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Middle East

Journey to the past

Today we had one of those famous crew-tours again. This time, we went to an old old town, in this part of the holy land, which is today known as Jordan.
The city we visited was (and is still called) Petra.

But, as you might know, Petra has no harbor, so we left our mighty ship in Aqaba, right at the border to Israel and took a 2 hours bus ride to Petra. Arrived there, we started our journey through history by foot, which you can follow with the pictures down below (which will probably be less dusty and hot than it was taking the pictures).

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Diner in the Souq Madinat

Today was a very rare day, because I was out at night!
This normally don’t happen, because I have to work almost every evening. But because of lucky circumstances, this evening we showed a movie in the theater which I could semi-automate so I could go out with my friends. We decided to go in to the Souq Madinat, a completely rebuild old Souq, which was essentially another mall but a nice one.

So we had a wonderful evening full of Shisha and delicious Arabic food, a lot actually… 🙂

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Time for some sports… Snowboarding?

Today, on our almost last call to Dubai, we had a trip to the winter… not really, but for two hours. When you are in Dubai and your missing the snow, you just can visit Ski Dubai and have a ride! You probably already heard of this monstrous ski-facility located downtown Dubai. We did, and so we decided to give it a try how it is to snowboard in the middle east.

For me it had a bit of a challenge, because it was the second time I tried snowboarding… I know, totally lame. But I managed to get down somehow, a few times actually. After those two freezing (-5°C) hours full of falling and standing up we went out again into 30°C sunshine and took the famous Dubai automated Subway, which is a really sci-fy thingy, cruising through the skyline of Dubai.

 

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Last (and personally) first Call for Manama

Today was a quite interesting day, because after a few month I had my first “first timer” again. We had been every week in Manama, but only a few hours so it didn’t worked out to go into the city and, at least once, we weren’t allowed to because of rumors going on in Manama (as seen on TV).

But today we decided that we have to go at least one time to Manama. So we went through the quite detailed passport-control (not used to it, normally you just walk out the ship) and took the shuttle which brought us directly to downtown Manama. The first impression of Manama was quite dirty, lot of unfinished or destroyed houses in the suburbs. In the city itself you could see a lot of empty Buildings which where also not cleaned anymore, so they where really dusty. But just going around a few corners, you encountered really modern and quite futuristic skyscrapers like the Bahrain World Trade Center with integrated wind turbines!

After the shuttle dropped us in the middle of the chaos, we went right into the big market-area with hundreds of little shops and alleys and even more smells and sounds. As we had no map, we just walked on (like always) so we suddenly ended up in the middle of a big crowd of men starting their prayer in the middle of the street. Actually, the streets where completely blocked by people praying so we really had to hurry up because they literally used every spot on the floor. The situation was quite uncomfortable and we had a bad gut feeling, because of some black flags on the mosques and everybody was looking strange at us (especially at my girlfriend) so we decided to head back to the market area. It felt like back then in Casablanca, when we got lost in the slums…

Because we had to wait a bit for the shuttle and we were hungry, we decided to eat something and ended up with KFC… bad mistake. Or is KFC everywhere on the world so bad? Actually we though about something local, but didn’t made it to buy something in those small restaurants which were looking like not fulfilling the basic hygienic standards…

When you travel around the middle east, especially in the Emirates, you always can see that rich and poor are living next door. But Manama was quite extreme, in one second your walking through a completely new (and empty) mall, the other second you are lost in areas you normally know from movies, where some CIA agents hunting terrorists… almost. Interesting, but a one time only thing….

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Last Call for Abu Dhabi

Time flies by, so we already start to leave the middle east. Today we have been the last time in Abu Dhabi, and because we had seen already so much, we just went to the Marina Mall and went up the tower to get one last glance over this city.

But before we left the harbor, we had to pass by the ATM at the terminal. Yea ok, that’s just an ATM, but, on our last visit to Abu Dhabi, we had a quite crashing encounter with the glass-door. Not on purpose of course, but this day was very, very windy and the door was just ripped out of my hands and swung wiiiide open. too much… as you can see on the first picture. Luckily nothing serious happened to us, just a few scratches. But the door was gone…

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The Dubai Fountain

As we had every time an overnight in Dubai, so for some people there was the possibility to enjoy the nightlife of Dubai. So did I, but this time I had to work, so I send my camera on a voyage to visit the Fountain-Plays at night. Enjoy!


 

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A visit to the worlds longest Hotel, the Emirates Palace

Today, we took our second try to get into the famous Emirates Palace, our first try ended at the gate not being let in, because I had worn flip-flops and shorts…

This time, with proper clothing (my female company was wearing hot pants and me with long trousers), we were allowed to enter the holy halls of pure luxury. but only into the lobby of course, which was totally enough luxury as you can see on the pictures below. you could even get a cappuccino with a real gold-topping! (which we had, of course)

The way back was quite a walk, because we had to go to the crew-drop-off point for our crew-shuttle, but the way had a nice view 😉

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Dubai seen from “On the top” of Burj Khalifa

Today we will go where we went in our first visit to Dubai, but this time we will go up on the viewing platform of the Burj Khalifa!

The journey is quite a walk and a bit confusing, because you enter the building in the basement of the Dubai Mall, where you have to start your way through alleys and escalators, getting darker and narrower every turn. After a few stops (with a bit of waiting) we arrived somehow inside the building in front of THE elevator to the top. Everything looks like being in a spaceship, so does the elevator do when we finally entered it and where being shot up on top of the world.

The panorama is just amazing… unfortunately you can not go really on the top of the building, the visitor platform is at the  124. floor, about 452 m, so you still have 376 meters to go, which makes the platform not the highest in the world… not this time, Dubai 🙂

But enough bla bla, enjoy the views! And as a new feauture, you can take a closer look in one of the panoramas, just click on the link, it will open a new window.

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Kayaking in the Mangroves of Abu Dhabi

Its time for some water-fun, but this time combined with a bit of sport… we participated once a gain a crew tour, which started a bit chaotic because we arrived a the wrong place, better say the wrong kayaking-company. after a few discussions an confusing phone calls everything worked out and we were ready to board our 2 person kayaks.

and of we went into the mangroves, unfortunately this was only a beginners tour (phew… afterwards I’m glad…), so we didn’t went really into the mangroves, just besides. nevertheless, it was quite amazing. unfortunately, we didn’t get big chances to see the fabulous wildlife of the mangroves, I had only two encounters with wildlife, one was already a wild-dead…

Please excuse the poor resolution and quality of the photos, but because of understandable reasons I left my big baby back on the safe (dry) big ship, so I had to shoot with my two water proof cameras…

Dolphin watching at the coast of Mascat

After some rather dry trips to the desert etc, this time we joined a crew-excursion to hopefully see some dolphins!
We started in Muscat and drove a bit to a marina where we entered our boats, two medium size motorboats, which took us out in open water. And, better than my last try to see some Dolphins, we encountered quite a few.

After this nice experience we had to get in the water by our self’s, unfortunately not with the dolphins, but we made a quick stop in a nice bay with quite nice underwater life. We finished our trip back with a tour along the coast of Mascat with its nice luxury hotels and stunning cliffs.

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