Tunisia - Visit on the tip of Africa


Back home it was a public holiday and so I used the time on an extended weekend to visit Tunisia. Although it is still Africa, Tunisia is real close to Western-Europe, even closer than many East-European countries. To visit the capital Tunis in summer probably wasn't the best choice, but even tho with high temperatures it was a pleasant visit.


July 29 - Arrival in Tunis

Coming from Algeria, it was a quick flight of only one hour. There was no problem and no situation for my blood pressure to rise, at least up until immigration when the customs officer punched the stamp in the middle and absolute center of the empty page 36 in no man's land of my passport. It wouldn't be such a big issue, but as I'm running out of pages in my two-year-old passport, it is now becoming an issue. Usually, I ask the officers if I can choose the page and the place for the stamp, but this time I was too slow.

Tunis Map:


Today it was Sunday. It was hot, much hotter than in Algiers. The ride from the airport to the center is only a 15 minutes ride and the route doesn't give the taxi driver many opportunities to play around with circle driving games.



A visit to Carthage in North-East of Tunis

I didn't want to waste the Sunday afternoon and after check-in in the hotel, I took the train to the north of Tunis to the district called Carthage.

There is the village Sidi Bou Said, which is famous for its white houses with blue windows and doors. It located right next to a nice beach and a wonderful lookout over the Mediterranean sea. Spent about 3 hours there and if I knew how nice it is, I easily would have spent more, but also wanted to make a quick stop in another village, on the way back to Tunis center.



Hannibal City, oh no!

However, that other city called "Hannibal" wasn't worth the stop. Why did I want to visit there? Well, google suggested it, as it told me there are some cool ancient ruins. I found the ruins but they were closed today for visitors. A good example to not blindly trust Google all the times.

The train between Carthage and Tunis center is very slow. It takes about an hour in a very uncomfortable train and not enough space for so many people. Also its hot and as it is a communal train, all levels of society can be found in there cramped together. No wonder that fights and shouting occur there from time to time during that hour of train riding, as even the police had to join and regulate the conflicts.




July 30 - A visit to Hammamet

For today I had to decide if I want to visit Tunis center and its old town, or if I should do the effort and take the train to visit Hammamet. I asked the lady at the train station counter what Hammamet is and if its worth it. She looked shocked, could not understand why I'm in Tunis and not knowing Hammamet:

You dont know it?! Hammamet is wonderful and right at the beach. They have big hotels and many restaurants, a long boulevard along the beach and a big ancient fortress.

Sounds like the perfect mix for tourists. I couldn't resist seeing that mix.

Hammamet is about 2 hours from Tunis by train and I quickly figured out that it is indeed a tourist village with nice beaches and blue water and restaurants. It also has that promised big fortress right at the beach, whereas the fortress even had an old town, the "Medina", inside itself.



The Tunis Tourist Factory works!

When I was there I googled again. The marketing for Hammamet is doing a good job on the internet. It is shown as a little paradise on the websites. However, when I arrived there, I wasn't really that convinced. The water is blue and the weather is nice, the buildings are white and the fortress is there.

But, something didn't work for me. I think one reason was the huge traffic along the boulevard right in front of the nice fortress. The ancient fortress and two meters beside it the cars from the 20th century simply don't fit together. And also it was almost impossible to make a photo of the whole fortress without any car on it in the background. A bit annoying.


I was in Hammamet for about 2 hours before i found, that I should slowly take the train back to Tunis. As the train back is only running every three hours, it was a not the worst idea and so would be back in Tunis in the late afternoon.



July 30 - Medina and the crowd

It was Monday but it felt like a public holiday in Medina (old town). There are so many people in the old town of Tunis it wasn't a fun experience. Bazars everywhere with narrow aisles. Because of lack of space people shouting sometimes in the left, sometimes in the right ear, whereas Bazar's sellers take advantage of the situation where no tourist can move forward anymore:

Hello Sir. Welcome to Medina. Today is special price day! I have here some special towels and other special things for you, come, do you want to take a look inside the shop?

It was too crowded in this heat of a summer in Tunis and I wish I brought my earplugs with me.

Medina is a huge bazar area. It's very narrow and all these tight aisles for many kilometers easily help to lose coordination. When being in such Bazars, I normally hate being distracted by all the sellers who want to sell me something, but this time it was mainly the huge crowd.


Within the Medina, there is a huge mosque, the Mosque "Sidi Youssef Dey".


Then there is some rooftop terrace, from where its possible to overlook the whole Medina. What a relief to take the stairs up to the terrace, away from the narrow aisles. And what a view from up there.



Outside of Medina

Every Medina has a beginning and an end, and so does the Medina of Tunis. On the left side of it is the Tunis City Hall. A big place with a big monument placed on it. Not sure if it has a connection to the Algiers monument, cause they both look almost the same. Except that the exemplary in Algiers is much bigger copy than this one in Tunis.

And on the right sight of the Medina is the Porte de France "Beb Bhar". Its basically separates the old town (the Medina) and the modern town of Tunis.




July 31 - Easy Easy

Another stroll through Tunis' Medina and the rest of the day went by, without having me doing too much. It was simply too hot.

I walked to the big arch called "Bab Saadoun". From there one more time through the Medina to get lost, and into some coffee shops and restaurants to spend the remaining time in Tunis under airconditioned circumstances.

Later in the evening, I had my flight back. Summarized it was OK for an extended weekend.

No comments