Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Egypt Day 1

On Monday May 21st, we flew to Cairo to celebrate my first birthday. As the plane was landing, we got a bird's eye view of the Great Pyramids. It was so incredible, breath-taking, awesome, glorious... Everyone must experience this before they die! We arrived at Hotel Movenpick at 6PM. Before entering our hotel, we got sniffed by bomb dogs and had to walk through a medal detector. Over the course of our Egyptian vacation this became common practice before entering any public place. We weren't sure whether this level of security made us feel safe or nervous. Once we checked into our hotel, we had a half hour to freshen up and be back down in the lobby to depart for a Nile River Dinner Cruise. Eating and drinking in Egypt can cause "gastrointestinal distress" (fancy way of saying "explosive diarrhea") to visitors because our bodies are not accustomed to Egypt's "different" water (that's putting it nicely!). Drinking water or anything with ice is a definite NO and eating anything washed with water (fruits and vegetables) may also pose a risk. In preparation for this trip, our doctor prescribed antibiotics for us and Mom packed a whole suitcase filled with canned fruits and vegetables and every snack you can imagine (we nicknamed this suitcase "snack city"). Mom and Dad also had to wash my bottles with bottled water. We still sampled the Egyptian cuisine but with caution. We ate lots of bread, cheese, chicken, and rice. The cruise down the Nile was a perfect kick off to our 8 day Egyptian adventure. As we ate dinner overlooking the Nile, a belly dancer and a weird spinning guy dancer entertained and fascinated us.

Egypt Day 2

First stop this morning was to the only remaining member of the Seven Wonders of the World... The Great Pyramids of Giza. Standing at the base of these enormous and powerful monuments made us feel so small.
We rode camels around the pyramids. It was a little scary and the camel that Dad and I rode had some disgusting infection on his neck. PETA needs to pay these camel handlers a visit and teach them something about animal compassion.
Second stop was the Sphinx, the guardian of the Giza Plateau. The Sphinx is known to the Arabs as Abu al-Hol, the "father of terror".
Next stop was Saqqara to visit the Step Pyramid of Djoser. We then walked to the Pyramid of Teti (it's not worth photographing because its just a pile of dirt) where we went down inside the pitch dark, claustrophobic tomb following some man who kept lighting matches and yelling "watch your head... watch your head" until we came to the end and saw the king's giant sarcophagus by match light. It was pretty spooky.
Before heading back to the hotel for dinner, we stopped at the Luxor Papyrus Institute to learn how papyrus is made. While Mom and Dad shopped for papyrus, the Egyptian women kept me entertained. We've found a culture that adores children even more than the Italians! Everywhere we went, people kept asking if they could take my picture or if they could hold me. Everyone kept calling me "Habepi" (Mom thought they were saying "Hey Baby") which our tour guide explained was a term of endearment meaning "My love" in Arabic.

Egypt Day 3

This morning started with a guided tour of the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo which conserves thousands of pieces of Egyptian history. All the artifacts were amazing but our favorites were the hieroglyphics, the treasures from King Tutankhamun's tomb and the mummified body of King Ramses II. Tutankhamun's 3,330 year old tomb was discovered in 1922 and the Tutankhamun Galleries display 1,700 items from the tomb of the boy king. It was amazing to see the painstaking preparation that the ancient Egyptians poured into the Pharoah's after life. Obviously the most impressive is the solid gold death mask, which my Mom has dreamed of seeing in person since she was a little girl. We paid an extra fee to go inside the Royal Mummy Room to see the mummified body of Ramses II. Ramses II is often regarded as Egypt's greatest and most powerful pharaoh. To come face to face with this legendary king was truly an experience of a lifetime. After lunch, we visited the Mosque of Mohamed Ali' and the Citadel. We sat on the floor of the Mosque to give our feet a rest and our tour guide explained the Five Pillars of Islam.
Before heading back to the hotel for dinner, we made a stop at the Bazar Khan El Khalili to shop for cartouches, lotus perfume, jewelry and silly souvenirs.

Egypt Day 4

Today we departed Cairo and boarded a plane for Sharm El Sheikh, the deep-sea diving resort on the Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. This time of the year is off season due to the extreme heat so we pretty much had the Intercontinental Garden Reef Resort to ourselves where the staff knew us by name and treated us like royalty!

Egypt Day 5

This morning we woke up early and hit the hotel's private beach to play in the sand, collect seashells, float in a raft, snorkel, and get seaside massages. Are you kidding me with this ridiculously, brilliant, turquoise water?... This evening Mom got sick with "gastrointestinal distress" which she coined the name "King Tut Tooties". She immediately started the antibiotics and felt better the next morning. She was the only one of us to get sick on our Egyptian adventure.

Egypt Day 6

Today we took a three hour trip through the desert to visit St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. We were the only ones to sign up for this tour so we had the van and the tour guide to ourselves. We also had an armed guard with us at all times. My mom saw this as an opportunity to pretend she was famous with a personal body guard. My dad saw this as just another person he had to tip at the end of the day! Along the way, we saw an oasis. How anything green can survive here is a miracle. Our tour guide told us that it only rains once every two to three years!

St. Catherine's Monastery is thought to be the oldest Christian monastery in the world (founded in AD 527). It is believed that this is the site where Moses saw the burning bush from which God instructed Moses to lead his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

Here we are standing under the evergreen that is said to be from the same stock as the burning bush. Mom has a sheet wrapped around her legs because the ding bat wore shorts and had to tip some guy to borrow one of his sheets to cover her inappropriate attire.

Egypt Day 7

Today Dad went on an all day diving tour. Diving in the Red Sea was a dream come true for him. Dad saw a unicorn fish, a blue spotted stingray, a school of barracuda, and a cargo ship wreck. The cargo ship was carrying toilets as you can see in the bottom right hand corner...
While Dad was diving, Mom and I hung out at the hotel. We played in the pool, walked to the beach, checked out the Kid's Club, ate lunch and took a long nap. When Dad returned from diving, Mom went to the spa for a another massage.
In the evening we took a cab to colorful, downtown Sharm El Sheikh and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and shopped around for last minute souvenirs.

Egypt Day 8

Our final day in Sharm El Sheikh was spent at the beach and pool. Dad went snorkeling one last time in the Red Sea and found the most brilliant souvenir shell to remember our trip. Mom spent a few hours in the Spa getting a Red Sea Salt Scrub and a Black Nile Mud Body Treatment. If you want to see my Mom blush, ask her the details of this embarrassing spa experience! I played in the pool and then dressed up in my Egyptian costume for a photo session for my parents entertainment. We were so sad to say "Maa salama" to Sharm. Sharm El Sheikh stole our hearts and Mom and Dad dream of possibly retiring there someday!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

One Year Old Today... May 19th 2007

Birth Weight= 9lbs 6ozs / Today's Weight= 26lbs 4 ozs
Birth Height= 20 3/4 inches / Today's Height= 31 1/2 inches

First Year

This is my mom's new project to gauge my growth. On my birthday every year, she's going to take a picture of me in the same Boston Red Sox T-shirt until I reach my 18th birthday... I should grow into it by then!

My Birthday Party

Today I turned one year old so we had a little BBQ at my house to celebrate. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me in Italian and English and then I ate a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting.
I opened lots of great gifts and played with my friends... Dawson, Maureen, Ella, Aja, Jadeyn, Jen, John, Bina & Antonio.
It was a FUN day and all the excitement wore me out!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Professional Photo Shoot

Last month I went to a professional photographer for my first photo shoot. I was a ham! These are the poses that my parents liked best. If you live in Sicily and need a photographer, visit Erin Clark's website to set up an appointment.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


This picture was taken with Mom's fancy new camera.

Mother's Day

This morning we let Mom sleep in and we made her heart shaped mini quiches, fruit salad and fresh squeezed orange juice and served it to her in bed. I gave her a fancy new camera and Bruco and Paolo gave her a cool camera case. She had a perfect 1st Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

For Those About to Rock... We Salute You!

For those about to walk... We salute you!
For those about to read... We salute you!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Whole Lotta Ricotta

This morning, Bina took me and several other children she babysits to a farm near her house to see the sheep and watch how ricotta cheese is made. We spent too much time looking at the sheep (baa baa) and missed the ricotta making process that was going on inside the barn. Bina still explained the process to us.
The fresh sheep’s milk is added to the “caglio”, a substance produced from the lining of a sheep's stomach (Those are sheep stomachs hanging behind Bina and I), which causes the milk to thicken. The cheese maker continuously stirs the pot until the top layer begins to clot. After skimming a little off the top, the steaming, chunky ricotta is ready to eat.
We all sat down outside and ate the ricotta the Sicilian way- by the spoonful with bread. It was thick, salty, and strong in a sweet sort of way. It was tasty and the experience was fun!

Jadeyn's Birthday

On Saturday, we missed Jadeyn's 1st birthday party due to my parent's bad time management and a minor car accident (we're all okay!), but we still stopped by after her party to play with Jadeyn and wish her a Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Murgo Winery

Over the weekend, we went to the Murgo winery in Santa Venerina on Mt. Etna. We had a typical Sicilian lunch and wine tasting with our friends Lindy, Maria and Josie.
Then we took turns drinking wine right out of the tap!
After lunch we went back to Josie's house in Acireale for some Amaro with her family.