Posts Tagged With: Shopping

We Almost Missed Our Train to Philly

2/20/14
You probably don’t know this about me but I’m either early or late. I’m rarely ever on time. My mother knows this about me and thus usually forces me to be anywhere from 1-2 hrs early for planes and trains.

I woke up at 7:30am and our train wasn’t leaving until 10:30am. In my mind that left 2 hrs to get ready, 30 mins to travel there, and 30 mins to wait. Somehow that didn’t work out. It was 9:45 and I was struggling to find a bag I needed. I found it and we ran out of the house to the subway. My mother was pissed at me. I kept mumbling I told you not to book an early train. I don’t do mornings. We run down the subway stairs and catch the packed train waiting to leave the station. We got on much to the annoyance of the people standing already. We waited and waited and waited and waited. The train wasn’t leaving the station. My mother kept shooting me dirty looks while I prayed for the doors to close. In my head I was picturing a repeat of my MET fiasco where it took 2 hrs to get uptown. I kept looking at my phone for the time. What the hell was going on? We were going to miss our train and it would be all my fault. The train doors finally closed at 10:05. The train ride should take 20-30 mins. We were screwed. By some miracle we got to Penn Station at 10:17. We had made it! I didn’t majorly screw us up.

Our train was on time and we took seats in the quiet car. The lady behind me spent the entire ride sneezing and coughing on me. To quote Jimmy Fallon’s character Sara, “ew!” I used the train ride to text, respond to work emails, and plan a video my friends and I will be filming next week.

We arrived in Philly around noon. We got out of 30th st station and we could immediately tell something was wrong. A street was blocked off with caution tape. There were police, fireman, and a huge crowd. There were more sirens in the distance. I took a picture because my friends and co-workers tease that I bring horrible events to places I go (war, revolution, bombings, natural disasters, etc). I sent it them and really figured it was just a bad fender bender, but no one was hurt because their was no ambulance, sense of urgency, flames, etc. We boarded Septa and headed to our hotel. A large transvestite fell on me when the train lurched. I smiled at the thought how normal that was when my non city friends would have freaked. I’m just glad I wasn’t crushed. They were the size of a football player.

We got off the train and were very confused. The entrance for our hotel was gone. We remembered a side entrance that was rarely used and headed there. That entrance was now the main entrance while they undergo restaurant renovation. We checked in and were happily surprised to find out that our room was ready despite being 4 hrs early and we had been upgraded due to my mom’s birthday. Our room was located on the 32nd floor, who is considered one of the club floors. The club lounge was located on 31. We headed to the lounge first only to find out it is only open on weekday mornings until 10:30am. It had a beautiful view though. Lots of different chairs to sit in. We headed back down to our room which was the exact same room as last time just 10 flights up. The room had two double beds, flat screen tv, desk, mini bar, Keurig, and a bathroom with a tub. The view is lovely from the room and it is very quiet.

We were hungry so we headed to Reading Terminal Market. We picked up a mini King Cake, a brioche roll, garlic crostinis, and an M&M cookie. I ate the roll in 10 seconds. I also got a christmas rubber ducky to add to my collection. We headed to an expensive thrift store so my mother could buy herself something nice as a birthday present to herself. Every time we go to this store they are closed. We arrive and they are closed again. However, this time there is a worker on his cell and he refuses to open up. Great work ethic! That annoyed my mom so we decided to move on. We did a lot of shopping. We went to Dollar General, Buffalo Exchange, Payless, H&M, Claire’s, and the shops at Liberty Place. We got free tea at Liberty Place from Tazo. We were going to go to Federal Doughnuts to see what the hype was about, but it looked like it was going to pour. We started to walk back to the area outside Reading Terminal. We did more shopping! I went to Burlington Coat Factory and Five Below.

At 4:45pm we headed back to Reading Terminal for discounted cookies. The problem was their dough wasn’t delivered on time so they didn’t have many cookies. My mom got a bunch, but I just got two. We headed across the street to Maggiano’s for dinner. We were so surprised that the place was almost empty. It’s usually swamped so much so that you face a 2 hour wait if you don’t make a reservation in advance. They sat us in a booth. We knew what we wanted to eat right away. We ordered fried zucchini and two margherita flatbreads (1/2 price for happy hour). They brought us out hot rolls. My mom ate most of the zucchini and some of the flatbread. I downed my food. All of a sudden the waiter, Edward, came out with cookies, a strawberry, and two candles for my mom. So sweet and awesome. I had put in my Open Table reservation that it was my mom’s birthday, but I totally doubted anything would be done. She was so surprised. I ordered an apple crostada and went in search of the waiter to sneakily give my credit card to so I could pay for dinner, but I couldn’t find him. Meanwhile, the couple in the booth next to us were having a bad night. The guy sat in cherries and the girl spent the whole time crying into her menu, then a tissue, and then her alfredo. We asked them to pack up the cookies and the remaining pieces of flatbread. We got matches for future candle lighting.

We got back to the room and were shocked to see two cupcakes and a card by the TV for my mom. The hotel had signed the card. We put a candle in the cupcake and she quickly made a wish. We settled in to watch the Olympics. She ate her cupcakes and I noshed on the leftovers.

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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Masada in the Morning

Jan 8 2009
The lights in the tent turned on and I heard movement. Wake up time. It was extremely early and still pitch black outside. I got dressed and ate some of the crackers they put out for us. We boarded the bus and waited. It turned out that Jordi was sick. We waited for her for a bit. Finally, we learned that we’ll have to leave her behind with Anna. Staci boards the bus and immediately gives us a lecture about staying hydrated. We each purchased a bottle of water from the bus driver.

We reach Masada National Park and Shabat and Staci rush us up the Roman Path. We can’t miss the sunrise! The Roman Path is the easier path, but a lot of us were having a hard time breathing. This was probably because it was steep, early in the morning, change in altitude, and we were rushing. Not to mention my 9/11 weird asthma thing didn’t help matters. Eventually we got to the top! All of us thought we missed the sunrise because the sky was light, but we were wrong. Shabat had us sit on the mountain and wait. We sat watching another mountain. Slowly, the sky went from red to yellow to orange. Then we slowly started to see the sun peek out from the mountain in front of us. We kept watching as it rose. It was magical!

Then Shabat made us sit in a circle and told us the story about Masada. All the Jews living on Masada killed themselves instead of letting the Romans take them. It was a very sad story and it impacted all of us. Next he took us over to the side of the mountain where we could hear an echo. We screamed a bunch of phrases and heard them come back to us.

We looked at some of the ruins including a synagogue and then we used the restroom. After that we started our long trek down the Snake Path. Where do I even begin with the Snake Path? It was super scary and super long! There were no handles most of the way, so if you slipped you could pretty much fall off the mountain. The walk down was narrow and took forever. Morgan slipped and hurt her ankle. When we got to the bottom I wanted to jump for joy!

We walked to an area with tables and we were given a boxed breakfast. I only ate the chocolate and the bread. I gave my food to whoever wanted it. Then we were given some time to shop in the gift shop. I bought a pair of earrings and some postcards. Then I spent a while debating about which expensive necklace to buy for my mom. I finally decided on a blue and white star. Alan bought a really cool shirt about climbing and conquering Masada.

While we were leaving Masada we found out that the northern part of Israel (where we were yesterday morning and the last time we had cellphone reception) had been hit with a missile. Pretty much none of us had spoken to our parents in 24 hrs and the last they knew we were in northern Israel. Needless to say a bunch of us called home.

We drove to the Ein Gedi Spa where we would spend some time by the Dead Sea. We each got a towel and we had to share lockers. I changed into my bathing suit. We had to wait and catch a shuttle to take us from the spa to the Dead Sea. This is because the Dead Sea has dried up and is no longer right next to the hotels and spas.

When we finally got to the Dead Sea, Lindsey, Jen, and I put our stuff on lounge chairs at the farthest end of the “beach” area. Then we all headed over to the mud pit. Everyone (but me) covered themselves in the mud. Ricky even swam in it. Since I didn’t go in the mud, I took all the pictures. I put a bit of mud on my screwed up thumb and that was it. A family even approached me to take pictures of them. Everyone’s pictures were hilarious.

Afterwards, we all went into the Dead Sea. I was a little scared since I hate water and swimming. It felt extremely strange to just lay back and float. The entire bottom of the sea was covered in hard sharp salt. I cut my toe open and the salt water burned so badly. After I got out of the water I felt nasty. The salt residue was gross. Before we went back to the hotel the girls took a group shot. Then we boarded the shuttle.

Back at the hotel some of the people went into the mineral pool, but I didn’t feel like smelling like sulfur. I already smelled like camel and salt. I went to the showers and rinsed the salt off. After that I walked around the shop for a bit. I got a couple of free samples for my mom.

When everyone was ready we headed to lunch. We each got a ticket that was good for certain items. We had to wait on a really long line for food. We were able to get a drink, desert, bread, and one item. I got baklava, a roll, and yummy french fries. The place was packed and it took us a while to find a table. Unfortunately, we were rushed through lunch because of our tight schedule.

We then drove to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. I immediately spotted a press a penny machine and got a penny. Yeah! So did Alan. We walked through the reserve and there were so many animals. They got so close to us, which was freaky at times. Shabat had us sit down and talked to us about some of the animals. He had Noah taste poop. He also had Ricky, Zac, and Roi act out a mating ritual for us. It was hilarious.


We stopped at some waterfalls and some of the group went swimming. I spoke to Dror for a bit about his upcoming trip to the USA. The reserve was absolutely beautiful and very calming!
We drove to Jerusalem and dropped Guy off. Then we went back to the Shalom Jerusalem Hotel with its horrible elevators. Rachel, Sarah, and I got a room in the middle of the hallway. We were directly across from Lindsey, Jen, and Jordi’s room. Sarah took the cot. Our shower didn’t flood this time, which made us all happy. However, our toilet wasn’t acting right. We all put our clothes on the shower rod to dry and went down to leave for dinner.

We drove to Ben Yehuda St. for shopping and food. I walked in and out of shops with Jen and Lior. It was a little unsettling to see signs thanking the brave tourists for shopping. Someone, maybe Lior, told me that the street had been attacked before. I ate a bagel for dinner. I found a Sephardic bakery and loaded up on goodies. The bakery was on a small side street so I was so glad I found it. I bought a shirt, some postcards, and an evil eye bracelet. I didn’t want to buy too much because everything was a bit over priced. Josh got a shofar and kept blowing it. Ali and I went to McDonald’s to use the restroom before we boarded the bus again.

I went back to the hotel and immediately took a nice long hot shower. Bye bye camel salt sand smell. After I showered I hung out with a bunch of people in Lindsey, Jen, and Jordi’s room.

Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning How to Make Paper Out of Papyrus

8/4/11

Our next stop was going to be the papyrus museum on the East Bank. We passed Carter’s house and the Temple of Luxor. Everyone was running short on cash and we all owed Sherif money for our optionals. So we were going to drive to an ATM and pick up the twins. On our drive we find out that now Janelle is sick and they are calling a doctor for her. So we won’t be picking up the girls. We stop at the ATM and I tease with Sherif that it is the oldest ATM because everything else we have stopped at has been the oldest or the first of something. I pay Sherif what I owe him while I wait for everyone to use the ATM. Paul pays me back for his Valley of the Kings tickets.

Sherif drops us off at the papyrus museum. He then heads back to the boat to pick up the twins. We walk around the museum, which is really just a store, for a minute or two before we are led to the back. I immediately saw the papyrus painting I wanted. It was of Isis leading Nefertari through the afterlife. Our demonstration was in the back of the museum/store. I found the guy super fascinating and funny. I never knew how they turned the plant into paper. I filmed the whole thing. See below. The guy liked me because I knew the answers to his questions. He asked if Josh was my boyfriend and if I hit him over the head with a rolling pin. He had me explain the famous Osiris judgement scene.

Then we broke into pairs. One sales person per Contiki person. The guy from the demonstration shooed my sales person away because he wanted to personally wait on me. I showed him the picture I wanted and that the picture seemed to have two prices. He gave it to me for the lower price and I had my name added to it. You can see the one I purchased in this picture (it is the one in the blue frame). The twins arrived. Meg looked better and Janelle looked awful. Janelle got a seat and had the garbage can with her. Meg ran around to pick out pictures. We all attempted to get the free wifi, but it didn’t work. We used the bathroom and we were off.

Before we left Luxor Sherif had us stop at a grocery store. They had everything and were so cheap!! I bought water, M&M’s, Twix, and a Kit Kat. Now we were officially off to Hurghada. Janelle decided to lay down on the floor. Most people slept or listened to their headphones. I listened to music and watched the scenery. I took lots of pictures of people sleeping and all the narrow roads we were on. We eventually stopped to use the restroom. We paid and entered into a huge clean restroom. It was awesome! We even took a picture. The bathroom guards asked us where we were from. The Aussies said Australia so I just went with it. Australians are preferred over Americans.

When we got to Safaga we were able to see the Red Sea. It looked beautiful. We arrived at the Safir Hotel. We were supposed to be staying at the Triton Empire Hotel. We got our room numbers and realized we were all in different parts of the building. I was alone on the main floor. I struggled to get my door to lock, but eventually succeeded. The room wasn’t much, but it was only one night. I had a view of the pool. I took pictures of the group in the pool and set about settling into the room. I started not to feel well and decided I should lie down.  However, it was about time to meet Sherif in the lobby for dinner. Dinner and shopping was the last thing on my mind. Josh was the only one in the lobby when I arrived. I tried to kill time by looking at the gift shop, but it was closed. I gave up and I told Josh to tell Sherif I wasn’t going to dinner.

I went back to the room and collapsed on my bed. Next thing I knew it was a couple hours later. I got up, changed, got my stuff ready for the next day, put stuff in the fridge, read a bit, and then went back to bed.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Brunswick and Princeton

8/18/13

Today’s my day’s birthday. My mom and I woke up and checked out of the Heldrich. My dad picked us up and drove us to go food shopping in Princeton.

We love to shop in New Jersey because you can buy a month’s worth of groceries for the price of a week’s grocery in the city. We headed to Walmart. I couldn’t get over how cheap the items were. I got a nice bag for $5. We bought some food and then headed to Wegman’s to do our real shopping. The breads looked amazing today. I sampled some free hummus. My mom also had free animal crackers and tomatoes. We did a full shopping that should last us a month. Wegman’s has a wonderful selection and the prices are great. They have a huge bakery, deli, seafood, hot food, sub station, pizza area, coffee bar, salad bar, sushi section, organic section, international section, etc. The place is massive. They also have a liqueur area. They card everyone in your party though.

After Walgreen’s my mom and I ran to Target. I picked up chocolate because I was starving. We then ran to Michael’s. I love Michael’s especially around Halloween. I had to restrain myself from buying everything. I got a ton of mini gifts for friends for ridiculously cheap. We then got in the car and headed back to New Brunswick.

We checked into the Hyatt. We got our favorite room which has a large living room and a fridge. My mom and I ran out and bought a cheesecake sampler from Fresh Grocer. We got candles from the hotel. I ran and got matches from Rite Aid. We met up with my grandparents for dinner. We ate at Old Man Rafferty’s again. I got my grilled cheese, garlic bread, and a giant chocolate toffee cookie. It was bigger than my head. My dad got his usual veggie burger and fries. He ate my chips. My mom got a grilled chicken sandwich with fries. I ate some of her fries. My grandma got chicken salad in a pita with chips. My grandpa ate her chips. My grandpa got a BBQ chicken sandwich with a baked potato. The food was great but I was still hungry. The waiter was beyond slow. The woman I got my cookie from in the bakery asked me 5 times what I wanted while she pointed to it. She even threw out the first one I wanted. She didn’t speak much English. Very strange.

We passed some historical plaques on our way back to the hotel. We went back to the room and they ate the cheesecake. They also got free chocolate dipped fruit from the hotel. We kicked back and watched the Red Sox/Yankee game.

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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, History, New Brunswick, Princeton, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1787 and 1968

8/17/13

I woke up and got dressed while watching Scandal. We checked out of the Loews. They told us there was free coffee in the restaurant. My mom added to her cup. We left our bags with the hotel.

We went straight to the National Constitution Center. I’ve been wanting to go to this museum since it opened. I never went because of time and the price. We decided to go this trip because there’s also a 1968 exhibit. So we felt like we were getting two museums for the price of one. I got in as a youth ($13). I always say I’m 17. My mom got in for the AAA adult rate ($12). The woman giving us our tickets was not nice and didn’t give us any info about the exhibits. I took all the brochures I could find (not knowing one of the items was a fold up constitution-if I had known I would have taken some for my students).

We decided to do the 1968 exhibit first. I was happy that they allowed photography in the exhibit. I had just taught a 1960’s class so I was excited to see everything I just taught. My mom felt like she was looking at her childhood. The exhibit covered the assassination of MLK and RFK. It also covered Vietnam, the Black Panthers, moon race, music, toys, clothes, the Olympics, etc. I liked the Vietnam helicopter, the clothes, the items from the kitchen where RFK was assassinated, and the albums.

After the 60’s exhibit we went upstairs to the We the People exhibit. It’s an interactive exhibit on the constitution. It focuses on the 3 different branches. There were sections where you could watch videos. You could be sworn in as the president. You can simulate the jury duty experience. There were election booths where you could vote on ideas and it would match you with a past president. They had judicial robes you could try on. There was even a jeopardy game you could play against people. I got all the questions right. There were little sections where you could listen to Paine, Jefferson, Adams, FDR, etc. I liked that they set up FDR’s audio section to resemble a fire side chat. My favorite part of the exhibit were all the artifacts. They had items from different presidents, judges, and other historical figures. They had items from the Dred Scott case, the Scopes trial, prohibition, Sandra Day O’Connors’ robe, etc. There was an old copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and one of the first public copies of the constitution.

Our next stop was Signers’ Hall. The hall is the same size as the room where they signed the constitution. The room is filled with the delegates from the convention. The statues are very life like. My mom and I posed with several of them. We both signed the constitution. Supposedly you can print a copy of your signed constitution in this room. I didn’t see anyone doing that. You also can give people a link at home and they can watch you in the room.

After that we took pictures of Independence Hall from the second floor. By the staircase they had plaques in the ground of when each state ratified the constitution. We headed down to the gift shop. I got some postcards. I wanted postcards from the 60’s exhibit but they didn’t have any. I got 3 press a pennies (that will be a separate post).

We caught the 1:30pm Freedom Rising show. Sandra Day O’Connor called it the best 17 minute civics lesson. I couldn’t agree more. The show was extremely engaging and made me feel very patriotic. I just kept wishing I was rich enough to bring my students to see these exhibits. They would love them!

We left and walked through the visitor center. I took a picture with Rocky. We crossed the street to the President’s house. I haven’t seen that area before. They found it in the last couple years when they were trying to build bathrooms for the liberty bell.

We walked over to the Graff House, which is where Jefferson drafted the declaration. It was closed, which I knew but I still took pictures from the outside. My mom and I did some more shopping at Ross stores. We went back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We hopped on the train and had about 40 mins to kill at the 30th Street Station.

We boarded our Amtrak train on time. We were able to get quiet car seats again this time we were facing the right direction. Time to head to New Jersey.
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Categories: Family Vacation, History, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating and Shopping in Philly

8/16/13
My mom and I caught a 2:10pm Amtrak train to Philly. We picked the quiet car and chose a two seater with a window. However, we chose seats that faced the wrong direction. I hate that!! I get motion sick. This meant I couldn’t read. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I closed my eyes and listened to music.

We pulled into Philadelphia 30th st station around 3:45pm. We crossed the street and caught the train into the heart of Philly. We took the train to 13th st and walked the half a block to our hotel. We were going to try the Loews Hotel for the first time. Every time we come to Philly we either stay at the Hyatt at Penn’s Landing or the Hyatt Bellevue. The lobby was really elegant. We were checked in right away. The lady at the desk couldn’t have been nicer. They had free lemonade by check in. On our way to the elevator we noticed the giant vault door. We took the elevators to 22. We got upgraded to a deluxe double. We asked for a room away from the elevators and the ice machine and they actually listened to us. We had room 2212. Right away I noticed they left us gifts. There was a note welcoming us, a snow globe, and a mini LOVE sign. What a lovely touch! The room had a nice view of the bridge and the city. The decor was modern, but classy. The bathroom could easily fit two people at the same time. The shower was also roomy. They even gave us cotton balls and Q-Tips. They gave us two ropes made of silk and terry cloth. There was even a magnifying mirror. The windows seemed to be sound proof and the ceilings were pretty high. There was a coffee machine with coffee from Emeril. Everywhere I looked there were outlets. Finally a hotel that has a lot of outlets and in sensible places. The room had a flat screen tv with 63 channels. We dropped our stuff off and went out to shop.

We went to Burlington Coat Factory and Five Below. We then dashed to Reading Terminal Market to catch our favorite cookies on sale. We wound up getting 7 cookies and a marshmallow cup from the Pennsylvania General Store. My mom got a blueberry fritter from the Amish. We then went back to Burlington. We also did Claire’s and Pay Half.

We had 6pm reservations at Maggiano’s but I called and pushed it back to 6:15pm because we got stuck on line at Pay Half. The restaurant wasn’t too busy when we got there. We got the slowest waiter. We ordered a flatbread pizza, fried zucchini, and an apple crostada. I had the flatbread, which was yummy as usual. My mom had the fried zucchini. They usually give us 8 pieces of zucchini. We got about 5. I had one piece and it was good as usual. My mom had the bread and thought it was delicious. The apple crostada came and it was perfect. My mom had the ice cream that was on top. Dinner was great.

We went back to shopping. We hit K Mart and Walgreens. We then headed back to the hotel to drop our bags off. Since it was still light out and we wanted to walk off our dinner we decided to walk around the Rittenhouse Square area. We window shopped at several closed stores. We stopped in H&M and Insomnia Cookies. At 9pm everything shut down so we walked back to the hotel.

We came back to the room and ate our cookies. They never fail to disappoint. They are definitely the best cookies I’ve ever had. I had my chocolate dipped butterscotch cookie and my regular butterscotch cookie. My mom had her butterscotch cookie and her turtle cookie. We tried to watch TV, but the batteries in the clicker died. We called down and they sent a guy up with a new remote. We settled in and eventually went to bed.
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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Kiss from Amun Ra

8/3/13

I decided to stop by the shop again because I really liked the ring I had helped Michael pick out. I wanted to buy a ring or something else. I also wanted to get Sonja and Lexi hieroglyphic shirts with their names on them to thank them for lending me their clothes. I was going to buy Janelle and Megan I love NY shirts back in the states. The cruise people had put out all the pictures they took of us at the party. We each had a pack with our name on it that we could buy. I bought mine but didn’t realize you could have purchased pictures from other people’s packs. I wanted one from Lexi’s. I really liked an ankh ring in the jewelry store and had looked at it every time I had went in. The crazy thing was that the ring was exactly my size. I finally decided to buy it.

I then went to breakfast and ate one croissant. After that I went back to my room to cool off for a tiny bit. Then I joined everyone on the top deck. Janelle, Meg, and Paul were sun bathing. Lexi and Mike were lounging. We all chatted for a while and discussed the difference between the interest rates in Australia and the states. We also chatted with the Trafalgar people who were headed to Greece next. I went back and forth between dipping my feet in the pool and lounging in a chair. Somehow we got on the subject of the Titanic and Kate’s famous pose at the front of the ship. Lexi pretended to be Kate at the front of our ship. Paul says, “You need a Jack.” I became her Jack or should I say…Jackie. We had a lot of fun. There was a great breeze (the same one that had followed us since I prayed to the gods). Sitting on the top deck looking at the Nile and rest of Egypt with the beautiful sun and breeze was absolutely amazing! It was one of those perfect moments in life where you think life doesn’t get much better than this. I was in my happy place.

The night before Sherif had told me that my luggage would probably arrive in Luxor. Then he also told us that Nicole’s bag was found in Cairo’s airport and apparently was never picked up. He also told Janelle. Janelle told Meg and I told Sonja and Lexi. Meg tells Paul and Mike. Eventually Nicole winds up hearing that we know and gets angry at me. I say nothing, but I’m upset. Though we all want to know why she never picked up her suitcase, but no one says anything.

We start approaching the locks and I get really excited. We also passed other cruise ships slowing down to enter the locks. I see the cruise ship that was destroyed by fire, which Weber had posted to Facebook. The vendors started to paddle up to our ship and start throwing blankets and towels up. It was kind of funny. However, I was trying to pay more attention to the locks. I didn’t feel like anything had happened, but I could see the change in the water levels. After we were through the locks the guys in the boats continued to follow us for a bit.

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I went down to lunch and ate some rice, bread, and french fries (hot chips). The fries were good. I left when Nicole came in. I went back to my room and put on CNN. I watched a couple minutes of the Mubarak trial. They they announced that the US Stock Market was on the verge of collapsing. That freaked me out so I went in search of Paul in the restaurant. However, I found Sonja and Nicole instead. She seemed calmer since Janelle and Megan had spoke to her. We chatted a bit. I then went back upstairs to find Paul. I chatted with him and then joined Lexi and Sonja in their room. They were watching the news because there was a bomb in Australia. I went back to my room and realized I had burnt the hell our of my legs while I was on the top deck. It really hurt! Paul gave me lotion to put on it. I had to get ready for Luxor since we were about to dock. I took a hat, changed into a tank top/singlet, and borrowed Sonja’s shawl. Luxor was going to be hot and sunny. I wanted to be cool and covered. Sherif saw my legs and was shocked how burnt I was. I made a comment that it was gift from Amun Ra and he told me it was a kiss instead.

This picture is from two days later. It was less red by then.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sightseeing and Shopping in New York City

7/17/13

I met Janelle and Lauren at Pace. It was already 104 out. I took the girls to see City Hall thorough the gates. We decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. While we walked they looked at some of the vendors selling pictures. We took it slow and focused on how amazing the bridge and view are. We walked to the middle so they could see the plaques. Lauren bought a Times Sq. picture from the guy in the middle part of the bridge. We walked back and stopped in line with the 3rd floor windows at Pace. I texted my boss for her to go to the window and see if she could see us. She could. One of my students even waved. Not like we could see them. We were almost off the bridge when my cell phone rang. It was Lombardi’s confirming our reservation. Janelle stopped to buy a painting of a girl in Rome, Paris, London, and NYC.

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We walked back to Pace where we sat and cooled off. The AC and cold water seriously helped. We used the restroom and headed up Lafayette St to Canal St. I explained to them that Canal St was all about haggling, which is something Janelle is very good at. We walked up Canal on the right side. She bought lots of scarves for $5 a piece. She also bought bags for 1/3 of what the woman was originally charging.

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After that I took them into a Mahayana Buddhist temple. So they could see the giant Buddha. We walked to Prosperity Dumpling on Eldridge St. I was too hot to eat. They ordered boiled beef dumplings, boiled vegetable dumplings, and a sesame pancake with beef. I would have ordered the pancake if I wasn’t so hot. The smell of meat cooking always makes me sick but on top of being beyond super hot it was making me seriously want to puke. Since Prosperity is so small there was no where for us to eat plus I needed to escape the smell. We went across the street to Pace HS so I could drop stuff off and we could sit for a bit.

After they ate we headed back to Canal St to do the other side. We started walking and my shoes fell apart. The glue dried up. Thank you 104 weather. We went into a store where Janelle haggled for a while over PJ pants and a jumper aka jacket. She kept confusing the guy because be didn’t know what a jumper was. She wound up just getting pj pants. The next vendor had my shoes and said $5. I’ve never paid more than $2. The $2 had glitter or something special. I told her I pay $1. We argued for a while and I got her down to $3. I was desperate. We did several more vendors and I felt like I was going to pass out. I asked if we could go to Starbucks.

The Starbucks was crowded but we were lucky enough to find seats. Lauren got me a water. She had iced coffee and Janelle had some kind of refresher. We chatted for a bit about twins, prices in Australia, and Australian lingo.

We finished Canal st and I bought a pair of earrings for $8. They were originally $10. I probably could have gotten them for $6 but I wasn’t in the mood to haggle. We went to a store called Necessary Clothing on Canal. There was a pair of black shoes I liked for $9.99 but they didn’t have my size. I showed the girls what we consider a jumper. Janelle bought a dress. We left and Janelle wanted more of the black and white scarves. Luckily I remembered where the vendor was (the third one off of Lafayette). She bought more and we headed to Broadway.

We went to OMG! Where I saw a red and white shirt that would be perfect to be Saison Marguerite. It was only $9.99. The girls got some items as well. Next we headed to American Apparel. We walked out. We went to another Necessary Clothing. They had my shoes in my size! Janelle picked up a pair of boots for $5. I wanted this seafoam green dress but decided against it. The girls got several items. We took a picture of Janelle with all the bags and teased that she single handily ended America’s recession.

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We walked to Spring St to head to Lombardi’s for dinner. We were going to meet up with a big group of my friends for dinner. Only one of them had been to Lombardi’s before. We ran into their friend Bronte first. Then we saw my friend Rochelle. We went into the restaurant and since our party wasn’t all there yet they told us we could wait indoors. Danielo arrived next. Followed by Flora and then Jason. Cesar was last because of train issues. They were finally ready to seat us. They walked us through the main dining room, then the side dining room, then the kitchen, then a hallway, and then up a set of stairs. They pulled a ghetto NYC move and put a square table and a round table together for us. At Lombardi’s you have to order pizza by the pie. We ordered 3 pies. One with no cheese, garlic spinach, and sausage. One that was half plain and half with sausage. One that was half anchovy and half pepperoni. They wanted to try anchovy pizza. The pizzas came and looked yummy. I took a plain slice. The Aussies stuck to the no cheese pizza. My friends each took an anchovy slice to try. They thought the anchovy one was salty, but not bad. Cesar didn’t like it. As we went to eat our pizza I looked to the left of me and the Aussies were eating it flat and to the right of me all my New Yorker friends were eating it folded. We taught them to eat it like us. The pizza was good. The bread had a char on it and the sauce was sweet. It wasn’t oily at all. I liked it. So did everyone else. Another party arrived and they knew Jason. Small world. Passcell arrived and joined us in chatting. We taught the Aussies the word ratchet. I initiated a toast and we posed for a group picture. The check came out to $113 including tip. We took another picture with the Lombardi’s sign. The Aussies were tired and decided to go back to their hotel. The rest of us decided to catch Jason’s friends’ show.
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We walked to the Bitter End by NYU. It was a $5 cover and I wasn’t allowed to bring my water in. We found a table in the corner. There was a two drink minimum. I was forced to get a seltzer. We caught the last two songs from the previous band. The place became packed for the band we were there to see. The band was called Schucks Road. They were good and we had fun being our crazy selves. Our tab came at the end of the show and they charged us tip and a service charge. So a $3 seltzer became a lot more expensive. O well. We left and said our goodbyes.

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Categories: Food, NYC, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Haggling in Aswan

8/1/13

We drove to the perfumery. It was really pretty inside. I was determined not to buy anything. After a long presentation about the oils and perfumes we were allowed to shop. The presentation had some funny moments. I caved and bought a small thing of papyrus perfume. Before we left a bunch of us changed into longer more covered outfits so we could go to the market. I wore Lexi’s skirt.

Photo credit Sonja

Picture from Sonja

Photo credit Sonja

Photo credit Sonja

Photo credit Sonja

The perfume guy drove with us for a bit and then we let him out so he could go and get dinner since Ramadan was done for the night. It was interesting to see all the shopkeepers sitting in the streets eating instead of tending to their stores. Sonja and I had indicated to Sherif that we wanted to go into the bookstore in the market. He took us to the store and stayed with us while we shopped. I was looking for Zahi Hawass books, but didn’t see any. I was also looking for the Egyptian Museum book I passed on in Cairo and was told by other bloggers to buy it here. I didn’t see it. I saw many books I had already read or owned. Sonja picked up a book on Egyptian Mythology. I decided on the book I had seen Sherif with and I bought some cool pens. Sonja and I then met up with the rest of the group.

This market was for haggling! We all needed to buy costumes for the party and we all wanted them for a cheap price. I was upset that I had to buy one since I already had a great one in my suitcase. Sonja was the first to get a skirt. Alli was next. The twins were great hagglers and got whatever they wanted for ridiculously cheap. Paul bought a bag. I also wanted a bag since I was sick of carrying everything around in a shopping bag. Every backpack I looked at was very expensive. As we walked around people called out to us with the following phrases: Free to Look! No hassle! My friend! Lexi bought a skirt and then I did as well. We were trying to get them for between 15 and 25 Egyptian pounds. It was so hard to haggle without asking how much it cost, which Sherif told us not to do. After buying our skirts Lexi and I bought chocolate and water. She paid me back for the skirt and some guy tried to pinch our butts.

We ran into Michael who joined me in search of a bag. I knew we were timing it close, but I figured we could make it back in time. I found a drawstring bag that I liked. The guy wanted over 200 Egyptian Pounds for it. It took me forever, but I finally got him down to 75 Egyptian pounds. It was still more than I wanted to spend, but I needed a bag (Later Sherif said I could have got him down to 60). Then Michael wanted to buy cigs which took forever with the haggling. He got them down to 15 Egyptian Pounds, but he didn’t have it on him. So I paid the guy. On our run back to the bus (we were now late) he told me the guys offered to sell him drugs and they offered him 1000 stuffed camels for me. I wonder how much that is in American dollars. We got to the meeting spot and the van was nowhere in sight. Crap!!! Then I spotted it parked a couple blocks away. We ran to it and Sherif refused to let us on. He pointed to his watch and shook his head. I pleaded with him and he let us on (with a smile on his face). I apologized even though we were only about 7 minutes late.

After being fake angry with us he explained that we were still waiting for Nicole. We waited and waited. Then we started to get worried. Janelle and Sherif went out looking for her. Meanwhile some little boy was attempting to sell stuff to Michael through the window of the van. It was funny at first. Janelle and Sherif came back empty handed. Now we were running into a problem. The boat was waiting for us, Sherif hadn’t eaten all day, it was very dark out, and Nicole was alone. Sherif told the van to take us back to the ship and come back for him. We gave him food and water in case he missed dinner.

I went straight back to my room and dropped off my stuff and then headed down to dinner. Sherif and Nicole showed up. Nicole didn’t have a watch so she lost track of time. So she wound up being an hour late. I had some pita bread, which was my first piece of Egyptian food.

We then went to the Nubian show which consisted of dancing, drums, singing, and chanting. I started not to feel well and went back to the room to lie down. I felt better and came back up to catch the end of the performance. I would have preferred the whirling dirvish. O well.

After that we hung by the pool for a bit. It was quite lovely on the top deck at night. The shop guy came up and dropped off our necklaces. That was fast! I went back to my room and organized my stuff for the next day and went to bed.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sailing on the Nile

8/1/13
We get off the train and it is hot! We need to go down a long flight of stairs and then up a different flight of stairs. Thank goodness I didn’t have my suitcase at that moment. Surprisingly everyone managed to carry their suitcases up and down all those stairs. We got out of the train station and there was our bus. While on the bus, Sherif spoke to us about the day’s schedule and clothing.

We wound up on the MS Miriam and not the Madea or Carmen. We got upgraded!!! We were with Trafalgar and Insight Vacations. We boarded the ship and were told to wait in the lounge for our room assignments. I was room 314 on the third floor. To the right of me were the twins and to the left was Sonja and Lexi. Alli was across the hall. The room was big and beautiful!!!! I was so happy to be able to settle in. I washed the one and only outfit I actually owned (the one I wore on the plane). I had a mini fridge, so I put all my water bottles in there. I was excited to have cold water everyday. I skipped lunch and ate my snacks in the room. I watched the cruise info channel and started to explore the ship.

I ran into the twins who were going to get massages. I went to the basement level in search of the shops. There were two guys working in the jewelry shop helping Nicole. I walked in and picked out a gold cartouche with my name on it. I chose the 2nd smallest size. I looked around to see if I could find anything for my mom, but I couldn’t figure out what she would like. There was a 5% service fee for using my AMEX.

I then went to the other shop in search of clothes and gifts. I picked out a bunch of postcards for myself, a tut mummy, magnets, and key chains. Then I started to focus on clothes. I asked to see a Galabiya, but every one he showed me was either ripped or stained not to mention ugly. He finally pulled out a dark blue one with Nefertiti on it. It was clean and pretty! Now time for shoes or should I say sandals. There was a red pair that were my size that I decided to get. However, right when I went to purchase them I changed my mind. I tried them on again and started to walk around in them and realized they really hurt. I saw a black pair that were in my size and tried them on. They were thong style and were more comfy then the other pair. I charged everything and went back to the room. Lexi stopped by to discuss the price of her necklace. She got hers in silver and I started to wish I had as well. Then we stopped by the twins’ room and discussed it with them as well.

We left the ship and boarded our felucca. Janelle originally started to steer the boat, but then the real guy took over. It was so beautiful and calm! We passed a beautiful mosque. Sherif had the boat guy take a glass and dip it into the Nile so we could see how clear the water was. We passed the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island and I was so glad that we didn’t stop to see them. We started to approach the Mausoleum of Aga Khan. He was an imam and his wife would place a rose on his tomb everyday. It was considered very romantic. Then we stopped so we could walk on the sand dune. We boarded the felucca again and Sherif talked to us about the places he had been and his education. He got his BA in Roman and Greek Studies and his MA in Egyptology. He speaks several languages and has never been to Australia or the U.S. While on the felucca Sherif got a call about my bag. They predict it will arrive tomorrow. Somehow I doubt it. We passed the Temple of Khnum (the one in Aswan not the one is Esna). Next we passed the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile. We talked about archeology for a bit. We passed a man who was in the Nile all the way up to his head. However, he had a small head so it just looked like his hat was floating.

Kitchener’s Island

Mausoleum of Aga Khan

Old Cataract Hotel

Temple of Khnum

Old Cataract Hotel

We got off the felucca near where a bunch of boys were swimming and hanging out. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable in Megan’s short shorts. We went to a little street bodega. I bought water, chocolate, and postcards. Then we hopped into a van.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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