Category Archives: The Middle East
May 28-June 5: Andrew visits Israel!
June 6-7: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 8-10: Salvador, Brazil
June 11-12: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 13-14: Iguazu Falls, Brazil
June 15: Iguazu Falls, Argentina
June 16-19: Buenos Aires, Argentina
June 20-22: Cuzco/Machu Picchu, Peru
June 23-25: Arequipa, Peru
June 26-27: Lima, Peru
June 28: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA!!
Istanbul was a wonderful surprise. I was expecting something more Middle Eastern, perhaps – similar to Morocco, but the reality is that Istanbul is a highly European city with well-organized public transportation, a sophisticated tourism industry, a thriving arts scene, and quite a bit to do and see. Our first night, we met up with a camp friend who knows Istanbul well and introduced us to the best Baklava in town, which quickly became a thrice-daily occurrence. We toured all the major landmarks – the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Bazaar, Synagogue, Bosphorus boat from Europe to Asia (one side of the city to the other)– each place magnificent in its own right. Clearly, after all that touring, we couldn’t help but unwind with steam rooms and massages at a Turkish hammam.
May 2 – Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel
May 7 – Ari arrives in Israel!
May 9 – Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, Israel
May 10 – Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day, Israel
May 10-13 – Istanbul, Turkey
May 14 – Ephesus, Turkey
May 15-17 – Dubrovnik, Croatia
May 18-20 – Elafiti Islands, Croatia
May 28 – Andrew arrives in Israel!
A walled-city of labyrinthine alleyways filled with donkey-carts, spice-sellers, carpet hawkers, snake charmers, and palm readers, the Medina (old city) of Marrakech has been the highlight of my travels. In the center of the Medina is Djemma el Fna square; nightly, at 7pm, the square explodes with life – an entire night market of food stalls – lanes of appetizer carts, kebab carts, couscous & tagine carts, soup carts, tea &dessert carts, fresh juice carts – suddenly appears, anchoring the madness of throngs of people. Around the food market, as far as the eye can see, are entertainers – musicians, storytellers, carnival games, henna artists – each with its own crowd of onlookers. The outside ring of Djemaa el Fna is the souqs – the multi-level markets whose passageways twist and turn into each other – sellers hawk ceramics, lamps, leather goods, jewelry, antiques – all of which is part of an elaborate bargaining game (we learned that the rock-bottom price is generally about 1/3 of the originally proposed price, and it often took several minutes of negotiations and a turn of “walking away,” to get to that magic number).
One of the best surprises in Morocco was the people. From the owners of our incredible riad (guesthouse) in the Medina, to the free “guides” we picked up in the Mellah (Jewish Quarter), at the Bahia palace, or on our way to the Majorelle Gardens, we found that everyone with whom we interacted exuded warmth and went above and beyond to help us find our way/enhance our trip. I could go on at length reciting all that I loved about Marrakech, but I’ll let the pictures show the rest.
April 4-7: Rome, Italy
April 8-11: Marrakech & Essaouira, Morocco
Passover and the rest of April: Israel!
March 1st, 2011 – Beit Chanan, Israel