Of Hammams, Ports and Fish Markets

In a room, “Careless Whisper” played in the background, hot water ran from a faucet onto a pail, steaming the room.  On a bench in one side of the room, I sat and waited.

Soon after, a lady entered and impassively poured hot water over me; I shivered at first then felt the water soothingly eased the fatigue away. She asked if I could bear the heat. “Oh, no problem there.” I thought. Then she soaped every part of me, my hair included (I worried about how it would turn out sans conditioner).  She left, came back 15 minutes later, started scrubbing, scrubbing until I can feel dead skin rubbing against my body. And when she poured water on me again, the soap and dead skin washed off, I felt the difference.  My skin and hair, they were silky smooth.  “Can I buy some of that soap, please?”

A Berber massage followed after and for an hour, I was in dreamland. This has always been my gauge of a good massage but how am I getting my money’s worth by not feeling every knead and every rub? I ask myself all the time. I love a good scrub every so often and this, I promise, is the bomb. If I had another day to spare, I’d do it again even if I’ll have to listen to George Michael all over again.

And even if a real hammam this is not, I appreciated the experience and wished I had found the time to go to a real one, perhaps in Fes.




But Essaouira is as good a place, its rugged charm and relaxed atmosphere offers relief from the bustle of the bigger cities. Read: a good place to chill.  Our last leg in exotic Morocco was spent in the coastal town west of Marrakech just a three hour bus ride away.

place-moulay-hassanPlace Moulay, the main town square near the waterfront.

It’s a hidden gem with its windswept beach, open air feel and hip vibe.  A wonderful refresher from the dark, crowded alleyways of Fes and Marrakech.

Behind the 18th century sea walls are artists’ enclaves, Thuya wood workshops, and bright, quiet alleyways.


Ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medina is gorgeous and peaceful.



Although the alleyways around the Kasbah have already quite a few souvenir shops, it is still a market town


where rural Berbers is still seen to hawk their wares.


The streets are full of people selling things from vegetables to DVDs.  And in one of these stores, we found some great CD of Gnaoua music.

Tall towers bordered with cannons still define the perimeter of the old town and spending

fortified walls

time within its well-preserved ramparts will take you back to when the town was still called Mogador.

The smell of freshly grilled sardines and lobsters will draw you to the town’s famous fish market.


Known for its outstanding fresh seafood,


it is a great place to enjoy a few bottles of beer, soak up the sun and people watch


while your order of the choicest catches grill to perfection.

Essaouira (pronounced: essa weera) has a beautiful port down by the harbor.


The Skala du Port offers a picturesque view of the fishing port with many shades of blue – blue skies, blue sea, blue and white architecture,


blue boats huddled against each other, some still unloading their catches for the day, which they will bring ashore to sell in the fish market.

After my visit to the hammam, we spent the rest of the morning on a rooftop café overlooking the fort and the sea—


an excellent place to relish our last days in Morocco, to cap the trip.


6 thoughts on “Of Hammams, Ports and Fish Markets

  1. this was an incredible trip, i caave for a good massage. and btw i love that george michael song….it reminds me of a dear friend of mine back in the day…she adored george michael and loved this song so much.

    so where’s the next destination. hope you are having a good philippine summer.



  2. I can so fully relate with the scrub and massage! And how did that cost in that place? Whenever i go to a country a massage is always tried for comparison, except in Sweden when the shortest is 20min and already cost a fortune (at least for my capacity to pay). And i salivated with those very fresh seafood, can almost smell them, hmmmm yummmm!


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