There are virtually no Europeans here in the capital city of Tunisia. Just too many local, unemployed, sex-starved guys, smoking cigarettes, hanging out with each other in cafés while gift wrapped women pass them by on the street. I can’t say I am enchanted by the shabbiness of the city either. The food is just okay and prone to being infused with sand or grit.
I have never been drawn to arid countries, and am not particularly enchanted by Islamic culture and it’s bronze age mentality anyway. However Tunisia is a little more progressive than its other North African counterparts. Tunisia is actually on travel advisory lists which is why I have seen so few tourists. This certainly doesn’t help the poor guys trying to make a living either.
Taxis are extremely cheap so you do not had to rely on trains and buses. My food bill has been equally reasonable. It was nice to get out of town to Sidi Bou Said, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot going on there. The town was attractive and pleasant to walk around except for dealing with desperate shopkeepers. Again, this is understandable given dearth of tourism due to the travel warnings.
I certainly hope I find Morocco more compelling, but it may be that it’s not my cup of tea. After all, you can’t love every country or region you happen to visit. I’ve never been into hot, dry and dusty so this should come as little surprise. I am well prepared to be turned off by India, so my travels there next year should tend to be short lived.
Upon arriving in Tunis, there was a little festival going on with a virtual army of heavily armed police to protect against potential Libyan terrorists. It’s bad enough they have to deal with their own problems here without having their Islamic brothers bringing death and destruction to their cities.
One thing though, the people are very nice, and I’ve engaged in many conversations with them in taxis, restaurants, and even on the streets after a movie. Thank goodness I know French. It has already come in very handy.
THE CITY CLOCK IS DECORATIVELY WRAPPED FOR THE HOLIDAY
Tunisia is far more progressive than other Islamic countries when it comes to womens’ rights.
The ladies here wear quite a mixture of clothing. Many skip the hijab, and you won’t see any burkhas.
A SHOPKEEPER KEEPS HIS SPIRITS UP BY MUGGING FOR THE CAMERA
The souvenirs were better here than in Tunis, but thankfully nothing attracted my attention. Having just sent three kilos of stuff back home this came as a great relief.
DAR EL-ANNABI – Private Art Museum
These shops even had wood models of those beautiful doors from around the town.
This was an interior shot of one of the nicer shops. The guy was so desperate to sell me a mosaic that he chased me up and down the street.
This café was recommended by Katharina in Gozo. This was not the one, but the results were good anyway.
It had a phenomenal view from a rooftop setting, and they served up a good cappuccino for about $2.00.
Local youth in Western garb. In Tunisia I saw more Yankee baseball caps than in N.Y.C. on any given day.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THESE
Jubilant children stroll past some orange trees. Another group was singing songs as they walked down the streets.
The Tunisian flag flies on this building with yet another decorative door.
ONE LAST ENTRY BEFORE WE GO BACK TO TUNIS
HOTEL ROYAL VICTORIA – A Treaty between the Dey, the Bey, and the soldiers of Tunis, and King Charles II enabled Britain to maintain a Consular and later Diplomatic presence on this site from 1662-2004.
MEDINA BAZAAR – Kilometer of Krap – Cheap Chinese fake shoes, bags, shirts, sunglasses etc.
Finally, I secured an authentic Tunisian dish. Up until now it’s been Turkish kabab sandwiches with vegetables and a nice spicy sauce for $2.00 a pop.
Subsequently I found a phenomenal restaurant with amazing rotisserie chicken and local specialties. For a half chicken, spicy soup, salad, rice and a half baguette the price was a mere $3.00. Incredible!
ACROPOLIUM – Saint Louis Cathedral – It is an old Roman Catholic cathedral on the peak of the Byrsa Hill near the ruins of the Punic and then Roman city.
No longer used for worship, the cathedral is used to host various public events and concerts. In Paris where religiosity is on the decline you will also find many lovely cathedrals featuring concerts of classical music usually featuring string instruments. You will often find the Sainte Chappelle Chapel offering concerts such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which is a religious experience when the rays of the setting sun stream through it’s exquisite, gothic, stained-glass window. That’s one show not to be missed, and so many are unaware it exists.
This amphitheater had a capacity of 50,000 people and featured gladiatorial bouts, as well as wild animals.
LIONS WERE KEPT IN THIS ENCLOSURE
THIS SPACE WAS CONVERTED INTO A CHRISTIAN CHAPEL
THE ALTAR – Strange to have this chapel on the former site of such unparalleled barbarity.
How many went to their deaths here to entertain the locals?
GLADIATORS AND OTHER CHALLENGERS WOULD ENTER THE ARENA THOUGH THIS TUNNEL
On this place stood a three naved, Christian basilica paved with mosaics – 6th. Century A.D.
CHAPEL OF ATERIUS – 6th. Century A.D.
A PORTION OF THE MOSAIC IN THE CHAPEL
CHANNEL THAT DIRECTED WATER TO THE BATHS
A WONDERFUL SETTING NEXT TO THE SEA
I don’t think I mentioned it before, but the Romans invented concrete. Here’s a nice example of that master stroke.
ANOTHER CHANNEL FOR DIRECTING WATER IN THE COMPLEX
SOME BEAUTIFULLY DETAILED LARGE FRAGMENTS
Just next to the baths, major preparations were underway for a big celebration or Government sponsored event.
Aqueduct & Giant Cistern
The aqueduct that supplied the city and the Roman baths, is seen here flanked by the giant cisterns that stored water until needed.
QUITE A RESERVOIR
EL ABADIN MOSQUE – A modern mosque that just happens to be the second largest in Africa. The largest is in Casablanca that I should have the opportunity to visit.
RUINS BEHIND THE CARTHAGE MUSEUM
LADY OF CARTHAGE – 5th. or 6th. Century A.D. – The figure has a stately bearing, but feminine hairstyle and earrings. The halo may be an imperial emblem, not reserved for saints or angels, but associated with allegorical figures. The lack of identification of the figure is unusual, and therefore the figure must have been well known, perhaps a personification of the city of Carthage.
COLOSSAL HEAD – Princess Antonine
MODERN STAGE LIGHTING AND SOUND ENHANCE THIS ANCIENT SITE
CONCERTS ARE HELD REGULARLY HERE
Museé Bardot – This museum houses Brigitte Bardot’s massive collection of ancient mosaic art. She started collecting back in the Sixties as she skyrocketed to fame and sunk most of her earnings into her passion for mosaics. Of course, this is complete and utter bullshit, but after swallow so much from the Donald I figured it was my turn, so sorry for that. And also sorry to the rest of the world for the fact that my country has lost its collective mind.
CHRISTIAN BURAIL GROUNDS – These were inserted in the floors of churches.
CEREMONIAL DRESSING OF A LADY – Lady sitting on a high-backed chair and surrounded by two maids helping her doing her hair and makeup. The field is strewn with items for the bath and grooming. The face of the illustrious lady, split in two, is reflected in the mirror presented to the viewer.
The mosaic of the Most Holy Sepulcher and the memorial of Golgotha in Jerusalem – 6th. Century A.D.
ROMAN HOT TUB – Honestly, I have no idea of the purpose of this other than the fact that it is beautiful.
VIRGIL – This is the most emblematic mosaic of Roman Africa. It is the only known quality picture of Virgil, the great Roman poet (1st. century B.C.), found in Hadrumentum just centimeters below the ground in the ruins of a 3rd. century A.D. mansion, where it adorned the reception alcove of the atrium.
HERMES – 1st. Century B.C.
A divine assembly belonging to the Libyc world. Female bust flanked on both sides by busts of seven men. 200 B.C.
BUSTS OF THE FOUR SEASONS – Second Century A.D.
BOAR AND SOW LYING – 3rd. Century A.D.
BLACK AND WHITE GRAPES – 3rd. Century A.D.
ULYSSES RESISTING THE SONG OF THE SIRENS – 260-280 A.D.