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Sidi Bou Said: The Blue Doors of Tunisia

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Tunisia is always going to have a special place in my heart for it being the first African country I’ve ever set foot in. It boast beautiful towns, spectacular beaches, friendly people and of course, amazing food.

Having only 24 hours (less, actually) in Tunisia, I had to take advantage of all the time I had. Why have a nap in the comforts of your bed when you can walk 200 m down to the beach and enjoy the sun, breeze and waves? The water was cool and blue, and the slightly choppy waves didn’t deter people from swimming further up the beach. People were friendly, smiling as they walked by, occasionally making small talks like ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘How are you liking Tunis so far?’

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From our hotel in Gammarth, it was a 20-minute cab ride to Sidi Bou Said, the famous blue and white town in Northern Tunisia. I loved everything from the cobbled streets, white washed walls and bright blue doors to the views of the ocean, shops selling trinkets and clothes and people milling about their own business.

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Having walked around for a bit, our throats were in desperate need of some nourishment. Cafe des Delices was one of the few cafes we found that was accessible and had a magnificent view of the ocean and neigbouring islands. We were forewarned that the food here was subpar, and it’ll be best to just order some drinks and enjoy the sunset. I decided to go for a cup of Tunisian special tea.

The ingredients were simple: green tea + mint springs + toasted pine nut + desired amount of cubed sugar. I take my tea without sugar, so I get to enjoy the tea’s original flavour and the delectable bits of pine nuts. So yummy.

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What’s a trip to Sidi Bou Said without taking pictures in front of numerous blue doors? These doors came in many shades of blue and in varied designs, as unique as the stories of the people residing behind those doors. Of course, we couldn’t leave Sidi Bou Said without sampling Yo-Yos. These light, greasy and sugary doughnuts are served piping hot and are really, really inexpensive. We had at least 3 of them each.

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While walking down the streets window shopping, a shopkeeper struck a conversation with one of the girls and invited us over to his shop. We politely declined, saying we hadn’t intended to buy anything. But he promised he wasn’t trying to sell us anything. Instead, he brought us through a door at the back of his shop and we were treated to a glorious view of the sunset over Sidi Bou Said. Light-hearted conversations were exchanged, and many, many selfies later, we had to make a move to Halk-el-Wahd (La Goulette) to meet the others for dinner. And yes, as he promised, we weren’t made to buy anything from his shop. What a sweet soul.

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Of course, heading to La Goulette the port of Tunisia and our rendezvous point for the evening was nothing short of an adventure too. We asked a local girl, Khadija for directions and by the end of the hour we made new friends with Khadija’s mum, sister and cousin. They were enamoured by us, and particularly enjoyed K-dramas much to our amusement.

We paid less than a dollar for a train ticket and hopped on one of the most unique trains I’ve ever seen in my life. If you thought trains in Thailand and India are terrible and unreliable, wait till you take one of these. The doors don’t close properly, trains are moving at 35 km/h and to get out you’d have to manually pry the door open. It was a concept I didn’t get because the doors opened automatically to allow commuters in, but not when they’d have to disembark. Expect delays and literal back track.

By the time we got to the restaurant, we were epically starving.

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