Wednesday, December 2, 2009
One of my favorite things about living in London is my proximity to so much history. Not only is London full of its own historical treasures—the Tower of London and the London Wall to name just two—but also everyone else’s. Just one trip to the British Museum will show you some of the most amazing artefacts from all over the world.
But London can’t have everything, and some places in the world still retain a few of their own historical treasures. On Saturday morning my boyfriend and I left Tunis for Carthage, an ancient city with several civilizations worth of history.
We rode from Tunis to Carthage on the city’s TGM train, an easy trip of 30 minutes that had views over the water along the way. Alighting at Carthage Hannibal, we walked up to the top of beautiful Byrsa Hill, where the Carthage Museum’s main building was located.
We spent an hour wandering through the Punic-turned-Roman ruins of Carthage with what was left of their monolithic columns, tunic clad statutes, mosaics, and remnants of great arches.
We explored the interior of the museum for awhile, then headed out to see the far flung treasures of Carthage. Down the hill we went, circling the cisterns, which were in pretty good shape considering their age, then walking into the heart of the amphitheater and what was once the underground area.
Back up the hill, we stopped for lunch at Le Rest’O, the restaurant in the sleek boutique hotel Villa Didon. We had read mixed things about the service, but the views were supposed to be amazing and the food good, so we gave it a try.
The views over Carthage and the water were indeed beautiful, and the food was great. The service, with its you’re-lucky-to-be-here attitude and a former diner’s pink lipstick on my napkin, left a little something to be desired. But we enjoyed our lunch in spite of the service, and took ourselves for a little tour of the villa’s Philippe Starck and Ron Arad designed furnishings before moving on.
From the uber contemporary to the uber ancient we went. Down the hill from Villa Didon were the Roman Villas, or what was left of them. We strolled along mosaic-tiled streets and up to one villa that had bee re-created, stopping by a tunnel full of more mosaics than we had ever seen before heading to the next attraction.
At the bottom of the hill were the Roman baths, an impressive set of ruins on the water. With massive columns still standing, it was easy to get an idea of how huge and imposing the structure must have once been. The British-designed miniature model of the site didn’t hurt in that respect either.
There was more of Carthage left to see, but it was getting late by the time we headed back to the TGM and we still had one more stop left before we returned to Tunis: Sidi Bou Said.
To be continued…