Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bizerte -- A new Tunisian destination

I could have continued whining about my imprisonment to everyone left on my Skype list who will still accept calls on the subject or I could swallow my pledge not to go see one more beach, ruin or new town and get out of the Hotel Belvedere. That's what I did Sunday 9/9/2007. I booked Zied for a trip to Bizerte, a little more than an hour from Tunis on the far north coast.

And it was great. My best day in Tunisia since Carthage.

Bizerte, like Carthage, was founded by Phoenicians and the French loved it apparently as much as I did. It was the last place they held onto in Tunisia before violence and demonstrations forced them out there too. French tourists come back in force in summers, though.

This picture is taken in the Old Port. It hasn't been used as port since the end of the 19th century when this nice straight canal was dug between the Mediterranean and Lake Bizerte so that this watery cul-de-sac wasn't need. I am so glad I waited until September to come see Bizerte, because I was the only tourist in evidence. Instead, on a lazy Sunday morning, the place was filled with residents fishing or sipping coffee and smoking in cafes along the water and giggly kids running along cobbled-stoned lanes. The markets were bustling and street-sellers out in force. With Ramadan coming next week, people are busy stocking up.

Bizerte, as I hope I'll show you in the next few pictures, is a kind of maritime Epcot center. This section felt like Venice, with an Arab tang, then we walked around the end of port into the open air meat market and a fish market in a hall of gleaming wet tile and it was Tokyo. Not far from the old port where we parked the car Royal palms, sea-related statues, the "moving bridge" and busy port activity felt like Miami.

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