Many people do not like to shop, especially while on vacation. But, I admit I love it especially on vacation! As you may already know, I am particularly fond of postcards, but l just love finding things to buy which are representative of the people and the country I am visiting and hopefully something they created themselves.
The town of Sidi Bou Said and a few places we stopped in Carthage had items that really called out to me. The handpainted Tunisian Pottery, the ceramics tiles of which many featured the Hands of Fatima sometimes paired with a fish (said to be a traditional Berber symbol for luck)(Thanks to VT'er JLBG for information concerning these symbols & meanings), leather goods, mosaics and ornate birdcages to name a few were all fantastic. Some elderly gentlemen on the street were selling handmade straw hats and straw fans for only a Euro or two.
Many places also sold the 'Rose du Sable' also know as 'Rock Roses' which are natural scupltures of crystallized gypsum. They are very unusual and quite beautiful and apparently are found in the desert. Another gift from nature I saw for sale were natural sponges.
What did I come home with??
4 pieces of better quality Tunisian handpainted pottery - bargained for
1 nice-size leather purse also with a fine design and Tunisian identifying symbol(duty free store)
6 ceramic tiles of varying sizes & some framed in wood (some for gifts) ~ (duty free store)
2 bars of olive soap ~
1 small leather camel ~
Postcards ~ 1 Euro
What to buy: I can't pick a favorite item because I loved everything I bought. I would have loved to have come home with a small, though rough mosaic but somehow didn't. There were also silver tea sets with colored glass cups which I thought were beautiful, but missed those too. The ornate birdcages were gorgeous, but too difficult to take back on an airplane.
All prices can be negotiated in the shops lining the streets. The price depends on your skill at bargaining!! There is a wonderful duty free store at the pier in La Goulette, but of course, the prices are set and there is no negotiating. There is a wrapping service at the duty free store which is a nice benefit, particularly if you intend to ship something home.
I spent more Euros in Tunisia than I did in any of the other countries we visited. I do not regret any of my purchases; in fact, it's a good thing we were there for only a day because I was completely charmed by the wonderful variety of crafts!!
What to buy:
I heard about its famous birdcages before my travel. I do not know if you like birds in your home but birdcages were realy good looking with blue and white colours.
What to pay: Prices start from USD10 and change according to material quality, design and volume.
There are many nice shops along the main street of Sidi Bou Said. If you make a right hand turn as you travel up the main street ,a clearly marked sign will take you to some souks as well. Be careful, the souk owners can be very,very persuasive at times, but not as bad as at the Tunis souks.
What to buy: Jewelery,clothing,shoes,souvenirs,stationary,local crafts,postcards,books....you name it! Many cool and interesting things
What to pay: Some haggling is to be expected, especially at the souks.
The main street of Sidi Bou Said is fullfilled of shops where the seller (as everywhere else in Tunisia as in the Medina) will try to sell you whatsoever. Keep in mind that here the prices are pretty high, so if you like some stuff, then you must bargain.
Do not listen on them telling that the price is convenient or whatever they would say...just keep on!
What to buy: In the little shops you can buy a lot of antiques,Tunisian handicrafts and beautiful silver jewelry.