Monday, 30 May 2011

London by Underground

Great fun riding the Tube, but you can have too much of a good thing. I think we have seen more undergound of London than above ground.

Like when we were taking our luggage into Liverpool St Stn to locker it, so we could go to the Tate Modern. Train breakdown 5 stations away meant lugging our gear up and down endless escalators, stairs and trains to work around the blockage by using a different route.

But what a miracle it was to be able to have that option! Eventually took us 2 buses, 5 trains, 20 escalators, 2km of walking and 3 hours to get to the art gallery.

Met Patch Lilley and Suz for a drink before spending 2-3 hours visiting Level 5. Oh well, will have to go back for the other 4 levels another trip.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Dubai Delights - with photos!

Dubai is an amazing place. We arrived at 5.20am after a 14 hour but reasonably comfortable overnight flight and it was already 32C. 

I guess I expected a one dimensonal "new city" feel. But there is a lot of diversity here.
A very strong sense of arabic culture juxtaposed with the many cultures of the army of immigrants who have helped build the place. Arab identity is incorporated into new buildings, which are often decorated with beautiful geometric designs.

The highlight was travelling 124 floors up to the viewing deck of the world's tallest structure, the 828m Burj Khalifa. Looking down from the highest open air viewing level in the world the geometric patterns continued in the layout of parks, buildings roads and rooftops. Even the roundabout gardens are laid out in striking mandala forms. 

We were only about 80% of the way up the 160 floors, and probably only halfway up the whole structure. A 10 second time lapse movie depicting the 6 years it took to complete the building highlighted what a huge feat it was.  The design is based on a motif derived from a desert flower so no wonder the result is a building of sheer wonder and beauty, billed as the worlds first vertical city.

At the base of Burj Khalifa lies a huge pool with the Dubai dancing fountain which we returned to ground level in time to see operating.

We walked through the massive Dubai Mall for about 2 hours to get there. We became lost in The Gold Souk - a labyrithine mall within the mall lined with jewelery shops.  Luckily we found dessert heaven as there are many Italian cafes and we were fortified by a delicious decadent morning tea.

The aquarium in the mall is a wonder. 8m deep and maybe 50m long with schools of fish, rays, small sharks, and a couple of scuba divers - you can pay to dive.

Later we went out to the Palm, which is a series of off-shore islands in the shape of a palm tree 5 km across.  

At the top is a big hotel and an Atlantis-themed aquarium with 50 or more exhibits. We took the monorail back to the mainland.

The driverless train running above the roadway took us the 30km or so back to our hotel.
We dined at the hotel Indian restaurant where arriving at 8.30pm for dinner is early! and were treated to excellent seafood and an evening of live music performed by a local Indian band and accompanied by some Bollywood style dancers and singers.

This morning was on the water exploring the Creek - the local waterway and seeing the amazing contrasts of old, new, traditional, modern and innovative in architecture, transport and culture.

Spent Wednesday afternoon and evening on a "desert safari" with 4WD sand dune driving, (made Anna REALLY sick) sand boarding,(Sandy nailed it -Anna took pics) and a short bumpy camel ride then a BBQ dinner and dance performances- a whirling dervish, a fire juggler, a belly dance and a bollywod dance- just a sample of the mx of local cultures.

Then driving back to town with the skyline lit up  - thankfully on the freeway NOT the sand dunes - gave us another spectacular view of the city. We packed up our things and got about 3 hours sleep before catchng an early flight to London exactly 48 hours after we arrived - without incident despite having set the alarm to Adelaide time! Luckily Anna woke up at the right time anyway.

Love, Sandy & Anna

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bon Voyage Party

Thank you everyone who came to our Bon Voyage party today.

Our trip becomes more real as we share it with our friends.

We now have a few takers for carrying our bags, and we'll need them too. There are a few others planning to hide in our cases.

All your stories were great to hear. I look forward to sharing our stories here. Hope you can keep an eye out for our posts and leave your comments.

Love you all, and thanks for your beautiful food and well wishes.

Special thanks to Kadey for his cooking.

See you at the welcome home BBQ on Sunday 4th, aka Father's Day?