Two weeks in Tunisia with Overseas Adventure Travel (oattravel.com). If you decide to investigate, PLEASE USE MY NAME as a referral! You save $100 per traveler in your reservation and I'll get a $100 discount on my next trip.
1 Started by sitting at the wrong gate - but figured it out before I was left behind
2 Left Paris in the rain - first glimpse of tourquoise water and blue sky was finally as we approaced Tunis.
3 Triving from the airport - first impressions.
4 'Home' for first 4 nights.
5 Roof Terrace of the Hotel Belvedere, Tunis
6 View from the Terrace
7 Looks pretty and worthy of exploration.
8 Housekeeping is very welcoming
9 View from the taxi to La Marsa - in search of a gallery I read about.
10 Wandering around La Marsa getting a sense of it while looking for the gallery
11 Beautiful cofe
13 And then we found the Gallery "El Marsa Galeri" with a complicated and amazing wooden door. (this image was online. The door when we got there had a grate in front of it and was hard to see.)
14 found El Marsa Gallery - lots of really cool contemporary art, no signage but a very friendly propietor knew all about all the art. This is a private galley well placed for the populationm of La Marsa, a well-heeled suburb of Tunis.
15 I was very much attracted to this one.
18 Scene outside
19 And here is the Med
21 A rather odd structure built in different eras, probably a restaurant but currently not open.
22 The Liberty monument created after the independence from the French was one in 1957
23 We entered the medina in the jewelry section, a very important part of all marriages.
27 some traditional men's dresses for special occasions.
29 They are handmade to size in multiprocessed stages.
31 If one needs a break during the shopping expeditions.
34 I was drawn to the mosaic on the wall in this area of the medina full of cafés.
35 Looking out through one of the many gates
36 The first of these studded doors found throughout the country
37 They tend to be either gold colored, green, or blue
38 Previously a Madrassa inside the medina, this airy building was now hosting some student artworks.
41 Interior rooms are exquisite
42 Looking Up
46 One of the entrences into the mosque that forms the center of the medina.
49 Some of the houses originally build around the mosque and the souks are now converted to guest house and restaurants. Some still have people living in them.
52 As we leave the medina we are offered tea
53 Just out sideone of the gates busy markets thrive.
54 One 'antiquities' shop had many old radios
56 The gate that demarcates part of the wall at this end of the messina
57 We ate dinner at one of these once-fine houses, Dar El Jeid, which was opulant to the extreme. By the time we left all tables were full.
59 The candles are lit, one by one.
60 An arabian zither (with player) set the musical atmosphere.
61 first courses are prepped here
62 Dinner is served.
65 And we walk out in the magic of a Night in Tunisia (had to get thT IN)
66 Government Center at night
67 Day 3 a morning busride to Dougga, the ancient Carthiginian City built over by the Romans.
78 The Loo
79 I didn't seem to get the hang of it!
83 On the road back from Dougga we stop to talk to some herb sellers - they go out in the morning and gather the wild herbs 9rosemary, thyme, mint, etc., chop it and package it and generally sell out by evening.
84 Next door the kids take on the job
85 We stop in the market town of Testour
89 An unusual mosque
90 Stars of David represent the towns founding by both Jews and Muslims escaping from Spain. They've coexisted for hundreds of years.
92 Day 4 We visit a farm in Majaz Al Bab where we help cook and then eat dinner later while meeting the family, Magid and his wife Souad, and two of their three sons - all highly educated engineers of one type or another
94 Souad showing how she prepares herb tea
95 Souad points out the olive oil tank for the family.
96 the formal dining room
97 living room
98 We go out in the dtizzle to visit the market
107 And then we all get our instructions on preparing the various dishes we'll be eating.
108 Younger son is grilling the peppers and tomatoes that we will peel and smash up to make my new most favorite salad: Mechouia
109 First you peel; then you pound
110 Kathleen being shown how to prep the filling for the Briks
111 Mtri joins in the cookie prep.
113 Making the Fatima Fingers
115 the couscous
116 Up to the roof to get a view of their olive trees
118 Gifts left by prior visitors.
119 A fond fairwell (Trip leader Mtir in the foreground)
120 The terasse is a nice place for pre or post- gatherings
121 And back to out hotel terrace, view to some street art.
122 Flying south to Djerba for the next two nights.
123 I love the choice of rental cars...
124 First site after the airport
125 Why shouldn't pre-school building be painted with child-art?
126 Djerba a very old place that was once a defended 'safe' area for those escaping persicution and is now known as a resort island - still there are descendents of original famililes here, Jews and arabs, and as you can see, cats.
138 We stop for coffee waiting for the rain to lighten - photographs for sale are priced as if in the US.
158 The Venice of Tunisia?
159 Interesting sculpture
161 And then a visit to the synagogue. This has become a place of Jewish pilgramage
169 And then a visit to a pottery
172 The Med
177 Now at a silversmiths waiting for a ring to be made smaller for me.
178 Leaving Djerba's medina - a church and a synagoge side by side
179 Driving along the sea to our lunch stop
181 Sculptures made from cactus fibers - at the gallery - restaurant where we ate lunch
185 More sea views
187 Stopping at the market to buy wine.
189 Part of the dinner buffet at the Royal Gardens - a rather over the top resort hotel that looked to me very much like an Egyptian cruiseship on land.
195 The surf at night
197 morning coffee
198 Where we are and where we're visiting today.
199 The causeway off the island - the old Roman Road, with pipes bringing fresh water to Djerba
202 Passing a typical cafe - with men hard at work.
203 A visit to Ksar Hedada which featured in Star Wars The Phantom
204 Visit to the Ksar Hedada - featured in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and now a hotel.
212 I often make new friends when I travel
216 Short visit to Ksar Hedada (featured in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace', and now a hotel.
217 A local shop that makes the delicious Tunisien sweets we were served for the rest of the trip.
219 More troglodyte dwellings
221 More troglodyte homes
222 and here's where we were going for lunch.
225 The two sisters who own the house, living there with their mother, and run a restaurant for travelers.
229 The sisters preparing our lunch
237 And now we leave Djerba for a 4 hour drive into the sand desert - broken by a couple of interesting stops.
238 views out the window.
240 coming into Tatuoine - a troglodite village
242 First stop: a mountain village where we are shown how the lamb is cooked and prepped for their schwarma-like dish.
244 The cafe.
245 An antique flusing unit for the old loo
246 Learning about the Berber traditions of facial tattoos for women, still evident in some elders today
247 Mtir is explaning aboutthe prorietor's scarf.
248 Café terrace overlooking the mountain scenery
249 this sub-ground dwelling has been partially converted into a guest house/hotel run by the family .
250 Arrival at the other Star Wars set, an in-the-ground troglodyte village now famous for its hollywood history.
251 I like to peek inside doorways
254 Tripmate, Larry, relaxing after a hard morning.
255 Another mural showing Berber women's green tattoos representing their marital status
256 The Berber Alphabet (different from the Arabic one which is much more difficult to manage).
257 Explanation/demo of how rainwater tanks found in every home are used.
264 Where we are having lunch
266 Looking into living spaces
268 They were expecting us
270 Delicious Shatsucka (plus homemade bread and salad)
271 Passage to the outside
272 Leaving the troglodyte villages and heading for the sand desert now
273 A little problem with one of the 4x4s and the shifed sand.
274 Our 'orientation' to our tent city
277 Pre-sundown toasting - Not a bad way to spend my birthday!
278 Happy Hour for sure
282 Turns out Mtil is also a musician
283 Stirring the ashes over our dinner
284 Be sure to watch this to the end!!!
285 Here's the main course
286 right out of the sand. Warm and delicious
287 Here's that lamb you saw being unburied
288 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME - in the middle of the desert!
289 My sleeping quarters
290 full facilites including electricity
291 And now a 4x4 caravan to the camel ride
294 Camel spotting
295 And here are our rides
296 Yeah, that's me - the hump was so high I could reach the 'handlebars'...
300 And now time for lunch in a local home on the way to Tozeur
305 Stopped to see Chott el Jerid, the largest salt lake in the Sahara Desert.
307 Also pretty close Algeria (maybe my next trip?)
308 Shelter and storeroom?
309 Definitely the Loos
310 Quite an amazing accommodation. Individual cottages on stilts with breakfast served onto our private balconies.
313 Common dining room / lounge wtih whimsical decor
320 The cats
321 After a ride to the palm orchard, a lecture/demo on palm pollonation
322 This is the owner of this palm orchard, 70-something, still climbing up each tree.
324 Grape vines on the palm trunks.
325 ancient and still used irrigation system
326 all in my cart were gifted with a hibiscus...
327 We visited a traditional brick factory (the only kind they have here)
330 He was also something of a sculptor
333 and an abstract painter?
334 By law, all buildings in the City of Tonzeur have to have these bricks and are known for their distintive patterning.
338 And now we walk to the medina
339 Keeping up appearances
340 The market
343 Right hot; left hotter
346 center of city
347 not an unusual site in central markets
356 Entering the medina
357 Many Jewish items for sale here - As in many large cities in North Africa, the Jews and Berbers escaped from Spain in the 15th century and established roots here, where several famailies still live.
358 Discovered an artist in her shop/studio in the medina in Tozeur. Didn't buy anything but was lovely to look at - I have her name and details if anyone is interested!
360 her studio
362 And then met the rest of my group in this museum courtyard where they were having tea.
363 Souad explains objects
365 Tozeur colors
366 She dresses up Pat and Kathryn
367 and sings a typical wedding song
368 demo of carding
369 Lunch in the town - my table neighbor tried the camel...
374 This train is moving phosphate, one of the major minerals of the area and the basis of its wealth.
375 Stopped to learn about how pistachios grow.
377 another roadside cafe
378 and another
379 Driving through the modern university city of Gafsa - I was interested to see this young hijab'd woman place her son on the bike before getting on it herself. sorry for no more shots.
380 yeah, another cafe
381 I just liked this photo.
382 Many women working the fields
384 Existing gate of Sbeitla, another Roman city built o top of older ones and later ransacked for materials for cathedrals and such.
386 Little museum inside the entrance
387 My Patron Saint, Bacchus
403 There's always a happy hour...
404 roadside market
405 morning coffee at La Kasbah before going off to see the sights.
408 Visit to the 1000 year old Basins of Aghalabid (see wikipedia for more info - I'm tired!)
412 Abou Zamaa al-Balawi mausoleum - he was the person who was a disciple of Allah and then outlived hi by many years and so was given this mausoleum postumously as a tribute.
425 Looking into the Prayer space
426 The Women's side
430 Learning more about the religious history.
432 The Great Mosque of Kairouan
438 Ancient cup holders! Really.
440 The prayer room
441 And a Turkish scout organization on a publicity video visit
443 And then a walk to the medina
444 Adjacent to our hotel, La Kasbah
446 more sweets
447 Macarons and more
451 There is a water wheel involved
460 a weaver's shop
464 Always another mosque...
473 a mural
474 And a final Home Hosted Meal
475 Mom, Dad, two sons and their wives and two kids each live in 3 attached units in this large house. (+15 for dinner)...
476 Next morning: I went to the hammam - behind the white double doors
477 The ante room.
478 Came back to a new friend who had commandeered my sunglasses, complements of housekeeping.
479 A glass of wine before the Arabic lesson we requested. Total hilarity!
480 Clear as mud.
481 right - that's an alphabet
482 We tried...
483 In the end Mtir wrote each of our names for us... Here's Larry
484 and Allon
485 And Varda
486 No idea...
487 This is Jessica and Jessie. (Right to left of course)
488 We found a very nice restaurant for our last 'on our own' dining experience in Kairouan.
490 chicken with sesame, cashews, mango and prunes
491 In case you're ever there, here's the name...
493 Some more amazing doors as we walked back to the hotel.
495 and a last morning sip
496 It was a grand hotel.
497 fading into the distance
498 and now seeing more women working the fields and the sheep
502 She is making bread to sell to passers-by
504 Her neice comes to see us
505 Her sister gathering twigs for her oven next door
506 Learning early
507 She could probably bring in a lot of money as a model - but perhaps has never even seen a fashion magazine.
508 Local traffic
509 School is just letting out for lunchtime in Hammamet
510 The oldest resort in Tunisia, Hammamet, where our trip leader lives. Pretty, but very full of tourist services.
516 For after our coffee
517 Many, Many pretty doors in the medina
527 and interesting walls
534 I wnt in one shop and watched some henna marking.
536 Heading out of hammamet now and enjoyed the view from the bus
540 Climbing to Sidi Bou Said - our last destination.
541 happliy inhabited by artists, Paul Klee, Louis Moillett, and August Macke
542 and the view from our last accommodation.
543 Hotel Said
544 My room
546 My view
548 one of the courtyards
549 Visiting a museum of musical instruments in the house of Baron Rudolphe d'Erlinger, a French painter and musicologist specializing in North African and Arabian music. Enjoy.
554 Portrait of d'Erlinger (born Bologne-Billencourt, France 1872 - died Tunis 1932.
562 View from the back of the house
565 Morning walk up the stairs to the top of the highest point in Tunis
571 and down to the bottom of the villiage and to the bus for the day's sights.