Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Archive for April, 2017

Dubai – out and about

I read in a brochure about the Ras Al Khor Nature Sanctuary where you could see large flocks of Flamingos, we found the place on the map but that was the only place. One of the crew working at breakfast was exceptionally helpful and explained how to get there by public transport but I’d already asked the concierge about it and he was very keen to get us a taxi,   After our last experience with the condescending VIP one (Black car, all black clothes including cap and tie – she matched the car to a “T”) we were a little reluctant but the concierge was convincing. He called up a cab and we got in then the concierge and the driver made every attempt to find out how to get to the sanctuary. The concierge managed to get a phone number for the driver so we set off, the driver with the phone number on a piece of paper clamped between his teeth. He tried to contact someone at the sanctuary but they weren’t answering. While driving he was also typing info into his GPS, then talking to someone else on the phone, presumably HQ, about the sanctuary. W-I-L no, no, L, L for Lima, D , no D for Dad, no, D, yes, yes, yes D for Dubai, F, no F for father. Eventually we decided it just wasn’t working out so we thanked the driver, gave him some dirham and got out.

We went to the Spice Souk, the Gold Souk and then the Fish Market where we were offered whole, big Tuna and Yellow Fin rather than Pashminas and copy watches. I needed a rest then because it was hot walking so we went to our favourite eating place, The Bayt Al Wakeel, where I had another fruit and icecream dish while Alex had a “Hangover Cure”, a delicious drink made from pulped fesh fruit. We walked back to the hotel through the backstreets avoiding as many “nice moustache” traders as possible and calling in at a very convenient little store on the way. We bought some flatbread and a bottle of juice to have in our room. Not a wildlife sanctuary but a cool, peaceful one.

Our flight leaves at 2:05am!

 

 

Dubai

We were very lucky and Alex managed to get us better plane seats but I think we’re just not good travellers so we arrived feeling exhausted. If we come back to Dubai again we won’t allow the airport staff to choose our taxi for us, again we were directed to a VIP “taxi” which is annoying when we’d be perfectly happy in a normal one instead of paying the extra for a flash black car.

This time we’re staying in the Carlton Towers Hotel and we dropped on the bed and slept for about 2 hours as soon as we got into our room.

For lunch we went back to a restaurant which sits over the creek, it was very busy, mostly tourists with just a few locals. A beautiful lady came around trying to convince people to have henna tattoos, she had sheets of designs but no one took her up on it.

Alex felt hounded again going through the souk but there was no other way to get from the water taxi to the restaurant – and back. The vendors were calling out to, “moustache” again and Alex wished he’d shaved before leaving Glasgow, he thought they remembered him but I think they’re just skilled salesmen saying anything to get you to focus on them.

All around us are so many wonderful sights but I decided this time I’d focus on the human faces of Dubai but there is a snag. My camera battery is only lasting for about 10 shots from a “full charge”, I’ll post this now while I have a connection but will try to add some photos later tonight.

OK, here is what I managed to snap today. I like to capture people just being themselves.

Faces of Dubai

Inverness to Glasgow

Well, the holiday is nearly over, we said our goodbyes 😦 and set off down the road. As we drove through Drumochter Pass we were both remembering the journey in the winter of 2010 when we stayed in the wake of a big lorry which was creating a break in the driving snow. Frozen waterfalls lined the road. Today it was dry and sunny as we came through. Our first stop was Pitlochry, a lovely old town made even better by the locals’ conversations going on around us in the Heelin’ Cafe.

Driving down the main north/south road was very different from our journey north just a few weeks ago when we took the scenic route. We stopped to see, “The Kelpies” at Grangemouth which is a very industrial city but resurrecting some areas for relaxed recreation. The park area is near the Forth and Clyde Canal with nice walking tracks around some wetlands. After seeing The Kelpies we went on to try and find the “Falkirk Wheel”, unlike our last foray this time we were lucky and no roads blocked our way. We arrived in time to get on a boat which goes up on the amazing structure, the only one of its kind in the world. You’ll be able to find all the information about it via Mr Google, this tablet won’t let me create a link. I now know what it feels like to be in an Infinity Pool though this one was larger than most!

I’m having big trouble getting online to post!!!!

In Search of a Castle

Some people are fascinated with castles so we thought before we leave Inverness we should get a photo of one with turrets. Castle Stewart seemed ideal so we set off to find it and we did, the problem was it’s privately owned, the gates were shut and we couldn’t get a good view of it. We drove to Castle Stewart Golf Course thinking we might get more than a glimpse from there and besides it would give The Golfer a chance to see what it was like. He liked what he saw but the castle view wasn’t gratifying.

Cawdor Castle seemed like a good idea but when we arrived there a sign said it was closed from October to April and there was no clear view of it from the road. The next castle was only a mile or two from there so we went in search of that. Although a B&B operates from it the only hint of it’s whereabouts, after we left the main road, were two imposing gate posts. Kilravock Castle is nowhere near as imposing as the other two but at least we could get close. There is an Arboretum and the oldest tree there is a Sweet Chestnut believed to be about 370 years old but there were many very impressive trees in the grounds. The best thing about going there was seeing a Red Squirrel fossicking about in the leaves and racing up trees and posts, it was tiny.

Our search for a castle to photograph ended there.

 

Inverness and round about

We didn’t venture far today but did take a futile drive to Ardullie Point to look for seals. Now we’ve checked out the tide times and hopefully will have better luck tomorrow, our last day in these parts.

As usual, click on any image to go to a slideshow and see the captions.

Broomhill via Boat of Garten

On our way to visit family in Aviemore we diverged to see the Steamranger call into the Broomhill Station. For anyone familiar with the TV series, “Monarch of the Glen” this is the station filmed throughout the series as,”Glenbogle”. There were a few “Puff Puff Buffs” waiting there when we arrived but since we had time we walked down to see a manger in a field. One sheep was calling persistently and it was clear that if we had the time to stay around we’d see a lamb born. ( I would anyway)

We heard a loud whistle and very soon the train came under the bridge. It’s always nice to see a lovely old machine working and in great condition. It went through the station and along the track to a passing place where the engine was disconnected then it came back on the second bit of track before being connected to the back carriage. That meant the engine was now in reverse pulling the carriages back through the station to Boat of Garten then on to Aviemore.

We drove to Aviemore and while we were there we went to see our old house then went to see the developments that have taken place at what was Dalfaber Farm in the 1970s.

 

Cairngorms and Boat of Garten

Sun, snow, hail and wind – we had them all today but none for very long. The sun was shining when we set out for Aviemore and the Cairngorms and the temperature slowly rose ….5 deg, 6 deg, 7 deg then we went up the hill and the temperature went down again. We went to Coire Na Ciste where the chairlift used to start but the building looked very neglected and the chairs seemed to be in poor condition so we think the lift no longer operates at all.

The whole area is far more tightly controlled than it was in the 1970s, you get a pass to walk up the hill now or, instead of chilling out on a chairlift, you can ride to the top in an enclosed car of the Furnicular Railway. For those without the special walkers pass there is no access to the slopes only to an open viewing area. There are detailed, informative displays, shops, cafe, bar and restaurant. There used to be a lodge where skiers could be comfortable while eating their own supplies but that seems to have been converted into a Souvenir shop and Ski Hire. There is a lodge for disabled skiers which wasn’t there in the 70s.

The area looked wonderful with snow dusted in some areas and deep in others. Mikel Utsi and his wife Dr. Ethel Lindgren introduced reindeer into the Cairngorms in 1952 and we’ve seen some of them before. I hoped we’d see some today but there was no sign of any so we decided to stop at the Reindeer Centre on the way back to Aviemore. The Centre would be a great place for kids to visit with “Elf Cabins” and a post box for letters to Father Christmas etc.

Before heading back to Inverness we went to check out the Ospreys at Boat of Graten but first we had to warm up with some hot soup at “The Winking Owl” an old haunt in the long ago. Tomato and Chilli with crusty bread, perfect!