Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Still more, here we are in hot, hot Dubai. When we got off the plane yesterday morning at 6am it was 31c and it goes up from there as the day progresses and this is not the really hot time, then the temperature reaches 40+. We were able to book into the Hilton Dubai Creek and had a shower and went straight to bed and had a wonderful sleep until about 11.30. Whenever you are in a building you are shut off from the heat, but open the door and bang you are in it again. This is the month of Ramadan and Muslims, fast from sunrise to sunset, so there are very few restaurants open until sunset, those that are open are in hotels and shopping centres and if you eat there is curtaining and the blinds are shut, so that the people fasting do not have to see you eating. It is even not done to drink in public. Everything is very quite and there are very few people around the (Antique) Souks. We did go to a shopping centre, but only to see the ski slopes!!! Yes just like an Austrian village and kids throwing snowballs etc. All very surreal in a surreal country. We caught up with friends ( Liz & Brian) from Sydney, in the evening and went with them on a Dune Dinner Safari. We were picked up by a 4wheel drive and taken into the desert about 50km out of the town. They let air out of the tyres as we reached the sand and then we were able to do wheelies over the top, down the side and into the valleys of the dunes. All very thrilling. Each tour was an individual 4wheel drive and after the fun of the dunes, we all met at a compound where we had our dinner. Because of Ramadan there was no alcohol or belly dancers, but it was a fun night and we rode on camels, had henna tattoos done on our hands (mine is really hard to get off) and saw all the crafts of the desert. Well worth doing. We slept like babies that nights and woke refreshed the next morning to head out to see a Danish friend, who lived in Sydney with her Australian husband who is now living in Dubai and has just given birth to a gorgeous little girl 3 months ago. They live in an ex-pat community about 45 minutes from the centre of Dubai. We had a lovely 24hours with Vibeke and Claire, but unfortunately Bryan was away on business and not back until after we leave. We did see that ALL these buildings that are going up everywhere you look, have people living in them. It is had to believe that with all this development that there is enough people to fill them and also the office buildings and how it can sustain itself?
We came back to Dubai next morning and had intended to go to the museum and gold souk, but found out that they did not open until 5pm. We therefore had a lazy day, as early in the evening Danny & Andrea Bromley, who are now living in Dubai, but were from Ballarat, were picking us up to go to a dinner to break the days fasting at a huge hotel on the beach front. Jenny Haymes and Alice & Kevin had arrived in this morning, so it was great they could come too and we all had a really good night enjoying our dinner in a huge air-conditioned tent. It was great to talk to Danny & Andrea, as they have only been here for 3 months and are living in a villa with their three children. All the things we have wondered about here, we were able to ask them and it helped explain some of differences we were seeing and wondering about. It is so different to anything we are used to, starting with the heat (all the locals say how better is this week than the weeks before when it had been in the high 40s),together with the heat haze, the sand blowing in from the desert, all the growth and development that goes on and on it is all so different, which will be even more so, when we get back to Ballarat!!
I am sitting at the airport now finishing this off, as will help me stay awake. Its midnight and we fly out at 2.40am and I dont want to go to sleep, yet!!
Its been a wonderful trip and we are delighted to now have a record of all our activities and thoughts. It has been a good discipline for me and Ive enjoyed doing this and am amazed how long it is.
Bye for now. See you all in Oz. xxxxxxxxxxx
Location: Our Paris, France
Thursday 13th.September. We were very sad to shut up the house and move on, we have had a wonderful three weeks here and feel attached to Avranches. Life goes on and so do we. We left in good time to travel to Bayeux, which is only a couple of hours away. Booked into our hotel, which is right on the main street and within walking distance of all the things we wanted to see. We decided on lunch and chose a great little place and as it was our last chance ordered cider with our salads. Cider is a speciality of Normandy and we have found that it is an aquired taste and not something we love. It was a lovely day and we lunched in the sun. We headed off to the tapestry straight away as we were not sure how long it would take, as it turned out we were there over 2 hours. Even on a non-holiday Thursday, there were crowds waiting at the ticket office. The first exhibition is the history of England and Normandy at that time and the conditions of the people. We thought we were pretty OK with our history, but were glad to learn more. We were then shown a film of the tapestry itself and finally after receiving English headphones, we were into the tapestry. It is amazing to think that it is over 900 years old and we had no idea that it was so long (70m). It is an historic document, telling the tale of William the Conquerors invasion of England. The description audio, bought the whole thing to life as we walked along the corridor where it is displayed. Wonderful to see and far exceeded anything we had imagined. We had a great meal at night and all in all enjoyed our stay in Bayeux and it is a very pretty town well worth a visit.
Headed to Paris next day and had no trouble getting to our hotel, Pete is an old hand at driving now and has done a fabulous job, but we both think the French are very courteous drivers and that has helped a lot. The rue Cambon where the hotel is, is only one car wide so when we pulled up, we had to get the luggage out onto the pavement, while cars lined up behind us, but no honking of horns or anything, they just have to put up with the joys of Paris traffic. Pete drove off once the luggage was out and the porter came and helped me get it all inside, we now have 4 cases that cant even fit an extra handkerchief!! I sorted the luggage while had gone and dropped the car off. He arrived back at the hotel about 2 hours later, all well and the car returned. We decided to take an open bus tour that afternoon and enjoyed the round trip looking at what we wanted to do the next day. We had dinner in the bistro, opposite the Hotel Cambon and it was a great meal and very, very busy, as the city is full of rugby fans. One of the facts they told us on the bus is that Paris has as least 26,000,000 visitors a year, thats 500,000 a week!!! On Saturday got off early, had breakfast out and literally walked Paris, getting on the bus when really needed. The highlight was the Petit Palace that has various exhibitions. It is the most wonderful building with a centre of gardens, where we had lunch, all so uplifting and peaceful. There is no use me go on about Paris as it is just the most wonderful city. Peter and I love everything we see, it is so spectacular and just beautiful and without a doubt our favourite city.
Last night we had booked a special restaurant. When we got there, it was hard to believe it was the very same restaurant where we had had Kizannes 15th. birthday, all that time ago! It was still a fish restaurant, but the dining room was now upstairs and it was very up-market. We had the best meal and service of our trip so ended a very special day.
Location: Avranches, France
Success, the lovely man in the camera shop, pushed lots of buttons and we are now looking better. The bad colours were driving me mad and I would not have put them on the blog, but Pete did, so that you could at least see where we had been, even if it looked as though we were under the blue sea and embarrassed!!
Yesterday, one again on Claudes advise, we headed north in the Normandy area, back up to the English Channel and further west than the D Day beaches. Barfleur is described in one of the guide books as one of the prettiest villages in France, now that is a big statement to two people who have seen some gorgeous villages in their travels!! Nice trip up, very green and lush and the hedges on the sides of the roads were being cut back & trimmed, so looked picturesque. Stopped for some Normandie caramels, they are made with fresh cream, in a little village of Isigny sur Mer. Call in at home when we get back and try some as there is no way we will ever be able to eat all we bought!! Reached Barfleur, it was a pretty seaside village with a grey granite quayside and lots of fishing boats. In our opinion, it did not reach the expectations, BUT we had one of the best lunches there. Pete started with mussels, followed by smoked salmon, caviar and salad, it was wonderful with simple flavours. I had fish soup and the taste was a sensation and followed that with mussels, they were huge, fresh and wonderful, plenty of photos to show you how good it all was. Continued around the Cortentin Peninsula and it is all very wind swept and rugged. Went around Cherbourg, it has one of the largest artificial harbours in the world. It certainly was a remarkable breakwater and you just imagine how necessary it is on such a windswept coast. Continued on right around the top and driving down the west coast, you could see Isle of Jersey it is only a short time away by ferry. We had another different day, it was a long drive for Peter, but worth it to see another variety of countryside, but certainly not as spectacular as the St. Malo side.
This is our last day in Avranches (Wed. 12/9) and we are just tidying up and getting ready for the journey home. We are going to walk around the town and take those photos we have meant to take and generally catch up on things we have still to see. It has been a wonderful 3 weeks and we will find it hard to leave this beautiful area of France, we have just loved it. France is still wonderful to us and we are just staggered at the difference in all the areas you go to. Suppose it is a big country and we have seen a lot this trip and still love is and can hardly wait until we return.
Tomorrow we head off to Bayeux, we want to see the tapestry and will stay the night there, before driving to Paris on Friday. Leave for Dubai on Sunday pm. so have lots to still see in Paris, there is never enough time in Paris, but will return.
Location: Travels around Britany, France
Jenny, David, Alice & Kevin left early on Friday morning (6th.). They had a long drive ahead of them, they were going straight through to Bilboa in Spain (thats about as far as Melb. to Sydney) It is a very quiet house now, as it is the first time Peter & I have been here on our own, but we had a very restful day and made plans, booking etc of what we will do for our last 5 days, throughout the day we received sms on the progress of the drivers, they did well and arrived safely by 7pm. Saturday dawned wonderfully sunny and we took our bag and set off to the market. Alice had been last week and told us how good it was and sure enough it was great with a huge selection of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, jams etc. as well as a little bit of clothing. We had decided that we would head off today to Dinan, it is a little further on from St.Malo, but we had not had time to go when we were in St. Malo and had been told it was well worth going to. Well here we are and what another wonderful surprise. A gorgeous 3 flower village with the most wonderful old buildings, shops and narrow streets, youd think we would be tired of all that now, but each one seems different and has something that is quite different and really takes our breathe away. Once again we took the Petite Train for a tour to see the town, but this time after seeing the old city we went down a very steep hill to The Port, which was a delightful area, mostly made up of restaurants full of people sitting in the sun, eating beside the Rance River. The river was lined with yachts from all over. After that tour we went to an exhibition of Toulouse-Lautrec and had a great time wandering through almost 200 of his drawings, lithographs, illustrated scores, albums and posters. The exhibition was in a newly built building and showed us how the old and the new can blend well. The new building was mainly under a huge paved open area that also covered a car park and all of this was surrounded by old buildings including one the library was in. It all looked great. We had lunch at one of the many creperies in the town and through out was getting the results of the Collingwood v Sydney Swans game from Samantha and joy of joys the Pies were victorious. We are staying in Dinan the night in an older hotel overlooking a huge square, surrounded by beautiful 3 and 4 storey + attic, house and after seeing more sights of beautiful Dinan, will make our way slowly back home
Got off after breakfast and did a walk of ramparts, well what there was still standing and it was a great walk, as we came across lots we had not seen on the train tour yesterday and as it was early Sunday there were very few people around (mainly joggers) so it was all clear and the church bells were ringing so it was great atmosphere. We decided to walk down the very steep, narrow, cobbled street to the port and it was well worth it as once again everything along the river looked wonderful in the morning light. The walk up was a challenge but we made it and felt good that we had stretched ourselves and seen a beautiful area. We left Dinan and headed for Dinard. It is described in the guide book as The place was launched in about 1850 by a rich American and developed by the British Its the only place we have gone to that we didnt like, so just had a quick look around and headed on our way, there were just too many very tanned, old blokes and many holiday and beach crowds, sorry but we didnt come to France to see St. Kilda!! We have been very spoilt with all the cute places we have been to. Headed, once again to St. Malo and I walked the ramparts with Peter, as he hadnt done that when Jenny & I did it the other day and it is certainly worth the walk. We drove home along The Cote dEmeraude, which is called this because of the emerald colour of the water all the way along to Cancale, where we had lunch, of seafood, once again. This coast is very rugged with stony outcrops and this time the tide was right out and it is spectacular, to see all types of boats nearly on their sides, as there is no water for nearly as far out as you can see. It would be interesting to see the tide coming in, as we think it would be very strong, because of the amount it has to rise. The oysters are famous and flourish in the immense beds in the open sea and an oyster with a particular flavour is grown due to the richness of the plankton of Mont-St-Michel Bays. Oyster beds along the coast cover an area of 890 acres.
Sorry but, until I get my camera fixed, there will not be any more photos. If you had looked you would see how awful and artificial the photos of St. Malo looked, and the town was so beautiful, they were too red & too blue and I cant stand them. If I can make myself understood here, I hope I can get something done soon, but it has us all stumped.