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Tails From the Vienna Woods

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Africa

Our Magic Carpet Ride: Marrakesh! Postcards

Kitties everywhere. Generally, Islamic people are not pet people, so it was not surprising to see stray cats here, there and everywhere. Still, we did note chicken heads along the neighborhood lanes, and small bowls of scraps left as payment to the mangy mousers.

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Our Magic Carpet Ride: Marrakesh! Newton’s Fourth Law

Sir Isaac Newton’s little known Fourth Law is Marrakesh:  Where Equal and Opposite Forces are at Peace while in Motion.

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Our Magic Carpet Ride: Marrakesh! Haggling with Habibi

Over steaming Beghrir, hot coffee, and honeydew melon sweet enough to render a honeybee diabetic the following morning, Jack and I rehearsed our well-researched strategy for bringing home a magic carpet. After all, I did not travel to Africa in 40º weather to bring home just any old rug.

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Our Magic Carpet Ride: Marrakesh! You Will Be Hassled.

Refreshed, not only by the mint tea, but by the full-blast air-conditioning in our room, and changed into breezy linen clothes, we attempted to head out for a little exploration when the owner waved us over to his desk. Was there a problem? Not at all. In addition to sharing the (mentally) delightful news that the temperature had cooled to 39ºC we were given what is probably the standard lecture on where to go, where NOT to go, and basically, how not to be swindled by a Berber.

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Our Magic Carpet Ride: Marrakesh! Arrival.

With Jack home for two months, and the clock ticking on his time as a carefree coed, we thought one last Mom-Son adventure was in order. Plans were grand at the beginning; we were going to hit the ‘Stans for a couple of weeks, but transit connections and visa fees nixed our nomadic notions. Walking about Wales rose to the top of our list, too; that is, until we looked at Welsh weather history. Then, one morning over breakfast…tickets to Marrakesh were purchased.

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The Patrick Family* Goes to Cairo: The Best of the Rest

 

The Egyptian National Museum is humbling, at least it was for us as Rania (an Egyptian history major and government-certified guide) wove an extraordinary two-hour long tale starting with the copy of the Rosetta Stone (Shame on you, British Museum. You should return at least the Rosetta Stone to its rightful country.), and moving through the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms of Egyptian history.   Tsk Tsk to those who we observed using the audio guide to self-tour. Y’all missed out on some incredible history.
Out of sequence a bit, but certainly a highlight of the museum.  Anna Grace and I stood thisclose to the Gold Mask of King Tutankhamen! Photography was not permitted in this gallery (this photo is from the Internet), and the temptation to sneak a snap with our iPhones was only tempered by the guards milling about who would likely have yelled at us in Arabic for having done so.

The Patrick Family* Goes to Cairo: Khan el Khalili Souk

On our final day in Cairo, with Tony off doing his work thing, Anna Grace and I had great confidence that we could navigate the nearly 1.000 year old market without a guide. We have bargained our way through the souk in Sarajevo and the Grande Dame of markets, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, so we knew what to expect. (Though, because that was also the day the EgyptAir hijacking story was developing, we asked our driver to remain at the market while we shopped, as a precaution.)

Once upon a time Cairo was an Islamic, medieval walled city; today, three of the ancient gates remain, and it was through one of them that we began our adventure.

The Patrick Family* Goes to Cairo: The Alabaster Mosque

High atop a hill in Cairo sits an Islamic fortress, built in the 1100s to protect the city from Crusaders.

The Patrick Family* Goes to Cairo: Coptic Cairo

The afternoon of our first day was spent exploring Coptic, or Old Cairo and its medieval streets upon which sit Orthodox, Christian, Muslim and Jewish houses of worship. That people of different religions could worship peacefully together in ancient times made us wonder why it is so difficult in contemporary times.

The Amr ibn al-As mosque is Cairo’s first, following the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 AD.  We had arrived at the call to prayer and so were not permitted to visit inside.

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