Hawking—Us vs. Them?

It wore me out. At Egypt's popular tourist sites, I got besieged by hawkers selling their wares. They couldn't be avoided. I steeled myself for the inevitable barrage. Haggling in Egypt (image from middleeasteye.net) The routine would invariably be the same. Some guy (it was almost always a male) would approach. He'd hold up something... Continue Reading →

The Conundrum of Baksheesh

Baksheesh, or tipping, is a pervasive part of daily life in Egypt. It's expected for any service or favor performed, no matter how small, for tourists and locals alike. It's more common than a handshake. Westerners are generally amazed at how extensive it is. Tips are a big deal to the average Egyptian whose income... Continue Reading →

The Splendid Temple of Hathor (Dendera)

Calling a woman a cow nowadays is asking for trouble, but the Egyptians of yore depicted Hathor as a cow, a woman with cow's horns or woman with cow's ears. She was one of Egypt's most important deities, a primordial goddess, daughter of Ra and Nut, goddess of joy, female love, sex, destruction and rebirth,... Continue Reading →

Do Me a Fava, Pass Me the Falafel—and More

I ignored it in Egypt for the first few days, not so much that I don't like falafel (I do), but I can get it in Seattle where I live. How many ways can it be made, I figured. That's before I knew there was a distinctive Egyptian version. How is it different? Instead of... Continue Reading →

The Valley Temple and Osireion: Echoes of a Bygone World Culture?

Seeing is believing. It was deja vu all over again, as a famous American Yogi once said. I gawked at the Valley Temple of Khafre in Giza and the Osireion in Abydos. Though they are in Egypt, they reminded me of monuments I saw in Peru, halfway round the world. Cyclopean blocks of unadorned stone... Continue Reading →

Temple of Karnak (Luxor)

The Temple of Karnak in Luxor rivals an amusement park in size. The grounds are so big that it can easily surround the great cathedrals of Europe: Notre Dame, St. Peter's, Milan and more. Started in the Middle Kingdom and added to over a period of 2,000 years into Ptolemaic times by thirty pharaohs, it... Continue Reading →

Curiosities of the Temple of Seti I (Abydos, Egypt)

The hypostyle halls were the first I saw in Egypt. For that reason, the Temple of Seti I will have a special place in my memory. What for me conjures up ancient Egypt as much as the Giza Plateau are these halls and their towering and beautifully inscribed columns, bathed in mysterious, diffuse light. Seti... Continue Reading →

Cruising the Nile in Egypt

It was almost dusk when we arrived at Luxor Airport from Cairo. The Temple of Luxor was illuminated by the time we got to the hotel. The city was the start of our journey up the Nile to see the temples and tombs of New Kingdom and Ptolemaic pharaohs. (When I say "up the Nile,"... Continue Reading →

Tips for Sprucing Up Beer

We were driving past groves of Sitka spruce, Alaska's state tree that's everywhere in SE Alaska. The bus driver/guide made the remark in passing: "A tavern in town serves a local sour beer made with the tips of these trees." I was immediately intrigued. Spruce buds in the making of beer? He added that this... Continue Reading →

Creek Street, a Walk on the Wild Side

Strolling along historic Creek Street is not much different than any modern-day boardwalk of shops and restaurants. It has obvious appeal to tourists who pour through here in the summer, the cruise hordes numbering nearly a million this year alone. It's conveniently located only a few blocks from the cruise terminal. You would never know... Continue Reading →

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