Africa, Travel, Tunisia

Tunisia: Beach Holidays Where The Beduins Were

In the beginning of June this year I went on my very first beach holiday. My family was always more of the  “Camping in Sweden” type (more on this Norwegian stereotype in a later post) so we would get tan on a Swedish beach instead of going further abroad to do the same, both out of cost and out of convenience. Here is a random photo of said Swedish beach.

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Vamos a la #playa in #Sweden.

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Going to Tunisia was both a weird and an enlightening experience.  9 days after I returned to England the tragic attacks on the tourist beach in Sousse happened and the country re-instated the state of emergency that was lifted just last year, after turmoil following the Arab Spring. Due to the terrorist attack in March my boyfriend and I questioned our decision to go, but we decided it was safe, or at least as safe as anywhere is these days. Hammamet  was one of the first big tourism cities in Tunisia and despite the tourism industry still rebuilding itself after the Arab Spring the country is doing well, still developing its economies. The state of emergency is only set to last until the beginning of August however, and before I say anything more I’d like to urge you to go to Tunisia and not let these horrible attacks scare you away from what is an all-round lovely, albeit small, country.

When the state of ermergency lifts in August Thomas Cook and other charter companies will once again fly to Tunsia. ISIS aimed the attacks at tourists to create fear and to ruin the already fragileTunisian economy and if everyone stops going there the terrorists win. This past year there have been terrorist attacks in a range of other countries such as France, Ukraine, Sydney and Ireland, but that doesn’t stop people from visiting these places and it shouldn’t stop you from visiting Tunisia. When the government says it’s safe, please consider this country as a possible destination for your holiday.

With that said, let’s talk a bit about our holiday. We booked our holiday through Thomas Cook in February and due to booking early and the general low prices of travel to Tunisia, (compared to Greece for example) we got 1 week all-inclusive for only 335 pounds each. We stayed in a hotel called the Sentido Phenecia in the coastal town of Hammamet and were allocated a recently refurbished hotel room with its own spacious bathroom and a little balcony.

As it was a beach holiday we obviously spent a substantial part of our holiday doing absolutely nothing in the sun and eating deserts for every meal. The weather was great  with between 25°C and 30°C all week and although some days were a little bit windy, we enjoyed every minute of it.  I find the all-inclusive resort holiday a strange concept however, and for the first few days I couldn’t fathom that for the first time in a long time I was literally doing nothing. No cooking, no cleaning, no reading of articles, no work, no chores, no sightseeing. no what so ever. I didn’t even have to worry about what to wear because there is only so much you can do with a bikini, a pair of shorts and/or a kimono. All I had to do was eat, drink, sleep and relax in the sun. I have to admit it drove me a little crazy the first few days. I became stressed because I wasn’t stressed enough and it took me a while to relax. When I finally settled into the tempo of the place I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would. Being absolutely pampered is not something that happens every day for a student and despite feeling a bit out of place it was a great experience. Nothing can be more than relaxing that lying next to the pool or on a beach listening to the slow rumble of the waves while the sun slowly cooks your side bacon. We got to spend an evening in a Tunisian restaurant and try some of the local food too, which was different, but delicious.

I enjoyed lying on a beach, eating and fussing over my sunburns, but the highlight of the trip for me was an excursion we went on called “The Land of The Beduins“. Exploring the resort was all well and good, but getting out and seeing some of the country and the people living there was what made the trip for me.  We payed 40 pounds each for the half-day trip and even though I managed to almost blind myself with sunscreen that very morning, it was well worth the money.  On the excursion  we got to see ruins of an old Berber village, visit a living Berber town and have tea with some Beduin nomads who during the school year were stationary. It was a very touristy package obviously, but our guide was very informative and the 4×4 trucks we were driving in the desert with enhanced the experience. Thomas Cook has a range of different exursions and if we had stayed for more than a week I probably would have spent the 100 or so pounds on the 2 day Sahara Explorer package, which sounded absolutely incredible. .

I wanted to go back to Tunisia and see more of its culture from the minute we left. I wanted to see more of Hammamet and the desert. It’s my first trip to the African continent, though I have several other African countries on my list of where I want to go.Tunisia is a great way to leave the comforts of Europe, but still be so close that they serve amazing Italian gelato and have German TV-channels. The nature and climate were also so vastly different from anything I’ve ever experienced in Europe –  I have to go back and see more!  This trip solidified the fact that I enjoy some sun and sand as much as anyone, but that I definitely prefer a more active and explorative travel experience I think. I want the best of both worlds and I can’t wait for my next trip. The smell of spicy food and drink, the heat of the desert wind, the view from the beach onto the Mediterranean Sea, all of it. What a holiday!

I´ve now started recounting previous travel experiences, but because of a hard drive left in England I can’t start from last year and work my way up to today. I will however work my way back in time which means that next up (after the Local-ish Summer Adventure that’s coming up soon) is my trip to Paris! 🙂

Watch this space! Xxx