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Postcard from Houmt Souq, Djerba, Tunisia

Hotel Djerba Erriadh

The entrance to Hotel Djerba Erriadh. We would cerainly recommend this place - it is friendly and clean.

You have . .
breakfast in the courtyard of Hotel Djerba Erriadh, an old converted merchant's funduq (similar in style to a caravanserai) right in the middle of Houmt Souq, the main town on the island of Djerba. The birds that woke you this morning twitter as they dart in and out of the bougainvillea vines that climb the walls to the sky above.

Most tourists come to Djerba to lie on Sidi Mahres Beach situated further south from Houmt Souq, but there is much more to this island that swimming and windsurfing.

After breakfast, you stroll down Rue Mohammed Ferjani to the small shady square near the old French church, then turning right you can see the unusual oast house style minaret of the Mosque of the Turks.

Walking along Rue 2 Mars, you will come across an old cemetery that lies against the buttressed walls of the mosque. The old white-washed headstones gleam in the morning sun.

Adjacent to the cemetery is the government carpet shop, and here you can watch the skill of the girls as they weave silk carpets. They offer to tie some of the strands around your wrist as a souvenir. You decline shyly - you are not buying today so best not get their hopes up.

You have all day, so why not stroll out of town towards the port and sit by the Borj el Kebir, the old fort from which the Spanish were routed by the Arabs in 1560 and the 500 skulls of the vanquished were left piled on the shoreline for a few hundred years as a message to others sailing past.

Here's a tip
Combining Djerba with a trip to the Berber villages of Ksar Ouled Soltaine, Chenini and Douirat is a good idea.

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Other Tunisian places of interest:

The Berber Villages

Ksar Ouled Soltaine


The Carthage Coast


El Jem

If the tide is running out, you can sit for a while and watch the locals troll the mudflats in search of shellfish as the boats lying in the cove roll onto their sides.

Back to the twisting lanes of Houmt Souq, you can stand and watch the daily fish auction, the small lots strung on date stalks; or just simply stroll through the market and perhaps buy some fresh fruit. The pace is quicker in the market, but no-one hurries you.

For something really different in this Islamic land, you can pay a visit to the El Ghriba Synagogue at Er Riadh. Djerba has had a Jewish population since 600 BC, and although there are now only around 1000 followers of the faith on the island, the synagogue is maintained as a centre of learning and pilgrimage. [Check to see if the synagogue has been repaired after the bomb attack in April 2002]

Tonight you will have dinner at Restaurant La Mamma on Rue Habib Bougatfa and enjoy the tasty local (and cheap) fare. The printed menu is really just a rough guide; the fish of the day will depend on what the chef thought was a good buy at the auction that morning.

Then back to the funduq - the birds will wake you again tomorrow, and perhaps then you can have a day on the beach.

More Photos of Houmt Souq

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