12-Days In Tunisia
The whole trip took 14-days, but two days were devoted to travel.
Charles DeGaulle airport, Paris.
Traffic into Tunis.
We saw almost everything Tunisia has to offer its visitors from its capitol, Tunis, Carthage (the one-time home of Hannibal), down to the south-east of the country in Tozeur with day trips to Mides and Mamerza close to the Algerian border for a train (the Red Lizard opened in 1899) ride in the Seldja Gorge, then on four-wheel vehicle drives in the Sahara desert, then crossing the great salt lake down to Douz, followed by a trip to the resort island of Djerba, then back up north to Sousse, Kairouan and Monastir before heading back to Carthage-Tunis airport for our flight home.
Tunisia must be one of the most visitor-friendly North African country with many attractions that can surprise and enthrall. Its history was shaped by many including the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Vandals, Ottomans, Turks, Berbers, Arabs, and the French. The country's fields are filled with date, olive, citrus, pomegranates, vineyards, and cactus, and imports 40 percent of its food. The landscape varies from oak forests and heather to the Sahara desert to rocky mountains to the fertile regions to the sandy beaches with hundreds of resort hotels.
The architecture varies from the Roman ruins to the Berber underground homes to the pit house built into the mountains to the Punic in Carthage to the European and Islamic elements from the French colonial period to the modernist-art nouveau/art-deco style.
Since Tunisia has been under the influence of Islam since the 7th century, the architectural style is predominately seen from the large number of mosques with their elaborate doorways, minarets, and their souks/bazaars. Most homes are simple cement-walled buildings, many without windows, with dirt floors. There are also those in the middle class and upper middle class with marble floors, modern furniture, kitchen appliances, and air conditioning.
Tunis downtown clocktower at the end of Habib Bourguiba.
Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul.
FIRST THREE NIGHTS - Day 2 to Day 5:
Our first three nights were based in Gammarth, about 25-minutes north by bus from the Carthage-Tunis airport. Our first day tour included a quick drive-through tour of downtown Tunis with one photo-op stop at the cathedral before our first stop of the day. The Bardo Museum, a former palace of the Tunisian king, which houses the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world (dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries), and located on the outskirts of Tunis was overwhelming with the number and sizes of their mosaics and other collections. We also had a walk-through of Tunis' medina (old town) designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bardo Museum mosaic shows a Christian church.
Roman sarcophagus (3rd century): depicts the three Graces and the four seasons of the year.
NOTE: Will post more pictures of our first three days later today.
In the afternoon, we visited Carthage to see the Punic Ports, Roman Amphitheater, and the Roman Public Baths of Antoninus Pius. Our last stop was in Sidi Bousaid (once home to painter Paul Klee), an Hellenic village perched on the cliffs above the Mediterranean with shops and restaurants painted in white with blue window shutters and doors.
We visited Dougga the following day, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the capitol and theater. Before our return to the hotel in the afternoon, we were shown the Roman Water Reservoir and a surprise visit to the North Africa American Cemetery located close to the ancient city of Carthage where 2,841 of our military dead are interred on 27 acres. They also have a Wall of the Missing where 3,724 names are engraved. Although most are from WWII, they also include some from the Gulf War. They have a small chapel and the memorial court which contains large mosaic maps depicting the operations from WWII.
The following day was a 8-hour scenic transfer day to Tozeur.