You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Summer Vacation’ category.
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.
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.
From standing on the balcony of my parents apartment building and watching from the window of my flat in Cairo, I have come to the conclusion that there is an ‘ART’ on how to cross the roads in Egypt and on top of that it is also of entertainment value if you are a voyeur
This summer I have had the pleasure of being in the United Kingdom for almost three weeks for my summer holiday and during my time there I have noticed many things that are very different to how things are done in Egypt.
One of the many things that caught my attention, (it wasn’t that hard to notice if I’m going to be completely honest) is how people are able to cross the roads safely!
I still can’t believe that the drivers in England would break for pedestrians and not speed up when they see someone crossing the road or when the traffic light turns red. They actually stop before the marked yellow line and at a zebra crossing and politely wait for you to cross the road safely to the other side. How Bizarre!
I have grown so accustomed to the chaos and reckless driving of Egyptians that I can’t help but be filled with anxiety when I come to cross any road any where. Even, when I come to a country where I know and I’m comforted in knowing that there are STRICT traffic laws, I can’t help but look at the drivers with distrust because I can’t get used to the fact that they really won’t attempt to run me over.
When I cross the streets here I use a technique I like to call ‘the owl’. As I’m sure you already know an owl’s neck can rotate almost a full 360 degrees. When you come to cross the road here, you have to be prepared for anything coming or going in any direction. Owl vision helps you see the traffic from all possible directions and be prepared for the unexpected. On many occasions you will find that a car may come in the opposite direction of where it shouldn’t be coming from or an anxious driver has forgotten where his breaks are and has pushed down on the gas pedal as you happen to be crossing. Some drivers will drive will even speed up while your foot is in mid-air between the curb and the road and you will swear blind that he or she was aiming for you.
You are probably wondering how to use this technique of mine. Let me tell you. Your head can only turn as far as your neck will allow. So, you have to rely on other senses not just sight. Your hearing is very valuable, because like a driver you have a blind spot, your ears make up for that by picking up the sound of the wheels on the tarmac roads and the revving of the car engines. Your eyes and ears give you a 3D CineMax experience. So, if you have your i-pod in your ears when you walk the streets to avoid hearing the buzz of the city or the harassing comments, pause the tunes when you come to cross the road. If you don’t you will put yourself in jeopardy and ruin the CineMax experience. (Honestly, I some times wish I could strap a camera to my head just to show people what it is I am trying to describe)
The Rules of crossing the road in Egypt are quite different. For people who have never been to Egypt this will probably be one of the biggest shocks you get when you first arrive. The best way to describe it is ‘taking your life in to your own hands’. If you are a risk taker or a dare-devil, you may get some enjoyment out of this but it won’t compare to sky diving.
Most people are familiar with the rules of crossing a road at a designated area better known as the zebra crossing, standing on the side-walk and looking both ways before crossing the road and wait for the light to turn red so that you can make it to the other side safely. Those you ‘may’ use here but that doesn’t mean it will always work and that the drivers and other pedestrians will abide by them. People in Egypt cross the road at any given time, even when the traffic is at its busiest and cars are rushing by at top speed. They will step off the side-walk and walk across the road without a side ways glance at the incoming traffic. They will even stand in the middle of the road as the cars whizz by them as they rapidly and mentaly calculate the speed, distance of the vehicles approaching and the time they need to make it safely to the other side. They have it down to a fine art. Watching them makes my blood turn cold, but I have to admit that they do have balls of steel. Personally, I would much rather wait for a BIG gap in the traffic before trying to cross the road. So, please don’t attempt it!
I have also noticed that when the pedestrians walk across the road, they have no fear in their stride or in their eyes. They walk across the street like they own it and that the cars are the ones who are intruding on their domain. That is a look that you do need to have down pat because the drivers here smell fear and if they think you are afraid they will not slow down, they will intimidate you by speeding up.
You need to make eye contact with the driver and stare them down so that they know that YOU ARE GOING TO CROSS THE ROAD AND THEY ARE GOING TO SLOW DOWN. Think of it as a kind of Wild West show down.
Another tactic is to stand near a local who is about to cross the road and move with them as they cross. It will guide you and teach you how to make it across to the other walk path safely. Like everything you do in life, it takes practice!
I could spend all night trying to describe the scenes along with various methods of how to cross the road but the only way you will understand or believe me is to see it for yourself.
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.