Tunisia in the winter!
If you ask me there’s no better time to go! The temperature is manageable, the weather is changeable, and the country side is covered in green! Tromping through most of the incredible archaeological sites is as enjoyable as it is educational.
Driving from El Kef to Tunis, we really were excited to stop off at Bulla Regia, a World Heritage Site near Jendouba and just under an hour driving time from El Kef. Of course, we couldn’t resist a stop at an olive oil press along the way, so that 50 minutes turned in to nearly two hours. But that’s exactly why we like to rent and drive ourselves when we travel. It really opens up more possibilities and allows for flexibility.
We had already been to the Bardo Museum in Tunis and seen the amazing mosaics that had been removed from Bulla Regia (among other sites). The collection was better than any other mosaic collection I’ve seen. So it was a natural choice to see the site, explore the ruins, and experience the mosaics still in situ.
Luckily for us, it had bee raining the day before. Everything looked cleaned and rain-washed. The flowers were popping out and the grass was shining green in the sunny breaks. There were a few families wandering around what seemed to be a large field of rubble mounds and bramble. One or two trails were layed out but with very few signs to guide the way. We’re usually very leery about touts offering their “guide” services, but we quickly realized we were unlikely to find anything on our own. When we spied one of the families heading for the exit with a young twenty-something guide, we quickly walked over and “let” him offer his services. Yousseff claimed to be a university student on break and seemed to be friendly and knowledgeable so off we went to explore the rubble hills of Bulla Regia.
Yousseff led us around to the various underground chambers, explaining the history of the site along the way. Berbers, Carthaginians, Romans, they had all been part of the long history. At some point they discovered that building underground provided protection from the scorching summer days. Armed with a water bottle to sprinkle on the mosaics, Yousseff treated us to a vision of what the mosaics may have looked like long ago.
Bulla Regia is easily accessible as a day trip out of Tunis or as a stop on the road from El Kef as we did. There are some facilities on site to include a small museum, a cafe, and clean bathrooms. Other than that, this is farm land so don’t expect much else.