I don't really know who fleeced who to be honest?
26.06.2009 - 30.06.2009 38 °C
After an invite from Ieu to visit him in Tunisia where he teaches English and a first class ticket for a weekend under £200 I would have been silly to turn him down! With the weather in the high thirties everyday It was definitely set to be a good weekend even if it was spent lazing by the pool!
Ok so to start with my flight with TunisAir was delayed by 45mins and unlike any other airline I have travelled with in the past they were in no rush at all to make that time up by a quick departure turnaround. The fact that I was flying 'premier class' and there was no lounge either wasn't exactly great. On the flight I did get a proper glass and cutlery for the meal which was pretty gross and no choice on the outbound flight - not even a veggi option!
I arrived at Tunis without to many problems. Needed to be screened for Swine flu upon arrival which was quite exciting and then got moaned at by the man at immigration as I didnt know the address of where I was staying but I managed to wing it and made it through anyway.
Ieu and his sister were there to meet me which was nice and I came bearing the Gin they had asked me to pick up for them from the airport although I am not entirely convinced it was a fantastic deal :-s
We got a taxi into town and I experienced the medina! a massive market where loads of people are trying to sell you things. I quickly learned that sunglasses were essential so they could not see you looking at any of their things and then see that as an open opportunity...you looked at it your buying it! We found some smaller shops near the mosque... (which I refused to pay go knows what to get in) and there was a man trying to sell us things. As I was sporting quite a but of a tan already and Ieu was also looking as good as Tunisia he thought I was half tunisan with Green eyes..where the green came from I don't know as I have blue eyes but it might have gone some way to explaining why I didn't get hasseled too badly which was nice.
After the medina and some token pictures but Little Mo, we experienced our first proper fleecing where a taxi driver purposely took us the wrong way to Carthage and drove really slowly whilst chatting to Ieu acting like he was being friendly. Needless to say the guy didn't get a tip and had some stern looks from me!
The entry for the temple was damn expensive and you had to pay for a camera. I was also pretty pissed that in my second fleecing for the day they wouldn't accept my student ID saying I needed a green one! Rubbish people and my french wasn;t quite good enough to shout at them and argue. The views from Carthage were pretty sweet though and it was an enjoyable look around non the less. Stray desert dog included which got pretty scared when I started taking photos of him.
From here a much nicer taxi driver took us to the swanky party of Town La Marsa. The beach here was well nice and the views were stunning. There were lots of nicely toned bodies wandering around (males I mean) and optimum perving oppertunitues... Sadly as I was a female in a bikini and Ieu aside (who I already said looked tunisian) the only westoner on the beach got perved at about 10 fold myself. There were quite a few looks and some men came over asking for a light for a cigarette from Ieu but clearly had a lighter themselves but I guess it could be worse and I wasn't ashamed.
After La Marsa and another honest taxi driver we were off to Sidi Bou Said - where Ieu used to work as an english teacher. All of the buildings here are which with blue window frames and it makes for an all round pretty place. Good food too I can highly second the lonely planets recommendation of Tam Tam which has been fooding since 1998 :-p
Hanging out at the pool
Being in a family home with a pool was AWESOME. With the hot weather a cool dip was even something the family dog embraced. The pool was really nice and great for sun bathing. There were quite a lot of files around it though but so long as you were careful you avoided the mosquitoes which didn't come out till dusk. The pool highlight for me was jumping in fully clothed after one of the kids dared me to and I 'lost' my sunglasses only to find them the next day at the bottom of the pool.
There was also a Lizard which was by the computer in the office.
Mission to El Jem
This really was a mission and a 3hr train ride. We opted for the Comfort class which was higher than first class and boy were we glad we did as at least we had air con and on our arrival we realised that being close to 50deg outside the aircon was definately a blessing.
The attraction of El Jem is the huge colosseum there which although not in the same condition as the one in Rome what is there is orginial so you got more of a sense of history than the one in Rome. The underground areas which would have housed the slaves and the animals were also still intact and really nice to walk around.
Included in the entry which was a lot more reasonable that the entry for Carthage was the museum for El Jem. There were lots of great mosaics here but as the return train to Tunis was due shortly we didn't really have time to waste here.
We rushed back to the station and got caught up in what can only be described as a complete polava! The train for Tunis arrived and didn't open the doors. Everyone was confused even the locals and pretty much everyone missed the train us included as we literally didnt realise we needed to get on that one. This wouldn't have been so bad if a) it hadn't of been almost 50deg an b) the next train wasn't a 4 hour wait! Proper rubbish! and kinda spoiled the day a bit as we had already been inside the colosseum and museum so couldn't get in again for another more leisurely walk around. We sat there in the heat and enjoyed the company of locals in the town...some of which were more welcoming than others. There were a group of three teenage boys at the train station who played with themselves while looking at me which was pretty gross and another did it while walking down the street. It wasn;t really that suprising though as there were no women around at all we only saw one local let alone tourist.
I decided to visit some of the local sellers and do some haggling. This was great fun and I think I nearly made some of the sellers cry. I got a olive wood drum down from 35TD to 10TD which was an absolute bargain as it wasn't exactly small! AWESOMENESS. We then managed to get two of the small hand drums, one for 2 TD and the other for 1.750TD! This was great again and a fab deal for us I couldn't help but think it had made up somewhat for the fleecing of the Taxi drivers the day before.
El Jem is defo worth the mission but be warned train times are infrequent and as we found out on the return Journey even if you pay for the highest level class doesn't mean you will get a seat!
Taxi Drivers to fleece me:3
Sellers I made cry:2
Men to touch themselves over the sight of me in bikini:4