A Travellerspoint blog

Dubai

October 37 - Day 37

sunny 33 °C
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Oct 24-27 The final report

Monday was spent in transit - in buses, in transit lounges and on the plane to Dubai. Arrived midnight local time so it was 3am before we crawled into bed. 

Tuesday we all slept in and had late breakfast and then a walk to the Emirates Mall which adjoins the hotel so we didn't have to go out in the heat. Watched the snow skiing field in the mall while we had coffee. Walked past some of the 600+ shops that are all global brands and designers. Not tempted to buy as everything is winter. Crew went to dinner on a dhow in Dubai Creek which is a bit more than your average creek. It is the very hub of Dubai's sea trade mostly using wooden dhows which look out of place in the middle of high rise. The dhows are still used to transfer vast amounts of stuff, including cars, from Dubai to India and Pakistan. The docks were a sight to behold... Talk about organized chaos. 

Wednesday we went off on the hop on and off bus with a day pass. Humid and sunny so we have been exposed to more sun heat today than we have in the past few weeks. Heat wasn't oppressive but we are tired. Went to a history of Dubai museum and walked through the fabric trade area (souk)  Garry and I decided to keep busing rather than visit the gold market. On to the Jameirah Beach area where they have created or are creating the three Palm island and The World islands by pumping sand from the bottom of the Gulf which is not more than 10 metres deep along the continental shelf. Truly an amazing engineering feat  Also the location of vast aquaria, porpoise pools and the "fabled" underwater city of Atlantis  We will just have to come back with the grandkids to enjoy those another time. 

The city is really amazing -a bit like a very big Gold Coast but without graffiti and rubbish. A lot of Indians and Pakistanis working in building, cleaning, hospitality and retail. Apparently they can access cheap (free?) housing, education and health here while they are working but if they cease working they have to return home. No one pays tax here. There are tax free zones for business as well, so many of the big multiple nationals have a presence here.

After the mud of Europe it is very different to see so much sand. All the building sites are just digging into sand. Apart from the big sky scrapers which are glass the rest of the buildings are 2-3 stories stuccoed with colours that blend into the sand. Plenty of green spaces and traffic jams and what looks like a very modern and efficient monorail.

Plenty more things to do and see but early tomorrow we get collected to fly out at 10.15am. The whole holiday has been an opportunity to see a cross section of Europe.  It would be great to spend more time in some places but we are 'over' the diseases that have come with travel and are ready to come home.

Looking forward to seeing everyone - we promise not to bore you with our travel adventures... What happens on tour stays on tour!

Posted by suengarry 26.10.2011 19:21 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged dubai Comments (0)

Amsterdam

October 23 - Day 33


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Oct 23 Amsterdam - Day 33

The view from our window this morning was another boat that we were moored alongside.  There are 6 tour boats clustered together 3 deep. We are somewhere  near the middle of the waterways of Amsterdam. Garry went off for a cruise of the  city and a visit to the flower markets. Colleen, Margy and Michael have gone bike riding. It is very cool with a cold wind but the sun is shining. Sometime today we have to gather our belongings (mostly unwashed clothes) and pack for a fairly early departure from the boat tomorrow. Our flight to Dubai leaves here at 15.30 tomorrow and we arrive at 23.50 so it's only a 6 hour flight. Our time will then be only 6 hours behind Australia.

With a population of 750,000 Amsterdam  is Hollands capital and largest city. Settled as a fishing village in 12th C. on the Amstel  River. Love that Amstel beer!! Construction of the concentric half circles of canals began in 1613. The main channel is as busy as a city freeway and so far I have seen tall ships,  hundreds of barges of varying sizes, a row boat with 8 rowers, speed boats, tugboats, police boats, tourist day boats, river cruise ships and ferries. A bit like Venice but not quite so waterlogged or smelly. Interesting to walk around the flower markets with hash pops and marijuana starter kits on display with all the beautiful flowers and bulbs of every kind. The smell of good quality weed wafts by on a regular basis. Not sure whether passive smoking is an issue but Garry did have a headache after his walk through the markets. 

The city teems with pushbikes and people. An estimated 1.5 bikes per head.  During the afternoon the wind dropped and it was almost warm! Still had 4 layers on but we did unzip our jackets. The streets flowed with people. There were cafes and "coffee shops" everywhere as well as marked red light areas. The streets are dirty and littered with cigarette butts, old chewing gum spots and in the central market lots of pigeons. There was also a messy camp near the centre where protestors have set up camp to challenge capitalism. Very good people watching area and apart from having to watch out for the aggressive bike riders and trams as well as cars it was an enjoyable stroll in what has been our warmest afternoon - probably got to 12 or 13 degrees.

Our little team decided to check out the red light district after dinner. Managed to finish up in three different groups. Not sure how that happened but may have had something to do with the crowds and our rubber-necking at the girls on display. Bit sad really!! We did all manage to find our way back home safely and all around the same time. 

Have now been debriefed re our exit from the boat in the morning - our next report will be from Dubai and then home which we are both looking forward to.

Posted by suengarry 23.10.2011 23:43 Archived in Netherlands Tagged canals light red districy Comments (0)

Rudesheim - Day 31

October 21

all seasons in one day 9 °C
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Oct 21  Rudesheim - Day 31

Having spent 11 days getting to the Rhine we can't see it! We awoke to a London style pea souper fog which after 4 hours is still with us. We haven't seen much of Rudesheim other than the store fronts. The 'to be' spectacular views of the Rhine from the sky lift was a freezing cold experience with a view of the grape vines directly below. It cannot have risen above 0 degrees.

In the Rhine Gorge the sun struggled to shine through the fog but eventually it did. On each side of the gorge there is a fortress every km so we did the  'to the right to the left thing'. Some built by the Germans and some by the French as a symbol of their power rather than as military outposts. This river has for centuries been the life line to this part of Europe. Hence the need to defend it along it's entire length. Between the castles are the stone wall terraces that support vineyards on the steep slopes of the gorge. The autumn colours are spectacular. Still very cold and we are layered up all day when outside in an effort to keep warm. 

Late in the afternoon they bussed us up a steep slope from Braubach for a Marksburg castle visit. One of the better tourist traps in that the castle had never been flattened and while it has been changed over the years, still retains much of the original feel; the natural uneven rock base to the entrances, steep narrow passages and stairs etc  We had a Medieval Dinner perched high above the Rhine. Music and entertainment were provided and then they bused us about 60km downstream to Andernach where our ship had gone on ahead while we were Medievaled.

Posted by suengarry 22.10.2011 07:23 Archived in Germany Tagged castle marksburg Comments (0)

Cologne

October 22 - Day 32

sunny 12 °C
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Oct 22 Cologne - Day 32

Was still quite dark when we woke at 7 am to the sights of Cologne, one of Germany's big cities. Unlike the other cities we have visited they have not historically restored all the buildings bombed during WW II. The magnificent Cathedral survived almost intact and has been a work in progress forever. Germans joke about the fact that when the cathedral is completed the world will have ended. It is a magnificent building with incredibly fine and intricate outside structures that are like lace on a large scale. Most of the surface is black from either soot or algae. The building is so huge that it is impossible to photograph it in one shot. Inside it is a typical gothic structure with many crypts, mosaic floor tiles, silver and gold icons and huge stained glass windows. It is "ABC" but it is very special in the world of cathedrals. Being surrounded by a mix of modern architecture doesn't detract but may even enhance the "special" feel. 
This is of course the home of Eau de Cologne (water o Cologne) and 4711. The original house/factory still exists.

The boat was docked next to the older centre of the city so we did our own walk without a guide. The wind was freezing and so dressed in everything warm that we have.  We spent time at the cathedral and then wandered along the big shopping precinct with pedestrian access only. Saw all the shops found in any city. Lots of winter gear in the shops and prices about the same as at home. Maybe a better selection of quality leather and shoes could be cheaper than at home for the better brands. Neither of us tempted to shop as we are still suffering from the European cold and coughing and spluttering. City had a younger feel to it - again probably a function of the 44000 university students or maybe the 100 female to 95 males gender balance  Returned to the ship with a nice apple strudel and had coffee. 

Sailed for Amsterdam after lunch. Tomorrow is our last full day on the water before flying to Dubai on Monday. Will be interesting to see how we cope with the heat of Dubai after the last few days of very low temperatures. 

Just sitting in the lounge of the boat watching the barges go past and seeing the big industrial areas along the Rhine. Still lots of human activity as well as locals make maximum use of the available sunlight. Sailing, kayaking, fishing, walking the dog, riding etc.

Tonight is gala night onboard. We get to put on whatever glad rags we have for dinner with Captain Tomas and then the crew put on a performance "that will blow your socks off" or so we have been told. It will be nice to see someone other than our Cruise Director Werney perform!!

It has been an amazing journey, 'bugs and all' but it reinforces in our minds that Australia is a lucky country and it will be good to be at home even if we are going to find it difficult to cook and clean for ourselves!

Posted by suengarry 22.10.2011 06:38 Archived in Germany Tagged cathedral köln cologne Comments (0)

October 20 - Day 30

Wertheim

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Arrived early in Wertheim for a morning stop. White swans and ducks swimming in the early morning mist outside our balcony. Both still suffering from a head cold and a terrible cough which we need to leave in Europe (from whence it came!). Sister Margie who has not been afflicted with anything set off on a guided hike through town into the surrounding villages and then on up to the castle.

Went for a stroll in the village which was a 5 minute walk from the dock. Wertheim is a medieval town at the point where the Tauber River flows into the Main. It is famous for it's glass with both functional medical and artistic forms. Perched on the top of the hill overlooking the town is the old Hohenburg castle. The watchtower and some of the walls are  12 th C while other sections were added during the middle ages. There are many pretty half timbered houses dating from 1577.

The church in the village has changed hands between Catholics and Lutherans many times so it now contains evidence of both inside. The clock on the church only has one hand as the early rulers decided they didn't need to know the exact time.

Spent the afternoon drifting down the Main River -  passed many towns and villages and forts on the hillsides. Went under a bridge with 10 cm gap  - explains why the top deck is closed most of the time until we get to the Rhine.  It has been sunny but so cold outside that we haven't really wanted to go there.

This afternoon we are receiving lessons on German coffee making and a Zither concert before tonight's fancy dress 'party'. We are both really looking forward to that! Being enthusiasts of dress ups.

Posted by suengarry 20.10.2011 06:34 Archived in Germany Tagged river glass main wertheim Comments (0)

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