BC and me quickly decided that the easiest if not the best way to see some of Tunisia was to take one of the many organised tours. As arranged the bus arrived at the unearthly time of 6pm and we boarded for a two day jaunt into the Sahara, aptly described by the tour guide as the biggest beach in the world. Our first stop was at the coliseum, described by Eddy as the biggest coliseum in the world outside of Rome. There is a lot of restoration work going on in the building and consequently it is the best preserved and most complete roman coliseum in the world and I found it fascinating and could have spent much more time there than we were actually allowed. This produced out first problem. Trying to please everyone on a tour bus of 50 odd people with mixed interests is not going to be easy. Some people saw the ruins as merely a building site that was not finished while others were genuinely fascinated. This set the tone for the next two days as the entourage was split into the “we have spent too long looking at that rubbish” and the “I could have stayed there all day” camps.
The next stop after many hours of looking at thousands and thousands of Olive trees along a long and unchanging landscape of sand and tarmac was for coffee and a brief escape from the bus. In no time we were back onboard and heading out to see some of the landscape that featured in the Star wars film. The scenery is truly stunning and the photos do not do it any justice at all. I would have loved to have spent the night out there just to be able to look up into the sky and see the stars. Next stop was the set from where Young Anakin Skywalkers home was set in Matama. Again I could have stayed there all day as it has been turned into a hotel and a bar and you can book an overnight stay.
After more coffee, olive trees and sand we arrived at a well used tourist destination, the Camel rides. Here we dressed in Arab garb and traditional headdress. I settled on the headdress only as I did not fancy the Wee Willie Winky Nightshirt that was offered to me. The choice of transportation was between climbing aboard a camel or as we opted, a more sedate ride in a horse and cart. I have been on a camel before and my memories are of bad tempered beasts, who can blame them and a very uncomfortable experience hanging on for dear life. I did not want to repeat this and it seemed BC did not fancy the idea either. We set off with our guide and “Trigger” faithfully hauling us across the sand. Again the scenery is both stunning and stark at the same time. There are a lot of ruins out in the desert that have given way to the shifting sands and have consequently been swallowed up with rooftops and crumbling walls poking out of the sand. The idea was to watch the sun go down and enjoy the sunset but a sandstorm whipped up and while the view was magnificent the photographs did not turn out as well as I had hoped. All too soon it was time to turn around, head back and board the bus.
By now it was dark and every one on the bus was feeling tetchy and irritable, we had after all been travelling for some 13 hours before we pulled up into the hotel at the end of day one. It was tiring but enjoyable and I wished I had more time to explore some of the scenery that took in but as it was it was a memorable trip into the desert.