Tunisia Filming Locations

Another 5am start for my final full day in Tunisia. I was at the louage station by 5.45am waiting for the shared taxi to fill-up. Unfortunately I had to wait 90minutes for it to be full which is not that bad I guess but when yoh haven’t got so much time on your side its not so great. I was still in El Jem by 8am though and visited the amphitheatre there which was really nice and fairly empty when I got there though that didn’t last long as a load of German tour buses soon arrived thereafter.
A louage back to Sousse followed by a fairly instant louage down to Monastir followed. I visited the Ribat in Monastir which featured in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and the (fairly) unique thing about this place is that its right on the beach with the tower offering great views of the beach which I went to after for a quick swim. The sea was so refreshing given the temperature and for me, it was interesting to see Muslims in such a non-religious situation and believe it or not quite a relief to be free of the Star Wars sites which had dominated the trip up until then. Indeed, it would be quite nice to return to the country one day for a ‘normal’ holiday.
Once back in Sousse I later took another louage back to the capital city Tunis which I hadn’t spent any time in on my arrival into the country. The reason for the early starts to all of these days is because the louage situation can get quiet later in the afternoons so one doesn’t want to be waiting around for ages for the car to reach capacity. Having often been the only guest at my hotels in the south I hadn’t really anticipated the budget hotels being full but the first three I tried were. Eventually I ended up at the ironically named Hotel de la Tranquillite which was under three pounds for the night and was a basic prison cell sweatbox. Still, it did its job providing somewhere for me to lie down at the end of the day and that was basically the end of my first trip to the African continent and it was quite an eye-opener for me in terms of not being able to use hardly any English for the first time in my life. My French skills are fairly basic so I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for someone who doesn’t speak any French at all. I may have ticked most boxes while I was there due to some excessive travelling but there was just that something lacking which was not having much in the way of conversation, sharing experiences and so on with other travellers.
I had a quick look around Tunis but was too late to visit any of the major attractions in the area but what I did see was the Grand Hotel du Lac ad its strange shape which was maybe an inspiration (or inspired by) for the sandcrawlers in Star Wars.
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here. 

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Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba)

I just missed a louage to the island of Djerba at 5.30am and then had to wait over an hour for the following one to become full. The cost of the taxi included the ferry crossing and culminated at the north of the island from where I then hired a taxi driver to take me round the places I wanted to visit. This island is a very popular destination for tourists who frequent the eastern side of the island and its beautiful beaches so my driver must have thought I was a right oddity for wanting to see three old run-down buildings on the west side in Ajim.
First stop was the marabout of Sidi Jemour which played Anchorhead in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and was also used as the outskirts of Mos Eisley. Personally, I wasn’t that bothered about this place but as I was in the vicinity I thought I may as well see it.
Further down the coast and close to the ferry port was Ben Kenobi’s hermitage; a lone derelict building which appeared on screen for about one second with Luke Skywalker‘s landspeeder outside it. The film portrays it as being in the middle of the desert by using a low camera angle but it is fact right next to the sea. This was very geeky but very exciting although there was nothing whatsoever inside for that was no doubt filmed in the studio.
 
My final port of call on the Star Wars trail was the Mos Eisley Cantina bar where Luke and Ben were introduced to Han Solo before escaping in the Millennium Falcon; filmed on a nearby sidestreet which I found thanks to the map in Mark Dermul’s ‘Trip to Tatooine’ book. Without such a map it would have been fairly impossible to find the Cantina, the blast-off alley and the stormtrooper checkpoint. They were still difficult enough to find even with the map! Of course its been over 30 years since the movie was filmed so needless to say that the buildings are not in good condition but it was nice to finish my Star Wars journey at such a pivotal place in the whole saga.
 
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here.
You can see my Tunisia Star Wars Collection photo’s here.

Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours)

I left the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata and caught (by luck) an over-packed 7.30am bus to Gabes where I checked into a hotel and then went straight out again to the louage station to get down to Tataouine, the name that inspired the name of planet Tatooine in the Star Wars saga. While waiting for the taxi to fill-up with people Xavier came along and once we’d got to Tatouine we were prepared to go our separate ways. Before this I asked him if he could just help me out with the arrangements and invitable haggling with a taxi driver for what I wanted to do which somehow eventually lead to us both taking a taxi to his hotel, Ksar Ouled SoltaneKsar Hadeda before dropping me off in Medinine and then taking him back to Tataouine. I was more than happy with this deal as it was reasonably cheap and meant I would have a travel companion for a bit in a country where its fair to say I hadn’t had too much conversation due to my French not stretching so far!
We had been expecting some sign of civilisation before we reached our first sightseeing spot but that never happened as one moment we were driving through the middle of nowhere and then the next we stopped and walked into the beautifully coloured Ksar Ouled Soltane (a Ksar is basically a fortified granary whatever that really means – a place to store grain?) which was great. No-one there (apart from a few artists selling their paintings of which I bought one), no surrounding fence, no entry charge and so we were free to climb all over the building to view the surrounding area which was nice as the Ksar is on the top of a hill.
Ksar Hadeda was next and we were there much sooner than I had anticated. This was similar to the previous one but not quite as aesthetically pleasing as it had fallen into disrepair in places. It was the location of Shmi Skywalker’s home in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for the scene where she told Qui-Gon Jinn that her son Anakin didn’t have a father. This place is now part hotel, part Ksar and part building site and so made it difficult to locate the exact filming shots.
The final location was Ksar Medenine where I said a bientot to Xavier and then went to the alley on the back of the Ksar which was also used as the home of Anakin and Shmi Skywalker. The scene where Anakin had to say bye to his mum was filmed here with sand added to the street to make it look more desert-y so inevitably it looks a little different now with no set dressing remaining and it looked like people actually lived there.
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here.
You can see my Tunisia Star Wars Collection photo’s here.