It’s a Family Affair in Cairo

I’ve been here in The a Land of the pharaohs for 6 days, still in Cairo  and it’s been good; adding more Arabic words and phrases to my vocabulary, meeting more family and friends who continue to show me more and more love.

Nothing stops Hamada from his prayer times and I’m respectful, allowing him his time.  In our home, if family wants to come and “sit” (that means visit overnights, eat & drink) the husband must get wife’s permission.  So far we’ve had sisters-in-law Mona and 2 of her 4 boys.  The 2 eldest had to stay behind in the Village to sit with great grandmother (Jida in Arabic).  Her name is Naimah, she is blind  and Hamada is very protective of her and all his family in the Village.   He does everything for his wife.  Sometimes it’s difficult for me to accept these things  because I’m such a giver and nurturer.   Am I enjoying the ride? Yes, definitely.

You would be amazed at this city, Cairo  at night. The BIG APPLE, NYC the city that never sleeps,  has nothing on this place. Well after midnight,  Driving from point A to B I’m in awe of the amount of activity taking place.    Everything is lit up in bright neon lights and open; eating establishments, 24 hr pharmacies, dress shops, kiddie shops, kids with their parents scurrying to and fro, being careful crossing the busy streets,  folks on the boulevards sitting, smoking Shisha, drinking Shay (tea) as well as on the little neighborhood side streets.  GIZA is where we live. An Egyptian City on the West Bank of the Nile, near Cairo. The Giza Plateau is home to iconic Egyptian monuments, including the pyramids built as royal mausoleums around the 26th century B.C. and the Great Sphinx.

Some of you remember our Egyptologist and guide, Mo; from 2011, 2012, 2018. He lives in Rehab City about an hour’s drive from Giza.  He welcomed us into his lovely home to introduce us to his family.  He sends all his love to those that remember him.  I must admit I had a real scare en route. Jassar; Hamada’s buddy, also a cop was driving us.  Suddenly I felt a thump thump and immediately I thought oh hells bells a freakin flat tire. We are on a 5 lane freeway with cars, buses, motorcycles whizzing by and breaking speed limits.  Wait!  Speed limits?  Drivers  didn’t act like there were any postings.     Jassar and Hamada reassured me 5 minutes, stay in the car and we’ll be on our way.  Oh hell no. I’m taking my chances out of the hazard light flashing vehicle and I’m standing  on the shoulder.  It took a little longer than 5 minutes with Jassar changing and Hamada directing oncoming vehicles.  Then as Jassar wrapped it up, the tire iron somehow landed in the middle of the freeway.  Oh, no Jassar! Don’t do it!  Leave it!   Well thank God he retrieved it successfully.

A few more days here and I do look forward to whatever is next in store for me  as I continue on my journey.

Welcome Home, Baby

I said goodbye to Rome this afternoon and boarded an Egyptair aircraft  for a 3 hour flight to Cairo.  Ahmed was there as usual waiting for me except this time it was for the “prodigal wife”.  His forgiving heart was as it’s always been; happy ! Happy to have his wife returning and happy he will still have the religious ceremony in his village in January for his family and friends. Plus it’s “Thursday”, a legendary day of the week for husbands and wives in his village.

As we drove home he was on his phone busy making plans with a local restaurant for what I wanted for dinner.  Finally home, We enter the building, he discreetly tips a young neighbor to take my suitcase up.  Once the door was opened a sweet fragrance drifted out into the hallway and upon entering I was surprised and totally blown away with candles and balloons everywhere and a personalized cake with our picture on it.

Later on, we shared grapes and laughter on the balcony as we looked out over the lights of Cairo while enjoying the 3am breeze.


It’s Not Over Yet…


Our last night together as a group was at Boccanegra Restaurant in Florence; a very classy restaurant known for their preparation of the famous “Florentine” steak.  Beef lovers loved it, others had chicken.  The appetizer was a delicate asparagus flan with black truffles that everyone savored each bite.  After dinner and back at Minerva, several hit the rooftop bar for a farewell drink.

The Bruce sisters were extending their stay in Florence while Debra, Sandra, Georgene and myself took the high speed Italo train to Rome for a final day before their flight to the states and mine to Cairo.  The Italo was fast and sweet but train travel still takes concentration and a little muscle if one is not traveling light.  It was a breeze for me 36 years ago but now it’s another story.   The Godfather, Mauritzio was there to meet us and drive us to the Hotel Tiber in Fiumicino about 50 minutes from the train station and a mere 10 minutes from the airport.

This lovely hotel overlooks the Port channel of the Tiber River.  The rooms are adorned with colorful African paintings in warm tones of orange and the hotel offers a lovely rooftop restaurant and pool. This quaint seaside town has tons of eating establishments, of which several are al fresco.   If you are ever stuck in Rome on a delayed flight or in need of a day room, this hotel offers such for 60€  and you can check in at 10am and stay until 6.

The four of us enjoyed a nice lunch and dinner in the town.  Debra had a very early flight to DC.  Georgene and Sandra toasted mimosas on our balcony before they shuttled to the airport.  It’s been a very nice ending to a very enjoyable tour.


Rolling Into Florence

After leaving Siena which is famous for its cuisine, art and medieval cityscape, our journey continued as we were chauffeured by our competent and very skilled bus driver, Michele (pronounced Mi shel ee) and we eased on into Florence.  We had an appointment to enter the Accademia gallery (ack a day mee a)  to see the famed statue David by sculptor Michelangelo. Of course there was a long line but all 30 of us  led by our 2 Florence guides breezed right to the front of the line because that’s the way we do it. We do what we must to make it comfortable for our guests.  While they spent time in the gallery, I taxied to our lovely hotel, The Grand Minerva to chill and  do some work after which I met the group for lunch at Osteria Baroncelli.  Here they had another fabulous meal with a continuous flow of red and white wine.

Florence, is a true shoppers paradise and shop they did.  The July sales had just begun and the shoppers enjoyed the discounts and putting their bargaining skills to use.

The next day was a day of bus, trains,  and boats as we made our way to the famed and picturesque CINQUE TERRE ( sink way tare day)  “5 lands”.   Our driver drove us to La Spezia where we then took a train to Monterosso. Some of my favorite places begin with the letter “M”.  Now the beach town of Monterosso takes her place next to: MYKONOS and MALDIVES. As we exited the train station, Wow!!!  There was the beach; beautiful blue water, colorful umbrellas and tons of people on the beach.  I instantly felt the energy and immediately understood why the train was so crowded.  We touched 2 of the other villages: Vernazza and Riomaggiore which we accessed by train and ferry.  They can have the others, just give me Monterosso where we dined at the Michelin starred  Restaurant, MIKY.  The service was exceptional and the food was divine.  Imagine flambéed seafood Risotto prepared table side by the owner/manager herself.   The group was treated like the royalty they were.

All in all it was a very interesting and enjoyable day before heading back to Florence with our driver and our Guide, Ele who has been with us since day one.  Everyone has taken a serious liking to Ele and will hate to say goodbye.  Now we will always remember her as we fondly remember Nicolette from our 2014 Italy by Private Motor Coach Tour.

Today was the town of  Lucca and then on to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Tomorrow it’s a guided visit of Castello del Trebbio with wine and olive tasting, followed by The Mall Outlet  with priority  entrance at the Gucci shop.

Wednesday, we will all head  to our respective homes and say “Arrivederci” Italy!

Kat Tracking Through Italy

Our journey began 5 days ago in Rome.  This is a Kattrax tour by private motor coach for a group of 30.  A tour offered in 2014 but I have changed it slightly by adding   the picturesque Cinque Terre (5 lands) which we will access by train, boat, and bus, adding extra nights in Rome and Florence and 10 restaurants to the itinerary.     As usual this group is a reunion of sorts; some I haven’t seen since Australia, Paris, Jamaica and Dubai years ago.

In travel, one must be flexible enough to deal with the hiccups in the road that  unfortunately pop up at times; flight delays, cancellations, crying babies on planes and missed connections.  When these things occur, it’s yours truly that has to sort things out and find a plan B. Sometimes this becomes a bit overwhelming for me and calls for a massage as soon as possible.  I remember when I wouldn’t even consider a massage but for the last few years since Saigon, I have become a serious fan. They are needed for my well-being and peace of mind.  On Day 2 in Rome, I had the Signature Cashera Massage.  It was exactly what the doctor ordered.  The group did Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum.  They hit all the tourist attractions; Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps,  The Vatican, St Peters Square and The Sistine Chapel with our Private guide, Francesca.   Our included dinners have been wonderful and definitely with no complaints from the wine drinkers as the wine has been flowing nonstop at each restaurant. I might add that true to form, we have had the best guides along the way and our guide liaison;  Ele, is top notch!!!! She has been with us since day 1 in Rome.

Our very safe and competent bus driver got us to the Tuscany region in good time; approximately 2 hrs. The first stop was lunch and  a walking tour in medieval Orvieto, then on to San Gimignano and another walking tour for those up for the challenge.  Quite a bit of walking is involved because Italy has imposed new strict laws that prohibit buses from entering certain areas.

Hotels in these medieval towns leave a bit to be desired but you cannot take away the quaintness nor the perfect settings surrounding these older hotels.  I’d been hearing rave reviews about the bartender, Alta.  He hails from Ethiopia and lived awhile in Maryland.  I understand some guests continue to return to this hotel because of his charm and expertise as a mixologist.

A highlight so many were looking forward to in San Gimignano was the cooking class and wine tasting at Pietraserena.  Our 2014 group made their official brochure.  What an honor!   The group learned  to make pasta, crostini and panna cotta, of which we dined on and all courses were most delicious.  Everybody was having a great time; enjoying the unbelievable views, tasting or drinking and did they have a good time buying and shipping home.  They purchased cases of wine, they bought bottles of a vodka made from grapes, limoncello in glass slippers, and even virgin olive oil.

Everyone was on their own for dinner this night.  I have enjoyed the food in the Tuscan region but I was craving seafood.  Debra TJ and Briana joined me at IL Mistolo. They only serve seafood.  This was an exceptional dining experience and our waiter, Giuseppe was everything.  Today is a day of leisure so folks are doing their thing, whatever it is.  Personally, after wrapping up this blog, I will be lounging poolside.  Stay tuned!




Cousin Darryl and Tosha Enjoying the Winery

Kat’s Kibbles and Bits

As I sit at the nail salon mentally preparing myself for a 33 day jaunt beginning tomorrow  – 10 days in Italy, followed by 10 days at home in Egypt as Mrs Nazim;  followed by 13 days in Fiji;  our fellow traveler Briana Moore has shared the most amazing information. She has been diligently searching for a black presence in Italy (yes we are and have been everywhere) and bingo bango she came across this Duke:   Introducing ALESSANDRO de MEDICI

‘A spectacular, elegant, brilliant portrait of skulduggery, murder and sex in Renaissance Florence’ Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard, Books of the Year 1531 – after years of brutal war and political intrigue, the bastard son of a Medici Duke and a ‘half-negro’ maidservant rides into Florence. … The ethnic make up of this MediciPrince makes him thefirst black head of state in themodern western world. Alessandro was born in 1510 to a black serving woman in the Medicihousehold who, after her subsequent marriage to amuleteer, is simply referred to in existing documents as Simonetta da Collavechio.

Briana also discovered that his coin is housed at the UFFIZI MUSEUM in Florence, a mere 15 minutes from the ACCADEMIA MUSEUM where our group has Reservations to see DAVID BY MICHAELANGELO   Thanks again Briana! Nice work!

I downloaded the book (thank you Casey for getting the app last week  Never thought I would use it)   Anyway folks, until next time. Right now,   I’m into reading about ALESSANDRO de MEDICI  

The Black Prince of Florence

Negril Here We Come July 2020

Here are a few pictures from a few years back of folks enjoying themselves on the island.    We always have a good time no matter what when we return to THE NEGRIL TREE HOUSE RESORT.   The paperwork went out this week and rooms are going fast.  Matter of fact, there is a waitlist for the oceanfront Suites.    We’ve got repeaters signing up that haven’t been back in years but they want a piece of this next year.  Are you Feeling a little homesick? Missing Hollywood’s Jerk Chicken? Do you miss strolling that white sandy beach early morning? Oxtails, 3 Dives Lobster? There is so much to miss….. Don’t miss out next year! Inbox me for reservations and information at