Tunisia Part 2

March 9, 2009

On Monday, March 2nd, we left Douz and drove across the country to Tozeur through the great salt lake, Chott el-Jerid. The views of the lake and desert were amazing. In Tozeur we briefly visited the University there where Professor Ponce de Leon teaches and got to go on a horse and carriage ride through the date palm oasis of the town.

Chott el-Jerid

Tozeur: horse and carriage; date palm oasis

After lunch we all got in Land Rovers and went on a trip through three different mountain oases, Chebika, Tamerza, and Mides. The scenery was, again, amazing; I think this afternoon was my favorite part of the trip. On the way back to Douz we saw the sunset over Chott el-Jerid.

Tuesday we had a long bus ride back north, arriving in Kairouan, the third holiest city of Islam after Mecca and Jerusalem. We saw enormous cisterns, the Great Mosque of the city, and a mausoleum for an Islamic holy figure.

Kairouan: cistern; Great Mosque

Inside the courtyard of the mosque; inside the prayer hall

Decoration inside the Mausoleum of the Barber

In the afternoon we took the bus to the beach resort town of Hammamet where we spent the night. The town was almost completely deserted, although I imagine in the summer it must be overrun with tourists! The beaches there were very nice.

Boardwalk and beach at Hammamet

Wednesday we left Hammamet for Tunis, but along the way we visited the modern town of Carthage. The ancient Punic city was famously burnt to the ground by the Romans, but in Carthage today there are ruins of a large Roman bath complex and an American WWII memorial cemetary that we visited.

Baths of Antoninus Pius; American Cemetary

That afternoon we visited Sidi Bou Said, an “artsy” hilltop town with lots of little shops. We had free time the rest of the day in Tunis, and Thursday we returned to Rome.

Sidi Bou Said

To be continued again!