Istanbul Turkey Belly Dancing Show

Sherma and I recently visited Istanbul. Our hotel concierge suggested that we go to a famous belly dance / dinner theater. We were picked up by a van that went from hotel to hotel picking up guests for the show. In the van we met a few interesting gentlemen that we asked to share our table at the show.  One was a parisian artist, the other a Moroccan physician on holiday. The artist was hilarious and looked alot like Salvador Dali.

Our travel friends we met on the way to the show.

 

We arrived and were seated at a table not too far from the stage.  Food was ok but the show turned out to be excellent.  First there were two exotic belly dancers that performed. Although I am no judge of Belly Dancing the dancers were sexy and fun to watch.

Then the Master of Ceremonies explained that they were going to have a Sultan contest.  They picked four men from the audience to compete to be the Sultan for the evening.  I was one of the men selected.  They had a contest where we had to compete in various tasks – such as showing our biceps, repeating drums beats, etc. I won and then I was crowned Sultan and entertained in front of the entire audience – a bit embarrassing!

The Winning Sultan

The Coronation

After crowning a new member of my harem was selected and then she performed especially for me.

The "Private" Dance for Steven

We all laughed so hard. We had a wonderful and memorable evening 🙂

 

 

Morocco September 2011

Sherma and I spent our 60th birthdays and 35th anniversaries, all of which occur in the same week in Morocco.  We began in Tangier – a fairly commercial city and quickly moved on to Chefchaouen.  Chefchaouen is known as the “Blue City.”  This is a nice photo of us and it is obvious why Chaouen as it is known to the locals is called the “Blue City.”

Steve and Sherma

Sherma and Steven Pinkert in Chefchaouen

 From Chefchaouen we proceeded South to Fes. We stayed overnight at a beautiful Riad located in the medina (old city). The riad is a converted palace that has about 8 guest rooms. The recent owners of the Riad are a charming French/American couple and they could not have been more hospitable.

Sherma Pinkert
Sherma in the Courtyard of Riad – Fes

The food was very good at the Riad and throughout Morocco – mostly we ate traditional Moroccan food during the trip. The mainstay of Moroccan food is the Tajine. It is a stew of various types baked in an earthenware  pot. Usually a meat and several vegetables – quite rich and delicious.

We loved walking through the Medina in Fes, trying to avoid the mules used to transport goods on the narrow streets.

Watch out for these guys in the narrow medina

The highlight of the Fes Medina was visiting their famous leather tannery.  Here they treat the cow hide in large tanks.  Workers walk on the walls between the tanks.  For perspective, the photograph of the leather treatment tanks is a kind of courtyard that covers almost a square block.

Leather Tannery - Fes

Sherma bought several pairs of slippers and a jacket.  Very nice quality leather and the shop keepers were entertaining to say the least. It was alot of fun to bargain with them.  They are a bit resistant to bargain in the tannery but if you are nice and persistent they reduce the price a bit.

Sherma shopping for slippers at the Fes Tannery

I should add that the more you buy the more they bargain. The problem of course is having enough space in your luggage to get you purchases home.

The More You Buy - trying to sell us leather ottomans

After a few nights in Fes we continued South and after a long journey wound up at the edge of the Sahara desert.  It was remarkable.  In order to get into the desert your choices are walk, camel or and off road vehicle.  So we switched from our car to an off road vehicle and road into the desert.  The terrain of the Southeast Sahara begins as a combination of rocks and sand, then as you progress deeper into the desert (either South or East) the terrain changes to smooth sand dunes.  The dunes look like a movie set.  We pushed very hard to arrive before sunset and we just made it to the desert as the sun was setting. It was beautiful.

Sahara Desert at Sunset

We spent the night sleeping under the sky in the Sahara.  Unfortunately there were a few clouds so sky was nice but I admit that I was dissapointed.  We were awakened at 4 am to take our camels up to a tall sand dune to watch the sunrise.

photo by Steven Pinkert

The sunrise was beautiful in the desert.  The sand dunes appeared almost artificial and at times seemed like a photographers backdrop.

Sunrise on the Sahara - Steven Pinkert and Sherma Pinkert

Camel rides are fun and very easy. They certainly were one of the highlights of this trip. Sherma is an avid animal lover and camels were no exception.

She also loves goats.

Sherma and Goat - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

And Cats

Sherma and a Cat - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

And Monkeys

Sherma and Monkey - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

I have numerous Sherma and animal shots that I will add as I select the best.  By the way sometimes she actually tries to get the animals to feed her…

Sherma Waiting for a Nut - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

Sherma and I continued our journey South and spent several days in Marrakesh. Marrakesh is a remarkable city.  The Medina is interesting and similar to the Medina in Fes. The products in the different souks (part of a market) are interesting to window shop – though of course there are rarely windows. Typical goods include baskets and woven crafts, metal work (tea pots), wool and silk goods.

Silk Headcover - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

More interesting to us was the food.  We loved the “pancakes” that were cooked fresh over a curved hot iron and folded to make them easy to handle.

Pancakes - Marrakesh - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

But also of interest is the Place Jemaa el-Fina.  This is the famous square in Marrakesh and in the evening it comes alive with street entertainers of all kinds and intereresting local street food. Snake charmers, dancers from different regions, fortune tellers, artists, even tooth pullers!

Tooth Puller, Marrakesh - Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

 

Sherma having a Tooth Extraction - Marrakesh Copyright 2011 Steven Pinkert

Marrakesh also has numerous restaurants. We visited the famous hotel Mamounia to listen to some jazz at night.  Talented band and beautiful place to relax and listen to live jazz.