Goodieeeeeeees!

No, not this bunch of lunatics from 70's British television:

Indeed no! I'm talking about things that are nice to have, nice to look at, nice to handle and nice to buy.

That's part of the huge pleasure we get from going to Marrakech; looking for 'goodies'. Of course there are a very large number of these desirable objects that are well out of our price range, like the beautiful hand-beaten bath in the previous posting, for one! But never mind, there is an abundance of more reasonably priced 'goodies' to tempt cheapskates like us as well.

We're limited by luggage allowances for some things, and suitcase sizes for others, but having had plenty of practice in haggling in Luxor, we can usually manage to wrest a few choice pieces from the traders at prices that we are able to stretch to.

On our last visit to Marrakech, we bargained with a chap for a decorative shelf sort of thing, but eventually decided that it just wouldn't fit in our luggage. Well, he recognised us this time when we arrived at his shop. He had one or two of these shelf thingies, in different sizes. After another bout of negotiations and trying to judge it's size apropos the cases and bags which we had with us, we actually bought it! (Mind you, early on the morning of the day we left, I had to go wandering about the back alleys to find someone with a saw to lop the top off, so that it really would fit in!)

Here it is, after having the top bits sawn off, they were the same as those shaped bits sticking out at the bottom.

Then, we had to find ornaments or nik-naks to decorate it with. Those shaped orifices are rather deceiving, we brought things back to stand within them on the shelves, only to find that they didn't!

I eventually made paper patterns of the shapes, just to make sure that we wouldn't mess-up again. The bloke at the shop where we'd bought them was OK about swapping them for smaller ones, as we also bought something else, which I just love. (More of which later.)



Here's a glimpse of the shelves with the ornaments in place:


I think it might look well in the guest apartment living room, as a balance for the 'Silk Road' clock; we'll see. We also got another Marrakchi plate, similar style to the ones we got last time, only with more metal on it, and consequently quite a bit dearer.


If you're thinking "But these aren't traditional Egyptian, Edward." Then you're right, of course. Nevertheless, the actual 'style' that we've employed in the Our Luxor Guest Apartment, so far, isn't necessarily real Egyptian! Not modern-day real Egyptian, anyway. Our unique selling point is that we hope to give our guests that which their imagination tells them is Egyptian.

Certainly, when we first came to Egypt, we had pre-conceived ideas about how we wanted any accommodation to look; and that look was Ottoman Egyptian, from the times of the Turkish influence and from the 1001 nights tales. Sadly, fabrics and ornamentation etc which are redolent of those far-off times, aren't readily available in Egypt, never mind in little Luxor! Most of the 'Wow!' factor stuff at Our Luxor has been specially imported from different countries around the world. So we make no apologies for continuing with this practice, the end justifying the means!

Our last buy in Marrakech was the most expensively priced, what do you think for a talking point?

They actually fit Freda:


I loved them the minute I saw them, and just had to have them!


Out and About in Marrakech.

Not much to read here, Dear Reader, but quite a number of pictures. (Don't forget that you can view the pictures better and all together if you 'click' on one of them.)

As you know, I'm intent on improving the Guest Apartment bathroom. I'd love to have this bath in there, but I don't think it would fit, let alone the asking price being a tad prohibitive at around £1500!

Hand beaten in tin or copper, I'm sure you'll agree that it would be an extraordinarily beautiful addition to any bathroom. We found this only a few minutes away from our Riad, in one of the main souk streets. (It's still there though!)

Just coming out of the tiny alleys, and onto the same street, I came across this chap:

Live chickens in left hand and live ducks in his right. When I raised the camera to take the snap, he was looking the other way, I'm sure that the Marrakchis must have some sort of 'camera radar' built-in!

On most trips out from our temporary home, we made for the Djemaa El Fna or beyond and were constantly amazed at some of the sights which awaited us.

I noticed several 4x4's with similar contraptions built onto them, as we were coming from the airport, but couldn't quite figure out what they were in the dark, and moving quite quickly in the strange surroundings. Now that I could get a decent look, it was obvious that they were Marrakchi tow trucks! The one above was actually crossing the square, but I got a clearer picture of a different one which shows the lifting gear more clearly:

Aren't I good to you, Dear Reader? Which other Luxor Blog gives you this sort of excitement?

We came across many interesting looking people, but they all want money for taking their pictures, and I'm not loaded, as you lot know! How about this lady in her fashionable "Hello Kitty" djellaba:

Or this hat selling lady, replete with her face-veil. Many of the ladies who were trading on the Djemaa El Fna wore veils similar to this. What I found rather surprising was that many of the older ladies wore the veil actually under their noses!

We had to get a pic of a snake charmer and his cobra:



I'm not really sure which of the above pictures contains the worst snake? The one which isn't shedding his skin was the luckiest man alive on the square that evening! Keep a lookout for him any ladies venturing there, he likes to touch foreign ladies boobs, so make a mental note of his features! On the night that we saw him, he was seconds away from a very severe beating from the husband of one of his victims, that is until the very large chap was gently talked out of his retributionary intentions.

A more pleasant scene from the Djemaa El Fna was this 'mobile dentist surgery'. The owner was nowhere to be seen when I snapped his goods, but appeared out of the same nowhere when he heard the camera go off! (Must have been his camera radar, eh?)

I gave him the change which I had in my pocket, but he wasn't too happy with it. It was all I had though, as Madame Fareda invariably holds our money.

Of course, we didn't always go that way. One day we went in search of the 'fondouks' (places where they make and/or trade goods) and ended up struggling through a leather market in full swing, only to find that it was a dead-end! Here is a shot which I got while we were preparing to make the return run:

The hides were all over the thoroughfare in places, to the point where we had to occasionally climb over them, while squeezing between bargaining and bartering bearded men, flailing arms everywhere!

I'll have to digress here, just for a minute or two.

Fondouk? This term seems to describe what we know as a 'caravansary' in Egypt. A caravansary is (or so I've been led to believe) a trading place where travelling manufacturers and traders could also have lodgings. 'Funduk' is the Arabic word for hotel! Now then, isn't that interesting?  

We were quite keen to take a ride in a caleche, so off we went after our genial host warned us that the 'fixed prices' weren't, really! 

They're quite a bit bigger than the Egyptian model, and of all steel construction. They also all have two 'gallowers' to pull them about. (Colloquialism: gallowers are horses.) The ride quality is entirely different from the Luxor caleches, we weren't nearly thrown onto the road at every bump or hole, even though the suspension looks to be of the self-same design. We reckoned the right price to be 120 Dirhams for one hour, but gave the man 140, to include a 20 Dirham tip. As expected, he wasn't too happy about that and really wanted 150. 'Nuff said, I think! Here he is, with our companions enjoying the sun and the ride, the horses all seem to be healthy and well fed, what do you reckon?

On the way back to the Square, this cheeky blighter of a schoolboy tagged on for a while!

The driver thought that this casino would make a nice backdrop for a photo. I don't think so, but here you are, anyway:



Even though we'd been before, I hadn't realised that the 'High Atlas' mountains were quite so close-by. I was often taken by surprise when they hove into view as we rounded a corner or just looked up, even. 


                   

Just off the Djemaa El Fna, and to the Southwest, lies the fire station, where the fire-fighting fleet of vehicles seems to consist of this:


Yes, a good old British Land Rover! You just cannot beat them, can you, Reader?

I'll do some more later, unless you're bored?


From the sublime to the ridiculous!!!!

Here we are, back at Windy Nook! As we drove from Manchester Airport, the weather got worse and worse. We knew, for sure, that we were definitely back in the good old UK! In fact, even though we were travelling in the morning, it seemed as though dusk was coming upon us, it just got darker and darker; and more depressing with each succeeding mile.

Did you solve the little riddle which I left with you, Dear Reader? Did you recall the "Road" films of Bing Crosby and his chum Bob Hope? That's where the quote came from; the film "We're off on the Road to Morocco", and the line goes; "Like Webster's Dictionary, we're Morocco bound." Yes, we've been back to Marrakech!

Is that exquisite, or what? It's our dining area in the riad we chose to stay at; the Riad Dar Zahia, ( www.facebook.com/darzahia) right in the centre of the Medina. We had about a five minute's walk into the main square (Djemma El Fna) where everything happened both day and night.

When we first landed, the taxi dropped us off at a road junction where we were met by a man with a bogey, for the luggage, who led us through the tangle of narrow alleys and busy souks to the actual riad which would be our home for the next five nights. Here are a few pics of the last couple of hundred yards, we thought that we'd have to stay in the riad for the duration, as we couldn't imagine finding our way back again, ever!









That's our suite; Saida. (Maybe it should have been Sayidi, which means Upper Egyptian! lol.)

The architecture and interior design are spectacular, to say the least, here are a few general views:





Of course, this was all originally created in the 18th Century, so it's at least 214 years old, and possibly 313! I suppose that labour was very cheap then; it's relatively cheap today, but this calibre of work would still now only be affordable to a tiny minority of folk. We can only dream!  

Our suite, the Saida, was equally impressive, if not quite so elaborate:





I'm sure you'll agree that these three pictures show a very nice room, but the clincher, the 'piece de resistance', is this:

Have you ever been in a bathroom with this sort of facility? It's fabulous!

I think that's enough for tonight, but I'll be back with more when I get around to it. In the meantime, keep well and keep loving!






Like Webster's Dictionary, we're........................

Hello there Dear Reader, I've got a load of interesting pictures ready to go on here, but I just haven't had time to do the Blog that will go with them. So, I'm afraid that you will have to wait until after next week to see them, sorry.

Mind you, I'll have another set of pictures (or two) for you by then, insh'Allah.

As you're probably aware, we're currently in Windy Nook; back for Easter when I'll be able to join with our Chapel choir in singing "The Crucifixion" on Good Friday. I haven't sung it for a good number of years through being away in Luxor, so I'm really looking forward to that. Before we came away, I did notice something which might be new to you, what about this:

This picture was taken on Sharia Karnak, and shows the strange phenomenon of the palms wearing 'overcoats' made of straw! It shows you just how cold it really is.  

Something else that caught my eye was this poster:

As you can see, it's for the African Film Festival, which runs in Luxor from the 16th till the 24th of March. Let's all hope that it attracts more and more new visitors to spend their money in good old Luxor! It started the day we came home.

In the meantime, you can see if you're able to solve the riddle of the title, then you'll know where we are! (It's a line from a song and the missing next two words give the answer.)

Keep well, then.

Ongoing major work in Luxor.

It's a good few years ago now, that I came across a map of the proposed new Nile crossing bridge which had its East Bank origin near the recently completed inner ring road fly-over (over the railway) just north of the town centre. At first, it seemed that the bridge approach was going to actually be at the end of our little alley!!!, But, thankfully, it transpired that it was going to be the next major road to the North. Phew! 

It took a few years for them to finish the flyover. But I've no idea whether spanning the railway, and thus obviating the need to queue at the (un)level crossing at Abu Jude, has taken much traffic out of the town centre and onto the ring road. Nevertheless, there are roadworks there at the moment. As well as bridging the ancient Kebash Road (Avenue of Sphinx) they are also completely re-designing the junction with Sharia Karnak. In order to commemorate the recent support against terrorism by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, 



(His "Custodian" title refers to the Mosques at Mecca and Medina and has been used since his half-brother, King Fahd who died in 2005, claimed it in 1986), the resulting square is to be named after him.


It was formerly a humble and un-noteworthy, mini-roundabout, but, judging by the extent of the digging and concreting, it is going to be a fairly obvious accolade to the King! Here are a few pics:




    
Travelling a little farther on, along Sharia Karnak (actually to the junction with the Airport Road) we found this:

I took this picture from the "Kabesh Road Viewing Platform" between what was formerly the Airport Road and the Heritage Centre (formerly the Suzanne Mubarak Library). I took another couple of shots from various angles around the diggings:


   Along the 'Avenue', looking back towards Luxor centre, with the viewing platform on the right.

Towards the new park where the Christian Cemetery used to be.

 From the opposite angle, the viewing platform (brickwork) is again visible on the right.

 Straight up the Airport Road.

The last two photo's show the ramps where the tracked excavators have been gaining access to the great big holes where the foundations for the two main towers of the suspension bridge (over the Avenue of Sphinx's) are going to be. Apparently, there are to be three of these suspension bridges; one here, one at the new "King Abdullah Square" and the final one at the big junction near the Emilio Hotel at the bottom of Youseff Hassan Street. Should be fun, eh?

(Sorry about the white background to the text, I've no idea where it came from!!!!!)