Dubai or Don’t I – Prelude

dubai-skyline-at-dusk-jpg_header-144981Surprised? I know I was! Hubby and I had a week or so of leave so we decided to plan a five day break to Dubai.
I’ve been both excited and apprehensive since.

Have you ever googled “what should I know before I visit Dubai?”

You’ll find lots of advice, mostly relating to how to dress and how to act. Mostly tourists will be OK as long as your shoulders and knees are covered. You can wear regular swimsuits in your hotel or resort pool area.
I remember doing this in DoHa but I felt completely weirded out because there were local workers around and I don’t know, it just felt weird.
Public displays of affection are a no-no. You can be sent to prison for that. Aggressive behaviour could also get you into trouble.
If I return without hubby you’ll know why.

No drinking sign, No alcohol sign, isolated on white background, vector illustration.You’ll also find out that alcohol is not readily available. If you’re staying at a four star hotel and above, you will find it in the restaurants, but if you think you can just walk to the nearest bottle-o and pick up a bottle or two of red, you’ll be disappointed.
To purchase alcohol at a store, both residents and tourists require a license however you can get it in the duty free stores at the airport and take it back to your room.
Guess what this thirsty girl is going to be doing.

dubaimeme13One thing we have going for us is that at this time of year, we should expect temperatures to be about 24-25 degrees Celsius. I can live with that!
And the minimums are 17-18 degrees Celsius so guess I’ll need a jacket after all.

I can’t help thinking about what it was like when we were in DoHa, but that was a completely different time of year. Average temperatures at that time were 44 degrees Celsius. It was like we were in a ghost town! Nobody was out on the streets.

dubai-4-700xIn preparation, I’ve also been watching a heck of a lot of YouTube clips. Some of them are professionally done, and some are just travellers sharing their experience. I saw one clip, where a guy filmed while walking through the Dubai Mall food Court. I think that was when I said “oh my god yes I want to go there”.
So many food chains!! How am I going to try them all!!!

Our hotel is about eight kilometres from The Dubai Mall. I checked the public transport routes and while it’s very cheap to use public transport, google maps tells me it’s going to take one hour to go those eight kilometres. ONE HOUR!!!! We may as well walk it!!!
Although I did see a YouTube clip of one guy who said he was 700 metres away from it but it was not possible to walk there so he had to take a taxi.

So many things to learn about. I’m researching pocket wifi right now, trying not to think about the Qantas drama from yesterday when a plane dropped so many hundreds of metres in seconds and made an emergency landing in Melbourne.

HinaKhanSo for now I’ll get back to my preparations. Our flight leaves at 10pm tonight and I’m overdosing on melatonin and hoping to get some good rest in.

My next post will be in a foreign and relatively alcohol, shoulder and knee exposure free land.

What do you think about my travelling dress? Knees and shoulders are covered so all good right?

Wadaeaan my readers!

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Roman Around – Day Three

We wanted today to be a relaxing day. We just wanted to walk around, do a bit of shopping, take a few pictures and to see what happens.

First thing we did was go to the supermarket where I spoke to the guy behind the counter. I’m just so proud of myself whenever I do that! It’s only because I don’t expect to be able to speak but when I’m there, it comes natural. They don’t even ask me where I’m from or anything like that. It makes me feel like a local.

I had read a bit about Villa Borghese so we were sort of making our way towards that.
We were walking on Via delle Quattro Fontane and found ourselves at the intersection where the four fountains were!
I took pictures of the fountains – some were taken from across the road so not that great but still a cute little intersection.


We didn’t really have breakfast because hubby wanted to get some pizza like we had yesterday. Yesterday we saw these particular types of pizza places all over. Today, for some reason, we couldn’t find them.
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As we walked around looking for this special type of elusive pizza place, we stopped at different sights.

I could not believe we were taking so much time to look for pizza in Rome. I don’t blame Rome, I blame hubby who passed quite a few places that were “not right”. He could have had pizza if he wanted.

We were walking for about an hour when we got to the top of the Spanish Steps and decided to explore the church that is there.

There was a guard up there refusing entry to anyone who had exposed shoulders/arms or legs (Wearing shorts) About half of the people trying to enter were turned away.

I took a few pics inside.


It was very quiet in there. People were respectful of their surroundings. I had spent a bit of time by myself taking photos and looking at it all and realised hubby wasn’t with me. When I was done, I looked around for him and saw him sitting quietly in one of the pews. I motioned that I was ready and he got up and we went out.
When we were out I said “Were you there all that time? What were you doing?”
Without missing a beat he replies “I was praying for pizza”

Alas, that prayer took a little time to be answered.

Took a few pics of the Spanish Steps during the day this time.

We walked and walked without any direction. Passed lots of places selling foccacia…

We eventually found ourselves in Piazzo del Popolo. The Piazza del Popolo (the People’s Square) is located inside the northern gate of the city, which was once called Porta Flaminia. The square is situated at the beginning of Via Flaminia and was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.


There is a Leonardo Da Vinci Museum there and we were going to go in but when we went to buy the tickets, it was SO stifling hot and humid in there we couldn’t stay!!! What a shame.

Shortly after, a miracle occurred. We saw a place that had pizza that hubby wanted to eat.
I hear the angels singing as I write this.

I spoke Italian to the guy behind the counter like a champ and ordered us some pizza slices. They charge by weight so you just tell them how much you want and then they cut and weigh it.
I took some pics through their display windows.


It was REALLY good. I think they fry the base or something. It was really crunchy and the one we had was filled with prosciutto. YUM!!

With our hunger satiated we were able to think clearly and we moved on to Villa Borghese.
It was an interesting little place! There’s statues of lots of famous people. The one to the right is Victor Hugo.

Lots of people were getting around on bikes and carts which you can hire relatively cheaply.
Here’s a few more pics from inside.

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There’s nice views of Rome from the top. It was really peaceful up there and if you find yourself in Rome and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist spots, I recommend you come here.

We were tiring by now.

Looking for the perfect pizza place will do that to you.

We just walked and surprisingly, we found ourselves at the Vatican again.
Although we didn’t have a plan, that wasn’t the direction we would have chosen so we changed direction and before we knew it, we were at Piazza Navona.
At least I think that’s where this is.

 


Very pretty place!! Probably more so if you’re not sun struck and tired.

Hubby and I wanted to try some authentic Italian Limoncello so we went into some place that advertised a 500 ml bottle for 5.20 Euro or something like that. When I paid for it, it was 7.20… damn those people who scam tourists!!! In any case, it was still a good price and as I write this, I’m quite a few shots in so I really don’t mind!!!

We’re full up on Limoncello, cheese, proscuitto, salami and bread. Not sure we’re going anywhere for the next few hours!

When we eventually woke from our gastronomic stupor, we wandered back out for some good authentic food. Everyone here beckons you to come in. It’s hard to say no. We went into one place and didn’t really like the menu so after being sat down, we got up and said we were looking for something else.

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We walked past this one place close to our apartment and liked the look of what we saw on other people’s plates so stopped in.

It’s getting quite addictive for me to speak Italian to the servers or really, anyone else!
I’m just so darn proud of myself. (Yes I’ve said that more than once)

I was pretty happy with my pasta! I just wanted a simple meal with a beautiful, flavourful tomato sauce and I got that.
Hubby’s pizza was also good. I can’t remember the pizza’s all having a thin crust when I was here last but they are all like that. Super thin!

Water in restaurants is relatively expensive. We paid 3 Euro for some table water.
Public washrooms are something else that mostly aren’t free. We’ve seen them for one Euro. Hubby and I will usually duck in somewhere and get a drink or coffee and use the bathroom rather than pay extra for a public one.
I won’t tell you how long we spent trying to locate a McDonalds one day, so that we could use their restroom!! If you have young children and you’re coming here it’s probably something to consider.

Only a few days left of vacation now. We have to make the most of our time here.

Buona notte amici

Greece is the Word – Day Six

This morning hubby and I got up early and started walking this beautiful Port Town. We could smell the fresh sea air. We headed straight for the sea and took a few photos along the way. Every where we look seems like a postcard scene.

 


We had a coffee and made a couple of friends. The first was a lady working in a cafe who, just quietly, was a little scary looking at first. The type of woman who would suffer no fools (probably says more about us than her)
For example she came up to me and said “wifi?” in a gruff voice, asking if I wanted to use wifi. That was nice but it was almost like she’d said “you’re going to get wifi whether you want it or not”.
I said “Oh yes thank you” I replied and she just grabbed my phone from my hands and did it herself, all the while with a serious face. But by the time we left we were chatting away and I have to add the coffee we had there was so good! I’m starting to build a love for Greek Coffee.

Next stop was the supermarket and the woman there happened to be from Melbourne, Australia! So we chatted away and exchanged stories. She still has a strong Aussie accent but has been here in Greece for about forty years. now.

People in this town are just so friendly. They love to talk and love it even more if you love the things that are precious to them, such as their town and customs.

After breakfast we drove up to the Castle here. I was hoping to walk up to it. The walk is supposed to be a little grueling but I’d still like to do it. Maybe tomorrow.

The next pics were taken outside of our apartment. Look how narrow the streets are!

The first two above were taken from our apartment balcony.

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When we got up to the castle we found a sign that said it was closed on Mondays… and someone added “and any other day they don’t feel like opening”

I hope that’s not true!
I do expect it will be open tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

We managed to get some good photos from up there though and talked to some tourists from Vancouver who had also made the trip up there.

 

Next stop was hubby’s father’s home town. It’s a small village on a mountainside. It’s about fifty kilometres from Nafpaktos but takes about an hour and a half to get there because most of the way is on windy, hilly roads.

I don’t know how anyone would want to make this trek!! How do people choose to live in such places! We were so high up and the views were spectacular though.

We found this interesting church when we were almost at the town. It’s not used, but we just had to stop and photograph it when we saw it. We even found an open window and tooks photos inside. I hope we haven’t just put a curse on ourselves. There was something about it that was also eerie.

The town is so quaint but unfortunately we didn’t see another soul there. I took a couple of photos of the square. I would have loved to have seen it when it was alive with people.


And as we drove down, we shared the road with goats and cows. Both weren’t happy about having to share and certainly not in a hurry to get out of the way or off the road.

We drove down the death road – I was so happy to be back on flat land again – and decided to visit Patras. None of us had been there before so we didn’t really have a plan.
We crossed the Rio bridge paying the, in my opinion, exorbitant toll. Over thirteen Euro’s.
It was a pretty interesting looking bridge though.

We found a restaurant close to the water. It was a pretty place but unfortunately where we were, we had no views. They looked after us though and as always, the food was soo good. For the record, I wasn’t looking for Moussaka!


As we drove back over the bridge the sun was setting and the views over the water were really pretty. I tried to take some photos from the car.


I was really excited because our next stop was to catch up with a Facebook friend. We had connected recently because she is a distant relative and it was so nice to meet her in person and share a drink and some stories together.


Betty I hope we get to do that again soon! Thank you for your lovely company.

 

Greece is the Word – Day One

Spooners and Forkers we’re in Greece!
Kalimera!
Right off the bat, I’d like to invite you to share air travel stories with me. I’m so dreading the flight back. Nothing wrong with the actual flights themselves but the length of them!
We started off in wonderful style. Hubby got us business class tickets on Qantas for the first leg to Perth. Who doesn’t love getting pampered?
Juice before take off, great food and service, all the alcohol you want without judgement.


I looked over my shoulder once or twice at the economy section and felt a twinge of guilt until the curtain was closed. Out of sight, out of mind.
Alas it came to an end.

To prepare for the potential worst, we planned to get to Perth a lot earlier than our departing flight from Perth. Six hours earlier in fact.
What did we do in those six hours? We toured all the food establishments in the airport. Domestic AND International because what else better to do is there than eat when you’re bored?
You know you’ve waited a long time when you hear yourself say “It’s less than three hours to the flight now!” as a positive statement.

People were not shy about putting their feet up as they waited for this late night flight. Oh please, make yourself at home.

We flew Qatar airlines from Perth to DoHa. I’ve got to say, I’m not a fan of their uniforms. A scrunchie? Really? Is it 1986?
We sat next to a very social man from Turkey who was on his way back to Instanbul. Shhh it’s a secret but I recently became obsessed with a Turkish show called “Ezel” and that’s all I could think about every time he spoke. Probably the only person who could understand this is my mum who hooked me onto “Ezel” and other Turkish shows. We’ve even shared a Raki or two together but back to our travel…

After waiting six hours at the Perth airport, we boarded the Qatar airlines flight to DoHa. That leg was eleven hours. ELEVEN. Once we arrived we transferred quickly to another Qatar flight from DoHa to Athens. I don’t know why I thought that flight was only going to be a couple of hours. Wishful thinking probably. It was five hours but the saving grace was that hubby and I were seated next to each other without anyone else. That makes it easier when you want to get up and stretch your legs. You don’t have to annoy anyone to get up.

Next up, we will be enjoying glorious warm weather in Athens!

Highlights of the flight:
The food
The staff
Being podcast prepared
Easiest ever experience of going through immigration and customs declaration.
Explaining to hubby that “Stoled” is not a word. ie, “That woman isn’t wearing shoes, maybe someone stoled them” is not correct.

Lowlights of the flight:
Time
Soreness from sitting too long
People reclining their seats as fast and hard as they can.
Boredom descending into petty squabbles between loving adults.

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Four

We got hit by cold weather today! It didn’t rain and it wasn’t overly windy, it was just frosty cold.
I went walking early this morning and was sorry I hadn’t rugged up more.

Surprisingly, even though it’s Saturday and I was out about 7am, there were still lots of men walking around wearing suits.

There’s some sort of convenience store every few steps but I can’t seem to find diet lemonade in any of them (although there’s lots of alcohol for sale there)

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By the time I got back to the apartment hubby was ready for coffee.

The Starbucks we went to was quite full.

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese people will put their purses/phones, or any other personal item on a table to “save” it while they go up to make their order. (See this pictured right )

We saw this even in the busy city Starbucks that we were in.

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Hubby wanted to see the Umeda Sky Tower and I was kind of curious to see the Cup Noodle Museum as last time we were in Japan, we happened to visit on the one day of the week that it was closed.

We walked over to the Sky Tower first (left)

We tried to get there by going through as many underground passageways we could find as it was just so cold!

What an interesting building this is! The architecture is just amazing and we discovered that it was designed by the same person who designed Kyoto Station (we visited this yesterday – go back one entry if you missed it!)

You can go right up to Level 39 for free. If you’re brave, you can pay 1000 yen or so (About $12.50 aud) to go up another few levels to the open observation deck.
Level 39 was more than enough for us!


The basement level has an old world Japan feel. It was very peaceful (apart from when the tour group came through) and looked out onto some lovely gardens.


It’s open quite late and we intend on coming back after dark to see the city lights!

Next stop was the Cup Noodle Museum. I didn’t really know what to expect other than we were going to get to make our own ramen at some point.

When we got in we were ushered through to a section that showed the history of ramen. All of it was in Japanese and I think there was an English guide available but we really just wanted to make our ramen so we went straight through to the back to do that.

It was pretty full in there! We were lined up. When we got to the front of the line we were told we were going to personalise our cups, then go over and choose what we wanted to put in there.

We got shown to a table that had special markers on them. The instructions on the table said “Draw your own picture”
Hubby took that quite literally and started drawing a picture of himself. I drew pictures of flowers. He looked over at mine and said “Where’s your picture?” and I said “Right here!” wondering why he was even asking me… and then it hit me, he was expecting me to draw a picture of myself! I just got the giggles so bad after that and couldn’t stop laughing.
Here are the pictures we drew. Hubby’s likeness is pretty good no?


Still giggling we went on over to the back and chose the contents.

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After it comes out, you get to put it in the air locked bag which you can wear around you shoulders.

I thought we were going to be able to eat them right away but unfortunately no.

If you go to the eating area, you have to purchase the noodles from the vending machines and… well just add hot water!

So we did that but it was a bit anti climatic.

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I’m still glad we went. If nothing else, I belly laughed like I haven’t for quite some time.

Back to Osaka station we went. I really wanted to do some shopping. So many interesting things here.

I’m not sure what this thing in the bottom left pic is??

A spaghetti pie?
I don’t know if you can read it but the empty plates in the picture on the right say “Please Wait”

And I’ll just finish off with a few interesting things and signs I saw today.

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Peach coke? I don’t think so!!

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I saw this sign in a few places. I still don’t know what it was trying to communicate.

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