Greater Tunis Area: Carthage & Sidi Bou Said

Trip Start May 22, 2008
Trip End Jun 01, 2008

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008
Greater Tunis Area: Carthage & Sidi Bou Said
Dear Readers:
We start the day with a visit to the ruins of the Roman Baths at Carthage. Those people really knew how to pamper themselves. The facilities were absolutely enormous in their time, with gorgeous views out to the Gulf of Tunis. The Baths are at sea level. We explore them for a time, then drive up the hill to the ancient site of Carthage.
A few ruins are all that remain of what was one of the most powerful cities in the ancient world. We explore the site, take a group photo, tour the museum, then get back on the bus to visit the town of Sidi Bou Said.
Other than Mykonos and Santorini, I can't remember seeing a place so beautifully laid out with blue and white Mediterranean houses overlooking the blue water. Our guide says we have to thank the French for realizing what a treasure this place is, and working to preserve it. Some of the mansions in town are open to visitors, and we enjoy touring one, Dar el-Annabi, which used to be the home of a lawyer. It is like a small palace, with a gorgeous terrace overlooking the Gulf.
Leaving the mansion we have free time to grab lunch. I join a few guys wandering ever upwards, in search of great photos higher up the hill. We are not disappointed, neither with the views or the food at Café Sidi Chabaane.
Our guide stuns me today with the news that he has found a young woman to replace him for the rest of the tour. I protest, but he tells me to allow her to do the guided visit to the Bardo Museum, and if I don't like her at all, he will continue the tour with us. She turns out to be vivacious and easy to understand, and we make the change included an improvement to a larger bus and a younger driver. It is the first time in all my experience that such a wholesale change of service has taken place on the first full day of touring, but I think the change has been for the better all around. We'll know soon enough.
The Bardo Museum in Tunis is a former palace of one of the Husseinite beys. It is an absolute must-see for any visitor, as it contains an incomparable collection of Roman mosaics that once adorned the homes of Roman Africa's wealthiest citizens. The quality, size and variety of these works of art are astounding.
We conclude the day with our new guide escorting us through the Medina and back to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel is a sumptuous buffet, and then the guys head out on the street to see what adventures lay in store on this Saturday night. I pack, post the blog, and hit the hay!
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