Friday, 22 June 2007

Hammamet Part 1

The trip started with a delay of 2 hours at Gatwick Airport in London which was annoying as it was a night flight, any way so we arrived at Monastir airport after 2am Tunisian time, going through customs I knew I was going to be treated suspiciously, the same was done when I visited Tunisia 3 years ago, the same happened in Egypt & Jordon, if you carry a British passport and you are of Arab/Middle eastern origin then you are a suspect for some reason! the Que in front of me was moving so quick as everyone was a European, I felt sorry for the people behind me because I knew they were going to be delayed.
The custom officer looked at me and my family, looked at the passports then asked me what nationality I was, I told him British as the passport says, he wanted to know where from originally, I said I was originally Libyan, he started clicking away on his computer for about 5 minutes then looked at me and said what is your father's name? I thought I would test him so I gave him a wrong name, he started clicking away for another 5 minutes, he asked the same of my wife and her father's name, she gave the correct name, still too many clicks, then he asked what my kids father's name was, I was amazed! I said obviously its my name, any way after about 20 minutes of completely useless clicking on his precious computer he let us enter, of course the same procedure happened on leaving Tunisia but that is another story.

We caught the coach which took another 90 minutes to get to Hammamet, arriving there about 4 am, checked in, we were given good sized suite with 2 huge bedrooms and a bathroom.
After a short sleep, the kids were awake and very looking forward to the beach, after breakfast we went straight to the hotel's beach which was only a few minutes away.

kids still looking light skinned

a dying Jelly Fish at the beach, a bit worrying!

The beach was not very busy as the holiday season hadn't started yet, it was very clean, the water was clean & cold but the weather was quite hot. Many people pass through the beach trying to sell you tourists junk, food & fruits but never aggressively, if you say no then they leave you with a smile. The best surprise for me at the beach was a small stand selling SFINZ advertised as Donuts, I forgot what they called it but its exactly the same size as you get in Libya with the same taste, we had Sfinz everyday at mid morning.

In the afternoon the kids wanted to go to the swimming pool which again was very clean and not very busy, my kids love swimming too much that every day they start about 9 or 10 in the morning and carry on swimming until 5 in the afternoon.

The hotel was not very busy, most people there were German, Russian and French with very few English people, in the evenings we go and have dinner at the hotel which is served Buffet style, while there was plenty of choice it wasn't actually that good, sort of tasted like mass market food :o)

The head waiter took a shine to Amir because he has a son called Amir as well, he was a lovely man that took care of us at breakfast & dinner time, he never stopped fussing over us in a very friendly way, he even told us some secrets as how the Russians (men & women) usually eat a massive amount of food, more than anyone else, he think its because they get cheap package holidays here where they can have a lot of food which is usually very expensive to eat in Russia. The staff at this hotel were very nice indeed and when ever they found out that we are Libyan they always became extra nice but saying that, the Reception staff were quite grumpy and most of the time they don't even return Salams, the guy working at the money change desk was such a miserable git that I stopped saying hello to him because he always ignored me but funnily enough he would say hello with a big smile to any one else that was European looking, you get this type of person every where.

The next day (Friday) we decided to go to Nabul which is a small city about 10 miles away, they have a market there every Friday,we took a taxi and arrived early yet it was heaving with tourists and locals walking through the market.

In Hammamet I only ever saw 1 mosque but as you enter Nabul you notice that mosques are every where, the market is well stocked with pottery and leather goods, some of it can be very nice but its a shame because buying pottery then trying to bring it back to London is not practical because of weight restriction.

Of course I knew tortoises would be offered for sale at this market as I have been there before, these are Tunisian tortoises which are of similar size to the Libyan/Egyptian tortoises. They are rare and their sale is illegal in Tunisia, in fact sellers hide them very quickly if they see a policeman. They were being sold for few Dinars, the problem again here is that these tortoises need special care in Europe where they do sell for a large amount of money, many tourists buy them then smuggle them to their countries where they usually die after a short period.

It was a very hot day so finding cool shade inside the old market was very welcome, the major problem I found in Tunisia was the continuous hassle you get from market sellers, they continuously hound you with every language on this earth to come in and look at their products which to me I find very annoying and actually puts me off buying anything from them, saying that, you never actually feel unsafe or threatened in anyway as in some other countries, Tunisian tend to leave you alone if you say no firmly.

Above you can see 2 cats asleep in these big pottery dishes, cats are everywhere in Tunisia, many of them are stray cats but the good thing is that most of them are cared for by the people in markets or even in streets and old cities you find little dishes of water and bits of food next to the water. cute playful kittens were everywhere, the kids just kept playing with them.

After I took this picture of Aida, we stood in the shade by a post office, next to it was a public toilet, an old Tunisian woman was standing outside dressed in a cleaner uniform, she was the attendant, I didn't go inside but from the door I could see that the toilets seemed clean, a German couple went in the separate toilets, when they came out, the woman attendant put her hand out to them which is usual anywhere to pay the attendants, both tourists looked at her then just walked away, she chased them speaking in Arabic, they almost ran off, she ran after them while shouting and swearing ينعن بوك وبو الي جابكم لي هالبر (God damn your father and the father of who ever brought you to this shore), I laughed so much as I havent heard this sort of swearing in a long time and thought serve those tourists who now looked very scared right for being so mean :o)
The market was full of fake designer goods from Rolex watches, I bought one for 15 Dinars which I probably would never wear, I just wanted one, to Prada sunglasses, Gucci handbags and Versace wallets and belts, the leather fake goods were actually well made with real leather and everything sold for small amount of money but I suppose buying the stuff to wear, you know deep down that you are wearing fake stuff! although I couldn't help but buy a Fake Ray Ban sunglasses, they look great :o)
In the afternoon we went back to the hotel, it was very hot and just stayed most of the time at the beach.

In the morning we went to visit Hammamet old city which is described as the best preserved old city in north Africa.
The place was breath taking, so beautiful and very clean, people still live inside the tiny streets, many shops for tourists are every where inside the old city and sometimes it gets difficult trying to walk and not step on the goods that are displayed on the floor of the narrow streets.
The old city is quite small compared to Tripoli's old city but I bet it is much better preserved and looked after, I wish some people would take notice of how proud Tunisians are of their country.
We got lost walking inside but not once felt threatened, eventually after asking few people we found the way out.

Here they had a house offered for sale, I really wished I could buy it, you can see how clean the place is.

Outside the old city, you can see a pirate ship in the back ground, there are many of these ships sailing around the shore, at the hotel this poor guy was trying to sell me tickets to go on a mini cruise everyday but I kept refusing, he just never gave up but neither did I. The problem was you pay for a mini cruise and you get all drinks and snacks included, I saw some pictures and while the tourists looked happy and having a good time I felt it was not for us as all Alcoholic drinks were free on board and tourists took advantage of that, anyway good luck to them but it was not appropriate for us.
I have more pictures and stories to tell but that's for another day as I have to get back to work now :o)


a_akak said...

Lovely pictures :) --------- #1

Safia speaks said...

You are absolutely right about Tunsisians sucking up to the tourists while treating Arabs like dirt!

When I was in the airport of Djerba some 12 years ago, I counted 8 souvenir shops and 10 liquor bars, but when asking a security guard for a prayer space...oooch!!

Those Germans LOL! - they leave for their country, and they have no idea what curse has been put upon them LOL! Now their business are going down the drain, their house is mortgaged, they loose their jobs and their teenage kid gets thrown in jail...and they have no idea what caused all the mayhem in the first place! They should have given that woman a little coin...

DaMoon said...

Thanks for sharing Anglo-Libyan, looked like u guyz had alot of fun, ahhhh da beachhhhhh
yallah tell us more :o)

PH said...

I was really angry reading about what the customs officer did ! I've always enter in Arab countries with the green one so I've never experienced it, even though I've had the same experience entering European countries with a non-Libyan passport, but couldn't you object or something? Did you speak to him Arabic maybe thats why? you could have said you were from Bangladesh or India he can't prove it I mean officially even in Britain they aren't supposed to be allowed to ask about your origin right? and why would they stop you on the way out're leaving what are they going to do ? hand you over to Libya or what? those idiots!!!!!! Next time you go tell me and I'll come with you and give them some of my stupidity acts ....delay the line for a whole day :D. I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of the stay though ...... I guess it helps to be prepared :).

The pictures of the old market remind me of Souk Al-Thalam, but its in a better state now than the old market in tunisia...

As for Hammamat my friends grandfather has a villa there, but he would never lend it to us ......... misrati (j/k).

Anyway Nice pictures and glad the kids enjoyed it ..... keep them coming :) .

Happymoi said...

Its good to hear you had a wonderful trip...nice pics..glad you and ur family had a fun trip....

cant wait to hear and see the rest of the trip:)

Anglo-Libyan said...

Thanks Ahmed :o)

Safia, it seems Tunisians working at airports are the same, just suck up to Europeans, shame really since most people there are quite nice.
that was very funnt with the cursed Germans lol

you are welcome ya damoon :o)

ph, it does make my blood boil, the problem is my passport says im born in Libya although I could lie about it. in Europe I never experience this, I did have an argument/conversation with a Tunisian customs officer on the way out, I will tell what happened soon inshaAllah :o)

thank you Happymoi, soon will update :o)

Lebeeya said...

Lovely pictures and I am so glad you all had a great time, Aida and Amir are looking great mashallah.

I am really sorry about the incident with the customs officer. I used to go through the same thing every year when I went to Libya, I always enter Libya with my Libyan passport, but in my passport it says i'm born in America so I get boomeranged with a hundred million questions. Until last year, I got this weird ID card that says I hold 2 passports, ever since then I have never been questioned, I just show them that ID card. Ok, I just realized this has nothing to do with what you were saying. I am sorry.

Glad to see you BACK :D

Anglo-Libyan said...

thank you ya lebeeya, I am always pleased to see your comments and I am so glad that you and your family are well, Alhamdulellah.

Rose Bud said...

Despite the trouble at the airport it seems that you enjoyed your stay. I am glad that you had fun!

LovelyHibo said...

Thanks Anglo-Libyan for sharing us the Lovely pictures :)

MaySoon said...

Aida & Amir, Mashallah 3lehum rabi u7fudhum,

I love Hammamet & Nabul, I know I've said this

LOL @ the attendant..lool

Thanks for sharing AL I enjoyed the reading :oD

Trabilsia said...

Welcome back !

Good to see you had a good time , nevertheless the incident .

Aida and Amir looking well and having fun MashaAllah.

Thanks for sharing your lovely holiday pics with us.

May Allah bless and protect you and your lovely family.

PH said...

Anglo your holidays finished ...... get back to work :D.


ibeebarbie said...

Salam Anglo-Libyan

Excellent narration of your travels, and the pictures say so much. What a beautiful advertisement you just marketed for the Tunisians. :-)

LOL@ the restroom attendant going ballistic.

I understand how hearing the merchants trying to sell their products and shouting in a million different languages was irritating. To the patron it’s insulting. Buying and selling of goods it not a new concept to the world, so if a patron wants to buy they’ll buy. ;-)

fatboy said...

hi anglo i am glad to see u back and glad to know u had a wonderful trip i really liked the pirate ship and i saw one of them here in the tripoli harbor and the cats i mean the cats were lovly :) i cannt wait intell u tell us about the reaset of the trip


Anglo-Libyan said...

thanks rose bud, nice to see you here :o)

you are most welcome ya hibo :o)

I am glad you enjoyed it ya Maysoon, the attendant was very funny but I wouldnt like to be at the her mercy :o)

Thank you dear Trabilsia, nice as always :o)

ph, its the weekend now so no work :oS

salam ibeebarbie
Tunisia & Tunisians are lovely and I can not say it enough :o)

Ahlan fatboy, the cats and kittens were really lovely, we wanted to bring them all home plus the baby fox and owl and baby camel, you will see them inshaAllah in part 2 :o)

Romana said...

Welcome back Anglo-Libyan, i know im a bit late here! I love Tunisia, and Tunisians, i dont know whether its cos im a girl im treated differently, but i never got anything but the best treatment, as a matter of fact, when i tell them im Libyan, they dont believe me!!! what have Libyans done for the Tunisians to expect nothing but the worst from us???
im not saying they are angels with halos on top of their heads, it takes 2 to tango, but it still amazes me when they find it weird for Libyans to be civilized!
the pictures are absolutely beautiful, and im with u on why dont we preserve our Old city the way Tunisians do... dont know... are they more proud of their country?

Anglo-Libyan said...

thanks romana
most Tunisians gave us special treatment because we are Libyan, nice country & nice people who are very proud of their land :o)

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