About maroc-o-phile

The original idea behind this website, back in 2012, was to share my love of Morocco with anyone who is willing to open themselves to the sights, sounds, history, culture, crafts, cuisine and hospitality of this country. While I lived there, I was the only person blogging in Essaouira, about Essaouira, in English. I still haven’t found another blog with as much local expertise and content specifically on Essaouira as this one.

This website has served as a window on Essaouira and a portal to further information and advice.  I have answered tens, if not hundreds, of queries from my readers on travelling, volunteering, and doing business in Morocco. I have done this, not for profit, but in order to share my love of Morocco. Many of those tips I shared are now compiled in my e-guide, a percentage of the proceeds from which help local kids from precarious family backgrounds. I am grateful to every one of my readers for their interest and engagement – in my blog and in Morocco as a country. maroc-o-phile.com also serves as a portfolio of original writing about my experiences in and impressions of Morocco.  However, as my life enters a new chapter, one which is based more in Scotland than in Morocco, the website will also undergo some changes, so watch this space!

I am still happy to help you where I can if you have questions about travelling to Essaouira, although, I am now based most of the year in another festival city, Edinburgh in Scotland. Armed with solid academic research and personal practical experience, I am now ready to take my interest in Morocco to the next level as I develop a consultancy service to share not only my love of Morocco, but my extensive expertise on the Kingdom, to the benefit of organisations in the public, private, non-profit and educational sectors.

If you would like any further information, please get in touch via:
 info [at] maroc-o-phile [dot] com

Ultimately, I hope that you too will become a maroc-o-phile!

 

 

 

36 thoughts on “About maroc-o-phile

  1. Iola kreizman

    I am currently in marrekesh and looking to do some meditation and yoga course this week. Thursday-saturday or drop in classes. Where can I find in essaouia or marrekesh?

    Thank you
    Iola x

    Reply
    1. rose ratcliffe

      i think at cafe clock in the kasbah area they have yoga and a smotthie for 70 dh on a weds please check

      Reply
  2. Rakesh

    Thanks for your excellent “Top 5” picks. I would appreciate your help in our planning for the festival next week.

    Are there chairs or benches at the large venues? Ditto: smaller venues? We are in our late 60s and can’t stand for long periods.

    Will we be able to get tickets when we get there (on the 12th evening)? Or would you recommend buying online
    (which may have a markup and which will likely still require in-person pickup anyway-)?

    Please reply as soon as is convenient for you.

    Many thanks!

    Rakesh

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Rakesh,
      thanks for your comments and questions.
      There are only seats (chairs, benches or pouffes) at the smaller venues (the ‘concerts intimes’ in the programme, which require have limited spaces and sometimes require a ticket, at a fee) – sometimes you may be expected to sit on the floor. The larger (free) concerts in the open air have no seats, although there are cafes and bars around the main square (Place Moulay Hassan) with a view of the stage where you might be lucky enough to grab a seat. The town gets very busy, so plan ahead to get a space/seat.

      You can buy tickets once you are here, but they may sell out for the smaller concerts. You don’t need a ticket for the big, free concerts unless you want to be in the VIP area at the front (no seats there either!). The only way to be sure of getting a ticket if you need one is to order it via the official Gnaoua Festival website. The tickets are not expensive by Western standards and if there is a mark-up, you might consider it worthwhile. Picking up or purchasing tickets is logistically straightforward and I have never seen a long queue at the ticket tent.

      I hope that’s helpful! Enjoy the festival!

      Reply
  3. aliya

    Very nice website!
    I am a Moroccan woman living in Rabat.
    I love the gnaoua music and festival but have attended only twice. Will be very happy to attend this year. Can’t find friends to go with. So I wonder if I can find an organized group onsite as I will be interested to do some hiking during the day and attend the concerts in the evenings. Would you have any suggestions or good addresses?
    Thank you!
    Aliya

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Aliya,

      thanks for getting in touch! I’m glad you like the website!
      I am not aware of organised groups who attend the Gnaoua Festival (other than tour groups from abroad), but once you are here you are sure to find interesting and friendly people to hook up with, for example at the place where you are staying or through your hiking trips.
      For accommodation, I recommend Dar Mouna Mogador in the medina. Jane, the manager, is very friendly, knows a lot about Moroccan music and is a font of local knowledge. I know she has some availability for the second half of the Festival. See: https://www.facebook.com/Dar.Mouna.Mogador
      As for hiking, I recommend Ecotourisme et Randonnées. They are knowledgeable, professional and have a great reputation. The guides speak Arabic, French and English: http://www.essaouira-randonnees.com/Bienvenue-Chez-Ecotourisme-et-Randonnees_a3.html
      I hope you have a great trip to Essaouira!
      Lynn

      Reply
  4. jean bilbrough

    just had another thought… do you have any advice re getting reliable /reasonable taxis from marakech to ess, or from ess. to marak. thank you so much kind regs.jc

    Reply
  5. Kasia

    Hi! I am looking for a connection from Agadir Airport to Essaouira. We are arriving about 5 pm at 10 th Sept. Do you have any ideas? Only taxi or buses as well? I would llike to go straight to ess not to agadir at all. Thanks for answer. Your website is saved and will be very helpful.

    Kasia

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Kasia,
      thanks for getting in touch. The information I have is here: https://maroc-o-phile.com/bus-from-agadir-to-essaouira
      The Pulman bus runs later in the evening, so that might be an option. Otherwise, your most reliable option is probably a private transfer. If you are interested, I can arrange this with my transport partner in Essaouira. Please send me an e-mail if you would like a quote.
      Safe travels!
      Lynn

      Reply
  6. Richard

    Hi Lynn

    I need to arrange a transfer from essouria to tazgahout near agadir on this coming Monday morning. Can u help? I may also need to organise a return transfer on Friday 28 August

    Lovely website

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Richard. I can arrange transfers through my local transport partner in Essaouira and have sent you a mail with the details. Have a great trip!

      Reply
  7. Chris

    I have a severe nut allergy (I carry an epi-pen) and will be traveling to Marrakech. I want to try the local cuisine, but obviously I need to be careful as I do not speak the local language. Any suggestions for places to go or dishes to try? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi there,
      typical Moroccan savoury dishes such as tajine, couscous, salads, etc do not normally contain nuts. However, as you will know, this does not preclude them being prepared in a kitchen where nuts are present or by someone who has handled nuts. Moroccan sweet pastries and cakes often contain nuts and are best avoided.
      Your best bet is to dine in places where you can have a conversation with the chef, so in your riad (of you are staying in one) or in small restaurants where the owners are present and/or in the kitchen. You could also try a cookery class (I recommend Cafe Clock or Riad Shaden) and make your own nut-free delicacies!
      As for restaurants, you could try the Amal Centre, a social enterprise in Gueliz which trains local women and where they are always happy to help. Try also Cafe Clock, where all the staff speak excellent English and the camel burgers are legendary. Call ahead to explain your concerns.
      Also Essaouira-centric, there are some other tips on my FAQ pages: https://maroc-o-phile.com/frequently-asked-questions/
      Enjoy your trip!
      Lynn

      Reply
  8. Liz O'Connor

    I have a severe nut allergy ( I carry an epi-pen) and will be traveling to Marrakech. I want to try to local cuisine, but I need to be careful as I do not speak the local language. Do you have recommendations of places or dished to try? Thank you.

    Reply
  9. gaby scotti

    hello lovely this site of yours, feels as if I’ve already been welcomed to Ess though I’ve never actually been there.
    I am planning for a holiday with my family this coming August (2016) and have been searching for a family friendly typical Moroccan place not too far from the medina which is also wheelchair friendly.

    Any suggestions?

    thank you any help will be greatly appreciated. Gaby

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Gaby,
      Glad you like the site!
      For the best wheelchair accessibility you are probably best looking into the bigger 5 star chain hotels (M Gallery or Atlas hotels). However, you could try Riad Zahra – they may have accessible rooms on the ground floor. You’ll find them online and in the typical booking engines.

      If you would consider staying in the surrounding countryside, check out Dar Kenavo. The owner is in a wheelchair and has adopted the place (including the pool) accordingly. It’s about 30-40 mins by car to Essaouira medina.

      Happy planning!

      Reply
  10. Giora

    Hi

    After reading your article bout the berber origin jews, i have a quick question and wonder if you can comment on that.

    You mentioned Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century and finding shelter in the Atlas mountains. Specifically I am intrested in the Marakesh area – there is a tribe in the higher atlas called Ghigia or Ghigya. Do you know the history of this tribe?
    thanks alot!
    Giora

    Reply
  11. Anna

    Hi Lynn, do you know anyone in Essaouira who could give a group of eight people (plus a baby) a walking tour on the afternoon of Monday August 22nd? We arrive the afternoon before and are planning our first surf session that morning but it would be great to get our bearings with someone that could show us the around (and whet our appetite for the week ahead).

    Thanks,

    Anna and co.

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Anna, I am just asking around and I will get back to you by e-mail. In the meantime, download my e-book for a great overview of the city!
      Lynn

      Reply
  12. Beccy

    Hi Lynn,
    What a great website! My boyfriend and I are coming to Essaouira on November 12th for several nights and as we are both musicians we would love to hear some traditional Gnauoa music but also contemporary Moroccan music also. Have you any recommendations for where best to go for music?
    Thanks so much in advance!
    Beccy

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Beccy,
      there is live music every night at Taros (on the main square) and Mega Loft (at the medina skala, at the end of Rue Laalouj), generally contemporary Moroccan and/or covers. Another good place for modern music is Restaurant Sirocco. For Gnaoua music, ask around once you are there and see if there is anything on at Dar Souiri (community centre near Bab Sbaa) or at a zawiya (the lodge of one of the Sufi brotherhoods). Some restaurants advertise gnaoua musicians in the evening – check along the street which runs from the square to the Mellah (it’s called Rue Sidi Mohammed Ban Abdullah, but the locals call it Mellah Qdim) or at the music shops along and off that street.
      Have a great time!
      Lynn

      Reply
  13. Melanie

    Hello. Reading your site with interest. Thankyou Lynn. How do you get the time to do so much and fit all in? Just wondering whether there is an update planned for your e-book? Interested in buying your book but ideally would like the most up to date version. Presently looking into Essaouria as a peaceful
    place visit for a couple of months, to recharge, eat local healthy food, swim, walk, write, dance, visit the hamman and potter at my own pace. Finding ‘a modest room of my own’ that was peaceful and local would be my first step. Best wishes to you and your family.

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Melanie,
      thanks for your message. The short answer is, I don’t! Something’s gotta give between my family, Masters, work and travel and so I didn’t manage to update the e-book in 2017. Much of it is still up to date, but several businesses (mainly restaurants) have closed down or changed hands. The book isn’t expensive, so I hope that if you did buy it, you’d still find it useful, and 20% of the sales price goes to a local children’s charity. If you are planning to live in Essaouira for a while, try the Essaouira Expats and Friends Facebook group for local tips and contacts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/552493944818838
      Enjoy your trip!
      Lynn

      Reply
  14. Stephen mustapha cole

    Hello Lynn. My family and I have been living in Morocco for 3 years, first on Berrechid, then Mohammedia, now Essaouira for the last year, in lotisiment 5, next to Cafe Jarras.

    Im steve, (mustapha) and I’m currently back in Australia for work, but Ill be returning soon.
    I’ve read your blog, allot struck accord with our thoughts of life in le maroc.

    If your still there, I think it would be great if my wife ciuld meet you at a cafe in the medina to swap stories. Like minded people are always great to know.

    Thanks. My email is citygazer@hotmail.com

    Chat later.
    Steve.

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Steve,
      I’m glad you like the blog. We have been in touch via Messenger, so hopefully I can meet your wife soon.
      Lynn

      Reply
  15. Lisa Yifrach

    Hi, Lynn. I have been to Morocco before and have been asked to help a friend prepare for her upcoming trip. She was born in Kenitra and left for the US at age 10…45 years ago! She will be there with her mother, as well as her husband and two older teens. I am interested in finding a driver for them and have many other questions. I am open to any suggestions. Taish!

    Reply
  16. Ayelet

    Hi Lynn,
    You have a wonderful site, full of info. Thanks for sharing!
    We’re a family of 5 (kids are 15-20 years old), planning to travel to Morocco during Christmas time (8-9 days). We would love to avoid the crowds and prefer to travel off the beaten path- experience more culture and natural beauty.

    So I’m debating between Marrakesh (surely crowded around Xmas) but not staying thee, and instead going to el-Jadidah, Safi and Essaouira, OR- Fez (with day trips, or even a night over in surrounding towns: Azrou, Ifrane, Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Asilah, and Sefrou).

    Any tips regarding weather, as well as best way to travel between the villages (transportation), and pro-con the two destinations? Again- prefer not to stay in big cities.

    Thank you,
    Ayelet

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Ayelet,
      thanks for getting in touch.
      Your Atlantic coast itinerary covers smaller towns (less to see – you could easily do El Jadida or Safi in a day). I would add Oualidia to that list, if you are coming for 8-9 days. Your Fez itinerary is very dense and doesn’t include Volubilis and Moulay Idriss, both of which are definitely worth visiting and Moulay is certainly off the beaten track.
      To access rural areas and fit in all the places you are interested in, you definitely need a car with driver. You will never cover the ground using public transport and will be limited to the bigger cities with stations (unless you plan to fit 5 of you in a grand taxi, which is completely do-able but you will lose time arranging all the logistics).
      I suggest you contact a travel agent who can put together a tailor-made itinerary for you and recommend accommodation. I helped compile some of the itineraries for this company and I think Rachel, the owner, will be able to tailor one to your needs: https://www.morocco-adventure-holidays.com
      Morocco is a large country with many different geographical and topological zones. The weather will depend on where you are -snow in the High Atlas, wind at the coast, warmth in the desert.
      Have a great trip!
      Lynn

      Reply

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