Djerba, Tunisia days 5-7

It’s Tuesday night, and our time in Tunisia is nearly over. I’ve had a great time but I do have the lingering feeling I’d have had a better time at another hotel.

Over the past couple of days we’ve taken a canoe and pedalos out into the sea and had a great time doing it. Although I was reminded how hard pedaling those pedalos can be. Pretty good exercise I reckon. I took the canoe – it may have technically been a kayak, my paddle had two blades but someone scowled at me yesterday for calling the boaty thing I was in “a kayak”. I’d never done that much kayaking in the past but I loved it and I must do more in future.

Pool violence – sorry, water polo – has still been fun although saving a goal with the end of my nose probably wasn’t ideal. The entertainment has still been patchy. We skipped the delights of “Mister Riu” but quite enjoyed the “cabaret” night. Tonight’s live music wasn’t great sadly.

Over the last few days when chilling on a sun lounger I’ve been reading “An Idiot Abroad”. It’s an excellent book, but I start to spot my own thoughts in there from time to time. Like quite early on Karl talks about entertainment he saw on a boat one evening which was a bloke spinning around for 15 minutes. I think we saw this guy in Egypt last year, only by the time we saw him he’d added a large number of plates to his act. Seemed much longer than a quarter of an hour too.

I also spotted Karl talking about some places having nothing to them if they didn’t have one of the seven Wonders of the world. This echoed my thoughts about Pisa rather more closely than I’d like. I’m happy to report that I don’t agree with him about Chinese people over the age of 35.

Earlier today I was thinking about how many places I’d been to this past 12 months or so and I guess I’ve done well. Well enough to get a Silver BA card anyway. Which is nice.

In the year I’ve visited (in roughly chronological order): Guernsey, London, Antigua (the airport and across the road from it mainly), St Maarten, St Kitts, Tortola (BVI), Quimper, Rennes and Cancales in France, Sharm-El-Sheik and Luxor in Egypt, Pisa and here, Djerba.

Hard to complain about that lot really and just hope the next year doesn’t fall too far short of that.

Tunisia has been good but I can’t deny I’m looking forward to hearing home. Via the lovely BA Gatwick lounge first of course 😉

Djerba, Tunisia days 1-4

We have had a great first half of our holiday (and doesn’t thinking about being halfway through the holiday sound depressing). The weather has been beautiful. Yes, perhaps a little hot at times but really you’d have to be very grouchy to moan about that.

Despite that we do have our moans. We had to complain three times at reception to get someone to look at our air conditioning in our room. Views on food have been mixed. Daytime entertainment has been fine but occasionally a bit too pushy. Various staff seem to have an attitude from time to time. Evening entertainment has been good despite the constraints of having to do every announcement in four languages, which makes it all a bit slow moving, which for comedy night wasn’t great. Actually they did essentially the same sketch we saw at a similarly multilingual evening in Egypt last year. It didn’t get funnier the second time (OK to be fair – they really wouldn’t have known that)

Actually not all the evening entertainment has been OK. They had a fakir show on Saturday but rather than have it on the stage inside they set it up down a few steps towards the pool, in order that the smallest possible number of people could actually watch it. The show itself was OK enough.

We’ve played water polo (e.g. loosely controlled violence in water), been in a pedalo, played petanque and done some archery (I started well and got worse). All very fun and enjoyable.

I think this hotel is one you really have to throw yourself into and we’re probably a little too chilled out for it. But that really is not to say we’re not enjoying ourselves. We are and are looking forward to the rest of it.

By the way, just saw the end of F1 qualifying, from German TV. The commentary still made more sense than when James Allen did it, and the slightly horrified/stunned reaction of the German commentators when Vettel failed to beat Hamilton was totally priceless!

London shows

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen two very different London shows. On the way back from Pisa we saw Daniel Radcliffe swearing in the Cripple of Inishmaan, and on the way out to Tunisia we saw the Mousetrap.

The trip back from Pisa was lovely actually. We did loads of shopping, had a very nice stay at the St Giles Hotel and generally enjoyed ourselves. The Cripple of Inishmaan was very very peculiar – excellent for sure but certainly odd. If I was being harsh it would be like a two-and-a-half hour episode of Father Ted, complete with overblown Oirish characters and small town stupidity. But actually it was very funny at times. The story was odd though and ended in a rather strange and unlikely manner but it was a good night.

When we left we came out the theatre to a sea of flash bulbs, eventually realising that Nicholas Cage had just leapt into a car with his family. So we were in pretty good company then.

A couple of days ago we saw the Mousetrap and enjoyed that hugely. Don’t let the old fashioned dialogue put you off. It’s just a darn good play, with an excellent story and that has to be all good doesn’t it. Even though we were sat right up in the cheap seats we had a great view and loved it.

As always I loved London and got to know the streets of the West End better than I did before which was great. We’re not spending time in London on the way back from Tunisia so I’ll have to wait a while till next time. I think the shopping we did in the Primark down by Tottenham Court Road will keep us going a while!

Looking back at Pisa

First of all I should note that I’m writing this about a week after we came back from Pisa – indeed it’s during the break between Q2 and Q3 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Looking back though we really had a fantastic time in Pisa, and in London too on that trip actually. The trip first to London, a slightly over-familiar (but still lovely) Club cabin service on the BA flight, was great as ever. We kept our day chilled so had a bite to eat and settled down at the Sofitel in the airport. Then another lovely club service down to Pisa.

Actually our trip started sooner than that. We only had small cases so thought it would be a giggle to get the bus up to the airport. It was very hot but otherwise it was an excellent start.

OK, Pisa then. Our booked transfer picked us up right at the arrivals door, and took us right to the hotel. All in absolutely baking temperatures. The taxi ride taught us two things. One, our weak grasp of Italian was going to be tested as if someone who visits an airport as often as a taxi driver doesn’t have more than a vague understanding of what we’re on about then how will anyone else do. And two, Pisa is not a shiny clean modern city, like London. Indeed at times the dry, crumbling, brown buildings reminded me more of Egypt.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the town but you learn it’s limits quickly. There was one main shopping street across the river Arno from our hotel, but other than that old fashioned buildings and architecture was the way. I said on more than one occasion that the town just needs a damn good clean but that’s probably a tad harsh.

We did loads of walking in our two days – one time following a route (badly) mapped out in a book we’d bought, one time on a scheduled walking tour which ended at the Leaning Tower, and several times just having a wonder.  Our hotel really was in the loveliest location – overlooking the river and in walking distance of everything you’d want. I guess one downside is that there’s really not much to Pisa – monuments aside. The river location was great, a park at one end of the town was lovely. The people were fab, including those in our hotel who had perfect English and had to see a lot of us because of problems with the air conditioning in our room, and everyone who lived with our just-about-passable efforts at Italian.

I think it was best put by someone I overheard in Pisa. If it didn’t have the Tower no one would be there. They’re probably right. I loved our time there but if we’d had another day we’d have probably got the train to Florence rather than staying in Pisa.

However, walking up the Leaning Tower is really quite an experience. You climb it in what seems like no time at all but the view from the top is well worth it. You see things you never knew were there like this football stadium that seems so close but was presumably miles away. That visit really was amazing.

But it was essentially as relaxed a couple of days as the heat would allow us to have. The beautiful roof terrace on top of our hotel made a fab backdrop to a lovely day and a glass of wine.