A Warm Welcome In Tunisia

Last week, I’ve spent a few days in Tunisia, it was a very special trip for me as it was my first time there and also finally meeting the step family.

On Monday, we flew to Tunis from London and then drove to Mahdia, where my husband is from, which is three hours away from the capital.

Mahdia is a coastal city, south of Monastir, famous for its fishing, silk weaving and olive industries.

It is a very charming fishing port city where time has stopped, it is surrounded by ruins ramparts from the ancient Punic city, and it is on a peninsula with a beautiful cemetery overlooking the sea.

I have been explained that the small white glittering marbles tombstones of the cemetery follow the sea side all in the same direction of the Mecca, which I’ve found very beautiful and spiritual. Further down from the cemetery, you arrive in the first Fatimid mosque, which is now surrounded by a 16th-century Ottoman fort.  The Great mosque was built in the 10th century and doesn’t have a minaret.

There is also a small lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula which is operated by the military.
This is such a unique and charismatic little city, that offers a breath of fresh air and a truly exotic perfect gateway to take a break and completely disconnect for a few days.

The day after we arrived, we visited a nearby town called El Jem, famous for its amphitheater, often incorrectly called a Colosseum. The amphitheater was built by the Romans and was mainly used for gladiator shows and small chariot races (just like the ones in Ben-Hur).

Standing in the middle of the arena, you can’t help thinking of the prisoners fighting lions and you almost hear the public shout in response to the show, pretty scary!
Much of the amphitheatre is gone now however and it is all crumbled up but the essence and the grandeur of the place still remains.

The following morning, we went to a very authentic noisy market and witnessed some intense negotiating over fresh products on display, mainly fish caught locally, a few fruits and veg stalls, and local products such as olive oil.

On the last day, I went to experience the local hammam (Tunisian steam bath) with my sisters-in-laws, and we treated ourselves to a typical ‘Madoise’ cleanse! After relaxing in the steam room ( which was covered with pretty tiles) for a while, we had a massage and a dip in the freezing cold seawater swimming pool which is apparently perfect to firm up the skin!

A large group of women were also there to celebrate a traditional wedding, I got explained that part of the celebration happens in the hammam for the bride and her guests to get ready, there is also music being played and encents are burned. We all left feeling relaxes and with a pretty glowing skin just in time to meet the whole family again for dinner!

These were a very intense few days, full of new flavours and emotions!

I loved that Mahdia didn’t have any sidewalks and no traffic lights, I loved how people stop their fields and gardens with cactus barriers instead of using the very sad metal wires we all know, I loved the smiles of the fishermen in the market, I loved seeing all the wild cats and kittens casually walking the streets, and I loved the strong encents used at the hammam, even though it scratches your throat a bit !

I had a truly beautiful experience, and I would recommend going to anyone, it’s been one of my favourite trip!

Tourisme has been decreasing since the Arab spring a few years ago which is a real shame, people have been worried about going there, but I have found people to be so warm and welcoming, and the places we visited we so rich historically, you should all go and visit Tunisia, really! Anyway, I know where my next trip will be, I can’t wait to discover other parts of this beautiful country!


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