Saturday, 22 March 2014

21st  March

We started the day with brekkies up on the roof top restaurant of the riad with its fantastic views over to some large rocks where we’ve enjoyed watching locals collect shellfish accompanied by very nimble and fearless sea cats.  We booked a porter to wheel our bags through the town to our car, which had only been pushed a little bit down the road, but was thankfully still there, albeit with an accumulation of dust and some seagull poo.

We then drove up the main coastal route, which was actually inland a bit, to Safi, a large industrial port with rather toxic air from the cement and petrochemical plants which had both Chris and myself coughing.  We got a bit lost here too, but eventually found the correct road out of town that hugged the coast line and was a lot more interesting.  The land was very intensively farmed here with clearly demarcated fields on the flat land right by the sea and lots of delicious looking vegetables for sale by the side of the road.

The beautiful lagoon at Oualidia
Our next point of reference was a town called Ouladia that our guidebook suggested was an eyesore but had a superb protected and very picturesque lagoon – perfect for swimming.  We could see the lagoon well before we reached the town so drove down to it and parked up and went for a short stroll.  We passed by fisherman selling their fresh catches of various shellfish such as mussels, oysters and razor clams as well as huge spider crabs.  Some of their boats had been pulled up on to the beach and others were still out fishing.  We walked past them to the edge of the lagoon which really was extraordinarily lovely and not something any of us had ever seen before.  We enjoyed watching some kite surfers getting their gear ready, but we didn’t hang around long enough to see them go out onto the lagoon.

Oyster beds at Ouladia
We then decided to go to Ostrea 2, a restaurant famous in the area for its oysters as it’s literally located beside oyster farm number 7, which is in itself famous for its special French oysters and its high quality produce to rigorous EU standards apparently.  We followed some signs to the restaurant down an unpromising rough road and eventually arrived at our destination.  What a little gem this place is – a fantastic location overlooking the lagoon, which was much larger than we had appreciated, plus the oyster beds.  Chris ordered half a dozen of the oysters, I had the gratinated mixed seafood dish and Hanna the pasta with smoked salmon as she wasn’t feeling too well and wanted the simplest dish on the menu.  We were not disappointed at all - it was fabulous.

I then took over the driving and it was fairly uneventful until we reached El Jedida.  Our instructions for the hotel were rather sparse with directions and the sat nav, wasn’t as accurate as I would have liked. As a result I ended up on a toll motorway heading for Casablanca!!  We managed to get off it pretty quickly and annoyed the toll collector at the exit as we only had a 100 dirham note for a 3 dirham toll.   There was then a lively exchange between the driver and navigator (where Hanna wisely kept her counsel), but eventually we got onto a road that took us back in the direction we’d just come from.  There was one heart stopping moment when I was going round a roundabout and we heard the terrible screeching of brakes and realised that a car was coming on to the roundabout and heading towards the side of our car – thankfully, he managed to stop in time and I merrily continued on with a somewhat accelerated heart beat!!  I’m not sure if i should have given way to him on this particular roundabout or vice versa, but anyway, we got away unscathed.

We retraced our route back quite a way and eventually got back onto the road we’d been on about 20 minutes before.  This time we spotted a sign close to what our directions gave us so decided to give it a go.  We went up a very rough track that just didn’t feel right, but eventually arrived at our hotel.  Once we’d arrived, we were told of another much more straight forward way of getting here, but hopefully we’ll find that to get out of here tomorrow.  This place is delightful – a small boutique hotel with a very welcoming owner and a large black and white cat with attitude – he’s only attempted to bite both Chris and myself once each!  Hanna was still feeling unwell so retired at 4.30pm.  Meanwhile, I caught up on the computer and Chris relaxed reading his book in the garden. We then met up with some very well travelled and very nice Americans and spent a pleasant evening in their company swapping travel experiences as you do.

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