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Djerba is first and foremost known for its exceptional beaches, landscape and hotels, as well as its shooting location for the Tatoine’s Mos Eisley exterior scenes in the famous Star Wars movie. The main tourist zone is situated on the east side, along Sidi Mahrez and Seguia beaches (around Midoun). Touring the island is affordable. Wherever you go, you’ll never be more than thirty minutes from your hotel, and you will be surprised how splendid Djerba is in its diversity. The main centre is the city of Houmt Souk, with its beautiful lively markets and souks, and traditional hotels with vault rooms – the "funduqs." Most of the hotels have been built around courtyards and are very atmospheric. The rest of the island is a series of villages and small places, often ignored by tourists, yet authentic and picturesque – such as Guellala which houses a huge pottery and ceramic production centre. You’ll be amazed by the atypical mosques, some are very old and built like fortresses, and the traditional architecture of the "menzels," farms made up of square whitewashed houses.
With hundreds of mosques, five hundred thousand olive trees and hundreds years of history influenced by the Roman, Ottoman, Berber and Jewish empires, this oasis at the doors of Sahara has everything to give your stay a real change of scenery!
The national dish is rice and curry, traditionally eaten with your fingers. Cutlery is provided for foreigners. The meal consists of six or seven plates of fiery meat, fish and chicken served with heaps of rice accompanied by side dishes of yoghurt and cucumber and vegetable curries. Roadside stalls also dish up snacks like rotis (pancakes) and malu pan (spicy meat or fish rolls).
Bars are a relatively new concept, although there are some old favourites patronized by expats and regular visitors. Generally quiet, they erupt into life at the weekend with live music, good value food and a reasonable drinks’ list. The best nightlife revolves around the upscale hotels where you’ll find bars, nightclubs and karaoke lounges. Dress is smart casual and entry for hotel guests is free.
Souk means market in Arabic, and you should definitely visit one of them in Houmt Souk, which is the island’s capital. Everything between heaven and earth is sold here. Goods from tools to raw meat are common sights. The market is one of the few places where you see the female population. It is only men that are visible at the cafés and around the smaller villages. The villages have local craftsmen, these include pottery and ceramics, carpets, baskets and leather goods to name but a few. The richness of olive wood is shown to good effect in the carved bowls, kitchen utensils and even in jewellery items.
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