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Tunisia - The prologue
Rating : (4.3) (151 Votes)

Pros : Amazing mosaics
Cons: The rain!

Tunis, Tunisia
2nd April 2005

Sometimes, it gets to the point, where you think I am either going to hit somone or you quit your job, and I was getting close to the point. Luckily, we had an escape clause. Back in November, when BA, completely messed us around, they gave us 100 pounds as a goodwill offer, so we had to choose either Madrid for a weekend or Tunisia for two weeks, so giving the circunstances, it was Tunisia all the way.

Compared to when we left home the first time back in 96, we had a 35mm camera. For this trip we have, two Canon Ixus 500s, one Canon G6, one 80 gig hard drive to store the multitude of photos we are going to take, two Iriver 40 gig MP3 players for all our music, movies and episodes of Nip/Tuck, and loads of power adaptors !!! Overkill, never !!!

Now, Tunisia as a place, might not be the most exciting of places for some, but we are here for the Roman ruins, and also a bit of the Life of Brian and Star Wars, but before we see any of this, we had to negotiate a plane full of parents and their kids going to the typical Tunisian resorts. So, from the start, the screaming started, I was getting ready to murder anybody, so I consoled myself with a couple of vodka tonics, knowing that they maybe my last for the next couple of weeks

Jumped in a cab, and headed for a loage station, the trains, this is the only way to travel. So, as I sit here in the heat of Le Kef, the plan now is to see the Roman ruins of Bulla Regia, Dougga and Sbeitla, so until then, I have to get used to this dodgy keyboard with funny letters all over it §§§§§ See what I mean

Using Le Kef as a base, we decided to head over to see two old cities. Bulla Regia and Dougga, then catch a Louage to Sbeitla

Bulla Regia

Jumping into a Louage, we arrived at Jendouba, which is the base for Bulla Regia. Once there, we hit the town that is Bulla Regia. The speciality of this place is that the majority of it is underground. The Romans here had rooms dug down for the summer and upstairs for the winter. We traipsed through old bath houses, finding many mosaics that had been left behind during the excavation of the site. There were some amazing colours, considering how old they were and that they were being left to bleach in the sun. Once through this part, we hit some of the below ground rooms. What was to be found were some more amazing mosaics. These had been left behind for us punters to look at. I had never seen mosaics like these, and supposedly, there were better to see in the various museums around the country. Continuing the walk, we visited some more houses before we found the amphitheatre. We had been to Taragonna earlier in the month and seen one there, but that was rather crappy in comparison. This was superb, it was pretty much complete and it even had a mosaic of a wimpy bear on the ground.

We finished up, jumped in a Louage to get to Tebersouk, as this was the starting point for Dougga.

Dougga

From glorious sunshine in Bulla Regia, the rain had come to Dougga. Still, there were ruins here for us to discover, so we marched on, on our quest. And just like Bulla Regia, we first entered the bath houses, finding more old mosaics. This site, was huge, and we gave ourselves 3 hours to see it all. Considering the size, we were going to be pushed. We continued on, until we arrived at the capitol. This was on top of the hill, which gave us a good view of the place, and was pretty much complete, but alas, covered in scaffold. We took the photos, and walked around to the side, and there on the stone floor, was a huge circle, with compass points and names of Roman places. Rain was drizzling down on us, but we moved on, until we came upon the amphitheatre. Now, I thought the amphitheatre at Bulla Regia was good, but this was better. More complete. So we managed to take some photos before we were inundated with coach loads of tourists, and rain. I don't know what was worse. So, we stood in a tunnel, and spoke some Spanish with an old man from Valencia. Once the rain stopped, we walked out of there, and went to see the old cisterns. They had crumbled away, and you could kind of make out what they were. Then there were more baths, more broken mosaics, and then we saw the Arch, the photos were taken, then we hit the next temple, which was as equally as good. Time was beginning to run out, so we rushed through the last parts, seeing more baths and then we were at the crypt, which the French had rebuilt at the start of the century. It was pretty good, but our driver was waiting for us, so it was time to leave. Realistically, 3 hours wasn't enough, but the rain was pissing us off and it was getting late.

Next morning, we packed and jumped into another louage and went to Sbeitla.

Sbeitla

As we were coming into the louage station, we came across the ruins. The site was big, with the temples of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, standing out as the highlight. We jumped out and realising that this was a one horse town, we took our packs up to the museum for them to look after for us. Then we walked the site. We started off at the arch of Docletian. Nice, so we walked on until we came to the old Byzantine forts. They were not impressive, and neither was the restoration, considering there were no doors to enter and exit !!! Through the triple arched gate, we came across the three temples. They were good to walk around, then we came to the bath houses. More mosaics. There were quite a few bath houses of all shape and sizes. We walked out the back to see the remains of the amphitheatre, but to our surprise, they had restored it. I suppose it was ok, but we had come here to see ruins, not restorations !!!!! There were a few more temples out the back, and also an old coliseum, with not much there to see. On the way back, we found another bath house, but this one had a baptisimal basin with beautiful mosiacs. There was not much more to see, so we headed out to grab our bags

Originally, we were going to stay a night and watch the sun come up over the temples, but as I explained before, the town was shit, so we jumped in a louage and headed for Kairouan. So as I write this, it is pissing down with rain. Oh well !!!!