Ok, yes I know, I seem to have spent more time abroad than Judith Chalmers on a busy year - in fact I think I'd qualify as a tax exile now - but I feel as if I really needed this cruise for a rest. Its been an incredibly hectic year so far with so much going on and Ive had a few dodgy days health wise, a couple of them just before we left. I was in quite a lot of pain in my left hip and the painkillers wern't having much effect at all. In fact the evening before we were due to leave I was seriously considering staying at home. When you are in pain and frightened all you want is your own bed - and your doctor and nurse on the end of the phone.
Fortunately regular use of paracetamol and ibruprofen and a weeks Sutent seem to have eased the pain somewhat. Its still there but it is bearable and I'm able to get out and about.
Our first port of call was Tunis, somewhere I had visited many years ago, and I must say it has changed out of all recognition. They have a new progressive President in charge and he is really trying to modernise the country, whilst it still remaining Muslim. Not an easy task.
One again we did our own thing rather than going on an organised excursion. Wandering out of the port we came across a taxi driver, Mustapha, and after a bit of haggling, struck a deal with him to take us to the Medina. Matt reckons Mustapha must be in the Tunisian Mafia because of all the connections he had - everyone seemed to know him. The Tunisian President was in residence and security was very tight but Mustapha was waved through road blocks like royalty ! Im sure he could have got us an invite for tea if he had wanted !
As it was he took us to 'the best beach in Tunis'. I really wish he hadn't bothered. It comprised mainly of builders sand, dog poo and ants. We didn't stay long.
Then we went to the Medina, or Souk, which is a huge market situated in very narrow streets. Its a bit like a rabbit warren and smells like one too! It was only 10am but the heat was already oppressive in there, the little passages are roughly cobbled and all the shops sell virtually the same thing - tat. It was horrendously claustrophobic and it would have been so easy to get lost in there. Fortunately Martin was 'scout' and his sense of direction got us out unscathed or we would have been doomed to wander forever having stuffed camels and brass ashtrays waved in our faces.
Being very aware of the time, the ship sailed at 12.30, and we didn't want to do a 'Mr & Mrs Green' (who missed the boat on our last cruise) we then returned to the ship and our lovely air conditioned cabin. It is so very hot here and the sun is so powerful. I couldn't sit in direct sunlight for more than about half an hour - you can actually feel the sun blistering your skin. Some passengers are made of sterner stuff however and spend virtually all day frying themselves - the results of which could be seen in the bar last night - it looked like a lobsters convention! I wish I had the concession for selling aftersun on here, Id make a fortune.
During the afternoon the Captain announced there were a few dolphins passing by on the port side of the ship. By the time everyone had worked out the port side was the left side (I knew - honestly) and stampeded over there all that was visible was a couple of flicks of their tails (the dolphins not the passengers) before they disappeared from view. Several people complained "Well that wasn't very exciting"
What did they expect?
The dolphins to be jumping through hoops and balancing balls on their noses?