Sunday, 6 May 2012

Tunisia - Intro & What to Wear When You're There

Port El Kantaoui harbour front

Where? Tunisia, North Africa
Exactly? Port El Kantaoui and Hammamet
When? April 2012
Why? For an Easter weekend break
Best time to go? Tunisia is on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, so its warm thoughout the year. In July and August temperatures can reach over 40 degrees centigrade in the day, which drops down to 20 degrees in the evening. April to May is a good time to visit, temperatures are a more bearable 26 degrees on average.

We stayed in Yasmine Hammamet, but to be honest I wouldn't particularly recommend Yasmine for a 'style traveller.' Its pretty enough, but rather soulless, full of 5 star international chain hotels, with generic decor, which could be anywhere in the world. During the holiday we also visited Port El Kantaoui, a pretty marina town 10km north of Sousse, which has a lot more character and style.

Tunisia is not a wealthy country, but considering areas are geared up specifically for the tourist industry, it is a little rough around the edges. But in terms of culture and sight seeing there is a lot on offer. During the day head to the ancient ruins in Carthage and Tunis or you can haggle at the many souks and medina bazaars. Alternatively just lay back and relax on the beaches. From the UK it's a good location for a winter sun short break.

What to wear when you're there... Packing

Me on the marina in Port El Kantaoui
Style wise there doesn't seem to be any particular dress code here, everyone looks quite casual in beach attire. Being an islamic country it is respectful to cover up a little when in the towns and cities, but in the tourist beach areas the rules are relaxed. The days can get unbearably hot, especially in the summer, but temperatures drop by about 20 degrees in the evening, so a cover up/jacket is useful.

On the beach...
Clockwise from left to right: Tie-dyed top - H&M, Pink headphones - Sennheiser, Bikini - Topshop, Denim tie-dyed shorts - Topshop, Cowboy boots - Ash, Pink neon nail polish - American Apparel, Pink opal lip gloss - Bobbi Brown, Citrus 2 lip gloss - Bobbi Brown, Nutridefense anti-drying protective spray - Kerastase, sunglasses - Prism.

Day by the Marina
Clockwise from left: Vest - River Island, Printed jeans - River Island, Bikini - We Are Handsome, Canvas shoes - Penelope Chilvers, Watch - GC Watches, Poison rings - Maria Francesca Pepe, Pot rouge for lips and cheeks, Coral 2 - Bobbi Brown, Extreme Mascara - Collection 2000.

Peacock printed bikini - We Are Handsome

Dinner in Port El Kantaoui
Clockwise from left - Pale pink bikini - H&M, Pink maxi dress - All Saints, 20th Anniversary Lip Palette - Bobbi Brown, Feather ring - Maria Nilsdotter, Friendship bracelet (seen below) - Guess Jewellery, Citron Citron fragrance - Miller Harris, suede wedges - Office, Factor 15 Sun Wrinkle Control Cream For Face - Clarins, Nutridefense anti-drying protective spray - Kerastase, Sunglasses - Bottega Veneta Printed clutch bag - H&M

Me inside Hammamet Medina wearing Jaeger sweater, Uniqlo jeans and Mulberry bag.
Local fishing boats moored opposite the yachts in Port El Kantaoui

Local children play in a gypsy caravan

Tunisia - Shopping and Sightseeing

If you're not content with simply relaxing on the beach, Tunisia has a lot more to offer. From historical sites in Tunis and Carthage, through to the many souk, bazaars and medinas in which to indulge in a spot of shopping. My favourite of these are the Nabeul Friday Market and Hammamet Medina.

Outside Hammamet Medina
Hammamet Medina 

Hammamet Medina is a beautiful walled, white washed bazaar, with narrow meandering streets. You'll find everything from traditional Tunisian ceramics, glassware and metal crafts through to fake designer goods and Kilim rugs. You have to learn to haggle here, it's rude not to. A good trick is go for a quarter of the offered price and haggle up to half the original price. They'll pretend to be offended but thats part of the game. Also remember to shop around, don't buy from the first stall you see.

The medina is famous for its beautifully decorated door ways

It's a labarinth of whitewashed streets and alleyways.

You can pick up ornate ceramics like these mosaic salad bowls for as little as £2.

Nabeul Market
Nabeul market takes place every Friday morning. It sells similar goods to the other local bazaars, but you can get better deals here as there's more competition between stores. Even though Tunisians are used to seeing tourists it is a sign of respect to stay a little covered up, especially in the town centre. Also for female travellers you will get stared at and hassled no matter what you wear, but the more covered up you are the less likely it is to happen.

Outside Nabeul Market
Traditional hand painted ceramics and pottery
Artisanal kilim rugs are a good buy here

Someones got the hump!

And the rest....
Normally there would be an 'after dark' section to the post, but I didn't feel like recommending any of the night life I sampled, not for style travellers anyway. If you're a female traveller be warned about the nightlife, it can get quite sleazy, its better to stick to hotel bars. The exception to this is Port El Kantaoui, which is lovely for evening dinner and drinks on the harbour front. Enjoy!

Tunisia - Map

View Tunisia in a larger map