Fresh creamy yogurt with crumbly granola and fresh squeezed orange juice started our day. The air was filled with the sound of music as quartets and single musicians seemed to be playng around every corner with open containers for tourists to chip in for the entertainment.
We did a lot of walking today, paying no attention to the map, we just wondered around. We found the huge market which had permanant vendor stalls of all types. The fresh squeezed juice, organic dips and infused syrups stood out to us and we purchased a couple juices and a dip made of veggies and sunflour seeds which was surprisingly tasty.
Looking for something different for lunch, we peaked our heads into a place selling falafels. Neither of us knew exactly what a falafel was or if it was good. A local sitting on the patio noticed our hesitation and explained to us this tiny little Lebonese Falafel shop was the best in town. We didn’t need any more clarification. We went inside and ordered one. Chickpeas are ground up with spices, deep fried and placed in a pita-like bread called lafa. The cook handed over the hot sandwhich and pointed to what looked like a condiment bar. We added pickeled veggies, fresh veggies, hummus, hot sauce and took a big bite watching the sauces dribble down each others chins. We are definite fans of the falafel!
We left the market area to explore the outskirts of the city. We saw what looked like a big cathedral and walked towards it until we started to realize we had entered a not so great part of town. Seeing various groups of men gathered randomly on the streets with beers in hand and strip clubs throughout the block. We decided turning back shortly would be a good idea.
As evening began to set in we were getting hungry and were attempting to find an Italian restaurant we had seen the night before when we ran into the tiniest little bar on the corner. Inside every seat was taken at the long skinny bar with not much more room to fit additional people yet the bar was quiet. The big screen TV had a soccer game on it and this was serious business. When a major play was made, the bar came alive with either cheers or negative outbursts. We noted how different the bar crowd was here watching the game intently and hushed vs. in the loud american bars where shouting was common to have a conversation while football plays in the background.
After we watched a bit of the game and chatted with a local, we continued looking for the quaint restaurant we had seen. We found it and slipped in without a reservation watching several other people denied a table without a reservation. The restaurant had one chef behind a counter in the center of the room without glass dividing us from him. He cooked the food as we ordered it and we watched him make the sauces and toss the noodles. We shared a salad and the house pasta which was a trio of pastas…seafood in a garlic/olive oil sauce, meat served in a lasagna and cheese tortelini served in a truffled cream sauce.
We closed out our evening with a tiramisu.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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