 6:33am train which meant we had to wake up very early. I arranged with the hotel that we need to leave early to get to the train station and would like some breakfast. As it happen a large group of Americans had checked in and requested breakfast to be served at 5am which worked perfectly. So we prepared for an early start, woke up and went down to have some breakfast. We were ready for the taxi at 5:50 to get us to the train station. Got all packed in and headed off. After a while through again ‘lost in translation’, he was heading to the airport, we said no, we need the train station. He looked very annoyed. He drove back to the hotel and started complaining. I assume he would loose money as trips to the airport are more than the train station. Eventually with Kris demanding we needed to get to the train station and the hotelier telling the taxi driver to just take us. Eventually we made it to the station.
We should have been worried as the train was very late, the locals told us this was very normal. The train only arrived at around 7:40.
This time we got a first class ticket. We started chatting to a guy who is an engineer in Casablanca, he was talking about how Casablanca is a working town and not really a place to relax for a holiday. We agreed.
We shared conversation and photos of places we stayed. The first class cabin have 6 large chairs and was very comfortable. After a few stop, another guy entered and after a bunch of conversation, he had been at a wedding party the night before and hadn’t had any sleep yet.
This train was only about 3 to 4 hours to Marrakesh. We got some advice from the two guys on whether to take the bus or taxi to Essaouira. In the end we decided that the bus is the best, for price and comfort. The younger guy who was at the wedding party offered to walk us to the bus station. He worked in Marrakesh and happened to walk passed where he worked. He waited until we got our tickets and then left us to carry on our journey.
We took a CTM bus to Essaouira, takes 3hrs with a 20 min stop. Our daughter fell asleep while waiting for the tickets to be bought. I managed to get her into the sling so we could get on the bus. She slept for almost the whole way, this did mean I couldn’t get off when the bus did it’s 20min stop. Once we arrived in Essaouira we got a taxi to Moulay Hassan Square as we were staying in the old medina which cars can’t go in. We had to walk the rest of the way. We tried to find the place, in the end we had to go back to the square and wait for the Airbnb owner to find us and walk us to the apartment.
We made it to Essaouira where we will spend around 5 weeks exploring this little beach town.
See my post about negotiating my way around Essaouira.