Exploring Tunis: From Port to the Medina

Our second day aboard the Ocean Princess took us off the beaten path to a port located on the Mediterranean coast of Northern Africa called La Goulette in the capital city of Tunis.

Known for it’s export on flowers and manufacturing of essential oils used to make high-end fragrances by top brand names. The population of Tunisia is approximately 3.9 million strong with a very large majority of the population being Sunni Muslim.

According to our tour guide, the crime rate in the city is extremely low due to a zero-tollerance policy on drug activity and strict laws prohibiting the use of weapons. Schooling is free for the people of Tunisia and much like the U.S., is mandatory from age of six to sixteen. University level education is also free and requires passing multiple tests to quality for higher education.

Prior to our visit to Tunis, we were informed of the street vendors and aggressive nature of those trying to sell their goods to the tourists. We were told to bargain and stand our ground against their sales tactics in an effort to get a better deal. Going in to this excursion, no one knew what to expect and where we would be taken. It was an experience that I will never forget.

Our adventure started in the heart of Tunis at the world’s largest collection of Roman mosaic art.

Special care is taken with each mosaic to ensure an accurate restoration.

Each image is made up of thousands of colored rocks and stones, hand carved and set in mortar.

Still under construction, many exhibits in the museum were closed off as new rooms were prepared for fresh artifacts.

The museum charged one euro per camera for photo taking. Flash photography was allowed.

Statues and artifacts were peppered throughout the museum.

After our museum tour was done, we took a bus through the city to the heart of Tunis.

The flag of Tunisia is displayed proudly and is seen most everywhere you go.

A look at the Tunisian cityscape shows a complex grid of buildings and roads.

Buildings were paste white in color with interesting architecture and stone finishes.

The financial district of Tunis was located across the house of the Prime Minister, which we were told not to photograph for security purposes.

An interesting tower in the distance as we entered the older part of the city called the Medina.

As we continued on, birds, cats and other rodents were abundant.

These girls were following our group around, almost as if we were the main attraction.

Women in Tunis typically wear coverings to shield their skin from being exposed.

Beautiful architecture in the city of Tunisia.

Two old men pass through the streets of Tunis as we make our way deeper into the Medina, the oldest section of the city.

The Medina is found at the centre of the city and offers a dense configuration of alley ways and passages.

With an average of about five-feet wide, each walkway throughout the Medina seemed to get more narrow as we continued on.

The Medina is a boisterous marketplace for everything from leather goods to fine filigree jewelry. I’m sure this canary was no exception.

We were a little uneasy as we passed through. I was told twice that I enjoy a little too much couscous and whiskey.

Artisans make-up a large number of the rooms along the Medina in the Sousse. This space was overflowing with thread and cloth swatches, most likely for a tailor or carpet maker.

Pools of light and grungy fixtures hang from the ceiling in the Medina.

Signs, although not very effective for tourists help to identify each area of the Medina.

Stencil art and hand-painted lettering was abundant along the way.

The country flag and important dignitary portraits strewn across from wall to wall.

Random detail shot. I think this is Arabic writing.

More signage and archways throughout the Medina

Tunisia is known for it’s intricate and colorful doorways. We see many during our excursion.

Exiting the tunnels of the Medina into a clearing show the blue skies.

Fancy door hardware are another signature feature on the doors of Tunis

This gorgeous door was hidden from sight and away from the path we were following.

Flags hang from a window high above the Medina walkway.

Our guide took us to a building that specialized in carpet and fine Tunisian rugs.

A chandelier hangs from the ceiling of “Le Chateau de La Medina”.

A master carpet-maker poses during a demonstration at the loom.

Tunisian carpets can range from 160,000 knots per square inch to over 1,000,000 knots.

A demonstration is given to our group by the man who ran the carpet shop.

A fine Tunisian silk carpet with over 1.5 million knots per square inch. This one was for sale at $7,800 shipped. It did not fly.

The group feels the soft silk carpet. The colors changed as you walked around the room.

After exiting the shop, we continued through the Medina and made our way back to the bus.

This cat stopped to take a photo for me.

The sun is setting on Tunisia as the flag flies proud.

This old man watches as the group learns about the old Tunisian baths.

Children play kick ball in the streets as folks make their way back home from work and school.

Interesting light fixtures and cracked walls of the Medina.

These were door handles in the shape of hands.

Always, Coca-Cola.

A street vendor wheeled his cart through the Medina on his way home.

Random detail shot. Not sure what it means. Any ideas?

A brilliant yellow door was spotted as we left the Medina.

The bustling street as night falls on Tunis.

Golden hour and the light is full of color.

We’ve made it back to the port in one piece. Passports out!

The tail end of the Ocean princess as the sun kisses the Tunisian mountains.

It was one hell of an experience as we made our way through the Medina of Tunisia. At times, frightening but others very calming and almost surreal. It’s the kind of place you only see in National Geographic or on television and I’m glad that we got to experience it first hand.

We were at sea all day today on our way to the next stop, Barcelona. See you in Spain!