Chillaxing yes... Belly Dancing no...
Trip Start May 13, 2008
128Trip End Ongoing
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Then we walked further round the bay, paddling in the sea as we went. The sun felt a bit stronger now as it approached early afternoon, and the colour of the water was beautiful, yet all these beaches were still virtually deserted. They weren't the cleanest beaches I'd ever seen (litter was pretty much abundant throughout all the Tunisia we saw), but still, there were plenty of people around, we'd seen that at our hotel. Where were they? I shudder to think that they stayed at the hotel all day, at the INDOOR swimming pool - which, by the way, was pretty much the grottiest pool I've ever seen, and why anyone would go in there when there's perfectly good sun, sand, and sea outside is beyond me.
When we heard rumbles of thunder in the distance and saw dark clouds assembling over Jasmine Hammamet we decided it was time to retreat back the way we came before we regretted our beach excursion. On the way we stopped to buy some souvenirs (the best obviously come in food format!) in the local shop - some fig liquor and local beer for Joey and Dad, mint tea, nougat, pistachios, a weird sesame seed/pistacho paste, local chocolate, and some pine nuts. We avoided the medina this time - no naff tourist fare was required.
Hammamet town centre is pretty unremarkable really - the fort is a nice touch, but nothing more I don't think. From our trips around other towns we'd noticed that a common theme is that Tunisians take great pride in their roundabouts. The more extravagent and obscure, the better. So strange when you can have such a grand structure for a roundabout when some of the surrounding streets are struggling for tarmac, and definitely for a litter collection. Anyway, this is Hammamet centre ville, and one of the impressive roundabouts on display:
We wanted to play table tennis back at the hotel, but the table was occupied, so we sat in the bar to get some mint tea whilst we waited. In this time the hotel entertainment team accosted us. After dinner every night they tried to persuade to come to their cabaret show... luckily we always wriggled out of it. Now they wanted us to come and join a belly dancing class. Hmm, tempting! For five minutes we sat chuckling at those who were taking part whilst they pestered us to join in. Not happening unfortunately! So we got in a bit of table tennis (a thrashing for Mum), and then I went to play football with one of the guys whilst Mum had an Arabic lesson. She came back even more confused that she was before about Arabic, and I was convinced that she'd snuck back into the belly dancing lesson instead. Anyway, there was time for a bit more table tennis before dinner... our last chance for Tunisian cakes, so naturally I exploited it to the max.
The next day we left early, again, about 6.30, for the trip back, which was uneventful other than the good views of Sardiana and Corsica as we flew overhead. Thus concludes our second North Africa trip in four months. Comparisons with Morocco were always pretty much inevitable:
Weather - largely similar, warmer in the desert here!
People - both friendly, but felt more like they wanted something in Tunisia.
Prices - we didn't really eat out much here given that we got most of our food at the hotel. I would say probably cheaper in Morocco though.
Food - I loved the bric and the aubergines here. Hawker stalls in Morocco were brilliant though. I think there's more variety in Tunisian cuisine to be honest.
Scenery - Toughie! Think I will sit on the fence, it was all good.
Atmosphere - I think Morocco wins this one, hands down. At night it all seemed pretty dead in Tunisia, whereas Marrakech was a vibrant hub of activity.
Also - far, far cleaner in Morocco. Far less tourists, and of those, everyone in Morocco actually wanted to see the country, rather than stick to the hotel, as they did in Tunisia. Didn't really test the public transport of Morocco that much, but Tunisian trains and taxis get a big thumbs up.
In conclusion - Morocco wins. The atmosphere and vibe of the place definitely swung it. There were some awesome places in Tunisia, but the touristy nature of the country is endeavouring to ruin it, and the charm of its people. Very glad that we got the chance to go though... and that we got to see such a lot of the country in such a short space of time. Bring on the rest of l'Afrique, I say <3
Where I stayed