A Travellerspoint blog

Dubai to Yenda one last hicup

sunny 20 °C

Tuesday 26 / Wed 27th July 2011
Travelling Home
Pretty boring day to finish off really, up early for breakfast and repack the bags. The taxi driver this time had no English so it was a much more sedate and quiet trip to the airport compared to the trip in yesterday. Not much traffic this early so we were there in plenty of time, just as well as we had to do a Self Check-in, which issued a boarding pass, then we had to go to the baggage drop off which was just like a normal check-in except we already had our boarding passes.
Through immigration and Sue is pleased to see 3 new stamps in her passport, and we have plenty of time to browse the vast Duty Free shopping area, the majority being grog / smokes and gold.
By 9.30am we are ready to board and the plane is one of the new big Airbus A380, terrific until we find out our seats are in the very last row of the whole plane. Almost needed a packed lunch just on the walk down there. It was pretty good not having anyone behind so we could recline our chairs any time although the vacant area was a popular meeting place and we overheard a couple of blokes trying some serious chatting up of girls waiting for the loo. Plenty of leg room and comfy seats and the temperature was OK, food was fine, so all in all an excellent trip (given 13 hours flying time).
Got into Sydney bang on 6am (Wed morning as we had crossed the date
line) when they lift the airport curfew and after a quick walk through immigration, our bags came out early so we then lined up to have our bags sniffed by the Customs Dog, no joy for him with us, so we were outside in no time.
Thinking there was a faint chance of a seat on the early Griffith flight we got on the shuttle bus over to Domestic terminal only to be told that the flight was full, otherwise we could have got on. We later found out that it was delayed an hour or so anyway due to fog in Griffith.
After rearranging our suitcases again but still having to pay excess baggage because they even weigh the carry on bags, we checked in our suitcases, went through security, hopefully for the final time and settled in for the long wait until 2pm for our scheduled flight.
Scheduled boarding time came and went and finally boarded over 20 mins late, an omen of what was to come.
Smooth flight, landing at Narrandera where we were supposed to stop for 10 mins. After 20 mins and lots of discussion between crew and ground staff, the pilot comes on board and announces that the plane will be full from Narrandera and there is too much weight for landing at Griffith. So after taking all the suitcases off the plane and having them scattered on the tarmac, they selected all the bigger bags to remain behind and to be delivered to Griffith at a later time. Of course our cases were 2 selected to be left behind. Reloaded the remaining cases, loaded the new passengers and 30 mins late, we take off for the 15 min flight to Griffith where no-one seemed to quite be sure about our bags, maybe they will arrive on the next flight or via road, they suggested we ring at 8pm, but that didn't give us time to drive in to collect them. In the end we drove in at 8 and sure enough the bags were there and all ended up well, if a little disorganised.
Carted our bags all over Europe with no disruption and it the last leg to Griffith that we run into trouble, pretty lucky I suppose.
Anyway home at last and some serious unpacking to do and lots of stories to reflect on.

Posted by Susan23611 01:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Dubai, hot and hotter, except in the mall

sunny 40 °C

Monday 25th July
Dubai, Hot and Hotter
Crowne Plaza

Crowne Plaza


Arrived Dubai 6am and we were given plenty of time to admire the vast shiny, bright airport while we walked a few hundred metres to Arrivals, about 20 minute wait at immigration and about 2 lots of security screening, very secure we felt it must be. The immigration official had not so much as cracked a smile the whole time we were in queue and then quite suddenly after handing over our passports, this chap asked where we had been and how long we were to stay in Dubai and with a big grin said that he hoped we have a nice visit, goodbye, all in Italian! After all this time our suitcases were about the only ones left, circulating very lonely on the baggage carousel. Then through more security and next thing we were outside into the heat. What a shock that was!
We had agreed that the flight from Rome was one of the coldest we had been on, everyone had used their blankets and even asked for more, not sure why it was so chilly. Then going from the cool airport and walking outside into 36 degrees C at 7am. Pretty quickly we were in a cool taxi, speeding to our hotel, getting a running commentary from our English speaking driver, ranging from the weather, to where to visit, to the incompetent other drivers, standard taxi talk, the world over.
Only about 20mins to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza Deira, a very flash place, right up to our standard (the low, special price that is). Very nice of them to let us check in at that time of the morning so we made the most of it with a quick shower and a snooze (in the bed which was probably a King King size, HUGE) till 10am, ready to see the sights.
The hotel tour guide suggested a full day and night of guide tours, all could be arranged at short notice and was obviously disappointed when we asked for a map and where we could walk to. No map available but directions to a nearby shopping mall about 300m down our street. So off we went, realising pretty soon why there were so few people on the street, they had all melted! Got to the mall and had morning tea and agreed that sightseeing today was not on, lets find our way to the massive Dubai Mall and stay cool. However, apart from taking a taxi, the best way was walk to the Metro train station and take the Metro. The station was about 1km so we were a bit sun struck by the time we arrived and then even more amazed when we went inside.
Not only was the station big, bright, shiny and new but as we were looking at the map a Metro staff person came over, gave us directions and even took us to the ticket office and told them which station we needed tickets to. We later realised that almost everyone involved in people (tourists) can speak very good English and getting around is no problem at all. The Metro trains are also brand new, clean and cool, a far cry from some of the trains in Rome. There are fines in Dubai for eating or drinking on the trains.
Off the train a few minutes later onto an awaiting bus to take us to the mall, a 10 min ride, giving us a good view of some of the skyscrapers and the massive building projects underway in this district. 
P1020635

P1020635

Tallest building

Tallest building

.Downtown Dubai

.Downtown Dubai


Entering the mall is like walking into a whole new world and we easily filled in a few hours walking around admiring the internal attractions. As well as the normal shops there is a massive Aquarium, a full size Ice Skating rink, waterfalls, special shops for buying gold and countless other ways to spend your money. You can even hire an electric cart, with driver to ferry you around to your favourite stores. Apart from lunch I am afraid the little money we spent would not have even covered the cost of air conditioning, however I suppose they don't rely on tourists like us.
Aquarium in Dubai Mall

Aquarium in Dubai Mall

WAter feature in Dubai mall

WAter feature in Dubai mall

Camel display in Dubai Mall

Camel display in Dubai Mall


Enough of walking about aimlessly we decided to return to our hotel, so seeing the bus outside the mall we made a quick dash, the driver kept the door open just long enough for us to get in. Swiped our ticket and beauty, there were 2 seats free up the front as it was busy down the back, so we sat in those 2, no problem, the bus takes off. After a little while Peter was looking around and noticed a small but quite distinct sign on the windows near where we are sitting "this area for women and families only" and he sees a barrier just back behind our seats. Oh dear, Peter is in the ladies only section, what is the penalty for this offence? Without a moments hesitation he dives under the barrier and grabs a seat in the correct section and spends the rest of the trip waiting for the bus police, but none arrived and I think exception was made for dumb western tourist.
Once back at the hotel we made a bee line for the outdoor pool, located on the top floor. As expected it was quite warm in but refreshing none the less.
Dinner was a modest affair, taken in one of the hotel restaurants, mostly because they also served alcohol although this didn't help Sue who was served Soda after discussing with and ordering Cider with the waitress.
Took an evening stroll up to the mall, it was not much cooler out but more people were out and about, especially in the cool of the mall. While walking along we could hear the calling from the Mosques and it was incredible how you can hear  the echoes all over the city. The main reason to go to the mall was to use the free WiFi at the coffee shop, it seems the better the hotel or more business oriented it is, the more they want to charge for WiFi and on our cheapskate room rate, there was no way they would supply it for free, even for 1/2 hour. Anyway got coffee and WiFi and returned for an early night, as a late evening river cruise did not really appeal to us in this heat. Obviously July is not one of the prime tourist months precisely for this reason. Would be nice to return to Dubai during a cooler time and have a much better look around. However it did serve a nice purpose of breaking the long trip home.

Posted by Susan23611 16:43 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Roma, our final look

sunny 29 °C

Sunday 24th July 2011
Rome, a final look about.
No plans for the day as we were over more train trips, so day trips from Rome were abandoned early and substituted for "see what happens". Checked out of the hotel but left our suitcases to pick up later. Took the metro into the old city area and found ourselves at the Porto Portese markets which were a real surprise, expecting a market selling cheap clothes, watches and fake handbags but no it was a real market with some unique looking people selling some pretty unique stuff, mostly second hand and a smattering of cheap watches. There were some very antique looking furniture, old wares, old telephones, old radios, old photos, looked like some real treasures and some absolute junk, whatever your perspective. Of course it was packed, with narrow alleyways between the rows of stalls and having to constantly push past people. We did negotiate the purchase of an older but fine looking coffee percolator. Once that was done and we had walked a couple of more alleys, time to get  away and find a less crowded spot. Found a quieter little park next to a fountain where we were entertained by an old disheveled chap who was slowly filling a couple of drink bottles from the fountain and then attempting to water the patchy and weak little lawn areas.

Having lunch

Having lunch


Trastevere

Trastevere

Church on Janiculum Hill

Church on Janiculum Hill

View from Janiculum Hill

View from Janiculum Hill

Via Garibaldi Trastevere

Via Garibaldi Trastevere

Santa Maria Church Trastevere

Santa Maria Church Trastevere


We wandered around the narrow streets, up to a church overlooking the old town area, then took a tram, a train and 2 Metros until we were back at the Borghese Gardens.
Quite busy there with lots of people hiring bikes, roller skates, tandem bikes, electric carts or segways to explore the massive garden complex that overlooks Rome.
We enjoyed our first Gelati since arriving in Italy, OK but not so much different to the ones at home, just the setting is so very spectacular.Our first gelati

Our first gelati


Relaxed there for a while before wandering back to our now familiar bus stop outside Burger King and waiting for our 495 bus. Being Sun afternoon, not many people on board so it wasnt long before we were back at the apartments to get our stuff. Had a coffee and organised our stuff and soon enough it was time to go to the airport. As our suitcases were very full by now, and we had not really spent too much money on fine dining and so on, we decided to indulge in luxury sedan, from the apartment direct to the airport. Actually by the time we factored in 2 lots of Metro tickets and 2 lots of train tickets, and the lugging of suitcases all around the train stations, it was not much dearer to take the Limosine.
So smooth as you like, were efficiently delivered to the airport in plenty of time, in time to get into queues for check in, for security, for immigration (the official barely look at us or our passports before waving us through). 
Sue was especially disappointed that she has been in 6 European countries and only had her passport stamped once, and that was when we entered Netherlands.
Strolled around the duty free shops for a while, took the shuttle train out to the departure gate and settled in to wait for the 10pm flight out, which left about 25 mins late but no drama. Sat back and let the 6 hour flight to Dubai happen, although Sue tucked into her meal when it arrived with so much gusto, i had to shield mine from her wandering gaze.

Posted by Susan23611 16:31 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Roma, our final look

sunny 29 °C

Sunday 24th July 2011
Rome, a final look about.
No plans for the day as we were over more train trips, so day trips from Rome were abandoned early and substituted for "see what happens". Checked out of the hotel but left our suitcases to pick up later. Took the metro into the old city area and found ourselves at the Porto Portese markets which were a real surprise, expecting a market selling cheap clothes, watches and fake handbags but no it was a real market with some unique looking people selling some pretty unique stuff, mostly second hand and a smattering of cheap watches. There were some very antique looking furniture, old wares, old telephones, old radios, old photos, looked like some real treasures and some absolute junk, whatever your perspective. Of course it was packed, with narrow alleyways between the rows of stalls and having to constantly push past people. We did negotiate the purchase of an older but fine looking coffee percolator. Once that was done and we had walked a couple of more alleys, time to get  away and find a less crowded spot. Found a quieter little park next to a fountain where we were entertained by an old disheveled chap who was slowly filling a couple of drink bottles from the fountain and then attempting to water the patchy and weak little lawn areas. We wandered around the narrow streets, up to a church overlooking the old town area, then took a tram, a train and 2 Metros until we were back at the Borghese Gardens.
Quite busy there with lots of people hiring bikes, roller skates, tandem bikes, electric carts or segways to explore the massive garden complex that overlooks Rome.
We enjoyed our first Gelati since arriving in Italy, OK but not so much different to the ones at home, just the setting is so very spectacular.
Relaxed there for a while before wandering back to our now familiar bus stop outside Burger King and waiting for our 495 bus. Being Sun afternoon, not many people on board so it wasnt long before we were back at the apartments to get our stuff. Had a coffee and organised our stuff and soon enough it was time to go to the airport. As our suitcases were very full by now, and we had not really spent too much money on fine dining and so on, we decided to indulge in luxury sedan, from the apartment direct to the airport. Actually by the time we factored in 2 lots of Metro tickets and 2 lots of train tickets, and the lugging of suitcases all around the train stations, it was not much dearer to take the Limosine.
So smooth as you like, were efficiently delivered to the airport in plenty of time, in time to get into queues for check in, for security, for immigration (the official barely look at us or our passports before waving us through). 
Sue was especially disappointed that she has been in 6 European countries and only had her passport stamped once, and that was when we entered Netherlands.
Strolled around the duty free shops for a while, took the shuttle train out to the departure gate and settled in to wait for the 10pm flight out, which left about 25 mins late but no drama. Sat back and let the 6 hour flight to Dubai happen, although Sue tucked into her meal when it arrived with so much gusto, i had to shield mine from her wandering gaze.

Posted by Susan23611 16:31 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Goodbye Positano, we return to Roma

rain 28 °C

Saturday 23rd July 2011
Ciao Positano ritorniamo a Roma. 
Goodbye Positano,we return to Roma.

Rainy start to the day,not a problem we were returning to Rome today,so no morning coffee on the terrace, it was indoors but we still had a lovely vista of the sea. Breakfast completed,bags packed last check of the apartment,settled our account and bid our goodbyes to Paul and Lucia.
We walked up to the top of the street and caught the Interno Positano bus which gave us our last spin around the town. Dropped at the Sita Fermata,bought our One Way tickets at the Bar Internationalzione (no scams today) and sat on the concrete ledge street side waiting for the Sorrento bus. Whilst the wait was 1/2 hour we were entertained by 2 female traffic police on foot directing the traffic by communicating either by; blowing their whistle,hand gestures,using a small lollipop stick or facial expressions. As onlookers it made no sense to us, but the traffic flowed in an orderly manner. We knew when motorists did the wrong thing by the officer's facial expressions or a quick note in their book. Occasionally they stopped in the middle of the street to chat to the locals with Nonnas enjoying a lengthy chat oblivious to the organize chaos around.
Traffic police

Traffic police

Traffic Police

Traffic Police


10.30am our bus arrived and we had front row seats. We experienced 1st hand each blind corner,hairpin bend and how close the bus regularly came the edge a quick drop to the bottom. The driver took the opportunity to make a phone call whilst managing all this. It seems these bus drivers are multi skilled and whilst it is a little unsettling to see this for the first time,this is an daily occurrence here.
Reaching Sorrento we thanked the driver and stood in line at  the train station to buy tickets to Napoli.No hassles this time,jumped on the already crowded,standing room only. The journey took 1 hour it was all stops to Napoli.Having only 1.5 hour wait there was no time to go into Napoli ,so our taste of Napoli is only from the train station. Whilst Napoli is experiencing a 'garbage worker' strike and so the city is drowning in rubbish,there were motorized sweepers at the station keeping the place tidy.
We boarded our train and like Wednesday it was full lucky for us we got on early. No passenger antics to entertain us we took the opportunity to have a siesta. Before we knew it we were on the Metro traveling back to our apartment.
Sam and Kate we were there to greet us and were keen to hear of our time in Positano and any adventures that no other guest seem to have. Back in our original apartment of night 1&2 quickly unpacked,dinner and drinks out tonight cause the pantry and liquor cabinet are bare! The local pizzeria was recommended as good meals at a fair price and when it arrived there was enough food for 6 people, beer and wine for €35 cheap for Rome. We actually appreciated the walk back to the apartment to settle some of the food.

Posted by Susan23611 10:01 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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