Visit the Basket weaver workshop
My wife bought a hat from a young girl on a stall/shop in Houmt Souk, we were then invited to meet the father. Here we go I thought as we went through the archway, under the belief that she needed to get some change. As we went up the stairs to the workshop I decided that we had fallen for another tourist trap. The father was a nice guy, his third language was German, but the girl spoke very good English and translated when necessary. Khacha Mohamed is 59 years old, we learned this at about the time his daughter excused herself as she had to go back to school. For most of his life he has been making hats, baskets, floor mats, and anything else that can be woven from palm fronds. The friendly gentleman had 3 medals for his work and displays at various festivals and really was very good at what he did. We were shown many things of interest and I have to admit there was no pressure to buy anything, and we didn't, in fact, my wife was given a small palm bangle that took about 1 minute to make from a few bits of palm frond. I should also admit to handing over 5TD for the old guy just for the fact that it was his birthday only a week before.
A fantastic experience and the sort of thing that would normally be included in a trip. Cost us nothing at all and a great insite into how these things are made.
- Arts and Culture
Shopping and dining in Houmt Soukh
For shopping, the small island capital of Houmt Souk is a delight. With its white buildings, intimate squares, cafe tables shaded by orange trees, and lanes packed with craft and antique shops (don’t miss Ben Ghorbal’s), it has the atmosphere of an Andalusian village.
There are also good eating places like the fresh blue-and-white Restaurant de l’Ile in the centre of town, or Princess Haroun, near the 13th-century fort by the harbour, where fish, landed a few yards away, figures large on the menu !
Jerba is connected to the mainland by a causeway. There are also ferry services which operate between Ajim on Jerba and Jorf on the mainland. Although it is only 30km (19 miles) wide by 27km (17 miles) long, Jerba is said to have 354 mosques - one for every day of the Islamic calendar.
- Historical Travel
- Water Sports
- Family Travel
Eat at the best restaurant in town
Guide book reckoned the Haroun was the best restaurant in town - its in a nice spot near the port with a ship on the side of it to give it some character. It was a cold evening but th efood arrived nice and hot and interesting selection of local dishes including local seafood.
We ate heaps plus recommend local wine for about 60TD for two.
nice place to have lunch too. and whats not available at night if you are on a budget is the set menu thats available for lunch - you can have a 3 course set menu for only 15 TD, without wine but great value. the Langouste, lobster, and gargoulette are the specialties.
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Houmt Souk Mosques
You will notice many beautiful mosques in Houmt Souk, all in typical Jerban style with white walls and buildings and brightly coloured doors. Unfortunately, all are closed to non Muslims so you can only admire them from outside.
Zaouia of Sidi Brahim
I woke very early before we left Houmt Souk to explore some of the things we had missed. One of these places was the Zaouia od Sidi Brahim, now the headquarters of the Association de Sauvegarde de I'Ile de Jerba. There are no definite rules on whether non Muslims can visit Zaouias in Tunisia - it seems to differ from place to place - but as it is now used as offices and as there was nobody around, I felt it was ok to pop in and walk around and take a few pictures.
A church in Houmt Souk?
Not many Christians live on Jerba nowadays (though I'm sure plenty visit) so it's quite a surprise to see a Church in Houmt Souk. I imagined this building was a legacy of the French colonisation but, in fact, it dates from the 19th Century when Jerba had a significant Christian population, running to several thousands by the end of the century. These were mostly Italians and Maltese, attracted to the island by the sponge fishing. By independene in the 1950s most of the Christian population had left. I doubt if the church is still used for religious purposes but it's a nice enough building in traditional Jerban colours and makes an interesting contrast to the numerous mosques in the town.