Day 15 - Tunisia
|Tuesday, October 24, 2023: We awoke at 7:00 AM already alongside the pier in La Goulette, Tunisia.
|It was a hazy morning, but we could still make out the mountains on the peninsula to the east.
|We went to the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, where Debbie ordered the daily special Belgian waffle with Nutella, ...
|... and Tom ordered the aloo masala and egg bhurji.
|We went to the World Stage on deck two and got our stickers for the Panoramic Tunis tour, and shortly after we were off the ship, ...
|... quickly passing through the maze of shops in the port building, ...
|... getting our shore passes stamped and half of them returned to us, and heading out to the waiting buses.
|There was a heavy police presence in the port, and there was a big police checkpoint leaving port that we didn't photograph, ...
|... but at every intersection around the port were uniformed and armed policemen, ...
|... with more casually patrolling the streets.
|We crossed some train tracks as we left the port. The train was colorfully decorated with ads for snack foods.
|We headed northward out of the port, ...
|... crossing this narrow canal that provided access from the port to the sea for the small boats used by Tunisian fisherman.
|The Tik-Rit tea room had the name of the establishment in both Arabic and English.
|Oh, wait, maybe it was French and Arabic, like these signs. That would make more sense. Tunisia was a French protectorate before they gained independence in 1956.
|Our first photo stop was to pause briefly outside the ruins at the Salammbo Tophet, or the Punic Sanctuary. This was a panoramic tour which usually doesn't involve a lot of stopping or getting off the bus.
|We were on the Rue Hannibal. Hannibal was a Carthaginian general who fought the Romans during the second century BC.
|We stopped at the location of the former Punic ports, or Les Ports Puniques, and got off the bus for a quick photo.
|Here's a closer view of the port ruins that are still visible; mostly columns.
|There are some really large and expensive homes in this area of Carthage like this one, ...
|... and this one, ...
|... and this one. Our tour guide, Mohammed, explained that until 1969, the ruins in this area were not protected by the Government and people could build wherever they liked. That stopped when Carthage was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1969.
|This map showed the archaeological sites around Carthage.
|We drove by the ancient Roman theater, which is still in use today for festivals and seats about 10,000 people.
|Here is a current excavation site being actively explored.
|Our next stop was at the Malik ibn Anas Mosque. Our guide explained that a square minaret, like this one, is the traditional Arabic style, while an octagonal minaret is emblematic of Andalusian style and round is the Ottoman style.
|Our fellow passengers took this opportunity to get off the bus to get some photos.
|Our next photo stop was the ruins of the Roman temple dedicated to Neptune, the god of the sea.
|From there, we headed to the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial, ...
|... where we got off the bus to take a look around.
|This is a cemetery for American soliders killed during World War II.
|The grounds cover 27 acres and are beautifully maintained.
|Near the entrance to the cemetery is a small building containing ...
|... a sitting area, ...
|... and photographs of famous visitors and notable soliders interred here.
|There was a display featuring two Tuskegee airmen who fought and died here.
|Two US Vice Presidents and one US President have visited here starting with then Vice President Richard Nixon in 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, and then Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1981.
|The trees inside the cemetery grounds were trimmed in squares and rectangles, and the ones in the outer courtyard were trimmed as cylinders.
|Our next stop was to look at the ruins of the ancient Roman aqueduct that supplied water to the city of Carthage from a spring in the mountains more than 60 kilometers away.
|As we continued through the city, we passed more ruins, this time of the Roman baths of Gargilius.
|We started to see pretty blue and white buildings as we approached the town of Sidi Bou Said, which was our next stop.
|In the 1920s, a French nobleman who lived here thought it would be nice if all of the buildings were painted blue and white like others around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Reportedly, he paid for all of the homeowners and shopkeepers to paint their buildings blue and white, and they've continued to do so to this day.
|We stopped at the base of a hill where there was a small garden with a fountain, ...
|... and then we all got off the bus and slowly made our way up the steep hill, ...
|... stopping briefly at the spring that issues from the two small holes at the base of this wall, ...
|... before continuing to Blu Blu Sidi Bou, a cafe where we would be resting for the next hour.
|We got seats on the patio in the back of the cafe, ...
|... delighted that we were able to sit by ourselves.
|We ordered two Coke Zeroes, which came ice cold in these adorable skinny cans.
|After sitting for half an hour, we paid the bill with a 20 Euro note and got our change back in US bills and six Tunisian Dinar. We kept one as a souvenir and left the other five as a tip for our server.
|After looking in the shop next door and deciding not to buy anything, we found a bench a little way down the hill where had a nice chat with fellow tour participants Leon and Robin from Minnesota.
|Just before noon, our bus returned and we all scrambled aboard. This lemon tree was one of several growing out of the sidewalk where the bus picked us up.
|As we were leaving Sidi Bou Said, we passed a mosque, ...
|... and the brightly decorated Center for Youth Sports, ...
|... and more modern shops, all painted blue and white.
|Debbie really wanted this house, with the beautiful entrance and all of the glass.
|At this intersection, we didn't take the route leading to Tunis Centre due to security concerns over protests currently happening in the capital over the war between Israel and Hamas.
|Instead, we passed this very large patch of prickly pears, ...
|... and headed up Byrsa Hill to see the Cathedral of St. Louis.
|The vendors here were selling some understandable souvenirs like tagines and serving plates, but big statues? There's a bust on the shelves by the vendor that must be two feet tall and weigh a hundred pounds!
|We loved the tile mosaics, but we just couldn't figure out what we would do with it, and nothing has a price tag. If you want the Bundlings to buy it, put a price tag on it.
|On the way back to the port, we passed this beautiful date palm with pink bouganvillea growing around the base.
|Back in Carthage, we saw this road sign with the directions formed out of tile.
|This beautiful building is the home of Bank Zitouna, ...
|... named for this two-thousand-year-old olive tree in the parking lot. Our guide explained that zitouna in Arabic means olive.
|We drove over the canal near the port again, this time showing the way to the Lake of Tunis to the west.
|As we were arriving, a train was approaching us on the tracks outside of the port. We still crossed in front of it anyway.
|We tipped our guide and driver as we exited the bus, and then headed back into the port building.
|We went though security ashore, passed all of the vendors, and arrived back at the ship. We took a picture of our stamped shore passes, ...
|... before putting them in the collection box at the base of the gangway.
|We went back to our cabin, unloaded our stuff, and then headed up to the Lido for lunch. Tom got a variety of things from the Asian station which was featuring a Taste of Korea today, ...
|... while Debbie chose a deli sandwich, some sushi, and some fruit.
|In the afternoon, it was time to take a photo of the LEGO daily calendar display. Today, our minifigs were dressed as Princess Leia and Qui-Gon Jinn, with a carton of blue milk in front of them and the twin suns of Tatooine in the background. Unfortunately, the Star Wars filming locations were hundreds of miles away in the southern part of Tunisia, so we couldn't visit them.
|Tom spent a few minutes out on the balcony talking to his mom. We were very happy that the wi-fi on board was good enough to allow FaceTime audio calls.
|Around 4:00 PM, we set up the drying rack outside and sprayed a few of our garments with permethrin, an insecticide that kills insects who land on treated clothing, ...
|... and then brought them in to dry in the bathroom.
|We stood out on deck as the ship prepared for sail out, watching the other ships in the harbor and the Tunisian Coast Guard ship that had been hovering around our ship all day.
|There was smaller gray patrol boat in the water behind us, ...
|... that carried armed soldiers. We thought they might have been protecting the two Tunisian Navy patrol boats that were moored directly behind our ship.
|Debbie was in Tunisia!
|Just before 5:00 PM, our ship started making its way out of the harbor, followed by the harbor patrol boat.
|We passed this Grimaldi Lines ferry that was actively unloading semi trucks, ...
|... and this Tunisia ferry, ...
|... before getting outside the breakwater.
|As our ship increased speed and churned up the water behind us, hundreds of these white sea birds cruised behind us, hunting for fish in the wake. There were about a dozen brown sea birds that appeared to be harrassing the others. The birds always put on a fascinating show whenever we leave port.
|A few minutes later, the harbor pilot climbed down the starboard side of the ship, boarded the pilot boat, and sped back to shore.
|The harbor patrol boat was falling behind as we departed, and took a very bumpy trip across our mighty wake before it also returned to port.
|These mountains run the length of the peninsula that forms Cape Bon, the southeastern arm of the Gulf of Tunis.
|For dinner, we went up to the Lido Market and select a little of this and a little of that from several stations.
|Tonight's movie was a double feature. We started watching "Angry Neighbors," but we gave up after about twenty minutes after both of us realized we were not enjoying it. Instead, we switched to "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar" which was the lightweight and fun movie that we were hoping for.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy