Norrey Simmons

Kapiti Wanderers

Norrey Simmons

A group of older professionals with an abiding interest in having fun, seeing interesting things, doing fun activities and seeing the world

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai June 19th 2013

Sydney Airport – after 15 hours in the air. It is 6am, and we are nearly home. Our last day was a complete contrast to the high tech modern experience of Dubai as we took ourselves down to the old market across the creek. Sadly it was Friday i.e. their Sunday, so most of the shops were closed, and the spice souq was deserted. Never mind, we peered lustfully (or at least I did, I don’t think Davie cared much) into the dozens of windows in the gold souq, many of which were open and the old ‘madam madam madam’ call as the shopkeepers raced out of their shops to see if they could inveigle us inside. Well, I am not that confident about bartering over expensive stuff; so we gave it a miss. We had ... read more
Even the art is big in Dubai
Menu in Lebanese food shop on tour
Cake in the baklava shop

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai June 13th 2013

Dubai is a total contrast to everything else we have seen. Up to now we have looked at history and marvelled at how the Moors/Arabs and the Christians could build such wonderful monuments to both their religions and their leaders. Most of those lovely places are pretty old. Some of us were very surprised some years ago when we found that a stately castle we were inspecting in darkest Romania was built in the 1930s and had central heating and lifts! We have also commented that there seem to be a lot of new and gorgeous mosques going in as well throughout the Arab world. I guess in my mind the thought has been that while current western leaders and governments build impressive infrastructure, like roads, ports and airport, along with the occasional town hall, parliament ... read more
Statue leading into the Alcazar in Cordoba
Mezquita Mosque Cordoba
View from the Alhambra

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona June 8th 2013

Whoa, Barcelona – who would have thought we could have added to our extreme weather experiences (snow, rain, sleet, sand)? Oh yeah, not just a thunder storm, not just lightning, and not just rain, but oh boy, the works! How weird could it be standing under the shelter (minimal) of a KFC shop opposite the Sagrada Familia Gaudi Temple, with no vision because of a blimmin tree and fog?? Wow, did it rain, and worse, was the distance between the lightning and the thunder instantaneous? Scary, very scary. My golf shoes are ruined, but that is ok, they are old. But we had to wade through ankle deep fast running water. Whoo – ee; pretty interesting stuff. Then, finally into the temple, and again, whoo – ee – as Davie says, this was expected, but it ... read more
Sagrada Familia
Inside a gallery - would love these in the garden...
Octopus  and grilled goats' cheese salad

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Seville » Alcantara June 7th 2013

Seville was totally unexpected. We had thought it would be pretty good, after all the other lovely places we have been to in Spain, but it is really special. It is a fantastically interesting city and is yet another gap in our education; I guess. If you’d asked me I would have said it was famous for bitter oranges, which it is (exported to the UK for marmalade) and bull fights. It is a great deal more than that. Seville was simply the most important city in the world for a long time after Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. It was the gateway to and from America, and this, of course, meant unbelievable wealth and commerce. It also meant huge power and influence – the Franciscans benefiting hugely (San Francisco). The city was originally some 80 ... read more
Tiles, gorgeous, wherever we go
This is the old Seville port
Secret chapel

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Ronda June 2nd 2013

Andalusia, Southern Spain, is a vast area of contrasts; craggy sierra mountains and lush green valleys, enormous hydro lakes, and windy little, sometimes dangerous, roads and modern expressways and interchanges. Most interesting has been the very obvious history – from paleo through Arabs, Christians, inquisitions and Romans. But, I guess, the agricultural life goes on and on. There are more olive trees than anywhere else in the world, along with wheat, sunflowers and vineyards. It is so green and gorgeous now; of course with the cold and the rain, but we are reliably told that it will brown off now that the sun seems to have arrived. The garden at the vinca (villa)has heaps of herbs and vegetables, but the irises have finished and it is only the roses left. Apart from the cities, like Cordoba ... read more
Blobbing by the pool
White village in Andalucia - Zahara
Los Alamos

Africa » Morocco » Grand Casablanca » Casablanca May 29th 2013

So there we were, out in the midst of nowhere, in the desert. Desert isn’t always a series of harsh red dunes, it is sometimes grey stones for miles, or dun coloured nothing. What is amazing is that we often saw goatherds or shepherds way out there in the nothing, with their charges, along with unemployed dogs. These were sad. Dogs no longer able to scare away the wolves and protect the lambs and kids are simply abandoned as the nomads move on. They stand, pathetically, at the edge of the road and survive on handouts provided by passers by. Oh, so sad. However, we were not unemployed, and we certainly were not hungry. There was always plenty of food, and most of it pretty good. And for those who ask – yes we could get ... read more
Tangines ready for lunch
Coffee table made with fossils
Typical housing

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes May 29th 2013

Arrival in Casablanca, Morocco, was uneventful and after fiddling around waiting at the airport for other Insight tour passengers, we were transported to a mediocre Sheraton hotel – you know the type – gorgeous and sumptuous lobby, and pretty ordinary tired rooms. Dave was horrified at $10 NZ beers and Pringles in minibar. And thank goodness we'd bought a bottle of scotch at the duty free on the way through. We were now ten, as we met Ali and John Tocker at the airport. So our group (Vicki and Frank, Sue and Pete, Pip and Rick along with Davie and me) was now complete. The others seemed to retire until dinner, but Davie and I ventured out into the ‘ancient’ medina up from the hotel across a very busy road. This was a very busy market ... read more
Woman in surf outside mosque
Snow in the High Atlas
Davie does what a husband has to do

Africa » Morocco » Grand Casablanca » Casablanca May 28th 2013

Morocco was hectic, eventful, exciting, exotic and thoroughly interesting. It is very pleasant now to lie back in the luxury of the Ronda villa (Los Alamos –with its own branded crockery and hand embroidered towels). We were simply so busy – up at 6 am and then to bed at 10 or later, that any thought of writing, let alone blogging, simply faded out of the priorities. These revolved around charging (cameras, phones, laptops), washing sundry dusty/sandy clothes in the handbasin (or bidet) and seeing everything that was on offer. Insight was way better than we experienced in Europe years ago with Brian and Mary. For a start the tour director, Hassam, was interested in his 40 charges and passionate about his country and its development. He is extraordinarily well educated and where he did not ... read more
Dear little donkeys
Our bedroom
here's looking at you kid..

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid May 17th 2013

We are all so glad we invested a week in Madrid. How come we know so little about Spain, and how often its history has interacted with our Anglo Saxon heritage? No wonder Henry VIII's daughter Mary liked that Philip of Spain so much - he was pretty good looking! And of course, Catherine of Aragon was an infanta (princess of Spain). Yesterday was a day of 'leisure' i.e. no organised bus tour. So it was up in the morning and down to the lovely breakfast (why can't we have salmon every morning at home??). This spread has the usual melons, pineapple, apple and a variety of lovely citrus. Cold cuts includes Spanish jamon or ham, goat cheese, salmon and a variety of cold cuts. The hot food has yummy chorizo sausage, tortilla, which is a ... read more
Dali Exhibition
Avila - round towers built by Christians, angular towers by Moors

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Kapiti Coast November 24th 2012

Safely home again. Great trip, but lovely to be home. Singapore was fun, as usual. But we didn't find our multi-story golf emporium, so my plans for presents crashed. We did discover the real power of monsoon rain - wow - it RAINS! The Singapore night safari at the zoo was interesting and some parts of it were fascinating. But of course it was expensive ($24 for two beers; no thanks) and crowded. Very clever, with 'trains' going throughout the evening around the exhibits and a show with the animals. Super store, Mustapha's, has got more crowded with stock, and it seems more expensive than in the past, we did just as well in a Chinatown department store for stuff for Davie. An evening on the roof of our hotel after an excellent dinner in a ... read more

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