A Travellerspoint blog

Camel riding along the Mediterranean!

Carthage, Nabeul, Hammamet

John and I woke up early, ate breakfast in the hotel and headed for Carthage. This was the first morning I actually woke up feeling rested in a very long time! I think the AIRCONDITIONING and KING sized bed probably helped. lol. On the way to Carthage we had a bit of a problem. John pulled over to ask a police officer for directions. (There are several police officers at every interesction armed with multiple weapons). Instead of giving us directions to Carthage, he began yelling at John and explaining to him that our tinted windows were forbidden in this country. (This conversation was all in french, so I had no idea what was going on). Finally, he instructed us to go directly to the airport and return the car. We agreed, slowly merged into the intersection, then said "Screw u, we're going to Carthage!"

Unfortunately most of Carthage's ancient ruins were destroyed by the Romans. (Thank you crazy Ancient Roman history professor.) But, we still visited the Antonine Baths, Amplitheatre, Roman Villas and the Carthage Mueseum.

Next we headed to Nabeul. The drive through the countryside was beautiful. All of the highways are taken care of very well. There is no litter and glorious flowers line the median of the highway. On the way we listened to arab and turkish inspired music. There was also a station with french R&B which was quite amusing. Nabeul is known for its busy market and wonderful ceramics. More bargaining!! We walked around all afternoon and kept getting one good deal after after another. We bought so many nice pieces that we had a hard time carrying everything back to the car! We left with mosaics, ceramics, spices, figs, jewely, you name it!! We had lunch at a nice outdoor cafe here. I tried their specialty, grilled fish with lots of vegetables and Tunisian couscous.

On the way back to Gammarth we stopped in Hammamet. The beach here is one of the nicest on Tunisia's coast. I wadded into the water and it was almost as warm as my bath had been the night before. The sand was snow white and the water was a crystal clear blue. Unfortunately we couldn't stay long and had to head back to the hotel to prepare for our Camel rides!

Luckily by the time evening rolled around it had cooled down quite a bit, earlier it was 43 degrees C which translates to about 110 degrees fahrenheit!! John and I met up with some of our other friends that were traveling with us, (since they didn't rent a car, they spent most of their time at the resort.) Anyway, we all boarded camels and began our sunset ride along the Mediterranean. I've riden camels before in Egypt, but riding along the beach was a very different experience then riding in the desert. Along the beach we saw Muslim women wading into the water and playing with their children still completely covered, with full length skirts, long sleeves and veils. It's a good thing I didn't bring my Barcelona swimsuit on this trip. lol!

We rode the camels away from the shore, beyond the sand dunes and back to a grassy area in the woods. The air was so refreshing and clear in here! We were going to stop at a hut for some hookah and mint tea. The guides led us into the hut where we found colorful Berber inspired clothing!! We all dressed ourselves in these decorative and ornamental clothes then lounged in the hut smoking shisha. The guides even gave us traditional henna tattoos. I requested my name written in Arabic. Talk about a true African experience!
Once we arrived back at the hotel we decided to have dinner in Sol Phebus's restaurant. They served us delicious mediterranean salads, vegetables and olives followed by fresh fish and chicken roasted with harissa (a VERY picante sause) then delicious french crepes filled with fig sause and neutella. Delish!

Posted by veranoamor 09:55 Comments (0)

Sidi Bou Said

Only in Africa...

Well after a long night of binge eating/drinking Sicilian delecacies I was quite hung over at 7AM when my alarm went off. My friend John and I took the train from Termini to the Fiumicino Airport and hoped on our Tunisair flight. This airline was great. All of the seats had ample leg room and even though we were only in the air for an hour and a half, we were served a meal. It happened to be pretty decent for airport food too, especially the fig tart. lol Once we arrived, we rented a car from Europecar and headed off to the hotel. The town we were saying in is called Gammarth and the hotel was very nice. It's name is Sol Phebus, but is part of the Melia resort corporation. (I've stayed at one of these in Santo Domingo that was fabulous!!)

After a quick nap John and I decided to drive to Sidi Bou Said a gorgeous town overlooking the Mediterranean. My travel book lists this as one of the 1,000 Places to Go Before You Die. Before I got there, I didn't really understand why they included it but the quaint town was unlike anything I've ever seen. The cobbelstone streets were all lined with white homes that had bright blue doorways. The were decorated with intricate designs and connected with black iron fences. Sidi Bou Said holds a daily maket so we decided to do some shopping. After this trip I have become an experienced "haggler." All of the vendors bagan with outrageous prices but most of the time I was able to talk them down to at least 80% off of their origional price. The market had stall after stall of ceramics, mosaics, jewelry and lots of other beautiful pieces.

After hearing "Good price for beautiful American, only for u," and being called "Shakira" about twenty times it was time for a break. John and I found a hookah bar located at the top of the hill called Cafe de Nattes. We ordered melon nargila and snacked on baklava while chatting with several other people in the bar. One of the men that we spoke with is a tour guide throughout Tunisia and speaks over five languages! He explained that the president's children were going to be coming to Cafe des Nattes later on in the evening, how exciting! We wanted to wait but we were both dizzy from all the shisha and decided to find a restaurant for dinner. On the way to the car we ran into one of the shopkeepers whom we had "promised" that we would return. After repeatedly telling him that we weren't interested in what he was selling he stood in front of us blocking us from the exit of his shop. John literally had to force him out of the way! Then he followed us out to the parking lot with the ceramics all packed and wrapped up shoving them in John's bag. This was simply too much!

Luckily John loves ethnic food just as much as I do and is just as sick of Italy's pasta and pizza as I am. lol. We found a great Indian restaurant called Golden Tulip. All of the waiters were dressed in traditional clothing, middle eastern bellydancing music was playing and the decor reminded me of Brokendown Palace. I ordered the lamb marinated in mint and it was delicious. They seved the dish with jasmine rice, fresh warm pita marinated vegetables. We also ordered a bottle of Tunisia's most well known white wines . Even though Tunisia is a Muslim country and Islam prevents alcohol use, they still produce wine and most restaurants serve alcoholic beverages. (thank god) This was just what I needed after a long day!

We returned to our hotel and I ended the night with a glass of boukha, Tunisia's traditional fig brandy. It gave me the warm fuzzy tired/drunk feeling that I love. lol. I took a long, hot bath, relaxed in my AIRCONDITIONING and KING sized bed and retreated to hibernation!

Posted by veranoamor 09:53 Comments (0)

Marie Antoinette style

I dont know about the rest of you, but the nights that I usually plan on staying in, are the nights that I go out and end up staying out forever. lol. I had a flight to Tunisia at 8 am the next morning and was planning on staying in, catching up on sleep and packing but then Katia and I got a call from Daniel: the journalist from the party last night, we accepted his lovely invitation. He wanted to take us to a wine party, being hosted at a luxury hotel on the outskirts of Rome. He picked us up and we headed to the gala. The grounds of the hotel were very well taken care of and the party was being held outside. Outside on the garden terrace there were tables and tables of all of my favorite things!! Vino, formaggio, olives and lots of other delicious foods to try. Everything that was being served that night was from Sicely and it was wonderful to sample the islands delicacies. There were even seperate tables for tapandades and olive oils. We all filled multiple plates and grabbed multiple glasses of each of the wines and headed inside to begin tasting. Well, this simple tasting turned into quite a feast. We each went out several times for seconds, thirds and fourths of everything! The cheeses were phenominal! Anyway, we decided to mingle and go back outside for a bit. We walked down the winding staircase to the pool area and were then surrounded by just as many tables that were on the terrace, all filled with different deserts and chocolates. I was truly in heaven. We tried white chocolate truffels, dark chocolates made with pure sugar cane, marzipans, chocolate dipped apricots, pistaccios, etc, etc, etc. There was even a table with limoncello, meloncello, and almondcello!!!...along with several dessert wines. I dont think I have ever eaten so much in my entire life. The party was amazing. After lounging on the poolside cusions and digesting, we mingeled with the other guests. I met lots of interesting people and learned a lot about public relations and marketing in Rome. We stayed at the party so long that the waiters began to clean up. We made our rounds again!! This was simple rediculious. They could see how much we loved all of the food and gave us huge goodie bags to take home. Just what I need. lol. After we couldnt drink anymore, eat anymore or even move we somehow made it home. I crashed on my bed. Tunisia in the AM!!

Posted by veranoamor 15:28 Comments (0)

Una notte con le stelle******************

As I'm sitting here thinking about what I am about to write, I can barely believe it myself, lol! I had an intense excursion in my Ancient Roman History class and was pretty exhausted. We trecked all over the city beginning at the Ara Pacis (Augustus's Alter of Peace). Then we moved on to the Mossuleum, a partly preserved fortress and theatre during the Middle Ages. We continued through the city (in close to 95 degree weather if I may add) and ended at the Pantheon! What am amazing day in "school."

After this I came home, changed quickly and met Katia. We were going to the Opera! We were going to see a performance done by Filarmonica d'Opera di Roma in the All Saints Church. The church is located on Via del Babuino which is an upscale street near Via del Corsco with prestigeous shops and cafes. We picked up our tickets, had a glass of vino and prepared for the show.

The Solisti dell' Opera was wonderful! I have never really been to an opera that I enjoyed before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. (I wont bother going into the whole "When in Rome...") However, I was pleasantly surprised. These performers were skillfully trained and presented an amazing performance. The program included selections from G. Puccini's "Madama Butterfly", "La Boheme," "Tosca," and "Turandat." As well as G. Donizetti were known theme from "La Favorita." The performers all had powerful, robust voices and the accounstics in the church were amazing. When the show was over we met the head violinist in the foyer and after asking where I was from, he played me a little Civil War era themed jig. LoL!

After leaving the Opera Katia and I were walking around aimlessly down Via del Babuino deciding what we were going to do with the rest of our night. Two uptown, Italian, high rollers approached us, both wearing navy three piece suits and matching gucci loafers. We chated for a while in both English and Italian and somehow (this was not my best judgement) they convinced us to go to a private party with them, so we jumped in shiny silver BMW and headed through Trastevere along the Tiber to Gianicolo Hill.

We pulled up to the lookout point, (this is the place where Niccolo brought me the other day) and I could not believe what I was seeing! A red velvet carpet lined the way up to an outdoor terrace located on the side of Gianicolo Hill. There were people (all dressed to impress) stepping out of a white limo and several photographers surrounded them. Once they entered the party and all of the action died down a bit we approached the enterance. I was completely prepared for rejection but after lots of fast speaking all done in Italian we were lead up the stairs and into the party! I have never seen anything quite so lavish! All of the people here were sipping fancy drinks and wearing clothing straight off the pages of Vogue. Even though I was wearing some of the nicest things I own, I felt underdressed, lol. Katia and I truly could not believe we were here. There were paparazzi running around outside in the bushes, hiding behind trees and taking every chance they could to snap pictures.

Finally the men we were with introduced us to one of their friends who helped to organize the party, and also spoke perfect English. His name was Daniel and he works with an event planning firm, arranging these elaborate parties. This particular party was being held for Tiziana Rocca, an Italian author who just published a book pertaining to PR. This was so exciting! There were lovely portraits of her all over and she looked beautiful. Her face was also airbrushed onto the delicious cake they were serving as we arrived. LOL.- I wont mention describing how delicious this, or all of the beverages tasted, I'm sure you can imagine.

The decorations at the party were apsolutely amazing. Fish bowls and aquariums were attached to the walls, huge velvet and leather sofas were available in the lounge and gorgeous bouquets of white flowers decorated all of the tables. To the side of the terrace we saw a breathtaking performance going on. A man and a woman were presenting a show on a shiny black horse. They perfected several lifts where he was holding the girl on top of his head as the horse galloped around an arena in circles. White lights shinned down from the tree and a spotlight followed their every move. I wanted to take my camera out and start snapping photos so badly! But, the only people doing this were the professional photographers hired for the event and the paparazzi outside, so I resisted.

After several drinks and as the party was starting to dye down we headed back to the car. On the way out I saw the woman who's face was on the cake, lol! She passed by us, shook our hands and gave us each one of the complimentary bags of party favors. Inside was an expresso cup with her face on it, a tshirt, June's issue of Italian Luxury and several other nick nacks! This will be a nice addition to my souvenir collection=)=)

Posted by veranoamor 15:27 Comments (0)


Well after my dinner/binge drinking at Supper Club last night I was quite hungover. Guiseppe had to speak with a judge in Perugia today and convinced me to go along. Perugia is located about 180 km north of Rome and 154 km southeast of Florence. After Guiseppe spoke with the judge for about 30 minutes we toured the town of Perugia. We visited the Church of San Severo where the only known work done by Rafello is housed. The painting is a fresco depicting a biblical scene, imagine that! Next we headed underground, beneth the towns main piazza to see the towns wishing well. It was about 10 degress cooler down there which was very refreshing!

Next we visited Perugina, the reason that I came along on the trip! Perugina is one of the most well known confectionaries in Italy. Their chocolates are shipped all over the world. Their most famous product is Bacci. Bacci are chocolate kisses filled with hazelnuts. They are then wrapped in bilingual love notes. (Italian, English, French, German and Greek). Perugina is now a division of the Nesle Corporation, lol.

On the way back to Rome we stopped at one of the many tennis clubs that Guiseppe belongs to for lunch. We were seated at a terrace overlooking the entire countryside and small towns along the river. The view was breathtaking!

Once we arrived back in Rome I took a long nap before Niccolo came to pick me up on the Vesba. He took me to Costantini, a wine bar is Piazza Cavoul with a huge cellar of hundreds of wines from all the regions of Italy. Then we met up with Katia and one of Niccolos friends and went to a restaurant in Trastevere for appertivi. This place was great! A live band was playing and the appertivi were displayed on a large buffett table, complimentary with cocktails.

Later on we went to a jazz festival near the Olympic Stadium. This place reminded me of a carnival but luckily lacked all of the trashy carnies that we have in the US. Many different stands were serving all types of food and drinks. There were at least 6 bands playing on multiple stages, there were palm readers dressed up as gypsies, a hookah lounge and even several rides. It was a great time!

Posted by veranoamor 15:26 Comments (0)

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