Strasbourg

 

It’s our final night here, on our short visit to Strasbourg. A quaint city where we met charming and friendly people.

Strasbourg Grand Mosque

strasbourg-mosque1From our hotel, we took a stroll to Strasbourg’s grand mosque. There we met a fellow tourist from Belgium. During the short conversation, we found out that he parents are from Chefchahouen.  It’s weird how I always meet people from either places I missed dearly (like Morocco) or places I wish to visit.strasbourg-mosque2

We chanced upon a Tunisian patisserie “Al Saladin”.  We changed our minds to instead enjoy our Tunisian sweets and mint tea at the cafe. So thankful we did.

A little Tunisia in Francesaladin

Behind me were a few men, speaking in Arabic.  They were speaking in the most authentic beautiful Arabic which I truly miss. I was listening in, trying to figure out certain words and phrases. Heartwarming to hear them talking about Islam, Quran.

saladin2

One of them initiated a conversation – Yasin, an Algerian. He asked for our names and he misheard my name as Sumayyah. I smiled, thinking about the Egyptians who prefer to call me by that name. I told him I didn’t mind.

He was pleasantly delighted to know we are Singaporeans as he had a good experience in Singapore.  He works in the EU Parliament and has visited many parts of Asia including Singapore.  Yasin mentioned a good friend of his is Mahathir. I’m not sure if he’s referring to THE Mahathir.  He shared with us his favourite mosques such as the Strasbourg Grand Mosque and for solitude, the mosque Kehl in Germany (near to the France-Germany border).  “No need to be grand. Those are distractions for the worshipper. It’s a moment between you and God.”

After a long conversation, he then stood up and walked into the cafe. I was just joking around with Nurul that probably he’s paying for our tea. He went back to the table and said “Ladies, your tea is on me. You are my guests in my home.” My heart melts.

One takeaway I will never forget. Yasin asked if we could speak and understand Arabic. I said a little. He consoled me as if knowing what’s in my heart “it’s OK, you try. But what’s important is you read the Quran with your heart. Even though you don’t understand, it will move your heart.”

Sidi Bou Said

sidi.jpgFamished, tired, sore feet, freezing in the rain. Seeing Sidi Bou Said Restaurant was like seeing a light at the end of a tunnel. I didn’t think too much of the price of our food though it looked rather a formal, proper sit-in restaurant. What the heck. We were hungry and freezing cold.

The man who served us was so jovial, like he had the best day ever today. We requested for cous cous and lamb with prune tagine (my fav!) and of course, mint tea. Check out this video…how cheerful this Tunisian is.

His colleague, a Moroccan, kept correcting him “No it should be this phrase. That phrase is not fushah Arabic.” We giggled looking at their antics. He was surprised to know we are Muslim Singaporeans. His friend had visited Singapore and told him that he should visit the clean modern city at least once in his lifetime. Too bad I didn’t have photos to show him. #proudtobesingaporean

We were served desserts as well. But he only charged us for the tagine! Things can really get better.

A memorable stay.  Deep inside we wished we had stayed at least another night.  I wondered about the gracious and friendly people we met, especially Muslims who portray such beautiful character to us, foreign visitors, fellow Muslims. I reflected on myself “when was the last time I helped a traveller (or anyone) back in Singapore?” It was definitely all His greatest plan.

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