Sidi bou Said, Carthage and La Marsa
The big wind has dropped and the boat is covered in salt and sand but we ignored it and got a taxi tour of the area. Taxis are very reasonably priced as there are many of them due to not much public transport. Our guy, Ibrahim, is an ex tour bus driver and really knows his stuff on ancient ruins. He took us first to La Marsa to get some internet and go to an ATM that wasn’t broken, then to Sidi bou Said. This is a very pretty little town on the hill above the sea closed to cars and all painted blue and white. We tried to wander around but as there was a tour bus in we got accosted all the time by the shop/stall keepers so it was a bit of a hassle. If they’d leave you alone it would be a lot more tempting to go into their shops. First time you walk by everything is 5 dinar, second time 2 dinar, third time everything under 1 dinar!! I did buy a handbag though.
Next up we went back to La Marsa to an excellent restaurant called Le Golfe right on the beach verandah style. The food here is very reasonable even of this quality. They had wine.
After lunch Ibrahim took us to Carthage. This was a surprise to me. I had rather the impression that it was just a big ruin that you walked around but no – it is a very nice expensive looking town with various ruins scattered around it. So we drove to the original old Carthage (Phoenician to start with) that the Romans sacked in 146BC, then to the ruins of the new Carthage they built 100 years later, then to the baths/gymnasium, then some villas, then the amphitheatre. It was super interesting. We came home very dusty and a bit ruined out.
The next day Ibrahim picked us up again and we drove 40 minutes to Barda where the Barda Museum is. This is the world’s foremost museum for Roman mosaics. It also has a lot of very old Tunisian mosaics too. The archaeologists take these from uncovered sites and try to preserve them so they don’t degrade further due to light, salt air etc. Amazing works of art, part of the awe of it is the effort that has gone in to the preservation work. There are millions of bits of tile in each one. The subtly of the colours and the artistic skills were really impressive.
Ibrahim dropped us off for lunch at a double yellow door by the Tunis medina which opened up in to a beautiful courtyard restaurant. they lent Pete a robe as he was wearing shorts!? but they weren’t worried about me in shorts – strange. They had wine. It is obviously untouristy as there was no sign to say what it is. There were really only local people there, quite a few tables of Arab ladies who lunch.
We walked around the medina/souks afterwards. These ones are all covered and windy all over the place with streets specialising in rugs, lamps, robes, jewellery, food etc. We nearly got lost but discovered daylight just in time to find Ibrahim thinking of looking for us although goodness knows how he would have found us. Another big day. Tomorrow is election day here. Tunisia has been a democracy since 2011 after a peaceful revolution. There are two political parties and no trouble is expected. Ibrahim told us that the country has been very peaceful and settled under the interim government. We will be spending he day cleaning the boat.