I fell in love with Tunisia long before I visited it. Beaches with azure waters and dazzling white sand that are indistinguishable from the Caribbean. The ruins of the «colosseum» in El Jem, where Ridley Scott’s «Gladiator» was allegedly filmed, and the blue and white «instagram city» of Sidi Bou Said. After the trip, it will not be difficult for me to decompose into six senses a bunch of my vivid impressions of Tunisia, which became possible thanks to the Burda Media Influencer agency.

Travel to Tunisia

See with your own eyes the «village of artists»

You fall into Sidi Bou Said and you catch yourself thinking that in front of your eyes is a revived canvas of the Impressionists. Labyrinths of cobbled streets, whitewashed stone houses with piercing blue architraves in the arms of lush bright pink bougainvilleas delight the eye.

Traveled to Sidi Bou Said

Sidi Bou Said got its name from a Sufi preacher who founded a religious center here in the 13th century. During the Ottoman Empire, the city was a place for country residences of wealthy Tunisians. But it is nicknamed the «village of artists.» Artists Paul Klee, August Macke and Alexander Rubtsova were inspired by the Mediterranean palette here. Now the paintings of the authors adorn the French Embassy in Tunisia. Bohemian Parisians Flaubert, Colette, André Gide and Simone de Beauvoir spent their holidays here, healing their bodies and souls.

Be sure to check out one of the cafes located in the center. For example, the desDelices terrace offers incredible views of the bay.

READ ALSO: 5 best places for family holidays in the Emirates

Listen to the sound of the medina

Medina in the countries of the Maghreb and North Africa is the old part of the city, built during the time of Arab rule in the 9th century. Medina means «city» in modern Arabic. For authenticity, she often gets cameo roles in Hollywood movies. Therefore, be sure to visit the labyrinths of its streets so that, without disturbing the lifestyle of its inhabitants, listen to the noise of the city — it has not changed much over hundreds of years.

One of the most famous — Arab medina, built in the Middle Ages, is located in the Tunisian town Suss. It is built up with old white houses, but among them you can also find majestic fortresses, such as the Great Mosque and the Ribat Monastery. It is surrounded by massive fortress walls made of hewn stone brought from the ruins of nearby Roman cities. Be sure to take a stroll through the local shopping malls. Bargain for handmade carpets, silver, wickerwork and an unusual mineral made of intergrown crystals «desert rose» (that’s what Sting sings about in his famous song, in Algeria it is forbidden for export). Bargain boldly, bring down the price by 3-4 times. You will not bargain — offend the owner of the goods.

Try local sweets, dates that are sold in bunches right on the branches, ripe figs and raw pistachios, salted lemons. From the exotic — the fruits of prickly pear, which tastes like a cross between gooseberries and kiwi. Prickly pear is a cactus that grows everywhere here. Do not rush to repeat the typical mistake — to tear this fruit for a souvenir yourself. The fruits of the cactus are dotted with small spines that dig into the hands, tongue and lips, and it is not easy to remove them. Locals collect them with special gloves and cool the fruit before eating.

There will be time — look at the Dar Essid Museum (65, Rue des Remparts). It is located right next to the fortress wall of the medina. This is an old house of a wealthy citizen, built back in 900.

Feel the taste of local cuisine

You don’t have to starve in Tunisia. The local cuisine is delicious and hearty. Tunisians start their meal with appetizers: olives, spicy harissa pasta, which is poured with olive oil and then dipped in tortillas, salads, tuna pieces and brik. Brick is a closed pancake made of unleavened dough stuffed with tuna or crab meat, fried in boiling oil.

The main dish of Tunisia is couscous, which came from the cuisine of the Berbers. Prepared from millet groats with meat, baked vegetables and various sauces. Fish is offered everywhere, cooked differently. The assortment pleases — from sea bream and sea bass to tuna and swordfish. Always fresh and prepared right before serving. Meat (usually beef or chicken) is also served everywhere as a stew in a pot, shish kebab or in the form of kefta (local meatballs). In search of local flavor, the Dar Zaghouan restaurant complex may come up. Serving authentic Berber lamb to the sound of traditional music overlooking the mountain Zaguan(which is part of the Atlas mountain chain).

There will be time — visit the ruins of the Temple of Water, located nearby. It was located at the site of a spring that supplied water to Carthage through an aqueduct 132 kilometers long. The aqueduct was built in 128 by order of Emperor Hadrian after 5 years of drought in the region.

Go for the scent of jasmine

In Tunisia, there is not a single courtyard where jasmine does not grow. Jasmine flowers in Tunisia are sold everywhere and everywhere — both in bunches and single flowers. According to local tradition, if a man wears a flower behind his right ear, he is married; if behind his left, he is single. If a man gives you a bouquet of jasmine with a palm branch, he likes you.

Local housewives add the petals of its flowers to confectionery, tea, coffee. My favorite is the jasmine tea served with almonds at the cozy Dar kmar Chez Bedia cafe in the Sousse medina.

The smell of jasmine is in the top of fragrant water, which is produced in Tunisia by the old-fashioned method using a distillation apparatus. Yes, yes, everything is like in the movie «Perfume». In a large cauldron, water with flowers boils on fire, the condensate collects on a clay dome-lid, from where it flows down a tube into a glass flask. You can buy fragrances in special cosmetic shops in the bazaar. Tunisia or simple souvenir shops.

Touch history

The ruins of the legendary Carthage and other monuments of ancient civilizations have been preserved on the territory of Tunisia. Among them is the grandiose amphitheater in El Jemme. In size, it is only slightly inferior to the Colosseum in Rome. For more than 40 years, giant blocks were dug out in quarries, hewn, and taken to the construction site of the amphitheater. More than 30 thousand spectators were placed on its stone steps. Above the eastern entrance rose the imperial box, from which one could see the rooms of the gladiators under the arena. The wildest spectacle was venationas — a fight of unarmed people with lions and other predators. The dead were sacrificed to the gods. The lion and the bull — Saturn and Juno, the panther — Dionysus, the bear — Diana. Now modern show programs and concerts are held on the ruins of the amphitheater.

There will be time — look at the museum of archeology. It is located one kilometer from the amphitheater. Entrance to the museum — with a ticket to the amphitheater, no additional fee is charged. Here are collected perfectly preserved mosaics from private villas in the ancient Roman quarters that surrounded the «colosseum». The favorite characters of the mosaics are the gods of fun and winemaking, respectively, parties are the most popular plot. Standing apart is a mosaic depicting an owl and bird corpses with an inscription like: «Envious people die from their bile, but the owl does not care.»

Those who are more interested in the history of cinema — in the town of Tatooine (near the settlement of Ksar Haddad, on the edge of the Sahara). The iconic Star Wars saga was filmed here in the desert. Also in Tunisia, the films «Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade», «The English Patient» and many others were filmed.

READ ALSO: Where to rest in Turkey: an incredible location

Feel balance and peace

The sea — its aroma, noise, color help to relax and at the same time to tone up. Tunisia borders the Mediterranean Sea. Although in summer the temperature exceeds 30 degrees, the heat is tolerated quite easily due to low humidity (affects the proximity of the Sahara). Almost all areas for swimming in the resorts of Tunisia are covered with fine sand of different colors — from white to light yellow. The competitive advantage of the country’s beaches is a smooth entrance to the sea without sudden changes in depth. This is a big plus for families with children. From beach activities — the familiar water scooter, boat, love the thrill — then, of course, parasailing. For example, rising into the sky between cities Sus and Monasteryyou can see the salt lakes, in which pink flamingos are on duty in search of food.

There are legends about Tunisian spas with thalassotherapy. They are considered among the best in the world. The quality of raw materials, equipment that meets international standards, the experience of specialists, as well as reasonable prices. The Thalassa Sea & Spa hotel chain, which is located in the cities of Monastir, Sousse, and Mahdia, remains the leader here. At the heart of all the programs of this network are five key concepts: energy, calmness, detox, recovery, radiance. Exactly what you expect from a vacation.

Which of the cities of Tunisia is ideal for exploring — intuition will help, because they are equally authentic, colorful and ready to give vivid impressions of a lifetime.

Text: marieclaire.ua

Photo: Svetlana Soroka

Related Articles

The opinion of the editors may not coincide with the opinion of the author of the article.