Monastir, Sousse, Tunis | Bardo Museum, Carthago, Sidi Bou Said | Kairouan, Sbeitla, Gafsa, Tamerza, Seldja, Chebika | Touzeur, Chott El Djerid | Douz, El Hamma, Matmata, Gabes | Djerba, Mèdenine, Gabes | Sfax, El-Djem, Monastir, Sousse |
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Tunisia or Toenisijja a vacation destination? The wide beaches don't really attract me, The coastline near the beaches is full with mostly ugly hotels, it don't deviate from other seaside resorts in the world. If you want to see the beauty and interesting things of Tunisia then you have to go inland.
The language is Arabic and most of the people speaking France too. The most important export products are oil, olive-oil, phosphate, citrus-fruits, textile, dates and tourism will be highly stimulated. The Tunisian people are friendly although women often will be ignored. It is not recommended for a woman to go out in the evening without accompany and definitely not in quiet districts.
Islam is the state-religion and the pour of spirituosa is restricted from 12.00 to 20.00 hours and on Friday total forbidden but in spite of this prohibition orders the consumption of alcoholics running high. Drugs are totally forbidden and you may expect a long detention in a terrible Yale.
We started our trip in Monastir where Uranus Tourist Services was waiting for us and travel via Sousse to Tunis. In Tunis we visit the big Mosque Jamaa Zitouna (Olive-Mosque) which is the theological high school of Tunis and the medina (down town) with the various souks (Arabic roofed-in market streets). The souks in Tunis are divided by kind of goods, so there is a shoe souk, perfume souk etc. Bargaining is here and everywhere in Tunisia normal business except in the big warehouses. For overnight we stay in hotel Ibn Khaldoun.
The Bardomuseum from origin a palace of earlier rulers is for sure worth seeing. In one of the halls you will see the former harem-room of the palace with a beautiful outfit, the men-house with guards in traditional dress, several exhibitions of very valuable excavations out of the Prehistory, sarcophaguses from the Punic time and a lot of treasury from an old Greek ship recovered in 1907 at the coast of Mahdia and a enormous quantity beautiful mosaic-floors descended from everywhere in the country dated from the Roman period. In one of the sideboard-wings you will find a nice collection of relics from the Arabic time.
We travel to Carthago found by the Phoenicia in 814 BC. After three bloody wars finally Rome took over the power in 146 BC. All those bloody wars caused so many loss of face that Cato a Roman commander ordered to destroy Carthago with everything in it. A big city with at that time about 800.000 inhabitants is totally destroyed, there rest only some stories, excavations of houses, statues, tomb-stones from several periods and that all in a nice open-air museum.
We continue our trip to Sidi Bou Said an old picturesque pirate village painted in blue and white (little bit Greek style). Due to local regulations the village is well-preserved and looks very good. For overnight we going to Kairouan hotel Continental
Kairouan (caravan) is a pure Arabic city build in the past on a intersection of several important caravan-tracks. Kairouan is within the Islam a holly city with many Mosque's,
Sidi Sahbi (Mosque of the barber) and the Big Mosque are the most important. Sidi Sahbi is not really a Mosque but a Mauve because the barber of the Prophet Mohammed is buried here. Within the old walls Kairouan is a cheerful and colorful market place with many carpet salesmen. Kairouan is the center of the carpet industry. The water basin's of Aghlabides are very interesting, de basin's are dated from 862 and filled with water from the Cherichera mountains by an aqueduct, the capacity of the basin is 63.000 m2 .
About a 100 km from Kairouan lie Sbeïtla the Roman Sufetula with extended ruins. The excavations are marked by the triumphal arch of Diocletianus the arch of Antinius Pius and the large Capitolium all are dated from the early Christian period. For overnight we going to Gafsa in hotel Maamoun. In Gafsa we rent a jeep to visit the Tamerza mountains and the Seldja rift a beautiful trip through a phosphate area near the Algerian border and the village Chebika. A walk through the rift is highly recommended and a uncommonly experience, The rift extend a 15 km and is about 150 meters deep with beautiful colors, over the hill you return to Chebika. Ask for a local guide otherwise you don't find it!
Tozeur near the Chott El Djerid has a remarkable building-order; the stones are set in such a way that it create always some shadow. In Tozeur we visit a little zoo with coke drinking camels, trained scorpions, snakes and the museum Dar Cheraiet where traditional furnitures and dresses are exhibited. After the museum we have a long travel through the Chott El Djerid a salt-marsh for our destination Douz. A uncommon trip which was in the earlier days not without risk. During the trip you will see sometimes beautiful oasis some up side down at the horizon but this are fata morgana's. On the way some salesmen trying to sell sand-roses, mineral-crystals and dates. In Douz we stay in hotel Toeareg.
Douz is a little oasis at the border of the Sahara. Very early in the morning with sun-rise we will make a camel-ride through the Sahara. The Berber who provide the camels wish that we dress our self in the original desert-clothes which is necessary because it is very cold so early in the morning and the sand is always shifting. It is quiet an experience to ride on a camel over the yellow sand-dunes of the Sahara and looking the colorful sun rise. We continue via El Hamma a local market to Matmata a typical Berber village. The Berbers are a independent nation that do not accept any domination. The surrounding of Matmata is like a moon landscape dry dusty and with many craters some very large. In cavities in the mountains living the Troglodyten. These selfmade cavities providing a good protection against the cold heat and enemy. We continue to Gabes an oasis at the coast. On the central square you can rent a coach for a nice round trip through the oasis. For overnight we stay in hotel Oasis
Early in the morning we depart for Djerba a island of about 28 by 22 km. The history goes back to Odysseus the Greek wanderer on the island of the Lotos-eaters and the departure of the Jew's. We use the ferry-boat and on the way we saw several dolphins playing around the boat. The Mediterranean is here still wealth of fish. There are still a lot of Jew's on the island and we are invited to visit the Synagogue Hara Sghira. The inhabitants of Djerba are business-like and belong to a conservative puritan trend within the Islam namely the Kharedjieten. The women wearing enormous straw hats which belongs more to Mexico than here. The market of Houmt Souk the capital of the island is very touristic
because the island is a important holiday-residence in Tunisia. Via the dam build on an old Roman fundament we travel back to the mainland to Mèdenine where we visit the Ghorfa's (a kind of tub-vaults in the shape of a ton) in the former days used to store goods from Africa. The Ghorfa's are situated around a square and forms together the Ksour. For overnight we travel via Gabes along the coast to Sfax.
After a short visit at the souks of Sfax we continue our trip to El Djem the old Roman city Tsysdrus. Here you will see the largest Coliseum except the Coliseum in Rome which is bigger. In The Roman time this theatre has a capacity of 30.000 visitors which enjoyed here the very cruel games of that time. The theatre is in a well preserved condition you can find every detail the Lion-cage the water-bowls for the Lions etc . You need at least a couple of hours to observe everything.
It is remarkable that the theatre is so well preserved but you can't find any Roman house or bathhouse in the city. We continue the trip via Monastir to Sousse for overnight.
End of the Tunisia round trip.