There are times when we fall in love with people through a destination…there are times when we fall in love with the destination through its people.
On our trip with Famous Travel to the coast of North Africa – to the diverse and exotic Tunisia – we were blessed from the beginning with the positive energy of 25 of our fellow travelers from all over Greece!
With one end of the country bathed by the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and the other plunging into the Sahara desert, the changes Tunisia’s landscape undergoes create an indescribable magic for those who want to discover a people with a completely different culture from ours at a distance of only two hours by plane from the Greek homeland – provided that you are comfortable with the…many-hour road trip from the Northern Mediterranean secular side of Tunisia to discovery of the ‘South of the oases and the Sahara desert’.
The high rate of unemployment magically ‘disappears’ through the daily lively smiles of the residents and with their willingness to communicate with tourists, interact through hospitality, and socialize with them while they are… ‘bargaining for sales’!
“Tired hands, strong and happy heart” could be the motto of their daily life ‘with the few and simple’ things that the ‘precious good of life’ offers them.
Rafik, the tour guide provided by Pavlos Sotiriou and the Famous Travel team, took care of us. He was one of those kinds of people…always smiling. And he is an excellent connoisseur of Tunisian history, tradition, and culture but also of the Greek language and mentality. With humor and a pleasant disposition he literally took us on a journey within the walls of the soul of the place!
Tunisia has been a crossroads of cultures and carries a rich history of thousands of years, with the Romans, Arabs, Turks, Phoenicians, and French giving it a ‘multifaceted face’. Today we experience modern Tunisia through cosmopolitan Tunis, the modern Arab capital, with its Ottoman and colonial history and a little beyond – there is the Bardot Museum with its impressive collection of Roman mosaics, as well as ancient Greek and Islamic works of art.
Islamic morality condemns the conspicuous display of wealth. Only the facades of the mosques and the turbes have rich decorations, although often in Tunisia the front door betrays the economic class of the occupant. The front doors are the main – if not the only – ornament of the façade of homes. Painted in impressive colors, often elaborately decorated, they are considered artistic masterpieces.
Tunisia is also famous for its elaborate hand-embroidered carpets. The town of Kairouan is a landmark whose name is derived from the Persian word for caravan.
The city is one of the biggest religious centers of Islam, characterized as the third holiest city after Mecca and Medina. The city is adorned by the historic and majestic Mosque of Ukpa, which has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Starting from the North, El Jem:
Tunisia’s second largest city, and an important port, is home to the third (both in terms of size and degree of preservation) oldest Roman amphitheater in the world. In this impressive ‘Colosseum’ the residents say that the movie ‘Gladiator’ was filmed – indeed there is a powerful feeling of ‘mentally travelling’ to the age of the Roman gladiators. Today, however, at the entrance of the Colosseum… a camel waits for you!
The country’s unique atmosphere reflects the vastness of the Sahara desert. It is the largest desert in the world, but it includes green oases overgrown with palm trees.
The mountain oases of the Atlas mountains – Chebika, Tamerza, Mides – with the beautiful route that “opens horizons of activity and adrenaline when riding on a Jeep Safari 4×4,” the reddish canyons full of date trees, and the oases themselves, emblematically dominate the paths and experiences of visitors. They were brought to life in Star Wars in scenes George Lucas shot in the desert.
All this scenery is synthesized by the golden sand of the Tunisian desert and the passage of time!
The wonderful culinary delight of Red Tunisian cuisine consisting of red pepper, tomato, and harissa… was generously given to us at the Tamerza Palace & Spa, a hotel built with materials and perceptions that honor Berber tradition. It overlooks a gorge with the remains of an entire Berber village.
But the route also had a surprise in store for us… an authentic traditional Bedouin wedding! Part One of our trip to exotic Tunisia draws to a close with our evening tour of the oasis, with Bedouin dances, traditional food, Arabian horses…and lots and lots of fun…!
The TV show of Zina Koutselinis ‘Truths with Zina’, which is shown on STAR, welcomed us to the studio with enthusiasm and we brought to them everything we experienced during our filming. They have become companions on our travels across Greece and the world to each of our APOSTOLIS-MISSION destinations!
After all…MISSION and TRUTHS… are two concepts that look the viewer in the eyes with respect, seeking, optimism, and transparency!
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