Even though we reach the railway station well ahead of the departure time of our train, we are suddenly in a hurry when the lady behind the ticket counter tells us the price. It seems very steep, and we ask if two tickets really cost 272.000 dinars, which she confirms by showing her calculator to us. We do not have the cash, cards are not accepted, and the ATM of the railway station is out of order, so we run to the nearest money machine we have seen while walking towards the station. When we give the money to the same lady, she is surprised and gives back almost all the money: it turns out there was one 0 too many. When we arrive in Sousse, we quickly walk towards the entrance to the old city which is our goal of the day. Our first stop is the Ribat of Sousse, the old fort of this World Heritage old city.
Before entering, we admire the outside, looking up the sandstone crenellated walls and the tower, and then explore the ground floor and the courtyard, before climbing the stairs and walking around the top floor. From several spots, we get good views over the medina below, where people are flocking around wooden carts with clothes. Business seems to be good. We then climb the tower, from where we have the best views over both the medina, the Great Mosque of Sousse, and towards the kasbah in the southwest. Apart from two local girls who come to take some selfies, we are all alone to enjoy the views all around. Clouds are moving in, and we feel a strong wind up here. The alleys below are calling us, and we take a haphazard walking tour of the old town of Sousse, founded by the Tyrians as Hadrumetum in the 11th century BCE, thus well preceding the much more famous Carthage in the north.
At first, we walk through streets with shop after shop, and then finally find empty alleys, with stone stairs, with whitewashed walls, with windows and doors painted blue. There are cats everywhere. By the time we reach the kasbah, the sky is filled with dark clouds, and the wind is blowing always harder. It is time to look for cover: we walk along the crenellated walls, enter the medina again through one of the gates, and walk the streets that just by their narrowness offer some protection. When the downpour finally begins, we make sure to be in a fancy small teahouse. The rain stops sooner than we had imagined, and we are out again, now on shining cobblestones, with a clearing sky. We roam more streets, find small mosques, attractive corners in this fascinating old town, before walking back to the Ribat where we convince the caretaker to let us in again on our same ticket. When we reach the top of the tower, under an orange sky, we are alone once again, and just in time to watch sunset over Sousse. The wind is gone, and we stay to enjoy the views until the night has fallen and we need to walk back to the station for our train back to Tunis.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Sousse medina (Tunisia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Sousse medina. Read more about this site.