Friday, May 19, 2023

Tantalizing Tunisia in October 2023

 Tantalizing Tunisia


Day 0  

18.10.2023

  -19.10.2023


CCU > Delhi (2000 hrs) >Jeddah (2300)          - flight time 5.30 hrs

Airport/Plane

Day 1 

 19.10.2023

Jeddah (0730) >Tunis (1030) > Testour > Dougga > Bulla Regia > El Kef         -- flight time 5 hrs                                                                    

overnight in El Kef

Day 2                      

20.10.2023

El Kef > Maktaris> Kairouan   

overnight in Kairouan

Day  3  

21.10.2023 

Kairouan > Sbeitla or Sufetula >  Tozeur


overnight in Tozeur

Day  4 

 22.10.2023

Tozeur > Nefta>Chott El Gharsa > Mos   Espa> Ong Jmal > Chebika Oasis > Mides >  Tamerza > Chott Djerid > Sabria 


overnight in Sabria

Day  5 

23.10.2023

Sabria > Douz > Ksar Ghilane >Guermessa  >Chenini >7 Dormants > Ksar Ouled Soltane >Ksar  Hadada > Ksar Jouamaa  


overnight in Ksar Jouamaa   

Day  6 

 

24.10.2023

Ksar Jouamaa > Ksar Hallouf >Toujane>  Sidi Idriss hotel > Matmata Troglodyte House  >  Guellela pottery village > museum  of  Djerba > Ghariba of Djerba > Borj Ghazi Mustapha of Djerba


overnight  in Djerba

Day  7 

25.10.2023                       

Djerba > El Jem  > El Jem Museum>Mahdia>  Sousse   

  

overnight in Sousse

Day  8 

26.10.2023   

Sousse > Sousse Medina>Ribat fortress  > Monastir >  Sidi Bou Said   

overnighin Sidi Bou Said

BEL APPART A SIDI BOU SAID

https://goo.gl/maps/4hGAT3Ba4LhSPvXQA


Day  9 

27.10.2023 

Sidi Bou Said > Carthage  > Sidi Bou Said

overnight in Sidi Bou Said


Day   10                                

 28.10.2023 

Tunis hotel > Avenue Habib Bourguiba> Medina of Tunis  >  Tunis hotel

overnight in Tunis 

32 Avenue de La Gare, 1000 Tunis, Tunisia

https://goo.gl/maps/MQAHUYhUbztZygGk6


Day  11  

 Day     12                    

29.10.2023

 30.10.2023

  31.10.23

Tunis (11 40) > Jeddah (18 00) : Jeddah (0105) > Delhi (08 45)                       

Delhi (515)>CCU (730)       

Airport/Plane


The Spice jet flight was deferred 4 times !

                           (source : http://postcardofnations.blogspot.com/2010/10/tunisia-map.html)

Day (-) 1 :  (17.10.20 - Tuesday) CCU>Delhi (T-1)

I went to the airport directly from office. The traffic was minimal. It is  the 3rd day (Tritiya) of  Durga Puja. Thanks to Massart, I have been able to see all the famous Pujas of Kolkata from 13.10-15.10.23. We have taken car from our trusted person Dipankar (@Ertiga 3500, Scorpio 3500, Dezire 2500 , Winger 4800). We hired Tata Winger.

We (Mohua  came directly from her office) took Indigo at 1935 hrs from CCU and reached Delhi at 2155 hrs. The fare is quite high @ Rs 7750 per head. The price has significantly gone up after covid. Just outside Terminal 1, is Airport Express metro. We paid Rs 60 to reach Hauz Khas and then took same metro (we did not get down) which took us to Greater Kailash (we paid the extra fare at the exit counter of GK Metro for Hauz Khas to GK) - this is the purple line which goes upto Botanical garden, because at the airport we could not buy ticket upto GK.

From GK metro, we paid around Rs 30 to reach K block of CR Park, where Jaideep stays. Before reaching his house, I managed to see the Co-operative ground Durga Puja of CR Park. We slept at his house.

Day 0 : (18.10.20 - Wednesday) : Delhi (T-1) : 20 00 hrs > Jeddah : 2300 (flight time 5.30 hrs)

In the morning, I went to Kalibari of CR Park and after lunch we left for T-3 of Delhi airport by Uber. The uber in Delhi seems to be cheaper. We paid Rs 265 only. In the airport we met our other friends.

We took Saudi Arabian Air. It is full of pilgrims to Mecca for Umrah. Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year, unlike Hajj. The toilet was really stretched. Most of the small TVs behind the seats were not working. It seemed to me, many of them are travelling by air for the first time. The food is good.

Please note Tunisia is no longer visa on arrival  for Indians (or e-visa not possible). You need to apply to the Tunisian embassy in (in A9/A6 Vasant Vihar,Delhi). Since part of the tour is organized by Tunisian Travel agent [ Depart Travel Services (+216  25 09 95 89) - owned by Aymen - first 8 days] and last 3 days were organized by me, they were confused and asking for the Hotel vouchers booked by Depart Travel services. Even if the itinerary was stamped by Tunisian Tourism Commissioner, they would not accept it. Later after communicating with them for 15 days, with some sleepless nights, finally email receipt from all the hotels in Tunisia solved the problem and we finally got the visa. It is not a sticker ! But a rubber stamped visa ! The visa fees were Rs 6300 and Travel agent charged Rs 3500 per head for the service ! I had never so much problem for visa (that too after visiting 31 countries). We had already paid 30% of our non refundable Tour cost.

In Delhi airport they asked for stamped (by Tourism Authority and Depart Travel Services) itinerary of Depart Travel Services !


Day 1 (19.10.20 - Thursday) : Jeddah : 0730 hrs > Tunis : 1030 (flight time 5 hrs)

In the Jeddah airport we met a Bangladeshi. He keeps the airport clean. He gets a salary of Rs 40,000 per month. He graciously gave a bottle of water. There is no free water in  Jeddah airport. There were some Sri Lankans too who were working in the airport. The plane left little late at 730 hrs, which partly derailed the plan for the day - which was tight in any case.


Day 1.1 (19.10.20) Tunis & proceed to Dougga, Bulla Regia,El Kef -overnight in El Kef


We (8 people) arrived at Tunis airport at 10.30 am (1 hour behind schedule) and met the guide  Houssem and left with the car to Dougga. But if you travelling solo, then you refer to note by a blogger :

How to get from Tunis Airport to the City Centre ?

Downtown Tunis is approximately 7 kilometres from Tunis-Carthage International Airport and is connected to the city centre by public transport. Usually, when arriving in a new country we will do everything possible to avoid the airport taxi bandits, but metered taxis in Tunisia are so cheap you can opt one for It.

The main reason  is  Petrol price is only 2.2 Dinar or Rs 57/- , which is 50% of India. We paid 10 Dinars (on the date of leaving tunis  on 29.10.23) each. We took 2 Taxis. So we paid 20 Dinar in total. The metre showed 7.1 Dinar or Rs 180 approx . The rest we paid as tips for our luggage. (Our Travel agent was charging 35 Euro (or 110 Dinar for one Van accommodating 8 people. We did not opt for it)


To avoid being ripped off too much we did what we do at most airports and headed to the departures drop off area to grab a taxi returning to the city. Everyone else had the same idea and the few taxis that did come by were swiftly nabbed by locals so we decided to walk to the main road outside the airport and try and get one there. 

The fare was 7 dinar (1 Dinar =  INR 26.5) including luggage which was more expensive than the bus which costs around 1 dinar, but was worth it. Please note that if you take a taxi after 9 pm there is a 50% surcharge.

If you opt for public transport, bus #35 leaves the airport every 30-40 minutes and terminates at Tunis Marine train station on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the city centre. If you are staying in the Medina, your accommodation will be between 1½ and 2½ kilometres from there (another reason we chose to take a taxi from the airport).

There are public transportation options - bus, tram, metro all around Tunis and the metro runs overground connecting most of the city. The fare is about 0.6 dinars a ride, but with taxis being as cheap as they are, I hardly bothered with the tram service. In case you are wondering, unfortunately, Uber is not available in Tunisia, but you can use OTO app.

Getting around in Tunisia is relatively easy. You can either take the bus or a louage, or the train. I wouldn’t advise on taking the train as it’s unreliable and doesn’t go faster than the bus. There are several bus companies you can choose from, it’s usually around the same price, and they don’t often offer the same routes, so it’s not hard to pick one. They all leave from the city bus station.

Louages are minivans, it costs a bit more than buses, but they go faster. In each city, you’ll find a louage station, they leave when full. For remote destinations, go there early, later you will wait forever for it to be full. Drivers usually don’t scam you, and often, you buy the ticket directly at the station.

Be careful, in more remote destinations, transportation usually stops around 5 pm. Always check beforehand, and don’t listen to people saying that there’s always louages running, it’s only true for the main axis. Roads are usually in a good state.

Understand Tunisia

Carthage was a settlement in what is now known as modern Tunisia, that later became a city-state and then an empire. It was founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC. 

The Phoenicians were a people from the eastern Mediterranean who were mainly traders from the cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos (all 3 part of Lebanon). They established many trading ports or trading colonies around the Mediterranean Sea, including colonies in Spain. 

In the year 814 BC, they founded the city of Carthage on the North African coast in what is now Tunisia. After the fall of Phoenicia to the Babylonians. Babylonia was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia ( where world’s earliest civilization developed ) – which is in Iraq. During the reign of Hammurabi and afterwards, Babylonia was called "the country of Akkad. Carthage became the most powerful Phoenician city in the Mediterranean and the Carthaginians annexed many of the other Phoenician colonies around the coasts of the western Mediterranean, such as Hadrumetum and Thapsus (both in Tunisia). They also annexed territory in Sicily, Africa, Sardinia. 

Hannibal is considered one the greatest generals ever, alongside Alexander, Julius Caesar. Carthage was a serious threat to Rome and defeated them in the 1st Punic war. Hannibal was in Italy for 14 years. He was almost undefeated. Only in the later part of his life he was defeated by Romans

Carthage reached its height in the 4th century BC as one of the largest metropolises in the world and the centre of the Carthaginian Empire, a major power in the ancient world that dominated the western Mediterranean. 

The Spanish city of Cartagena (near Alicante) was founded around 227 BC by the Carthaginian Hasdrubal the Fair (Hasdrubal was brother-in-law of Hannibal Barca) after the death of Hamilcar (father of Hannibal).

Following the Punic (Phoenicians were called Punics) wars, Carthage was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, who later under Julius Caesar built the city lavishly.      

Religion : 98% Arabs,1% Berbers, 1% Jews
Area Total - 163,610 km2 , which is  somewhat double the size of West Bengal
Population - 11.7 million or 1.17 crore

GDP (nominal) $49.815 billion and nominal GDP per capita $4,071, GDP PPP per capita $12,300
(vis a vis India :  GDP (nominal) of India $3.737 trillion, Indian nominal GDP per capita is  $2,601 , GDP PPP Per capita $9,073.

 

Tunisians are not Arabs, they are a mix of Berber peoples, that should probably be more classified as Mediterranean than Arab. Second, Tunisia is the only standing democracy in the entire region, and were responsible for the Arab Spring, a huge movement in 2011 that spurred pro-democratic movements throughout the Middle East, which is likely the reason ISIS attacked Tunis in the first place.It’s extremely sad to see these attacks in the headlines, because it will undoubtedly decimate Tunisia’s already struggling tourism industry that’s been hit hard by the Arab Spring. 

With ISIS looming large in Syria/Iraq, and the conflicts ongoing in Libya, most people wouldn’t even think about visiting this region. Not at any point did I feel threatened or out of place. For what it’s worth, similar terrorist attacks happened in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo museum a few months back. Does that change your views about visiting Paris? Probably not right?

Tunis was a pleasant surprise. It was much nicer than I anticipated. It’s also the most European of all the Middle Eastern capitals I’ve visited. Having been a French colony, the architectural influences are clear as most buildings outside of the small medina (old city) have buildings that look more akin to Paris, than somewhere like Marrakech.

Avenue Habib Bourguiba, probably Tunis’ most impressive street, was modeled after the Champs Elysses of Paris. Tunis reminded me more of Istanbul, and is perhaps even more European in its architecture. There isn’t much to do in Tunis itself. A day is probably enough to see most of the sights in Tunis city center.


I met a Libyan soccer player staying at my hotel who was in Tunis to get his visas sorted out as the country of Libya had descended into chaos. He gave me a completely new perspective on things....He said Libya used to be the wealthiest nation in Africa (fact) and that his country enjoyed liberties only matched by those of the Scandinavian countries including free healthcare, free schooling, a $ 5000 cash payment for having a child, free land and resources for those that wanted to start farming, etc.

Now he didn’t call Gaddafi a saint but he said many more people liked him than the media would have you believe...Rebels that fought Gaddafi were largely led by former Al Qaeda members and the young people that fought were brainwashed into thinking democracy would be a quick implementation. Queue all the conspiracy theories about the West’s intervention, oil, gold currencies, Iraq etc. and I’m sure I could write thousands of words about this.

After the war, a lot of people fled Libya and came to Tunisia where their wealth has driven up costs of living for the local Tunisians. He stressed that no one wanted to leave Libya. Their lives were good and people were happy. The left out of necessity and most people that stayed did because they could not afford to leave

Language

Tunisians generally speak Tunisian-Arabic as their first language, French as their second language, and English is their third language. French and Arabic are the official languages of Tunisia. Most people in the cities speak French.A little French will go a long way and I found my basic language skills very useful. Tunisians will expect you to speak to them in French rather than Arabic.

English is scarcely spoken and while the younger generation have a better grasp of the language, I would advise picking up a few French phrases or at least downloading Google Translate! Although these days English is increasingly popular, especially with younger generations. There is also a local Tunisian dialect, and the Berber population have their own language (Berber).

Cost of living

Tunisia is a pretty cheap country. A meal costs between 3 to 5 dollars, you won’t pay more than 15 dollars for a long-distance bus ride, and you can find a bed in a guest house for as low as 15 dollars per person depending on where you are. Sights and activities are also usually cheap. Tunisia is probably the only country in the world where you can visit UNESCO world heritage sites for 3 USD for foreigners. In El Jem we paid 12 Dinar (ie 4 Euro) and generally it is 8 Dinar (or Rs 200 approx or little less than 3 USD) for other places like Dougga.


SIM Cards are super easy and cheap. The two cell phone providers I recommend in Tunisia are Ooredoo and Orange (our travel agent gave us Ooredoo). Sim cards are a pay as you go in Tunisia. I would recommend going for the 5GB for around 15 dinars if you are staying for a week. All their data options are valid for 30 days.

Plugs: In Tunisia, the power plugs are type C and E, the standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. I recommend taking with you a universal adapter.

Currency, Money exchanges and ATMs

Tunisia’s currency is the Tunisian dinar. You are unable to exchange the dinar outside of Tunisia. You will need to exchange your cash when you arrive at an airport in Tunisia or with your hotel. Most places do not accept credit cards. Make sure you have enough cash at hand at all times. The currency is the Tunisian dinar which is divided into 1000 millimes. It illegal to bring dinar into the country. The exchange booths at the airport didn’t offer rip-off rates like they do in many countries. I’d recommend having most of your cash in Euros. US dollars are not the default currency, we found out. Rather it is Euro. Please take Euro preferably and not Dollar. When you change currency take the receipt. Without receipt they wont allow you to change Dinar to Euro on the date of leaving Tunisia at airport. Thankfully my wife had the receipt.

How much should I tip in Tunisia?

Tipping does not work the same way in Tunisia as the U.S. When you tip someone it is not based on a percentage of the final bill. A waiter at coffee shop 1-2 dinars. For taxi drivers, I would tip between one to two dinars if they help me with any luggage.


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This tour from Tunis to Dougga, Bulla Regia, and Le Kef is the perfect way to experience the wonders of Tunisia's ancient past.
First, we headed to Dougga (111 Km from Tunis), a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best-preserved Roman cities in North Africa. Dougga is an ancient Punic/ Roman /Berber settlement that sits atop a hill overlooking a valley of olive groves.  We opted for guided tour, by our Tour Company Depart Travel services, but a solo traveller can go by Louage option and riding it out with the locals!

There are only 3 ways to get here : Private Taxi, Guided Tour and Public Mini van (Louage). The private options are pricey as Dougga is almost 2 hours outside of Tunis. 
There are a few Louage stations in Tunis, located on different sides of the city depending on which direction your destination is. Dougga is to the west, so my louage left from Bab Saadoun. The louage stations can be a bit overwhelming at first as you’ll be bombarded with people yelling “Hammamet”, “Bizerte”, “Sousse! Sousse!”, all trying to figure out where you want to go. You have to tell someone “je veux aller au Dougga” or “I want to go to Dougga”, and they will immediately directed you to a van where like public taxis everywhere else in the world, wouldn’t leave until it was full. It can even take 50 minutes when it is full and ready to go. The louage is not the most comfortable of vans, but they are in much better shape than similar vans in other countries. You can have some interesting conversations with some of the locals on the ride and the Tunisian countryside is so beautiful.

The louage takes 2 hours to reach Dougga but does not take you to the ruins themselves. So you have to hire a Taxi. Entrance fees are 8 dinars.

To save time we had Pizza in our car from Papa Johns in a Petrol pump.  Enroute we had a quick stop in Testour, Andalusian city par excellence to admire its architecture and visit the unique mosque, as it is on our way to Dougga; but we spent only 10 minutes (because our plane was late) - ideally it should have been 30 minutes. There was no time to taste the famous cheese of Testour. Moreover we did not have dinar.  From all parts of the country, Tunisians, visit the city of Testour, to buy the distinctive cheese of the Testour.


Our next destination is Dougga. Visiting Dougga should be high on your list as it is some of the most stunning Roman ruins I’ve seen in my travels and best of all, there are VERY FEW visitors unlike the mass hordes of tourists in Italy.

You'll have the opportunity to explore its stunning ruins, including the well-preserved Capitol and Theater, the Temple of Saturn, and the Punic-Libyan Mausoleum, Baths (including Termas de Caracalla). However due to lack of knowledge of our guide, we could not find/see Punic-Libyan Mausoleum, Baths (including Termas de Caracalla).

Best thing about it? The only people you will probably see is a group of Tunisian tourists and few foreign tourists . You will probably have the entire place to yourself. But nevertheless, these ruins were more or less on par with the ruins, I saw at Ephesus in Turkey. I would rate Ephesus slightly higher. Dougga is an UNESCO heritage site, unlike Bulla Regia. Bulla Regia is not on UNESCO heritage list as on date.

We had to rush in order to be able to visit all those sites. Since we started the day late, it is the only option left, if we were to cover all the places !


Bulla Regia

 

After that, we had to backtrack to go to Bulla Regia, an ancient Roman city renowned for its unique underground villas. When we reached Bulla Regia it was 1635 hours. Bulla Regia is not an UNESCO heritage site, unlike Dougga - I don't know why. Here, you'll discover the secrets of these extraordinary villas, which were constructed underground to protect their inhabitants from the intense heat of the region, House of Fishing, House of Amphitrite. 

However due to lack of knowledge of our guide, we could not locate mosaic of nude venus at the house of Amphitrite, dolphins and underground villa. Later when I saw that in the youtube, it made me very upset. From the youtube I could see you have to walk around 200 metres from the entrance to see it.


Le Kef or Le Kef

 

When we reached El Kef or Le Kef, it is already dark. We went straight to the hotel - Hotel Les Pins . It was 6.30 pm when we reached our hotel. We went to a restaurant at 730 pm little up the hills. It is a hilly region. That is all we can make out.

Day 2 (20.10.2023): Maktaris and Kairouan - overnight in Kairouan

We visited Le Kef or Elf Kef in the morning, a city with a rich history and impressive architecture. El Kef (or Le Kef, Arabic ‎) is a small city in northwest Tunisia. The city is built onto the southern face of the Jebel Dyr Mountain, which is part of the Teboursouk Mountains, the eastern end of the High Atlas Mountains. 

Once in El Kef, you have two options to get around -- walking and by taxi. However, given the city's small size, walking should be the best option and the most convenient one.
El Kef is a small but picturesque city, built up the mountain and absent of all tourists . You probably won’t need to be too long here, but it’s a good stop to stretch your legs as you wander the city’s kasbah (an ottoman-era fortress built in the 1600s) and medina for a great view of the surrounding valley.

 

After breakfast at our hotel at 8 am, we headed towards the Kasbah or FortWhen we reached the small museum it was yet to to open. We then visited the Byzantine Kasbah, a fortress that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscape. We  could not  visit the Dar Hassine Allani Palace, the Great Mosque. Our guide does not know the location of Dar Hassine Allani Palace. This is  a disturbed area - North West of Tunisia - very near Algeria. We were apparently escorted by Police. The guide did not allow us to sit in the front, because it was not allowed as per rules.

We then left for Maktaris or Maktar archeological site. We reached there at 1040 hrs and spent almost 40-50 minutes there. The guide told us we can spend only 10 minutes there ! It is also an interesting Roman ruins with a huge gate. 

In the 3rd century BC the Numidians built a strategic fortress at the site, chosen to control trade routes between Sbeitla, Kairouan, and El Kef. After the fall of Carthage in 146 BC, many Punic refugees flocked to Maktar, bringing their culture and skills. Buildings, civic organization, and language were strongly influenced by the Carthaginians.

Roman occupation at first retained the Punic government and administration, while Roman immigrants largely remained in a separate community . Mactaris grew into one of the richest cities in the province as a transit point for grain, oil, livestock, and textiles between Carthage, Sufetula, Dougga. Under Trajan (97–117), the city was romanized. The city received a uniform Roman constitution and colony status, whereby all residents were automatically given Roman citizenship.

There is a small museum there which we also visited. 

Then our next destination is Kairouan. We had  lunch at a restaurant in medina of Kairouan. After lunch, we visited the old medina of Kairouan (UNESCO World Heritage and place for local pastry called “Les Makroudhs” in Medina).

Then we visited the Grand Mosque. But it was closed since it was prayer time. This mosque was erected in 670, which corresponds to the year 50 AH, the Muslim calendar. It was built by the Arab conqueror Oqba Ibn Nafi. In Kairouan’s Grand Mosque, only muslims can go inside, but non-muslims can enter the courtyard. It is the holiest mosque of North Africa and visiting here 7 times is equivalent to visiting Mecca once.

In one of the cafes or rug/souvenir stores near the Great Mosque - they have a rooftop which you can visit . We went up,  to have the wonderful panoramic view.

Then we visited the mausoleum of the barbarian Zaouina Sidi Sahbi. It reminded me of Andalusian architecture of Morocco and South Spain. It is really very nice. 

The guide does not know the mausoleum of  Bir Barrouta - where we were suppose to go.

Then we visited the Aghlabid basins. Basins of Aghlabids (a network of pools that have provided locals drinking water since the medieval ages) . However it was closed when we reached there.

Then we were supposed to visit its unique carpet weaving workshops. This is the Rug Capital (Tapis Sabra) . But we ended up visiting a carpet shop. I bought a small carpet for 70 Dinar.

We had Dinner in the hotel Continental Kairouan. It is a very good hotel with a very good spread.

 Day 3 (21.10.2023) :  Sufetula or Sbeitla orand Tozeur - overnight in Tozeur

 
After breakfast at your hotel at 7 am, we headed towards Sufetula or Sbeitla  archeological site. This is another Roman City. I found it most impressive of all. I did not have much of prior knowledge of this place. 

One of North Africa's best-preserved ancient Roman cities, Sufetula is awash with temples, monumental arches and bath complexes that speak of an ancient civilisation that knew how to live. Much is still unknown about this evocative site. Some of its Byzantine-era basilicas have beautifully mosaic-covered baptistries still in situ. Roman Sufetula, established at the beginning of the 1st century AD on the site of a Numidian settlement, seems to have followed an evolutionary path similar to that of other Roman towns in the region, such as Dougga and Mactaris (Makthar).

The surrounding countryside proved ideal for olive growing (it still is), and Sufetula quickly waxed wealthy, building its finest temples in the 2nd century, when the town – like all of Roman Tunisia – was at the height of its prosperity. Fortuitously, its olive groves ensured that Sufetula continued to prosper long after other Roman towns slipped into decline, helping it to become an important Christian centre in the 4th century. The Byzantines made Sufetula their regional capital, transforming it into a military stronghold from where they could tackle the area’s rebellious local tribes.

 The celebrated temples – Sufetula’s standout highlight – tower over the surrounding ruins. The wall around them was built by the Byzantines in the 6th century AD. The entrance to the forum is through the magnificent triple-arched Antonine Gate, built in AD 139 and dedicated to the emperor Antoninus Pius and his adopted sons Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.

It opens onto a large paved forum surrounded by two rows of chopped-off columns that lead up to the three 2nd-century temples, each dedicated to one of the main gods of the Roman pantheon. 

The Temple of Jupiter, in the centre, is flanked by slightly smaller temples, to Minerva, Jupiter's daughter and the goddess of wisdom, on the left, and to Juno, wife of Jupiter, on the right. Jupiter's temple could only be reached by bridges crossing over from the other two, not from a flight of stairs in the front. The ensemble gives a palpable sense of what the centre of a Roman city looked and felt like.

Until it was sacked by the Arabs, Sufetula was a centre of Christianity in North Africa. The path running northwest from the churches crosses a neat grid of unexcavated streets before arriving at the scant remains of the Arch of Septimius Severus. To the west, before you reach the arch, are the remains of the House of the Seasons, named for a mosaic now in the Bardo Museum in Tunis. Vines are finely carved into its colonnade, and it has a few large rooms surrounded by columns.

The ruins of the main baths, east of the forum, are remarkable mainly for their complex under-floor heating system in the hot rooms, easily discernible now that the floors have partially collapsed. Geometric mosaic floors are still in place here, as well as in the connected palaestra (gymnasium) – some are modern replacements but are easily distinguished.

The impressive reconstructed 3rd-century theatre, just east of the Great Baths, has a prime position overlooking Oued Sbeitla and is particularly picturesque in spring when wildflowers are in bloom.

(from Lonley Planet)


We skipped our lunch today. Our next destination is the desert city of Tozeur.

The city of Tozeur itself is perhaps less interesting than its surroundings. Tozeur is about as 180 degree as it gets from Tunis. While Tunis is a hectic European/Middle Eastern hybrid of a city, Tozeur is tranquil and sparsely populated. 

As far as towns in the desert go, I’d have to say that Tozeur is actually quite nice. This is the type of town you envision when you think of some lost city in the middle of the Sahara. The stuff that movies like Aladdin are made of. It’s a city that’s still retained most of its classic architecture and is home to one of the largest palm forests in the world.

After reaching Tozeur we visited the old medina of Tozeur - Ouled El Hadef - unique by its architecture and its narrow lane, this medina hides a history and a beauty that are worth at least an hour’s walk. It has typical brickyards of the region. 

As it is surrounded by mountains and desert, the climate is actually quite mild year round. When I visited in October, day time was a pleasant 30 degrees and night time dropped to 15 degrees or so.

Then we did the horse carriage tour for 5 Euro in the oldest palm grove of the region. You can admire the multi-storey farming, stroll between the date palms and pomegranates and visit the typical brickyards of the region. The carriage can carry 5 people maximum. Since it is located right in the city so you can either walk or take a horse carriage ride through it. 

Tozeur is characterized by its seemingly endless display of giant palm trees in the middle of the city and is also one of the highest date producing regions in the world. People actually live in this palm tree forest . Tozeur is located in the Sahara desert, and more specifically, at one of the largest Oasis in the world. It’s home to over 400,000 palm trees, most of them being date palm trees. The town is famous for its date production, and some of the world’s best dates come from Tunisia.

After the horse carriage we had a free time of 30 minutes and bought some souvenirs.

There’s no shortage of good food in Tozeur. All the street food : shawarmas, rotisserie chicken, and couscous are available here. Don’t expect much seafood here, as it is in the middle of the desert. One thing you can easily try here is camel meat. There’s an abundance of camels in this part of the country and turns out people do eat them.

We had our dinner in one of the restaurants near the medina. Then we left for our Hotel El Arich nearby.

Day 4 (22.10.2023) : The mountain oasis, the night in tent - overnight in  Sabria


After breakfast at your hotel at 7 am with two 4x4 WD vehicle , first we went to see the famous basket of Nefta and admire the landscape. 

Then we crossed the famous salt lake of Chott El Gharsathbisanduneanrockobstacles to go to the largest and most famous Star Wars site in Tunisia (Mos Espa   village). 

From Mos Espa we stopped at the site of Ong Jmal (“Camel’s Neck), to admire its landscapes .

Interestingly most people in Tozeur have never even seen Star Wars sites !

Then we headed towards Chebika Oasis, the destination of many filmmakers. Hike for around 40 minutes with an English speaking local guide to visit the ancient village and the source of water that springs from the side of the mountain. The first stop on the trip is in Chebika, a small town with a huge date production facility.

Then we went tMides  to discover its large canyons and then we headed to Tamerza  to admire its waterfall. We spent around 20 minutes there.

Then we are head towards Sabria sandy village, after crossing the salt lake of Chott Djerid. It is the Largest salt lake in the North of Africa with more than 5000 sq km - and then we went through a petrified sand site and  discovered a method of cooling hot water in southern Tunisia - which is used to irrigate the palm grove.

Then we were dropped (from 4 WD car ) at a place where our van was waiting and had our lunch in a nice bikers cafe. There we met a famous Tunisian biker. This place is renowned for bike rally - possibly because roads are empty. Moreover the roads in Tunisia is very good.

Then we arrived at Sabria camp site. and settled in our tent. We had to get there before sunset . 

We took camel ride for around 13 Euro (we bargained with the camel owner - they were asking 20 Euro) for 1 hour ride, to see the sun hiding shyly at the horizon and the sand extends as far as the eye can see.

Then we settled in our desert camp/tent and around 1900 hours enjoyed a demonstration of sand bread making (bread prepared under the embers). 

During dinner under open sky, we heard Berber music with Drums and admired the stars.


Day 5 (23.10.2023):Berber villages (Ksar Ghilane, Tataouine): overnight in Ksar Jouamaa

After breakfast at at 9.15 am , we visited the local market of Douz. After spending around 15 minutes in the market, we exchanged our dollar for Dinar here . Douz is considered Tunisia’s “gateway” to the Sahara.

Then we headed towards Ksar Ghilane - the oasis famous for its natural hot water spring. It is possible to swim here. It took a quite bath in the hot water spring. The other members of the group did not do it.  We did not do quad tour or camel ride in the sand dunes of Ksar Ghilane - more so, since we left from our camp at 9.15 am instead of 7 30 am. We skipped our lunch today. We did not have the luck to see the Bedouins with their herds of dromedaries or a Fennec.


We continued our travel to Tataouine and stop in the middle of nowhere, every time a landscape catches our eye as far as Guermessa, magnificent Berber village which dominates the mountain. We visited Magnificent Berber village of  Guermessa (not inhabited to a large extent) and skipped visiting the other berber village of Chenini, still inhabited. 

We then stopped at the mosque of the 7 dormants. 

Then we visited Ksar Ouled Soltane against the wish of our guide. 

After that we visited Ghomraseen /Ksar Hadada (Star Wars shooting location). But it was already dark. It has been converted into a hotel. 

[ Note: this was a little hard to find as Ksar Hadada is also the name of the village. Your best bet is probably to put “Mosque Blacksmith Palace” into your Google Maps. The stop you’re looking for will then be just across the road (look for the wall and the info sign about Star Wars film sets .]

Enroute Tataouine falls Ksar Jouamaa and we settled in your Ghorfas (berber cave rooms from 18th century). Ksar Jouamaa is an 18th century attic, at the top of the mountain of Béni Khédache. The location is amazing and is a wonderful place to see the sunrise or sunset. As with Tozeur, Tataouine's the surroundings, rather than the town itself, that make it worth a stay. We had our dinner and stayed overnight at Ksar Jouamaa 


Ksar Beni Barka (abandoned cave dwelling and fortress – and the coolest stop on our entire trip!) . We did not see Ksar Beni Barka. https://www.outofyourcomfortzone.net

 

Day 6 (24.10.2023) : Djerba Island - overnight at Djerba 

I saw a nice sunrise from the panoramic view point in the Ksar Jouamaa. After breakfast at 7 am , we headed towards Matmata the troglodyte village. On the way we saw Ksar Halouef. Part of it has been converted into hotel. 

Then we got down at Toujane berber village to buy some honey and souvenirs and panoramic view of Berber village. 

Our driver had a small coffee break at a small coffee shop, where you can have a wonderful panoramic view. There are some books on sale. This region is also an important trekking zone. Some books were on sale (Hiking in the mountains of Dahar) on trekking route of this area.

Then we visited Sidi Idriss hotel which is also a shooting location of Star Wars

Then we visited a troglodyte house (troglodyte meaning cave-dwellers, were made famous in Star Wars, when George Lucas used one as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home) of Taufique (?) and met the local berber family - where they shown us their house and way of living. They offered freshly mud oven baked Nan with honey and Olive oil. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2018/02/the-last-families-living-in-tunisias-underground-houses/554426/

Then we had lunch at wonderful at a Berber themed hotel. Its location is something to die for. We had Couscous with chicken barbecue.

Then our van stopped at a panoramic view point. For the first time we saw 3 tourist buses - full of French Tourists.


Then we continued towards Djerba island. We entered the island through the famous Roman road (the only road that connects the island to the main land). 

First we visited Guellela pottery village. Though we were supposed to assist them in pottery, but actually our guide took us to a local big pottery shop. There were some small pottery shops nearby too.
 
After that we visited the tradition museum of Djerba. We got to know many things of Djerba or Jerba. e.g. Olive Oil is endemic to this region.

Then we visited the famous “Ghariba” : oldest Jewish synagogue in northern Africa. Our guide told us Jews are living happily with the Muslims. In fact there is inter faith marriage too. 

Then we left for Fort or Borj Ghazi Mustapha. But it was already closed. It is just beside the sea. We had a nice view of the Fort from outside. 

Then on our insistence and with the help of a local lady , who gave direction to our guide, we went to see the famous alleys of Djerba hood and admired the fascinating graffiti of the place. 

Since it was already quite late, we had no option but to skip the famous Houmt Souk, famous for shopping. 

Then we had our dinner at the wonderful hotel Touring Djerba. It is a very special hotel. There was a snake show inside our hotel premises.

 Day 7 (25.10.2023) : El Jem Coliseum and Mahdia  - overnight at Sousse


After breakfast we left our hotel at 7.30 am  and left the island through the Barge (the bus/van/car boarded the barge like Goalondo Ghat of Bangladesh) and headed towards El Jem through the highway. There was a large queue of buses/car at the ferry/ pier. We spent around 1 hour at the place. Only certain number of buses can board the barge at at time. So there are 2 options to exit the island.

Then we reached El JemThis Amphitheatre is the largest in Africa and once held over 35,000 spectators. Gladiators regularly fought here, along with chariot races and other Roman entertainment. It was built in around 200 AD, 150 years after Roman Colosseum. In addition, it was also used for Drumroll, the Gladiator movie. 

El Jem is considered to be the third-largest ever amphitheater ever built, after the Colosseum in Rome and an amphitheater that was destroyed in Capua, Italy.  It has employed techniques better than Roman Colosseum, since it was constructed around 150 years after Roman Colosseum.

The best part of this place? But the best part is that you explore this one with a fraction of the tourists you’ll find anywhere in Italy. No one else is here. You get the whole place to yourself and you can take some amazing pictures. You can also wander pretty much anywhere in and around the Amphitheatre. Forget about the Colosseum in Rome, this place is a far superior sight . It’s in much better condition and though it is smaller than the Amphitheatre in Rome, it gives you a better feel of what it would have been like thousands of years ago to do battle.

El Jem is an easy train ride from the Tunis train station near the place de Barcelone in the center of the Tunis town. If you try booking tickets online from their website, it is a bit of a joke with no English option, and a barely functioning French option. The train fare is 10 dinars and leaves in the morning from Tunis at 8 or 9:30, and returns from El Jem in the afternoon. When the train arrives to El Jem, the Amphitheatre is easily visible from the train and it’s just a short 10 minute walk. 

Then we visited the archeological museum of El Jem nearby. It has a very good collection of mosaic. One of the best I have ever seen. Most of them dates back to 200 to 300 AD.

We bought some mosaics from El Jem. We late got to know this is the mosaic city and place to buy the mosaic and the price of mosaic is cheapest here. Even cheaper than Tunis.

Then we had our lunch. After lunch we continued to Mahdia and visited its famous Skifa Kahla, Borj el Kebir, Grand Mosque, Mustapha Hamza Mosque. We went to see the  Fatimid Mosque of Shia community. It has since been converted to a Sunni mosque.

The architecture of Mahida is very different from what we have seen till date and was a pleasant surprise for us.

After visiting these monuments, we left for our hotel : Hotel Sinbad in Sousse. In the dinner we had famous Ojja.  

Day 8 (26.10.2023):Sousse-Monastir-Sidi Bou Said -overnight at Sidi Bou Said

After breakfast , the first stop was coastal city of Sousse, where we went to explore the Medina of Sousse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were given around 1 hour free time to see the fish and vegetable market and Gold market of the Medina. Then we explored the area around iconic Ribat fortress. But we did not enter inside the Ribat Fortress.

Next, we visited Monastir, the birthplace of Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba. He was a lawyer , trained in Paris. Right next door, is the imposing Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia’s first President and a champion of their independence from France. He is Kamal Ataturk of Tunisia or Nehru of Tunisia. The fact that Tunisia is one of the most liberal Muslim countries in the world, is because of him. He banned polygamy and introduced many modern practices. He made Education compulsory and made health facility free. 

The people of Tunis are quite civilized - they do not honk their car like us in India. They do not throw garbage on the street and the pedestrians have right of way unlike India ! Tunisians are very fond of India, especially India. Everybody seems to know Shahrukh Khan. But they are not that overwhelmed by Bollywood like Morocco or Uzbekistan or Egypt.

In our car we heard the music of singer Balti number of times. He is a super star here. The one which we liked are  :

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDm6-eLClFU - same as Sat Tala bari of Mohiner Ghoraguli !
5. https://youtu.be/KLJA-srM_yM?si=x481zWNm9uojt-_3- not a song of Balti , but an Egyptian singer (Rajyashree song of Nachiketa !)


Here, one can visit the historic Ribat of Monastir, a fortress built in the 8th century. We saw it from outside. Monastir’s highlight is its beautiful Ribat overlooking the sea. Make sure to climb up its towers for a great view! 

Here we met my local friend Bechir Celmi. Here Ch is used instead of Sh. e.g. Hashish is Hachich here ! He is a government officer and Director of Sports Department. He knows Ons Jauber. He took us the Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba and we had wonderful mint tea at a place where he conducts Masterpeace programme. He is actively involved with masterpeace. We were told they work till 65 years of age in Tunisia ( in Government) and get Pension after retirement. Petrol is quite cheap (at Rs 60 approx).

Then we visited Monastir Marina and harbour. We saw it from far and sat beside the sea promenade for some time for a photo op.

Then we left for Sidi Bou Said. We had short stop over at the enchanting beach town of Hammamet. Hammamet is approx. an hour from Tunis. Most tourists travel to Hammamet for a relaxing beach getaway.

One can go to Nabeul and visit the Medina in Nabeul. Nabeul is also known for pottery and you can see many pottery shops and workers molding and painting the ceramics. Hammamet is a beautiful place to  watch the sunset. 

We got down at Sidi Bou Said at around 7 pm. We checked in our Hotel/Homestay. We stayed in two different hotels. The hotels are within 2 minute walking distance from each other. Initially Arindam and Soumya were dropped at the village of Sidi Bou Said. Then we took our van to pick them up, along with the owner of our Guest house, which we booked through Booking.com.  Since our owner gave the good direction, so our driver had no problem locating the guest house - BEL APPART A SIDI BOUSAID, Impasse Chedly Khaznadar étage 1, 2026 Sidi Bou Saïd, Tunisia, Phone: +216 55 587 474 . We paid 88 Euro for 2 days. It is a studio apartment. There is Orange juice, egg, bread, olive oil, jam, yoghurt - kept in the Fridge - free of cost. It is a very charming homestay. 

Our guest house owner bought 4 Chapatis for us from the "Centre" for the dinner- which is around 500-600 metres from our hotel. The 4 Chapatis were enough for 8 of us. It is nothing but a type of Shawarma. We paid 7.5 Euro each.

 Day 9 (27.10.2023): Carthage and Sidi Bou Said - overnight at Sidi Bou Sid

After breakfast (we made the breakfast in our homestay), we left for Carthage from nearby  Carthage Hamilcar (Hamilcar is father of Hannibal) Train Station (called TGM - it is a light rail  - 7 minutes walk from our homestay). The fare is only 0.50 Dinar or Rs 13. We got down at Carthage Hannibal station. It is only 2 stations away or 5 minutes away. 

The entrance fee to the ruins are 12 dinar, which will give you access to all the sights in and around Carthage. Carthage is an ancient Phoenician city that was once one of the world’s most affluent cities and important trading centers. There was a time in their history, when Rome was attacked by their General Hannibal from North Africa -  who used elephants and nearly conquered Rome. In fact in the first Punic war Romans were defeated and won subsequent 2 Punic wars.

Hannibal hailed from Tunisia in ancient times. After Hannibal’s armies were defeated by the Romans, the Romans settled in modern day Tunisia and many ruins were left behind. In fact, Tunisia has some of the most well kept Roman ruins I’ve ever seen. 

There are a few different Carthage metro stops you can get off at, so choose the one that’s closest to whatever site you want to start at. You can buy one single ticket at any of the sites to get access to all the sites. You can reach Carthage from Central/downtown Tunis by TGM light rail. The train costs about 1 dinar (~50 cents).  Sidi Bou Said is a few stops further from Carthage on the TGM light rail. 

After visiting the Amphitheatre , Cistern we went to see the Church at Byrsa hillbeside the Museum of Carthage.  It is somewhat like Acropolis of Greece. It is slightly elevated from the other place, beside the sea. We also went to see the nearby famous Antonine baths beside the Mediterranean sea. 

We did everything walking and then finally we left for Sidi Bou Said. We had our lunch at the centre of Sidi Bou Said and we exchanged Dinar here at the exchagne centre at the "Centre" of Sidi Bou Said. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Sidi Bou Said, except enjoy the views of the Mediterranean, take some pictures of the unique architecture. With its white walls and blue accented windows and roof tops, this place appear oddly similar to Santorini and Chefchaouen of Morocco. It’s hard not to fall in love with this quaint sea-side town outside of Tunis. We had free time to stroll in the alley of Sidi Bou Said. The blue and white village overviews the bay of Tunis.

Cafe de Delices, a restaurant in Sidi Bou Said serving average food is a great place to have a drink and soak in the views. I wouldn’t recommend it for much more than that however. 

The bambaloni,  a fried donut of sorts sprinkled with sugar is a MUST have for any visitors. This delicious piece of dough is only 1 dinar a piece, I had five. Apparently it is only served in Sidi Bou Said. Not sure why they wouldn’t bring this to Tunis as it would sell big time but I could not find it anywhere in Tunis.


Day 10 (28.10.2023): Tunis - overnight at Tunis


After breakfast we left for Tunis. We ended up catching a taxi from Sidi Bou Said to Tunis and paid about 10 dinars. We reached Tunis quite late at around 1130 hours.

In Tunis, we all stayed at the Dar Ali hotel. It is very near to Gare de Tunis. (Dar is the Tunisian equivalent of a Moroccan riad). The nightly rate averaged 27 Euro.

After check in, we left for Avenue Habib Bourguiba at 1200 hrs, walking - which is like Champs-Élysées of Paris. This part is very modern and seems as if you are in Paris. We walked along Avenue Habib Bourguiba. We saw some peaceful demonstration for Palestine on this avenue. It seems to be like our Metro channel. Then we visited the old medina of Tunis and stroll in its narrow streets. 

Old Medina of Tunis - My favourite part of Tunis. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. One of my favorite things to do is to visit old Medina’s and souks in Africa and the Middle East. There is so much culture- the medina is filled with vendors selling local goods and coffee/tea shops, as well as historical and religious monuments such as Mosques, palaces and mausoleums. I bought some awesome souvenirs and tried some yummy treats like Makroudh, (a sweet pastry filled with dates, nut paste and sesame)

Located in the center of town, the medina is the old city, with traditional North African/Islamic architecture. There are large mosques here, and an old school souk, although nothing compared to that of Marrakech or the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It is similar, however, as hundreds of shops selling similar items are bunched close together. Located in the Medina is a good rooftop view of Tunis. Venture the store named El Ali. We were endlessly heckled and he said “at least check out the rooftop, it has the best views”. I said what the hell and checked it out. Totally worth it. Not obligated to buy anything either!

Unfortunately we had no time left for Bardo museum. Bardo museum is one of the most important museums in the Mediterranean region and 2nd on the African continent (after Egyptian museum of Cairo). Largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world, and a wide variety of archeological artifacts thousands of years old and over several civilizations. Of the few tourist attractions on TripAdvisor of Tunis, this was #1. 

I’ve seen mosaics in Turkey and other European destinations, but my goodness the amount of mosaics in this museum were incredible. I’m talking some gymnasium sized mosaics and many many of them. There is a lot of history within the mosaics but I didn’t have the patience nor the time to read up on it. A guide probably would have been helpful for this museum.  It’s a crazy thought that I was here, 3 months before the ISIS attacks.

I can also highly recommend doing a free walking tour of Tunis with Saber! We really enjoyed our tour with him, and it gave us a fascinating look into some of the city’s hidden corners. 

If you have time, go to Ichkeul Lake or Cap Bon (both around 100 km). The Cap Bon, off of Tunisia’s East coast is a popular beach destination among locals. Even during wintertime, the coast is worth visiting, with impressive views, white-sanded beaches, and interesting local culture. Driving along the Cap Bon is the perfect road trip, you can explore everything in one day. You can also go by public transportation.

 Day 11 : (29.10.2023) : 

Transfer to the airport from Tunis Hotel (flight at 1140 hours)

We hired a Taxi for 10 Dinar with our luggage (as per metre it was around 7 Dinar) to reach the airport , which is not very far.

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FOOD

Be sure to have this list of Tunisian food handy when you visit, so that you can try one or more of these popular and traditional foods. I think one of my favourite parts of traveling through the Middle East was the abundance of delicious and flavourful food. Tunisia was the start of it all.

It’s a blend between Mediterranean and desert-dweller cuisines. Couscous with various meats, vegetables, and spices are the main fare here. Add some spicy harissa sauce to it, which the Tunisians are known for and I was set for my entire time in Tunisia.

Street food culture is big throughout Tunisia, with shawarma shops EVERYWHERE. Thin slices of beef or chicken in a wrap with veggies, spices and harissa would make up most of my diet for the next week.

The Tunisians are also obsessed with eating Tuna. They will either eat it straight up with cheese in a wrap or add it to their shawarma sandwiches which is something I’ve never even considered before. Nevertheless, Tunisia is right on the sea and I was already there so I decided to chow copious amounts of tuna as well. Tuna, eggs and cheese feature heavily in Tunisian cuisine.

Couscous is a popular Tunisian dish, but we didn’t come across it much in local restaurants. You won’t meet a woman over forty whose first question won’t be “Have you tried couscous yet?”. Couscous is a big deal in Tunisia; it’s also the main dish. Each region has a particular way to make it, so you’ll have to try it everywhere you go.

Shakshuka is a fairly common dish and although is found all over the Middle East, it was apparently exported by Tunisian Jews who migrated from Tunisia to Israel. A tomato-based vegetable stew with onions and peppers, onto which an egg is usually added so that it poaches on top, this dish is typically served in a skillet pan and served with bread. 

During summer you should also try the mechouïa salad, it’s grilled, and then ground veggies. It’s typically eaten with bread.

Brick à l’oeuf is a common street food snack – it’s a bit like a samosa with a runny egg yolk centre and tastes better than it sounds. Sometimes there are other fillings and tuna is a popular addition. You can find Bricks almost everywhere. This dish is made of eggs and usually, tuna, covered in a thin dough and fried. If you’re on the go and just want a sandwich, try the Libanais, it’s super good.

Another must-try is the pastries, of course. My favorites are the Makroud (you’ll find the best one in Kairouan) and the Kaakwarka made of almonds and rose water.

It is completely possible to eat in Tunisia on a low budget; just don’t expect gourmet cuisine. Having said that, we averaged TND 15 a day on food (keep in mind breakfast was included in many hotel rates), so that should leave a bit of wiggle room for splashing out on a better meal now and again !

1.

Borek / Brik

Stuffed Turnover - Brik à l'oeuf is a classic you'll find on every Tunisian restaurant  menu. It is a type of Samosa. We had it number of times.


2. 

Asida

White Porridge


3. 

Tajine

Tunisian Frittata. Tunisia Tagine is a dish that dates back in history and is considered one of the most popular traditional dishes in Tunisia.

 

4. 

Couscous

 We had it number of times.

5.

Salata Meshwya / Slata mechouia

Literally meaning  Grilled Vegetable Salad. We had it number of times.

 6.

Bsisa

Paste of Ground Roasted Cereals and Spices

 

7.

Tabouna Bread

 Traditional Tunisian Bread. We had it number of times.

 

8.

Makroudh

This fried dessert is made of semolina flour and olive oil and filled with  date paste before being doused in sugar syrup. 

The original Kairouanian sweet      pastry, whose popularity goes far        beyond the borders of the city of Kairouan, is the number one Tunisian sweet pastry. Customer  travel here from Libya, Algeria, and all the governorates of Tunisia just to purchase Makroudh. We bought it and found it somewhat similar to Baklava.

 

9. 

  Osban

Meat & Spices Sausage

 

10.

 Lablabi

Cooked Chickpeas. While lablabi is one of the most popular Tunisian breakfast dishes, the recipe is Ottoman in origin. Among the most popular soups of Tunisian cuisine.

 

11.

Sohlob

 Sorghum Bowl

 

12.

Tunisian Masfouf

Sweet Couscous with Raisins and Dates

 

13.

  Fricassee

Sandwiches. The most popular Tunisian snack food par excellence is fricasse. This is 100% Tunisian and is basically fried dough.

 

14. 

 Zrir

 Seed Dessert

 

15.

Tunisian Kaftaji

The words kofta and kaftaji entered the Tunisian dialect through Ottoman Turkish,    which in turn derived it from the Persian language. In the Turkish language (and in the Arab East) , köfte is ground meat served in the shape of a sausage or a burger and either fired or roasted on skewers over a fire.

 

16.

  Hlalem

Tunisian Soup

 

17. 

 Shakshuka

This typical Tunisian dish is also popular in the Middle East, where it was introduced by Tunisian Jews who migrated to Israel. Hearty and delicious, this stew-like dish is prepared with    tomatoes, onions, garlic and green peppers, along with a variety of optional ingredients such as potatoes, courgettes or even broad beans when they're in season in early spring. Eggs are often added during the      cooking process so that they slowly poach in the liquidy soup. This simple lunch or dinner is eaten with bread: break off chunks to dip into the sauce.

 

18.

Tunisian Bread , Khobz Mbassas

Throughout the year, Tunisians consume different types of bread,     excessively – whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or for sandwiches, you will find bread everywhere in  Tunisia.

 

19.

  Rouz Jerbi

Rouz jerbi is an authentic Tunisian dish that is usually prepared from rice, meat, liver,  chickpeas, and vegetables such as chard, peas and carrots, and parsley.

 

20.

Zlabia and Mukhareq

It is our favourite Jalebi ! The city of Beja, in the northwest of Tunisia, is   renowned for its zalabia and mukhareq, and people will make arduous journeys to get some of these   delicious honey dumplings. The origin of these sweets is Turkey. We had it in Djerba and tastes like our Jilipi or Jalebi.

 

21.

Tunisian Mlawi

This is a popular Tunisian bread for making sandwiches and to prepare it you need     flour, semolina, yeast, warm water, salt and oil. It is prepared in a round shape, and patted out so it is very thin. For the filling various ingredients are used, including harissa, eggs, cheese, and more. It is pure Tunisian bread that is difficult to find in other countries.

 

22.

 Jouajem Drink

The “Jouajem” drink is a mixture of fruits and ice cream that comes from the city of    Sfax in southern Tunisia. It is very popular outside the city, too, and so it has become part of the city’s identity. No one who lives in the city of Sfax, or, as Tunisians call it, the capital of the South or who has  passed through has not had the honor of tasting the juice of “Jouajem”

23.



24

Chorba or Shorba


Maghrebi Mint Tea


 Chorba or Shorba is a staple of Tunisian Ramadan meals, though you can find this delicious soup available year-round. Chorba is the most common soup.


We had it number of times. It is similar to the one Morocco.

 

25.

YoYos

But Tunisian doughnuts, YoYos, are a unique delight. The delicacy combines the sweet flavors of honey with a subtle hint of orange.

 

26.

 Ojja

Often considered fast-food by Tunisian standards, Ojja highlights the heavy influence of Berber flavors on Tunisian cuisine. Traditional ojja combines eggs and merguez, a spicy lamb sausage, in a savory tomato sauce for a hearty, filling meal. Ojja is best enjoyed with a side of grilled bread in place of a spoon or fork. We had it in Sousse.

 

Source : The one in italics are taken from various websites mentioned below

https://nomadparadise.com/tunisian-food/

https://www.tasteatlas.com/most-popular-food-in-tunisia

https://www.chefspencil.com/top-25-most-popular-foods-in-tunisia/

 https://thetunisianway.com/the-15-best-restaurants-in-tunis/

 https://theculturetrip.com/africa/tunisia/articles/where-to-eat-well-in-tunis-10-restaurants/

 

PRICE DETAILS of TRAVEL AGENT:

For a group of 8 people: we paid 725 euros per person from 19.10-27.10.23.


 What's included


· Accommodation in the hotels mentioned in full board (dinner and lunch is provided, except day 8, when there is no dinner

· The provision of a private A/C vehicle during 8 days

· The services of a driver approved by the Tunisian Tourism Office during 8 days

· The services of an English-speaking licensed tour guide during 8 days

· Mid day Lunches during the whole tour (excluding drinks)

· Fuel, parking and highway fees

· 2 4WD vehicles for the Ong Jmal and Mos Espa afternoon

· Our assistance 24/24

· 3 Sim cards that you will receive on arrival

· Packed lunch in order not to waste time the first day.

What's excluded

- Flights
- Drinks and personal expenses
- Entrance fees to all archeological sites and museums mentioned in the program
- Entry fees 
- Optional activities booked onsite (dromedary - carriage - quad ... etc)

The airport transfer the last day - 35 Euros 

Last 2 days (9th and 10th day) we were on our own. Carthage (25 min) , Sid Bou Said (30 min –  is only 25/30 minutes by Metro from Tunis . 
We flew back on 11th day from Tunis.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If an Emergency passport is required, an appointment at a regional passport agency will be necessary unless an expedited option is used. Arrangements may be made using a toll-free hotline provided by the State Department. When scheduling an appointment, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. Getting a passport may take more than five hours.

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