PC582 Tunisia
From Snow to Sand
- after 10 days in Sousse, Monastir, Madhia, Sfax, Mahares, Skhira, Gabes (met some CSers Sulin again, and the Korean teacher and Ameth),
Intro - UK is cold and there are cheap flights to Tunisia
- Gone back to UK after Yugloslavia to look after the house while they went on holiday. Then since I was miles behind with my work and billing I had to catch up with that.

- As I did the snow started to come, I'd had to shovel away snow 45cm deep off the path before I left.

- Tunisia was standing out as a place to visit. Cos of the nes 100 Euro long distance flight tax, and I wanted to stay near Europe not cold. Holidays were availble for 2 weeks for 155 pounds, but since that meant getting down to Gatwick. I plumbed for a one way flight from Manchester for 70pounds. There was a scare about whether you can enter Tunisia on a one way ticket so I had to buy a boat ticket to Palermo also.

Initial travel was chaotic cos of snow

- The snow had stopped for 2 days, but there still no trains to the east of Scunthorpe. My ticket was for a train to Manchester, but since the service was disrupted I had to take 3 trains and took 1.5 hours longer.

- My flask suddenly doesn't work anymore, and I'd left my rechargeable batteries and my USB cables; so when I arrive in Manchester that was my job.

- Manchester wasn't great arrived 2.30pm got some rechargeables and then thought Since the new tablet PCs wouldn't be cheap after Christmas I'd have a look for a cheap smartphone. I bought a second hand one with GPS etc for 70 quid. But by the time I'd bought a guidebook MOSI science museum was shut, so went out to the new big museum opposite Trafford Park which just shut as I arrived. then museums were shut when I arrived. I took a bus to Altringham cos its near airport, that took 90 mins, but the next bus took to airport was another 90 min, but I got there for free with my bus pass. Slept there and got my plane at 7am

Wed - Sousse
- OK, I arrived it's 21C, no hassle with the supposed law that you have to have an onward ticket. The immigration officer saw me outside the airport as he left work and stopped for a chat. Bussed to town walked to beach area and found the youth hostel 10DH for a private room not bad. thats £4.50 and it's got free Wifi.

- Walked. LP guidebook is deficient; it doesn't mention my hotel which is $6, nor the catacombs, nor does it mention that if you come into the medina after the catacombs and turn right that I would find myself in an area of bright pink doorways with unappealing fat women beckoning. It was a dead end as well so I couldn't get to the house museum, I had to turn around and walk all the way back. (everyone else I met got same problem)

- Wed : also met up with CSer Salem & his guests from Poland. V tired cos slept Tues at airport.

- Thu - walk, tourist - I went to explore Medina etc. Back to catacombs cos yesterday arrived after they closed. It's far cos only 1 of 4 sets are open the "Bon Pasteur". Crap cos you only visit 100m of the 4000m of tunnels and they moved the famous mosaics to the museum which you can't see anyway as it's under reconstruction for 3 years.
- Tunisia is not V cheap so only went into 3 of 6 sites : Souk, old Caravansi house, other old house museum. Big old Jewish cemetery .. what's the story no Jews in Tunisia now ? (seems Jews left for complex reasons : Israel wars from 1967 then government socialising some of their businesses in 1980 more info)

- Some good French supermarket but restaurants are too expensive for me. - Walking all day then internet work. didn't sleep til 2

- Fri - Explore more - So I went Hamman Sousse Souk (market) today. Walked to beach and then most of the 4Km back. Very windy ..just hotels so not interesting.

- Sat - Explore more - We had a CS meet up, Salem, Mhmed, Inez

- I've been in front of the computer for days trying to stay on top of recent urgent work.

- After a couple of days of sun when I came we had about 10 quite cold days. they have cycles of 5 black days (cold) , 5 white days (hot) Thank God I brought that fleece I really needed it when the wind was blowing.

- Mon - met a German guy Julian who had hitched, but having arrived in Tunisia found it too much hassle.

Tue - me and German guy Julian went to Kairouan

- It's Islam's 4th city. Louage from behind hotel to louage station. Got down when we saw Kairouan Medina ..good choice

...First visited Grand Mosque with some columns moved from Roman sites. Walked around Medina, but it's got Mr Backsheesh people with the Carpet Shop Game, Julian was annoyed by this. The have an upstairs well with a well bucket chain powered by a camel walking around. Went to MJ, but not working so he checked into hotel and we met up with CSer Sulin who studies masters in English. We walked with her, chat and pisa then to ancient pools. Met Japanese female tour group. Walked a few other saints graves. .... Actually Kairouan is nothing compared to Morocco

- I came back by louage

Wed - Fri in Sousse
- More computer work in Sousse then left to tour country clockwise so tomorrow I will start heading South : Monastir + Madhia so maybe I will meetup with other CS travellers in the next weeks
People and Places in Sousse
- Café Voulant - right in front of the old port in front of the medina - A place where women can eat, but at the prices men only cafes change - friendly owner Emile speaks good English.

- One area that is OK is On the coastal highway 2Km north of the medina is that street running from the beach and Gokart track to South side of Hammam Sousse it has a park and a lot of fast food places, busy without being too touristic.

Sat- Metro to Monastir
- Metro to Monastir, nice train -
- walked into Medina a bit touristy, past old Mosque
- Ribat - the fortress - nice enough, but not good feeling of history.

- Bourghibas shrine -
- like most of Tunisia cos the population has grown so fast it's a bit of an old town with boring chracterless suburbs spreading for miles. I walked then took metro to Madhia.

Sat - Mahdia town
- There are few backpacker travellers in Tunisia just Zone Touristiques normally stuck 8Km out of towns so people assume I am just a dumb rich tourist
- checked into Medina hotel walked around, nit of a Medina, Fort, remains of ancient Carthegian port, old mosque.

- @VizTopTips cafe waiters in Mahdia town : Be Special, Stand out from the rest of the hospitable Tunisians by charging tourists double
- don't those idiots realise that if they didn't overcharge the tourists the first time then they might come back a few times in their holiday
- O I wouldn't recommend Madhia, but fricasse seller was great friendly and correct price.

Sun - Direct to Sfax
- I just walked out of town to louage station .. I could have stopped at the Coliseum town of El Jem, but I less touristed archaeological sites.
- arrival in Sfax was a mess I walked in circles or an hour before I found the Youth Hostel on North side of Soccer stadium, not on the south side where the guidebook said it was.
- another characterless sprawl tacked onto an ancient medina.
- Anyway I am already sick of Tunisian markets it always the same old crap plus thousands of second hand clothes shops.
- Met friendly roomate Muneer. Tunisian students trashed the bathroom.
- Heavy police presence for soccer match as they have a lot of hooliganism

Mon - onto Gabes
- OK Sfax was boring so decided to push on down the coast. Looked for some ruin at Mahres didn't find it, coffee at Skhira. Checked into hotel 1Km north of town. After 6 months I finally got my glasses fixed, a proper new lens cut and fitted within an hour... I knew there would be some place more resonable than the 50 quid I was being quoted in Europe and England.
- Trouble is the other night I forgot to disconnect my earphones from the computer before I got up so they bust, so something else to buy.

- I went to north of town to look a Palmerie; nothing special really just allotments in a forest of palm trees.

- Evening I met up with Sulin the Cser who we had met in Kairouan, we walked and talked.

- Tues - I walked in old market and took a bus to the Palmerie Oasis again a disappointment cos to British people an Oasis is a picture perfect lake in the desert ..this wasn't. .... Came back into to n and had a meetup with Sulin and surin a Korean volunteer worker living in Gabes.

- Wed - Met up with Amin who works in a local bank, then set off to Djerba a large island.

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