Non-touristy Sfax

Sfax Travel Blog

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It was getting late and we still had a drive, south to Sfax.  I chose Sfax as a destination because it has the best preserved Arab Medina in North Africa.  Also the hotel I found was situated in the middle of everything we wanted to see.  The drive itself was uneventful as it was mostly on a rather new and good motorway.  When we got closer to Sfax we had to exit the good road and ended up in the insanity of driving in that city.  It was not as bad as Yerevan, Armenia but, it was crazy with people passing whenever and wherever, bikes and scooters coming and going, drivers turning across traffic with no consideration for rules, pedestrians randomly crossing, and general insanity, not to mention the animals (donkeys, camels, and sheep… oh my). 

 

We were lucky that it was fairly easy to find the hotel and parking.

  The overall feel of the city is lively, energetic, and one of where people come to work.  It is the second largest city in Tunisia; however they do not get many tourists.  In general if felt cold and impersonal towards us.

 

Once we got checked-in and situated we needed food.  Rob checked on restaurants and found a recommended one next to the hotel.  We decided if the menu was not to our liking we would go to the Monoprix (supermarket) and have a picnic in the room.  When we got downstairs the restaurant was not open yet so se decided to walk to the Medina and check it out until the place opened. 

 

Approaching the wall of the old city was like approaching something trapped in time (except for the cars everywhere).

  The walls soar to the sky providing an imposing obstacle to anyone who might think of attacking.  To be so ancient they still represent strength and security.

 

We entered through the Bab Diwan (gate) to the central artery.  All of the shops were closed along the very narrow alley like streets.  It felt like walking through a storage facility with all of the garage type doors covering the storefronts down for the night.  There were other people in the streets, but we had a feeling of unease.  There was really nothing that happened to make us feel that way other than feeling trapped and isolated if something were to happen.

 

We worked our way to the other side of the Medina and exited.  We were so happy to be out, but still felt uneasy as it seemed like the youth around were watching (which everyone was staring) and the area was generally run down.

  We decided to walk around outside of the wall to get back.  We entered a park to get a better view and both of us had the warning bells going off in our head.  We quickly continued on our way.  Rob stopped to take a picture once were on the main street. A cop in front of the police station across the street yelled at him to stop (finger was in the air waving at Rob).  We moved along and enjoyed the grandness of the wall. 

 

After this experience we decided the picnic in the room sounded perfect so we turned down the Avenue Hedi Chaker to the Town Hall.  The building with its modern two-colour façade was built in the Moorish style during the French Protectorate in the early 20th

 

century.  We found the Monoprix and got food and drink.  On the way back Rob bought a half of a roasted chicken and we were set.  Dinner was a pleasant ending to an exciting and stressful day of travel.

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Sfax
photo by: AgniAgni