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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai April 23rd 2014

Howdy how. This blog should make interesting reading as I am currently 10 hours into a 14 hour flight, and I have also consumed two gin and tonics, a Budweiser and two jack daniels and cokes. But hey I thought it would be a great way to kill ¾ of an hour. So after a teary goodbye to my mother and father and bros I made my way towards the departure lounge when I receive a firm tap on my back to be met by two gentleman wearing shades saying ‘step this way sir’. It took me a second or two to realise it was none other then my two pals Ollie and Tom who had come to see me off. After breathing a sigh of relief that no cavity searches were to be undertaken by ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet April 22nd 2014

Today Sharon, King, and I ventured out into this amazing city on our own. our personal guide, Shannon Vogelaar, had a previous engagement so.....she tucked us into a taxi to Kabatas where we caught the tram to Sultan Ahmet Square in the heart of "Old Town". We walked through the square to the Sultan Ahamet Mosque...."The Blue Mosque". It is the most splendid mosque of Istanbul, constructed between 1603-1617. Although many other mosques were built after this one, none were as large or elegant. it is known worldwide as the Blue Mosque from the mainly blue Iznik tile work decorating its interior and dome. We strolled the beautiful gardens and walkways to the Hagia Sophia, a Roman Monument constructed in the Byzantine Age ( 537 ) .It was used as a church for 916years - then ... read more
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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 » United Arab Emirates » Dubai April 21st 2014

Thursday and we arrived on time mid afternoon in Dubai, tired but after another good trip with Emirates. Having said that I do not want to watch any more movies in a while! We took the short hop by taxi to the Atlantis Palm which has to be seen to be believed!! (again take a look on the web to see the full extent of the hotel!) After a quick check in we headed straight out to the waterpark which adjoins the hotel for a little taster of the rides which were to follow. Although Michele came out looking slightly drowned after the “lazy” river which we later found out was tame compared to the other rides. Determined to stay awake, we went to see the dolphins (also part of the hotel) and then headed back ... read more
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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Ortaköy April 21st 2014

Abby and Luke back to school today. :-( Peter had day off so chauffeured us once again through the maize of streets and gnarled traffic to Emirgan Park ..... This beautiful park is the location of the famous Tulip Gardens. It was a wonderful spring day so we were not alone! The park was big enough for all.... We wandered leisurely through the tulips, topiary trees, public picnic areas, laughing school children and fun playgrounds. After sitting awhile watching the ships navigate the Bosphorus we visited the Museum . A drive along the shore of the Bosphorus to see the beautiful old wooden waterside villas , mosques and grander residences along the way led us to Rumeli Feneri, a lovely fishing Village on the point where the Bosphorus meets the Black Sea. We ate lunch at ... 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 » 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 » 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.....




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