We left Kansas, but followed our Kansas roots...even in Algiers. We thought it would be fun to stay at the same hotel Eisenhower stayed at while he was planning the D-Day invasion, but we took it one step further and stayed in his room!
The driver met us at the airport when we flew into Algiers and it took about 30 minutes to get into to town to the famous Saint George Hotel. It was like a little oasis within the hustle and bustle of the city. We pulled into the complex and went through security first thing (of course). Then he drove us past the botanical gardens, huge wooden doors and expansive tiled designs to the front door. There was a whirl of excitement when the hotel employees realized there were Americans checking in and that they were the ones staying in the Eisenhower Suite! Four people escorted us to our room that was stocked with fruit baskets, dates and dessert platters, but none of them seemed to get the humor of our "I Like Ike" buttons...oh well. No one speaks English and I don't speak Arabic or French, so I did not even bother to explain we were from Kansas, just like our boy Ike!
Soon after looking around the room, standing on the balcony overlooking the Mediterranean and reading the plaques denoting Eisenhower's 13 month stay in the hotel, we went to the planning room of the D-Day invasion of Europe. The hotel employees were excited to show us how it has been maintained with it's original glory. The room, along with every inch of the Saint George, was stunning. From the elaborately decorated ceiling to the decadent light fixtures to arched windows and doors, the room reeked of history and other worldliness. We did not miss the opportunity to sit around the table and imagine what it might have been like to sit at the table and contemplate war strategies and how the decisions would impact so many people's lives.
The afternoon was spent walking around the city near the hotel and beyond. Near the hotel is now dotted with embassies and consulates. There is a serious police presence and it is not uncommon to see ambassadors and dignitaries out and about. We stopped for a snack and noticed a little antique shop nearby. Almost instantly, dad spotted what would become his prized souvenir for the loft...a World War II shell casing. It is from a battle in Eastern Algeria and is from the French army. The shell is huge and has the caliber and powder information on the bottom. He is very excited about it, but may be most excited Kyle has been so willing to carry it around for us. He is also appreciative that his son-in-law grew up in a country that teaches the kids French--Kyle was able to negotiate the purchase in French. Let's just say, the shell created a bit of stir when we took it back to the Eisenhower Suite! Ike would be so proud.
Note: Internet service has been very difficult and our technology has not been as cooperative as we would have liked...pictures are to come (hopefully).
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