Port el Kantaoui Postcard Perfect Tourist Magnet

Trip Start Feb 25, 2010
Trip End Mar 11, 2010

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Flag of Tunisia  ,
Thursday, March 4, 2010

The morning begins with a beautiful walk down the Cornish (which is the wide walkway along the beach). Thank goodness it is early in the day and the wall is not elbow to elbow with the male gawkers that spend the day babe watching often making inappropriate and disrespectful comments and sounds.

We then grab a taxi to Port El Kantaoui.  This is the first taxi I have enjoyed and was comfortable.  I was not challenged about using the meter, the cab is clean inside and out and the pleasant young driver puts on some nice music for our 10 minute drive.  This is a first and is not repeated for the entirety of my 10 day visit.

Port El Kantaoui is a picture post card perfect tourist magnet.  This location strikes me as reason that so many tourists must come to Tunisia.  It is a seaside oasis of bright white and clean buildings, more restaurants that you could visit in a week, a variety of trinket shopping, camel and horseback rides, escorted bus excursions are arranged, liquor drinks delivered to you on the beach, etc.  The photos will give you a sense of the place.  Pirate ship sailing, a yellow submarine which is a glass bottom vessel for touring the reefs and quaintness everywhere.

We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of Tunisian coffee, crepes and fresh squeezed OJ.  Quite a bit more expensive than at our café near our hotel.  After soaking in the sun and rejecting scores of offers for a "fine lunch", we begin our return to Sousse.  As we approach a line of taxis for the return trip.  We are approached before crossing the street – Taxi to Sousse?  Sure.  As we cross, three other taxi drivers approach our guy yelling and making wild arm movements ending in a strong shove to the chest of the guy we were with.  This leads to loud verbal exchanges, another taxi driver informs us he will take us to Sousse.  We open the door to getin, he says $6td.  We tell him we just came up on the meter and it was closer to $4td.  Another taxi driver yells he will do it for $5, angry words erupt, then the taxi actually at the head of the line declares he does not care - $4td is fine – get in.  We get in, he begins to drive and we are informed the ride will be $5td.  We pay him $4td.  I am envisioning what it is like to be in a country where a taxi ride is not an emotionally exhausting experience with a different outcome each time involving physical and verbal altercations.

We head back to the Souk where the girls have been eyeing some fine silver trinkets which they now know for certain are the best quality and have shopped the prices.  I have coached and demonstrated bargaining techniques.  This time, I plant my butt on a stool and watch with my mouth closed.  Negotiating tactics in play the girls are in rare form.  One deal goes down smoothly, then the shopkeeper is incensed – evidently we are trying to cheat him?  .

Kelsey recommends the “Restraunt de Peuple” which is on the outer wall of the Souk near the Paris Hotel and received a good review in the Lonely Planet.  We nearly walk by its small entrance.  The menu is basic.  I ask some questions – what is the “mixed grill”?  The waiter explains that you get a “complete meal”.  We shrug and sit.  I order the mix grill, the girls decide to share a vegetable couscous.  That total bill is $15td for all three of us.  The meal begins with a bowl of delicious soup.  We are then presented with 4 large and different salads to share – one featuring lentils, one Meshwee another with Peppers.  Fantastic!   I'm full now, can I go?  Then our main meal arrives.  The mixed grill included at least 5 different kinds of meat all cooked on their charcoal grill.  I’m not sure I recognized it all, but I assure you there was no pork and it was all fantastic.  The vegetable couscous was amazing.  As a finish, we each are given a hot sweet Tunisian tea (with mint) and sliced strawberries in rose water.  OK, now I really am full.
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