Tunisia - Our first steps into Africa

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 28, 2012

The hubby and I had always imagined that we would one day visit Africa.

It was one of the shortlisted destinations for our honeymoon but we didn't pick it eventually and decided to go for the more popular New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Nonetheless, we remained highly anticipative of setting foot in Africa for the first time.

So when we knew that we would be achieving that by visiting Tunisia during our cruise around the Mediterranean, we were ecstatic.


Tunisia, with a population of over 10 million, is the northernmost country in Africa. Being the smallest country in the continent, it occupies an area of nearly 165,000km² and south of the country is composed of the world's largest hot desert, the Sahara desert.

Since we only had half a day to spare, we decided to go along with a tour which would bring us to the ancient city of Carthage, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, and subsequently to Medina, a typical Arab market in Tunisia.

One of the main highlights of the day was visiting the Antonino Baths.

Situated on the seaside at the north-eastern corner of Carthage, the Antonine Baths measure about 35,000m² and were among the largest baths to be built in the Roman world and were the largest such complex in North Africa. The baths contained a number of rooms and chambers standard to such ancient bath complexes, including the Frigidarium (cold room), Caldarium (hot room), Tepidarium (hot bath).

Today. the Antonine Baths today retain very little of their former grandeur and all you can see are well-preserved ruins which give a clue about the enormity and vastness of the original structure.

What appealed most to me was that it was a picturesque location for photo taking as the weather was superb and the baths were positioned against the ocean backdrop. Since Angel was having her nap, that gave us plenty of time to roam around, take pictures while basking in the warm sun rays and imagining how it was like to take a bath here in the ancient time.

Next, our tour guide brought us to the shopping streets in Medina, of which we had to say was not really that impressive. We did buy a couple of souvenirs but in some cases, the vendors got a little too pushy for our liking. Almost like once you step in, you can't step out without buying anything and they were even willing to cut from 20euros to 2euros for a bag.

Soon, before we realised it, our whole group was brought into this room which contained nothing else but carpets, carpets and more carpets. All of them were hand woven by the women here and we were told one piece took at least 6 months to complete. Soon, we were offered tea (I half contemplated if I should drink it) and were briefed on the history of the carpets. Then, a few men poured into the room and started to unroll carpet after carpet, telling us about the design and the significance of each. Of course, all this was in a sale tactic to get us tourists to spend $$$$.

As one of the men mentioned, they were really hit bad by the economic crisis and the city was now trying to recover from it, therefore any help from tourism was greatly appreciated. Eventually, because they spent more than half an hour taking out carpets for us to view, a handful of us started touching them and only one bothered to enquire the price. When I heard that it was a five-figure sum, well, thankyouverymuch but I don't need this in my tropical home in Singapore.

Not surprisingly, not a single one of us committed to buying. Well, if I hit the jackpot sometime in my life, I might consider.

Anyway, we were told before the session that we could go to the rooftop to enjoy a panoramic view of the city after we were done. When the tour guide seemed to have forgotten he said this, I gently reminded him and he said "Yes! You can go up this staircase, take pictures and have a really nice panoramic view!"

Which made me all eager because my whole aim of the cruise was to sight-see, not to shop.

Believe it or not, this was the BEST photo we took. Panoramic view. *dot dot dot*

Maybe it was because we had seen magnificent city views in places like Salsburg, Prague, Paris and London. Or that the view in Singapore was a thousandfold more awe-inspiring. We left, feeling simply dispassionate and unimpressed.

I guess it's true that the higher the expectations in life, the deeper the disappointment.

I don't actually know what I was hoping to see, but definitely not just this.

So I decided to snap more pictures of my girl there and then, on the rooftop with the so-called panoramic view.

Subsequently, we were told that we will be going to a 'Sans' room, much to our bewilderment. Was it cents, sense or whatever was it?

Once we entered, we got it. S-C-E-N-T-S. 

Yes, they started passing around all kinds of fragrances and asking you to smell. Oh dear. I was half starting to regret embarking on this tour. Thankfully it ended pretty soon because well, none of the people in my group were keen in buying any of it.

Believe it or not, that also ended our tour in Tunisia. I was like "What? That's it? We paid so much $$$ for this?". Oh well, maybe going back to the ship was better than having to listen to carpets or scents talk again.

My deepest consolation from that day was that we managed to take this family picture with our MSC cruise ship, which was the best shot we had from the entire trip.

Well, as if the heavens above could sense our disappointment that day, we were pleasantly surprised to see camels lined up in front of our ship on the way back. Yes, CAMELS! Huge, real, furry camels. I mean, except in the zoo, I've never been so up close with a camel before in my life.

When we asked if we could ride on it, the guy said "Yes!", much to our delight.

To be honest, in my state of over enthusiasm and eagerness to do something exciting finally, I might have been willing to part with even 20-30euros for that ride. So when we knew that the ride only costed 5euros and that all three of us could go on the camel at the same time, I went from deep down in the dumps to high up in the skies once again.


I love this picture above because now, at least we can proclaim that we have been on a camel ride inside Africa. I don't know about you but I tend to associate the continent with nature, deserts and animals.

Anyway, when the ride came to an end, the camel was told to sit down which he did. Obediently and PROMPTLY. I swear it felt like a roller coaster ride and yes, I screamed, thinking that I was going to slide down the neck of the camel and kiss it on its forehead. Not a bad thrill for five euros, I must say.

That marked the end of our first visit to Africa, a somewhat mediocre but nonetheless memorable day.

To Angel, this picture is proof that you sat on a camel before because nowadays you keep insisting you have not. SEE? 

Stay tuned for more travel updates next month! To see more of the world, visit my Travelogue page here.

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  1. Wow lovely place! Actually he wasn't wrong to say its panoramic as u can see far from where u were.. Just not what we tend to associate as panoramic. Tours usually bring you to buy things lah that's the bad thing about tours. Glad u at least managed to ride on the camel :)

    1. Yeah in a sense, you're right and he's right too. Just that like you say, when tour guides say nice panoramic views, we usually hope for something more magnificent and awe-inspiring. Actually of the many cruise tours we went on, this was the only one that kept asking us to buy things which was probably why it will remain somewhat memorable in our hearts. Thank goodness for the camel!

  2. What a fascinating place! I actually love the panorama, only because it is unique - unlike anything you would see in the US, or Australia, or Europe... I love the round domes on the rooftops. I do hate the "selling" aspect on tours. I'm not one for the hard-sell at all! Glad you enjoyed your camel ride.

    1. Oh wow! It's nice to hear that someone actually likes that view because most of us ended up complaining. I should learn to think from your point of view. =) Well, I definitely don't like the hard sell part too. Thanks Julie for popping by!

  3. Such an amazing place! Thanks for sharing and oh my, Angel is such a cutie.. haven't seen much of her younger pics before heh. She is really blessed to be able to travel to so many places with both of you :)

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    1. Hehe does she look very different? Fatter hor, last time. Lol. Yes she is so lucky, just like me. =) Though she's not going to remember most of it, I'm going to make sure she at least sees all the pics and vids. Thanks Ai!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Yvette! I do cherish the chance to visit Tunisia!

  5. Those photos are beautiful. If we visited there, I would be worried husband would want me to head to all the places Star Wars was filmed :) glad that the camel rise helped to salvage some of the day!

    1. Haha luckily my hubby is not a Star Wars fan then. Yesh thank goodness for the camel ride. It totally made my day!

  6. I love those stone structures! This looks like a great place if not of those pushy sales. Hey the camel ride is so cool!

    Fang Ting

    1. Yeah the ruins were pretty awesome. Good place for hide and seek, too bad Angel was sleeping. I super liked that camel ride too! =)

  7. Really lovely pics,sounds and looks like you guys had fun. Following you back from exposure 99% blog hop.thanks for linking up.

  8. 10 million people in the smallest country? That's incredible! I'm not surprised the view wasn't fantastic. They just need to find room to put all those people!!

    1. Haha you should come to Singapore someday, Jess and see how we live. We basically stack up on top of each other. =) 5 million people on a tiny island.

  9. wonderful, love the rock formation....it's really amazing!!!

    1. Thanks Willyn! Yes they look pretty awesome! =)

  10. Im a new follower from MBC--great site
    check out my blog and follow back


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