On our last day in Tunisia we decided to go to El Jem. Organizing a trip was not as difficult: you can pay 120 Dinar to a taxi driver who will bring you there and back or go to the bus station and ask there for the options. At the bus station, we agreed on the 100 Dinar for the round trip (this could have been even cheaper, 80 Dinar, but we missed this opportunity because at first we were not sure if we wanted to go at all) and boarded a shared taxi minibus to go to El Jem. On the way, the driver made a detour and picked up his family from the neighbor village. The daughter of the driver, a sweet young girl, spoke English very well and we were lucky to have her in the bus, otherwise communication with the driver would be extremely difficult. Maybe, this was the reason why the family came with us or maybe they wanted to spend some time together as a family. However, you would not call it a family trip, as although they haven’t been in El Jem yet, they didn’t leave the bus to visit the amphitheater.
A part of the UNESCO Heritage, the second most impressive Roman amphitheater after Colosseum, the Amphitheatre of El Jem is the third largest in capacity after Colosseum and Capua. In the past it could host up to 35 000 spectators. El Jem is indeed the most elaborate Roman monument of its kind. It is one of the best preserved Roman stone ruins in the world and its arena is in a better state of conservation than any other elsewhere. The tickets cost 12 Dinar for the foreigners and 8 Dinar for the locals. Later, we had a short walk in the El Jem city and confirmed that the surrounded by several crafts and souvenirs shops, the amphitheater was the only attraction site in the town.
On the way back, after bringing his family home, our bus driver turned the minibus back to the shared taxi and we picked up some people on our way to Sousse.
In Sousse, we briefly visited the market (unfortunately, it was indivertedly getting dark) and installed ourselves in a tasteful restaurant, celebrating last evening in this never ceasing to amaze country. The service at the Dar Soltane restaurant (https://restaurant-dar-soltane-restaurant.business.site/) was outstanding and the food was fairly good. We celebrated our last evening in Tunisia with the Macon Mornag dry red wine. By the way, we were surprised how good the wines were there, in Tunisia. Probably, the wine-making traditions go back to the Roman period, which would explain their superior taste. Our absolute favorite was Phenicia (harvest 2014), the second best to our taste was Domaine Shadrapa (harvest 2013).
If we have had more time in Tunisia, these are the places we would also like to visit (probably, now you are persuaded that this country have all means to keep you busy and fascinated for at least two-three weeks):
- The sets for the Star Wars in Mos Espa (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/dec/03/star-wars-abandoned-tunisian-locations-in-pictures)
- Kasbah and Mosque in Kairouan
- Archeological Site Uthina (http://www.patrimoinedetunisie.com.tn/fr/sites/uthina.php)
- The Water Temple in Zaghouan
- Hammamet Nabeul (white sand beaches)
- Kantaoui (open-air Hammam)