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mistybleu Carthage - A travel report by Amanda
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Carthage,  Tunisia - flag Tunisia -  Tunis
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mistybleu's travel reports

Oh ancient of days...

  12 votes
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Africa is such a wonderful place with each country and region having different characteristics. So many different cultures, people and customs; features that makes it a joy to explore.

Thermes d’Antonin
Thermes d’Antonin
To be honest I didn’t know too much about the country and arrived tentatively after a 2 ½ hour flight; so some things I read was a bit of a shock:

• More than half the population is under 18 and more than 35% is under 14
• 99% of the population is Muslim
• Everyone speaks French

Tunisia lies just 80 miles of the south west Sicily; it is sandwiched between Algeria and Libya on the Mediteranian sea. It has a population of 10 million with over 1 million living in Tunis the capital.

At most times of the year the weather is similar that of the countries around the Mediterranean but by summer its differs completely; as it becomes hot and dry. It has 12 hours of sunshine a day and temperatures averages 30 degrees on the coast. Stretching inland, the dirt turns to sand and is incorporated in the Sahara Desert where the temperatures average out at 45 degrees.

Visas are not required for most European, Canadian or US citizens however Australians do require one.

The local currency is the Tunisian Dinar (TND) and is equal to 1000 millimes. The exchange rate is 2.5 = £1, 1.7 = €1 and 1.31 = $1. It isn’t possible to purchase the currency outside of Tunisia, but there are many Bureau de Changes dotted around once there. At the airport it is better to exchange outside the arrival hall as you get better exchange rates.

Getting around
Taxis around towns are fairly cheap, however if getting a taxis from the airport can be quite costly (around 100 TND), but you can negotiate with them. They also have a very good bus service between Tunis and Hammamet which costs a fraction of the price (4 TND) for more than double the distance and contrary to popular believe are not over crowded.

The voltage is the same as in the UK, 220 but they use the European 2 pin plugs.

Public toilets
Most toilets have an attendant, but that doesn’t guarantee the quality but a tip is always required.

Favourite spots:
Roman Mosaics
Roman Mosaics
Carthage was founded when the Phoenicians arrived and settled in 8th century B.C. They became a major sea power, clashing with Rome for control of the Mediterranean until there were defeated and captured by the Romans. The city became the largest of the empire owing to its strategic location before the tide turned. The city was destroyed and within 25 years rebuilt.

The present ruins of are dotted around the lovely tree-lined suburbs. Entrance to the sites cost 7 TND, which is really good value for money, as it includes entrance to eight other sites, allowing a real appreciation of the old city.

1. Amphitheatre
2. Villas Romaines
3. Theatre Roman
4. Musee Paleochretien
5. Musee de Carthage
6. Tophet de Salambo
7. Quartier Magon
8. Thermes d’Antonin

My personal favourite was the Thermes d’Antonin – a roman bath. You can’t actually walk within the bath but you can walk around and get a really understanding of what it would be like.

What's really great:
The medina
The medina
I was pondering what made this vacation so special and I don’t think I’m entirely sure, but I’m now starting to believe it is everything that one experiences.

Tunisia kind of takes you by surprise, but the longer you stay, the more you see the beauty.

Is it standing on the corner and watching men shot the breeze in a coffee shop or walking through the medina – wandering around the old streets, in the small passage ways; seeing the white and blue buildings, or the tiled shop fronts, the rotary chicken in the doorways, the high walls and fancy iron door, the domed and square buildings?

Is it going into the desert and taking a 4x4 ride, or galloping on the back of a horse, or jumping onto the back of camel and head for the hills?

Is it transporting back in time, visiting ancient ruins, walking in the footsteps of other, or meandering the halls of a museum?

Or is it the people?

I don’t know, maybe it just all adds up!

Camel ride in the hills
Camel ride in the hills
Tourism accounts for over 6 million visitors, with over 4 million coming from Europe; most of them completing at least 3 of the popular activities in or around Tunis:

1. Old Medina, Tunis – one of the oldest medinas in Tunisia and is a World Heritage Site. The narrow alleys are so atmospheric.
2. Bardo Museum, Tunis - the museum is renowned for its collection of Roman mosaics, probably the largest in the world.
3. Thermes d’Antonio, Carthage – the roman baths are a fantastic example of the Roman Empire.
4. Dougga, Tunis – this is the most spectacular Roman ruin in Tunisia and is about 70 miles outside of capital.
5. Ruins of Kerkuane, Nabeul – this is a well-preserved Phoenician town that was built in the 5th/6th centuries BC and was partly destroyed by the Romans.
6. Hammamet Beach, Hammamet – on the Mediterranean Sea is a wonderful place to chill. The beach seems it goes on for miles.
7. Nefta, Tunis – a small oasis; said that Noah’s grandson settled here.

Le Zenith Hotel
Le Zenith Hotel
There are some many hotels on Hammamet Beach all around 4 stars. They offer either all inclusive or full board, which is great are you planning to spend most of your time around the beach front.

I suspect as the resort is 6 miles from town, that they provide a comprehensive evening entertainment.

My hotel was about 200 metres from the beach but it was set in a nice resort with a shops and cafes nearby. Down on the sea front there was a lot more.

Beachfront cafe
Beachfront cafe
Doing the holiday resort thing usually means all inclusive or full board, but it’s really a must to try some local food. I found that the two most popular ingredients were fish and eggs; in nearly every dish you’ll find one or the other.

Other popular items include baguettes, black olives, dates, citrus, almonds, harissa paste (this is made from red hot dried chillies) and of course couscous which is typical to North Africa.

Even though this is a Muslim country alcohol is widely accepted in the resort areas; going as far as having micro brewery in Hammamet.

National specialities:
• Dorado (bream) Couscous.
• Tajine (a fish dish).
• Brik or brik à l'oeuf (a triangle shaped pastry encases a soft egg).
• Baklava (sweet pastry filled with crushed nuts)
National drinks:
• Mint tea with pine nuts.
• Boukha (wine, distilled from figs).
• Thibarine (wine).
• Plus date liqueur and fig brandy

Also remember that a 10% tip is required for all services.

Other recommendations:
A burnous
A burnous
Some of the obvious things to buy when visiting Tunisia:

Find one of the governments shop and purchase a carpet, they are not really cheap, but they are truly incredible; especially when you watch one of the Berbers (an original Tunisian) sit and do it by hand, so delicately. I was told that patterns are passed down through generations and each craftsperson has their own pattern that they perfect.

Nabeul is famous for their pottery and yet again, some of the pieces are great. Designs with fishes on them appear to be more expensive.

Within the medinas there are many craftsmen creating some interesting metal pieces. The most popular items I saw were ashtrays, brackets, earring and necklaces.

Now for a bit of fun, if it’s cold, you could always purchase a burnous – everyone is wearing them. They are woollen coats with a hood that looks a bit like Obe-one-canobe, hurrah for Star Wars!

Published on Sunday April 1th, 2007

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Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 07:19 AM rating by krisek

Great and witty report! You are a star! Thanks for sharing.

Sun, May 20 2007 - 04:06 AM rating by marianne

I missed this report because I was away in April. This was a good read and a great reminder of beautiful days we spent in Tunisia. It is strange but I never consider Tunisia as an African country. Africa start south of the sahara, I always think.

Tue, Apr 10 2007 - 08:19 AM rating by magsalex

Great report. I made a brief visit - your report brings it to life.

Sat, Apr 07 2007 - 11:49 AM rating by eirekay

Wow - you have so much GREAT detail in this report! I have really enjoyed your photos - I am delighted you posted this report! Another place to put on my list!


Mon, Apr 02 2007 - 05:14 AM rating by akhila

Amanda, as always, a wonderfully detailed report with great pictures. *****

Mon, Apr 02 2007 - 02:05 AM rating by rangutan

[4.6] Another great report. I find the history interesting and important to mention for this place. This report also reminds me of how different culture can be just across the EU border. I found the place most amazing too, there truly is some kind of magic atmosphere which I could not really describe in my Tunisian mini-report properly either. Like Jorge writes, perhaps it is the folk there. Also, bu no problem, I was stuck there dumb like Mr.Bean, my English, German and Spanish absolutely useless! :-)

Sun, Apr 01 2007 - 08:55 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Well written report. Tunisian people are wonderful and they never hassle you.

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