Category: EVENTS

La Tunisie – Tunisia

I visited Tunisia for the first time in 1973 and spent five weeks, visiting many beautiful and interesting villages and also the capital Tunis and many renowned historical sites. I also made many Arab friends, among them my good friend Hedi Ben Sassi, of whom I heard for the last time (by mail) in 1975 when completing my graduate studies at Syracuse University, USA.

Sidi Bou Saïd. Village en nid d’aigles sur une colline à l’entrée du Golf de Tunis, côté Nord de Tunis. Sidi Bou Saïd a longtemps étè un lieu villégiature pour la bourgeoisieTunisoise. Mais dès le début du siècle une “intelligencia“ internationale faite d’ecrivains, de peintres et d’artistes de tous genres, a adopté et habité le village.  سيدي بوسعيد قال Sidi Bou Saïd – not to confuse with Sidi Bouzid, where on December 17, 2010 the “winter of discontent” began with the self-immolation of the Arab street vendor (Tarek al-Tayeb) Muhammed Bouazizi, who hailed from Sidi Bouzid. Le village Sidi Bou Saïd aura tousjours une place spéciale dans mon cœur. Named for a figure who lived there, Abou Said ibn Khalef ibn Yahia Ettamini el Beji (previously it was called Jabal el-Menar). And famous for its blue and white structures. My re-visit came much later in the Spring of 2012, when I spent an entire month in a Hammamet resort by the Golf of Hammamet. Renewing my acquaintance with most of the 1973 visited towns and villages, including Sidi Bou Saïd.

Tunisia then and Tunisia now – I could hardly see any difference. Public bus services had improved, we did not have to sit by the side of the road waiting. Then again, Tunisia had always been more liberal in their culture and relationship with the Western world than other Maghreb countries. Yet, it seemed that time had stood still for the Tunisians, despite all the sociopolitical demonstrations and upheavals following the winter of 2010, with the “Arab Spring” in 2011 which was supposed to bring about a change in most of the Arab countries involved. At the foremost Tunisia followed by Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, then Morocco, Jordan, Iraq.

Greek Fest 2013 Vancouver Island

My recent visit to the Greek Fest 2013 Victoria BC, Vancouver Island. This year is the 12th annual Greek Fest in Victoria! There is an estimated 100 Greek families in Greater Victoria who keep the Greek culture and traditions alive. Of which, best of course, are their traditional dances and the wonderful food – authentic succulent roasted lamb (with rice and salad), souvlakis and the great many delicious Greek pastries like Baklava, Koulouria and more. Not to forget the original Greek Coffee brewed to old tradition like Turkish Coffee, using the brass briki (the pot) Greek coffee is a strong brew, served with foam on top and the grounds in the bottom of the cup. Although it can be made in a different pot, the traditional small pot is best because it allows the proper amount of foam , very tasty. The day was hot and special attractions included the many Greek dance groups from near and far (Vancouver), and Athens, Greece. I love the Greek music. Also the same day the Portuguese Community had their procession across the street by the Greek Orthodox Church and Community Centre. Of interest were also all the old and original artifacts still in the possession of the Greek families, exhibited in the adjacent Heritage Centre.

Very enjoyable weekend and lots of sunshine. [I didn’t stay to the end because I was there by bicycle, around 12km ride one way and then back again to Victoria City.] My little video shows dance groups, the Portuguese procession and Juan de Fuca – a Greek, an early explorer of the straits surrounding Vancouver Island [ ]

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Amazing incidental encounters while travelling. During many travels or shorter trips I always meet new and interesting people (‘been there, done it’). But sometimes the coincidences seem more amazing. 1975 during my summer vacation from Syracuse University, me and my little boy took the Greyhound Bus across the Mid West and stopped among others in Washington DC, visiting the impressive Library of Congress.

[ ]

Of course being familiar with the Library of Congress from Europe when working with a project team on an international project for Unesco, the team including NSFAIS staff and LC staff. That was 1973, shortly before leaving Europe for the USA, Syracuse University. While we visited the Library of Congress in 1975 I tried to find out if that nice lady I knew from Europe was still working there. But no. Then in the Library catalogue looking for my name (as I did work studies for Unesco, Paris, that were published). What I found was my name. But, it was my husband’s name (dating to the time he worked with ESTEC – European Space Technology Centre, Nordwijk, NL). Where I also had worked as IT Head Information from 1965 until 1967. ESTEC is a centre of ESA.

Same time we were there that day, there was a fire drill. Alarm went, and all visitors and staff were asked to leave the LC building. And lo and behold I talked with a man standing next to me who told me that he himself had worked for ESTEC in The Netherlands. Small world.

Another one: We continued our trip that year 1975 and visited among other wonderful sites the Grand Canyon, and also Tuscon, AZ. There we found this: ESRO2

a sign on a little sandwich shop. ESRO – being the former name of the European Space Agency (ESA). [ ] During the time I still worked there, the name was ESRO. How on earth does this sign on that shop end up here ?

[maybe a sign for myself?: “get your butt back home to Europe?” – I never went back.]


Both right here on and off Vancouver Island. For my birthday in August I wanted to go whale watching. Whales around here are mostly Orca, otherwise also known as Killer Whales. They are highly intelligent, accomplished hunters and friendly to people. For their protection around the islands and surrounding Vancouver Island, whale watching boats may only approach up to 100 yards in Canadian waters, and 200 yards in US waters. The latter being patrolled by US armed wildlife officers. Borders run crisscross throughout the waters. So, the pilots of the small whale watch boats are very careful, not to get fined or have their licenses pulled for infractions to this rule. Plus, the whales need protection from human interference.

The two family of whales we have are the Transients and the Southern Residents. Transients mostly hunt seals and sea lions, they are mostly lonely big time hunters [ ]. The Southern Residents travel in pods, lead by a matriarch [] and are hunting salmon. We were lucky to have glimpses of some of the Transients, they can go down into the water for up to 20 minutes, then come up for breathing. Different for the Resident whales. Next time I will attempt near Victoria to go out. We took off from Sidney Harbour [ ] , northern part of Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, and traversed towards the American San Juan islands. It was my lucky day. I met a family of tourists from incidentally the city in Europe where my grandmother and mother are from. In fact they live around the corner from that same street. Myself not been there for 48 years. We shared the whale watch boat. 

After that I visited the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. What a treat ! A jungle paradise has been created inside the Gardens, where large numbers of butterflies and moths from all over the world are flying freely. There are also special bird species, and Koi fish and flamingos in the little streams, as well as giant turtles. Arriving at the Gardens I ran into my good friend who was there with her friends, so we could share this incredible uplifting experience.


[This post created in Firefox v.19]

MARRAKESH ou Marrakech, la VILLE ROUGE et LA VILLE des ROSES. THE PINK CITY by the Atlas Mountains, Maghreb. Predominant flower is the rose. All buildings painted pink. A world class city of over a million inhabitants, dating from the year 1062, it is bustling with life day and night. Colors, flowers, roses, people and traffic – cars, donkey carts, everything. It is mind boggling how much life is here. A treasure trove of culture with its old mosques, gardens, parks and palaces. It also has the largest open market square in the Maghreb, the Djemaa-el-Fna. [Jamaa el Fna (Arabic: ساحة جامع الفناء jâmiʻ al-fanâʼ]. And its large number of Riads – court yard mansions in its bustling Medina – walled old city with Souks and market squares. The Riads, some dating back to the 11th century, were originally family homes, now converted to guesthouses, cafes or private spas.

In March 2012 I spent one month in Marrakesh, in the 4-star hotel Dellarosa, R Moulay el Hassan. Booked through a travel agency in Europe, with return flight, and two daily meals.

Why Marrakesh ? Moi, j’aime le Maghreb et la culture Arabe. Having spent already five weeks in Tunesia in 1973, and in 2012 a return visit for one entire month in a Hammamet resort by the Golfe/Gulf of d’Hammamet, Tunisia. (s.a. LA TUNISIE – my other post).

Unfortunately, seven days into my Morocco visit I had a bad accident, I stumbled in the street and fell hard onto the beautiful pink stone sidewalk, thereby among others twisting my foot and fracture my left foot. My plans had been, to take the train for a day trip to Casablanca, and also Fez. During that first week I only made it by bus to Essaouria, the Atlantic Coast. Images below  together with the delicious Tajine I had there. Myself I cook a Maroccan tajine in my own tajine earthenware in Canada. [A tajine or tagine(Arabic: طاجين tajin from the Persian: تابه‎ tabe[1]) is a historically Berber[2] dish from North Africa that is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked] – see collage below:

Trip to Essaouria, Atlantic; les tajines

Polyclinique du Sud, Centre de Radiologie du Sud, Rue Ibn Aicha, Gueliz, was my best choice for professional medical treatment. After my X-rays, I was treated by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, who taped up my foot. Nothing else could be done at this point. With taxi trips back and forth, I also got a set of crutches, and I had wheel chair service. How lucky I was, not to have broken my hip. At home in British Columbia, I would not see an Orthopaedic Surgeon, only the Emergency room in the local hospital. Well, there was my one month, spending three weeks inside the Hotel. I managed to take a taxi cab twice at least for a visit to the famous Jardin Majorelle (Yves Saint Laurent’s creation), and the Palais Bahia. [videos inserted]. And shorten my journeys, to quickly fly back to Canada for treatment of a big blood clot in my leg, result of that fracture.

There are fantastic train connections to all the larger cities, for example Casablanca only costs €20 return from Marrakesh.

Marrakech 002

The Kaltenberger Ritterturnier is the largest and longest lasting in the world. Held annually in July at Castle Kaltenberg, Geltendorf, Bavaria.It also hosts a medieval fair.

It is a glorious time to spend among knights, musicians, artists and acrobats, watching archery tournaments and mingling with all sorts of folks in their medieval garments. Admiring the wonderful big horses of the knights. Not to forget the tasty down to earth food and world-famous Kaltenberg beer, brewed right here in the Castle.

The castle was built in 1292 and is currently under the proprietorship of Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, the great-grandson of the last king of Bavaria, Ludwig III. [Wikipedia]. Schloss Kaltenberg changed hands many times from 1292 until 1955 when it was returned to the House of Wittelsbach. Since 1870 part of the König Ludwig Schlossbrauerei is housed in the Schloss Kaltenberg. Over 100,000 hectoliters of beer are produced there. Prince Luitpold of Bavaria and his family currently reside in the castle. The castle also offers a ballroom for events as well as two restaurants. . [WIKIPEDIA]

In 2007 I spent several months in Munich and took the train from there to Geltendorf and up to the Castle grounds, to attend that year’s Jousting Tournament. Despite a cool day and rain starting at the begin of the Knights’ Tournament, this had been a totally enjoyable and exciting experience. For me as a horse person especially, as I have had my own horses shown, raised & trained so many years in Alberta, Canada. The entire medieval atmosphere surrounding the grounds was uplifting.

[NOTE. Images = My digital Sony camera during that time almost gave up its life. Replaced it after. Also, it was dark and raining.]     [post created with Firefox v.19]