One of the must-see things to do is a visit to the Bardo,
the museum of archaeology housing the biggest collection
of mosaics in the world, many with their colours still vivid, some dating back to Roman times. Although you can go
on your own, it is very difficult to appreciate what you are seeing, and I very much regretted not having a guide.
The highlight of my visit was seeing stones that had
been found from a civilisation 40,000 years before Christ, probably the oldest religious edifice in the world.
At one time, Tunisia formed part of the Roman Empire and at Carthage, another unesco World Heritage site,
you can see the remains of a city, initially established by the Phoenicians around 814bc, which became Rome’s third largest imperial city. Unfortunately all the statues now no longer have noses or genitals as, over a period of time, they were removed by vandals.
The cobblestone village of Sidi Bou Saïd must be the prettiest place we visited on my trip. The buildings are all painted in deep blue and white, colours you see a lot if travelling around the country. There are endless large hotel resorts along the coast, so we just had to peep into the Dar Saïd, now a hotel, but in the nineteenth century the home
of one of the more affluent Tunisians.
Perched on a hill with views of the Mediterranean, it is the sort of place that you would wish to stay at if you are looking for a quiet, even romantic holiday, as it is comparatively small with all the bedrooms individually decorated.
Spas are one of the big things in Tunisia, and the country boasts the biggest selection outside of France. We also stayed on the coast at Port El Kantaoui, where the hotel has its own luxurious Thalassatherapy spa, which offers many different treatments in beautiful surroundings. All the spas try and outdo each other by introducing new and exotic treatments. At a hotel spa in Hammamet, six of us had a ghassoul. For
the uninitiated, we were covered in a gunge of brown mud which hardens while you all sit in an enclosed, but warm room, into which wonderful aromatherapy smells are introduced. Unfortunately, at the end, just as you are drifting off to the sounds of relaxing music, you are sprayed with freezing cold water!
Wherever you stay there is usually, at the very least, a
hamman, which is similar to our steam room, but more authentic, as it is usually housed in a sizeable space with
stone walls, and stone seating. And the best part is that you
get to have a massage afterwards.
While most of the things in the country are cheap, in comparison the cost of the various spa treatments do not appear to be so. So, if the resort or hotel where you are staying has a spa, and you are planning to take advantage of the facility, it is almost certainly worth negotiating a treatment or two within your package. If you are looking for a bit of excitement, it is also worth considering a two-destination holiday taking in the Sahara desert in the south of the country.
The Bardo museum has one
of the world’s best collections
of Roman mosaics
Web site created by Mark Griffin