Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


February 19, 2013


I thought I would do a few flash back trips of places I have visited in the past starting with a three part series on North Africa of a trip G and I did a few years ago prior to the all the uprisings which started in Tunis and ended in Cairo.

Tunisia had been on my wish list for quite some time and I really wanted to visit and we had looked at doing a beach holiday a few years prior however realised that I needed a visa for Tunisia – yes New Zealander’s need a visa for Tunisia – why oh why not sure but we have obviously upset someone along the way.

Now getting a visa for Tunisia you think would be pretty straight forward, drop it off, pick it up a week later like agreed but no no no it wasn’t like that at all.  I went into the embassy to pick the visa and my passport as agreed and guess what it wasn’t ready, now you think what’s the problem with this just come back another day – well it was one of those really hot days in London which occur once in a blue moon and I was rushing as I was on my lunch break.

 Needless to say I was flustered and so was the gentleman behind the protective glass especially when he told me it would be ready tomorrow.  So day 2 and it was extremely hot again but managed to go down the embassy to pick it up, there was a huge queue and it was all a bit smelly for my liking so as you do – I pushed to the front of the queue and he threw my passport to me – success!  If you think I was rude pushing in, don’t worry it happened to me a number of times when I was trying lodge the application.

After all the running around for my visa I said to G when we were coming into land at Tunis airport, Tunisia better be worth of it.  The day had already started off on a rather funny note when we bumped into one of my dad’s work colleagues at Gatwick Airport (he lives in New Zealand – small world) then G and I had a really crazy lady on our British Airways flight who was just plain CRAZY!  Even the cabin crew members thought she was crazy.

When we finally landed, we caught a taxi to our hotel in downtown Tunis which wasn’t the best of hotels however it was the joining hotel for our Overland Tour through Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

It was the end of Ramadan which if you ever want to visit North Africa or any Middle East countries – this is the time to avoid as nothing is open!

G and I caught a taxi out to Sidi Bou Said which has to be my favourite place that we visited in the whole of Tunisia – imagine beautiful white buildings with splashes of red, white and blue from all the flowers and its just stunning.  Sidi Bou Said is a complete contrast from Tunis in every possible way and if you had to choose between staying in either place I would recommend Sidi Bou Said in a flash!

We had caught a taxi out easily enough to Sidi Bou Said from Tunis so you imagine we wouldn’t have a problem getting back; WRONG – we managed to get into a dodgy taxi with a driver who decided to play dumb and then dropped us in the middle of no where and we had to walk back to our hotel in the heat of the day which took us 2 hours!  Needless too say we weren’t too impressed and this wasn’t going to be our last dodgy taxi ride before we left Tunis.

After joining our Overland tour, our first stop were the Roman ruins at Dougga which are quite impressive and definitely worth a look if you are in the area and is now listed as a World Heritage site.  There are a number of temples and ruins to wander around but once again you need to do this early in the morning as in the middle of the day it becomes hell.

Now if you love Roman ruins then you are going to be in for a treat with Tunisia as there are ruins everywhere to visit.  You can get a bit “ruined out” and in G’s case it happened after a couple of days and we hadn’t even hit Libya which is Roman Ruin Alley!


Thought I would include a photo of me.


Our next stop was El Kef or Le Kef depending on which way you want to pronounce it.  El Kef is famous for the Fort which overlooks the town and there is an old Jewish Synagogue to visit. 

To be honest, I didn’t really find El Kef to be that interesting and caught up on some sleep however it seemed like it was party central as there were a number of noisy weddings going on.

There is a market to visit and I always find these interesting especially the meat section with all the severed heads of the cows and the chicken feet.  I was going to put on the photo that I have of the cow’s head but then thought against it.

Our last stop before crossing the border into Libya was Matmata which is very famous and why Tunisia gets a lot of tourism – Star Wars!

I’m going to be honest and say I am not a fan and I fall asleep constantly when G forces me to watch the movies.  I just giggle when I see Dr Ropata in Star Wars – I can’t take it seriously!

Other than Sidi Bou Said this has to be one of my favourite places that we visited in Tunisia.  The people were nice, there is a tourism structure in place.

We stayed in the Underground “Troglodyte” structures which to be honest was my best sleep while we stayed in Tunisia.  G and I managed to have a huge suite, don’t ask us how but we did and they had sprinkled rose petals everywhere which was so cute.


These were the most colourful toilets I saw in Tunisia so I needed to take a photo of them as you do.  Trust me, when you are on an Overland tour, toilets become a major topic of conversation.  I didn’t try my luck with them as the “Normale” worried me slightly!

This was the last viewing stop before we crossed the border into Libya and I was pretty excited to say the least!


Now, I think on our tour we missed some really important sights like El-Jem for instance which would have made our time more enjoyable in Tunisia. 

I didn’t enjoy Tunisia that much, it’s a country that has built it’s tourism around resorts and not around it’s ancient sights which is shame.  For me it was a let down.

The people seemed nice, and in one small town that we stopped to buy lunch (we must have been close to a resort area) there was a gentleman who spoke English and asked where I was from, I said New Zealand and the lady in the little kiosk allowed me behind the counter so I could do my shopping and then all the locals realising there was a Westerner behind the counter decided it was time to come and buy a cigarette from me.  I did try to over charge them for the pleasure but they were having none of that.

Would I visit it again, with the time it takes to get a visa for a New Zealander I would say there are better places in North Africa and the Middle East to visit.


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