Monday, May 17, 2010

Sidi Bou Said, Dougga, Bulla Regia (“What are places I’ve never heard of before, Alex?”)


We had planned to stay in Tunis this weekend and check out the neighboring city of Carthage. We usually favor low key for the first weekend, especially when we are dealing with the demon known as jet lag. Then we decided to go ahead and do a road trip weekend out to some Roman ruins in Dougga and Bulla Regia. Then we realized they weren’t that far away and there weren’t any hotels out there even if they had been. So, we did technically stay in Tunis, but we also did a ton of sightseeing.

Friday night we went out to an area called Sidi Bou Said. It seems this country is going to continue to surprise me over and over. Sidi Bou Said has been the best surprise so far…



Whitewashed houses with incredibly ornate blue doors, I thought we somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in Santorini.

We walked around, dipping in and out of shops while I fretted over exactly how I’m going to get the 14 tons of pottery I plan on buying back home to the U.S. and eventually had dinner at a lovely restaurant …dinner that included a bottle of wine. It seems that the area where we live is dry and that is due to the very conservative developer who invested his millions or billions with that stipulation. Again, another happy surprise.

Saturday morning we went to check out the medina and souk. I was a bit worried about the hassle of haggling with what my book and a lot of reviews have called fairly aggressive vendors. I’m guessing the person who wrote my travel book as well as the reviewers on Tripadvisor have never been to India or to Egypt or maybe nowhere outside of Europe. These were the least aggressive vendors I’ve ever seen. I get more harassed and annoyed at the Ann Taylor at Atlantic Station.

That said, the shopping gods weren’t smiling upon me and I ended up buying nothing. Nothing! Unbelievable. I guess I'm still trying to work out how to get it home.

We wandered, almost aimlessly, through the medina’s winding narrow streets, had a coffee, saw the courtyard (as far as we could go) of a mosque, visited an interesting mausoleum and wandered around for a couple more hours.









We eventually found our way out of the medina and in front of some government building where we caught a cab to Carthage. We scrounged up some lunch and even went to the gates of the ruins before admitting we were all too tired to give it the proper attention so saved it for another day. We headed back to Sidi Bou Said instead. It had been pretty late in the day when we had arrived there on Friday and we wanted to see it in the sun...







Obviously we’re thrilled to have this area so close to us and are already planning on at least a weekly dinner there.

Our driver picked us up on Sunday morning for our trip out to Dougga and Bulla Regia. Dougga was probably the best ruins I’ve ever seen. Still high with walls it was so easy to how the city was laid out and operated. The beauty was actually pretty surreal...







Bulla Regia was not as well preserved or I suppose as well excavated, at least for the above ground levels. This is however, the only Roman town ever found where the Romans built underground rooms. Used for the summer to escape the heat these levels were incredibly preserved under hundreds of years of earth. The mosaics that were found on each and every floor were just fantastic...



The drive to and from Tunis was a charming one and made it very clear that this is a Mediterranean country…



Next weekend we’re headed south to take our first steps in the Sahara. Cannot wait!

2 comments:

Zeeshan Arshad said...

guys how was the trip to sidi bou said ? planning to go there in june end? is it worth? any partying up there or should we look at morroco or beirut ?

MAV said...

If you want to party, I'd pass on Sidi Bou Said. There are better clubs on the beach. Or just go to Morocco.