Ramadan De(coded)

The Holy month of Ramadan is observed in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon and lasts 29 to 30 days. It is a month of increased prayer, charity, reflection and renewal of friendships for the Muslim community. Ramadan is a solemn time, and being culturally sensitive is extremely important. All the rules on culture and etiquette should be even more carefully observed during this period.

Although non-Muslim employees are NOT expected to fast, out of respect for fellow co-workers, workplaces must observe a non-eating, drinking and smoking policy in any open areas. Exemptions may be made for food and beverages that can be consumed discreetly in a separate pantry, where food is eaten in private and out of sight from the fasting members.

To maintain the sanctity of Ramadan, care should also be taken to dressing conservatively in public and work areas.

Breaking of the fast is done in the evening at a designated time where dinner otherwise known as Iftar is served. Suhoor then lasts till at about 4am when the fast begins. During this time, most hotels & restaurants have Ramadan tents where buffet meals are served. Its really a family & friends affair!

30 days later then comes the Eid Holidays to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fasting period. The holidays are declared after the sighting of the moon. The Crescent moon symbol is used all over during Ramadan as a symbolic decoration. The Eid Holiday is also an ideal time to give back and as this one will fall on June 5, World Environment Day;  il be out there in the hot desert sun cleaning the beach. We all have a duty to make the World a better place!

Budjetmsafiri wishes You and Yours a Ramadan Kareem & Happy Eid Holidays full of God’s Blessings. Be Good! 

 

The French Riviera – Drippin with Finesse!

Nice – Check. Cannes – Check. Monaco – Check. Monte Carlo – Check. Eze – Check. Antibes – Check. SMILE, you’ve been to the French Riviera! Boy Oh Boy! What is someone even supposed to say about a destination donned with such beauty & luxury? Got an answer for us; What is my life?!

French Riviera is the Southern part of France where its all quiet and demure unlike Paris for example where its a buzz of activity. Even the lifts at the FR are cozy! Nice, Eze, Antibes, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Saint Tropez, Saint Paul De Vance, all make up the French Riviera. Nice is where we landed and drove around to the other cities with each having its own vybe. In Nice though, we struggled to find common eateries where you just walk in and grab some food. Lunch is served at lunch time and so is dinner. Maybe we were on the bourgeois side where its all formal. But its all worth it because when that lasagna gets served..mmm mmm mmm!!

Chateau dela Chevre dor hotel in Eze area is really another story. You literally feel like you are on the set of a James Bond movie. Its so exotic, elegant and just plain sophisticated. The hotel only opens in summer. We traveled in winter because well oh well its budjetmsafiri, Can always use a bargain! All its rooms are sound proof with elegant furnishing, private gardens and heated swimming pool. Located on a hill, its surrounded by a medieval village like neighborhood overlooking the Mediterranean sea that gives you a panoramic view of the French Riviera coastline. You may want to let that marinate.

Then there is Cannes which comes to life in May when Hollywood royalty checks in for the Cannes Film Festival. The whole street is on lock down during this time with only limo drop off and pick ups taking place. The fans and press watch from the sidelines while the celebrities strut their Glamour on that Red Carpet while their yachts await for the after parties. Everyone on their lane..please!

Next is Monaco the second smallest city in the world and the third richest. This is where the Elite come to play with their Yachts, Aston Martins, Harley Davidsons, Maseratis and that’s just basic. We got to watch the change of guard; a fete that occurs every afternoon when the guards at the King’s Palace change shifts. Nothing like log in and out – thats for me, maybe you and the rest of us. Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious and has a lot of celebrities and wealthy people in attendance. After the race, they just hop on their yachts and helicopters and head out to the sea to party and network. Some of these yachts have Helipads. The Grand Prix start point is at the marina with the circuit running all through Monaco. Aryton Senna – the Formula 1 great owned an apartment here. Wasn’t he such a sweetheart!

The infamous Monte Carlo casino is also in Monaco. Now here you feel like you are in a Concours d’Elegance show. Vintage and exclusive car models that are just out of this world drive in & out; And this just a normal day where everyone is all about their business. ( Wow..and to think you’ve made it with a 4×4) The snowy ambiance at the entrance usually turns to a fountain in summer. It  looks very interesting especially in the night when it gets lit up.

The Old Town side of the French Riviera is known as Antibes where besides the Christmas Market, you get to visit the Picasso Museum that has Pablo Picasso art collection. Its not as glamorous as other cities but nevertheless, it still has that southern French charm. Pablo Picasso has inspired a lot of Kanye West art i once heard him say.

Saint Paul de Vance is a very elegant shopping boulevard surrounded by beautiful landscapes and where you find such amazing artwork which is quite pricey. This must be what they call Masterpieces. They are so well thought out, very unique and exclusive. A lot of world renown wealthy people come here to buy the artwork. The prices i repeat are not for regular people.

I think what makes this area so breathtakingly beautiful is how Environment conscious they are over here. Pollution is almost non existent. The flower vase below is set up with recycled material. Inside is a collection of corks from wine bottles to hold the flowers and the strips. How thoughtful.Overall, we had such an amazing time and that hot wine otherwise known as Glogg made the chilly weather bearable. Its a common drink in Europe during winter. There’s a specific way it gets prepared so please don’t go boiling your wine…Do Not! try this at home! Cheers! & Merry Xmas!

Oktoberfest, OktFest & Koln Germany

Experienced my first ever OktoberFest in Heidelberg Germany – the home of OktFests. It was fun fun fun to say the least. Also got to tour Koln city and wow!! I have so far not seen a country that is this functional. Everything works! This what i learnt;

  1. OktoberFest is the World’s Largest Beer Festival held on large scale in Munich Germany and on a smaller scale in Heidelberg. It runs from Late September to Early October. To celebrate, people wear costumes which are representative of traditional Germany’s mode of dressing; Dindyl for the Ladies & Lederhosen for men. At the festival, the theme is Old Germany countryside setting, music, song and dance with an Orchestra if need be.  To kickstart the event, the first glass from the beer tank is tapped that is accompanied by the gong and cheers from the audience. And of course after some few beers, dont be surprised when everyone hops on the tables to dance. This is the normal. You miss it, You miss out!!

Some good to know info on Koln / Cologne.

  1. Old Germany was a Monarch but was ruled by an Emperor not a King/Queen.
  2. The Cathedral located at Cologne is short of 800 years old. It survived World War II despite several hits and is now a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site.
  3. Old town has narrow alleys which were pathways used by horses carriages that were the mode of transport then. It also has cafes and restaurants which have that distinctive “Europe’ look.
  4. Recycling is BIG here!! you get paid to return used bottles or cans which are then recycled.
  5. Driving at 200 speed on the highway is the normal
  6. Got extremely fascinated by a taxi concept known as car sharing. You order a driver-less taxi through a phone app that checks for an available car in a given radius near your current location; then you just get in drive it to your destination and dump it there where someone else can also order and so on!! And interestingly, the car models are BMWs, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Audi!! German Machines!! Literally!! That got me. Plus they snack on Caviar!! Am relocating (pun)
  7. You can walk through the Hohenzollern Bridge to get a vantage view of the city, bridge and the Cathedral. Along the way you pass by the Love Locks wall where couples fix padlocks, lock them and throw away the keys to the Rhein river which is just underneath.
  8. Koln/Cologne is really a feeling; and personally for me it was celebration of a Friendship Long Lived.