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Published: February 23rd 2018
Friday February 23 - Man these days are long. But I slept later today - until about 6am. I met Felix for breakfast at his hotel at 7:30 and we were on the road by 8am. The destination today was Dougga, one of the main things I was interested in seeing in Tunisia. It’s an old Roman city and has the largest and best intact Roman ruins in all of Africa. It took three hours to get there, so I had some time to read about the history of the country on the ride. At some point, we were pulled over for speeding, but then when they realized we were tourists they let us go. That is so the opposite of what would happen in some other countries, where being foreign equals being pulled over and charged a bribe called a “fine”. We went over mountains to get there, and I saw a different scenery altogether than the last few days.
At Dougga I had a blast. The weather had cleared for most of the time we were there, and it was sunny and beautiful. It was also cold and windy, so felt even colder. But there were only about
10 other people that we saw, and almost none were ever where we were at the time, so the pictures are great. It’s amazing what past terrorist attacks can do for cleaning out one's photos of strangers. And feeling like Indiana Jones all over again.
We stayed at Dougga for about two hours and then headed to Bizerte, which also had its heydey in the past, partially in times Roman but also as recently as the 1960s, when France finally withdrew from this town. They were holding onto the port, even after granting Tunisia its independence, and 1000 Tunisians died fighting for this place.
On the way to Bizerte, we got stuck in crazy traffic, as we switched from one highway to the next. They do not connect and around Tunis, we ended up in normal city driving. It is not standstill like you think of traffic, but it is crazy driving, like all city driving here. I’m so glad I did not get my own car. There are no real lanes, everyone walks in front of every vehicle, every vehicle does its own thing. Loosely organized chaos.
We got to Bizerte an hour late, but it
was only 4pm. Even better, it had rained for most of our drive to Bizerte, but now the sky was clearing, so we decided to walk around the harbor a bit before finding my hotel. The lighting was great and I got some good views. I booked a place last night that seemed pretty close to Felix's hotel when I compared the maps on Booking.com, but then looked on google and they were not at all close. Mine appeared to be in the kasbah and his on a beach outside of town. After exploring the port, he helped me find my hotel, except no manner of looking for it allowed us to find it. No map, no google, no GPS. Really frustrating, after an hour. In the end, I decided to just get a room at his hotel.
The room at his hotel is actually a small apartment. I easily could have stayed at his place and slept in the living room, but who knew? Right after we checked in we went to the hotel restaurant, and it took a while to get menus. When we did, we saw the prices and decided to leave. I’m so glad we
did. We drove a bit and quickly found a little place nearby. We both got a shwarma plate, and it was full of different sauces, most spicey, kebab meat, fries, rice and there was plenty of amazing baguette bread as well. And my meal was less than $3.
Back at the hotel, I logged on only to find that the first hotel had called Jeroen to see where I was, and he was nervous I was missing. Luckily it all worked out, and I wrote the hotel to apologize. They were very nice about it, so all is well. I turned the heat on in my place before dinner, but it is large and still freezing in the kitchen. Hopefully the bedroom is warmer.
Tomorrow is my final day and we’re heading back to Tunis. It should give me an opportunity to visit the Bardo, the best museum in the country. Excited!
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