Imagine you wake up one day and see announced there is a SIB trip to Greece and Tunisia. You can expect anything possibly happening during such a trip! But what you would not believe is all kinds of different events we actually went through together with our fellow travellers this past July. Hold and keep reading if you want to be astonished. If you follow the current EU situation and the refugee crisis, you can’t go to Greece and not have any curiosity about the refugee situation there. Therefore, since we, the SIBers are nothing but curious, we arranged a visit to ActionAid, one of the most successful NGOs in Greece, which helps on the second stage to every immigrant’s integration in a host country. We received a detailed presentation and a tour of the activities they provide. Moreover, we were so fascinated by the work they do, we participated in a voluntary activity at Caritas, another NGO which provides the basic needs to the newcomers, as well as the locals in need, such as shelter, food, water, and shower.
The following day something very unexpected happened: a strong earthquake (magnitude 5.3) shook the streets of Athens. Power and phone networks in the city got knocked out. Some of us were having lunch at a restaurant while others were exploring the city. A few seconds after the earthquake, people ran out into the streets and there was some panicking going on. Fortunately, the earthquake didn’t last very long and everybody was alright. After
that, we visited the Hellenic Parliament for a tour, where we got to learn more about the form of government in Greece, parliamentary procedures and the history of the building, which is also the first royal palace of modern Greece. After waiting for days the day has arrived, the weather was amazing, the sky was blue, everyone had their beach outfits with them and there was one thing that we were all waiting for to do: Island hopping! We started off our journey by taking the ferry from port Piraeus, to the beautiful island Aegina. Once we've arrived at the island we were really mesmerized by how beautiful, crystal clear and blue the water was. We were all starving, so the perfect solution was to go for some mediterranean brunch with fish and Greek salad, as the most
local dish to have.
After brunch, we took the ferry to the next island Agistrii, in which we could finally relax on
the beach go swimming in the beautiful crystal clear blue water. The closest jump from Greece to Tunisia, was Sidi Bou Saïd, since its beautiful architecture and landscape is considered to be the city in Tunisia most similar to the Greek white&blue picturesque scenery.
In addition, imagine landing in a different country, different continent, where everybody speaks in an alien language, and the first thing in the morning you have to arrange is a group of 13 people to be in an Embassy by 10am. That, in Tunis, was not a piece of cake, so we were a bit late for our appointment! However, to our surprise, instead of being welcomed at the Embassy we were, in fact nothing less than, very warmly welcomed at the private house of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tunis. Mr. Ton Lansink and his co-workers had the kindness to share breakfast with us, as well as to open a deep and interesting conversation.
Afterwards, we explored the Tunis Medina accompanied by a lovely tour guide, Marwa, who is a local from Tunisia. She showed us all the highlights in the city centre, such as an old Quran school with an amazing view of the city, a carpet shop, a perfume shop with authentic scents made from local spices, flowers and oils. In the last few days of our trip we went to the beautiful beach city, Hammamet. With a quad ride through the mediterranean landscape and some good parties we used our last energy and had the time of our lives.