My friend Corey Latislaw spoke at Droidcon Tunis last year, and really enjoyed it. This year she couldn't make it, but recommended me to the organizer. After a few email exchanges, I made the leap and bought a plane ticket to Tunis!
There are not a lot of flights from San Francisco to Tunis, and I booked mine with Lufthansa, which had a 11-hour layover in Frankfurt. I took advantage of the time and visited Mainz, the birthplace of Gutenberg.
The Gutenberg Museum showcases the history of printing, with a few rare specimens of the Gutenberg bible. It also covered the printing techniques from East Asia, and there is circular movable type storage stand for Chinese newspaper printing with rows and rows of neatly sorted characters. I had always wanted to see that since a little kid, so it was quite a pleasant surprise to bump into it in Germany.
I arrived Tunis around midnight, and went for some sightseeing the next day. My first destination was the Bardo Museum, which is famous for its collection of Roman mosaics.
I really enjoyed the mosaics. They were made from tiny pieces of colored tiles, depicting the Roman life and mythology in a durable format. Some of the pieces were put on the floor, where they were meant to be, but I still feel like I should not tread on such beautiful art.
After the museum I headed to the medina, the old town of Tunis.
The medina is a maze alleyways lined with blue-and-white houses, traditional markets and towering minarets. I got quite lost in the beginning. Fortunately I found a walking tour map on the wall to orient myself.
It was a lot of fun exploring the nooks and crannies of the medina, stumbling upon an ornate door, a snack vendor hawking traditional sweets, or a group of cats sleeping.
Carthage and Sidi Bou Said
The next day I took a train to visit Carthage and Sidi Bou Said.
My first stop was the Carthage Museum. Not a lot to see here, since most of the mosaics were moved to Tunis. However I really liked the Acropolium next door.
Didn't look like much from the outside, but I love the style inside.
I then walked to the Roman theater and the Roman villa, before ending my tour at Antonine Baths.
The sheer size of the ruins were mind-boggling. The Romans sure loved their baths!
After Carthage I took the train further to Sidi Bou Said, a picturesque little town in blue and white.
It was such a joy to walk around and soak in all the blue and white. Every corner was stunningly pretty.
In the evening I went back to Tunis for a nice traditional meal: couscous.
I had a set dinner with appetizer, main course and dessert, only 7.5 dinars. That's less than 5 USD!
On Saturday I headed to the science city for Droidcon Tunis.
The conference opened with a violin performance. Classy!
After a full day of workshops, the organizers made us a nice traditional barbecue.
I gave my talk on the next day. The Tunisian crowd is really energetic, and we had lots of audience participation. That's the way I like my talks!
I was going to attend some other talks, but ended up doing some pair programming with a fellow attendee in the hallway.
I managed to go to the USB talk by Miki, which was quite a blast. Literally - he brought a missile launcher!
The conference concluded with a rock-and-roll performance. Yup, the Tunisians sure know how to have fun. They are such a friendly crowd, but also very driven to advance their technical skills. The energy made all the difference. Thank you Taher and the volunteers for putting this together!
After the conference we all went out for coffee. And then the organizers wanted to show us some traditional food, so we drove around town in the middle of the night, finally found a place still open, for some phenomenal ojja merguez. It was so yummy that we simply could not stop eating!
Bonus link: more photos from the trip.