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Students and teachers alike look forward to the longest holiday of the year, ‘summer’.
In the past summers for me meant packing my bags with all that I would need and move down to Agami, a summer resort just outside of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea, where my parents had a beach house. There I would spend my days in shorts, t-shirt, swimsuit and flip-flops with my beach bag ready for the beach. Two to three months of swimming, tanning, reading, playing volleyball, running a summer camp for children and catching up with old friends whom I hadn’t seen since the previous summer.
Times have changed and friends have moved on. I have not been back to Bianki since 2007. I miss the times, I had there during my teenage years. It is there where I made some of my most memorable memories and met some very interesting people and dear friends. To date, my summers are split between Alexandria and going abroad to various destinations to get away from the stress that the post revolution has left and the political roller coaster of electorial disappointments we have had to take part in, witness and accept the results of.
The beginning portion of my summer for the past two years has been spent in Alexandria with my parents. My mother and I have been motivating one another to get back in shape and eat healthy. (This as some of you may know has been an ongoing process for me. After 1.5 years of battling the bulge, I am 13Kg away from my target weight!) I would spend an hour working out at home, doing various crunches and sit-ups as well as using an elliptical bike and 3 hours of the day would be spent swimming laps and using various apparatus to help strengthen and tone my arms and legs. For a few weeks, I or we would go abroad.
To go abroad for me is a chance to recharge, re-evaluate, relax and look at things from a different perspective (the change in scenery and climate is also an added bonus). This year my mother and I ventured to London to visit briefly with my sister and to Ireland to attend a family wedding and strengthen family connection with our cousins, whom we had lost contact with over the past few years.
I am fascinated with our family genealogy, especially on the Irish side. I have found that not only do I look Irish, I have a lot of the Irish family traits in me and from listening to stories, I find I learn more and more about myself and why some of the members of our family are the way that they are.
As a young girl London never appealed to me, I had formed an image of it being a dark, grey and gloomy place, much like the Industrial time in England. My opinion changed quickly when I first visited 3 years ago. I look forward to my visits there now, not solely due to it’s undeniable allure but because I actually feel normal there. I don’t worry about what I’m wearing and if I’ll be harassed as I walk down the street or how long it will take me to get to my destination. When I am there the stress of constantly having to be aware of the people around me and looking for signs of possible sexual harassers trying to invade my personal space drops from 100 to 1.
Time spent with my sister, her husband and other members of our family are precious and they always take priority. I try to spend as much time with them as I can, to keep our family bond strong and because I simply love being in their company. There is never a dull moment when we congregate! On extended visits I like to walk around and take in the sights, museums, shows, take pictures and of course shop! (One has to make a contribution to the economy of the country one happens to visit, no?)
It was also exciting to have been there pre-Olympic ceremony. To see the city decorated with flags of the different nations taking part in the games. The excitment and pride of the nationals to host the games. My mum and I missed the ceremony but watched many of the highlights and events once we had made it back to our hotel room and back to Egypt after our trip. The athletes are phenominal in their dedication and inspring!
I have always been very proud and patriotic of my Irish heritage. When I visit I can’t help but be in awe of her beauty. Her beauty, in my opinion becomes more enhanced by her people, who have such a cheerful, friendly, helpful and funny disposition about them. I can’t help but find so many similarities in them and the ‘old’ Egyptian culture that I grew up knowing, ( it saddens me to think that what remains of the ‘old’ Egypt, might soon be lost, if things are not sorted out soon).
During this trip to Ireland, I made sure that I would not be rushing through like a forest fire, but I would actually have time to walk the streets, visit historical landmarks, eat in pubs, shop and talk with the locals, as well as visit with family.
I can not tell you how much I enjoyed touring the capital, learning about how Ireland earned its Independence, driving through the grounds of Phoenix Park, visiting Trinity College and sitting in its grand library of ancient manuscripts and books that were written and read by some of the greatest minds on earth and where some members of my family attended. Although my connection to the country itself isn’t strong, I think this journey has definitely strengthened it.
My cousin whom I had only reconnected with over the last three years and hadn’t seen in twenty, invited my family and I to attend his wedding. The place in which the nuptials took place and the ceremony itself was unlike any wedding that I have ever been to or seen before. It was a Humanist Wedding/Ceremony, filled with spirituality, tradition and love. It was held on a bridge on a beautiful summer’s day with beautiful landscape encompassing the couple and their families and friends. Nothing could have made it more magical, meaningful or beautiful in my opinion. The two-day event was packed with entertainment, food and great times. Most importantly it was shared with people who truly cared for the couple and genuinely wished them nothing but happiness in their future life together. It was at this event, where I made new connections and bonds with members of our family whom I had lost contact with and those I had never met before. (Now, I know where I get my energy, drive, motivation to succeed, love of learning, sense of humor and love of partying from, The McSorley Clan)
The third part of our trip was spent visiting the area of where my grandmother and generations before her had come from. In some strange way, Wexford, a small county by the sea reminded me of Alexandria. It is here where my mother attended boarding school as a young girl and where she spent many summers with her aunt, uncle and cousins at a nearby resort called Rosslare. As I walked the quay and breathed in the fresh Irish sea air and took in the scenic views, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to have traveled to the land of my ancestors, to see where half of me is from and to be able to pass down the stories that have been told to me by my aunt, mother and cousins, so, that our history isn’t lost or forgotten.
In Wexford we strengthened existing ties with family we are in touch with. It was also a second opportunity for my mother to spend time her aged aunt of 97 years and to thank her for all the wonderful summers she had spent with them as a child and all the other things she and her late husband did for her growing up. (Moments like that should be seised, because they may never come again).
There is so much more for me to see and learn of Ireland but I have an itching desire to learn as much as I can about my family as I can. I hope to be able to go back there again soon in the near future.
Upon returning to Egypt I couldn’t help but feel depressed. Ireland might be in dire straits economically but the people have the drive to rebuild the country to get it back on its feet again. Egypt, a nation of great potential and historical as well as cultural wealth seems to be sinking before our eyes and very few seem willing to get their hands dirty. I have said it before and I will say it again. I fear for Egypt’s future and her children. I pray that I am wrong and that she will not suffer in the hands of men like Rasputin. Perhaps the Egyptian Olympians who preformed so well at the London 2012 games, might inspire their country men and women that hard work does pay off and that they can not only achieve great things but be recognised for them in the long run, if they pull together and move forward in rebuilding the country rather than pointing the finger of blame.
August 21st of 2011 was the 40 day memorial service for my sweet departed friend. In this part of the world, 40 days after a person has departed there is a memorial service held in their honor. I hopped on a train and headed down to Cairo especially to attend the service.
Fabienne, Nathalie Atalla’s sister had asked me to read the Irish bereavement poem that I had used at the end of my written tribute to her. No matter how many times I read those few sentences allowed or to myself, I couldn’t help but feel as though that I was choking on held back tears and my lip would disobey direct orders from my brain not to quiver.
When I reached Cairo I busied myself trying to put my closed apartment in order, while thinking about the upcoming service. The reason the service weighed so heavily on my mind was because, when I heard of Nathalie’s untimely departure I had just arrived in London. As much as I wanted to get back on a plane and turn around and go back to Cairo, I couldn’t. So, although I understood that Nathalie would no longer be walking among us in the flesh, my mind hadn’t fully come to terms with it.
As I sat in the church and was a few pews from the alter, where a beautiful picture of her smiling back at all of those who were in attendance, the reality of it all came crashing down. My eyes burned with restrained tears as did my throat, but I knew that she wouldn’t want more tears to be shed and especially not on her birthday. Yes, her memorial service coincided with her 32nd Birthday. A day where we would have all come together to rejoice and having a gay o’l time, but instead we were remembering her life and how she touched each and every one of us.
At the service I saw her two brave adorable girls, standing at the front of the church with their aunt and grandparents, behaving beautifully and comforting their grandmother in the midst of the service. Once the service was over, the two girls greeted the attendees at the entrance of the church with angelic smiles on their face, warm hugs and handed every single person a brioche (it’s like a hot cross bun). As I watched them, I couldn’t help but admire their innocence and how they have bounced back from having their mother tragically taken away from them at such a young age. I could see many of Nato’s qualities and she would have been very proud of them.
In the reception hall on the grounds of the church, friends and family went to pay their respects. A group of friends sat in the hall and sang ballads, two other close friends of Nathalie’s stood up and said a few words about her. Fabienne, gave a very moving speech that brought us all to tears and moved us deeply. I agree with Fabienne, Nathalie wouldn’t want us to continue to cry and be sad, she would want us to celebrate her life, remember her and smile and apply the lessons she taught us to our daily lives.
With the over flow of emotion, my little speech was over looked, but that is fine, what really mattered, was that we were there for her sister, her daughters, her parents and that we were remembering her and what she meant to us.
I finally had closure and came to terms with her passing, but although she in no longer with us in body, Nathalie is still here with us in spirit and she continues to inspire us every day!
Nathalie, you have inspired me to love myself and to take care of my health. I have returned to my favorite sport, swimming. I could barely finish two laps without gasping for air, when I started at the beginning of July but with daily practice and persistence, plus having your voice encouraging and cheering me on, as you have for the past few months. I have now made it to 110 laps. I look better, feel better about myself and I’m beginning to feel more like my old self. Nathalie, thank you for motivating and inspiring me!
As the famous song goes; every breath I take, every move I make, every single day, every time I pray, I’ll be missing you…
http://www.nathalieatalla.com/ to leave your thoughts and comments.
On Sunday I vaguely remember hearing something on the news about riots in London, but I didn’t pay much attention until the following day. On Monday there were more reports on the vandalism that took place the previous night and that a building had been set ablaze. The scenes struck an all too familiar nerve and brought back the raw memories of the looting that took place after the 13,000 or so convicts had escaped from prisons across Egypt. I stayed up Monday night watching the news, with my blackberry in hand following the instant tweets that were appearing on my mini-feed. What made the horror of what was happening in London frustrating for me is that my sister, who is newly married just moved there to be with her husband and they live a stone’s throw away from Clapham Junction. For a moment I thought history was going to repeat itself, when my parents and sister were in Alexandria and the governor’s office building across the street from my parents house, was looted and then torched. While I was in Cairo and could only contact them via the land line phone. I felt helpless as I heard their coughs and dismay on the receiving end. I prayed that she would not have to witness the same fate twice. The un-necessary destruction that those hooligans have been causing, isn’t helping their situation, their families or the economy in any way. It’s making it much worse. If the reason for their acts is because they are angry at the government for taking away University (in the sense they now have to pay for it) and that there are no jobs, how does destroying your own neighbourhood and local shops prove your point or help the circumstances? How does setting a store on fire, where residence live above it make it O.K?
If they are going to say that they are discriminated against because of their ethnicity, then they are fueling people’s views. If they are going to say it’s because they live in poverty, then they need a reality check. If they want to see REAL poverty, they need to be brought to Egypt, to the City of the Dead, where people live in tombs and cemeteries, where there is no electricity or running water because the government doesn’t subsidise or provide them with housing! (http://www.todayszaman.com/news-200122-living-people-in-cairos-city-of-the-dead.html) Perhaps ‘Hayat Zabaleen, where people live in a sea of Cairo’s garbage?! If not Egypt, then perhaps to drought and famine stricken Somalia where thousands, upon thousands of children would give their left eye for the benefits that they have, instead of wasting away and dying. If they compare their standard of living to those who really live in poverty, they will find they have a lot to be grateful for and by comparison live like kings!
Many are comparing the riots to the revolution in Egypt. These are two very different incidence, Egypt had been oppressed for decades and the people were denied the right to voice their opinions, basic human needs/rights and the poor were getting poorer. The teenage punks terrorising London don’t have a political agenda, their agenda os selfish. The public service men and women are not standing by letting things get out of control they are trying to fight crime, but they are out numbered. The rioters are not armed dangerous convicts who escaped from prison who are walking around with swords, spears, machetes, hand guns, rifles or automatic weapons, these are kids. The only thing these two incidents have in common are the crimes that have been caused, violence against other civilians and terrorising people and making them fear for their safety.
I do hope that the Police and Scotland Yard can get matters under control, if they are unable to then I hope the army is brought it to round them up. If the army isn’t dispatched then, there are only two other alternatives in my opinion; 1- The people of London, do as the Egyptians did and take to the streets to defend and protect their businesses, property and homes. I’m 75% sure that the little terrors will be too chicken to face a mass confrontation of neighbourhood watch people armed with frying pans and rolling pins! (I’m not poking fun, I’m serious). The Turks, Kurds and Asian immigrants took to the streets to defend their businesses last night. If more people do that, there is a chance this will be resolved sooner, rather than later. 2- If confrontation isn’t something you think you can do, then make sure you’re well stocked for the long haul and that you have enough provisions to keep you for a few days, have your homes securely locked and pray that no one gets hurt.
I sympathies and understand the overflow of emotions that the Londoners and other districts of England are feeling and experiencing. I hope all of those from the UK who happen to be reading this remain un-harmed and stay safe. I pray that the madness ends soon.
When it does end I hope those responsible are held accountable and have the book thrown at them and receive just punishment for the crimes they have committed.
Friday 28th of January 2011 (Day 3) From my apartment window that over looks one of the main roads of Cairo; it looks like a typical Friday morning. It’s quiet and there are fewer cars on the road than usual, there are hardly any pedestrians. The scene is reminiscent of when the American President, Barak Obama, came to Cairo in his first term to give his famous speech at El Azhar, but the difference is there is tension in the air. If this had been a typical Friday, people would be cooking up a storm, expecting family for lunch after Friday prayers. Today my building is silent and the smell of garlic being cooked is absent, even the elevator is still. My sister, who had arrived the night before from London, wasn’t as aware of the situation as everyone else. My father who usually prefers to be in denial sensed the urgency to get to Alexandria before Friday prayer. By 8:30 am they had left my house and were making their way back to Alexandria.
Today will be a day that will be forever known as ‘Friday Rage’. Hundreds if not thousands of members of the population across the nation had the intention of preparing to go out in to the streets in peaceful protest to have their voices heard that they want serious and drastic changes made in the country and an end to Mubarak’s 30 year reign. Others like myself are being more cautious and are battening down the hatches and making sure they have enough water, and food to last a couple of days incase things should turn ugly. The government has been keeping a close watch people’s post on twitter, facebook and blogs.
Today they have blocked or for a better word, shut down Internet connection, text messages, and instant chat services on mobile phones (Blackberry Messengers and Whatapp), rumor of land lines, cell phone coverage, water and electricity being cut were circulating across the net before it was shut down at around one am. I have had an un-easy feeling about today, since Wednesday, I have instructed a friend of mine who is Canadian and here alone to come and stay with me for the coming few days. I think it would be better for her to be with someone who speaks the language and knows her way around the city and can tell her exactly what is going on and help her if she needs it.
At 9am I lost mobile connection with my family in Alexandria, so for the time being can only communicate by land line. I found out this had happened from my Mom, she called me on my land line to tell me that she couldn’t get through to me. I still had connection, so I called a few friends and got their land lines, so that I could keep in touch with them during the communication black out.
As I sit here writing this by hand as the call for Friday prayer is being echoed across the loud speakers, my heart is racing and the butterflies in my stomach are flying around like angry wasps. I can’t imagine how those going to Tahrir Square feel.
12:55 I’m in my apartment trying to distract myself. My friend and I are trying to watch a movie but I can’t concentrate or follow it. I’m getting very anxious as the silence of the street grows more deafening and with every minute that ticks by I grow more nervous. Being in the midst of communication black out and not knowing what is happening is driving me nuts. 1:00pm God hear my prayer! Please let the people’s voices be heard without any violence targeted at the people marching. May God watch over and protect the Egyptian people, friends and family. From my apartment window, I see out of uniform officers on the street and two large trucks filled with riot police. The street is eerily quiet with only a couple of people driving away from the down town area.
1:35 My only access to the news is what is happening in BBC. From what we have been told Suez have started the protest and so have Alexandrian, but the Alexandrian protesters have been hit with rubber bullets and tear gas.
1:45 I finally fin Al Jazeera on my T.V. and find live coverage of down town Cairo near the museum Cairo Museum where you can clearly see out of uniform police officers with sticks chasing people trying to beat them, smoke from tear gas that had been fired to disperse the crowds. I continue Al Jazeera English to find out Mohamed El Baradei has been detained/arrested. We hear on the news that protesters have reached the presidential palace; I don’t know how true that is because there was no footage to prove it and they couldn’t have gotten too close because the area is heavily guarded. My street is getting restless, riot police are now out of the trucks and lined across the street completely blocking off traffic. Not long after writing this a convoy of green trucks full of riot police were heading in the direction of the presidential palace.
My sister just called on the land line to say that protestors were on their street, (Fouad Street), in Alexandria and the riot police were firing tear gas and rubber bullets which successfully dispersed the crowd….for now.
3:00pm Al Jazeera (English) correspondent, Ayman Mohy El Din was relaying eye witness accounts that he had seen after he and a few of his colleagues had escaped from the mosque where Dr. M El Baradei had gone for Friday prayer. He said after prayers were over and was attempting to leave the mosque; the riot police used tear gas to prevent the worshipers from taking to the street to take part in the protest. To avoid the sting of the tear gas they had to seek refuge in the mosque. Opposition Figure, Ayman Nour had also gone to prayer at the Fatha Mosque and has been hit with a rock to the back of the head and his son and long with a few others had to get him in to a taxi and admit him in to a hospital and is in intensive care.
3:40 My sister calls on the land line and in the background I can hear guns being fired. Protestors have made it past the barricades and riot police are firing tear gas. It’s coming in to the house and stinging their eyes, nostrils and throats. The wind is working against the police and keeps blowing back on them causing them to feel the affects of the tear gas because they aren’t wearing their masks. The police are pucking their guts up on the side of the road.
4:00 (approx) A group of protesters out smart the riot police by coming behind their barricade and out on to the street of Khalifa El Maamoun opposite the National Guard (Haras El Gumhouri). The protesters were chanting and passed by peacefully, police followed them but further down the road we could hear shots of some kind. We hear on the news that the army has no been dispatched and a curfew of 6pm had been put in place
5:40 I spoke to my sister again and she said that the Muhfza (Governers Office Building) has been set a blaze and that the protesters along with the police, (who have joined the protesters) took out the furniture inside the building and have set fire to it. A bus that belonged to the Suez canal was also torched. She said there’s no sign of a fire truck and rumor has it that the fire station is on fire too. In a matter of hours my family have been affected by tear gas, smoke from a burning building and had to stand by helplessly and watch a building that they have seen every day for 20 years go up in flames.
6pm Tanks are in Cairo. Armed forces dispatched to enforce curfew. Hosni Mubarek is expected to address the nation (it’s about bloody time! He should have done that on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning in my opinion) My parent’s building has lost power; it could be due to the fire.
7pm So much for curfew, people are driving around like its a normal Friday night. So, much for implementing a curfew. An hour since the announcement that the President was going to address the nation and there is still no sign of him. Fifteen minutes later, H.Clinton addresses the press and asks that the security forces practice restraint and stop violence. Same goes for protesters and encourages the government to reform. The U.S also asks the government to life the communication ban.
– My sixth sense is working over time and I’m getting a really bad feeling in my gut. I call my parents and tell them to get important documents and valuables together in case they need to flee. I also fear that there are people who will seize the opportunity to loot, break in to shops and houses. I ask them to barricade the door and for Dad to get his shot guns out and load them for protection. (My warning went through one ear and out the other)
8pm Still no word from the president. There are tanks outside my parent’s home. No new footage or live feed since Clinton spoke. I’m starting to worry. In times like these, now news isn’t a good sign. Sounds of ambulances passing and occasional loud booming sounds, but done know where they are coming from or what it is.
9pm 3 hours since we heard Mubarak was going to address the nation and there is still no sighting. He seems to have disappeared along with cell phone coverage and the internet. Now new live feed either.
10pm Still no live feed and no sign of Egypt’s president.
11 pm Finally! Live footage. Oh! Crap, the police have with drawn. I have no idea what is going to happen now, but I don’t think it’s going to be good. I decided to barricade my front door My friend has gone to bed I’m staying up by the phone in case her family calls and I’m keeping the TV on. There is still no sign of the president. With every minute and hour that passes I’m sure he is making everyone really angry. News reports that many influential businessmen have fled the country on a private jet…that doesn’t surprise; I’m surprised they waited till today. I expected them to leave yesterday before the shit hit the fan.
3 am OH CRAP!! I fell asleep and missed the speech. Who address the nation at 12:30am??? Mubarak is refusing to step down; he says change should come from dialogue. So, how do people do that if you shut down communication and imprison people for speaking their mind and against you? We still have no cell phone coverage or net. I smell a rat! The 3 police vans that had bee on my street are no longer there. My street no longer has protection that I can see. That National Guard (military) in front of my house looks abandoned. There are no guards, guarding the entrance. The wind has picked up and is howling in disbelief at Mubarak’s speech. I think Saturday is going to be a very tough and stressful day for many. .
I went to London for the first time in my life! I know…it’s taken 32 years, but I got there eventually. It wasn’t what I had expected. I had such a gloomy image of London in my mind, where the food was bland and lacked taste! I have to say that it definitely exceeded my expectations!
I had hoped to be able to go sight-seeing with my Mum, but unfortunately she wasn’t well enough to walk around the city. So, I didn’t waste any time! Armed with my cap, camera and map I made mental routes in my head to get to the places that I wanted to go and visit.
The first thing on my agenda was to go to a park and enjoy the foliage and open space.
To walk around and enjoy nature and not have to constantly be on high alert expecting to be harassed or followed by men was such a treat. Unless you have lived in Egypt or the Middle East,you will not understand how liberating it was to be able to sit in a park and listen to the birds chirping away to one another, ducks and swans swimming in a lake, children running around, pet owners taking their dogs out for a walk in the park and being able to hear your own thoughts!! Another bonus to the park was people minding their own business, no one watching you, people spoke in low voices AND they threw their rubbish away! What made the experience even better was that the weather was perfect, it wasn’t too hot or too cold and hardly any rain at all! BLISS!
I made sure that every route I took went through the park, so that I could satisfy my craving before I had to come back to Egypt.
People in Europe and the West have NO idea how lucky they are to have parks that are well maintained and respected by their locals. I wish the few that we have were as well looked after.
Another desire that had to be satisfied was going to Art Galleries and Museums! I was so starved for culture that I went to three museums in one day! I walked through Kensington Gardens, to Albert Hall and continued on towards the Science Museum. As I walked from one exhibit to another I was over come with a wave of mixed emotions. I was so excited to be there and to learn as I intently read the signs and listened to the explanations but I couldn’t help but feel very deprived. I would give anything to be able to take my students in Cairo to a museum like that. They would benefit so much from them. Getting information from a text-book is great but when you are in a place where what you are learning about is in 3D and visible to you, it can make a HUGE difference. Another benefit is for the students is to be able to experience and take part in the experiments that they have there.
From there I went to the Natural History Museum and I have to admit that I was BLOWN away!!! It was fantastic!! I am pretty sure that I went to every single exhibit that they had! I loved everything about that place! It’s a great place to take children to learn about Volcanic Eruptions and different species of animals. Once I had felt that I had seen everything that I wanted to see, I went across the street to the Victoria and Albert museum. By this time I was pretty tired, I had done a lot of walking, stair climbing, reading and picture-taking but I trudged onwards!
The Victoria and Albert Museum wasn’t what I had expected it to be. I thought it would be about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert but it wasn’t. It was more of an Art museum, which suited me fine, but there was SO MUCH to see!!
I wasn’t too excited at first but once I went from one room to another and saw the sculptures, paintings, furniture, traditional costumes from around the world, I was hooked and needed to see more!
I have to admit that I was exhausted and I toyed with the idea of walking to Buckingham Palace from there but I didn’t have enough steam to make it there. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since 9am that morning and I was exhausted but I decided to go and see Harrods. I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
Well…, I wasn’t very impressed to tell you the truth. I live in North Africa and I have lived in the Middle East and when I walked in to the renowned building I felt nauseous. It was SWARMING with overly doused cologne smelling ARABS!!!! It was as though the place was infested with them! It didn’t matter what floor you were one, they were everywhere! I didn’t spend very long there as you might have guessed. Don’t misunderstand me, I have nothing against the Arabs, I just can’t deal with too many of them in a confined space smelling of Gucci, Aramani, Hilfiger and other scents at the same time! It turns my stomach! . From there I walked my weary feet back to the Hotel and spent the rest of the night downloading my 400 something photo’s on to my memory stick and showing my Mom the adventure I had been on that day.
While I was in London I had hoped that HRH Queen Elizabeth II would have at least asked me over for tea, but she mustn’t have gotten the message that I was in town, so I decided to walk over to Buckingham Palace and pay her a visit. Well, apparently a few hundred other people had the same idea, because I couldn’t get close enough to the gate! I had gotten there half way through the changing of the guard ceremony! I think her Majesty must have only just seen Mama Mia, because the band only played ABBA!
My colleague and friend Nora, (aka Falafel and Chips) was able to find me amidst the crowd. We used our Giraffe technique to take pictures of the changing of the guard, (standing on the tips of your toes, reaching ours arms high above our heads and aiming in the direction the music was coming from). Once the crowd dispersed we made our way to Westminster Abby and Big Ben. We didn’t linger there for long. We decided to take the tube and make our way to the Tower of London. (I had never been on the tube before either!)
* If you are going to go to London, YOU WILL NEED an Oyster card. It’s a prepaid pass that you can purchase at the tube station. I recommend you get it for all the zones! It saves standing in line to buy a ticket and when you’re almost out of credit, you just top it up with more money!
I had been watching the show the Tudors here in Egypt before going on Holiday and had previously taught some ‘English’ history so I wanted to go to a place that I had heard so much about. I have to admit that the entrance fee is worth EVERY penny!! I thoroughly enjoyed going around with one of the Beef Eaters and learning about some of the most famous events that took place there! It was fascinating to learn what went on in one place! So Much History!! We spent the entire afternoon there walking in and out of buildings, up and down winding stair cases and going from one exhibit to another!
I really enjoyed having Nora there.
I didn’t go to a single night club while I was there. The thought just didn’t appeal to me and who was I going to go with? All of the people I know who live in London, were either away or far to busy to meet up with me! So, I just kept myself entertained!
My Mum had hoped that I might run in to my future husband there…but NO SUCH LUCK! I have to admit the men in the UK are aesthetically pleasing to the eye!
I hadn’t expected to do much shopping there, but I did. I did some clothes shopping but most of my luggage carried DVDs! I am a movie junkie and HMV just fueled my movie addiction! They have a great collection of films and they have AWESOME special offers! I bought DVDs from EVERY HMV store I went in to! Collectively my mother and I came back with almost 30 DVDs and 3 box sets!
I really enjoyed my 9 days in Lond and I was sad to have leave and return to Egypt. I wouldn’t mind going back to London to visit. I really enjoyed the freedom that I had there, it was very liberating. Another reason why I HAVE to go back is because there are a lot more places that I would like to go and visit. In some ways it reminded me of Montreal where there is a diversity of nationalities and languages spoken.
I apologise for not having written sooner. I am currently in England for a 3 week vacation and to catch up with family and friends. I haven’t had time to write while I was with my family. We were kept very busy with family functions , meeting relatives that we hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before and spending quality time together. We have had a whale of a time and had many laughs, (there were occasions where we were laughing so hard that we all ended up crying!) Good times!
Now I am in the nation’s capital. I know many will find this very hard to believe but this is my first visit to London. I have been to England several times but never to London. Yesterday I walked and toured Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. It took all day, but it was worth it. I haven’t sat or walked in a park for a year now and I must be a country girl at heart, because I love nature! Today I spent the day with my Mum and we went to Queensway road and did some serious shopping! I have to confess, that HMV has been feeding my DVD addiction! They have amazing offers at the moment that I can’t help myself and my DVD collection is growing at an exponential rate!! ( I may have to buy another travel bag just for my DVDs and pay access baggage too and then when I get back to Cairo a new bookcase).
I have a lot of new material that I am working on and will post soon, until then, I hope you are all safe and sound and enjoying your summer vacation.
This is Nadia Signing out from Bayswater, London.