Tunisia – family destination

Hammamet

For my birthday my husband decided to give me a getaway-week in Tunisia. After Marrakech and going many times to Algeria it was about time to visit the third maghreb country : Tunisia.

We stayed in a 4* hotel Le sultan, situated in Hammamet. The hotel has 2 pools, one outside, the other one is indoors. The spa area is big, but not comparable to the ones you find in Turkish hotels (which to me are mostly very good). Outside there are 2 tennis courts and a midgetgolf terrain. The best thing about this hotel is the kids corner! The animation is very kids-minded and the mini club is very up to date.
The hotel is located near the beach, though this is a small beach. Walking a bit further allows you to enjoy the beach to its fullest.
We enjoyed the fresh mint tea almost every night in the cosy shishacorner.
A good hotel if happy kids are more important than luxury. gracefullyDebby 3146

gracefullyDebby 3141

gracefullyDebby 3152

shisha corner

The medina in Hammamet is not so big, but a nice walk in the village can be quiet romantic, especially when you end it on the beach to watch the sun set.

Close to Hammamet, you find the more modern Yasmine Hammamet. There is an amusement park Carthageland with an aquapark in it. This can be found in the medina. It’s a real eye catcher in the medina with lots of tempting animations all over the medina.
We went into the medina to browse trough the shops and score some original gifts.
There is also a harbour where tourist boats (with real pirates) can take you for a fun day at sea. In this harbour there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy.

On friday there is a big market in Nabeul. A city near Hammamet. We took a taxi and went to the village known for its oranges (which is their trademark as you can see on the postcards). After grabbing a fresh juice we discovered the market. Locals as well as tourist browse through all the different stands. On the background there’s the call for prayer, this is the real maghreb life.

After a visit to a tourist agency we booked a day trip. As it was the low season we could negotiate a good price and had a day trip totally adjusted to what we wanted to see.
We chose to visit el djem, sousse and port el kantaoui.
The tourist agency had a driver in tuxedo to pick us up at the hotel. He was our personal driver for the day. He showed us the Atlas mountain, which passes Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and told us interesting things about the local life in Tunisia. He was a very warm person.

First stop : El djem. This is the amphitheatre where The gladiator (movie with Russell Crowe) was shot. It’s amazing how big it is, and how well preserved. The sun was shining and the amphitheatre really made a big impression on us. el djem

el djem

el djem

It was worth the long , almost 2 hours, drive. A 10 minute walk further we visited a mosaic museum. I found it amazing to see this old images of ancient tales. The entry to this museum is included in the price you pay for entering el djem, but nobody tells you this.
Next on was the city of Sousse. We only had one hour to spend here. It was very touristic, more than Hammamet. It’s a harbour city. We didn’t see much of it. A quick tour around the city and then we continued our daytrip.

The last stop before heading back to the hotel was Port el kantaoui. This was a very charming village. It has a small fair which is nice for the kids.
This whole village is situated around the harbour. Such a laidback vibe I got from just walking around.
Spending a week here would not be it for me, but a would gladly spend a few days in this harbour village. We ate something in one of the many restaurants. After this we went back to our hotel.

port el kantaoui

We had a good stay, although we wouldn’t go back to Tunisia soon. I guess there’s much more to do in summertime. But in april, we had the impression there was not so much to do other than enjoying the sun around the pool or at the beach.
Though if you have kids, there is enough to do.
There is a zoo nearby and you can go for a swim with dolphins. (We already did this in Dubai swimming with dolphins in Dubai)

Overall I’m glad to have seen a bit of Tunisia, now I’ve been to all 3 countries that are the Maghreb.

Advertisements

Magical Marrakech

Have you ever been to Marrakech? We did and it was the best citytrip we’ve made. After seeing and hearing a lot, positive as well as negative, we wanted to see for our selves what’s the fuzz about Marrakech. What is that place called Jemaa al Fna? Or the souks, the old town, the new town, … ?

Jemaa al Fna

We’ve stayed in Dellarosa Suite and Spa, a 4* hotel in Marrakech. The hotel has the perfect location for a short stay in Marrakech. We were able to go to the old city center (where the souks are) as well as to the new center (Guéliz) without having to take a taxi or shuttle bus. Everything was nearby! Another plus is the more than friendly staff. They really had that mediterranean character where a good morning, good afternoon and good evening come from the heart.
The hotel has a rooftop bar which gives you a view on the city center. There’s also a refreshing pool (too bad it has little sunlight because of the buildings surrounding the hotel) and a big spa area (same prices as in western europe).

rooftop view dellarosa

We started off by going to the Jemaa al Fna market square. This is what we came for. First impression : how big, how vivid, it only makes me curious  to go explore some more! All day long there are plenty of things to see.
By day you have the juice stands (yummy freshly pressed juices!!), the people selling ‘real’ argan oil, women who do henna tattoos, musicians and of course all the special attractions like the snakes, the birds, the monkeys, and traditional clothed men who want you to take a picture with them.
Don’t be fooled, they all do it for the money, even when they say it is a gift or free for you. Keep this in mind and you won’t feel bothered by all of this. Make sure you have some coins in your pocket to give after taking a picture.
At night the place transforms into a big open air restaurant. Many food stands offer you delicious food for little money. You have to experience this and try some of the local dishes.

jemaa al fna

jemaa al fna

jemaa al fna

I really wanted to go visit the Jardins Majorelle. Yves Saint Laurent bought the villa in this beautiful botanical garden to prevent it from being transformed into a hotel complex and found lots of inspiration here.
The gardens are amazing and very colorful! The main color is blue, which is called the majorelle blue. There are many plants to see, you can sit there and enjoy the beauty and silence in this vivid city.

Majorelle

Majorelle

Majorelle

Majorelle

After this we went to the Palmeraie, a piece of desert just outside the city. We did a camel ride, but you can also walk trough it or go for a beach buggy tour. I found it a bit overpriced but we enjoyed it anyway.gracefullyDebby 410

For shopping we went to Guéliz, the new town. Here you find all kinds of shops and many known brands. Plenty of coffee and juice bars have a sunny terrace where we enjoyed a drink or two.
Another place to shop are the souks , it’s some kind of labyrinth full of small streets where you enjoy getting lost.
I loved walking in the medina every day and discovering new places every time. A visit to the local barber shop, a spa, herbs, anything can be found in the souks!

souks

Another way to see the city is by horse carriage, which is also very romantic and if you’re lucky you get some extra information by your driver.
– As we passed by the royal palace the flags were out meaning king Mohammed was in the house.

We would love to go back soon! This is the perfect getaway to relax.
When going to Marrakech I would recommend a hotel or riadh close to the old city center and not to take an all inclusive formula. Jemaa al Fna has so many great food to offer for so little money it would be a pity to miss out on all of this!

Not so far from Marrakech you have the Ourika valley with the Atlas mountains, great for an adventurous walk.
And I was told the red beach is a great place to enjoy a sunny day. Sitting by the pool, chilling with friends, listening to lounge music, sipping cocktails is what the red beach is all about.

Please let me know what are your hotspots in Marrakech? Did you love it there?