Backpacking Centurion: 100th Country and a Great Night Out in Tunis, Tunisia

Backpacking Centurion: Touring Tunis, TUNISIA

Backpacking Centurion: Touring Tunis, TUNISIA

So the time finally arrived. I boarded my flight in Rome after touring the Vatican City State and a couple of nights in the Hotel Papa Germano and within an hour and ten minutes I had become a backpacking centurion. A century of countries, a decade of decades, hunderd (if you’re Northern Irish you’ll understand), 100. Tunisia ended up being my sixth African country, my one hundredth country and marked my third appearance in Africa. Going by FIFA lists, I had cracked 100 countries (on the Traveller’s Century Club list I’d actually cracked it with Andorra in 2014). So here’s an overview of how the day unfolded.

marvellous jonny blair book

Backpacking Centurion: A Northern Irishman’s Journey Through 100 Countries by Jonny Blair

Leaving Rome, Italy
I left the Hotel Papa Germano around 6.30 am and walked to Termini train station. I had time for a quick coffee at Termini train station before boarding the 7:04 am train.

Rome Termini Station - getting a train to the airport

Rome Termini Station – getting a train to the airport

I met my girlfriend Panny at the airport and we got ready to board. We were flying with Ali Italia – my first time to use them.

Boarding Air Italia flight to Tunis

Boarding Ali Italia flight to Tunis

Arriving in Tunis, Tunisia
The flight was quick and a bit shaky on arrival. This was because there were massive winds in Tunis (which we later learned about!). We touched down on Friday March 27th around mid-day in Tunis and I was now a backpacking centurion.

Arrival in Tunis on the flight

Arrival in Tunis on the flight

Passport stamp for country 100 - Tunisia

Passport stamp for country 100 – Tunisia

We got our bags (eventually), changed our money from Dollars or Pounds into Tunisian Denars and then waited for Ayoub, our host. Thanks to Couchsurfing! Here are some photos of our arrival into Tunis, Tunisia.

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My First EVER Couchsurf
To celebrate 100 countries, I could have gone swanky 4 or 5 star, hostelled it or camped out. But that would be too obvious. I’m a backpacker at heart though so it had to be something worthy of it. I didn’t backpack my way through my 99 previous countries to change into a posh traveller overnight. But there was one obvious thing as a traveller that I hadn’t yet done – Couchsurfing. So I decided for the first time ever to try couchsurfing. This made things a bit more special for me. And yes you might not believe that I had never couchsurfed before, but despite registering on their site in 2009, I hardly ever logged in.

With Ayoub, our Couchsurfing Host

With Ayoub, our Couchsurfing Host

Our host Ayoub met us at the airport and he lived conveniently close to the airport so we shared a taxi (we paid cheap local rate – around $1 US) and arrived at block number 10 on one of the streets in an estate known as Olympic City. Panny and I had our own room on the top floor in Ayoub’s apartment.

Our room in Ayoub's place in Olympic City, Tunis

Our room in Ayoub’s place in Olympic City, Tunis

Our first meal in Tunisia
We decided to head with Ayoub for a cheap local meal in a restaurant around the corner from his block of flats. We were staying in one of the suburbs of Tunis. We ate Kafteshgi with bread – it’s like tuna salad and a speciality in Tunisia.

Kafteji in Tunis, Tunisia

Kafteji in Tunis, Tunisia

Ayoub and I eating Kafteji in Tunis

Ayoub and I eating Kafteji in Tunis

Night Out in Tunis, Tunisia
After a power nap in the afternoon we were ready to explore Tunis. Ayoub took us downtown on the metro system from his place (El Khadra station) and we had a great night. We saw some local music, I had my first ever Tunisian beer and toasted to the celebration in the Hotel Hanna Bar, we watched a peace gig (“occupy one street”) and also somehow managed to gatecrash a wedding. I was absolutely knackered. Travelling to 100 countries had taken its toll and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Here are some photos from the night out:

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With thanks to:

A century of countries, Panny Yu and Ayoub

Here are some videos from the day I became a backpacking centurion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeY1BbRrbYM

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