Tunisia – Diary of a Serial Expat http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com Travel is something you ARE not something you do Fri, 23 Nov 2018 17:09:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/wp-content/uploads/logo-2-161x150.png Tunisia – Diary of a Serial Expat http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com 32 32 68156955 I’m off to Tunisia, no Matter What! http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/going-sousse-tunisia/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/going-sousse-tunisia/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:14:41 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=2052 I love Tunisia. If you’ve been following this blog, you know one of my purpose is to shed light on Tunisia and show the world what fantastic opportunities this little country has to offer to travellers and explorers of all kinds. Well, Tunisia is very much in the news these days, unfortunately it’s for all the wrong […]

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I love Tunisia. If you’ve been following this blog, you know one of my purpose is to shed light on Tunisia and show the world what fantastic opportunities this little country has to offer to travellers and explorers of all kinds.

Well, Tunisia is very much in the news these days, unfortunately it’s for all the wrong reasons. Even since some nutters decided to open fire on tourists killing 38 people in Sousse, Tunisia, medias all over the world have been talking about how dangerous Tunisia is, Airlines and Tour Operators have cancelled flights and holidays deals and tourists have pretty much fled the country.

Sousse, Tunisia
Tourists queuing to leave Tunisia at Enfidha Airport after the attack in Sousse. – Photo Credit

Already back in March (2015) an explosion had killed a group of tourists in the capital city Tunis.

As a result of those attacks, the Tunisian people is suffering from yet another blow to their main (if not only) source of income. Tunisian people are poor people, life is very hard most of the time and summer is for many the only chance to get some decent income and make ends meet, feed their family and pay bills. No only that but the government has now declared the “state of emergency” in all the country so once again the Tunisian people find itself living a restricted life, under closer surveillance and everything else this measure entails.

Now what?

Well I’m gonna tell you what is going to happen. I’ve seen it all before with my very eyes. Back in the summer of 2012 (shortly after the Arab Spring Movement started in Tunisia, all over North Africa and the Middle East) I travelled to Tunisia from the UK… in an empty plane! I talked a lot with the plane crew and they knew the season was over, ruined and that Tunisia was doomed financially for at least a few years.

Sousse, Tunisia
Hotels in Sousse and all over Tunisia are now empty. Photo Credit: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

The same is going to happen again. The summer season is completely ruined this year and in the future Tunisia will struggle to rebuild trust and re-start its tourism-lead economy. In the meantime what of the hundred thousands of people who depend on tourists to make a living? I’m not talking about Airlines and big hotels, I’m talking about street vendors, small restaurant owners, local guides…? Tunisia is not like the UK, there is no welfare money to fall back on! Those are going to suffer. BIG TIME!

So what can you do, you ask? Well for a start, read and share this post, and any other post intended to help Tunisia rebuild that all-important trust with holiday makers. If you had planned on going to Tunisia please don’t cancel. And you if are going to Tunisia like me (I’ll be there soon) take the time to talk to the people, eat in their restaurants, buy their souvenirs and show them YOU CARE.

For people in Tunisia it’s not all about money, it’s also about people! We must do what we can to show people in Tunisia that we KNOW they are not responsible for those terrible acts. Many reports have now surfaced since the attacks, about how Tunisians did everything they could to protect tourists, from shielding them and making a human chain around hotels to throwing projectile onto the attackers and even running after him at great personal risk.

These days there is another country which makes the headlines: Greece and its failed economy. Ever since Greece made the news, blogs and social medias have been full of reports of people flocking to Greece and its pretty islands to “help the economy and the Greek people” (can you tell I’m slightly skeptical on all those people’s real intentions?).

While millions rush to Greece to make the most of the low prices and wonderful beaches, how many will remember Tunisia and the Tunisian people?

I’m heading to Tunisia tomorrow, I’m taking some measures of precautions for when I am in Tunis, especially at the airport but other than that I plan to enjoy a relaxing holiday, spend time with my family (in-laws) and set the first step in motion to make Tunisia my future home.

What about you? Will you share this post? Will you help?

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I Love Expat Life & I Love Holidays! http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/life-in-saudi-arabia-holidays/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/life-in-saudi-arabia-holidays/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:49:50 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=2939 What do you do for your holidays when you’re an expat? I mean aren’t we technically already on holidays, since we’re abroad and living in the sunshine all year long, surrounded by palm trees with the beach nearby? To be honest living in Jeddah feels a lot like being on holidays. I’ve been trying to […]

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What do you do for your holidays when you’re an expat? I mean aren’t we technically already on holidays, since we’re abroad and living in the sunshine all year long, surrounded by palm trees with the beach nearby?

To be honest living in Jeddah feels a lot like being on holidays. I’ve been trying to describe what living in a compound feels like to my family and friends back home and the closest I can explain is by comparing it to living in a holiday village.

Life in Saudi arabia

Where I live at the moment (my employer provides me and my family with free housing on their compound) looks like a gigantic holiday village. It’s self contained for one and it’s got everything you need so you don’t actually have to get out unless you want to.

Then there is the Jeddah weather, awesome weather, summer all year round with temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius at the moment (July 2015).

There are some swimming pools in the compound to cool us down, hundreds of ACed shopping malls not far to while away the hottest hours and spend our hard earned salaries.

life in saudi arabia
When daily life looks like you’re on holidays.

And just look at the place! With the clear blue sky, the palm trees everywhere… it’s hard to feel like I’m going to work when I walk to my office in the morning. And at night when I look over the roof tops from my windows, I am still totally overwhelmed by the view of those rocky mountains.

life in saudi arabia
Walking to work or relaxing outdoors – Hard to tell, isn’t it?

Still, summer is the time for holidays so let’s talk holiday plans then. Life in Saudi Arabia has a lot to offer for a family like mine which is why we decided to spend the majority of our holidays in Jeddah. From here we have made quite a few days trips to Mecca and we plan to visit Madinah next, maybe next week.

After that it’s finally time for the “real” holidays as we are flying to Tunisia. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you know that Tunisia is my favourite country in the world and that we have been travelling to Tunisia for our holidays for years. But this year, our holidays are gonna be much more than just holidays…

holidays in Tunisia

A few years back (flashback) my husband and I started dreaming of Tunisia, not just for quick visits during the holidays but as the place we loved the most on this Earth and where we could see ourselves settling down.

This is Gabes, where my husband is from and where most of his family lives:

life in saudi arabia life in saudi arabia Tunisia in pictures

Well, thanks to our life in Saudi Arabia and the big fat salaries they are paying us here to teach English, we have managed to save enough money to build our dream house. It’s hard even for me to truly comprehend how fast it all went. All it took was 10 months of savings the best part of 2 salaries to afford to build a house from scratch. Can you believe it? Sometimes it feels insane! In the UK we were struggling to make ends meet, we couldn’t afford to dream let alone make our dreams happen, all the while leaving a very comfortable life.

And now, on our very first holidays since we signed a contract in Saudi, we are going back to Tunisia with enough cash (yep cash, no mortgage) in hands to start the construction of the house of our dreams.

This is terribly exciting, exhilarating and a little overwhelming. I feel (almost) like a grown up now with that whole building-a-house thing, and there will be challenges ahead of course and grown up decisions to make…

So this holidays, besides the family reunions, delicious food and trips to the beach, there will be meetings with some architects, the construction team, we’re gonna be talking budget and deadlines and materials, floor plans, planning permission and a lot of other things, which up until now I had only ever heard of and wasn’t sure what they meant.

So here we are, about to embark on yet another incredible adventure and once again the line seems blurred between our daily lives and our holidays. I don’t want to throw a big fat “I love my life” and rub it in your face so I’ll just say that I’m very grateful that the life choices we’ve made a few years back are allowing us to live life to the fullest and make our dream come true.

What are your plans this summer? Tell us about what you’re doing and where you’re going? Any exciting change coming your way?

 

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Tunisia in Pictures: Off the Beaten Tracks http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/tunisia-in-pictures-off-beaten-tracks/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/tunisia-in-pictures-off-beaten-tracks/#comments Thu, 25 Dec 2014 17:50:23 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=1474 Like me a lot of people, i’m sure, like to sneak a peak at a place before they actually visit it. I’ve been to Tunisia many times and i’m in love with that country. It is my pleasure to give you a little tour to show you my Tunisia in pictures. I’m taking you off […]

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Like me a lot of people, i’m sure, like to sneak a peak at a place before they actually visit it. I’ve been to Tunisia many times and i’m in love with that country. It is my pleasure to give you a little tour to show you my Tunisia in pictures. I’m taking you off the beaten tracks from the capital Tunis all the way to Douz in the desert. I have a few surprises along the way and some amazing pictures of a country that has more to offer than beaches and crowded Souk.

Flying to Tunisia is very easy as there are many airports but the main one is definitely Tunis Carthage. So if you arrive in Tunis don’t rush to your destination just yet, take a stroll in the city first, it’s beautiful and has got loads to keep you busy and entertained.

Tunis

The capital, in the North of the country, is a blend of Arab and western culture and you should take the time to visit it. You’ll have loads to do and see in the city centre. I’ll show you around then, shall i?

First go to Avenue Bourguiba and stop at one of the Paris style cafe, then walk down slowly all the way to La Porte de France, then cross the street, pass the water fountains and you’ll find the entrance to the famous Souk. Adventures, friendly haggling and unusual encounters await you. Enjoy!

Sidi Bousaid

Sidi Bousaid is a city on the outskirts of Tunis, and if this is your first trip to Tunisia you’re about the discover something truly special. The whole city is painted white and blue and while it doesn’t sound like much, the overall effect is quite amazing. When you go up the main street there is a typical Tunisian house that you can visit, all in white and blue and full of traditional features. Take the time to look around it’s beautiful.

Tunisia off the beaten path Tunisia in pictures Tunisia in pictures Tunisia off the beaten path Tunisia in pictures Tunisia in pictures

 

Hammamet

An hour south of Tunis following the motorway is the city of Hammamet. It is very popular with tourists from all over the world, the city really is beautiful. But i can show you how to avoid the crowd and discover breathtaking little spots that are almost deserted.

Hammamet, Tunisia Hammamet, Tunisia Hammamet, Tunisia Hammamet, Tunisia Hammamet, Tunisia Hammamet, Tunisia

When you walk down to the city centre keep your eyes open, check out little paths on the right hand side, they lead to deserted beaches. Don’t stop at the Madinah, go don’t in with the crowd, walk around it following the sea, you won’t be disappointed i promise. All around the old Madinah, a white stone path follows a turquoise sea and deserted fine sand beaches. Sit down enjoy the view and relax.

When you get tired, or you find that perfect view that takes your breath away take the time to enjoy it. Check this out… perfect isn’t it? What could possibly be missing? The sea, the fine white sand… maybe you! Behind the tourist-crowded Medinah, you’ll find the old city with typical houses and of course no crowd.

OK it’s now time to go get those souvenirs for those who couldn’t come with you to Tunisia. When you go into the Souk enter from the back, you’ll see what the tourists miss. Into the Souk then, right or left, straight ahead… just let the colours guide you. Lose yourself into the little alleys of the Souk, they’ll take you to a shop or a house, to the sea who knows? Enjoy the coolness of the Souk. The smaller the path the bigger the surprise…

El Jem

Many people on the road to the South of Tunisia stop in El Jem, to see remains of the Ancient Roman Empire and visit the amphitheatre. It is really huge, too wide to fit into my camera. A little piece of history, still standing after all this time. Visitors are allowed inside too and i recommend you go in it’s totally worth it.

It is really huge, too wide to fit into my camera. A little piece of history, still standing after all this time. Visitors are allowed inside too and i recommend you go in it’s totally worth it.

Gabes

Further south much closer to the desert, in a more arid setting is the city of Gabes. Right on the sea, very few tourists and quite typical way of life. I actually have family there and while gabes doesn’t look as fancy as Hammamet from a touristic point of view, it’s the perfect place to discover the real Tunisia and its incredible people.

Tunisia in pictures life in saudi arabia life in saudi arabia

Enjoy a slower pace of life, typical small town markets and local traditions. This is the place i go back to about once a year and every time it never fails to make me feel at home.

 

Tamerza

By the time you reach Tamerza you are properly in the south, it’s the desert, more rocks than sand however. Tamerza is the largest mountain oasis and a must see. It does take a bit of a walk up and down the rocky mountain to appreciate this treasure but you won’t regret it. After the pass over the mountain top the sights are very unusual and you have to wonder how those palm trees and the water got there. One thing is for sure, once you’re there, you simply don’t want to leave: it’s so beautiful and peaceful.

Tunisia Further South

Still further south you’ll find the desert towns of Tozeur and Douz, the Door of the Desert. From there you can either travel even further south or start your way north again. I highly recommend travelling along the border of Algeria, passing through Chott el Djerid. There are more surprises this way, some sights i’m sure you didn’t expect to find in Tunisia.

Douz means one thing: a quad bike or camel ride into the desert, a total umissable thing to do. In Tozeur you’ll get the chance to taste and buy the best Tunisian dates, named Diglet. Don’t forget to haggle for price. Finally did you know Tunisia was covered in Salt flats somewhere along the Algerian border? hundreds of them along the road actually and if you get to catch a view of those in the early morning sun, you’ll have memories to last you a lifetime.

 

Tunisia in Pictures: Doors of Tunisia

During my first trip to Tunisia i fell in love with the doors. It’s the shape, the colours, the crafmanship that i like… and the little doors inside the big door! Picture perfect and it might just give you some things to think about next time you need to paint your house.

tunisia tourism

Feel like you need some more pictures, check out the Hammamet and nebeul GALLERY. To know more about my trips to Tunisia visit my Travel Page.

 

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On the Move Again – Part 2/4 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part-24/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part-24/#comments Sat, 09 Aug 2014 15:40:46 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=678 For the second leg of our journey we left Gabes and the family behind to join the capital Tunis in order to catch a plane the next day at Tunis Carthage airport. We had originally planned to take a louage, a form of public transport popular in Tunisia but at the last minute my husband […]

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For the second leg of our journey we left Gabes and the family behind to join the capital Tunis in order to catch a plane the next day at Tunis Carthage airport. We had originally planned to take a louage, a form of public transport popular in Tunisia but at the last minute my husband booked us some tickets on the 4 o’clock train. We really should have taken a louage…

As I explained briefly in Part 1 the current situation in Libya makes it impossible to fly from Libyan airports so in order to reach the UK we had to fly from Tunis Airport.

living abroad

Details of the journey

Length: 450 km

Travel Time: should have been 6 hours was 8 hours

Transport: train

Travel Tips: young children do not pay to take the train but that means they ‘re not entitled to a seat and when it gets packed you have to take them on your lap. With the heat and for that long it’s just too much so buy them a ticket.

With a plane to catch around noon on the 5th it was necessary to leave Gabes a day early and spend the night in Tunis. We left our own car behind and therefore needed public transport and we first opted for a louage but for some reason my husband thought it would be better to take the train.

living abroad
Louages are 7-9 seaters very popular for long distance travels and with people who don’t own a car.

I had taken the night train to Tunis the year before and I remember all too clearly the journey: 6 hours in a crowded train without any AC, bad smells, no leg room whatsoever but plenty cockroaches… enough said. I wasn’t really keen to try that again but my husband booked some 1st class tickets and assured me they had AC and it would be fine.

It turned out to be not quite as bad as the previous trip but can’t say it was good either. We did get more room and no roaches the AC was working ok but as usual the train was beyond packed and our leg room soon had to be given up for other people’s luggage and children. A lady with 3 children ended up taking my son’s seat and promptly dropped her heavy melons on my feet. However the lady and her girls were nice and we chatted a bit with broken Arabic and French, shared our sandwiches and swapped some stories.

In the end the train arrived almost 2 hours late and we were all dead tired. At the station we struggled to find a taxi. This is not the first time we have trouble getting a taxi in Tunis. Those guys are very picky and choose their customers as they please and if they do take you they will rip you off especially at midnight without another taxi in sight. We hadn’t booked a hotel so we just drove to the Carlton on Avenue Bourguiba where we had stayed before (excellent service and prices, ideal location in city centre and very friendly staff) but they had no room left. However they offered to drive us to another hotel not far free of charge.

Let’s just say that next time I will book us a room at the Carlton. That other hotel was more expensive and the service terrible (I’m a little fussy it’s true but when you come into the room and the floor is dirty it doesn’t give the right impression): rooms barely clean, broken furniture, no WiFi and breakfast was a small selection of bland tasteless food. Not even drinking water! we had to pay 2 dinars for a small bottle of mineral water. A hotel I won’t be coming back to but at least we managed to catch some sleep and a long bath in the morning which is good.

We then booked a taxi to take us and our many suitcases to the airport. Once again dealing with taxis was not easy the driver initially refused to take us because of excess luggage then he wouldn’t accept the actual fees but insisted on charging us a flat “airport package” fee. After a lot of going back and forth it was getting late so we agreed to his fare. Still he grumbled and mumbled all the way about how greedy WE were?!?!

Budget

Train tickets x2: 50 dinars

Hotel room with breakfasts: 150 dinars (totally overpriced)

Taxis: 10 dinars (for a 5 minute drive) then another 10 dinars to the airport (actual meter fee was 4 dinars).

We are heading to the UK now flying to London Heathrow. We will spend our time in England between London and Birmingham in order to organise the last leg of our journey which should take us to our new expat destination.

Continue with the other posts in the On the Move Again Series:

living abroad

living abroad

living abroad

living abroad

 

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On the move again – Part 1/4 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part1/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/on-the-move-again-part1/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:45:22 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=651 After many months job hunting we think we have found an opportunity that suits us and we are going to pursue it to see if it works. Fortunately moving and living abroad this time means travelling to 2 other countries before we reach our new destination. We start with a road trip first: out of Libya […]

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After many months job hunting we think we have found an opportunity that suits us and we are going to pursue it to see if it works. Fortunately moving and living abroad this time means travelling to 2 other countries before we reach our new destination. We start with a road trip first: out of Libya to Tunisia for a week of holidays with family.

The first part of the trip takes us from Zawia, Libya where we have been living for almost a year to Gabes in Tunisia.

living abroad

Road trip Part 1/4

Length: 450 km

Transport: own car

Travelling Time: 12 hours

Types of roads: mostly single lanes with a few fast sections

Travel Advice: fill up your tank way before the border as Libyans don’t want Tunisian crossing the border just to take petrol so while there are some petrol stations close to the border they are often closed especially to foreign cars. Crossing the border can take forever it took us 4 hours this time on a straight forward cross so allow plenty of time if you need to be in Tunisia at a certain time.

living abroad
Tunisian-Libyan border post of Ras Ejdeer

So that’s it, we have packed up all our things filled up the car and taken the road leaving early as we know crossing the border can be long. I hope we are leaving Zawia for good and while I know things are not 100% sure with our new plan I do hope it will work out. While life in Libya has been the source of a lot of discovery and knowledge, without counting a great boost to my CV, we feel that we can’t keep living there, and working for Zawia university is not something we want to continue doing (but that’s another topic).

In the last few weeks airports in Libya have been the targets of heavy bombing and carefully planned destruction so flying directly out of Libya is not an option which is why we are going through Tunisia.

living abroad
Border town of Ben Gardane

I’m always happy to go to Tunisia as this is my husband’s country and where we plan to settle down at some point. It also means time with family which is always nice for serial expat like us. We will be spending a week with various members of my husband’s family and make the most of our time there before we embark on the second leg of our journey. My children are very excited to see their cousins again and we are happy that our time scale allow us to spend Eid (the Muslim day of celebration at the end of the month of Ramadan) with our family.

I’m not expecting a lot of sleep however as family members are always coming round at all hours of the night to see us. Yes “night” since the days are so hot people get social in the night so it is very common for people to start arriving at ten or eleven pm and stay really late. In the morning sleeping late is not an option either since once again the heat makes it too uncomfortable to stay in bed.

Past Present and Future

This place however is quite special for us this is where the past meets our future. Staying in the family house is like stepping back in time when life was so much simpler there is no internet no cable TV we sleep on mats on the floor in the open courtyard and eat simple wholesome food cooked in a kitchen that has yet to see a microwave. Washing clothes is done by hand or with a twin tub non automatic washing machine. Yet just a few minutes away is where our future awaits us. We own a little piece of land and this time we actually got round to set down on paper the proper plans for our house… a little house just like the one where we stay at the moment with simple rooms and an open courtyard just like they used to make them before.

Budget

We are staying with family so accommodation and food is no issue in this part of the journey but it will be when we reach destination number 3. Before that we will need to leave Tunisia.

 

Keep reading the other posts in the series to find out what happened next:

living abroad living abroad

 

 

 

 

living abroad living abroad

 

 

 

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Updates and Featured Interview http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/updates-and-featured-interview/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/updates-and-featured-interview/#respond Sun, 16 Feb 2014 12:05:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=21 Guest Blogging: I have recently been asked to answer some interview questions by the website Expat Arrivals, which specialises in providing up to date, comprehensive information on many countries, making it easy for future expats to learn as much as possible about their destination. Click HERE to be taken to their Country Guide on Libya: […]

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Guest Blogging:

I have recently been asked to answer some interview questions by the website Expat Arrivals, which specialises in providing up to date, comprehensive information on many countries, making it easy for future expats to learn as much as possible about their destination.

Click HERE to be taken to their Country Guide on Libya:

Expat Life in Libya

I actually used their website when i looked into moving to Libya. It is very informative and i’m very happy i could help them by sharing my experience with their readers.

You can read the interview i gave HERE

I would recommend this website, they have put together a complete package of real life information that expats need before moving abroad, so check them out. If you’d like to contribute to their website you can contact them through their website.

Important Updates:

I have recently re-designed the photo gallery for Tunisia. All pictures are now clearly organised and displayed in a more elegant manner. You can simply click on any picture to see it in pop on the screen in a larger size. I have added many comments as well to give you a real feel of that amazing country.

Picture Hammamet Tunisia
just one the many new pictures in the Tunisia Gallery
Click on TUNISIA to go the the photo gallery. 
I’d love to hear what you think of the new layout so please leave some comments.

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Transport in Tunisia http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/transport-in-tunisia/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/transport-in-tunisia/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:42:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=37 I know this blog is about Libya but as i spent the last 3 months in Tunisia i thought i’ll share my experience there on a few topics and i’d like to start with Transport. How do you move around in Tunisia if you don’t have your own car? Tunisia is a small country and […]

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I know this blog is about Libya but as i spent the last 3 months in Tunisia i thought i’ll share my experience there on a few topics and i’d like to start with Transport. How do you move around in Tunisia if you don’t have your own car? Tunisia is a small country and there is so much variety from North to South that it is totally worth travelling around to take in the whole range of spectacular landscapes and get a feel of this rich culture.

Holiday in Tunisia
Matmata is one of the most popular spot in Tunisia. Famous for its troglodyte dwellings
 as well as for being the film location of the Star Wars movie

On the road

If you like to drive, you can bring your own car or rent one. Driving is pretty safe compared to other countries such as Libya or Saoudi. All road signs are written in Arabic and French (european alphabet) so finding your way shouldn’t be too hard.
On the road (where you drive on the right by the way) you’ll find cars and trucks of course but also many many bikes, motorbikes (mobilettes in French) and also carts pulled by horses or donkeys. Beware of the bikes, they really are everywhere and can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention to them.

Public Transports

In Tunisia you’ve got the choice between taxi, louage, bus or train to travel around.
* Taxis are yellow in colour and are used for short distance trips (within the city). You can only flag them down, there is no advance booking service but it’s usually pretty easy to get a cab when you need one. In the capital Tunis however taxi drivers are a bit strong headed and you may have to convince them to take you. We once waited for a really long time, they wouldn’t take us because it was rush hour and they didn’t want to be stuck in traffic which they would have to do to take us to our destination.
One thing you should know, taxis will not take more than 4 passengers, no matter the age/size of the passengers. So if you travel with an infant you have to count him in.
Price: a short taxi ride within the city would cost about 1 or 2 Tunisian Dinars.

* Louage are 7/8 seaters mini bus used for long distance travelling within the country but also to reach neighbouring countries such as Libya. They are usually white with a red stripe and have markings on them to recognise them.
How to take a louage? You cannot flag it like a cab, you need to make your way to a louage station then find the vehicle that goes to your destination. You book a seat for yourselft and then you have to wait for the louage to be full. This means that there are NO timetable for the louage, it leaves when it is full. Sounds difficult but it’s not that bad, louage is a very popular means of transportation so you usually don’t wait that long.
Price: it varies depending on the distance covered obviously and every passenger must pay the full price, including children if they take a seat. There is the possibility of buying off all the seats so the louage would be just for you and leaves immediately.

* Public bus: in large city, you’ll find a bus service. I haven’t yet tried one but from what i have been told, you sometimes have to wait a long time and obviously they don’t necessarily reach your destination. Not my favourite form of transport while on holiday but they are available.

* Trains: the railway system is unfortunately quite old and on some lines the trains are dirty and not very pleasant. However on lines around the capital Tunis, new trains are now being used and there are talks to replace old trains by new ones in the near future. Most of the big cities can be reaches via train. Night trains are available so you can travel at night and explore the country during the day.
Price: here again it varies on the distance. Young children do not have to pay though so it’s a good option for families.

Airports

Holiday in TunisiaTunisia might be small but it has long been a popular destination for tourists so there are many international airports all over the country. The main one is in the capital and you can fly to Tunis Carthage from most places in Europe.

The main national airline is Tunisair. I have used it many time to fly from the UK to Tunisia and the services and confort on board is just as good as on other airlines. It is actually better than some as you are often allowed more lugguage weight than with other companies.

Once you arrive in Tunisia, you’ll find taxis available to take you to your hotel or they can drive you to the nearest louage or train station if you need to travel further.

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Holidays in Tunisia http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/holidays-in-tunisia/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/holidays-in-tunisia/#comments Sun, 20 Oct 2013 21:36:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=38 While waiting for our visas to re-enter Libya we spend the whole summer in Tunisia (which shares a border with Libya) and as always we had a fantastic time. If you don’t know Tunisia, let’s look at all the reasons why you should consider it for your next vacation. This was not the first time […]

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While waiting for our visas to re-enter Libya we spend the whole summer in Tunisia (which shares a border with Libya) and as always we had a fantastic time. If you don’t know Tunisia, let’s look at all the reasons why you should consider it for your next vacation.

This was not the first time that i visited Tunisia but as before i was totally taken in by this surprising country. There is loads to do in Tunisia, the country may be small but it is very rich in culture, history, architecture and the landscape between desert, turquoise beaches and fine sand beaches is second to none. All this under a clear blue sky all year round…

As the country is really not very big, you can easily tour the whole of Tunisia is a short time, this would allow you to discover the variety of landscapes and traditions. In the North (the capital Tunis, Hammamet…) you’ll find many structures in place to accommodate tourists while in the South (Gabes, Douz, Tozer…) you’ll discover a more traditional and intimate part of the country.

Every city offers different activities of course but there are a few totally typical ones that you shouldn’t miss:

#1 A stroll in a traditional Souk

most cities have a Souk, a kind of traditional market where you find absolutely everything. Usually located in the oldest part of the city, you’ll have to make your way through a maze of narrow streets and once you find something to your taste, don’t forget: haggling is a must. In Tunisia, unlike in Cairo, Egypt, i always find the haggling to be very friendly and amusing and people are genuinely upset if you don’t try to haggle, it’s all part of the game.

visit the Tunis Souk
The entrance to the Souk in the capital Tunis

#2 Check out the colours of Tunisia

if you take the time to travel a bit, you’ll soon notice that Tunisia is a country in white and blue. Most houses are painted white with blue features… doesn’t sound much but just visit Sidi Bousaid in the north and you’ll understand what i’m talking about. The whole city is nothing but white and blue, with a view over a turquoise sea: it’s simply breathtaking.

Sidi Bousaid tunisia
Typical house colours in Sidi Bousaid
sidi bousaid sea view
Could this be the best view of Sidi Bousaid? or maybe even Tunisia?
Streets of Sidi Bousaid tunisia
Streets of Sidi Bousaid

#3 Have someone do Henna for you (ladies only)

avoid the tourist area for that, they’ll offer you nothing really special and, this is important, they sometimes use products that can be dangerous. Henna is NOT supposed to dry in 10 or even 20min, if you’re offered that you’ll know they use chemical solutions which can at the very worst, burn your skin. The real henna takes a long time to dry and the traditional patterns are very different and much more beautiful.

#4 Try the traditional food

i can think of two main dish: Couscous and Mechoui. Couscous is cooked all over North Africa but each country has its own special recipe. You’ll be able to order a couscous anywhere in Tunisia but i recommend small family restaurants rather than fancy flashy tourist spots. Food will be fresher and more authentic. As for Mechoui, the best place is no doubt called Sidi Bouzid, it’s on the road to the south. Stop on the side of the road, choose your piece of freshly slaughtered sheep and they’ll cook it on the spot in front of you.

#5 Shopping

Tunisia is famous for a few things such as ceramics from Nabeul, spices and leather crafts. You can find those everywhere in Tunisia, especially in the souk, go for it. The ceramics is very original and perfect for cooking, and the leather bags are all hand made to high quality standards. The spices are very cheap, just ask the price of Safran and you’ll see what i mean.

tunis souk
Leather bags sold in the Souk, here in Tunis

#6 a trip to the desert

nothing easier in Tunisia, simply drive south to Douz or further south and you’ll be able to take a camel or quad bike ride into the desert. You can also organise something longer which could include spending a night in a desert camp. Totally unique experience!

Douz tunisia
The city of Douz is called the Door of the Desert

This is just a quick guide to get you started in Tunisia and make the most of some typical activities and local curiosities.

Check out the Tunisia Gallery for a complete Photo Tour of this amazing country.


This post is part of the Weekend Inspiration Series over at Reflections Enroute. You can find some other amazing posts and picture that will give you itchy feet.

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Flashback http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/flashback/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/flashback/#respond Fri, 28 Dec 2012 12:49:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=77 What makes a person want to leave everything to move abroad? For us it started with an idea, that of building a house in Tunisia. This idea soon got hold of us and turned into a dream, so strong and beautiful we had to make real plans to make it happen. It’s all simple enough, […]

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What makes a person want to leave everything to move abroad? For us it started with an idea, that of building a house in Tunisia. This idea soon got hold of us and turned into a dream, so strong and beautiful we had to make real plans to make it happen. It’s all simple enough, it’s when you need to make choices that things gets difficult.

July 2012: Before I Became a SERIAL Expat

We spent a whole month in Tunisia, staying mainly in Hammamet in the north and El Hamma, Gabes in the South and this is where it hit us: this is what we want! We need to come and live here…
But life is not that easy so we have to plan for such a move… back in the UK we think outloud about building a house, moving the family there… but it is in the distant future.

Tunisia off the beaten path Tunisia off the beaten path Tunisia in pictures

September 2012: Planning Another Expat Move

Vague plans are taking shapes, we need to go and work abroad to make some money and build our house in Tunisia. We “settle” on Libya after discarding the Gulf states which we considered for a while.

Misurata, Libya Misurata, Libya Zawia pictures

December 2012: Plans and Change of Plans

My husbands receives an email about a job offer teaching English in Saudi and that’s it, the Gulf is back on the shortlist and we start planning again: making phone calls, sending emails… the works!

 

Now: Need to make a decision

All the networking worked and we now have quite a few options available. Just to unload, here is the deal as of today:
Libya:
+ close to Tunisia, conservative, quite a few contacts, work and career oportunities
_ salaries are unpredictable, housing market is expensive (rent + most landlord ask for 12 months rent in advance)

Saudi:
+ Hajj, Umra, very competitive salaries (tax free + LOADS of perks)
_ compound life (not sure positive or negative yet), children not allowed in local schools, visa and movements restrictions

UAE, Qatar:
for now bottom of the list, kinda middle ground between Libya and Saudi: more freedom than Saudi + great schools BUT life more expensive and salaries lower than Saudi but higher than Libya.
a major minus for me personally as well: Qatar and the UEA as not as strict on Shariah as the Saudis and moving out of the UK for me means going closer to Islam.

This is how it starts, how a simple thought can get you to move abroad and change your life for ever. What’s your dream destination?

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