our House, kitchengarden
To fly regular flights is the best option when staying in Hammamet longer than 3 weeks. Due to delays I was stuck in Frankfurt for 12 hours and had to fly in to Tunis via Roma. Interesting experience. This year it was hystery about the swine-flue everywhere. It was a special scanning at the arrival (`??) and you can watch the poster here. From Tunis airport I took a taxi into the city and the central station catching a train to Bir bou Reghba and another taxi to our rented house in Hammamet.
The house we rented is a private house in a central location in old Hammamet. Whatever you need we found it within ten minutes walk, even the godious beach.
Summer 2009 it was hysterical about the swineflue everywhere. This poster was the first impression of Tunisia after arrival.
We looked forward to have a private house this time and it turned out very well. Compared to rent a summerhouse in our country for a period of four weeks and such a central location it was very economic. It was a big house with kitchen, three bedrooms, living area, two bathrooms, a huge roof terrace and a small kitchen garden. In the mornings we could here the sound from the rooster crow from the small kitchengarden. We juste loved this house that was in a convenient walking distance from the beach. The beach in old Hammamet last for miles and miles, all the way south to Hammamet Yasmine and longer. You can always find quiet spots if you wish, and the hotel-areas covers not all of it. But of course you need your own umbrella, or if you have good local friends you can always borrow one.
our kitchengarden with the poultry-house.
You definitely need it for the sun is almost aggressive mid-days. Well, if you are crazy beachhangers like us of course.
When you are located in one place for four weeks, except some excursions and daytrips, perhaps seems a bit boring to many of you, but for us not one day were like the others apart from the walk to the beach and spending some hours there almost every day. Since we have spent some weeks in Hammamet for seven years now, we've got to know a number of local people and families whom have became real friends. This year we spent many days taking one of your friends two small children to the beach. Their parents worked seven days a week and they didn't really had opportunity to get to the beach playing if we didn' t take them there.
the House, living-area.
We had great fun with them and in the same time we felt we were doing something good.
Some evenings we just relaxed in the house, in the small garden or on the roof-terrace, making our own dinner, reading and listening to music,enjoying the refreshing evening-breeze on the roof whilst listening to the remote sounds from the busy streets downtown. Most evenings we took walkingtours around the town, visiting an internet-cafÃ© contacting family and friends, dining out in one of the numerous cosy small restaurants, and very often stopped by at the Canari restaurant for an ice-cream or a fresh juice. After seven summers in Hammamet we know the Medina and its souvenir boots and shops and just visited if we wanted to get a really good bargain for something.
the House, kitchen
The Medina in old town is genuine and many locals still live there a bit aside from the shopping alleys, but in the middle of the crowd, the scents and the noice from the barking shopowners who eagerly need to sell their goods. Our first visits many years ago, we always got diddled on the price for our souvenirs, but we have slowly learned the game.
Most mornings we had the same routins. My wife always get up earlier and when I woke up she had written a note ' I'm out bying fruit n bread'. I swept the house from the roof downways to the entrance and every morning there were heeps of the white sand that had reached the house in a strange way. We had the fruitstore and the bakery just around the corner, but most often she took a morning coffee with some of our friends she met.
Always when we strolled around people recognised us and said some friendly words. Just around the corner is also a pattiserie selling delicious cookies and Belgian pastries always just some tempting steps away. We had our breakfast and prepared everything for a new sunny day at the beach. Some days we waited for the small children of our friends whom we cared for at the beach. Daynurseries are not a common thing in this country and families need to make their own arrangements. Of course, summer is tourist-season and both parents need to work as much as they possibly can. Wintertime is calm and then many people have a minimum of income.
Our first week three of our grown up children visited us, and it was very convenient to have a big house hosting all of us.
our House,view from our roof-terrace
One day we took of for Tunis for a day-tour. We took a morning-train running directly from Hammamet to Tunis. Then we walked the big boulevard to the other station Tunis MÃ©tro leger,TGM, from where the local-trains depart for Goulette, Carthage and Sidi bou Said. It was Sunday morning and crowds of Tunis residents were on their way to the beach. The train was crowded with families and their beach-trunks, balls and other stuff when we tried to be squeezed in in the train. Our first destination this day was Sidi bou Said. It s very cheap and handy to go on your own out there from the city. Sidi bou Said train station is just 300 meters downhills from the touristic sights of the suburb.
our House, roof-terrace
We walked uphills from the local train-station and the sun was burning almost aggressively at noon-time. The village Sidi-bou-Said is a pittoresque village in blue and white with a fantastic view of the blue Tunis bay and the city itself. Souvenirshops and galleries are numerous as well as small cafÃ©s. The purple bougainvilleas are climbing above all the white walls and the skies are heavenly blue as the doors and windows of the white buildings. Pittoresque is the word. We walked all the way through the small village and found a cafÃ© with a godious view over Tunis and the bay. The prices were as high as the view. :)
After a refreshing coffee-brake we entered the path donwhills to the local train station /TGM/ catching a train into the city and stopped by at Carthage Demmech.
After some minutes of hesitation of the best way to get up there, we started walking. After say 25 minutes walk we were up at Byrsa Hill. Carthage, the city of Hannibal, founded by Phoenicians from Tyre /in Lebanon/ year 814 b.c. Reading some historical figures and facts it was not hard to feel how important this place had been, strolling around in the old ruins from the Punic quarters. Inside the National Museum of Chartage, we could find several amazing statues, mosaics, domestic equipment, lamps, sarcophages and much more, from the Punic and Roman era. In the evening we met some of our Tunisian friends in Tunis for a coffee. Avenue Habib Borghiba is a boulevard running through the inner-city. In evenings you'll find lots of coffee-shops and ice-creambars as well as good restaurants along all the avenue.
five minutes walk from our House on our way to the beach.
One of these days we also celebrated our youngest daughters birthday. She has spent her birthday in Hammamet over the last seven years now. It has been a tradition to invite many of her and our friends for a birthday-party and the Tunisians are very friendly and like to celebrate even 'tourists'. Hammamet has a few good pattiseries, where you can order a nice decorated cake fairly cheap.
We were very glad but surprised one day when we were invited for one of our friends engagement party. In Tunisia the two families have a grand party when the young couple change rings with eachother. Normally it is just the families and very close friends who are invited and my wife and I had the honour to be invited to this important event.
a small part of the vast beach
We took the chance to celebrate our own wedding-anniversary at the same time and booked us in at a cosy five star hotel in Tunis, 'la maison blanche' /the white house/. I will write a review of the hotel in other space. The 'fiancÃ©' party went on for hours with lots of snacks and good music. It was situated in one of the old mansions from the in the old medina of Tunis, that now is converted to a museum/small guest house. Amazing location from the 18th centurary for a party like that, really close to Place du Gouvernement and the more famous 'dar al-Jeld'. We were very happy to join our friends in this romantic setting and their important evening.
Tunis, the capital, I need at least three daytrips every summer to explore its rich sights.
well, if you want a private umbrella, you need to...
One of these days is destinated for the huge Bardo Museum with its godious mosaics and statues from the Carthagian and Roman eras. Every time I visit the Bardo Museum or the ruins of Carthage itself, I imagine how Europe could look like if Hannibal had conquered the Romans in the third punic war. History depends on small single steps and movings along our long history-line, doesn t it. Another of these days I like to stroll around in the old Medina, enjoying all the small boots of all sorts of things, the scents from spices, oils, parfumes and the old buildings and narrow alleys. To zip an ice-cold 'citronnade' is very special when I'm in Tunis. Nothing can be more refreshing on a long walking tour in the city.
Another family event we visited, was when one of our friends got their first child.
HER feet, waiting for the umbrella.. :)
We made a small visit to their house with some gifts and was treated with some special drink or rather a paste of almond and other ingredients. That is always beautiful gestures and the hospitality of the Tunisian people are just enormous in their ways to show hospitality.
This year I decided to visit Dougga. I found a local tourist office who arranged tours to Dougga for one day. The tour also included Zaghouan and, Thuburbo Majus. In one day it was possible to turn back the time some thousand years watching ruins from the carthagian and roman eras, some are very well preserved while others are in a poor condition. It is interesting to know that some of these places have still squaremiles to excarvate.
The ministry lack a lot of money in order to fulfill all of this.
Early in the morning when the wind was still a bit nippy I entered a minibus with a professional historical guide and five tourists heading off for these historical places. We took off the about 35 km to Zaghouan. The village is located at the foot of mount Zaghouan /Jebel Zaghouan/ 1.295 m. where you ca see the snow on the top wintertime. We learned that during the Roman emperor Hadrian, a 132km long aqueduct was built. This was aimed to supply Carthage with water. Still you can see parts of it along the roads around Tunis. At the hillside of the mountain you find the Water Temple, Temple des Eaux. It is a semi-circular shrine built to the spring that kept Carthage with water.
the first touch of the sea this year.
Its 12 niches once held a statue for every month.
After a coffee brake in the gardencafÃ© the trip continued to Thuburbo-Majus, an old Roman city that hosted ten thousand inhabitants in the second centurary a.d. The location is in the middle of vast fields of wheet and olive trees. There are still more than five times to excavate in the area and Thuburbo-Majus was a big city in its days. It was founded long time before the Romans entered and goes back to the 5th centurary b.c. as a settlement for the local people Berbers. The town was an important trading centre for agricultural products as olives and wine as well as wheat.Most of the buildings are from the second half of the 2nd centurary.
Four pillars dominant the view, giant pillars of pink limestone built in 168 a.d. The stairs in front of them leads up from the Forum to the temple. Different temples dedicated to a number of gods as well as the marketplace, the gymnasium and the baths stands like you can feel the sense of ancient times.
After Thurburbo Majus we visited the small town of Teboursouk. A small town with some sense from moric days. Now it was the time to get up to Dougga, this wellknown old Roman city located on a hillside in a very picturesque landscape. Dougga has been classified as one of Unesco World Heritage since 1997 and you can easily imagine much of how it was to live here thousands and thousands years ago.
/to be continued...../