Monday, 12 October 2009

Sidi Bou Said - part 1

Sidi Bou Said..
a district in Tunis..
One of the most beautiful districts in Tunisia..possibly in the world as well..
Extremely touristic! You feel like the whole district is specially designed for the tourists..In Korea, there are villages where residents don't need to pay any taxes or fees for schools for their kids. They are free as long as they carry on a very ancient Korean village life style (I haven't seen any ipods, Samsung or LG mobile phones, or Hyundai cars in those villages, which is quite contrary to the 'image' of Korea nowadays). A similar thing must be valid for Sidi Bou Said as well, because the whole district is in blue and white and extremely well-looked after. You can see similar designs on the doors and windows of houses in many different districts in Tunisia, but not in such a harmony and richness as it is in Sidi Bou Said. The transportation is really easy from Tunis; taking the train from central Tunis to Sidi Bou Said costs only 600 Tunisian dinar return (1£=1.900 dinar as of August, 2009). The day that I spent there was extremely hot, and I kept on losing myself in the streets as I normally do in Istanbul, and then suddenly I found myself on a hill in front of the light house. It had the best and most refreshing breeze I've ever faced in my life.. the breeze coming from the turquoise Mediterranean Sea took all my exhaustion and sorrow.. I just sat there for a long time, with an old woman with whom I couldn't communicate in terms of words but looks.. she understood me and I felt how she felt.. we both stared at the sea and I weeped, washing my grief with the help of the blue breeze..and looking at the oldest, most jaded house and the one having the best view and breeze...
Sidi Bou Said is full of art shops, galleries, beautiful stores full of handmade accessories (yes some of them are made in china as it is wherever you go in this globalised world but many of them are from Turkey as well) and teahouses.. I had a traditional Tunisian mint tea with lots of pinenuts on it and it was yumm!! For some reason in that extremely hot weather (I mean I lived the first 18 years of my life and on top of that various summer holidays in one of the hottest regions in the world. I am used to 40 degrees Celsius normally but even for me Tunisian hot weather is extremely hot and humid!!!) mint tea works miraculously!! It relaxes you and soothes your heat down :) Another interesting thing with Tunisia is, as far as I've experienced, that Tunisians just close their thick curtains during daytime and stay indoors, with no air-conditioner, no fans (well, they have those but they are not used as much as they are used in my hometown, for instance, which is another Mediterranean city).

If you happen to go to Sidi Bou Said, make sure that you visit Dar El Anninabi (entrance fee is 3000 dinars) and drink a cup of free mint tea (no pine nuts).Tevfik (you can see him in the pic above with the nice Tunisian white cage) served me my mint tea; he was an extremely sympathetic and nice gentleman who showed me Tunisian friendship :) Dar El Anninabi was like a dream house to me, a house that I would like to live in.. every corner of it was ornamented with delicate art.
Sidi Bou Said is like an open air Madame Tussauds: you visit every single house and want to have a photo of it or a photo in front of it. You go to every single building and want to read its story from the dots on its door, and you hear its story in its breeze and dust.


  1. hummm :) wonderful even though I am tunisian, I know very wel sidibou said but now I discover it again, I see it through your eyes and your descriptions as if I am a stranger, I want to tell you I enjoyed too.

  2. your comment means a lot to me :) thank you! Esra