P1240255thumb © 2015 Andrew. All rights reserved.

Moroccan odyssey

Late in the summer I visited the port city of Essaouira in Morocco.

I hadn’t heard of Essaouira before discovering a that a new EasyJet route had opened to the destination. Living in St Alban’s near to Luton airport, it seemed that a North African odyssey was in easy reach at low cost. And so it proved to be.

Having never been to Morocco I didn’t know what to expect –  the Red Sea resorts of Egypt my only real bellwether for North Africa. Well, Essaouira proved to be a far more authentic experience, one that I grew to appreciate more as the trip went on.

Formerly named Mogador, the town has a rich history (an overused term, but very much justified in this instance) with a long list of cultural influences encompassing Berber, Arab, Portuguese, Jewish and French.

Along with it’s fortified walls this made it the perfect shooting location for Astapor, home of the Unsullied in TV series Game of Thrones.

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Untitled-8-cross The real draw though, is inside those city walls, where one finds the UNESCO World Heritage Site-status Medina. A real feast for the senses, with market stalls, coffee house,

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The The P1240262The selection of Moroccan homeware is almost limitless, much to the chagrin of male partners and their wallets.

P1240150A medicine man (see the ailments he claims to cure in the pictures around him).   P1240071-lomo-blueEssaouira was on the hippie trail in the 1970s, with Jimi Hendrix owning a property nearby – his spirit seemingly living on in the eclectic mix of characters that still visit.

P1240265  P1240083Moroccans have a distinct sense of style, often riotously colorful while maintaining the modesty protocols associated with Islam.

P1230749An especially interesting craft house, where the artisan was hard at work on his wares – several of which we bought.

P1240226He was much obliged:

P1240248-blueMorocco is perhaps best know for unique architecture and design, which was on fine display in our incredible accommodation some 20min drive outside the town – Villa Gonatouki.

As a result of being out of town – the starlight is particularly fine.

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P1230968Where we breakfasted:

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P1230952Some stunning beaches near to the town as well, with the incongruous site of camels and surfers together.

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A short visit to Warsaw to see family. Plenty of interesting new architecture every time I visit the Polish capital.

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The university library of Warsaw

P1230535springWith a heat wave crippling the city, it was a good idea to head inside to air-conditioned museums. The fantastic Uprising Museum shown below, which tells the tale of the heroic home army soldiers who very nearly overthrew the Nazi regime, only to be betrayed by the Soviets.

P1230530-copyThe Museum of Jewish History is a brand new museum. Following the culture and plight of Polish Jews over the course of 1000 years, it’s a big place with a wealth of content – too much to absorb in one visit.

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Probably the main draw is a scale reproduction of a Slavic-style 17th Century synagogue – all of which were burned by the Nazis.

P1230476The older Ghetto Uprising Memorial, with visiting Israeli school children – I assumed.

P1230490My wonderful cousin Kasia and her partner Will – two of my favourite people.

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Bournemouth

And lastly just some from around Bournemouth and Christchurch

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P1230662-copyI forced to do some really silly dog portraits.

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