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My travels to UAE and Oman in 2015 – part 1

I am back from my six days visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I was able to do some sightseeing and cross over the border to Oman for scuba diving.

In summary, I spent two full days in Oman and three full days in the UAE sightseeing and shopping.

It was hot at this time of the year. The temperature was 39 degrees Celsius whilst the sea temperature was 29 degrees Celsius.

My hotel was in the old part of Dubai known as Deira and was near to Dubai Creek.

Dubai itself is a city famous for its modern architecture and luxury shopping malls. The city has expanded at an enormous rate over the last few decades and the population now stands at 2.5 million (mostly expats and immigrants). In the 1950s the population was 20,000 people. With the discovery of oil, the city rapidly expanded and it wealth has led to ultramodern projects such as the Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago project. Many of the construction projects in Dubai are now on hold due the 2008 banking crisies and the current decline in oil prices.

When I arrived, my first sightseeing was to Dubai Marina. This is a residential district of Dubai where many westerners expats live.

Dubai Marina is a residential district.

Dubai Marina is a residential district.

Many of the skyscapers here are residential blocks.

The skyscrapers of Dubai Marina.

The skyscrapers of Dubai Marina.

Having known many expats living here over the years, a lot of these residential towers were built by dubious developers and many expats have lost their investments to these crooks. That is typical of how things are done in Dubai. So becareful if you are considering investing here.

The Torch Tower had a twenty storey fire last February. At the time of construction I had spoken to many expats who purchased off plan into this tower and many expressed concerns about the poor construction of the tower including lack of fire protection coatings. Their concerns proven to be correct.

Me posing next to the residential skyscrapers.

Me posing next to the residential skyscrapers.

All over the marina, new towers are still being built.

Construction is still ongoing.

Construction is still ongoing.

I took a small RIB boat from the Marina to visit the artificial archipelagos.

Dubai Marina can accommodate 120,000 people.

Dubai Marina can accommodate 120,000 people.

Taking the boat out, I saw the Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago project and also the Burj Al Arab hotel. The hotel was opened in 1999 and it is a symbol of modern Dubai.

The Burj Al Arab hotel is the world's only 7 star hotel.

The Burj Al Arab hotel is the world’s only 7 star hotel.

This hotel is the world’s only 7 star hotel. Living on my £145 per month army pension, I was not able to afford to stay here for my holiday.

This is the fourth tallest hotel in the world.

This is the fourth tallest hotel in the world.

With gold plated toilets and personal butlers to chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce services, this hotel has been repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel.

The distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of Burj Al Arab hotel.

The distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of Burj Al Arab hotel.

From the marina, I had to cross the famous Sheikh Zayed Road to get to the metro station.

The traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road.

The traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road.

I took the metro back to the old city.

The metro with the Burj Khalifa tower in the background.

The metro with the Burj Khalifa tower in the background.

Whilst on the metro, I passed the Burj Khalifa tower. This is the tallest tower in the world, standing at 829.8 m (2,722 ft) tall. The building gained the official title of “Tallest Building in the World” at its opening on January 4th, 2010.

The world's tallest building.

The world’s tallest building.

Arriving in the old city of Dubai, I first went to see the Creek.

The old port of Dubai Creek.

The old port of Dubai Creek.

Dubai Creek is the old part of the city and was originlly a small port for numberous dhows that traded with East Africa and India. It is still used for trade using the traditional dhows.

Me posing next to one of the dhows.

Me posing next to one of the dhows.

A short walk later, I came to the Al Fahidi fort.

The fort is now a museum.

The fort is now a museum.

The fort was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. It is now a museum and is 3 AED (£0.60) to get in.

The courtyard of Al Fahidi Fort.

The courtyard of Al Fahidi fort.

After my sightseeing, I went to do some late night shopping.

The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area. Opened in 2009, it has over 1200 stores.

The shopping mall's interior.

The shopping mall’s interior.

In March this year, more than a hundred foreign labourers protested in front of Dubai Mall due to overtime wages not being paid. Despite all the ultraluxury developments in Dubai, there is a lot of poor pay within the city.

The fashion avenue of the mall.

The fashion avenue of the mall.

The Mall comes with a interior aquarium so that shoppers can stare at the fish whilst shopping.

Window shopping was never like this!

Window shopping was never like this!

The Mall of the Emirates has over 700 stores and a ski slope! The Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park.

This shopping mall has a ski slope!

This shopping mall has a ski slope!

After buying my sexy gal a sexy skirt and several dresses, I headed back to my faulty air conditioning hotel room.

The next day I was going to visit Al Ain, the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To be continued….

For more information about the UAE and Dubai please visit:

www.uaetourism.ae

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My travels to Turkey in 2015 – part 1

I am back from my two week holiday in Turkey.

I was staying in a self-catering appartment in Göcek near to the tourist resort of Fethiye. By staying in Göcek I was away from the tacky all day English breakfast cafes and Sky Sports TV bars that is awash with sunburnt rowdy English louts who are on their tenth pint of beer by midday.

A map of the part of Turkey I was travelling around.

A map of the part of Turkey that I was travelling around.

Göcek is a small town in Fethiye district in Muğla Province, Turkey. It was named “Kalimche” in ancient times, and is located near to Dalyan and Caunos in ancient times.

The town mosque with the butchers on the corner.

The town mosque with the butchers on the corner.

The town itself has many marinas and is popular as a destination for yachting.

One of the marinas in Göcek.

One of the marinas in Göcek.

My appartment had an swimming pool that I was able to relax at.

Topping up my sexy cotton fur tan!

Topping up my sexy cotton fur tan!

For my first day of sightseeing I was going to visit Fethiye marina and also see the Lycian rock tombs.

A boat passes the front of the marina.

A boat passes the front of the marina.

It was good to take a walk along the marina.

Walking around the marina.

Walking around the marina.

Many boats here can be chartered here for daytrips to the islands.

Traditional fishing boats as well as super yachts.

Traditional fishing boats as well as super yachts.

In the marina I saw two turtles.

A turtle swims under a boat.

A turtle swims under a boat.

Turtles are common on this part of the Turkish coastline.

A second turtle appeared.

A second turtle appeared.

The historic region of Lycia was a geopolitical region in the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey.

The ancient Lycian Rock Tombs.

The ancient Lycian Rock Tombs.

The landscape of this region is scattered with over 1400 rock tombs. The tombs date back to the 4th century.

I was enjoying my sightseeing.

I was enjoying my sightseeing.

The Lycians believed that their dead were carried to the afterlife by magic winged creatures and thus they placed their honored dead in geographically high places such as the cliffside.

Ancient burial tombs.

Ancient burial tombs.

The fee to enter the tombs is 5 TL (approx. £1.25).

Steps led up to the tombs.

Steps led up to the tombs.

Getting to the tombs from the marina is easy as the tombs are easily visable from the marina. Just keep walking uphill to get to them.

I got up the steps to the top.

I got up the steps to the top.

From the top, the whole of Fethyie can be viewed.

I need water after this climb!

I need water after this climb!

Within the area of the tombs were wild tortoises.

A wild tortoise.

A wild tortoise.

They were a common sight.

I was able to get close up photographs.

I was able to get close up photographs.

After visiting the tombs I made my way back to my appartment for some serious sunbathing with a very sexy gal at the pool.

To be continued….

For more information about Turkey please visit:

www.goturkey.com


My travels to Greece in 2014 – part 2

Today I was going to visit the Acropolis of Athens, a World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO.

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a high rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

Acropolis of Athens is a World Heritage Site.

Acropolis of Athens is a World Heritage Site.

While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495 – 429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site’s most important buildings including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike.

I was taking in the sites.

I was taking in the sites.

It cost 12 Euros to visit all six sites of the Acropolis of Athens and the ancient Agora.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site ticked off on my bucket list.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site ticked off on my bucket list.

The slopes of the Acropolis has many statues and monuments.

This poor fellow lost his arms.

This poor fellow lost his arms.

The theatre of Dionysus is at the base of the Acropolis and it was used for festivals in honor of the god Dionysus. It has seating for 17,000 spectators.

The Theatre of Dionysus is an open-air theatre and one of the earliest preserved in Athens.

The Theatre of Dionysus is an open-air theatre and one of the earliest preserved in Athens.

The Parthenon is a former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron.

The Parthenon is a former temple.

The Parthenon is a former temple.

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens in Greece which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis.

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis.

On the north side, there is another large porch with six Ionic columns, and on the south, the famous “Porch of the Maidens”, with six draped female figures (caryatids) as supporting columns.

In 1801 one of the caryatids and the north column of the east porch together with the overlying section of the entablature were removed by Lord Elgin in order to decorate his Scottish mansion, and were later sold to the British Museum (along with the pedimental and frieze sculpture taken from the Parthenon). The new Acropolis Museum holds the other five figures, which are replaced onsite by replicas.

The Erechtheion is a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

The Erechtheion is a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

From atop I could see all across Athens including the ancient Agora down below.

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

The ancient Agora was the central spot in ancient Athens. The Temple of Hephaestus is located at the north-west side of the Agora.

The Temple of Hephaestus is a well-preserved Greek temple.

The Temple of Hephaestus is a well-preserved Greek temple.

The ancient Agora has a small museum.

This statue was proudly showing off.

This statue was proudly showing off.

I headed to a viewpoint to look across the ancient Agora.

Looking over the ancient Agora.

Looking over the ancient Agora.

It was mid-November and warm enough for me to wear t-shirt and shorts.

Looking across the ancient Agora to the Acropolis.

Looking across the ancient Agora to the Acropolis.

Next on my sightseeing was the Panathenaic Stadium. The stadium is a multi-purpose stadium used for several events and athletics and hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium, the Panathenaic Stadium is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble.

The Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

The Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

In the 2004 Olympic Games, the Panathenaic Stadium hosted the archery competition and the finish of the Marathon.

It could once seat about 80,000 spectators on fifty rows of marble steps and currently holds 45,000 spectators.

It cost 3 Euros to visit the stadium.

It cost 3 Euros to visit the stadium.

The next day, I headed to the mountains surrounding the city of Athens. I came across a wild tortoise in the forest.

A wild tortoise.

A wild tortoise.

The Kaisariani Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery built on the north side of Mount Hymettus, near Athens.

The Kaisariani Monastery is just outside Athens.

The Kaisariani Monastery is just outside Athens.

The monastery was probably established in Byzantine times in ca. 1100.

It is high up in the mountains within the forest.

It is high up in the mountains within the forest.

I took the metro back to Athens city centre.

Graffiti is everywhere in Athens.

Graffiti is everywhere in Athens.

Shopping in Athens is a favorite pastime for tourists and Athenians and one of the best places to buy just about anything is the Monastiraki Flea Market.

The many stalls of Monastiraki Flea Market at Avissynias Square.

The many stalls of Monastiraki Flea Market at Avissynias Square.

After my shopping I headed to the marina on the coast.

I was invited by the Qatar’s former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani to have dinner on board his supersize yacht (that was probably paid for by taxes and corruption). At dinner we discuss FIFA 2022 World Cup bribery and rigging. We decided that Germany will win the cup in 2022. The Al Mirqab yacht is one of the largest motor yachts ever built at a length of 133 metres. The yacht is normally moored at the Faliro coastal area of Athens.

The Al Mirqab yacht belongs to former Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

The Al Mirqab yacht belongs to former Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

It was time to head back to Britain and to put up my Xmas decorations.

The sun sets over Athens.

The sun sets over Athens.

– The End –

For more information about Greece please visit:

www.visitgreece.gr


My trip to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013 – part 2

On my second day in Copenhagen, I was going to see the sights of the city paying attention to the architecture of the buildings. My walk around Copenhagen started at the fort of Kastellet near the waterfront. The fort is close to the Little Mermaid. The fort is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners.

The fort is still as an active military area that belongs to the Danish Defence Ministry, however members of the public can walk around the fort grounds. It is a popular site for joggers.

At the southwest corner of the fort is a rather charming windmill.

The windmill was built in 1847.

The windmill was built in 1847.

Near the entrance of Kastellet is a rather charming St. Alban’s Church surrounded by a frozen lake.

The sky was clear and the lake was frozen.

The sky was clear and the lake was frozen.

I ate my sandwiches here.

Monkey at St. Alban's church in Copenhagen.

Monkey at St. Alban’s church in Copenhagen.

After having my sandwiches, I farted alot and then went to the waterfront.

The marina was frozen and icy.

The marina was frozen and icy.

Heading towards the City Hall, I walked down the Strøget which is the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe.

The Strøget was a charming walk.

The Strøget was a charming walk.

The round tower (Rundetårn) was a 17th-century tower built as an astronomical observatory.

The round tower (Rundetårn) is 36 metres tall.

The round tower (Rundetårn) is 36 metres tall.

The tower does not have stairs instead a 7.5 turn spiral ramp forms the only access to the towertop observatory.

The spiral corridor has a length of 210 m, climbing 3.74 m per turn.

The spiral corridor has a length of 210 m, climbing 3.74 m per turn.

Every year in spring, a unicycle race is held and the contestants have to go up and down the tower. The record is 1 minute and 48.7 seconds.

The tower still had it orginal toilets!

I was not impressed by the toilets here.

I was not impressed by the toilets here.

I think the toilet tips out onto the street below.

The toilet was stinky!

The toilet was stinky!

The view from the top is great.

The view from the top of the tower.

The view from the top of the tower.

Continuing my walk, I came across great architecture.

The buildings were colourful.

The buildings were colourful.

The west end of Strøget at The City Hall Square is a short walking distance from Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen’s Central Train Station.

I decided to walk over to the artificial island of Christianshavn.

Christianshavns Kanal separates Christianshavn in a city side and a rampart side part.

Christianshavns Kanal separates Christianshavn in a city side and a rampart side part.

Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood which has established semi-legal status as an independent community as a “city within the city”. Photography is against the rules here as too many drug dealers deal their junk here.

Christiania is known as the freetown.

Christiania is known as the freetown.

Near Christiania is the The Church of Our Saviour and it is famous for it corkscrew spire.

The church with it corkscrew spire.

The church with it corkscrew spire.

After visiting the island of Christianshavn, my wee cotton feet was sore, so I headed back to the hotel.

On my way back to the hotel, I saw a statue of a man urinating against the wall.

This statue was peeing against the wall.

This statue was peeing against the wall.

Tomorrow, I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and visit Sweden for the day.

To be continued….

For more information about Copenhagen please visit:

www.visitcopenhagen.com


My trip to Cyprus in 2010 – part 1

This posting is about my visit to Cyprus in summer 2010. As many of you know, I was posted to Cyprus for several years with the army. I had left the island in 2002. So for me, this trip was about revisiting my old haunts including my old appartment that I used to live in.

At the time, I was the only serving cuddly toy serving in Cyprus. But I am sure that more cuddly toys are now serving in the Armed Forces.

Cyprus itself is a island in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It became independant from the UK in 1960, but the British still retain two military bases on the island as well as deployed as part of the UN contingent on the disputed green line zone separating Turkish North and Greek Southern Cyprus.

A map showing the Island of Cyprus.

My plane landed at Laranca airport, and this was where I had a self-catering apartment rented for the two weeks I going to be here for.

Larnaca itself is an industrial town and not one on the tourist destinations list however the old city and the old fishing port is nice unlike the popular tourist resorts of Ayia Napa and Paphos which is spolit with umpteen hotels and English football bars.

Me in the old fishing harbour in Larnaca.

I had to visit my old apartment that I used to live in when I was serving in Cyprus. I remember parking my motorbike on the road each day under my balcony. Because I am a 30cm tall cuddly toy, my motorbike had to have stabilizers on!

My old apartment outside Larnaca on the beach road.

Larnaca has a number of interesting features including the Aqueduct known as “The Kamares”, that stands outside the town that carrys water into the town.

The old aqueduct outside Larnaca.

The Church of Lazarus is a Orthodox Church which was built in the town over the tomb of St. Lazarus.

The Church of Lazarus is a Orthodox Church in Larnaca.

The seafront promenade is a neat row of palm trees and seaview cafes. The boat marina is just here.

Some beautiful boats here.

One of these days, I want to become the first cuddly toy to sail solo around the world.

I hope one day that I will have £250,000 to buy a boat like this myself.

My first full day of the trip on the island, I was going to go Quad biking over the dirty tracks on the Dhekelia hills.

Listening to the safety brief from my tour guide.

I put on my dust goggles.

I was ready to go biking.

The ride up the hills was two hours.

The view of Larnaca Strip from Dhekelia Hills.

After my ride, I was covered in white dust so my foster Auntie put me inside the washing machine and hung me up to dry.

The next day I was going to Nicosia. The capital of Cyprus and also a divided capital with the Turkish North and the Greek South.

For more information about Larnaca please visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larnaca

To be continued….