David's Diary: Monday, November 25, 2002

Visiting Sousse, Tunisia

Louage
Louage

We have been in Tunisia for more than a month, but we have not done much exploring. We decided to make a two-day trip to Sousse, the nearest large town to Monastir. We left Monastir at midday and took a Louage to Sousse.

Louages are a common form of transportation in Tunisia. They are a combination of a shared taxi and a bus. The louages leave from a central location, often near the bus terminal. A louage does not leave until it is full and it goes to a specific location. We found the louages heading for Sousse. There is a lot of traffic between Sousse and Monastir, so we did not have to wait very long before the louage was full and we were on our way.

Hotel Roof
Boys Playing on the Hotel Roof

We arrived in Sousse in the late afternoon. The louage station is a long ways from the Medina, so we strolled through busy streets until we found the Medina wall. Medina means "walled city". They are common in Tunisia as they were built as fortifications to protect the towns that they surrounded.

We found a hotel for the night, left our things and then headed out to explore more of Sousse. We walked down to the beach then along the row of modern hotels that line it. It was dark by the time we got back, so we stopped for dinner and had an early night in our hotel just inside the Medina walls.

Mosque from Ribat
Mosque from Ribat

The next morning we started to tour the older parts of Sousse. We started with the Great Mosque. Its imposing walls make it look more like a fort than a Mosque, but inside its graceful arches and paved courtyard invite you inside. We were not allowed in the prayer halls, but we could stand at the entrance to the prayer hall and look inside.

Jocelyn
Jocelyn Gets to Try

We let ourselves be taken on a short tour which ended up at a carpet factory. Tunisia is known for its hand-woven wool carpets. We were led past the weaving looms and up some stairs into a large showroom where we had to sit through a display by the salesman. We are outside of the tourist season and the salesman gave up after a short time realizing that we were only interested in seeing how the carpets were made and not in buying one. We have heard stories of tourists who can barely get out of the clutches of these salesmen, so perhaps we were just lucky. Jocelyn took a turn tying a few knots for which we were expected to pay a couple of Dinars.

Narrow Streets
Narrow Streets Inside Medina

We stopped at the Ribat, the fort built to protect the town of Sousse. The Ribat is located right across from the Great Mosque and we had excellent views of Sousse and the Great Mosque from the top of its imposing tower. Then it was time to stop for lunch, before returning to the Medina and walking inside its walls along the narrow streets that led to the Museum Dar Essid.

Bed
Bed in Museum Dar Essid

The Museum Dar Essid is a beautiful old home that has been recreated in the style of a well-off family from the 19C. The bedrooms are elegant, with covered beds and delicate perfume bottles lining the shelves. A steep set of stairs led up to the servant's quarters where the kitchen and supplies were kept. There was even an ampoule for olive oil next to the rice and flour. From the roof there were views over the Medina walls and out to sea.

Train to Monastir
David, Allen, and Karalee on Train Ride Home (photo Kevin Greer)

We decided to take the train back to Monastir. The line follows the coast south from Sousse, past the Monastir airport, along tourist row with all of its tall hotels, and then into the center of Monastir passing numerous apartments before descending into a deep cut that leads to the Monastir train station. From there it was a twenty minute walk back to the marina in the late afternoon sunshine after a pleasant two days away from Dragonsinger.

We have many more pictures of Sousse on our pictures Web page. Please visit our Sousse pictures then use your browser's back button to return here to continue with David's diary:

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