Well, with everyone holed up in their abodes it seems like a good idea to catch up on my PAST traveling updates.  I left off in Zanzibar in February getting ready to board our vessel to the Seychelles.  So, here’s a few updates from Zanzibar.

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Now headed on to the ship for our two week travels through the Seychelles, including Aldabra Atoll.  There were of course welcome and farewell dinners, daily snorkeling or diving, daily cocktails, daily tea, lectures, and lots of time to relax, swim and read.

The ship was lovely…not a lot of complaints from me.  I do think people in a double room would be a little worried about space and moving around.  But the ship was well laid out and was carrying about 90 of us, which was bearable.  There were all ages on the boat and seemingly a bit younger than the normal Zegrahm travelers.  I’m probably just saying that because I’m older.  Anyway, everyone seemed to be major travelers and non-complainers which was refreshing.  Definitely a good group, with minor exceptions…see photo above 😉

The highlight of the trip for me was, besides Zanzibar, the snorkeling at Aldabra Atoll and Astove Atoll.  Definitely the best snorkeling I’ve done.  The water was unbelievebly clear at Astove Atoll and I do believe I saw every species of fish there ever was.  OK…well a lot anyway.

At Aldabra we were dropped off at the inlet to the lagoon and, with the tide, we were swept in effortlessly as the creatures and formations flowed cinematically below.  Once slowed down at the lagoon, the zodiacs whisked us back to the beginning for a repeat.  So much fun!!

We also visited Assumption Island, Cosmoledo Atoll, the Alphonse Island Group, Poivre Atoll, Desroches, La Digue (my beach favorite), and finally Mahe to head home.

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Aldabra Atoll

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Citizen of Aldabra Atoll

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Coconut crab sans coconut

And finally, the end of our trip at Mahe.

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Mahe Center

 

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Fish Market in case you can’t guess

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Cinnamon tree…no climbing

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As always, I’m happy to get home.  It seems it will be a bit of time before I’m (anyone is) on the road again.  So, happy virtual travels to all.

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Well, it’s my first leg to the Seychelles and I’m already exhausted. Can’t wait for the next 22 hours. From Lisbon to London is 3 hours; then a 4 hour layover; then 7 hours to Doha; then 6 hours to Zanzibar. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had had a decent sleep last night but, as usual my tiny brain wouldn’t stop organizing and reviewing and recalling…so zero sleep. I’m not complaining (well, maybe) as the night before I slept from 3 am to 2:30 pm. Totally knocked out.

I’ve given up worrying about my sleeping patterns. My belief is that I’m on a 48 hour sleep cycle or thereabouts. Waaah. I am excited about this trip. Meeting my buddy Andrew in Zanzibar prior to boarding our ship for a wonderful 2 weeks survey of the Seychelles, Aldabra Atoll, etc. Lots of sun, snorkeling, turtle and bird gazing. Should be very relaxing…like a real vacation.

I keep thinking I’m going to get better at packing. When I arrived last week from San Francisco into Lisbon I shouldn’t have unpacked my Seychelles clothes and stuff. I had a very difficult time repacking and thought I was done when I checked a bottom drawer and saw that I had stored all my shorts and t-shirts there. So, cramming all that into my fully packed suitcase was a bit of a chore. I probably really only need a couple pair of shorts and some long pants and t-shirts…and, of course, snorkel gear. Whatever…

I’m taking EasyJet to London. I’ve taken them before and like them a lot for these short European trips. They are not so strict on the luggage (you do have to pay for hold luggage and have a couple of options in terms of weight and cost) and their restrictions are very well-explained. On the carry-on however, you are restricted to one teeeny plastic bag for your liquids and gels. At this writing you have to pull the bag out of your suitcase and place it on the tray separately. You no longer have to pull your electronics out.

This is my first real trip for 2020. I did return from the East Coast a month ago but I left in 2019…so doesn’t really count. My last year of non-travel didn’t quite work out that way. It was my intention to curb my travel as I had been out of the country for about 9 months in 2018. However, duty calls. I made it until May and then all hell broke loose with a trip to Cincinnati, Lisbon, Seville, Poland, Prague, Lisbon again, Mexico and then Virginia and South Carolina.

Travel suggestion for Lisbon (and EU): download the app FreeNow (it used to be MyTaxi) and add your credit card for auto pay. It’s not actually free and I’m not sure why the name change but they do pick up at the airport in Lisbon at Terminal 1 just in front of the taxi line and across from the metro. It’s similar to Uber but the drivers all have WiFi for payment…so you don’t need to access your cell service. Also, they are able to get into neighborhoods (such as Bairro Alto) that are blocked off from Uber. As with Uber, one can order a taxi for up to 4 days in advance. They are also in Seville and other cities/countries as well. A good substitute for Uber.

Qatar Air to Doha and on to Zanzibar. I was kind of excited taking Qatar but pretty disappointed overall. It’s quite similar to American and United. The food was better but we are pretty packed in here. They have a 3-3-3 structure in coach and there’s a kid behind him that keeps kicking the seat and adjusting the TV screen which is in the seat back. I talked to him several times and whipped my arm around there to grab his legs…he was at it again in 2 minutes. His mother and another kid are behind me as well but she’s oblivious. He is only about seven I guess. And next to me is a fellow who has had 4 whiskies and is taking up not only the armrest but my space as well…as he leans into me, resting. The Entertainment is fine and the food, as I mentioned, was good. We’re almost to Doha and then I have a 2 1/2 hour layover waiting for my next 6 hour flight. Same configuration. At least on the way back I’m going business class. Hopefully that will be a bit different.

Finally made it to Zanzibar. What a cluster- fck at arrivals. First of all there were departures getting mixed in with arrivals and several agents trying to direct traffic. I hadn’t gotten my visa ahead of time but getting it here was the easy part. Since I’m from the rich U.S. I had to pay $100 cash. And of course the credit card machine wasn’t working…as has been mentioned by other travelers. I think you can assume it never works and to bring $50 clean bills to pay. I have no doubt this gets shared by the customs officers. I had also been led to believe that they would take a picture and fingerprints…but no. Once I had paid my visa fee, I had to get into the customs line which was where the big problem was. However, it really took only about 30 minutes, and seemed to be pretty blasé. You could have put anything on the customs form…no one even looks. Luggage came OK but was on a different carousel than indicated.

Zegrahm driver picked me up and another lady (Robin). I delayed her about 30 minutes because I didn’t come all the way out to where the drivers had to meet people. I waited inside thinking they would come to get me…my bad.

Lots of thunder showers today. This is their dry season. Hmmm.

My room wasn’t ready (Park Hyatt) and Andrew doesn’t arrive for four more hours. Having had no sleep for 30 hours, I’m pretty tired and not very good company. It’s an adventure! I was hoping to get a shower in and maybe a nap. Guess I’ll have to reserve it for tonight. I’m sure I’ll be snoring up a storm. The hotel seems lovely [pic] and is right on the water with a small beach and pool.

Sitting here on Zanzibar beach and hanging out at the pool. Andrew came in yesterday and sure enough I was a snorer last night. We went to dinner at the Emerald Tea Room up about 5 floors with a lovely view of the city. Meal was fine and a little weird. It’s a set menu with about 6 courses. Today we walked down to the center of Stone Town and ate at the Secret Garden for lunch.

Broiled shrimp wrapped in a very thin crispy noodle. Yum.

Did some minimal shopping, had a drink at the Freddie Mercury cafe…news to me he was born here. Went to the Palace Museum for a little history lesson.

Most of our fellow travelers showed up this evening. The de riguer Welcome dinner…which I don’t remember at all. I guess it was at the hotel…the Park Hyatt. There’s a pick up for a Zanzibar walking/riding tour at 8AM. Yikes. We don’t board the ship (Le Bougainvillea) until 4ish. Everything’s a bit of a blur.

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OK…no promises for 2020 and not traveling.

At the end of 2019 and a couple of weeks after my Poland/Czech Republic/Lisbon trip I headed off to Mexico to meet up with my friend Jano. Taking a non-stop from Oakland to Leon and then a car from Leon to San Miguel was pretty easy way of getting to San Miguel de Allende. They were a tiny bit late to pick me up but I did arrive before the scheduled time…bajiogo.com

Jano’s friend has a lovely home very close to the center of San Miguel and we were lucky enough to be able to rent it for the week. It came with its own housekeeper/cook and wading pool…too cold.

I hear it’s for sale now.

San Miguel is a lovely Spanish colonial town…full of Americans. It’s in the mountains, so doesn’t get too hot and there are some excellent restaurants at a reasonable price. The art scene is pretty good. We went to an artisan complex on the outskirts of the town (Uber and taxis abound) where art, jewelry, and crafts are in abundance. Highly recommended.I also recommend a day trip (or more) to Guanajuato which is about 1 hour from San Miguel. It’s a lot more lively, colorful and, in my opinion, more interesting. A friend of Jano’s…Jorge (George)…accompanied us there where we visited Diego Rivera’s home/museum, rode up and down on the funicular and had a really nice day.

A view from the Funicular

Taking a rest

Street Art

A beautiful chapel in the Cathedral

The mummy museum…preserved bodies…creepy and unusual

Back in San Miguel we were lucky to be there when the Mexican finalists for the Metropolitan Opera auditions performed. The performance was in a small church with wonderful acoustics and we managed to sit right behind the singers and the pianist. Amazing!

Tomorrow heading for Mexico City

Heading off to Mexico City on the luxury bus for about a 3 1/2 hour ride. We had a bit of trouble once we got there in finding a taxi. Evidently Uber’s aren’t welcome at the bus station. Our taxi driver had no idea where we were going and we drove around asking people who misdirected us or else and no idea either where we were going. After about an hour we finally came upon our Airbnb…and couldn’t get into the drive because they were making a film in the adjoining park. Crazy. At long last, we arrived and then couldn’t get into the apartment. The code didn’t work…Yikes. After calling the host who was not on premises she said she would have a locksmith come and meet her there. Evidently the battery was kaput.

So…Jano and I left our bags with the concierge and headed off to get a drink…oh yes, and some food. After a couple of hours I got the call that things were working and we headed back. What a grumpy tired pair we were. The apartment was fine but we weren’t too happy with the neighborhood. It was centrally located, so really OK.

Mexico City is fantastic. So much to see. The pollution is bad but I didn’t seem to many people with filter masks on…and we didn’t use one. We had scheduled an Airbnb “experience” to visit the anthropology/archeology museum and our guide was really amazing. Lots of artifacts from the Inca days and Teotihuacán. It’s a very large museum and it was definitely a blessing to have Monica show us around and explain everything.

We visited several other museums, attended a Romeo & Juliet ballet presented by who knows? No information on the production or performers. They performed at the castle and it was quite a chore finding it and finding where the entrance was. Anyway, at long last, we arrived just as it was starting. The poor dancers were dancing on a marble floor and performed in socks. The choreography didn’t call for many leaps or lifts…thankfully. We had met a lovely French Canadian woman, Francois, on the anthropology museum visit who came with us. Prior to the performance we had a very good meal at a hotel restaurant where we were the only diners.

I headed out to Teotihuacán for another Airbnb “experience” with several people. I was picked up at our Airbnb and it took over an hour to get out there. We toured the entire site and had a chance to hike up the pyramids…which I DID NOT.

Notice all those peeps heading up the steps

I have no idea what these guys were doing performing in the parking lot

We had a excellent lunch and headed back. A very nice day with some interesting and liberal people. We had quite a conversation on the way back concerning Dummy Don.

In the evening Jano and I headed down to the Zocalo the very large center square. Prior to the colonial period, it was the main ceremonial center in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Lots of people watching opportunities. Families out for a stroll, skateboarders, etc. We had some tapas and drinks and visited the ruins that are right next to the cathedral. Or at least walked around them since they were closed at that time.

Heading for home…if I had to do it again I’d spend more time in Mexico City and less in San Miguel.

Posted on by micetrail | Comments Off on Finally…the end of my non-traveling year 2019
Heading out from Warsaw and on the way to Kraków, we stopped at a (I guess) famous monastery Częstochowa with the Black Madonna…Our Lady of Jasna Gora. Now I’ve seen a couple of Black Madonna’s in my lifetime (Bolivia…a small statue; Mexico City…a painting) and being curious had to figure out what the heck this was about. If you’re curious, check out this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna Black Madonnas

What is really cool is that they have different outfits to fit over the painting every year or so. We toured the museum at the monastery and saw that she had 4 or 5 “outfits. Who knew? Uhhh…probably Catholics…which means everyone in Poland.
Arriving in Kraków, we were put up at a beautifully remodeled hotel (Hotel Copernicus) with a pool and spa downstairs from the lobby. The small number of rooms were build around an open atrium and, depending on which side of the hotel you were on you had to exit a different direction from the elevator. The rooms were all marble and beautifully furnished and serviced. Of course I had to schedule a massage and was rewarded by Monica, a talented masseuse. Heaven.

We were invited to a local house for dinner. It was a very modern home on the outskirts of Krakow hosted by Agnes (in a red tight dress with her hahas exposed. She had roped in her son and daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend to cook and serve. Perogi with 1) meat 2) cheese and potato 3) cabbage. A very nice evening was had by all.
Kraków was lovely…one Polish city that was not destroyed. We did a side trip to the salt mines (no longer used) where we had lunch down in the a huge cavern. Not claustrophobic at all. A long elevator ride down and a little “train” that took our lazy bones on a tour of the passages. And some very strange displays (a realistic flooding) and chapels where they still have services on certain holidays. Of course there’s still a lot of salt down there that one can lick off the side of the cavern.
Back at “headquarters” and the Copernicus we enjoyed a night on our own and the next day had a tour of the city.

I have to say I preferred Kraków to Warsaw…probably because of a more European ambiance. Also the fact that it wasn’t bombed and then restored by Russians…not a good look in my opinion. You decide:

Kraków

Warsaw…OK, not a fair comparison but still…

Heading out to Auschwitz/Berkinau on a 1 hour bus trip to the area. I was able to see it in a more dispassionate way for some reason or other. It didn’t seem so much like a pilgrimage site but rather a remembrance and educational site.
Back to the hotel around 2pm; walked around the castle grounds and the cathedral which was quite impressive. Then had dinner at a little cafe (fried pork chop, sauerkraut and potatoes…oh yes, and wine. All of 10 bucks. Took a walk around the green park which surrounds the old town and then walked down the Main Street, bought a knit hat and some chocolate and went to bed.
In the early morning headed to Prague with a couple of stops along the way. Going through a Silesian coal mine area into the Czech Republic. A short stop at Olomoc – lunch on our own – ate solo at a restaurant where Mozart stayed (for one day, ha). Had Rabbit and bread and broccoli soup among the locals. Stopped by the ATM and retrieved $50. Walked around – got a mocha. Back on the bus.
An aside: Sandor is a very good guide. Funny little stories, great sense of humor, quick, attentive.
We arrived after a long day to Prague at the BoHo hotel. Very modern and sleek…a little concern with all the glass doors that slide open…I constantly had to put my hand out to make sure the door was open. Very easy check-in. Room was quite large and again, lots of glass. The bathroom and the sleeping area were separated with glass…including the toilet area and shower. It was darkened glass but one could see someone on the toilet from the bedroom. Sort of strange.
We had dinner at a hidden away restaurant that we took limos from the hotel to get to. Our driver got a bit lost and was concentrating on his google maps. The restaurant was down a pedestrian-only cobblestone walkway, so it wasn’t a simple location. We accidentally? left Patricia (our Newport Beach conservative) behind but she found a taxi and arrived at the same time. Dinner was excellent…no complaints about the food.
Back at the hotel and to bed.
Heading out for a walking tour of the Jewish quarter, cemetery, and temple. Again, a good local guide. The pace was a bit slow and there were crowds everywhere. I felt like I was in Times Square. The silver and gold spray-painted street artists? were out in good form. Some very clever get-ups…a genie coming out of a lamp, for example. There must have been 50 or so of these performers around the Old Square and Wenceslas Square.
Headed over to the Charles Bridge, which is only for pedestrians now. Again, totally crowded. It looked like the GG Bridge on the 50th anniversary…packed. There were also “Old Cars” that one could take a tour of the city in. The buildings are lovely and if it weren’t for the crowds, charming. I would come back but, if possible, in non-tourist time. There’s a lot to see. Enjoyed lunch at restaurant off-the-beaten-track, so that was nice.
Left on our own to either return to the hotel or look around. Of course, I chose to look around. Just wandered a bit and got back to the hotel around 3:30? I had intentions of going out but decided to order room service (soup and tuna salad)…very refreshing.
Up and off around 9am after breakfast at the hotel. Took “our” bus over to the other side of the river…to visit Prague Castle and the Cathedral. Lines, lines, lines. It was a bit rushed once you got inside and the crowds were pretty unbearable.
We had a quick snack (Irish coffee and soup) at a little cafe and then back on the bus and to the hotel. Final dinner tonight at a restaurant just a short walk away. Shrimp wrapped in cucumber…noodles with truffles, mushrooms and Parmesan…really yummy.
I met Patricia (my new “best” friend), whom I had agreed to accompany on my extra day, at 10am at breakfast and walked to the National Art museum where they had a fantastic impressionist exhibit. We broke for coffee. Then to the Warhol/Mucha/Dali museum which was also excellent. More memorabilia and history about them. Didn’t know that Warhol was originally Warhola and his parents came from an area that is now Slovakia. Museumed out, we walked back to the hotel. I sat at the bar and had a glass of rose and the tuna salad again.
Then met Rebecca and Pete for dinner at 7pm. They had reserved a strange little place, called Home. It was part of a hotel. Had beef goulash and dumplings. So-so. A little heavy. They expressed amazement that I had agreed to hang around with Patricia…they were from Santa Cruz, so you will probably get my drift. Back to the hotel and packed, showered and went to bed.
A 4:20 AM pick up. All went like clockwork and I’m now on the plane almost ready to land in Lisbon. I opted to bid for Premier on TAP and got my bid of $125 accepted. However there really isn’t a Premier on this trip. The seats are the same, the configuration the same but with less width of the seat. You do get a nice breakfast, however. Kind of an expensive breakfast, I have to say.
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Interesting…the year 2019 was supposed to be a non-travel year. Since I traveled so much in 2018, my thoughts went to a rest for 2019. But suppositions don’t make reality and the year hadn’t finished Spring when my friend Andrew suggested we head off to the Chelsea Flower Show and surrounds.

I did write and post some updates on that trip. Being in England it seemed silly not to head down to Lisbon for a couple of weeks before heading home. As it turns out my little mishap on the escalator in Lisbon forced me to a two week rest before I got home. I believe I did update you all on that fiasco. What I don’t think I mentioned is going to a clinic to get my bandage changed and my stitches removed.

I decided to head out on my crutches over the cobblestones to the nearest clinic which was about 3 streets down the hill…not far. It was a Saturday morning and I figured no one would be out and about until later. So, crutching it down the hill slowly I did come across some people out and about. It turns out I was in good company with the old folks who also were making their way around on either crutches or canes. Very amusing.

Finally, heading for home I made a stop in Seville, as it had a good connection to Barcelona and Norwegian Airlines where I could pick up a non-stop to SFO. Seville was great; I had a lovely little Airbnb close to the center; purchased an Airbnb experience to a deli deal where I sampled Iberico ham, cheese, and some wine. I was the only one participating and received some hermetically sealed supplies for me to smuggle home. Eventually, I arrived in San Francisco and thought my non-travel travel was over for the year. Well…I just couldn’t resist an up and coming trip to Poland and the Czech Republic that worked well with timing on some friends of mine meeting me in Lisbon in September. So, why not?

This is pretty much where I left off on my micetrail updates for the year. So, I’ll fill you in on my trip to Poland and the Czech Republic.

I arrived into Warsaw on a gray dismal day, ahead of the small group I was joining. This was an A&K planned itinerary with about 15 people. Heading out from my B&B I walked down to the Science & Technology Center (similar to the Exploratorium in San Francisco).

On my way, I enjoyed a mocha at a great little coffee shop and also had some beet risotto. Delicious.

I strolled around afterwards along the river, took the elevator up to the Soviet-era central tower, visited the doll house museum and then headed for dinner at my B&B. Quite nice…the food, not the ambiance.

Warsaw has few buildings that existed before the war…the entire city was razed by the Germans in the last throes of the war. The Warsaw uprising in 1944 killed thousands and though the Russians promised to come to the Poles rescue, they waited on the other side of the river while the Germans pummeled the City. Once the Germans left the Russians came in and took over. Most of the buildings are all Soviet style…blocky with huge monuments to the working class. Only a few Art Deco buildings remain.

The next day after an excellent breakfast and sitting down with the owner and some guests from the U.S., we tried to keep from talking about politics. But, of course, that came up and, it was good to see that most tended toward the liberal side and couldn’t believe the pumpkin we had for a president.

I joined a walking tour through an AB&B experience. I have had such good luck with these local-provided tours. The guides have a speciality; most of them are students and have a very detailed knowledge of their subjects. This particular experience was mostly a stroll through the the parks of which there are many and really a saving grace for Warsaw. We walked through areas where folks were growing their own vegetables, past some small houses that were built after the war for people who had lost their homes, visited a couple of Art Deco buildings and the expansive Parliament Building. Our guide left us off at what I would term an upscale food court…multiple restaurants. I did have a complaint with him as he walked me back toward my hotel…on his description of the experience there were to be refreshments at the “food court.” He wrote me later that he “forgot” that was on the experience. I believe he has since taken it off.

Back at my B&B, I had signed up for a Chopin concert there. A woman that was studying music at the academy was the artist. She was so emotive, I paid more attention to her then to the music. I have to say…it was a bit exhausting.

The next day, I headed over to join my group at the “Royal” hotel. The usual welcome dinner and meet and greet. Mostly peeps from the U.S….in fact, all of them were from the U.S. Some Michiganers (one couple conservative…Trump voters but asking for forgiveness), Newport Beach (not admitting she was a Trump voter), several other Californians (Trump haters)…a fairly eclectic group.

We journeyed around Warsaw by bus and visited the Jewish museum, stopped at many war memorials (some haunting and beautiful), and visited the Rising (as in uprising) Museum which is amazing. An experience of the horrible suffering the Poles went through during the war. There is archive footage, sounds, walls and underground events going on to support the uprising…printing press…children delivering messages…hideouts…a plane above that delivered supplies…and so on. This is worth visiting Warsaw on its own.

Oh, yes…another Chopin concert and a visit to the Royal Palace. And, the same day, I had booked another Airbnb experience which was a Chopin “tour.” I was the only one on this tour and met a lovely woman who showed me the University and where Chopin had lived, where his heart is kept in the pillar of a church and benches throughout the main strolling area filled with shops and restaurants. The benches each have a Chopin tune that you can listen to…pretty cool. And finally…guess what? Another Chopin concert. All part of the experience.

Anyway I felt pretty Chopined-out at this point. Tomorrow heading with the group to Kraków and Auschwitz/Berkenau.

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Lame in Lisbon – advice for the traveler

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If you have luggage do not, DO NOT, take the escalator. Look for the nearest elevator and Wait. A little late for advice but…next time. Handling one small roll-aboard, a back pack, my purse and a bag with 2 boxes … Continue reading

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Chelsea Flower Show

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There’s no place like home!

It’s been some time since I’ve been in touch but I just got the writing “jones” to update any of you interested peeps.  If you’ve kept up you might know I’ve been traveling in Europe and North Africa for a little over 9 months…a welcome relief.  But it is wonderful to be home…  Today I went out to the Bay in the sun/rain and managed my mocha and donut at the Little Marina Green kiosk. It was a spectacular day with high tides, sailboat races, and lordy, lordy…a double rainbow.   OK, the second rainbow is pretty faint but, nevertheless…

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I recently returned from Ethiopia where I traveled with a tiny group of four, including my neighbors Janet & Julian and a doctor from Australia who had been volunteering near Addis Ababa for a few months and was on her way home. She wanted to get a flavor for Ethiopia before returning to Oz. Our guide was terrific, knowledgeable, and charming.

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Eyob Awraris

Our party which consisted of our guide, two SUV’s (with drivers) and four travelers initially traveled from Addis Ababa to the north arid area by plane.

Here is the ancient and sacred city of Axum (Aksum) where we were fortunate to arrive for the annual Hidar-Tsion celebration…festival of St. Mary who is the most revered religious figure for the Ethiopian Orthodox.  Ten’s of thousands come from all over Ethiopia to join in the celebration.  The Ark of the Covenant is said to be housed here…as the Smithsonian says:  “Queen Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem three thousand years ago, and the son she bore him, Menelik, at age 20 visited Jerusalem, from where he brought the ark of the covenant back to Aksum.” It’s been in Ethiopia ever since, according to legend.  No one has seen the ark and there is only one keeper where it is housed.

It reminded me of the “tomb of Daniel ” in Samarkand where periodically they extend the sarcophagus as he evidently grows in length only.  They will soon have to expand the actual walls of the building where he resides.  Again, no one ever opens the sarcophagus.

Other amazing sites we saw were the 11 carved churches in Lalibela:   Much of Ethiopia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built (with the help of angels) a series of rockhewn churches, considered as one of the wonders of the world. IMG_7991IMG_7948IMG_7963IMG_8589

The headwaters of the Blue Nile,

The Simien Mountains National Park where we saw the endemic Gelada (bleeding heart) baboons,

and the Omo Valley tribes (my favorites, except for the whipping of the groom-to-be’s female relatives),

The wedding “festival”,

and Lucy!  She’s housed in Addis Ababa in the Natural History Museum…definitely worth a visit.

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Say hi!

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OK…use your imagination.

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Not really Lucy…a beautiful baby

Some of my favorite ladies below:IMG_9404IMG_8947IMG_9237IMG_9240

 

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Morocco memories

Just returned from Morocco on a small group tour (8 peeps and my favored way to travel if not alone). I met my travel buddy Andrew in Tangier for a couple of days, prior to joining the group. We stayed in a 3-story airbnb in the Médina with steep stairs between floor and a wonderful balcony and viewand hired a young man with a very modern doo and wonderful English to show us around

Yes, boys jumping over the fence.

to show us around the souk. I have to insert some souk pictures here and indulge my passion for original doors…and awful (offal) animal pics.

Artistry at work

Well, not actually a door…

I had flown into Tangier from Lisbon and Andrew met me at the airport having arrived from Casablanca and driven north to Tangier. We found a great little breakfast place suggested by our guide and a couple of good restaurants…one serving Italian food and the other Moroccan fare.

Next to our breakfast place

View from the Italian restaurant

Doubtful movies are still being shown

There’s also a cool museum in the Médina that our guide directed us to.

An antique map that’s “upside down”

Heading off to Casablanca to join our group. Tangier was definitely worth the detour.

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Still going after 6 months

Heading off to Geneva to visit CERN and the LHC…something I’ve been wanting to experience since the Higgs Boson discovery.  I guess most people go for the scenery, skiing, and banking secrecy but I just wanted to stand above the protons smashing together 100 feet below and scattering whatever smaller particles the impact revealed.  I probably picked up a few rems as well.  I know it’s pretty nerdy to get excited about some unseen and unseeable particles but it was like standing at the center of the universe for me.

I did also manage to venture to my other great interest near Geneva…Gruyere with fabulous fondue.  The town was a train ride and short transfer away and well worth the trip.  A castle to visit, chocolate to eat and, of course, yummy fondue overlooking the oh-so-green valley.

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