After a trip to Morocco, I had little hope or expectations of Tunisia, but I was pleasantly surprised. Tunisia was not a country on my list of must see countries. A family event, my sister’s wedding, brought me here.
My friends and I were glad to leave Morocco but reluctant about Tunisia as well. Once in Tunis, the streets, buildings, people seemed calmer, cleaner and more modern. Not that I ever cared much for travel to a modern looking country but after Morocco, this was a bit of relief. It wasn’t as modern as western countries but in comparison to our experiences in Morocco, Tunisia mind as well be Paris.
But there was no relief from the heat. Oh boy was it hot!!! In Morocco we would take shelter in our hotel room in the afternoons or by the pool, but in Tunisia there was no escaping. We stayed at my sister’s new in-laws’ house, about an hour away from the capital, Tunis. With the wedding plans and relatives coming into town, the house was full of people and busy with preparations. Can’t say that we were of much help since all we could manage to do was to sit under the AC in our room. Outside was truly African heat and it was the hottest we’ve ever been in our lives, and some of us are from Houston, Texas…where the heat and humidity are brutal. This was different…about 120 fahrenheit but dry heat. We couldn’t even imagine how the locals managed in the heat, most without AC and while dressed in layers of clothing, covered head-to-toe. I guess my advice is that if you are not going for the beaches of Tunisia – which I highly recommend you visit – avoid the summer time in this country.
We experienced the local public baths and learned that in this small town coffee shops are for men only. They gather there at night until wee hours of the morning to drink tea and smoke hooka, no women allowed. That didn’t seem to be the case in Tunis or Hammamet. We also experienced a Tunisian wedding, bachelorette party and all the traditions that accompany a Tunisian wedding including going to the public bath for one night where everyone gets scrubbed a couple of days before the wedding. Henna party, where the bride and other ladies who wish to, have henna applied to their hands, feet..etc, a bachelorette party where only female guests are invited and the bride wears traditional Tunisian (Or Indian as it is trendy attire, and the wedding, which was different from wedding ceremonies and parties I am used to but still very interesting and fun. All in all, it was about 3-4 days of celebration. We met some great people and loved our new family. Miss you guys, if you are reading this…
We also visited some local beaches before heading to Hammamet, a must visit beach resort area in Tunisia. Locals and tourists flock to this town during the summer. It is happening, beautiful, clean and lots of fun. The beaches of Tunisia are fantastic. Miles of white sandy beaches with refreshingly blue water, the beaches are the best escape from the heat.
There are lot of hotels for all budgets in Hammamet. We stayed at Russelior hotel and spa, which was amazing. We couldn’t decide to stay at the pool or to go to the beach. See for yourself. The one odd thing was that the hotel didn’t serve any alcohol but we could go outside and visit any bar or restaurant and be served alcohol. Visit the old Medina here and do some shopping. All around prices were reasonable. Even if we were being charged more because we were tourists, it still didn’t seem like much, unlike Morocco where it seemed very overpriced for the state of the economy (for tourists.)
On our very last night here, our new friends drove in to take us out to one of the most famous night clubs in Hammamet, Calypso. It was an outdoor club and is famous for hosting DJs before they become famous in Europe and the U.S. such as David Guetta and Tiesto. Expect to pay a lot, specially if a well-known DJ is playing. Had an amazing time.
Another must visit area, is Sidi Bousaid. This is a lovely area of Tunis, overlooking the sea and filled with shops, restaurants, hooka lounges..etc. It is the most expensive area to buy real estate in Tunis. It looked very much like streets of Greece.
The one complaint I must make about Tunisia is the ever presence of the excessively friendly bees. Although to enjoy the view, you must sit outside while dinning, the bees were a problem. They didn’t seem to bother Tunisians, who would continuously tell us to leave them alone and they won’t bother you.. well not sure how to leave them alone when they would fly into our eyes and nose.. 🙂 I don’t miss the bees.
Tunisia was a gem… it was never on my list of must see places and frankly I must say that I never even thought I would visit this country, but am glad I did. From what I hear it has lots to offer all year-long from beautiful beaches to mountains in the winter..etc.