Justin our MD was there in 2012 and Nick, our chairman, motor biked through it a couple of years earlier. Not much has changed in the intervening years but it is Belinda who has been organising tours to Algeria for the last three years.
Why we like Algeria
An extract from Nick's diary goes someway to summing this up: "we quickly found the Algerians to be amongst the most hospitable, kind, thoughtful and charming people. From our hotel manager who insisted we used his private house to garage our bikes for the night, the strangers who rushed into the street to help when one of the bikes was dropped on its side, the staff on the ferry and random drivers who yell 'Welcome to Algeria' as we ride past"!
What to expect on your Algeria holiday
Tourism is in its early days in Algeria which, from our perspective, makes it all the more appealing. Aside from the marvellous Roman remains, it is the old-fashioned charm and traditional hospitality of the people that stands out. There is not much in the way of luxury or sophistication in the hotels, but they are comfortable and more than adequate with private bathrooms and the staff will go out of their way to make your stay as good as they can. The roads are surprisingly good and much of the country is highly fertile and while it burns up in the heat of the summer, spring brings an abundance of fruit which you find for sale in markets or just on the side of the road.
Some ideas for an Algeria holiday
- Wander the twisting lanes of the UNESCO listed Kasbah of Algiers.
- Visit Djemila where you will find some of the best Berber-Roman remains in North Africa.
- The Roman town of Timgad was covered by a mud slide in 8th century and more remains to be discovered than is on view.
- Visit the remains of the Phoenician port of Tipaza.
- The most exquisite of all mosaics lies in the Museum of Setif. The "Triumph of Dionysus" is superlative.
Whilst, to quote our guide, 'the police are allergic to photos' a wonderful understatement - they were sympathetic to us, merely following orders. One young police offer was particularly interested in what I knew and felt of Algeria before arriving and whether my views had changed since being there. What I felt mattered to him, especially when he discovered that, like him, I was a father of three, had similar concerns about schools and faced issues juggling the work/life balance.
Yes we travel to understand and appreciate the past but also to learn about the present. Algeria has lessons for us all.