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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi April 21st 2014

16/17thApril Abu Dhabi, UAE We have arrived early in Abu Dhabi docking the evening before for our maiden port of call here. The ship had to steam at full speed across the Arabian Sea to drop off sick guests in Muscat, Oman. We arrived off Muscat on the 15th and the passengers were transferred to hospital. So we had an unexpected extra evening in Abu Dhabi, Cunard had organised an evening bus tour for guests who wanted to disembark for an evening out. Our trip in Abu Dhabi was going to be an early start so we just had an early night. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the Emirates (there are seven), it is also the most populated and wealthiest. It is also one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world. Abu Dhabi ... read more
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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai April 21st 2014

18/19thApril Dubai, UAE We had planned to do a city tour in the afternoon but it was the World Voyage Gala Dinner that evening (early). The dinner was at the Madinet Jumeirah in Dubai (next to the Burj Al Arab) and was for all world travellers about 500 of us. Dubai, another fastest growing city (so the blurb says), a real city of contrasts. Its evolution from a collection of Bedouin settlements around Dubai creek to a city of skyscrapers, Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world. Dubai is the second largest of the Emirates, but unlike the others is not over dependent on oil revenue. After the pearl industry collapsed, gold became a dominant influence (legal & illegal) with some countries. It has a huge re-export trade, a flourishing trade particularly with ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Cappadocia » Göreme April 20th 2014

Today we leave our beautiful oasis in Cappadocia. After another lovely Turkish breakfast at the hotel we went back to "gourd Man" where we purchased some beautiful hanging gourd lights . We Were invited into Suleyman Ikman's Carpet shop....he very graciously served us tea and told us stories about some of the beautiful dresses and brides hats displayed within. After an enjoyable visit and tour of the old shop we purchased some pillow covers and other souvenirs before heading to airport. Good trip home to Ataturk Air Port in Istanbul. We like Turkish Air! GREAT TRIP!!!!... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Cappadocia » Göreme April 20th 2014

Flew into Neveshir, in the Goreme Valley.In this valley lie the greatest concentration of rock cut chapels, monasteries and rock formations dating from the 9th. Century onwards. These formations, built out of volcanic "tuff".....were created 30 million yrs. ago when the erupting volcanoes blanketed the region with this volcanic ash which solidified into an easily eroded and excavated material .... Tuff ......over time was worn away by wind, water and temperature change creating a landscape that has to be seen to believe. The cave dwellings carved out of a single cone of tuff would provide shelter for a whole community. After arising at 4:00 am for our hot air balloon ride at sunrise we were disappointed to find it was too windy to fly. :-((((. We re-scheduled for next day and hired a van and guide ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Cappadocia » Göreme April 20th 2014

Good Friday AM...up at 4:00 again today....bad news at 5:00 too much wind to fly. Back to bed until loud pounding on door at 7:00. HURRY....We are going to fly! In air by 7:40 after being literally picked up and tossed into basket!!! Most amazing adventure ...no words to describe....our most excellent pilot, Mustafa, even had an evil eye hanging in basket to protect us from harm. It worked :-) and once back on ground we celebrated with Champagne, cake and beautiful red strawberries. Once back at hotel (only 9:00am) we enjoyed a Turkish breakfast and started our leisurely stroll through the village, up a long hill to the Goreme Open Air Museum. Here there are many chapels cut into the hillside . inside each are still beautiful Byzantine frescoes with scenes from both the Old ... read more
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Middle East » Oman » Dakhliya » Nizwa April 18th 2014

This fortnight, being a school holiday gave us the opportunity to explore beyond Muscat and it’s neighbouring settlements. We decided to move inland and visit the souk at Niswa, Oman’s second city. To get the best from your visit you need to arrive at a time normally reserved for breakfast and an early shower, so we decided to stay overnight in a local hotel to make the early start more comfortable. We were not disappointed. The hotel was more than comfortable, with a clean and inviting pool, in which to relax, after the journey from Muscat. On the way we stopped off at Wadi Qari, which promised to be a gem of a find. In order to access the wadi you must walk along the falaj. Normally this would not be a problem, until it crosses ... read more
The falaj.....
A bridge too far........
The Fort at Bahla.....

Middle East » Oman » Muscat » Muttrah April 15th 2014

It took some courage to finally place a brand new camera into the sea. Of course that is what it is designed to do so it really shouldn't be a problem, but the actual moment was still a little daunting. But success. No bubbles emerged and it did what it said on the tin! Having established that it was indeed fit for purpose the stage was set to take some fish photographs. The sea was filled with a range of brightly coloured swimmers who didn't care so much for the imposition of the photographer and swam away as soon as you spotted something worthwhile. It will take a bit of practice to master the underwater shots that are designed to create images already in my mind but are proving much more difficult to secure in reality. ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Ortaköy April 15th 2014

Another rather slow start....we are still re-charging our E-bunny batteries. Breakfast, set off for a visit along the The Bosphorus, the straits separating Europe and Asia , which join the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The shores are lined with beautiful old buildings, wooden waterside villas, graceful mosques, market squares, and boats along the waterways. We are heading for the market area. Must take a moment to try to describe the bustling atmosphere of this area. The HILLS and narrow curving roads winding their way through the old neighborhoods of buildings stacked on top of each other are what you might imagine x 100! This makes the hills of San Francisco seem fit for ants. Amid these winding streets are local small businesses, corner cafés, small markets, fruit shops, flower shops, sleeping dogs, sunning ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Beyoglu April 15th 2014

Today Shannon drove us to the Zorlu mall to park and catch the Metro. We parked underground.....went up many levels into mall area, walked several moving sidewalks through a long tunnel and arrived at Metro! We Rode to the Sishane stop and came above ground in the old area of Istanbul called Beyoglu. This steep hill north of the Golden Horn is an old part of the city where we walked the cobble stone streets to the historic Galata Tower. ThEt tower is 196 ft. high topped by a conical tower. It's origins date from the 6th century when it was used to monitor shipping.It was later turned into a prison and naval depot, and then into a fire watchtower. Of course we shopped :-) the wonderful little lanes and streets before going to the rooftop ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Ortaköy April 14th 2014

Day one in Istanbul started at noonish :-) with brunch at Ulus Cafe and Park. We enjoyed a Turkish mid-day meal of Bourek. A type of noodle casserole with cheeses and cream......stewed tomatoes with peppers and eggplant, fresh sliced cucumber, tomatoes , olives (black and green) :-))))) hard boiled eggs, sliced cheeses and salami type meats, fresh peppers, delicious breads .... Fresh apples, grapes, bananas, and Simit, a bagel type roll with toasted sesame seed and jam. Yummmm! After brunch we went outside to take pictures overlooking the Bosphorus,the waterway that divides the eastern and western sides of Istanbul. The views were amazing of the Asian side of Istanbul and the first bridge. Our staff photographer, Abby Vogelaar, took wonderful photos which will be featured in this and future blogs. After brunch we drove down the ... read more
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