I never miss a flight but but a taxi ride from my apartment in Cairo that normally takes 45 minutes took over 2 hours. The next flight to Abu Dhabi would be that night not arriving until after midnight. I had to get there before the group arriving from San Francisco, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The only workable option was to change our tickets and fly into Dubai which is a 2 hr ride to Abu Dhabi. My contact in Dubai was kind enough to arrange car service that would still get me to the RITZ CARLTON GRAND CANAL before the group We sat back an enjoyed the neon lights as we left Dubai, passing illuminated Mosque after Mosque of all colors.
Check in was smooth and easy and what awaited me blew me away. This hotel snob was more than satisfied with the suite and the Piece de resistance that blew my hair back was a beautiful black and gold monogrammed abaya with matching headscarf on my bed.
I waited up for the group to welcome them. Most were here to celebrate birthdays since we would miss out on the costly New Years 2020 celebration. There was Elizabeth Sherrell-Davis, Lesley and Sydni Stewart, Ora Anderson, Pamela Finney, Toni Adams, Debra Pryor, Ethell Wilson, Jesse and Gloria Presley from the Bay, Lori Medley of Atlanta and Aljamil Summers and Barbette Traylor of Los Angeles.
Our first day would be super busy visiting the Grand Mosque, city sightseeing and lunch at Le Vendome at EMIRATES PALACE. I can’t say enough about the RITZ CARLTON. It is truly the Kat’s Meow,
Allow me to explain: Dubai is not a country nor a state. Dubai is a city of the country known as U.A.E. ( United Arab Emirates) and the Capital of U.A.E. is Abu Dhabi.
I have enjoyed all the Ritz has to offer. As I write this blog I am lounging at the beautiful, massive pool.
Tomorrow we head for Dubai where we will spend 5 nights…..can’t wait, so much to see, so much to do. There will be Quincy Jones Lounge, some will golf, and some will see the amazing cirque type, magical show called LE PERLE. Stay tuned!
At Sheik Zayed Mosque
At the Mosque
Lam at Emirates Palace On Display
Liz at Emirates Palace
Lesley, Pamela, Ora, Gwen and Liz in Emirates Palace Lobby
The Temptations sang about it.., It’s an everyday thang…in the ghetto. Cairo has so many faces and I love them all… the good and the not so good. This is day 4 for me at home in Giza. I’m still getting the royal treatment and I’m lovin’ it. Am I on vacation? The second half of the group is still in Israel, returning tomorrow and Hamada and I will pop over to their hotel to have dinner at the Thai restaurant where he and I shared our first dinner.
A few days ago we went over to the FOUR SEASONS HOTEL FIRST RESIDENCE. It’s in Giza and I wanted to take a peek. As you can imagine, it’s beautiful beyond words. That night, while he was at the barber shop (the guys here call it the hairdresser) I was at a neighborhood cafe doing my WiFi thing and drinking “shay” (tea) in the middle of the locals watching the Egypt vs South Africa soccer match. Right, 10pm? Getting a haircut and face shaved? I tell you, this city never sleeps. It’s nonstop activities. Whatever one needs, it can be had, it can be done past midnight: need a pair of shoes? new outfit? pharmacy? Bakery? Pay your phone bill? Pick up your dry cleaning? No doubt they’ve got the Big Apple beat by far.
As we go to and fro, I enjoy the sights and sounds of this city, looking out the car window like a kid and soaking up every bit of it. Yesterday, we had a late lunch at the HARD ROCK CAFE, a stone’s throw from the Citadel where the MUHAMMAD ALI MOSQUE is located. Everything was good at the cafe; the food, the service, the handsome waiters and last but not least the music. No alcohol but that’s ok. We don’t drink anyway but the music I loved. In our home it’s Egyptian music, videos and prayers on tv. So I was feelin’ it when my son, Moe Bounce (rip) theme song came on: Mo Bounce to Da Ounce by Zap, followed by my dear friend Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me To Stay”. Those 2 tunes sure put me in a mellow mood.
After Hard Rock, we headed home. Hubby makes up for any of his missed prayers. That’s a must! Later that night, his best friend and co-worker, Jacir picked us up and we visited SAFARY 2000. It’s a hip 2 story restaurant with Shisha, comfortable huge leather chairs and convenient outlets to charge your devices. It doesn’t close til 3 am. They did the shisha thing, watched videos while I did my online thing.
A few more days here and then it’s off to meet a new group in Abu Dhabi at the RITZ CARLTON GRAND CANAL for 3 nights, followed by 5 nights in Dubai at the 5 star hotel KEMPINSKI MALL OF THE EMIRATES. I look forward to it. It will be like a delayed honeymoon 😎
As I sit in my apartment in Giza, five miles from the Pyramids of Giza; I’m reminiscing on what a beautiful tour we just completed. Half returned home today and the other half continued on their trek to the Holy Land. Yes, they thugged it out even though things heated up last week with the Palestinians and the Israeli. Out of 35 travelers only 8 had never traveled with us and gotten a taste of the unbelievable KATTRAX experience. It’s not just the “WOW” factor that Kat Tracker, Gail Kelly speaks of in regards to the top notch hotels and restaurants we offer but it’s the camaraderie and the cohesiveness that exists among the travelers and no matter what, It’s not long before the newcomers see it and feel it.
Those that opted for our Holy Land Extension arrived in Tel Aviv after a short 1 hr flight and are in excellent hands. Our suppliers were monitoring conditions and keeping me informed each day before their departure to Tel Aviv. Their first stop was the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Their 3 days will cover visiting the Church of the Sepulcher, the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. They will go to the hillside overlooking the city of Jerusalem where “Jesus wept” over the city. They will enjoy a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee and some are looking forward to getting baptized in the Jordan River which is on the north western shore of the Sea of Galilee. They will cover so many unforgettable sites, all too numerous to mention. Nevertheless, we can’t leave off the visit to Tabgha, where Jesus performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish.
We are currently accepting reservations for Egypt 2020 and 2021. For either of the Holy Land Extensions to operate; there must be a minimum of 15 participants so if you are even considering inbox me
Farewell Aswan Hotel
1/2 of the Group at Church of Nativity in Bethlehem
Church of Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was Crucified and Buried
We disembarked the cruise in Aswan, my most favorite city in Egypt. It is here that I feel most at home, in Upper Egypt, towards the Sudan. Conversely, Cairo in the north is Lower Egypt. Aswan is 350 miles south of Cairo. Once here, one can easily tell and feel the difference.
After the group toured the NUBIAN MUSEUM, we checked in to the MÖVENPICK ASWAN HOTEL. What a lovely property. Later in the day, they paid a visit to the NUBIAN VILLAGE. The Nubians originated from Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan and settled along the Nile River. It’s a preserved isle of one of the oldest civilizations in history. They have not only conserved their ancient traditions but also their Nubian language which is only spoken and has no official alphabet. The village is filled with geometric shapes and bright colors. The triangle shapes represent the 3 most important sources of life for the Nubians – the earth (neon green), the sun (stunning yellow), the sky, the Nile (various shades of blue).
After arriving by the two felucca at the village, the group was greeted by the Nubian women, then welcomed in one of the private homes to see how they live. Later they walked to the local school where the teacher gave them a mini crash course in Arabic and one of the Nubian dialects.
Our tour is almost over. The group has covered so much territory and has learned so much. 3 nights in Aswan is a perfect ending to the KATTRAX EGYPTIAN ODYSSEY. Monday, we’ll say “Ma Salaama” to Aswan. Some will continue to the Holy Land, the rest will return to the states and I will return to my husband in Cairo. Maybe I will be successful in convincing my Omar Sharif to move from Cairo to Aswan, this place I love so well. As an Upper Egyptian no doubt he’ll feel more at home.
It’s a tradition on all Nile cruises to have a party and everyone dresses in a traditional Egyptian gown called a GALABEYA, thus the name: GALABEYA PARTY. Everyone looked so good that evening I just had to share with you some of the photos taken. To get the dance floor heated up, our group was center stage getting down with the Wobble and the Cha Cha Slide. It never fails to keep me in stitches to see other folks apparently amazed at the synchronized movements try, try as they might to get in step and try to imitate the dance steps. Nevertheless, a grand time was had by all. I understand I made my exit too soon. Little Ms Alicia Rozario got on the dance floor and showed the OGs a few moves they knew nothing about
Harvey and Barbara Merriouns
Ursula and Joan Morris
Sheik John Motte
David and Annette Fountaine
Kat StThomas Nazim
David and Annette Fountaine
Carol and Brother John Motte
Michele Myers, Anna Cohen, Audrey Richards and Annette Fountaine leading the Dancers in the WOBBLE
We finished our 2 night Luxor stay with a horse and carriage ride while some opted for the Sound and Light Show afterwards. I look forward to the rides through the town. It’s very relaxing and I enjoy soaking up local Luxor color every time. Simply put, it’s one of my highlights. Before leaving Luxor, some of the adventure seekers received a 4am wake-up call to be taken to the Hot Air Balloon launching station. As the sun rose, they saw all the sights on the East and West Banks from yet another perspective, in a most exciting and exhilarating way.
Day 6 into the tour found us embarking on the ROYAL LOTUS for our 4 day cruise on the Nile River; the longest River in the world, one of the few rivers that flows south to north. It’s the same river where the Hebrew baby, Moses was hidden and found by Pharoah’s daughter.
My first cruise on the Nile; what was important to me was to have floor to ceiling windows and balconies. Silly me, what should have been my priority was the cuisine on board. We had the huge windows and balconies but the food left a lot to be desired. After that 4 days I knew that tasty, well presented food had to be at the top of my wishlist. The ROYAL LOTUS gives us everything to ensure an excellent cruise. I couldn’t believe how the managers and head Chef remembered me and welcomed me “home” with a huge floral arrangement and a cubed mango and strawberry arrangement. They refuse to take my money for my beverages. The Manager said, “You are family and family cannot pay”. By the same token, they have extended the best hospitality to the entire KATTRAX group. Whatever one needs, they have been certain to oblige.
Being up on the deck relaxing as we cruise the calm and peaceful Nile is an experience that cannot be compared to any other. Seeing the local vendors pull up in a canoe, latch onto the boat, toss up the goods they wish to sell; is a sight you probably won’t see anywhere else. Everyday, our guide and Egyptologist, Mo will escort the group on the shore excursions to Edfu and Kom Ombo.
A cruise on the Nile gives one an opportunity to get a glimpse of daily life; men sitting on the banks having morning tea or smoking shisha pipes, seeing the sugarcane and wheat fields, mud huts, children waving as the boats go by, seeing the illuminated minarets in the dusk light and hearing the call to worship….these are just a few of the things one would never see without a Nile Cruise.
Deborah, Yvette, Barbara and Debra TJ- Relaxing on the cruise
In 2005 on a whim, I had my past lives done in Jamaica. I was told that in the 17th century I was of Egyptian royalty, possibly a Queen. Was this real? Was this to be believed? Well, I didn’t give it much thought until last year while here in Egypt with my group. Even though I had visited in 2011 and 2012 and felt a connection, it was nothing like what I experienced last year. Cairo is full of interesting tourist attractions such as the Pyramids, The Sphinx, and Museums but for me nothing compares to what I feel as we leave Cairo and move south to Luxor and then Aswan, home of the Nubians; where the group will discover the colorful cultures of Nubia, one of Africa’s oldest civilizations. It was in Luxor last year when I was addressed as “My Queen”, “My Lady”. It was then that no matter what my heart desired, what I requested, it was “So let it be, so let it be done”.
We had a 6am flight from Cairo to Luxor. It’s a short flight, only 1 hr and 10 minutes. After arrival, The group spent time at the KARNAK TEMPLE COMPLEX. This way, by the time we arrived at our hotel the SONESTA ST GEORGE, most rooms would be ready for check in. As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, the locals seemed to immediately recognize me and then it started again….I was addressed as My Lady, My Queen. I know it will only intensify as we get closer to Aswan. As we move south towards Upper Egypt, it quite noticeable that the skin tone of the locals gets darker in color. Upper Egypt, the area where my husband’s village is located and believe me it’s been quite an education.
2 nights here in Luxor and then we board our cruise vessel, THE ROYAL LOTUS for an exciting 4 night cruise on the Nile River. We stop for shore excursions along the way but by night we are docked. This will be my 5th cruise on the Nile but yet and still I continue to look forward to the experience. There’s just something exciting and magical about it.
Colombia is the place. My first time there was 1991, a stop on a cruise ship’s itinerary. I had to search high and low to find a person of color. Where were they? I knew they existed but where? Cruise ships take you to see what they want you to see. It wasn’t until the mid 2000’s I struck out in search of this place in Colombia called “PALENQUE” (pah link ay). Benkos Biohó, born into a royal family in West Africa was seized by a Portuguese slave trader, sold, transported to Colombia and sold again. He escaped and established the maroon community in the 16th century. He was betrayed and hung by the governor of Cartagena in 1621. Today the community still thrives with their own language, education system, cuisine, music and dance with definite traits from West Africa. Personally, I cannot wait to return to see my friends in PALENQUE as well as our guide in Cartagena, Carlos. It was Carlos that taught us what Stevie Wonder was saying in “Dont You worry Bout A Thing”. “CHEVERE” ! In other words, it’s all good and believe you me, it is all good in Colombia.
MEDELLIN (med a jeen) It’s nothing like it was in the days of the infamous Pablo Escobar. It’s all cleaned up and a very beautiful city. It’s also the birthplace of sculptor, Fernando Botero. His signature style also known as “Boterismo” depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. His city pays tribute to his works in a huge way. One of my favorites is a man standing on top of a woman lying down. It’s not derogatory but represents a woman holding up her man as so many of us have and continue to do.
Then there is CALI, the salsa Capital of the world. When night falls, Cali lights up with Salsa. They’ve got their own distinct rhythm; “Salsa Cali Style”.
I know several of you are sitting around saying, “I know I need to go somewhere” What am I waiting for? Maybe I should Kat Track over to Colombia with Kat. The price has been reduced by $300. Dates: MARCH 13-23, 2020. From Miami, the air was $675. Don’t delay, call our Ticketing Agent, Ms McCree before those fares disappear and before she leaves 11/6.
Marea By Rausch
Our Guide, Carlos in Cartagena with Sabrina
Crab Claws in Parsely and Garlic in Cartagena
Authentic Face of Cartagena, Las Tres Guerreras
Pablo Escobar’s Spot In Guatape
Guatape, 1+ hour drive from Medellin
Marea by Rausch, one of the best dining experiences