Saturday, March 26, 2011

we arrive

This will be notes for now- and photos to post later- need to meet group – so forgive the formatting

Took flight form ORD to CDG – eight hours flight time   Left pretty much on time
No sleep arrived CDG went to next gate – had sandwich and macarons from Laduree
Found Jennifer and hung out until flight to Tunis left   She has upgraded to business so has seat in front.

Big "to-do" on plane when some passengers do not like the pimento cheese half sandwich they are given as snack.  Fight is two hours thirty minutes and we arrive a bit late because somebags got there but not the passengers so they had to find and take the bags off.

Go through slowest line at passport control – more lines opened – guy works even slower – finally get out and bags are already waiting for us- meet guide Mohammed and one fellow traveler Max, a retired teacher from California.

Go to hotel have 30 minutes to unpack, then orientation talk ofwhat the trip will be like and much thanks for coming-  desperate for tourists to return- are very happy about coalition in Libya- hate “madman” Khadafi (Mohamed’s words) – we meet Carol and Howard from NC (originally CT and upstate NY) – now we are five

We will meet in 5 minutes for orientation of "where is grocery" for food, wine, water- and quick view of closer area around hotel with ideas for restaurants when we are on own – the boulevards is beautiful with beaux arts lighting and a broad area in the center with trees and a pedestrian walkway.  The cathedral is lit up for the evening and it is the blue hour just before night fall so my shot of the mall really shows it off to advantage.  (photos below)

We are right near the Medina (old city) but in the new – called the French Quarter because it was built by the French.

Three more are arriving – we see their taxi on the street – we are just in time for dinner at 7:30.

The new people are all from CA- Sally and Jim from Tiburon and Dick from Manhattan Beach.   Everyone is very nice all extremely well traveled – Only the Friedmans of Boulder have decided not to come.

Dinner is lovely – plate of salads – Mediterranean chopped salad and some aubergine salad and a hardboiled egg and some cucumbers in a yogurt dressing and sliced tomatoes.  This was followed by a vegetable soup with pureed vegetables served nice and hot. The entrée was grey mullet from the sea nearby – a few bones but a “mild white fish” LOL – served with rice and ratatouie (LOL) and we had rose and red wines from Tunisia – drinkable for sure

Dessert was two flavors of excellent ice cream (strawberry and pistachio) and huge plates of fruit – I had an orange (local) and a tangerine and numerous dates, which were of course sourced here and were marvelous. 

We were really tired so when dinner ended I went right up to my room to check on the charging of the phone and computer and then got organized for the morning 7 AM wake up call.

Tomorrow we are switching up plans because it will be Saturday and the normal day would include lunch at the last Kosher restaurant in Tunis area so we will change that to Sunday and instead go to Dougga tomorrow so that we can experience the restaurant on our trip. 

Mohamed trained as a software engineer and when he couldn’t find work in that field went into tourism seven years ago.  OAT has been doing full tours in Tunisia since 2008.  He likes working with the small group size they offer but worries about the future as tourism is down more than 90% and it is more than 50% of the GDP here.

the blue hour on the boulevard and mall area


 the beautiful boulevard lighting

the Africa Hotel (named after orignal name of Tunisia)

the national theater

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