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 Trying to set up trip to Tunisia in 2010
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By: Krelman (offline) on Monday, January 11 2010 @ 08:32 PM PST  
Krelman

Hi James -

Thanks for all of the information. Where do you think I could pick up a good driving map of the country - presumably from the place where I would pick up my rental car?

1,200 miles is certainly doable in a week I think - not too bad. I think my boyfriend will be cool with it. He is into spacey desert looking terrain and from what I can tell, we will certainly be in for that. I got a great book titled NORTH AFRICAN VILLAGES (Norman F. Carver, 1989) which has some great pictures of Tunisia and its architecture (perhaps I will scan some in eventually). And I just got Rinzler's amazing MAKING OF STAR WARS book in the mail today! WOW! So many great drawings, source photos, etc. I have always been intrigued by the Tatooine planet and the architecture as featured in the films. I just hope there is some semblance of the stuff left in Ajim and surrounding areas on Djerba. (Did you stay in Hmout Souk?) Is the beach worth it for a day of relaxation?

Of course, I am really excited to see the Sidi Driss and the ghorfas in the southeast (which I know are still there) and then head out West to the Lars Homesetad, Star Wars Canyon and especially the Mos Espa set. I heard there are people "living" in the Mos Espa set that maintain it. This may be a strange question, but do they expect anything - money or food or "trinkets from home?"

Thanks for the heads up on local tolerance/ customs as well. Have been reading up on that too - and will be sure to watch ourselves.

Thanks again...


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By: jamesFSO1 (offline) on Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 07:06 AM PST  
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Get a map online (your never get one out there....even the rental places don't have them, but they might
if your flying in from Tunis, but Monastir didn't) and that will be fine. The road signs have the main places
on them, so you shouldn't have any problems once you are out of the airport and surrounding area. I spent about 40mins just trying to find the road I wanted !

Djerba is a great place, I didn't hit the beaches as I was only there for 3 nights and spent most of my
evenings watching the sunset at Bens House ( i loved it, it was so peaceful ). But there is a tourist area and i'd imagine there are beaches that are nice, if I was you i'd plan it to take the south road to the island and not the ferry, the queues are quite big in the busy times - 09:00 - 16:00.

As for the architecture, your right ... alot of the buildings look like the sets, especially the shape of Bens
House, you can see that design everywhere.

I don't think anybody lives at the Mos Espa set, you get the locals with camel rides, quad bikes etc, etc
that are outside but that's it. Nobody hassles you and it's all very relaxed, I was there 2 hrs and loved
it, and like i said, nobody expects anything from it, there is no real entrance etc, etc.

If you have a ipod with speakers, load up "binary sunset" and get the external lars homestead as the
sun goes down.....your never forget it, i promise you that !

James.


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By: Krelman (offline) on Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 07:53 AM PST  
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Last year, we were in Cambodia at Angkor Wat - and though Indiana Jones never quite made it there in the films, I was playing the "Temple of Doom" soundtrack on my iPod while exploring the overgrown temple of Ta Prohm. It was really unforgettable - so I know what you are referencing... Will definitely have to get that STAR WARS soundtrack up on there for the trip to Tunisia.


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By: Admin (offline) on Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 06:19 PM PST  
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Definitely get a map. We had a very bad map from a small brochure. I remember the drive from Tozeur to Matmata took hours longer because the route we took wasn't paved for one section and the road was very rocky and slow going. We would have been much better off driving around the long way on the main highway, but on the map we had both roads looked the same.

We didn't hit the beaches on Djerba but we did go to Tabarka for a couple of days to go scuba diving. It ended up being a nice side trip, completely unrelated to Star Wars.


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By: Krelman (offline) on Wednesday, January 13 2010 @ 08:18 AM PST  
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How about knowledge of French language? How much should I be studying here... basic conversational - or is it absolutely a necessity for survival?


:roll:


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By: Admin (offline) on Wednesday, January 13 2010 @ 02:55 PM PST  
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The friend I was traveling with spoke decent French. After we left Tunis, I can't remember a single local person speaking any English. Our trip was just over 10 years ago now so things might be different today, but speaking French was very important when we went.


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By: jamesFSO1 (offline) on Thursday, January 14 2010 @ 02:02 AM PST  
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Well it would help, but I don't speak any french and got on fine without it. As Admin has said the locals don't speak (well hardly) any english, but the hotels will and the police (mostly).

There is one other thing I should tell you that is abit weird. The locals will put out their hands for a lift, but "NEVER" stop, it's a custom thing that locals do, but tourists are told not to do it. However the
police do the exact same thing, i've been on 2 long road trips around tunisia, in 2004 and last year and
gave about 6 police officers lifts in that time. They only want to go from one town to other and are
pleasant, you don't go out of your way, you just tell them where "YOU" are going and if it fits in with
where they are going then it's fine. It's strange I know.....but it's not a issue.

But seriously, don't let anything put you off.....it will be an amazing trip :)


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By: ColinK (offline) on Thursday, January 14 2010 @ 03:35 PM PST  
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Hi, Maps of Tunisia are readily available in your country (Bartholomew, Michelin etc). If you have a Garmin SatNav there is a free basic map (just google Tunisia GPS), And the Garmin map City Navigator Europe also includes major Tunisian roads.

Watch out for roadside checks by police and national guard, they'll only want to see your car rental papers and once they see you only speak english they will probably wave you on your way anyway.
As mentioned police see tourist cars as free rides and I have had one offer to drive my car for me as well as taking one to the scene of a traffic accident.

People in the tourist industry (hotels, shops, guides, drivers) will speak english, get off the beaten track and they might not even speak french! You'll be OK with just english though you can take a small french/english phrase book.

Only Mos Espa needs a 4x4 car and there are trip agencies and all the hotels in Tozeur can hook you up with a driver for about 70-80USD for the day. Thats cheaper than renting a 4x4. Even so it has been possible to get to Mos Espa in a saloon car (see hoylen.com).

Pretty much all the driving will be on tarmac roads and the road signage is pretty good in arabic and english.

Check out the Jerba beaches on the North shore in Google Earth, thats where all the tourist beaches are.

DONT EXPECT ANYONE IN TUNISIA TO HAVE EVEN HEARD OF STAR WARS! They just know it brings in the tourists.

All the Tunisian airports will have car rental. You can prebook/prepay with the majors in your own country before you go. I've had several cars with slow punctures so do check your tyres each morning and get any punctures repaired/balancing at the local garage, its cheap.


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By: Krelman (offline) on Wednesday, February 17 2010 @ 08:26 AM PST  
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Finally booked my flight in and out of Djerba for May!! Need to get me some proper road maps and start planning everything out. Does anyone have a quick "BEST TIME OF DAY" guide to see each of the sites in their ideal light?

While planning my Tozeur portion of the trip I am trying to figure out what to see in what order? (Do the local Tozeur guides even care about this type of stuff or do they just caravan you around in the order the sites are located geographically?)

- Krelman


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By: jamesFSO1 (offline) on Friday, February 19 2010 @ 01:55 AM PST  
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Krelman,

This is how I did it and the pics turned out fine :

Djerba - Cantina (Do it in the Morning as building shadows in the afternoon do overshadow the cantina).
Ben House - Anytime of the day, i did it about 2 hrs before Sunset and then sunset as well....the Sun
sinks into the sea and it's an amazing sunset !
Anchorhead - Anytime of the day really, and it's just 5mins away from Bens House.


Tozeur - Canyon - Do it in the Morning as it gets very hot !!! and if your going to walk around the
top to get the Tusken view point your need to walk abit - Take water :)

Lars External - Get there about an hr or hr 1/2 before Sunset...but give yourself time !!!! you can't
miss the sunset there....brilliant, best part of my trip !
Getting there early will give you time to take pics and take time out before the sunset.
Mos Espa - Anytime, but if your doing the Lars External on the same day then get to Mos Espa
early so it leaves you time to get to the Lars External - Time From Espa to Lars is about
20-30mins depends on what way you go.

Anakins House - Anytime is good, I got there in the morning (around 10am) and had no problems with
taking pics.

Can't think of anything else ..... are you hiring a car to do your trip ??

James.


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