Tunisia: the land of stories
Saturday, August 6, 2016
Tunisia: is it the land of stories?
I always liked the culture, food, people of Middle East or Africa. The atmosphere of little beautiful souks, ancient buildings, exotic beaches. This time, not really accidentally, I’ve chosen North Africa’s country – Tunisia – as my trip destination. Why? Because it’s the land of stories. Berbers, Romans, French, Spanish, Arab nations and many others…they all created different stories about, for and on behalf of this country. This is why it’s so colorful, diverse and interesting. From beautiful sand beaches, blue waters, to burning desert, oasis and mountains. From various dishes, sweets, amazing fruits, to traditional mint or almond tee, palm whine, fragrant spices. Every single thing there tells an interesting story. Tunisia is for everyone, no doubts, because people love stories. So let’s travel through it together.
Tunis and its surroundings
The first city from where we started our journey was Tunis. Tunis is a capital of Tunisia. It can offer you many various attractions depending on your style of traveling and wishes. I’ve traveled with a friend of mine, who knew Arabic language, which made our trip more comfortable and easy. Don’t know Arabic? Hopefully you know French then. Don’t know it either? Good luck! Because only a little number of locals speak English or other language except the previously mentioned ones. However, the people are pretty hospitable and helpful, so you shouldn’t get in a trouble. Embrace that challenge!
Tunis itself has few places to be visited. National Bordo museum (entrance fee for adult – 11 TND) offers you a variety of Roman mosaics and religious art. It’s worth going there if you are interested in a history and unique things. Going towards to the old town Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul appears, which is worth visiting. It makes you feel as you are somewhere in a Southern part of Europe. Moving on, Medina with its textile, gold, perfume, clothing and many other souks comes along, where you want to be lost and explore the whole area with it’s busy life, colorful things and amazing smells. Tired of it? Sit down, relax and eat some great couscous with a spicy harissa sauce, chorba (seasoned broth) or a brik (traditional tiny parcel filled with various ingredients).
Next day we went to Sidi Bou Said, which is an amazing place to be and it’s only around 20 km from Tunis. You can reach this place by public transport or even taxi, which will cost you approx. 4-5 TND one way. No wonder why it’s called “Tunisian Montmartre”. Blue and white colored houses, little streets, artists, bohemian atmosphere. Walk around and sit down at the cafeteria with a great view to a port of Sidi Bou Said. Still some time left? Carthage is a another great spot to go. Do you remember the story about Hannibal? This is a place where all that history happened. Roman ruins, beautiful catholic basilica, archaeological park complex, hill-top panoramic view. 10 TND per person and you can spend approx. 2-4 hours enjoying the museum and all the area around. It’s only 15 km north of Tunis, easily reachable by TGM light rail line from Tunis or by taxi.
Tunisia’s resorts: to skip or enjoy it?
It’s a must to keep the balance between the active and passive leisure. Don’t you agree? So we decided to spend few days in the resort of Tunisia. For this purpose we’ve chosen to explore two beautiful, and at the same time different, places: Hammamet and Sousse.
Hammamet is a touristic area, where you can relax by the pool or beautiful beach, where your can swim or do other water sports. It’s a place where you can get both: relaxation and various activities. Only 1 hour by train from the capital and you are there. To be honest, I don’t really like these kind of turistic, crowded and expensive places, but surprisingly it was a cosy place to be with it’s beautiful medina, beach and nice people around. Two/three days – more than enough.
Sousse is 140 km away, in a center-east part of Tunisia. You can reach this place by train, bus or “louage” (mini bus). Sousse is a great place, where you can walk around the same places and never get bored. This is what I felt while being there. Sousse will offer you a Kashbah, Ribbat castle, great medina surrounded by the long walls with its medieval spirit and interesting souks. Moreover, while traveling I love to see the city “from the top”. If you are into this too, go upstairs the Ribbat castle (entrance fee 5 TND) and you won’t be disappointed. Harbor, historical museum on the hill, Mediterranean side, mosques, souks, and other things might be seen. In the evening you can sit down nearby, in one of the coffee places, and enjoy the water-pfife with a coffee or mint tee, which is a great tradition in Tunisia. Bored of Sousse? Only 10 km north from it you will find Port El-Kantaoui. It’s a tourist complex, build specifically for tourist. This place can offer you many posh hotels, the harbor, luxury yachts, golf clubs. Notwithstanding, it’s an eclectic and pretty soulless place. But maybe just for me.
Rowdy Sahara and lively Oasis
After visiting different cities with its medina’s, buyers and sellers, souvenir shops, little and dirty streets, busy life, beautiful beaches etc. we decided to go to the south-west part of Tunisia in order to see and feel different things, like desert, oasis and canyon. The trip started from the story, that the train, which one supposed to come to Sousse late in the night stopped in one city and didn’t continue its journey because of some technical problems, thus we were forced to find a place to say over for a night and leave Sousse early in the morning. So did we. At 5 a.m. we left Sousse and by taxi went to “louage” station, from where we went to Gafsa, which took us approx. 4 hours, had a transfer there and continued our trip to the city of the destination – Tozeur.
Tozeur was a breathtaking place to be! Wonder why? I loved it’s cosiness, nice and friendly people, beautiful carpet shops, amazing architecture, which is totally different from what we saw before. All the houses in Tozeur are, following the traditions, covered with yellow-brownish bricks, which looks amazing. The town is small itself, but it has many medresa’s (islamic religious schools), little traditional markets with beautiful handmade carpets and, of course, souk. Morevoer, Tozeur is an oasis, where you can see thousands of palm, date and other trees. From there we took a half-day Sahara Desert trip with a jeep 4×4, which cost us 170 TND (after a long and pleasant bargaining). In the first part of the day we’ve visited salt lake Chott El Jerid (we were lucky enough to see it for real, because usually and depending on the season it’s dry), another Chebika oasis with its beautiful little village, waterfalls, palm trees and sandy rocks following the road to the Sidi Bouhlel canyon, which is close to Algeria’s border. Not grand, but still a canyon with a nice landscape. After a few hours break (because of our jeep’s technical issues!) we continued our trip to Sahara. “Luckily” we were a part of a sand-storm, where you couldn’t see anything around yourself. Sand and wind was having fun and playing some silent game with us. Morevoer, the technical issues of our car occurred again and as follows we were stuck in the middle of nowhere. With sand-storm, few berbers, humid weather, no water and food, no connection. But it was a “mughamara” (eng. adventure), so we took this experience as different and a positive one. After an hour we were “saved” and continued our trip to see the place, where very well-known movie “Start wars” were filmed. Can’t say anything bad about it, interesting place and interesting atmosphere, however (as I’m not a fan of “Star wars”) nothing very special. On the way back home we saw a family of camels passing by. REAL and FREE camels! What can be better for the end of our trip?!
Tunisia is an endless story. Mughamara! This should the motto of your trip to Tunisia or any other place 😉
Experience culture & traditions
Enjoy places, drinks and food
Communicate with locals
Explore, be curious
Tell your story &
SHARE it with the world!
by Monika-misiukaiteSaturday, August 6, 2016
I'm Monika and call myself global citizen. Why? Originally I'm from Lithuania (little Easter European country), but lived in countries like Germany, Turkey, Indonesia. Studied sociology, was involved in many various social and volunteering projects locally and globally, traveled a lot and it's to be continued… Because traveling is my passion, it's my lifestyle, it's me! Do you think same way as I do? Let's be connected then, because we are driven and game-changers!Read more at wanderlustbymonika.com