23 Apr 2014

London, 2014, Early Jewish History and Migration

I hired private Jewish guide extraordinaire, Stephen Burstin, to walk us around the East Side and educate us on early England Jewish expulsion and immigration. Additionally he regaled us with many hidden gems and countless anecdotes about London’s old Jewish “heroes and villains”

The name of Jewry Street derives from the Jewish community who resettled just inside the city gate. They were expelled in 1290 and not allowed to return for 400 years.

In 2001, a mikveh  (Jewish ritual bath) was discovered nearby that would have predated the expulsion.


The Bevis Marls Synagogue is the UK’s oldest synagogue and the only one in Europe that has held regular services for over 300 years.



The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor (unfortunately that is not an oxymoron) served a very important role for Jewish immigrants. Over 2 million Jews fled extremely hard times in Russia between 1881 and 1914.

Many thought they were going to the US but were tricked into landing in London. About 120,000 stayed; almost all in this area.



Jack the Ripper did his business in this part of town. Jack the Ripper tours are quite popular in London and start near here. Many local businesses play off of his sensationalism.



What a nice treat when we ran into our cruising buddies, Barbara and Ted. We decided to pub together for a fun British evening. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the beautiful park between our hotel and the River Thames. 

22 Apr 2014

London, 2014

Since our three-month World Cruise ended in Southampton, and London is our favorite place in Europe, there was no chance that we were just going to head for the airport.

It was a “typical” gorgeous London spring day. J

I had secured great tickets to The Bodyguard five months ago. What an upper.

We stayed at The Savoy, just down the block from the play. It is one of London’s famous, located on he banks of the River Thames. Now a Fairmont, it underwent a three year, $300 million renovation (double budget) in 2010 and is back to its historical splendor.

Some Savoy firsts:

London has many great hotels though. I think they may be hurting financially and am not sure such a plush hotel is suitable for the West End these days.



Dinner was at Moti Mahal, and Indian restaurant in Covent Gardens, also in walking distance. We have been to fancier Indian restaurants, but this was the best Indian food ever. We had a great table right next to the windowed kitchen.

Please stay tuned for my 2014 World Cruise review.

17 Apr 2014

Lisbon, Portugal, 2014


It’s always a pleasure to visit Lisbon. Everybody seems to love it regardless of what they are after.




Sailing in shows off its history and quaintness.



Their narrow, hilly streets make the trams and elevator in the downtown shopping area a welcome relief.

Click here to read my 2011 Jewish Lisbon blog.

13 Apr 2014

Agadir, Morocco

I was shocked at how high end and modern Agadir is. Of course coming up west Africa most places would seem like New York City.

Casablanca, the larger port city feels like a dump. Not here.

Tragically the city was totally destroyed in 1960 by a major earthquake and from that rubble this modern beauty has grown. It is now winter tourist spot for Northern Europeans.

We made our usual stop at the local Synagogue

10 Apr 2014

Dakar, Senegal, 2014

President's House

Dakar, Senegal (pop. 2.5MM) is much larger than anticipated and seems a bit less third world than the last couple of ports.

Back in the day, it was one of the major French empire cities along with Hanoi and Beirut.

The Dakar Grand Mosque.

Some think the women are among the most beautiful in the world. Due to Islamic law, however, their status has historically been terrible. Particularly in rural areas, they have been plagued by low literacy, low employment, female circumcision, polygamy and no property rights.

This century there are some new laws that have helpped somewhat.

The African Renaissance Monument, four years old, is the tallest statue in Africa. It represents the country’s 50th anniversary of it independence from France.