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Posts by Leyla Giray Alyanak

Susie of Arabia: From Florida to Jeddah

Susie of Arabia

A former police officer and travel industry professional, Susie Khalil’s American life changed dramatically in 2007 when she followed her Saudi Arabian husband back to his homeland – and she has lived there ever since. Her award-winning blog Susie’s Big Adventure was once banned – it sheds some light in life in one of the…

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My Accidental Dinner Date with Royalty

I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I thrust one out to shake his, but that didn’t feel quite right. I hung my arms by my side and that felt worse. Finally I compromised. I clasped my hands together in front of me, waiting for a sign from each of the white-clad Arabs…

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The Countless Legends of Girona

Once upon a time, in the days of the Egyptian god Osiris, there lived somewhere to the south a giant monster with three heads, called Gerió. Seeking to enlarge his empire he headed north where he built a castle and founded a city that would one day bear his name: Geriona, today’s Girona. Or not. Perhaps Girona…

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Catalonia’s Castellers: A Peek Behind the Scenes

Imagine an agile six-year-old clambering up the face of a five-story building, waving from the top, then slithering back down. Leaves your throat dry, doesn’t it? Yet several times a week, that’s exactly what happens when the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia rehearse their castells, or human towers. “It’s not as dangerous as it looks,” said Helena…

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Which of These Two is the Best Food Market in Madrid?

Choosing the best food market in Madrid shouldn’t be too difficult. Madrid is, after all, a city to be eaten through, a city of interminable tapas, taverns, restaurants and bars with as much solid as liquid sustenance. And now it is also a city of markets, revitalized after years of decay. When I was a child growing up here, we…

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The Surprising Sights of San Francisco

If I were looking for naked men, Latino street art and hippies within minutes of one another, I’d head to San Francisco. I don’t surprise easily so, San Francisco, well done! From the slightly perplexing to the jaw-dropping jolt, here are a few of the surprising sights of San Francisco that caught my eye during two visits in July and…

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