Thursday, 17 November 2011

Dos and Don'ts, Parisienne-style

This was written just before I left Paris; I've been back in Riyadh for a little while now.

Things I do like about Paris? That’s easy.

I like the way we head out early each morning to explore and it’s so cold that I pull my coat tightly around me. Then ten minutes of brisk walking later, I am suddenly toasty warm all over and loving the fresh autumn air in my face.

I love the old buildings. And the way that around every corner there is another church. They are stark silhouettes against a cold sky. Only the leaping gargoyles break the monotony of straight line and symmetry.

Friday, 11 November 2011

An escape to Paris

It’s Eid in Saudi. 

Eid is all about the time when Abraham showed his obedience to Allah by being prepared to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Ishmael said “sure Dad”, but was fortunately spared by the appearance of a replacement goat. (Nope, not Isaac.) It follows hard on the heels of the Hajj pilgrimage. During the Hajj, millions of tourists arrive in Saudi from all over the world. They're coming for the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca that’s required of every good Muslim. 

So, whatever way you look at it, there’s an awful lot of religious journeying and celebrating going on. This in turn means that pretty much everything shuts down at this time across the Middle East.  Life in Riyadh is even more difficult than usual, and so we decided to take advantage of the week’s holiday to do some travelling of our own…to Paris.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Corniches and a Cautionary Chocolate Tale

Apart from the corniche – a long waterfront promenade –  Doha is not very  different from Riyadh.  The same tall buildings touch the same dust-hazed sky. Endless rows of huge cranes twist and turn, like partners in a dance.