A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: SteveandLydia

Dubai at Dusk

Hello everyone!!! We are now home after completing the last leg of our journey which involved 16 and ½ hours of flying; 2 flights and 1 stopover in Sydney. We present to you - our ninth and final blog…

Our arrival into Dubai (unlike our one to Paris) was seamless – phew! It did however arrive at seven in the morning and after not sleeping at all the night before we checked in and had a very early “nana” nap. We then ventured out by taxi to ‘The Dubai Mall’ which is so big that you can get lost in and with over 1200 shops, Lydia had a ball!! It also houses an aquarium and an underwater zoo. We walked through the glass tunnel (50 metres long) for a close up view of sharks, sting rays, and over 30,000 fish. We then took a glass bottom boat for a bird’s eye view of the aquarium before walking around the zoo which included water rats, penguins and other marine life. The Burj Kalifa (world’s tallest building) is also part of this complex and at 6pm we were booked to take the lift to the 124th floor for a breathtaking view of Dubai at night and also a birds eye view of the water-fountain show. What an AMAZING start to our short stay!

The following day was super and saw us taking a ½ day city tour which included photo opportunities at the Burj Al Arab (the hotel known as the sail) and the Jumeirah Mosque (the only mosque open to the public). Before heading and stopping at the Bastakia area to admire the old-wind towered houses (which were built by wealthy merchants). From here we visit the Al Fahidi Fort, a 200-year-old structure that houses the Dubai Museum, having time to have a quick look around before continuing our journey on a traditional Abra (Water Taxi), across the Creek to the bustling alleys the Gold and Spice Souks (Markets).

That afternoon we left behind the crowds and chaos of the city, and were escorted via 4x4’s on a thrilling journey - over towering sand dunes, and through to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, deep into the heart of the desert. This was super exciting and we were glad for the roll bars inside the vehicle to hold on to. Before arriving at camp where a majority of our evening took place we stopped off to see a falconry show watching how these amazing birds of prey operate but also the beauty of the desert at dusk. As the sun set over the dunes, lanterns came to life in the distance, lighting the way to our camp and signalling the start of our evening. Once inside the camp we enjoyed a traditional Arabian feast of barbecued meat, salads and sweets whilst seated ‘Bedouin-style’. During this time we were also able to experience aromatic water pipes (shisha), camel rides – oh my goodness ‘hold on tight and lean back’ otherwise you’ll fall off, sand art and henna designs (I got one of flowers on my foot; Steve is still deciding what design to get). To top the evening we were enchanted by a belly dancing show, before star gazing and the trip home – slightly less thrilling this time.
Thanks for being our blogging friends! xoxo

Posted by SteveandLydia 01:22 Comments (1)

Adventures in Paris

  • ***Please note: this blog takes place after the events of the previous one and in no way was effected by it

Upon arrival at the Eiffel Towers '58 Restaurant' (58 meter's high) we were escorted to our own private booth and greeted with glasses of champagne whilst making our selection of the three course menu and enjoying magnificent views of the city. We dined on chilled green asparagus soup; seared tiger prawn, avocado, soya and sesame dressing; Seared salmon fillet, carrots and green peas, white butter sauce; Oven roasted leg of lamb, Anna potatoes, artichoke, real jus and to top it off Profiterole with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce and Variation around the chocolate Jivara. It was the most divine meal we have both had our entire trip, the view and the company topped off a great evening!!!! To top our splendid evening we were also allowed to wander the first floor and take fabulous photos of the city by night.

The following day we had a relaxing time wandering hand in hand the left bank of the Seine River, shopping, visiting Notre Dame, enjoying a lovely lunch at a kerb side cafe, enjoying the sights and sounds of a true artistic Paris. We then headed via the metro (yes I know...) to the Eiffel Tower where we strolled up to Palais De Challot for some more glorious views of the Eiffel Tower and of course photo opportunities. We enjoyed a lovely dinner (our last in Europe) before taking a Bateaux Mouches along the Seine for an hour long night cruise. At the conclusion of this we watched the Eiffel Tower in all its glory as it put on a sparkly light show!

Today, we spent our day becoming art critics and visited the Louvre where we enjoyed coffees, lunch on the balcony and of course some art thrown in. Oh, yes we also popped by to say Hello to Mona Lisa, she sends her regards.

Enroute to Paris airport, bound for Dubai and finally home on Thursday!

Posted by SteveandLydia 08:57 Comments (1)

Lydia, "Oh No...."

Steve, "What?????" Lydia, "My earring just fell into the toilet, can you get it for me..." = Steve with toilet hand / Lydia with toilet earring and an empty bottle of detol!

  • ***Disclaimer: this piece of our blog is written laughing about the whole thing****

This topped off the start of our Parisian experience. It all began a few hours earlier... Our plan had been to head to the hotel in Paris and drop off our luggage before heading to the city outskirts to return our car. However, upon following our GPS's instructions we ended up stuck up a narrow one way road with a truck to the side, a van behind, another truck in front tooting coming towards us and finally a even bigger truck reversing up the same narrow road, taking out a steel bollard; with no room for any of us to turn and no one speaking the same language. This was already after we had nearly taken out the kerb, been continually tooted at, and had many a scooter nearly miss us needless to say by this point the air in the car was a bit blue...

The clock was still ticking, so we ditched the idea of taking our luggage and headed to the car drop off point, taking the "scenic route", of course. We arrived with minutes to spare, receiving a not welcome reception from the company - "Did we not know they close at 5pm", it 4.55pm at this point. From here we walked luggage in hand about 2kms to the metro, waited in line to buy our tickets, only to have our credit card declined (no, its not maxed out - yet!), then having to take out cash and rejoin the line, before figuring out how to get to where we needed to be; we set alarm off trying squeezing our luggage through the 'over-sized gap' illegally because our ticket wouldn't work (we later learned our ticket wasn't actually valid for that zone - oops)

We finally arrived at our hotel with our luggage three hours after we originally tried to. Don't think our story ends there, we had hour to refresh before navigating the metro again, this time heading to the Eiffel Tower for dinner. Whilst getting ready the earring incident happened and then another metro incident, this time it was easy. Two trains (with tickets in the right zone); first train - success / second train - fail!!!!! After two stops the train stops, for no reason and doesn't continue (for another couple on the train - they had been back and forth 3 times on the same line, thinking the train was faulty), however, we had to change trains and continue.. running the whole time so we would make it to reservation. Once at the Tower there was confusion with our booking as the concierge had let another couple (thinking they were us - turns out they were booked for the 28/10 not 28/9), this was quickly rectified and we were upgraded- woo hoo!!!

Posted by SteveandLydia 08:24 Comments (2)

Wine Tasting & City Tours

Another blog so soon – I hear you say… Well its cause we got a bit behind, enjoying ourselves too much and not having time to tell you all about it.

After a short drive leaving Spain behind us we arrived in Bordeaux staying in another Bed and Breakfast, where with our hosts limited English and our limited French as well as our superb sign language skills we managed to get by for the following 2 nights. Our first afternoon was spent navigating the city to find parking, only once thinking we were a bus when clearly we are not and only once visiting a street the wrong way with not too much tooting from those coming towards us…. Argh! We then visited the world’s longest pedestrian only shopping strip (1.2kms) slowly checking out all the shops etc… As you can imagine this took us a while, so we left exploring the rest of the city for the following morning, where we took another touristic train (yes, we do like these) to see the main city sites. This was a train with a twist though as it was pouring with rain and it had a roof but not the top half of the sides… so we got a little wet! Our afternoon was spent visiting Chateau Troplong Mondot and Chateau de Le Riviere for tours of their vineyards, a cooking class – learning to make Canele (a local cake) and of course wine tasting. Finally on our way back to Bordeaux we visited the village of St Emilin for a brief look around. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, even picking up a set of Canele tins so we can make upon our return. No bottles of wine bought though as we don’t have space – whoops!

Heading across France to the town of Lyon was not much fun as it poured with rain the whole time and made navigating even more fun. Steve did a FANTASTIC job, I’m sure I helped a little bit, maybe. Due to the weather and having completed a full days driving we decided not to venture into Lyon to wrestle with parking and find dinner. We thought the easiest solution was to go somewhere local for a meal, easier said than done, no where French in sight we ended up with French Thai food with a waiter who had little English. With the rain clearing the following morning we braved the parking in town and spent a little over an hour finding the tourist centre as we walked around and around and around in circles following the signs but not finding the building. Due to limited time, another Hop-on- hop-off bus with the thing to do, taking it first the whole way round without stopping to get a view of the city then a second time to get off and look at a few sights. When we wanted to get off however, it rained so we made another circuit to get our jackets then continued again for round three. This time making it off at the stop we wanted for fabulous panoramic city views and a visit to the graveyard.

Spent last night trying to wrangle everything into our bags (previously it was spread through the car) as today we are driving to Paris and droppin off, Au Revoir Car.

Posted by SteveandLydia 01:46 Comments (1)

Sweaty Flamenco Dancers & Other Fun Things

Whilst enroute to Le Rozier (where we left you last) we stopped by Milau to see this very impressive bridge that spans the across the whole town and measures kilometres. After taking lots of photos we continued to Le Rozier to spend the night in a quaint French village in the hills. The following morning we were headed for Spain!

Whilst our stay in Spain was only short (5 days) we tried to cram as much as we could into them – 2 cities on opposite sides of the country. We started off in Barcelona were our bed and breakfast could only be called basic (extremely basic), we were sharing a bathroom with the owner, her daughter and on one night 6 other guests – imagine the queue! On our first full day we took the west route of the hop-on-hop-off city tour bus, taking in the sights of Placa Catalunya, Gothic quarter, Passeig Colom, World Trade Centre, Jardins Miramar, Fundacio Miro, Anella Olypmica, MNAC, Poble Espanyol, Caixa Forum, Placa Espanya, Estacio de Sants, Camp Nou, Placa Ppus XII, Illa Diagonal, Avinguda Diagonal, La Pedrera, Casa Batllo. This was great as it gave us the opportunity to see all the sights and to get off at those which we wanted to explore more as well as have the commentary about them all at the same time. Our second day saw us taking the east route of the bus and seeing Port Vell, Historic Museum, Barcelonetta, Port Olympic, Platja del Bogatell, Nova Mar Bella, Forum, Torre Agbar, Sagrada Familia, Hospital Santa Creu, Parc Guell, Tibidabo. Our favourites were the Sagrada Familia an amazing Gothic style church which is still being completed today to the original drawings; Tibidabo where we took the funicular (cable car) to the top to see amazing panoramic views of the WHOLE city and Barcelonetta where we spent the morning at the beach, a bit too cold to swim thou. To top off our stay in Barcelona we decided to attend a Mediterranean style dinner and Flamenco Show. That was an experience, we were in the front row which meant we were privileged enough to share beads of sweat with the dancers and unfortunate enough to notice that the only male dancers fly was down the whole time.

We drove across to San Sebastian (only 5 ½ hours away) a resort style town where the San Sebastian Film Festival was happening – we only just missed out on seeing John Travolta, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon arrive! The remainder of our afternoon / evening was spent exploring the old pedestrian only part of town taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying an Italian Gelato – oops wrong country! The next morning after a lovely breakfast of pancakes – a HUGE contrast to our last place, we were off! Taking the small tourist train around to see the main sights before taking a romantic walk along the ‘Royal Beach’ and promenade. We visited some interesting steel pieces of ‘art’ at the end of the promenade before taking another funicular (see definition above) to the top. We are disappointed that back home at the top of our mountains we do not have theme parks as this seems to be the in thing here. After sharing paella (a Spanish rice dish) we visited the local Aquarium as the weather decided to pack it in . Unfortunately this concluded our stay in Spain as tomorrow we were headed for Bordeaux.

Posted by SteveandLydia 13:10 Comments (1)

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