A Travellerspoint blog

Dubai

Arrived in Dubai at 5 .45am on Tuesday. The Grosvenor House is to be our home until Thursday.
This place is posh and a long way from our camper van days.
A walk up along the marina and back via the beach was very pleasant and helped us get our bearings. (Sort of)

A slight weariness has set in so we took it easy for a few hours in our suite of rooms until our tour guide arrived to collect us for a tour of the city.
What did we learn about Dubai:
The Sheik Mohammad is the twelfth member of this family to rule Dubai and by all accounts has changed the city beyond recognition.
Less than 20% of the people who live here are native, Indians and Pakistanis make up a large portion of the residents today.
Tourism is the main source of income, oil is now in short supply.
Dubai has no fresh water supply, desalination plants make the sea water drinkable.
There is almost zero crime rate, no rubbish or littering tolerated, no poverty, no homeless, no wreckless drivers. The penalties for breaking the law are extremely severe.
Great concentration on sporting facilities.
Everything built has to be the biggest and the best in the world.
On our tour our first stop was for a photo opportunity at Hotel Atlantica on the Palm, an amazing hotel with every facility imaginable. Stopped again at the beach by the Burj Al Arab built like a ships sail and is a 7 star hotel.
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We visited the National Gallery where we saw furniture made from Camel Bones and gold and precious stone encrusted wall hangings for sale at a steal for up to a million dollars depending on size.
We then called to the old town walls and a museum of the way things were in bygone years. We took a dhow across the water to the old town and visited the spice markets and the shops displaying and selling mountains of gold jewellry. I have rarely if ever seen so much loud gold necklaces and jewellry of every size and shape.
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A talk on the Muslin beliefs outside a Mosque left me feeling I would like to learn more about this religion and it's customs.
It was a good tour and we learned loads.
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On day two we took a taxi to the shopping mall and took a few photos at the tallest building standing at 830 metres high, 163 floors the Burj Khalifa.
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We visited the excellent aquarium where we saw several sharks and other sea life.

Afternoon we were collected for our Desert Safari .
The minibus took us to the heart of the desert, about 40 minutes drive in heavy traffic. There we got our headgear for the trip.
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the jeep took us at speed across the sand where we spotted Oryx and gazelle, camels and piles of sand.
A falcon display and traditional food served at a typical Bedouin site. Bedouin is the name given to the formerly nomadic Arabian people.
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The meal consisted of Lentil soup and traditional pancake type bread, a mixed starters of meat, salads and other unrecognisable bits, main course was Lamb, Chicken Kebab and Camel, rice and sauce. Very tasty indeed.
Dessert of fresh fruit with tea, coffee, chai, juices, sprite.
No alcohol. Traditional dances interspersed the meal and a real treat - 5 minutes of lights out to just watch the stars.
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Camel rides and pipe smoking also henna tattoos all also available included in the price.
These guys do a good job.

Posted by helencosgrave 19:49 Comments (0)

Farewell Conor and New Zealand

Breakfast this morning and a trip up the sky tower where we could see all across the city and surrounding area.
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A walk in the park, a trip to the Auckland art gallery, coffee and chat, another trip to St Patrick's Cathedral and the Parish office where no record of Bishop Henry could be found which is rather amazing. His predecessor and successor are mentioned but no trace of our man.
We did get an email address for the Archivist so will follow up with the search when I get home.
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Then the moment I dreaded when the farewells to Conor and Layla had to happen.
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A few tears and the two doctors headed back to the airport as Conor was scheduled to work tonight.

Nick and I had a consoling pint in Fr Ted's before an Indian lunch, a last search for the elusive Bishop (no joy). a walk to the harbour, another pint or two and it was time to hit the road to the airport.

The end of an absolutely fantastic trip in lovely New Zealand. So sad to leave this lovely country and Conor and Layla, softened a little with our stop over for two nights in Dubai.

Posted by helencosgrave 00:16 Comments (0)

Auckland

An early morning paddle for me and a swim for Layla while the boys watched a delayed version of Ireland V France rugby match set the tone for the day ahead.
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Checked out of this lovely house and drove the two and a half hours to Auckland. Stopped for coffee and/or wine on the way,
Our very central hotel Econolodge on Wellesley Street was perfect.
Went in search of food and en route found a bar for a quick pint as we waited for Conor to park the car.
Three pints later we ate in Limon Tapas Bar on Albert Wharf.
Next stop St Patrick's Cathedral where we went in search of Bishop Cleary, a youth mass was about to begin so Conor and Layla made their escape, Nick and I stayed for a bit, Nick declared it was a 'good Mass'.
Caught up with the young ones in Shakespeare's pub and we later moved on to Fr Ted's Irish Pub on Wellesley St before we moved on a classier spot, the name escapes me!!!!
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A typical Cosgrave pub crawl good craic.

Posted by helencosgrave 20:58 Comments (0)

Rotoura

Our first expedition in Rotoroua was a trip to Mitzi Maori Village
Our guide a native Maori who spent ten years in Australia and is now back learning all about his culture and heritage.
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He gave a very interesting talk and tour of a typical Maori village from early times up to the Europeans arriving in the 1800's.
He gave us the opportunity to try out some of the old instruments used by the villagers to warn of invaders and the timber tools used to fight these invaders. The meaning and uses of the native trees also the living quarters of the villagers.
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Our next stop was to the Whakarewarewa village where the geysers and hot springs are gurgling and spewing away, the sulphur smell is not at all overpowering, we had a guided tour and a Maori dance/music show at the end which was excellent.
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Stopped for a beer and lunch at CBK on Eat Street, I was enthralled by the hot stone venison ordered by Conor. This has to be the new way to barbecue.
The stone is heated to 400 degrees and the customer cooks the food to his own taste.
Yumm.

Then it was back home to our fantastic accommodation on Lake Rotoura. Paradise owned by Mike and Glenda, this house is fantastically situated on the lake Rotoura. We went swimming and paddling in our kayak supplied by Mike and Glenda.
The lake is just a metres deep as far out as 400 metres from the shore and is warm and safe, lots of birds, ducks, black swans swimming about.
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Played scrabble, pictionary and had yet another barbecue this time cooked inside as it got quite late. A wonderful day in the North Island

Posted by helencosgrave 20:50 Comments (0)

Highlights of the South Island

Firstly the few days we spent at the apartment as we got to meet and rekindle our relationship with Conor and Layla, Dunedin is great and it was wonderful to go to the places that have become a big part of the lives of these guys.
Once we got the camper we were on a different kind of trip and the following are my highlights without putting too much thought into it.
To be fair I loved everything.

1.Franz Josef Glacier
2. Milford Sound
3. Marlborough region
4. Kaikoura whale and Albatoss watching
5. Lake Wanaka
6. Mount cook National Park
7. The many nature walks
8. The many lovely freedom rest stops
9. Lake Tekapo
10. The beach at Hokitika

But most of all the wonderful company of Conor and Layla as we explored this different and amazing countryside. The lovely meals, breakfadts, lunches, dinners, drinks, cards, scrabble...

Posted by helencosgrave 02:00 Comments (0)

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