The World 🌍 🌎 Seen From …

Exploring the world 🌍 🌎from different perspectives, be it:

riding

1️⃣a donkey while in Tenerife, Canary Islands 🇮🇨 – July1985

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2️⃣an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand 🇹🇭 – November 2007

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3️⃣a camel in Norita campsite, Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 May 2008

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sitting in:

4️⃣a carriage in Fontainebleau, France 🇫🇷 1986

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5️⃣a rickshaw in Vietnam 🇻🇳 March 2001

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6️⃣an ox cart in Madagascar 🇲🇬 May 2009

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7️⃣diving underwater in the Maldives 🇲🇻 July 2012

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8️⃣climbing up mountains in Bhutan 🇧🇹 October 2016

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or

9️⃣rising higher up above in a hot air balloon in Luxor, Egypt 🇪🇬 December 2016

Are You a Massage Lover?

There are two different types of people: the massage lovers and the others. I belong to the first group and admit having tried almost every kind of massage one might have heard of…yes, wherever my wanderlust bug took me I thrived to indulge in my favorite pastime.

While the “Razzie award” belongs to the Inca massage in Agua Calientes, Peru (it triggered pain in my neck i.e. Brufen was my best friend for quite a few days 🤷🏻‍♀️), some of the best experiences were in :

-Siem Reap, Cambodia: advertised as “massage by blinds”, all the employees in this center were professionally trained visually impaired masseurs and masseuses.

-Sri Lanka : Ayurveda treatments; and the star of them all, the Shirodhara – oil dripping technique.

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-Bali: yummy treat(ments) i.e. coffee scrubs, chocolate massages…

-Maldives: the outdoor picture perfect spectacular setting

-China: relieved me from a chronic back pain in only one session…like magic!

-Thailand: the 2-hour body massage felt like seconds 😳😲

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-Madagascar: much needed pampering between hikes

-Costa Rica : excellent “surround sound system” reaching us from the surrounding raiforest🌳…chirping birds, cascading waterfall… live, no CD.

However, the one treatment that left me with the strongest impact was closer to home…Yes, here in Abu Dhabi where I enjoy an established yet dynamic routine.

Honestly, I went to the spa at the Emirates Palace out of curiosity…understandably, it’s the most luxurious spa I’ve ever been to. I suspected the tag price to be associated with the lavishness, the splendor of the surroundings.

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I found out it wasn’t exactly true: the treatment was above my expectations…pure bliss is a cliché! Words fail me…🤷🏻‍♀️I can’t describe the burst of emotions I never knew existed and caused my eyes to well with tears towards the end of the treatment, once I felt, inch by inch, a warm blanket descending on my back before being left there and covering me like a warm cocoon.

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Heroin! It’s like heroin! Yes, well suddenly this particular article came to my mind…I read it twelve years ago in a Glamour UK issue while visiting my daughter Sara in Beirut. It was the addiction journal of a young teenager who revealed that the first time she tried heroin it felt like she was being enveloped in a warm blanket. I still remember that I thought then and there why wouldn’t she simply envelope herself in a warm blanket instead of letting herself be sucked into the downhill spiral that could have cost her her life?! Strange how our memory works.

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Anyway, back outside sipping on my minted tea in the relaxing area, a smooth transition before exiting the enchanting “realms of the senses”, I inquired about the “heroin effect ” treatment.  They don’t have it on the menu, it was bespoke! They came up with it when I asked for a “brain teaser”, a relaxing and energizing treatment😯

Still under the spell, I left the premises with the feeling that the treatment I just experienced could really lead to a habit, a guilt free and harmless habit 😉

Technically It’s The First Time

Throwback to  July 2017

Technically it’s the first time..yes, my eldest grandson is 3 years and 8 months now but during the two “”Mr & Mrs’s only” ” post-parenthood trip his mommy and daddy have planned, my dear hubby has taken care of the offspring solo as I was away on both occasions…When 17 months Aboudi’s parents went to California, I was on a prescheduled trip to Japan playing geisha dress up with a few girls friends🤷🏻‍♀️

A year and a half later, same scenario: when 3 years old Aboudi and 9 months Sama’s Mommy and Daddy took off to NYC, the teta was in Bhutan doing the Druk Path Trek…

The least I can say is that the abuelo was up to the responsibilities with a relish and a rare merit…During the first trip, he used to come home early in order to accompany Aboudi to the nearby park and petting zoo..

During the second one, he took baby Sama to the pediatrician because her mom was worried after one of the daily WhatsApps with the nanny….the redness around her mouth? Hand, foot and mouth disease!!

So yes, technically it’s the first time I’m going to practice the loving role of the teta -babysitting -the -grandkids but how can I compete with “a man with experience “?! Yes, while I was busy typing this in my room, Aboudi was sleeping soundly in my husband’s….

Men in Uniforms 👨🏻‍✈️💂🏻‍♀️👮🏻‍♂️

Men in uniform – and women- have a certain appeal..whenever I notice one, well.. I’ve never managed to reign my desire to immortalize those encounters…always with a smile, a knowing smile, a smile acknowledging the ludicrousness of my impulse 😉👨🏻‍✈️🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️😁😁

Checkpoint Charlie, a vestige of an unhappy period for pre 89 Berliners…Berlin, Germany 🇩🇪 5 June 2016

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Who’s is he?🤔no clue..🙈A passerby in uniform…et voilà😉🤷🏻‍♀️Russia – 9 May 2016

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With the guard at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V -and his 2 sons – Rabat, Morocco 🇲🇦6 April 2016

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This Mayan site has some of the best-preserved stelae and those vigilant men in uniforms are making sure it stays it that way👌Archeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua Guatemala 🇬🇹4 November 2015

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Alpha female in uniform 👩🏻‍✈️Todos los Santos, Guatemala 🇬🇹 1rst November 2015

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With the 👨‍✈️ of our Paris ➡️Havana flight aboard a Cubana Airlines’s Ilushin II-96 ✈️ 25 November 2013

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With the 👀 watching over the weekly Sunday march.Huancayo, Peru 🇵🇪 30 October 2011

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During a demonstration, probably a minor one as the Riot Police officers didn’t seem slightly worried, considering that one of them lent me his cap and the other one his shield 🤷🏻‍♀️Arequipa, Peru 🇵🇪 18 October 2011

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Historically responsible for safeguarding the Crown Jewels : a Beefeater, Tower of London UK 🇬🇧 15 August 1989

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The closest I could get to a 👸🏻’s💂🏻‍♀️…behind the chain @ Tower of London, UK 🇬🇧 15 August 1989😉

This Cup of Coffee

This cup of coffee, the morning ☕️ is the “jewel of all coffees “..it has absolutely no match. It simply tastes different…forget the brew, forget the blend, it’s the whole experience…an experience one fails to recreate later on throughout the day; I’ve endeavored to duplicate it though…for a certain period of time I’ve been wondering with each sip of the magic brew whether it tasted as good as the earliest one only to admit the evident: regardless of the place, whether outdoor or indoor, sipping my first ☕️ in silence seems the most enjoyable mission . This recurrent daily small pleasure is one of the simplest and cheapest life enjoyment, it’s the ritual I look forward to when at night I close my eyes in bed , and despite the build up I’m never disappointed. It’s a selfish pleasure…no company needed…

One home requirement though: the mug…it should fit one specific style and shouldn’t be heavy, absolutely not…who wants to do weight lifting 🏋️‍♀️ in the morning?!

However I have to admit, my morning coffee is not the crowned King of all beverages … I have another daily ritual: the afternoon tea …and that’s another love story 🍵 ❤️😉😃

Arabic coffee @ The beach tent

Palace cappuccino sprinkled in real 24 carat gold flakes @ Le Café

  Emirates Palace Hotel – Abu Dhabi, UAE 🇦🇪

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Café liégeois- Liège, Belgium 🇧🇪

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Café gourmand 😋 @ Champs-Élysées, and @ Butte aux Cailles-Paris, France 🇫🇷

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Latte @ historic Demel Konditorei (1786)-Vienna, Austria 🇦🇹

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Capuccino italiano @ Villa d’Este – Como, Italy 🇮🇹

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Mochachino @ Mzaar Intercontinental- Kferzebian, Lebanon 🇱🇧

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Coffee with a spectacular view @ Alila – Jabal Akhdar, Oman 🇴🇲

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Tent service “ morning coffee @ campsite between Paro and Thimphu- Bhutan 🇧🇹

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“On cloud nine” coffee – A 380’s lounge, Etihad Airways 🌍

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Kopi Luwak AKA civet coffee – Bali, Indonesia 🇮🇩

It includes partially digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian civet. Coffee producers claim that this process improves the coffee due to the following:

⁃ selection as the civet choose to eat certain cherries only

⁃ digestion affects the composition of the coffee cherry

Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called one of the most expensive coffees in the world, with retail prices reaching US$700 per k

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde Sans The Evil Streak …a Woman of Many Contradictions

My sister once said to me, you are like Lebanon 🇱🇧 the country of contradictions…

You are devout and a party animal… you endeavor to practice your 5 daily prayers and more, the beautiful voice of one specific muezzin makes you stop everything to listen to his beautiful call for prayer, but again certain songs can pull you to the dance floor with shameless abandon💃…

Your friends? social butterflies😎 and literati 🤓You are equally pleased in the company of the younger in their 30s as well as the older with experience in their 80s.

What else? I love a good 🏋️‍♀️ as much as I love farniente..I enjoy living in the fast lane, enjoy the adrenaline that helps me cope with a hectic lifestyle but equally enjoy a relaxing morning just catching up on the world or reading a catching book, staying home and not having any planned outings…

In the morning☀️ I look forward to the peace and quiet of the night 🌙 and the rituals preceding the “ machine switch off” 📖 while at night I look forward to the morning “waking up process” and its routine – a warm 🚿 and ☕️ in the garden listening to the chirping 🐦

These contradictions must be explained by the following: my yin and yang DNA is probably the “joint account “ of 2 extremely different ancestors 🤔

Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I enjoy the luxury of 5* hotels as much as I enjoyed the overnight homestay in Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca in Peru 🇵🇪, the shared sleeping accommodation – we were 12 – of a wooden boat during a Mekong cruise in Vietnam 🇻🇳, the rudimentary comfort of a traditional yurt in Uzbekistan 🇺🇿, and camping in Bhutan 🇧🇹 under torrential rain 🌧 i.e. muddy terrain 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anyone like me?

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Four Seasons Hotel – Anahita, Mauritius 🇲🇺 2014

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Le Negresco Hotel – Nice, France 🇫🇷 2014

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Lake Palace Hotel – Udaipur, India 🇮🇳 1998

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Riads – Marrakech and Fès, Morocco 🇲🇦 2016

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Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort – Inlay Lake, Myanmar 🇲🇲 2005

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Beach bungalow Hotel Vanille – Manakara, Madagascar 🇲🇬 2009

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Local’s casa- Amantani Island, Peru 🇵🇪 2011

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Wooden boat – Mekong, Vietnam 🇻🇳 2001

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Nurata Yurt Campsite, Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 2008

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Campsites between Paro and Thimphu, Bhutan 🇧🇹 2016

Dressing up

Dressing like the locals gives you a feel of the place, whether for:

-a photoshoot: India, China, Peru and Japan

-modeling the outfit for your travel companions: Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Guatemala

-going out for dinner: Cambodia

-dressing up as an empress for dinner in a “palace turned restaurant”: Vietnam,

Or for the whole stay: Iran.

7F20F976-E068-4F14-AFD2-80A61A436855India 🇮🇳 98

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E7F8A9CF-211A-49E2-8755-87C007E9012BChina 🇨🇳 2011 & 2012

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D9BF151C-4FBC-4EE8-A66B-6FCFCC7C9CE0Peru 🇵🇪 2011

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7C767B2D-91BA-4FD6-95A4-6F63BEAF6563Japan 🇯🇵 2015

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3600B4FE-AD54-49F7-91E0-73FB80768CFFSri Lanka 🇱🇰 2004

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3D6B3B5A-3625-439B-8DDB-76827307EA01Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 2007

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DE3140B6-EACF-4B17-9086-841C9DCDF2D9Guatemala 🇬🇹 2015

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E6B37512-C0C6-45D9-80F5-6EB6250391E9Cambodia 🇰🇭 2003

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BD2C42A3-90EF-4BD6-AE50-0A7A1F89C817Vietnam 🇻🇳 2001

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1AF15C51-6B86-4E3C-A137-D3EFE1E2A149
Iran 🇮🇷 2001 & 2003