Getting acquainted with Tunisia.

10:53 am

Tunis by Night

I don’t generally struggle to find my way in any new place. Or my place for that matter. Tunis has been a bit of a challenge. This has been contributed largely by the fact that in the city the locals speak French and Arabic. You will hardly find anyone that speaks English.

I have been in Tunis staying in the city and the World Heritage site – Medina de Tunis for 3 days. I have found that accommodation establishments hold us back from exploring especially when you are alone as they are so quick to warn you about how the city is dangerous. I have been warned but I am not a good listener cos I have walked these streets so much taking pictures which I have been told not to do cos it is not safe. But the police are everywhere and this city is safe. I guess because you are foreign people tend to go a bit too far to try keep you safe without realising that they are instilling fear in you.

Getting Around
Tunis has yellow meter taxis and it is easy to get around. They taxis will seldom cost you over 4 Tunisian Dinar (TD) to get anywhere around town unless it rains. For some reason when it rains traffic stands still and your metre will keep moving.
It is rather tricky to hail these cabs, always go to a busy intersection as it is a lot easier there.

The Tunis Taxi Cabs.
The locals call it a metro but it is a tram that also runs across the city. This is a lot cheaper and will cost you less than 1TD.
The other option that you have to get around bot just the city but the country as well is the train. Tunisia has a railway that connects the different cities and towns around the country and also runs to the Algerian border.

What to wear
Tunisia is a Muslim country- with a 5% of the population being Christian, mostly Catholic. The locals are very relaxed and most dress in a western way. With that being said, there are parts where shorts are allowed but you seldom see them. I would advise do not wear anything that comes above your knees just to be respectful to the Muslim community in the country.
Wearing a vest is allowed as most of the local ladies also do.

What to eat
Ok eat EVERYTHING! Tunisian food is really good, a bit spicy for some. The food caters for all dietary requirements. I have been eating in the Medina as the food is affordable. For a meal for 2 with chicken, I have paid TD 7, for a vegetarian meal you can pay up to TD3.

Dinner for 2.
You want to eat from the local restaurants that are owned by the locals as those are cheaper and there you get traditional food.
There are other cafes and restaurants in the city but those are pricey with everything going above TD10 and in most cases not different from the meals you will be served at the smaller family run restaurants.
Should you feel like splashing out and eating at a fancy place, request a receipt before paying. The waiters will tell you a higher price for your bill.

If you are really watching your budget, you also have the option to go to the local supermarket, but your own groceries and make your own food.

What to drink
I am generally on the safe side and opt to drink bottled water at all cost. A 2L of water won't cost you more than 900 Millisimes – that’s 10 Millisimes less than a Dinar.
Shopping at the supermarket.
A liter of your favourite fizzy drink goes for TD 1.70.
Tunisians are coffee drinkers. Everywhere you go there is good coffee which they usually drink black. it is the culture to let your coffee get cold before drinking it. Apparently, that makes the coffee taste a lot better.

You do not need a visa for Tunisia if you are traveling on a South African passport. You will receive 90 days upon arrival at the airport. This process might take a while as the ladies tha stamp you in do not speak English but they will call someone who does speak English who will eventually call their superior to stamp you in.
As you land at the Tunis Carthage International Airport , there will be a tourism office at International arrivals. They will give you a book to guide you through your travels around the country but they also have a map of Tunis the city and Medina. Google maps will work for the city, not for the Medina.

It is currently summer in Tunisia and the temps tend to hit a high of 33 degrees celcius. You will sirvive on cold showers and stepping out of your hotel for 5min, your skin will be sticky from the humidity. Bring loads of sunscreen and a hat. Wear sunglasses, the white buildings create a glare that will not be kind to your eyes. Wear comfortable shoes with rubber soles especially around the medina as the rocks that pave the floors are very slippery. Summer rains are always welcome but that doesn’t happen often. 

#BreakingBorders is sponsored by Simeka Capital Holdings.


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