Idioma / Language: Spanish

Douz: eating gluten-free is easy if you have a good local support

That was the last day in the desert. We woke up and, as soon as we opened the tent, we enjoyed a breathtaking view of Er-Rached and the surrounding dunes. How nice it is to travel like this! Although we hadn’t been able to shower for 3 days, we had brought stuff to keep ourselves clean and, for the moment, we were doing quite well! Besides, in a few hours we would reach civilization and we would have access to a bathroom like the ones we are used to. In the next few days we were going to discover gluten-free restaurants in Douz (Tunisia). You can watch the video of the trip here or by clicking here on the image below.

Subtitles available in English

After breakfast we continued our journey through the dunes. Probably that day was the most spectacular. In fact, there is a descent that was really impressive. We had done a quite long stretch of dunes and always going up. Suddenly, the line of dunes ended and an impressive sandy descent awaited us. From the size at which we saw the cars from above, I would dare to say that we descended about 100m. You can see the video clip here. Amazing, isn’t it? Adrenaline was pumping! I would repeat the whole trip just to have the opportunity to repeat this descent…

That desert day was magnificent! We kept crossing plains surrounded by sand that offered us beautiful landscapes. It was a totally different type of landscape from what you can find in any country in Europe.

After the last cordon of dunes, we waited for the whole group to regroup and continued until we reached an old construction. There were some porches with tables that gave us shelter from the scorching sun. And when I say scorching, I mean literally, since I had to bandage my hands because I was starting to get blisters from the burns… quite an adventure!

Click on the image to access the form

After eating the pasta salad, we rested a bit and the Territori 4×4 team took us to a point where we inflated the tires again to be able to drive at higher speed without taking unnecessary risks.

Arrived at the road, we put our tires at asphalt pressure and we headed to the Hotel Sahara Douz in Douz. After four days we were back to civilization. Before, however, we had to drive several kilometers on a road that was in constant struggle with the advancing desert.

It was impressive to see how the desert resists the road to occupy its terrain. It was full of sand, in some stretches you could not even see it.

Arriving at the hotel, in the middle of the afternoon, we took a really long shower. Imagine 50 people who had not showered for 4 days… we probably left the city of Douz without water reserves!

Clean and shiny we met up with my father and the couple from Toledo for dinner together.

A new adventure began… dining gluten-free in this hotel in Douz! That night Kader (the local contact of the organization) was not there and it was a bit more complicated to understand the hotel kitchen. We asked the maitre to let us talk to the cook. We showed him the gluten-free travel card in French and also on the gluten-free travel card in Arabic. This made things quite easy for us.

After reading the gluten-free travel cards, the head chef gave us a tour of the buffet.

He pointed out the trays from which we could eat. The one that surprised me the most was that we couldn’t eat the white rice – they threw some flour in the water to boil it! Still there were several options available. We could eat stewed beef, chicken and boiled vegetables as well. There were some salads we could eat but as some others had flour products we preferred not to risk cross contamination. Up to that point, the trip had gone very well – we didn’t want to spoil it!

Every evening, the organization met with us to give us details of the plans for the next day. That night we got some unexpected news: the return ferry was delayed by a day! Really? That meant we had to stay one more night in Tunisia? What a pity! Of course, it’s irony… the last thing I wanted was to go back to Spain!

For some it was a problem because they had planned their return to work the day after returning. We had taken an extra day of vacation so we could clean our clothes and rest a bit before returning to reality. We had margin!

The next day everything was much easier at breakfast time! Kader was with us and when we went to the restaurant we asked him to help us talk to the kitchen again. It turned out that the hotel cook was a friend of his. They brought us breakfast straight from the kitchen. Wrapped in aluminum foil to protect it from cross contamination – better impossible!

There was an omelet, some cheese, a boiled egg and fruit (dates and oranges). What a breakfast!

That day there were two options: stay in Douz resting or go to see the roses of the desert (in the middle of another dune area). Obviously, we chose to go see the roses of the desert. Besides, those dunes were not like the ones we had seen in the last few days. Where the desert roses were was in an area of white dunes. Of “fesh-fesh”. This is extremely fine, very powdery sand that is quite fun (and tricky) to drive through.

That dunes area was amazing! The dunes were smaller and much closer together, but that day no one got stuck. It was like riding over a cream cake covered with powdered sugar that the wind blew away when blowing. We made it to the “desert rose field” without any problems.

It was very windy when we arrived. Even so, we had no trouble finding the roses. I had always seen them in souvenir stores and, honestly, I had no idea what they looked like in their natural state. We were amazed because there were a lot of them – very close together! It was beautiful to see.

After walking for a while through this field of stone roses, we decided to go back because the weather was starting to get quite bad. It was very windy! Visibility was getting really reduced… It was like a small sandstorm. It was nothing dramatic but it added a touch of adventure to the day.

Back on the road, we stopped to inflate the tires to go to asphalt pressure. When it was time to start the march, I heard on the radio that the group was divided again: some wanted to go to a restaurant in Douz; and others decided to go to a palm grove to eat what we were carrying. We were wonderful there in “petit comité” remembering little adventures of the past days.

We arrived back at the hotel in the middle of the afternoon to rest. It had been quite a quiet day, it was well worth it! Before dinner, the organization of Territori 4×4 met us again to inform us about how things were going to be with the boat back. Finally, some of us could leave earlier, but arriving in Rome and the rest of us would stay one more night to board the ferry to Genoa. Great!

When we went to dinner, the same chef who had treated us so well for breakfast was waiting for us with a smile. He told us not to worry, to tell him where we were sitting and he would bring us dinner. Wow! He brought us a couple of plates with salad, some sausage (not pork) and mashed potatoes. There was also chicken breast. And for dessert a chocolate mouse with dates and oranges. What a dinner!

The next day we would repeat the same breakfast and go back to Hammamet where we would stop in El Djem to see the second largest amphitheater in the world, and one of the best preserved!

You can see the pictures of the trip here.

BY CLICKING ON THE MAP OF GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS YOU FILL SEE ALL RESTAURANTS WE DESCRIBED IN THIS POST LOCATED IN THE MAP OF GLUTEN-FREE PLACES:

AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN FRENCH:

AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN ARABIC:

P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!

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Me llamo Santi y actualmente vivo en la provincia de Barcelona. En 2001, me diagnosticaron de enfermedad celíaca… ¡por fin! Además, soy intolerante a la lactosa, la alergia al pescado me mata, ¡literalmente!, y también algunas frutas... Viajar sin gluten se ha convertido en mi mayor hobby y creé Gluten Free Adventures por esta razón. Desde los 8 años, he viajado y vivido en distintos países… ¡aquí comparto mis experiencias viajando para descubrir restaurantes sin gluten, pastelerías sin gluten y heladerías sin gluten por todo el mundo! ¡Espero que os gusten nuestros viajes sin gluten!