Saturday, July 28, 2018

1st Impressions, Memories & Tips for Your Algerian Adventure

It's been a while since I wrote, getting back into the groove of everyday life carries us away sometimes. I'm excited to share some of the 2018 adventure with you.

Worldwide Experiences have the ability to surprise & challenge us to accept reality - first hand.
Why travel to far off destinations? To Experience the not so usual . . . and
moments that unravel from chaos into an - oh so Fairy Tale Accessible Destination

Constantine, Algeria 
March 2018
A Country of 4 Seasons filled with Remarkable People 

Algerians, are some of the warmest people in the world. They will welcome you into their homes with open arms and inquisitive, kind questions about your corner of the world. Reality vs. TV.  It's really quite amazing and fits in with why I work with Community Access ...  in America. 

 It's that fellowship with others everywhere, discovering common attitudes, interests and goals. I was so excited to see this area of the world, a place where so few of my fellow Americans ventured.

The usual bumps happen along the way. Missing baggage - baggage delays, missing a flight and breaking my arm in two places & crossing bridges; confronting any fear of heights that might have existed.

Algeria had the most unusual Hero's emerged along the way; it was completely unexpected.  

It started as soon as I landed at the airport in Algiers, waiting on luggage. An almost 3 hour delay. 🤨 A young man handed me his card, as he welcomed me to Algeria & asked where I was from. I told him I was from America and He said to call him if I needed anything.  I smiled and looked at the card, a Dentist. I said do you mean if I break a tooth?  He said no really if you need anything during your stay - call and Welcome to Algeria. 

After finally getting my luggage. I was trying to run over to the other airport to catch my flight and I ran into a affable businessman who looked like an Italian from America in the 1940's. I asked if I was going the right way to the domestic airport. With genuine integrity, he came to my rescue and offer me a ride.  Getting me to accept that offer, was no small feat. Afterall, I am an independent american woman traveling alone (we're typically weary of those trying to help us, hmm). He offered to have his driver take me. He had just gotten off a plane and showed me his passport.  I was stuck and leary, but accepted.  Thank goodness he was wonderfully kind, and it was his assistance and assertive take charge attitude that ensured I got through the crowds and on the next available flight to Constantine. 
New problem - that flight was the next day.  

As we were leaving the hustle of stranded passengers, two women having just flown home; came over and directly asked the suave gentleman if I was okay and had everything in order, a place to stay and flights to get on to Constantine.  They were very worried about me. I hadn't even met them and probably may not have, because they spoke only Arabic and a bit of French. They were so incredibly kind and I felt comforted as they nodded their approval. 

The gentleman offered me his apartment to stay at.  I insisted a hotel would be fine. He pushed back and said why, save your money? I said I am not going to sleep with you. I don't know you it's not appropriate, I can't. Could I be arrested? Afterall, unmarried couples can't stay in the same room at a hotel in this country.   He laughed and said he just wanted me to have a safe place to stay. I expect nothing - you'll have it to yourself. I will pick you up and bring you back in the morning to speak with the manager of the airline to get your tickets back on track.  (Consequently missing a flight insures all your flights are cancelled! When traveling with Air France you'll find they leave the building after the last flight lands. So no help there.) 

Like a Hallmark movie filled with nice people and unexpected moments  my adventure continued. He did just what he said and I got a short tour of Algiers leaving and returning to the Airport, while being able to recharge my phone and assure my friend in Constantine that I was fine, albeit late.  

Over coffee the next day.  I sheepishly thanked him for all his help, my earlier reaction seemed so rude.  He said when he was in college he had missed the last train home and had nothing left. Yet, he received help from an unexpected stranger, who gave him money to get home. He simply said he was repaying the favor. Afterall, everyone has a "green moment" when traveling. I was able to thank again after returning once on Facebook and share how well the rest of my trip went and then just as suddenly as he entered my life he just disappeared. 

Tip # 1.  When flying into Algiers this is the awning to look for. It's out the front doors to your right. Walk is about 11+ minutes between the international airport and the domestic airport.  It may change soon, they were doing a lot of construction.  Expect to see officers checking cars and I mean they have you open doors trunks everything. They scan you going in - so there is a line at the doors which makes the trip a bit longer. They are efficient and effective, however, it could be surprising for the unsuspecting tourist. So arrive early coming and going and be sure to pick up your calling card as soon as you arrive. 

Tip # 2 book your flights to Algiers separately.  So wherever to Algiers. Then Algiers to Constantine or other cities. For the simple fact - that things will go wrong and frequently do. Security and Luggage is a major hold up. Alot, actually per my seasoned fellow travelers to Algiers.  

Consequently, if you miss the last flight out, at least there will be someone there to reissue your tickets. Especially if your flying on with Air Algiers, who is exceptional. Travel is an Independence thing; so you really want to have backup hotels in each city you land in. 
Just in case your Guardian Angel is on vacation 😮 .  

Tip # 3 If your traveling light like I do, 1 carry on bag and a smaller backpack; do not be bullied into checking it in at the last minute.  (Actually, just don't take Air France, truly horrible.)  The airport managers excuse for all their errors "they don't get as much training to be nice as the 
international crews do" 
SERIOUSLY?!?  Who needs training to be nice to customers?  Albeit, he was exceptional. I am always impressed by people who speak a multitude of languages.  

Tip # 4 Things can go wrong and typically do.  Be happy anyway - take it all in stride.   Talk to everyone.  You'll find some not so savory people of course - they are everywhere. But you'll find so many more truly good wonderful and fascinating people out there.  People who practice kindness as a way of life and have lives very different from your own. You'll learn gazillions. 

Tip # 5 The bank in Algeria is closed Thursday night 5 ish until Sunday Morning and it's hard if not impossible to get money exchanged outside of Algeria, before arriving.  (Another problem in a cash country, I landed on a Thursday night) and you can only take about 5000 dinar out of the country when you leave. However, there are places to exchange money in the airport - like the tobacco shop, hotels will have someone come in.  My best exchanges were the tobacco shop and black market. Which isn't as scary as it sounds; but it was a wee bit better than the banks. 

My Biggest Unexpected Hero, was the Guy who sent me an invitation to investigate his corner of the world.  An honest sincere friend who looked out for my best interests at every turn. Especially, when I broke my arm. Along the way, he introduced to me to his country's rich culture, cuisine, history and helped me cross so many bridges figuratively & literally.  Most importantly he introduced me to a lot of people, including his family and friends who introduced me to more and inspired my love of and sincere interest in a beautiful country that fought for its independence and won.  

 He even flew back with me to Algiers on my way home.  Simply to make sure I was safe and because he insisted I needed help with my little luggage . . . Friends like that . . .

One in a million & memories that won't fade in a lifetime
A country where you'll truly feel safe & welcomed

Keep Asking Questions 
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Contemplating my next Adventure 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Constantine's Ancient Treasures Algeria

Travel like the new dawn is filled with opportunities to discover ourselves our ability to adapt and our integrity in building relationships and accepting another's point of view. Visiting Algeria leads to discovering thousands of years of treasure.  This Greek roman-style Villa is a landmark that emerged in 1852.

The Phoenicians are accredited for spreading the Phoenician alphabet throughout the Mediterranean world. As major sea traders it seems they went everywhere. Lybic, Punic, Greek & Latin are the languages of finding these funeral stones.

The stones talk about numidian professionals such as the soldier, merchant and Carpenter.  Even Bacchus the Roman god of wine makes an appearance.

Constantine was once the Berber capital of the kingdom of  Numidia from 40 BC - 202 DC. As you walk through this museum there is so much to see and learn. Passing a crown of an ancient Roman goddess leads us to Faustine, a 14th century Roman Empress, involved in charities for the poor and backing education of Roman children particularly girls.

Poor Claudius a popular Roman emperor whose undoing was his taste in women.

The Cirta Museum is arranged from prehistoric times to the Muslim period.  The coins themshelves tell so many stories as far back as king Massinissa.   There's even a coin representing the god Poseidon. An astrology lab from the 9th century of Hegire.  Turning the corner you'll see a bust of eternal youthfulness of Juno.

The Great Hall features mosaics and paintings Les Fumeurs de Kiff & others of the French and Oriental schools representing daily life and sites in Constantine in the 19th and 20th centuries it even has ancient manuscripts of diverse human sciences.

Mosaics are center stage in the large Hall and the Triumph of Venus is astounding. There's a bronze statue of Victory unearthed in the Casbah. Constantine has been mentioned as far back as 320 so if you miss this your missing a 1000 of years of history and this view.

The Square of Bachir Bennacer is home to a Convention center there was an exhibit for women that day.  Loved the dresses displayed from several regions and including regions that represented the Berber Culture and Constantine traditions.  Seriously wow the traditional pastries for weddings and events.  Ingenuity with fountains made of recycled copper and outstanding craftsmanship.  The honey distributor I love listening and watching him describe his products and their uses.

The tram was built by an Italian construction company it takes you along side the main historic Mosque and through 5.5 miles of the city from the old town over the slope of the red Rhumel,  Paso university area and the modern city. There are 11 stations,  3 have Tram buses and taxi available. Also go by two viaducts and has an underpass for urban traffic it's a great way to get a feel of the city.

The Emir Abdelkader Mosque, With minarets at 107 meters high it can be seen from many different vantage points throughout the city.  the concept started as a simple mosque that would hold 10,000 worshipers. Don't know how that could ever have been simple its completion is a masterpiece and one of the largest mosque in the world that can accommodate 15,000 worshipers inside and an additional 10,000 and it's unfolding courtyard.

Conceived in 1968, inaugurated in 1994; it was crafted by Algerian, Egyptian and Moroccan architects it is astounding.

From Surah the Jinn it says: "the places of worship all only for God, so pray not unto anyone along with God." Similar to angels that Jinn are spiritual beings invisible to the naked eye.  Understanding others requires the compassion to walk in their shoes.

It takes your breath away surroundings that relax your mind and sooth your senses. This mosque includes includes the University of Islamic science famous for many accomplished scientists. All under a cupola of 64 meters.

The culture palace of Malek Heddah an Algerian author and poet is where the community gathers. In his book, The Misfortune in Danger he said: "Poet, my friend, let us make our hearts intelligent and give our hearts intelligence."  Intelligence is what radiates inward and outward here. Today there is an exhibition for women with wedding preparations, handmade Berber articles for the home. Designers who make the dresses for the wearer. Even doll clothes. I love the furniture displays.
And wow "sweet secrets"  desserts are magically scrumptious.

On many days are in the public library upstairs you'll find students hard at work studying for exams and today the balconies are filled with an art exhibit.  Anytime you're here you're want to stop in to see what's unfolding. 

Art is everywhere even a pizza shop. But when you step into the Palace of Ahem Bey
. . . Once the headquarters of French army. Now with Algeria's freedom from the French it's enjoyed by all as it was intended.  The Palace of Ahmad Bay, is the home of the last ruler of the Ottoman empire. One who took a fierce stand against the French occupation forces. Some of the treasures here include a mile-long mural depicting travels throughout the middle East. The national museum will inspire even the most cynical observer. Created by the most skilled engineers of the 1800's it is filled with wonder.

This is a place where your imagination is free and filled with flights of Fancy likened to A 1001 Arabian Nights, its a collection of ancient and medieval Arabic, Greek, Berber, Jewish, Persian and Turkish folklore and literature. Whose influences linger throughout this  palace.

There are 540 doors made of cedar wood with intricate designs, secret tunnels and rooms; complemented by ancient gardens. It's inspiring and filled with hope as it takes all your cares away.
It's preserved in time for generations to come. 

Artisians of Copper
When you stop by this place you might even get in a game of dominoes.  Algerian copper has been produced in Constantine since the middle ages for the home and decoration.

While it might sound loud to you if you're watching the TV show, there's something magical about being here in real time the sounds are mesmerizing. You'll be struck by awe over the craftsmanship.  The sounds drift away as you realize the traditions here have gone on and on through generations from fathers to sons. Patterns and shapes materializing trace the rich heritage of his ancient city with influences from the Roman, Ottoman, Berber and Islamic cultures.

18,000 Craftsman are registered in Constantine's craft and jobs chamber; and their stories will fascinate you and you'll be sure to leave with a treasured copper piece that Constantine is famous for.

Schools of learning
Constantine is also known as being a Mecca's knowledge the University of Constantine number three is a campus of 7 universities in one covering architecture economy medicine law technology language of biology and everywhere you find people willing to share their knowledge with you.

Women's day 2018 at the Marriott in Constantine Algeria is luxury. Often misunderstood - this is a culture where women are revered, respected and educated they have amazing jobs in architecture as electricians, lawyers and yes they drive and celebrate with gusto they even have men do the grocery shopping.

The dancing is beautiful it reminds me of the flappers in America or Ginger Rogers daring, classy & alluring style.  Not everyone likes their picture taken for a variety of reasons so always ask especially women.  After the party the Marriott has its own incredible views the Roman ruins in the distance and cityscape.

Constantine, Algeria continues to rebuild and it is one of the few debt free countries in the world. One that runs on cash not credit. You'll find good people and warm welcomes, all of its histories and mysteries are clues from the past and a reminder of a quote by author, Malek Haddad "that discord never arises from misunderstanding; but from ignorance and disrespect."

Travel cures all of that - wishing you blue skies and new discoveries until next time keep asking questions!  See the whole show here on youtube.

Just a lady who loves to travel and experience the world first hand.  Denise-Marie  
Share some magic with Harry & David

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Bridge To Constantine Algeria

Sharing Insights from March 2018 into #ConstantineAlgeria the place where Algerian poet Malek Haddad born in 1927 once said "You do not introduce Constantine. She introduces herself, and you salute her. She reveals herself and we discover each other."
It's absolutely true, she has hidden treasures that are just patiently waiting for you to discover them. Each street, cobblestoned or paved has hidden treasures. 

The landscape welcomes you as much as the people you meet everywhere. Like a Fairy Tale, it's an adventure waiting for you to unravel it! Surprisingly, this city literally whispers to you and captures your heart; calming your mind and soothing your brow. While sparking your imagination and testing your endurance to face long walks in clean air and butterflies through your core as you cross her bridges and walk along her cliffs.

Blending in with the scene at the #Palace of Ahmed 'Bey' or 'Ruler' of Constantine from 1826, completion in 1835, after 10 years. Sadly he only lived here two years before the fall of Constantine into the French occupation. The Ottoman-era buildings are amazingly preserved and it's easy to step back in time and admire the beauty created here especially the murals. gardens and doors, there is about 540 doors made of cedar woods inscribed and engraved with different sculptures and decorations they are awe inspiring. Not to mention all the marble in the columns, floors and ceilings! It's a must stop when in #Constantine #Algeria

Constantine is a city set in a simpler place in time, with traditions that draw you into its core.  It's one where people dress conservatively in the city and dress up for parties like a Humphrey Bogart movie. Both men and men and women and women hold hands and link arms as they set out about their day. It's the closeness you feel with your best friend.  

Curiosity explore it, embrace it and keep asking questions ~ it may get you invited to dinner.  

A time where the entire family gathers close - to enjoy good food and conversation and share their lives. It's appropriate to take off your shoes, engage as best you can with everyone, with children simple games can help you hit it off like xoxo also known as tic tac toe ☺ bring your host a small gift from home something meaningful. One I gave that was enjoyed by the adults and children alike was the story of the dream catcher; representing legends and stories shared in America.   Be yourself and share yourself with others you'll learn and love a lot!

More Coming Soon... Take Care and Keep Asking Questions 

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Million Dreams & just as many secrets to unravel ...

#Disney World is a magical place & like all magical places, it's full of secrets.  For example, there is a place to stay there that can never be bought at any price.

Yet, it can be won.  It started in the Year of A Million Dreams in 2007; Disney wanted something as a very special prize for a select few lucky guests. Alas, Disney created the Cinderella Castle Suite. One lucky person, and up to 5 guests, are chosen to spend the night in the Cinderella Suite.

The details of the how, when and why are ... well it's a (っ◔‿◔)っ #secret but in a million dreams yet to be fulfilled it could be yours...

Keep Your Eyes Wide Open
Keep Asking Questions 

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Monday, January 1, 2018

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right,” ~Ford

Life is about learning every single day. Sometimes the blows will bring to your knees; but it's about confronting life headon.

How are you living?  Are you showing up on time?  Are you make the most of everyday?  Are you eating healthy, exercising? 

Everyone has a destiny, the choice is to fulfill it or not. Believe in yourself even when no one else does.  Give yourself a pep talk each day, today: I am going to do & be my best. 

Keep Asking Questions and if people don't answer, wait ... keep eye contact ... silence and persistence are value weapons. 

Keep Calm When your in a debate or someone is raging at you.  Your ability to not react will de-escalate them. 

Smile A Lot,  you'll feel happier and you may just make someone else's day.  Act confident with that smile welcome the world to you, and you just may find your the expert they seek.  Behave and treat others the way you want to treated.

Take a first date somewhere fun and exciting they will associate you with those adjectives. 

Don't be in a hurry for anything to happen all at once, school, work, relationships take time they're built on trust in ourselves and others. 

In everything you do maintain eye contact, pick out the hues of the person eye color - your interest will make them like you more. 

Be Unconquerable.

With All My Love And Dreams for Your Absolute Best 

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We always try to follow everyone back everywhere, you never who’ll you’ll meet or where the quest will take you.

"CONTACT ME" Fairy Tale Access aka Denies-Marie

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