Sousse and Monastir

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Africa » Tunisia » Sousse
February 21st 2018
Published: February 22nd 2018
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Wednesday February 21 - Another night without much sleep. I just can’t sleep well in new places, and it’s always a new place. I hear everything.

After breakfast we left for Sousse, which is just a few kilometers away. We are staying at one of those all inclusive resorts on the beach a few miles from town, so we couldn’t just walk in. Don’t get too excited - my room is nice, but it’s only about $25 with breakfast and dinner. It was chilly when we arrived but warmed up throughout the day. At least I thought so. I peeled down to a t-shirt at times whereas the locals were all in their puffy coats and winter jackets.

Sousse is mostly medina - old town surrounded by a wall - and it is quite large. We had a wander through the streets, searching for particular sights. The first couple were easy, as they were close to the point we entered. We saw the Great Mosque, but did not enter. Non-muslims could only go into the courtyard, and I’ve seen my share by now. We also went to the nearby Ribat, which is basically a small fort. The ribat had a great museum inside. It was filled with mosaics that have been recovered from nearby sites. A lot of the old buildings here are built on old Roman ruins, and often times with stones or columns from those ruins, such as in the Great Mosque in Monastir (next). These building date from around 800AD, but have been well restored. We saw the Zaoula Zakkak, which comprises several things, like a mosque and school, from the Ottoman empire. We also visited a little museum called Kalaout el-Koubba which has a cool cupola. We had a look at the beach, but there was not so much to see.

Next stop was Monastir. This place is quite different, in that most of the medina was torn down several years ago to make room for more “modern” buildings. The Great Mosque, the Ribat (inside the kasbah) and the cemetery complete with mausoleum are all just outside the current walls, and are right across from the beach. I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for another Ribat, but this one a great structure, and you could walk on three levels and through winding chambers.

This is the hometown of Habib Bourgiba, who used to run the country. I’m still trying to get the flavor of him, as he seems to have done a lot of good in the country, and for women, but also went a bit mad towards the end and things were not great then. There is a main street named after him in every town, and this town has tons of stuff named after him. I’ve been seeing references to him for days, so it was good to finally see his resting place. He’s resting in the mausoleum and we were able to get in before it closed for the day, which was nice. And no fee! Excellent.

From there, we headed back via the museum dedicated to Bourgiba, but we didn’t have any luck finding it. Just as well, as it was almost 5pm and I was quite tired. We got back at 6pm and met for dinner at 6:30, because I was starving. The buffet dinner looks better than it is, but it was fun to try lots of options.

I’m currently writing this in the hallway, as the internet is not so functional in my room right now. As if that was not odd enough, I’m also listening to a live piano bar performance downstairs that is drifting through the hallway reminding me that everyone else here (and they are all in their 70s and 80s it seems) is cooler than me because they are out at 10pm on a Wednesday night.

Additional photos below
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23rd February 2018
Beach hotel at night

Great beach scene
I like the calm of the beach after hours.

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