Mosaics for the morning
Tunis Travel Blog› entry 5 of 20 › view all entries
I start the day heading for the Bardo Museum. It is in a different area of Tunis and quite a bit of way from the main drag and the old city. But it is one of the biggest attractions in town with its collection of old mosaics.
The museum is housed in the old Beys house. The Bey in Tunisia was the representative of the Sultan in Istanbul and later the French colonial representative. One of the old Bey’s started collecting old arts especially mosaics. Hence today the Bardo house lots of mosaics from all over Tunisia. The museum is unfortunately undergoing reconstruction for the moment so some part it seems to be closed off for the moment. But you can still go in and have a look at the amazing mosaics. The only concern you got when navigating the museum has to walk alternative routes to go and see some of the exhibition halls.
The main attraction is the old mosaics of which you actually are walking on some of them because they are used as the floor in some halls of the museum. The most impressive mosaics are in rooms which are in themselves very beautiful with an impressive sealing with different decorations. And at sometimes you will not really look at the mosaics of display but instead look for the decorations of the room.
Some of the mosaics are surprisingly well preserved and some are so detailed you can hardly see it is a mosaic because the bits used to produce the mosaics is just so tiny. The details at some of the heads make them look almost lifelike and there are some fabulous hunting scenes on other of the mosaics.
After the visit to the Bardo Museum I head for the medina of the city once more - it is the main attraction of the city after all and I don’t feel I have seen all there are to see in there.
So I go back to the main square in the medina with the biggest mosque inside the medina. Fortunately the mosque is open today so I go in with great expectations. Unfortunately there are a lot of repairs going on inside the courtyard hence it is impossible to go in to the courtyard and have a closer look at the place. It is only possible to look into the courtyard from the side of the courtyard. And there is no access to the inside of the mosque for people not participating in the prayer. So somewhat disappoint with the mosque I turn to the main tourist shopping road and make my way through it. You will be great with lots of have a look in my shop in French, Italian and English. But I am not yet going shopping I won’t consider that before the very end of the trip to avoid carrying stuff around.
After I manage to cross the tourist road and manage to find a place for lunch I have sort of given up on the medina. Considering it way too touristy only selling stuff to foreigners. After lunch I set out to find the real Tunis - where all the locals go. But I have a hard time finding it. It is not like the streets are empty - on the contrary they are crowded - but I don’t really find those market places with all the local products which I know will have to be hidden somewhere in the city. In the end I go down to circle around the medina from the outside to get a feel for the size of it. But I end up getting inside the medina by accident - and the road or whatever it should be called I get to is void of tourist. I got the felling I am the only European on the street. This street is crowded if I thought there were a lot of people on the tourist street I get a sense of what it means to be buzzing in the medina.
In this street you can buy everything you could possible need from spices to batteries to plates to slippers to videotapes and mobile phones. The locals walk by looking at the shops stopping when they want something - and here I am not considered easy prey for the advanced sellers - actually it is sort of contrary the shopkeepers seems NOT to expect me to buy anything. So I can just walk by and have a look at the hordes. It takes a while before I finally get to the end of the road because of the crowd means there are constant traffic jams in the narrow passage where there are not really enough room for the pedestrians passing each other.
I walk a bit on the outside of the medina before heading back into the midst of the medina. When I set out for this little wonder around town I figured I would not need a map so when I left the hotel I didn’t bother bring it - now I start to question my judgment of the situation. I know I am in the medina and got a broad idea of which direction I should walk but I am not sure of it - but I hope for the best.
I walk past an old monument a sort of mausoleum for the old pashas from the Ottoman Empire and his ministers and wife’s.
From here I wonder around and suddenly find a row of local pastries shops - yes I remember these very local and possible lethal shops selling stuff which will quickly stop the flows through your arteries. I do something which is likely to increase my life expectancy with 2-3 years - I walk straight pass them. And from here I just walk to the end of the passage and then right and straight ahead out of the medina and to my hotel.