Saturday, January 15, 2011


We think the words on the mountain side are "God, Country, King"
On the west coast of Morocco the longest beach front town is Agadir.  It is a well known vacation spot for Germans and so we decided to take a look.  It meant crossing the Atlas Mountains and Peter was really excited about this aspect of the trip.  Remember, I am married to an historian.  There are no trains to Agadir and we had witnessed enough crazy driving in Marrakesh to be timid about driving so we went to the bus station which is beside the train station.  With only 300 Dirham in our pockets we tried the ATM in the train station but it was out of order. We figured there would be another one in the bus terminal but we were wrong. 

Unlike our train station ticket experience, the third world mentality of transportation was revealed in the bus station.  Two women and a man were behind the counter and perhaps ten or so people were crowded up trying to buy tickets that were pre-printed but had to be scribbled on by the clerk for use.  It took us about 5 or 6 minutes to figure out how things were working and then we managed to call out "Agadir" during a nanosecond of quiet and hold up two fingers.  One of the women looked up and acknowledged our order and signed the tickets.  I handed her 200 Dirham for 2 one-way tickets to Agadir with the knowledge that we would need to get money and return tickets once we arrived on the coast.

The bus was new and very nice - and one travels to Agadir from Marrakesh every two hours beginning at 9 am.  And, there is a fine new motorway that has been built through the mountains to encourage more traffic on this old trade route.  The trip takes 3.5 hours and includes a 20 minute stop at a fancy motorway rest stop and cafe.  It was extremely pleasant and the views of the countryside told a completely different story than the cityscape.  If you want to go to Agadir - this is a very pleasant way to do it.  Peter commented on how the mountains looked like those we had seen in the Caucasus and he had seen in Alaska.  The highest peak of the Atlas is Toubkal, with an elevation of 4167 metres (13671 ft) and is visible from the road.  This particular motorway was just opened last year (built from 2006-2010) and is extremely nice.  Once out of Marrakesh, we believe that driving to Agadir would be easy.  The bus terminal in Agadir is a long ways away from the beach and you need to take a cab to the shore.  Both of our Agadir cab drivers used a meter - a very novel idea - and so no bargaining was needed for the trip.

In the end, we don't recommend Agadir for its history or things to do.  It was destroyed in 1960 by an earthquake that killed at least 15,000 people and left the ancient Kabash in ruins.  It has been rebuilt as a resort town with huge hotels on the waterfront, a pleasant promenade, and nice outdoor restaurants.  There is a fortress at the end of the long cove that makes for an outstanding view point but in the end, it is just that.   Miami's South Beach, France's Cannes, and Spain's Mallorca are more interesting as urban beaches.  Emerald Isle (NC) and Sullivan's Island(SC) are simply prettier than any of them.
View from our table at lunch
The big news was that the King of Morocco (Muhammed VI) was in town.  The Moroccan flag was everywhere and police were stationed at every intersection.  And, as we departed Agadir that afternoon, we witnessed his motorcade whisking him to the airport.  Lots of black humvees and blinking lights with uniformed men looking out the vehicle windows.

I think next time we would chose to explore Essaouira.
Agadir Beach front

Tiny Dancer - she swirled and danced with her shadow for almost 30 minutes.

Snow-capped Atlas Mountains

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