Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our End of Week Get-together

The last day of the week at this end of the planet is Thursday. Our hosts and friends had arranged a social get-together for us Thursday evening, one of many we had held over the years in the same pleasant venue.

A cosy group of friends and colleagues was able to attend arriving at around 8 pm. It was great to be able to spend a little time with each updating on what they had been doing and what we had done during our two years since leaving. We felt as though we hadn't really been gone for two years. What had we done in all that time, other than gotten a tad older?

The bottom right photo of the collage is a pre-arrival photo of one of two large rooms in our hosts' house that are used for entertainment. By Australian standards, the house is a mansion. It has three large bedrooms each with complete ensuites, a large kitchen, servant's quarters, two large entertainment areas and another large area used as a television room. The ceilings are perhaps 13 or 14 feet and the entrance has a paved, garden area that is quite large also. Nothing is done small in the United Arab Emirates where there is so much wealth it's unbelievable.

Serge's bar shown at left is the same as the one Christina bought me for my last birthday in the UAE. The difference between Serge's and mine is that mine bad a couple of borers included at no extra expense. They did the long trip to Australia and died in our loungeroom after we heard them boring away inside and sprayed the cabinet. Fortunately, my bar is still standing.

Tonight we are having dinner at the Bawadi Mall with some friends who couldn't make the Thursday night bash. Tomorrow we drive out to Abu Dhabi airport around 0530 h for our flight to Cairo and subsequent tour of Egypt. It's a tough life, but someone has to do it.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Little Like Coming Home

Arriving at Abu Dhabi airport was a little like coming home ... the home we had left two years ago. Had we been residents of the Emirates living in Australia for two years or residents of Australia living in the Emirates? Although the answer is clear, sometimes it felt like a bit of a jumble.

The flight over was terrible. Thirteen hours travelling cattle class with a young man nearby who vomited at regular intervals or made loud choking noises. An apparent Downs Syndrome boy, it was hard not to feel sorry for him and his parents while at the same time having to put up with the noises while eating, trying to sleep and fill in time with the hope that the journey would be over soon. We realised that being parents of a hearing impaired son at times it had been difficult enough for us, but it could have been much worse.

After months of rain and cold weather at Alice Springs, it was lovely to arrive at Abu Dhabi with 30 degree heat and rain free. Although the sky was full of sand dust, it was still very pleasant.

We took a taxi to Al Ain to our friends'place which is, by Australian standards, almost a palace for two people. A property like theirs in Sydney would be worth millions. When we saw it again, memories of the many dinners and parties we had attended at this fine edifice ... Canadian Thanks-Givings, Christmas Dinners, and a few just to say goodbye to friends who were departing or ad hoc events with just one or two couples.

After cleaning up and getting a change of clothes we took a taxi to Al Ain Mall where Christina wanted to visit one of our favourite restaurants, the Beirut, to see if their humous and Lebanese bread was still as nice as it had been. To our delight it was.

There's more to do today and on the weekend we hear that one of our friends is having a party for us. How fortunate can one be? What a great start to our holiday.

If only one could live at Al Ain and not have to work, we'd be here in a flash.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Difficulty Deciding What to Take ...

No matter how you do it, deciding what to take and what to leave behind when you travel is a difficult task.

I like to lay out in front of me, usually on our bed, all those things I think I need to take. Then I rationalise between what I want to take and what I really need, bearing in mind that I will buy something while away ... a few souvenirs and presents for family and friends. A new shirt or pair of boots.

When you are going to both hot and cold climates, it's even a greater challenge. Because we are spending the first half of our holiday in the Middle East where it will be warmish, we have decided not to take too many heavy winter clothes. We'll buy what we need during the second half of our journey in the Italian and Austrian Alps, the UK and Scotland where it will be colder. If we are really lucky and those countries are having heatwaves (oh, yeah?) then we won't have to buy anything.

Buying new clothes means you are able to discard some of the worn-out stuff you've been carrying about but are too attached to to ditch. Well, I get attached to my clothes and stuff, don't you?

It's very hard to turf out something that has kept you warm winter after winter ... an old faithful ... and to recruit something untried and untested.

So, the packing continues. As we leave tomorrow, decisions need to be made, rationalising needs to be done. We need to fit our stuff into our new Delsey suit cases and by some miracle be less than the allocated weight.

Tomorrow it's Alice Springs to Adelaide to Melbourne and then to Abu Dhabi. It will be a little like going home.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Week Until Our Overseas Tour

There's only a week to go before we fly out of Central Australia to Melbourne and thence the world. Needless to say, we are excited about having a break from Alice Springs and visiting our many friends at Al Ain and elsewhere. Also, when you live at Alice Springs so far away from the coast and other cities, it's necessary to have a break at least annually as the place becomes too small.

Here is our itinerary. For security reasons, I have not provided local contact details or exact locations, but friends can email us to find those out if need be.

We are doing several tours, one nine day trip through Egypt that includes a boat trip up the Nile. We do a 14 day bus tour through the more historical parts of Turkey including Gallipoli, which all Australians need to visit at least once. There's also a nine day tour through Italy that includes Naples and Sicily.

We have a time share at the Gold Coast in Queensland (Australia) that is transferable to other countries. We will be using it to stay at locations in the Austrian Alps, the Italian Alps and the countryside somewhere in France. (wee, wee).

Unfortunately, we will need to carry winter and summer clothing, which increases the load. However, we've invested in two new travel bags that are sturdy but light and will take as little heavy stuff as possible.

While we are touring I will update this blog as often as possible. If you want to be advised of updates, why not follow the blog so you get notified that a new post has been made?

I've also been asked to be a guest blogger on a travel blog, but have yet to find out more about that.

Watch this space!