CARTHAGE & TUNISIA: Way to Go
Published in Vanity Fair travel supplement, Spring 2012
Fly to Tunis International Airport, on anyone of a dozen international carriers, including BA and TunisAir. It is no more than a two and a half hour flight from either Gatwick or Heathrow, and visas are issued as a stamp in the passport at the immigration desk in the airport. After you have collected your luggage you can change money, either cash at a bank or extract dinars (roughly two to a pound) from a credit card machine. Stride to the cab rank outside (best to avoid the touts) and it will be no more than a twenty minute ride to your hotel, in either Sidi Bou Said or central Tunis.
Donít give up on your Arabic, even if everyone you meet in Tunisia has much better French than you. It is important to cut through from the banal ignorance expected from package tourists.
Do eat well in the evening but snack at lunch. Tunisia does street food with conviction, spiced-up casse croute (sandwiches) and Brik (an egg served up with a whole variety of stuffing in a hot crackly filo pastry)
Donít worry about tap water. Drink fizzy Garci when you can, but Tunisia is an efficient and well-run country - which even extends to the water-mains.
Do be aware that local tea is a fearsome triple-brewed thing, ask for mint tea or liptons or keep to their very good coffee culture.
Duckworths publish A Travellers History of North Africa Ė which was written by me for you. In the Eland list of travel classics there is also a wonderful portrait of Tunisa in the 20s, Among the Faithful, isbn 1-900209-04-7 done by the American expatriate artist Dahris Martin.
PS. Tables at the Dar Zarrouk in Sidi Bou Said and the Dar el Jeld in the old Medina of Tunis should be booked in advance. See www.darzarrouk.tn www.dareljeld.tourism.tn
See also article on Carthage
Back to Articles page
by Barnaby Rogerson