A country that surprised me in many ways was Tunisia. I guess it is pretty easy to have your expectations exceeded when you don’t have any to begin with. I have been to Tunis, Tunisia twice for work reasons & both visits were wonderful experiences. Admittedly, I didn’t do all that much research before going the first time & that meant I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. I was pleasantly surprised.
The arrival procedures were pretty standard for a north African country; everything seemed loud & confusing, the airport had little ventilation & there were crowds of people. After passing immigration & waiting for what seemed like an eternity, we got our baggage. We checked into our hotel & had the afternoon to go explore a bit.
The hotel had an ATM in the lobby & I decided to withdraw some cash before I headed out with some of my colleagues. The ATM had English & Arabic as language options. Naturally, I chose English & went through the steps. On the final step, the transaction was denied & my card was spat out. Weird. I tried again & the same thing happened. My one colleague came & tried & she had the same outcome. We assumed the machine was broken. A third colleague was joining us & he wanted to try the ATM. He understood basic Arabic & as a type of self test, he used the Arabic language. He went through all the steps & the machine promptly distributed the money. He then helped our female colleague with her withdrawal using the Arabic setting & sure enough, she got the money. I tried again with English – no money. We tried with Arabic – money. I don’t know if this is normal, but it became a big joke to us. “Not even the ATMs understand us here”
We got a taxi & made our way to Sidi Bou Said which is a beautiful little town known for its architecture. Stunning buildings painted blue & white. It is situated on a steep hill & overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve never been to Santorini in Greece, but I assume the buildings are similar. I really felt like I had been transported into a different world & I had absolutely no idea this type of setting could be found on the African continent. We spent the afternoon & evening taking in the beauty of the town, visiting the shops & having a good meal. Being in such a breathtaking place with the sun setting & a gentle sea breeze blowing is one of the best highlights I’ve had in my life.
I was so excited when I got the opportunity to go back & see other parts of Tunis & I’ll be equally excited if I ever get the chance to go again.
Keep traveling, keep safe.