Despite the recent unrest in Tunisia, one family found it a fantastic and friendly place to enjoy and explore
Kerry Haslam, 26, and her partner Matt, 34, took their daughter Olive, 5, to Hammamet, Tunisia, for their first family holiday abroad. They flew from Heathrow to Tunis Carthage with Tunisair. They had a 45-minute transfer to First choice Holiday Village Manar Hotel (previously the Magic Life Manar Hotel), where they went all-inclusive.
Update: Kerry and her family visited Tunisia in April 2011. While the unrest had calmed down since the Jasmine Revolution in January, there were some more protests in May and a curfew was introduced for a few days and then lifted on 18 May.
The Foreign Office is currently advising that Tunisia is safe to travel to (June 2011). Do check the Foreign Office website for the very latest details. The current advice is to stay away from any demonstrations or large gatherings, which in particular may occur in the centre of Tunis, and not to travel within 40km of the border with Libya, which is still experiencing major political unrest.
“We love exploring, and before we had our daughter Olive, Matt and I would take regular ‘staycations’ around the UK and don our hiking boots for an adventure. However, now Olive is old enough to enjoy a holiday adventure, we decided to go abroad for a sunny, sightseeing break. Undeterred by the recent Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, we took a short two and half hour flight to Tunis Carthage and stayed in the rather grand looking First Choice Holiday Village Manar hotel. With everything you need under one roof – four restaurants, four pools (including it’s own water park), and an extensive iFiveLive Kids Club to keep little ones happy, it would be easy to park up for the entire week.
However, true to our word, we booked a range of excursions to explore the country they call ‘The Jewel of the Mediterranean’.Just a short 30 minute trip away, we visited the picturesque Yasmine Hammamet, which boasts a gorgeous white sand beach and the quirky ‘Carthageland’ theme park. Renowned for its character, we wasn’t disappointed when we were greeted by huge statues of Aladdin-type men on elephants and came face-to-face with a real life Camel, which went down well with Olive! The resort itself was quiet and relaxing. But things certainly livened up when we visited Hammamet’s ‘Friday market’ on the way home, which was around 15 minutes away from the hotel. Haggling our way through the Souks and joking with the friendly merchants, we bagged ourselves some great souvenirs, including armfuls of authentic Tunisian pottery, embroidered cushions and Olive left loaded with hand knitted camels.
The next day we took a longer 1 hour 30 min trip to the historic Roman amphitheatre, El Jem. This magnificent coliseum is well worth the visit. We were in awe of the picturesque ruins, plus it was safe enough for Olive to run around and explore – just watch out for the steep stairways leading to the basement of the amphitheatre!
We then travelled up to Medina Sousse, which is surrounded by huge fishing boats, all moored around the marina. The small seaside town is a great place to try some authentic Tunisian food. Olive loved the Meze, especially the couscous, while mummy and daddy quite enjoyed sampling the famous Magon red wine and seafood…
By the end of our daily excursions, we headed back to our sprawling family room, which boasted a breath taking sea view, separate children’s room (with a Playstation installed) and funky interior.
“A holiday highlight was visiting Monastir – the place where the movie Monty Python was filmed. Surrounded by Tunisia’s signature white washed domes, we took a leisurely stroll around the area and even climbed to the top of the Monastir castle for beautiful views across the city. The Tunisian residents treated Olive like royalty and she was given a new Tunsian flag (it’s recently changed and they were very proud to show us) and a Hasma ‘Hand of Fatima’ pendant.
The food in the hotel was also impressive. With a huge selection of food to suit all the family, even those with picky eaters would find it easy to satisfy fussy taste-buds.
We booked our holiday through First Choice, which offers a week's holiday at the Holiday Village Manar Hotel on an all-inclusive basis. It cost from £569 per adult, £465 for first child and £545 for second child based on two adults and two children sharing. Prices include accommodation, flights and in-resort transfers. For more details, check out the First Choice website.For an alternative flight, Tunisair operate four flights per week from London Heathrow to Tunis, prices start from £170 (inc taxes). For reservations call 020 7734 7644 or go to the Tunisair website.
Hotel excursion pricesYou can hire a car (including the driver) for the daily rate of 150 Tunisian Dinars (approx. £75) based on a family of four travelling. Or hire your own car from hire company, Avis, with daily car rental tariffs from 80 Tunisian Dinars (approx £40). For more details on this, please ask a First Choice member of staff before you travel, or a hotel member of staff at the Hotel Village Manar Hotel.
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