Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saruhan Hotel

Bindu had found a great place for us to stay in Istanbul. Saruhan Hotel in Sultanahmet  http://www.saruhanhotel.com/  was close to all the major "must-see" places (about 10 minutes away.) They even arranged for a pick-up at the Ataturk Airport, which was very convenient.  The hotel itself was staffed by very friendly and helpful people.


Breakfast was served upstairs on the terrace, from where you could get a lovely view of the city and the Marmara Sea. There was a sports complex close by and it was fun to watch them playing soccer on the turf.


Breakfast itself was quite delicious. The ladies who arranged it were also the housekeepers and were smiling all the time. There were various breads, cheeses, olives, jams, great yogurt and fresh veggies and fruits. It was a good start for a day filled with sight-seeing.

Istanbul

Istanbul was by far my most favorite place on this trip. I found everything quite fascinating - very friendly people, colorful window displays, great food, lots of history and plenty to see and do. Here are a few photos to show what I mean:
Video of lady making pancakes:

video

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cairo Airport

All in all, we enjoyed visiting Cairo: friendly people, great weather, beautiful hotel, delicious food, and finally saw one of the great wonders of the world - the Pyramids! Just like the ancient Egyptians built the Pyramids, the modern Egyptians had this great sculpture outside the Cairo Airport. We went by the sculpture in our cab (which was a brand-new 12-seater van, driven by a man who was very happy to show us all the buildings and landmarks on the way to the airport) and after taking all our luggage into the airport, I just had to go back and examine the rock sculpture closely.































Did I mention that there are a LOT of policemen all over Cairo? They are called the Tourism Police and like somebody said, they outnumber the civilians in Cairo! Anyway, we took permission from the Tourism Police to go examine the sculpture ......


 So what do you think? Isn't this quite something? How are the rocks balancing like that? Did you guess it yet? It was made of a paper-mache kind of material! It was really cool.

Cairo International Airport is clean and maintained very well. Since our flight to Istanbul (by Turkish Airways) was delayed, we were able to relax, read a bit, explore the airport and go get some coffee.




We met these two very pretty girls working in the food court at the Airport. They were quite happy to pose for a photo with Amma.




This wasn't our final goodbye to Cairo since Bindu and I had to go back there from Athens, for one more night, in order to catch our Egypt Air flight back to New York. More later........

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coptic Cairo

There is a part of old Cairo which is predominantly Christian with its various churches, museums and other historical sites. It is a charming area, but like all tourist spots all over the world, starts off with a lot of stores and restaurants! Egypt used to be mostly Christian before it became mostly Islamic, and it is believed that the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) actually visited Coptic Cairo.

The Church of St. George (Greek Orthodox Church)


The Coptic Museum. This is definitely worth seeing - it is a beautiful Museum, with great displays of Egyptian Christian Artifacts.



  
The Hanging Church - one of the oldest churches in Egypt, circa 3 AD 

  

  

Children are the same all over the world!

The Big Birthday


All of us went on this trip to celebrate Appa's Big Birthday! What a wonderful trip we had! On the actual day of his birth, we were still in Cairo. He opened his cards and gifts in the morning.


Got lots of calls from family and enjoyed all the cards.







We celebrated the event by going for a dinner cruise on the Nile. We were seated at nice tables, and the entertainment included belly dancing and an Egyptian dance called the "tanoor." It was a lovely night, perfect to celebrate the birthday of a lovely person!
 
 On the deck at night, on the River Nile.
Flip video of belly-dancing. video