Resort break in Tunis

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of Tunisia  ,
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

He Said:

We flew from Casablanca to Tunis, Tunisia yesterday evening. What a trial that was! I don't think my descriptive powers are quite vivid enough to paint an accurate picture of the situation so I am going to defer to Katie to give the full rundown of the flight and passport control at Tunis airport. Leave it to say, once we finally got out of the airport Tunisia is a great place. It is clearly a great deal wealthier, much more westernized, and far more "developed" than Morocco. It still has a bit of Arab flavor but is far more similar to Italy than Morocco.

We have opted to use some hotel points again to stay in a few really nice places here, one night at the Renaissance Resort and one at the Sheraton Tunis. Both are great places! We rented a car last night to get to our hotel and to drive around a bit today. Spent a little time on the beach, visited the picturesque village of Sidi Bou Said (which incidentally looks a LOT like a town in the Greek Isles), stopped at a shopping mall, and managed to get lost a few times driving in downtown Tunis. Unfortunately due to flight schedules, we have less than 48 hours to spend in this wonderful country. I know we will definitely come back here again; the beaches, historical sites, great hotels, and warm people have managed to enchant us!

Tomorrow we are going to visit the Bardo Museum in Tunis, which is supposed to be one the world's best museums of Roman mosaics and statuary. I can't wait!!! We have a late afternoon flight to the Mediterranean island of Malta where we will spend three nights before moving on to Turkey.

She Said:

While there certainly are some fascinating sites to see in Morocco, the people were really nice, and traveling within the country was quite easy, I was actually kind of relieved to leave. I was getting tired of the food (couscous, stew, omelet or faux pizza), the "social segregation" of men and women, and being woken up before dawn everyday to the call to prayer. So needless to say, I was excited (an understatement) about going to the airport and flying to Tunisia (read: beach resort).

Once we landed in Tunisia, we had an interesting cultural experience at passport control, which should be renamed passport out-of-control, because it was freaking mayhem! Now, I have gotten pretty relaxed and patient, particularly since it has been exactly 42 days since my last workday, but this whole situation was exasperating, and I wasn't as cool as Fonzie. There were more than 1000 people waiting to get their passports stamped by exactly 5 (yes, five) agents. Each agent took about 3-4 minutes to service each individual (trust me, I had time to count), so 20 people per hour for a grand total of 100 people getting through passport control per hour.

Each "line," if you could call it that, was as wide as it was long, and people were pushing and shoving all over the place. Anytime one inch of space opened up, if you didn't shove your foot or bag it in, someone would grab it just to get ahead of you. We were literally shoved up against people, and people were pressing into our backs trying to push through us. If the old woman (late 60's) behind me could have cut me open to get through me, she would have. At one point, she actually yelled at me for having my backpack on the ground next to my leg because it was preventing her from pushing ahead of me. So, I yelled at her (in English so it doesn't count, right?), trying to convey that I really didn't appreciate her leaning on me all the time, that there was only one line, and that we were here first. Keep in mind we had already been in this non-moving squishfest for 1.5 hours, and we were dripping with sweat. It turned in to my sick little mission to make sure that we got through the line before her. We lost. She managed to push through a bunch of people and get a head of us, only to present exactly 8 passports and pull forward an entire family from the line behind us. So, after 2 hours, we got through passport control and learned a valuable lesson (screw or be screwed, right? ?). No, not that. Tunisian passport control is just as cutthroat as New Jersey traffic during rush hour.

Once out of the airport, Tunisia has been fantastic. It is extremely modern, clean, and the beach is beautiful. And when we got to our hotel last night, even though it was really late (1am), I had an American festival. I ordered food from room service and watched a crappy circa 1970 Clint Eastwood/Jeff Bridges movie with Arabic subtitles - IN ENGLISH!! No kidding - it was the BEST!!!
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skulemarm1 on

hi there
I've just caught up with you as things are busy with kids, family vacation, etc. I love reading about your travels and cultural experiences. The personal style is great! Hope you are all safe in light of the new events. Did Katie's parents make it to Egypt for the cruise? Hope so. Looking forward to more. Cindy

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