Travel Diary – Tunisia Part Two

Tunis is one of North Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities – bustling and brash but friendly and laid-back at the same time, it is a city of contradictions.

The city’s 8th Century Arab Medina (Old Town) is an exotic labyrinth of twisting streets and alleyways. The 19th century French Colonial new city with its sprawling palm lined boulevards, cafes and trams, is orderly and calm in comparison, and both equally have their charm.

Here are some of my favourite things to do in Tunisia’s capital and the surrounding area.

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Visit Carthage – Take the train from Tunis Marine TGM Station to Carthage, Hannibal Station to visit the ruins of ancient Carthage. Although the ruins are quite scarce in comparison with some sites I’ve visited they are still well worth a visit, with their seafront location and stunning views over the area. The on-site Carthage Museum houses many of the finds from the excavation of the site.

000029000010Carthage Museum 000027

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000028The ruins are located in an idyllic spot, overlooking the seaTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Explore the ancient Medina – In the centre of Tunis the 8th century Medina is a fascinating place to spend a day exploring. With its tangled alleyways it is easy to get lost, but you will always find your way back to the Great Mosque – Djemma ez Zaitouna (Olive Tree Mosque).

Shop for souvenirs including colourful carpets, spices and leather goods in the bustling Souq, and don’t forget to bargain. Whilst Arabic and French are the main languages, English is also widely spoken and understood.

The Medina is also home to enormous key-lock shaped doors, inquisitive cats, and restaurants serving traditional Tunisian dishes.

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogGiant key-lock shaped  doors are a dominant feature throughout MedinaTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogColourful souvenirs on offer in the SouqTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Djemma ez Zaitouna (Olive Tree Mosque) – While non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the prayer hall of the Medina’s great mosque, you are able to visit the exterior courtyard. Organised tours are also available.

The rooftop of a nearby shop offers stunning views over the mosque and the Medina below.

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogIntricate tiles on the rooftop of a nearby shop frame the Great Mosque Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogColourful carpets provide contrast to the whitewashed walls of the Medina Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Spending a day exploring the charming seaside village of Sidi Bou Said – just 20 minutes from Tunis, the seaside village of Sidi Bou Said is easy to reach by train, or as part of a day tour.

Perched on cliff tops above the Mediterranean, this pretty blue and white village is home to many local artists and is also a favourite getaway for city-dwellers over the weekend. Read more about Sidi Bou Said in last weeks post here.

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogBougainvillea draped buildings are characteristic of the blue and white village of Sidi Bou Said 

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogColourful studded doors line the streets of the village Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part Two|Gypsy Rova Blog

Follow in the footsteps of the stars and visit Fella Boutique – Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo have all shopped in Fella Boutique at some point. Run by world renowned designer, Samia Bin Khalifa since the 1960’s, this small boutique in Tunis is a treasure trove of intricate handmade Tunisian dresses, colourful kaftans and jewellery.

Location: 9 bis Place Pasteur, Tunis Belvédère 1002

Travel Diary - Tunisia Part 2 |Gypsy Rova BlogThe Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul on Avenue Habib Bourguiba

Have you visited Tunisia? I’d love to hear about your experiences and favourite spots in the comments below!

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Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said

Located in the north of Tunisia, about 20 minutes from the bustling capital of Tunis, is the charming seaside town of Sidi Bou Said. Known as the “Artist’s Village’ it is easy to see why Sidi Bou Said has been a popular bohemian getaway since the late 19th century.

With its winding cobblestoned streets, hidden courtyards and gardens and endless alleyways, Sidi Bou Said is the perfect place to spend the day exploring and taking in the views from the cliffs out to the Mediterranean below.

It is also a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. The ruins of ancient Carthage are nearby, and it is an easy trip into town to explore the sprawling maze of the Souq lined Medina in Tunis.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Blog

Getting there: from Tunis take the TGM Metro (known locally as the “Blue Train”) which departs every 20 minutes or so. There are also several day tours running from Tunis to the village. Cars are banned in the village centre.

Where to stay: La Villa Bleue – A beautiful boutique style hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. Hotel Dar Said – Set in a traditional merchants house Hotel Dar Said is an authentic and relaxing small hotel.

Where to eat and drink: Au Bon Vieux Temps – French, Mediterranean. With stunning views overlooking the Mediterranean this is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down while enjoying your meal. Restaurant Dar Zarrouk  – Tunisian. With plenty of tables both inside and out and views over the Marina, this is another great option for evening dining. Cafe des Nattes This iconic traditional cafe perched above the village, is a great spot to people watch while enjoying the traditional sweet mint tea, or local coffee.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova BlogRestaurant Dar Zarrouk

Shopping: Sidi Bou Said is a great place to pick up souvenirs of your trip to Tunisia. Carpets, colourful pottery, leather goods, and jewellery are amongst some of the things on offer.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Blog

Street vendors sell sweetly scented Jasmine flowers.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Blog

The maze of narrow cobblestoned streets provide much needed shade from the heat of the day.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Blog

In the late afternoon the village shimmers in the sunlight. It is a good time to take advantage of one of the villages courtyard cafes. Relax in the shade and enjoy a glass of the local sweet mint tea.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Blog

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Travels

Everywhere you look in the village you’ll find elaborate iron latticework, and colourful studded doors.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Travels

Archways give glimpses of the glistening Mediterranean below.

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Travels

In the balmy afternoon air, music floats out onto the streets from behind the doors of iron gated villas. This was one of my favourites. I can definitely see myself living here!

Travel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia | Gypsy Rova Blog

Read more about Tunis and Sidi Bou Said in my next post here.

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15 Travel Photography Tips

You’re about to set off on the trip of a lifetime and want to make sure that you capture your adventure and create treasured memories for years to come.

Here are some of my top travel photography tips which I’ve tried and tested over the years!

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova Blog

1. Research – before you set off, do some research on your destination and make a list of the types of images you’d like to take. Use Pinterest and instagram for inspiration. The list of possible subjects is endless:

Landscapes
Weather and skyscrapers
People
Wildlife
Activities and sports
Details and close-ups
Transport
Architecture
Street scenes
Festivals and events
Markets
Culture (food, arts, traditions)

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova BlogPhoto taken at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand

2. Be organised – always pack spare memory cards and battery packs. There is nothing worse than having your camera battery suddenly go flat when you’re on the Great Wall of China, (believe me I speak from experience!). Carry a portable tripod if you have one and if not improvise and use walls, fences and trees to steady your camera. Have a waterproof bag of some sort easily accessible to protect your camera from the elements.

3. Make the most of the weather – if the weather isn’t great don’t be defeated. Dark stormy skies, foreboding clouds, mist and fog can all make for some really atmospheric shots so use them to your advantage.

4. Always be prepared – when you’re on the road amazing photo opportunities can pop up at any time. Have your camera where it is easily accessible rather than in a backpack. If you’re concerned about the safety of having your expensive camera visible, have your phone or smaller camera on hand for on the go shots that you need to capture quickly.

5.  Beat the crowds – it can be really hard to get shots of famous landmarks when they are swarmed with people. Travel out of season, or get up early to beat the crowds. Trust me – it’s worth it!

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova BlogPhoto taken in Santorini, Greece during golden hour

6. Plan for the light – avoid shooting in the middle of the day. Wait for golden hour – usually during the first two hours of morning light and the last two of the afternoon when the light is soft and warm. This is especially great for landscapes.

7. Leading the eye – ask yourself what is the point of interest in the photo. What do you want to viewer to look at? Use paths, roads, fences, tracks, or rows of buildings to create a straight path to the point of interest. An example would be a path leading to an archway.

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova Blog            Photo taken in Wellington, New Zealand

8. Frame your subject – take advantage of doorways, gates, arches, windows, trees and fences to frame your subject. This adds interest and depth to an image.

9. Detail – don’t forget to take photos of the small details that you love about a destination. They help to provide a sense of place and tell the full story of your trip in years to come when you look back.

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova BlogPhoto taken at Alhambra Palace, Granada 

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova BlogPhoto taken in Beijing, China

10. Change your viewpoint – we’ve all seen the same old shots of the Eiffel Tower and other famous landmarks. For a fresh take on a subject change your viewpoint. Get down low and shoot upwards or find a high viewpoint for a different point of view.

11. Foreground interest – colourful flowers, plants, shells and pebbles can all create interest in what could otherwise be quite a dull scene.

12. Protect your equipment – pack your gear well and if at all possible carry it in your carry on case to prevent damage or loss. Invest in a travel insurance policy that covers your camera and any lenses or other expensive equipment.

13. Do a walking tour – exploring a destination on foot allows you to get up close and take your time. You’ll see things you would never experience from a tour bus and will have some great photo opportunities.

14. People – Including people in your photos adds interest. If you want to take close ups always make sure you ask first. If you’re too shy to approach people include people from a distance, for example someone cycling past.

15 Travel Photography Tips | Gypsy Rova BlogPhoto taken in Old Stone Town, Zanzibar

15. Book a room with a view – if you can afford it splash out and book a room with a view. In a city it will provide a great vantage point for photos and if you’re by the beach, just think of the sunsets you can capture from your balcony!

You can follow along with me and my personal travels on instagram @gypsyrova

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Travel Diary – Lake Como

 

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

Lake Como, or Lago di Como in the North of Italy, had always been somewhere I’d wanted to visit, so given a spare day in Milan I took the opportunity to jump on a train and explore the area.

Arriving in Como, I decided to take the 2 hour ferry trip to Bellagio passing the pretty towns lining Lake Como along the way. You can buy a whole day ‘hop on and off’ ticket allowing you to explore the various towns around the Lake.

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

With its flower lined promenade, stately hotels, and historic villas its easy to see why Bellagio has been a popular spot amongst artists and writers over the years.

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

The deep blue shores of Lake Como are truly stunning on a summer day and a walk in the afternoon breeze is a great way to cool off from the hot Italian sun.

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

Exploring the cobbled streets and alleyways of Bellagio is intriguing. Around every corner there is something new to find.

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

Private gardens and tree filled courtyards are hidden behind iron doors and gates, evoking the feeling of having stumbled across a secret garden.

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With galleries, antique stores, boutiques and delicatessens brimming with local produce, there is something for everyone.

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

Local artisans showcase their wares from silk scarves and ties, to leather goods and colourful ceramics.

000012Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

Stop and relax in one of the cute cafes lining the backstreets. Gelato anyone?

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova BlogTravel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

The views back out to the Lake are dreamy in the late afternoon sun.

Travel Diary - Lake Como | Gypsy Rova Blog

My day of exploring Lake Como came to an end, as all good things do, but if you’d like to visit the area, here’s what you need to know.

Getting there: Como is easy to reach from Milan by car or train. Trains depart regularly from Milan’s Stazione Centrale and Stazione Porta Garibaldi, and arrive at San Giovanni, Como’s main station. The journey is approximately 40 minutes.

Getting to Bellagio: There are frequent boat services from Como to Lenno, Mennagio, Bellagio and Varenna, including a car ferry. There is also a less frequent but faster boat which travels the full length of the Lake from Como.

Como City: This is definitely the liveliest of the towns around Lake Como. It would be a good base if you have longer to explore the area. There are a variety of restaurants,shops and boutiques, as well as a good choice of accommodation. In the day time you can visit the Cathedral, stroll around the town and explore its historical squares, or enjoy a walk or a boat trip along the Lake. There is also a Funicular which runs up the mountains to the small town of Brunate, offering breathtaking views over Lake Como and out to the Alps.

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The hills sweep upward from the shore, With villas scattered one by one
Upon their wooded spurs, and lower
Bellagio blazing in the sun
I ask myself: Is this a dream
Will it all vanish into air
Is there a land of such supreme
And perfect beauty anywhere?
H.W.Longfellow

Sneak Peak – New ‘Drifting Away’ Collection

New Drifting Away Collection Coming Soon | Gypsy Rova Shop

I’m currently busy getting ready to launch ‘Drifting Away’ – a collection of images captured on a road trip around the stunning New Zealand coastline a few years ago.

A selection of prints and products will be available to purchase here soon. Here’s a sneak peak in the meantime.

Enjoy!
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Drifting Away Collection | Gypsy Rova

Drifting Away Collection | Gypsy Rova

Drifting Away Collection | Gypsy Rova