Tunis, Tunisia
36° 48' N 10° 10' E
May 13, 2007 01:35
Distance 18622km

Text written in: English

First steps in Africa

We were very weary travellers indeed by time we finally arrived Africa at 00.35 local time. Fortunately, we both slept right through the final two hour leg from Frankfurt to Tunis airport. We were grateful to find that the airport was not at all the madhouse we were expecting - the whole affair was actually rather well organised and relaxed, and there was not a mob of taxi drivers or hotel touts hanging around in the arrivals hall as you find in some European and Asian airports. The immigration was more than happy to accept that we were brothers (what with the whole homosexuality=jail=no tourist dollars equation which, let's face it, is no fun for anyone), so we were quickly on our way.

We stayed in the "ville nouvelle", which was every bit as French as the name would imply. We were also only about 10-15 minutes walk from the medina, which is the crazy market part of the city that the mind evokes when one thinks about North Africa. I even went to a hammam there ; Daniel refused to attend for hygiene reasons and I have to say it would definitely not have been his thing. I quite enjoyed it, it was definitely an experience that you would not have anywhere in the West. Quite gratifying to find a unique experience in this "global shopping mall" we live in (CF: Edina Monsoon, "Paris"). Cadinot afficionados would be dissapointed however, both with the hammam and the medina.

We stayed in Tunis for a few nights, and then decided to move south to the coast, to Sousse (see next entry). Tunis was marvelous though, with lovely French style cafe terraces with populated with gloriously attractive brown men. It must be said that that was one of the strangest aspects of the place - one would see perhaps *one* woman on the street for every 20 odd men, and absolutely no women whatsoever in the cafés. When I mentioned this to a Tunisian he replied "of course, what would a woman be doing in a café"? So much for social progress in a country where half of all university graduates are female!

Tunisia was also our first full-on dictature as well, so it was quite interesting trying to explain that I had studied public consultation processes in local goverment! The only beer for sale was that produced by the state-owned monopoly (Celtia) - in some of the international hotel bars we did find other brands however. I think our week in Tunisia was the probably the most sober I have been in a decade. I guess it did me good!

We also went to a gym while we were there (3 dinar or US$1.5-ish). It was terrible - the equipment was so old and none of the cardio equipment was even plugged in! But we did appreciate our fellow athletes ;-)

Anyway, that's enough blah-blah, here are the photos.

Photos / videos of "First steps in Africa":

In the Medina. I didn't take too many photos there, as it was too hard to capture the atmosphere properly, and in any case not the sort of place you want to hang around too long camera-in-hand Architecture in the ville nouvelle Architecture in the ville nouvelle Architecture in the ville nouvelle One of the many glorious but ramshackle abodes in the ville nouvelle I love modern architecture, and noone does it better than dictators Our lovely hotel. I had breakfast every morning on the balcony. I love modern architecture, and noone does it better than dictators. This place is apparently a gift to the president's wife I love modern architecture, and noone does it better than dictators