Monday, 29 May 2017

A taste of Tunisia: Tunis city

El Zaytouna mosque

Our third day in Tunis we dedicated to the city itself.
I mentioned that we were living in the old town with its maze of tiny alleys, this also contains the markets of Tunis (or for those who feel souks is a special word, then souks...which translates simply to markets in Arabic).

The markets

In the middle of these markets is also Tunis' oldest mosques: El Zaytouna mosque (mosque of the olive tree), unfortunately we weren't dressed appropriately to go in, so that bit we missed. But the markets themselves are amazing, you can find pretty much everything you want here, food, clothes, spices, shoes, it, it's most probably here. The alleys are also named after the merchandise you're expected to find here: Cloth market, Spice sellers market, etc...Of course this is not strict, you will find a bit of a mix here and there, but is mostly true.

Bab el Bhar

The markets also offer shops of traditional Tunisian sweets as well as cozy restaurants and cafes. One of these called Foundok el Attarine (Spicers' hotel) was where we stopped for something to drink. As far as I understand it's not a hotel anymore, but rather a restaurant and exhibition center. My sister an I gave a couple of Tunisian sweet dishes a try, one turned out to be milk pudding with rose water, the other milk pudding with pine nuts paste 😁. It's a beautiful place, recommended if you're in Tunis.

Belvedere gardens

From there we walked through the tiny streets until we emerged at Bab el Bhar (The gate of the sea), walked from there to the Independence square with it's impressive cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul and just strolled along the Habib Bourguiba street until we reached Bourguiba himself on his horse at the end of it 😄. From there we didn't really know where to go and we had loads of time, so we looked at the maps and headed towards the Belvedere gardens, which was longer a walk than we anticipated, and upon arrival we also found out part of it is a zoo and we weren't interested, but were a bit tired so we sat for a while there and had a snack and some water then jumped in a taxi to the Punic port I mentioned in my previous post.

Habib Bourguiba street

We took the train back from there and walked back through the tiny streets that were more or less abandoned at 8 in the evening as all the shops close around 6, and headed towards a restaurant recommended to us by the guesthouse owner. El saraya. Amazingly beautiful place, and my food was really good from starter to dessert. Another one I'd recommend.

St. Vincent de Paul cathedral

The day after we had a flight at 7p.m. meaning we had like half the day to go around, we went to the Bardo museum which is the biggest in Tunis. It contains the history of Tunis through the different eras and reigns of different people. This museum is a whole different story from the Carthage one, and I would've spent more time in it if not for the bored people waiting for me by the exit. This one had interesting reads, interesting pieces exhibited and beautiful interior. Again recommended if you like museums.

El Saraya restaurant

This was the end of our time in the capital, we were now heading to the beach!

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