Off to explore the Casbah today which is a district in central Algiers similar to a medina mainly consisting of a labyrinth of paths and alleyways. Wassim’s wife is going to show me around as I’ve mentioned I like architecture and fittingly she just happens to be one!
HALF OF THE CITY MUST HAVE BEEN HERE WATCHING
The first thing I noticed was the rubbish lying around but I couldn’t help wonder why there was so much bread sitting on the walls. A lot of bread is eaten here in Algeria and if they don’t get to finish it then it is preferred to find a place for it off the ground. It seems bizarre to not have the same policy for litter, more African logic!!
WHERE IS ALGERIA?
Walking down through the Casbah you really understand the benefit of a guide, although not as intense as the Brazilian favelas, you can still get yourself lost pretty easily. The town has quite the history having been inhabited since the 6thcentury B.C. and played a significant role in town-planning across much of Sub Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean.
It is quite clear to me that Algerians eat a lot so after the Casbah we called in for some square pizza and lemonade which would be enough to fill anyone. After my third slice my guide said it was time for my starter! I can’t remember the name of the place but it served nothing but Algerian food, some of which I ordered and most of which I couldn’t eat. I had the Algerian brick which is a deep fat fried spring roll, something I wouldn’t be ordering again, however the Chakhtchoukha was great.
- Algeria is the largest country in Africa. Sudan was previously the largest before it spilt in 2011.
- The Sahara accounts for 80 per cent of Algeria.
- In 1962 over a million Algerians were killed in the fight for independence from France.
After the a prolonged digestion I still had half a day to kill and decided to head to the Botanical Gardens for another bizarre experience! After arriving and seeing the gates were locked a policeman / guard approached me and said he would walk around with me which was no problem.
As you probably know I love nothing more than meet locals, however after an hour I thought best to move on. He had other plans and was keen for me to stick around and instead insisted on me following him to a room to the metro station. As soon as I got into the small room I noticed his colleague was already here and I instantly thought, ‘this can’t be good’. He had the door locked before I could do anything, game over!
“I need something from you,” he said.
I had no idea where this was going but knew I had to play along until I could talk myself out of this room. He took his gun out of its holster, placed it on his desk and then picked up his batten.
‘What is going on,’ I thought.
I was in two minds as he was pleasant when I was walking around the park with him but he was also a little different, so I wasn’t sure what to think.
“A photo,” he said, “I want a photo with my friend.”
🤦🏻♂️ Thank god for that. After a huge sigh of relief and a few photos I made my excuses to leave! Although this wouldn’t be my last run in with the police here in Algeria LINK
AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS
Heading to Constantine tomorrow so it was back to the hotel for a rest and then out to watch the football tonight, Algeria v Tanzania in the Semi Finals of the African Cup of Nations, their biggest games in years!
After more food at Arabesque, a Syrian restaurant I went to the ‘roundabout’ which is the only way to describe the area where everyone watches the football on the big screen. Algeria are currently playing in the Semi-finals and the place was going wild, wherever you could get a spot to watch it you took it.
The match ended up 3-0 and I haven’t seen a party like it. Police might be strict on photographs but if you fancy letting off fireworks while you drive around the roundabout then there is no problem, more African logic!
Something worth saying is how helpful some of the locals were. A quick example was an old lady who was begging making her way through the crowd during the football. I lost count at the amount of people who gave her money. It was never a lot of money but you could see every was happy to help considering they were watching one of the most important games in Algerias history.
I was meant to go the Constantine tomorrow but instead had the biggest run in with the law to date! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
This post is part of The Algeria Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.
To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my Instagram.
- Have you been to Algeria, did you explore the Casbah?
- What was your experience like?
- Did you try their food?
Let me know in the comments below . . .