Friday, November 29, 2013

In Memory of Wahiba Aziz Abd el Noor

Our dear beloved family matriarch recently departed this life on November 28, 2013 and this is a post dedicated to her memory.  Wahiba Aziz Abd el Noor was born on June 1, 1922 in the City of Girga, in the Sohag province, in Egypt.

Wahiba was the only child of Aziz Abd el Noor and Bellsum Marcos Yacob.  Her grandparents on her father's side were Abd el Noor and Nozha and on her mother's side were Marcos and Zafpharon.  She grew up in Girga and her father, Aziz worked in the family business as a tailor.  Aziz passed away when Wahiba was very young.

Wahiba married Mobarak Shaker Awad and they started their life together in Girga.  Wahiba was a very smart women who had a creative, business mind.  When Mobarak thought about starting his own real estate brokerage and title company in 1938, Wahiba encouraged and supported this idea and even sold her wedding ring and wedding gold to help in this new adventure.  With the funds she raised, she bought staples for the family for an entire year to ensure that her family would be provided for in case of hard times.   Mobarak was extremely successful in this business up until the day he passed away in October 1991.

Besides being the wife of Mobarak, Wahiba was the driving force behind his business.  She was his partner in the building of a large apartment building in Girga.  The building was designed in that there was an apartment for each of her sons.  This was Wahiba's home up until three years ago when she moved to Giza, Egypt because of health reasons.

Wahiba and Mobarak were parents to eight sons; Zakaria, Fouad, Wahib, Youssef, Mahfouz, Sabry, Nasser and Assam.  Through Wahiba's determination, she saw all eight sons graduate from college with careers ranging from doctors to engineers.  Fouad was the first son to immigrate to America and later five more of Wahiba's sons immigrated to America.  She was fortunate to make the trip to America three times to see her sons and their wives, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Wahiba's first love was her Lord and her faithfulness to her beloved Coptic Church.  She was truly a saintly woman in that she always thought of others before she thought of herself.  She received great pleasure in helping others and providing necessities for them.  Many times she provided money to less fortunate young women to buy their wedding necessities.  Her family was her crowning glory and she raised eight healthy sons.  In the late 1940's  she heard about an outbreak of diptheria. Two different neighbors had lost a total of five children in one day to this deadly disease.  Wahiba gathered her three sons at that time and took them in a hontour (horse drawn carriage) to the vaccination clinic and insisted that her sons be vaccinated against this disease.  Her sons were among the very first to be vaccinated  in the city of Girga.

Nothing gave Wahiba more pleasure than seeing her grandchildren being baptised in the same church as her children were baptised in.  One son from America had his children baptised in Girga, Egypt and later made the trip again as recently as 2010 with his grandson (Wahiba's great grandson)  for baptism.  Seeing this gave Wahiba great pleasure.

After Mobarak passed away, Wahiba spent her time worshipping in the Coptic churches of Girga.  She was a very spiritual woman and many would seek her out for her help in praying for them.  Once when she was visiting St. Sergius Church in Old Cairo (the same church where the holy family fled with Jesus when they were in Egypt) she told the people at the church all about being down in the crypt and how she was healed.  This had taken place years ago as now visitors cannot go down into the crypt.  She had an audience around her listening to her story.  She shone with the Light of Christ.

Wahiba was a petite little woman with a big heart.  She had given birth to eight sons and when asked by her oldest sons why she keeps on having children even at age 46, she always answered that she was "looking to give birth to a daughter"!   After the birth of her 8th and final son, she realized that she would not have a daughter.  However, she was blessed to have eight daughter-in-laws who loved her dearly.

The last three years of Wahiba's life were spent in a nursing home on Pyramid Street in Giza, Egypt.  The family wanted to keep Wahiba close to them but due to the nature of Wahiba's illness, dementia, she demanded around the clock care.   Her son, Mahfouz and his wife Magda saw her regularly during this time along with her son Youssef and his wife Mary.  Dr. Magda, her daughter-in-law,  provided for Wahiba's medical needs during this time.

Wahiba passed away in the afternoon of November 28, 2013.  Her body was transported by private hearse to her hometown of Girga where there was a viewing at her home.  Her funeral service was held on November 29, 2013 at The Angel Coptic Church in Girga.  She was laid to rest in the new Coptic Cemetery in Girga.  There was a reception in her honor at the church parish hall and over 600 people attended to pay their last respects to this amazing woman.

We will truly miss Wahiba as she holds a dear place in our hearts.  She leaves behind, eight sons and their wives, 19 grand children and 11 great grand children.  May her Memory be Eternal.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Visiting Bruges Belgium

I can't believe how fast the time has gone by.  Thanksgiving will be this coming week and then Christmas next month.  I always feel I will get behind my duties if I don't get things done in a timely manner.  Well, this year it must have already effected me since I already have my artificial Christmas up and decorated in the foyer and it's not even Christmas yet!

Enough said about that - as you may know I was away on vacation last month.  I had the great opportunity to visit Bruges Belgium.  It is a lovely city.

I was on a cruise ship that actually docked in Zeebrugge for the day.  Zeebrugge is an industrial port and not scenic whatsoever. Our options were to book a tour via the ship, buy a shuttle ticket for like 14 Euros each to take us to the city of Blankenberg where we would have to take a train to get to Bruges or get a private taxi.

Well, my daughter and I are always budget minded when it comes to traveling but since there was three of us (my little grandson included), we opted for the taxi and we were so happy that we did.  The one way trip into the city of Bruges was 50 Euros.  It's about a 20 to 30 minute ride depending upon the traffic.  The taxi driver was so nice that when he dropped us off at the town center, he booked a time to pick us up at the same place.

Bruges has to be one of my favorite cities.  It's not that large but it is very picturesque.  We took a canal boat ride that was very enjoyable.

 We had arrived prior to lunch time and after walking around the city we were getting hungry.  We found a lovely old hotel/restaurant that was featuring a fixed price lunch for 19.50 Euros.  It was beautiful inside.

It felt like we were dining "inside" a Belgium tapestry.  It turns out that the building was originally a tanner's home from the 1600's.  The interior of the restaurant had been designed and decorated by designers from the local art institute back in the 1960's.

The food and service were excellent.  We had a choice of soup or wild boar pate for our first course.  I chose the wild boar pate and I wasn't disappointed.

Bruges has something for everyone.  There are lots of beautiful lace shops (where I bought some hand made bobbin lace), delicious chocolate shops, souvenir shops and also many shops featuring clothes and shoes.  We even popped into a grocery store and bought some speculoos spread to bring home.

 After our day in Bruges we walked back to the town square where our taxi arrived promptly on time.  The return trip back to our ship cost 50 Euros but we still felt we had gotten a great bargain since we were able to spend the whole day in Bruges at our leisure.

If you ever get the change to visit this lovely city, I highly recommend that you visit.  During the winter season they have beautiful decorations and wonderful Christmas markets.

Lilly and I want to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving (Lilly can hardly wait to eat some turkey) and thank you for taking time to visit Lilly My Cat.

Blessings to each of you,
Pat & Lilly, too!

P.S.  Please remember to hop over to Handmade Harbour and check out some great creative ideas made by very talented people!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Renting a Car in Paris

Hello everyone! Here is my first post since I have returned from my vacation.  It seems like it was so long ago since I last wrote.  As you may recall, my daughter took me on a three week trip to England and France to celebrate my birthday.  I returned this past Monday and thought I should update my long overdue blog post.

I won't bore you with all the specifics of our trip but today I will share with you our experience of renting a car in Paris.  My daughter had made a reservation for us to pick up a car at the Gare Du Nord in Paris and drive to the Loire Valley in France.  I was hesitant about "driving" in Paris after reading about it online.  Well, it worked out fine.

Here's what happened:  We had a great map of Paris from our hotel in the city.  We took a taxi from our hotel to the train station where we found the car rental agency in the basement of the train station. We rented from Enterprise and they were most helpful to us.  We also rented a child car seat and GPS system.  My daughter bargained on the price of the car and accessories and got a great deal! (We rented a Toyota hybrid which saved us a lot of money on gas!)

The rental cars are in the basement parking garage of the train station.  We took an elevator to the car and loaded it with our luggage.  We drove out of the parking garage onto the streets of Paris.  We had the GPS going at this point and were able to get onto the peripheral road and then onto the highway heading towards Versailles.

We had taken a couple of taxi rides in the city before we rented so we had an idea of how the people drive like jamming the intersections and not staying in their designated lane.  We are from Southern California where we have multi lane freeways so we were not so worried about traffic.  My daughter was the driver and I was the navigator and we did just fine.  We were able to negotiate out of the city and get on the main highway.

Here's a Photo of our Little Rental Car

 The road system in France is well marked and the roads are well taken care of.  It was lovely driving through the countryside and seeing the villages.  We ended up at a small "gite" west of the village of Garron.  We stayed there three nights and really enjoyed our time.

Beautiful Village Scenery in France

We drove back to Paris on a Sunday.  We left early in the morning to allow time for traffic and finding our way back to the train station.  Again, we had the GPS set to our location and we were doing fine until it told us to exit the highway and we ended up at Victor Hugo Square in Paris headed towards the Arc de Triomphe!

We had visited the Arc de Triomphe earlier in the week and we knew this was a HUGE roundabout with cars going every which way.  Again my daughter was driving and I had the Paris map in my lap trying to figure out our location.  Luckily, we were able to venture back onto the peripheral road and take the exit Porte de la Chappelle which was a straight shot back to the train station.

Again, the intersections were jammed with cars but my daughter ventured on and was even able to pull into a gas station on Rue de la Chappelle and gas up the car before returning it.  Someone had written on a website that the return of the rental car is a different location that the pick up.  This is not so if you are renting from Gare du Nord.  We returned the car to the same parking garage which is located at 112 Rue de Maubeuge to the Vinci Parking and you continue down to floor 6 of the garage where you park the car in the designated "Enterprise" parking spot and then go upstairs to return the keys, etc.

Lovely French Flowers

Again, the people who helped at the car agency were so accommodating to us (and we don't speak French).  Overall is was a good experience and we would probably rent again.  Maybe it wouldn't be a good idea of you are not used to driving in traffic or can't read maps because the GPS was really useless in the city of Paris itself.

After returning the car we went back up to the main floor of the train station where we checked into the Eurostar to take the train back to London.  I absolutely love the Eurostar - it is so easy and convenient compared to flying.  It really was a fun expereince.  Upon arriving in London, our hotel was just across the street from St. Pancras station where the Eurostar is located so we walked to our hotel in about 5 minutes.

When we were going through passport control in Paris there was a gentleman who was getting his picture taken with the police and guards.  My daughter asked who he was and I thought he may have been a famous boxer.  Well, I was wrong.  There came another guy dressed the same and they again had their picture taken with him.  Finally, we asked a girl in line with us and she proceeded to tell us they were the All Blacks rugby team from New Zealand.  This girl in fact had come from New Zealand to watch them play.  I guess it was quite exciting for them to meet this team in person.  As an American, we are not familiar with rugby so the excitement was lost on us.

I hope each of you are doing well.  I missed hearing from you and hope to hearing from you when you have the time.

take care,
Pat (Lilly's Mom)