Flying back north: DBX via AAS to AAL Travel

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photos: Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Travelling, transport from one place to another can considered time-consuming and bothersome. You can also choose to be mindful and enjoy the ride while it lasts.

dubai_jbr_img_6027

4:30 the mobile alarm sounds. Rise and shine. Half an hour to dress and pack. 5:00 get a taxi on the street by the Hotel Sofitel, The Walk, JBR, Dubai.

At this time of day, traffic on the six-lane highway through town is still smooth and the trip only takes about half an hour, so we reach the airport DBX well in advance.

No queue at check-in, super. We have checked in online, so we just need two show our passports and check in our luggage, two old, worn, dirty Samsonite suitcases, which have served us well.

After check-in we go through the passport control. Super, no-one there, no queue. We go to straight to the inspector behind the desk. He looks without words in our passports and then on us. He gets up, still without words, and gives a sign; we must follow him?

So we trot along behind him. He leaves us by a long counter where an officer now inspects our passports very thoroughly. Without any exchange of words finally he hands us the passports and points toward security. We have apparently been cleared.

For two relatively talkative persons, the silence felt eerie. Still, we felt no urge to persist, we nod our thanks and go to the security scanner.

Here you have the usual stripping seance; shoes, belts and jackets off. Wallet, phone and watch on the tray, pc out of the bag, and then through the scanner. Pain-free, though.

We go to the departure hall. Find a chocolate café (with sockets for pc’s). Then we order an ultra-unhealthy breakfast: coffee, americano and latte, a muffin and a croissant. The price is astronomical, but then we also get a piece of ‘free’ fine chocolate in the bargain.

dubai_dbx_rullebaand_img_7451DBX smart: Conveyors with an overtaking lane, but not everyone discovers this feature …

We go to the gate. We meet the same couple, we met on the way out and have a chat about Dubai and the city’s attractions. Then we boarder the KLM plane, again a Boeing 777’er. Lovely. Ample space to stretch your legs and do some “onboard fitness” …

dubai_img_6215The 777 in the morning sun with glimpses of Dubai in the background.

7:55. Soon after take off a meal, an later another meal, and snacks and drinks on request. Extensive entertainment system. The 6 ½ hour flight-time passes quickly. Especially, when you also have to take the many, many mandatory pictures out of the small windows. Preferably with airplane wings in focus.

dubai_fly_img_5990    dubai_fly_img_6001dubai_fly_img_6017You know how economy seats look? So here is a photo of business class seats.

We land almost exactly on time in Amsterdam and quickly go through security via an advanced new scanner; here you do not have to take your pc out of your bag.

dubai_aas_img_5988

We continue through Schiphol, a modern airport with art, internet center, spa, champagne bars and cafes with delicious, healthy snacks. More over there are a lot of shops.

dubai_aas_img_7463dubai_aas_img_7467dubai_aas_img_7471

We have some hours before we have to fly onward, so we find a café (with sockets) and answer e-mails and enjoy a couple of smoothies and rustic eco sandwiches. It’s not that hunger is overwhelming, but the products on display are too tempting.

At four o’clock it is time. We board and fly the final stretch from Amsterdam to Aalborg with a smaller KLM aircraft. The trip only takes about 1½ hours and time flies …
We land safely and on time 17:15 in Aalborg. And surprisingly our luggage is almost first out on the conveyor belt. We quickly head for the car park (where parking is free; brilliant).

After a 1 1/4 hour drive (plus a two hour visit for dining with a friend) we are home again in cool, rainy, pitch black Djursland after an eventful week in a warmer climate … but on second thought some fresh, Danish countryside air is not that bad.

At 22:00 o’clock we turn off the light and go to bed.

Arabian Peninsula Visit: Muscat, Oman

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photos: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

Muscat. The name spells Middle-East mystique, sun and plenty of sand … in the desert as well as along the long coastline.

oman_ms_img_4693

Today three tourists in Muscat, Oman. We stay at Coral Hotel on the outskirts of the city. After a hearty breakfast we are ready to experience the capital.
It bodes well: Sun is shining from a cloudless sky. The country is one of the hottest in the world during summer, but winter, early spring, temperature of 25 to 30 degr. C is o.k.

oman_ms_img_4784

There are no railways or metro in Oman, on the other hand there are cheap buses, Baiza busses, or taxis, which operate at a moderate price, especially if you agree on the price by the hotel and do not let the driver get the impression you know nothing about prices.

oman_ms_img_4783

We order a taxi from the hotel to the center of Muscat, the capital of Oman and a port city with a strategic location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
The urban area has 1,560,000 inhabitants (2015).

oman_ms_img_7219

We only just get to say “red bus stop”, before the taxi driver puts a laminated card with over 20 attractions in front of us. He insists, that he can take us to many more sights and at a more reasonable price than the official bus tour.

Despite the drivers long promotional talk we decide to decline the offer. For two reasons: Our friend would rather be in an open bus than confined in a taxi. And personally we have both good and bad experiences with taxi-sightseeing; it can end up unpleasant and costly.

oman_ms_img_3156

So after a few minutes we are in the town center by the famous souk and busstop of the local tour bus Big Bus Muscat. I am inattentive, while the guys inquire about the price. I hear “30 OMR” (about 500 DKK) and thinking it is for the three of us. It turns out to be per person! The most expensive bus ride ever! Surprisingly, Considering that similar tours in European capitals are priced at half of that.

oman_ms_img_3175

Otherwise it is an excellent tour, which gets around in the city and to corners, from north to south, many places with beautiful boulevards with lush, well-trimmed lawns.

oman_ms_img_3173

Huge Muscat teapot and cups as a fountain. Authentic; “Like!”. 

oman_ms_img_3162

Below snapshots through Big Bus pane; poor photo style, but provide an impression of the capital of Oman from its best side with sky and sea and more in various shades of blue.

oman_ms_img_3166oman_ms_img_3177

On the Big Bus tour we see Muscat highlights, Mosques, churches, temples, forts, museums, harbor areas and the newest attraction, the Royal Opera House.

Eight stops, 1½-2 hours, unless you jump on and off.

The Great Mosque is missing on the trip? The reason is the location far outside the city.

oman_ms_img_3189

After driving past Oman’s Parliament Building in Al Bustan, we stop briefly at stop number 5 to photograph the harbour from above (with a star-shaped flowerbed in the foreground).

oman_ms_img_3195

At the next stop, number 6, we jump off to walk around in the old town of Muscat.

oman_ms_img_3206

The colorful 200 year old ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos of Oman; Al Alam Palace.

oman_ms_img_3210oman_ms_img_3197

We walk around and it is very quiet.

oman_ms_img_3198

Friday is a public holiday and this means that all museums and attractions are closed. Therefore, one should choose another sightseeing day, if you want to get inside. If on the other hand you with to take photographs from outside, Friday a good day.

oman_img_4682oman_img_4687

The city has several fortresses and watchtowers. There is a lot to see for history buffs and photography-loving tourists.

oman_img_4684oman_img_4685oman_img_4686oman_img_4688oman_img_4690oman_img_4692oman_ms_img_4757oman_ms_img_4695

We walk through one of the gates and down past a landmark on top of a hill in Al Riyam park, the Riyam monument, a huge incense burner, ‘Frankincense Burner’ named after a special local incense.

oman_ms_img_4754oman_ms_img_4756

We ontinue along the Corniche, Al Bahri Road, promenade with its elaborate granite benches, stone sculptures and golden pavilions, which provide shelter from the sun.

The whole city is completely clean and free of debris, impressive; Regrettable, that you can be impressed by that, but dirt and garbage mars many places, even in Denmark.

oman_ms_img_4755oman_ms_img_4773oman_ms_img_4778oman_ms_img_4761oman_ms_img_4762

Some hours later när we return to the starting point, the stop is just outside the big Mutrah Suq, attraction number 1, near the harbor in the modern district, As Sultan Qaboos Port.

oman_ms_img_4809oman_ms_img_4803

We go into the souk, Oman’s oldest marketplace: It looks small from the outside, but soon branches out into a veritable maze of narrow alleys packed tiny specialty shops with colorful crafts, glittering fabric by the meter, clothes, shoes, bags, chests, jars, jewelry, fragrances; a mix of tasteful and tasteless souvenirs.

oman_ms_img_4795oman_ms_img_4792oman_ms_img_4796oman_ms_img_4797oman_ms_img_4798oman_ms_img_4800

Camel riding is a personal favorite, the desert ship provides a wonderful soothing means of transport, so who can resist these souvenir camels, I can (almost) not.

oman_ms_img_4799

Camels, daggers and teapots in all sizes are popular Oman souvenirs.

oman_ms_img_4801

Late in the day we are having lunch at a tiny restaurant beside the souk. The chef welcomes us, but with modest enthusiasm. The food is very good, though. The guys go for mixed grill with five kinds of meat, while I settle for falafel and grape leaves with rice. It turns out to be plentiful portions, so for once I cannot finish it …

oman_ms_img_4785   oman_ms_img_4787oman_ms_img_4786oman_ms_img_4789

Nightfall at the corniche.

oman_cornice_bus_img_4810

Fortunately our costly Big Bus ticket is still valid, so instead of taking a taxi to the hotel, we jump back on board the familiar red vehicle for one stop – a couple of kilometers.

We jump off right by the hotel. It is late afternoon. Now there’s some time to check mails and work a little, then a workout and later a light evening meal.

Another day passed and it proved once again, that you can see a lot in a short time. And diligent photography means there is documentation, if memories are blurred.

A great day, I think just before we fall asleep.

 

Sunny days in Dubai, Dubai Marina

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Dubai Marina. A place worth returning to. If you are into water, boats, cars and skyscrapers. This is our third visit.

Dubai is sunny, hot and dry – although I like cold weather, rain and snow, enough is enough. It is ‘refreshing’ with some variety …

We arrived three days ago and after a day trip to Abu Dhabi we return. Zero sightseeing today. Only work at the PC (to keep out the sunlight) and after ‘office hours’ training and a walk. Construction is ongoing, so after a couple of years away, there are many new things to see.

dubai_marina_view_img_4579

There are several hotels in the area – with rooms in several price ranges. This time, however, we stay with a friend in JBR, Jumeirah Beach Residence, a series of skyscrapers, built around 2007. Jumeirah Beach Residence: 184 meters (604 ft) high, 46 storeys.

dubai_jbr_img_2873

On one side of JBR there is the beach; near the artificial peninsula; The Palm. On the other side of JBR, The Dubai Marina area.

Below are the garages, where in addition to a few regular cars, you see Bentleys, Maseratis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and other supercars.
The cars are cruising on the streets in front of JBR; you can see them most of the day.

dubai_ma_img_2878dubai_ma_img_2879

You cast no discreet looks, no, you stare wide-eyed: Ultra-luxury cars such as Maybach and Rolls-Royce are rare elsewhere.

dubai_jbr_img_4655dubai_am_img_3089

Above street level, the view also fine. In the distance you can see The Palm and Atlantis.

dubai_jbr_img_3070dubai_jbr_img_2871dubai_jbr_img_3080dubai_jbr_img_4575

The JBR area includes the popular shopping and café street The Walk. In recent years, however, there has been established a ‘competing’ promenade closer to the water front; with cafes and restaurants with beach views.

dubai_jbr_img_3073dubai_jbr_img_3075dubai_jbr_img_3076

In addition the little promenade, there a small outdoor amphitheater with a lawn and the beach there is a CrossFit-like outdoor training area (admission fee) with a view of the coming Dubai Eye.

Dubai I later named Ain Dubai (Ayn is the 16th letter of the Arabic alphabet and can be translated to eye); the world’s largest Ferris wheel. 210 meters in height and with 48 luxury cabins, which can accommodate 1,400 guests at the same time.

dubai_jbr_img_2869

A stranded whale (as my accompanying hubby joked)? No, it’s me crawling on the beach exercising; here the wonderful, hilarious Dan John exercise getbackup, while locals and tourists around me playing in the sand and swim in the water.

dj1_img_6612   dubai_ma_img_6647

Today and the day before I had the opportunity to sample JBR stairs, vertical running, or rather vertical struggling. 46 floors, 824 steps. My normal postulate – in Denmark – is, that it is faster to take the stairs than waiting for and taking the elevator. Here and now I take my word back … although, it is still healthier to take the stairs.

The elevators in JBR comes arrive and only take 40-45 seconds to the upper floors. Maybe a minute. From basement to the top by stairs took me eight minutes! Approximately 100 steps per minute, a really bad time at the moment. Down it took 5 minutes. 13 minutes up and down. After three trips, I was done (!) after a strenuous 40-minute workout!

dubai_jbr_img_2872

Spent some hours writing at a cafe in the afternoon sun. It got dark very quickly. Time for a stroll on the promenade around the Marina. Mesmerizing, meaning many, many photos. Not only with mobile and “baby-Canon” (these), but also with an “adult-Canon” and tripod.

dubai_ma_img_4594Yes, from an ecological and energy saving point of view, the sea of ​​light is sub-optimal, but a beautiful sight as the neonlight glitter and reflect in the water.img_2882

Palms wrapped in strings of lights. Seen not only in Dubai Marina, but also in Downtown Dubai. Festive ‘clothing’ all year round?

dubai_ma_img_2890dubai_ma_img_2891

There are restaurants in every price range in Dubai and with all kinds of menus. Sausages I have not eaten for many years, but was taken in by this cute hot dog stand.

img_2881

Instead of hot dogs, we go back to the beach and eat at a local JBR beach restaurant Seven Sands. A restaurant with local delicacies. Really special and delicious with several kinds of meat and shark. Unfortunately, again I ate the food before I got to capture it on film card – I need to work on my foodie skills on …

After dinner dessert? I am full to say the least, but am nevertheless persuaded into sampling some dessert delicacies as they are local and sound interesting.

dubai_ma_ss_img_4672

Lucky Choice: dessert, one pana cotta-like dish with nut-crumble crunch and a very special perfumed rose-ice. This really is a treat for the taste buds. The accompanying biscuit is left over, though.

After the food some lovely green tea and even with a tea-hourglass. A detail that makes all the difference. A memorable meal.

dubai_ma_ss_img_4671

A good day and good night.

dubai_marina_aften_img_2885

Middle-East travel: Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi

By Marina Aagaard, MFT.

A visit to the UAE is incomplete without a visit to Abu Dhabi. The 68th most expensive city in the world. That’s not so bad.

It is Tuesday. We borrow our friend’s car. We drive from Dubai southwards to Abu Dhabi. It is not difficult to find the way … (the six-lane highway goes directly from city to city).

abudhabi_ma_img_4595

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, 1.5 million inhabitants, and also the capital of the UAE. Abu Dhabi is both government center and a cultural center, though more subdued than Dubai.

The city lies on the coast of the Persian Gulf and has an impressive skyline: Abu Dhabi offers a variety of skyscrapers and more are coming. Many are unusual architectural masterpieces with glass facades that reflect the surroundings.

abudhabi_eh_img_4626

Besides the city itself, the capital’s top attractions are: Grand Mosque (the Great Mosque), Emirates Palace and Ferrari World, the amusement center with a dreaded roller coaster … and if you have time and money Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit.

Yas Island

We cruise into the Viceroy Yas Hotel driveway in an open GranCabrio and therefore are able to hear engine sounds at full volume. That’s cool; someone are driving on the track, even though it’s Tuesday at noon.
Regrettably it is not a Formula 1 race, but a bunch of lucky people with sufficient money in their pockets allowing them to race around the track in Formula 3 cars.

We park the car and take a stroll to see what the facility can offer. Is it ok? I think so.

The architects Rani Hashid and Lisa Anne Couture of Asymptote Architects describes it this way: Yas Hotel, a 500-room, 85,000-square-foot complex, one of the main architectural features of the ambitious 36-billion-dollar Yas Marina area and associated Formula 1 racetrack Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Asymptote envisioned an architectural landmark that integrates several dominant inspirations ranging from the aesthetics and forms associated with speed, movement and design and patterns of ancient Islamic art and craft traditions.

abudhabi_yas_img_2894abudhabi_yas_img_2895abudhabi_yas_img_2910

Design details are ultra cool. Steel strips in the flooring simulates racetrack markings. Even the restrooms are special with distinct lighting effects.

abudhabi_yas_img_2909abudhabi_yas_img_2905abudhabi_yas_img_2918abudhabi_yas_img_2922    abudhabi_yas_img_2923

Time for a light lunch at Amici Restaurant. The menu boasted a special dish with pasta with cauliflower and truffle … and then tiramisu in glass. Yes, please.

abudhabi_yas_img_4598 abudhabi_yas_img_4600 abudhabi_yas_img_4602

The cameras were out to get it all in. Until a guard appeared and explained: Mobile pics are ok, but photos (with pro-looking equipment/for pro use) must be cleared by the PR department. This rule applies in many places, so be prepared, if you wish to take photos.

abudhabi_yas_img_6208-002

Smiles and thumbs up: Car and hotel both get a ‘yes’ from me; lots of X-factor. From the hotel we drove to the Great Mosque, the Grand Mosque.

Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, the main mosque in the UAE. “Grand” is no exaggeration.Accommodate over 41,000 worshipers. Finished in 2007. Construction spending 4 billion DKK, 545 million USD.  Length: 420 m (1,380 ft). Width: 290 m (950 ft). Height largest dome, 85 m (279 ft); 82 domes in seven different sizes and four minarets with a height of 107 m (351 ft).

abudhabi_gm_img_2929

Entrance and mosque manners

First you pass through security. Men and women enter through separate entrances in a container-like building; compared to the mosque the entrance is ‘minimalistic’.

Female entrance piktogram shows traditional clothing (chador) With hair covered but face free. Western clothing is welcome, but you must follow local guidelines:

Women must cover the hair, ears and shoulders, arms and legs. Shorts, skirts or tight clothing like leggings are not allowed.

Men may have bare arms, but no bare shoulders or bare legs; shorts are not allowed.

The clothes must not be too tight, transparent or display offensive words or images (common of many western T-shirts). If you do not wearing proper clothing, one can in the mosque borrow a local cover-all.

Mosque manners:

  • There must be silence.
  • Smoking is prohibited.
  • Mobile phones must be muted.
  • Food and drinks are prohibited.
  • You should not lie on the floor (or sleep).
  • Do not caress or embrace each other.

abudhabi_gm_img_4625

After you have gone through security, you walk through the gardens and into the cloisters. Here you take off your shoes and you walk around in stockings or bare feet.

All over the mosque there are guards to ensure that there are no infringements of the rules: Some young tourists took a picture without their hair covered and that led to a reprimand and order of deletion of the image from the camera.

abudhabi_gm_img_4604

The guards also keep a close eye on that you do not get too close to or past the barriers: Fully understandable that the landmark is supervised; there can be up to 30,000 visitors a day, 4-5 million tourists and worshipers per year (2012).

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque design “unite the world” with materials from many countries including India, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, England, New Zealand, Macedonia and the United Arab Emirates (wikipedia).

The Mosque have walls, floors and columns covered with white marble and ceramic. It creates an almost dreamlike, pure and soothing expression.

abudhabi_gm_img_3032

More than 3,000 workers and 38 construction companies participated in the construction of the mosque. Some building materials were chosen for design reasons, others for their ‘staying power’; marble, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals, and ceramics (Wikipedia).

On the walls, floors and pillars: Man-made vines; a magical sight.

abudhabi_gm_img_2969

The mosque is full of unique items: Among others the carpet of the large prayer hall: The world’s largest carpet (wikipedia). Made by The Iran Carpet Company, designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi and made by 1200-1300 craftsmen. The carpet measures 5,627 sqm. (60,570 sq ft), there are 2.268.000.000 knots and it weighs 35 tonnes. It is predominantly of wool from New Zealand and Iran. It took two years to make the carpet (wikipedia).

abudhabi_gm_img_2978

There are seven chandeliers from Faustig in Munich. They consist of millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest of the chandeliers is the world’s third largest and has a diameter of 10 m (33 ft) and a height of 15 m (49 ft).

abudhabi_gm_img_2972

The 96 columns in the prayer hall are covered with marble with decorations of mother of pearl. The columns are exceptionally elegant, beautiful without seeming overly decorated.

abudhabi_gm_img_2973

The columns around the main square have stylized flowers made of semi-precious stones and mother of pearl. The tops are stylized palm leaves covered with gold leaf.
The columns are reflecting in two large pools.

abudhabi_gm_img_2960abudhabi_gm_img_3014abudhabi_gm_img_3039

The mosque has to be one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. Huge, but elegant and airy. If you have the chance, visit.t should be seen.

Emirates Palace Hotel

Impressive. On the outside as well as the inside. The Emirates Palace is a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi in marble, gold and other precious materials. There are 114 domes, the highest 80 meters high. There are 394 rooms and suites. On the grounds there is a 1.3 km private beach and 85 acres of gardens and lawns.

The hotel looks magnificent both during the day and in the evening. Am I just too easy to impress? No, the number of tourists from around the world, swarming the street taking photo after photo, suggests that I’m not the only one, who think the hotel is worth seeing.

abudhabi_eh_img_3061abudhabi_eh_img_3064abudhabi_eh_img_3057abudhabi_eh_img_4627

Not everything that glitters is gold, but in the Emirates Palace Hotel it (almost) is …

abudhabbi_eh_img_3046abudhabi_eh_img_3047abudhabi_eh_img_3050abudhabi_eh_img_3051

Even the restroom fittings are elegant and gold-clad.

abudhabi_eh_img_3052

In front of the main entrance there is a staircase and waterfall and at base there are several fountains. A most popular selfie location, so you have to be patient.

abudhabi_eh_img_3054abudhabi_eh_img_3059abudhabi_eh_img_3062

The hotel houses the rich, the famous and the well-dressed and there is no access in casual beach clothing. Arms, legs and feet must be suitably covered.
If your clothing is acceptable, however, you are welcome to visit the exclusive hotel, even if you have not booked a suite for the night.

abudhabi_eh_img_3065

You can dine in one of the restaurants or enjoy an afternoon tea in the cafe. This day we visited the brasserie, where there was a buffet (a health challenge; for many including yours truly; it’s hard not to overindulge. A la carte is preferable. We took a chance, though, and had a memorable visual and gustatory experience at a reasonable price.

The buffet was the most exclusive, I’ve experienced to date. E.g. an impressive fish buffet with not only ‘standard’ fish, but also fish dishes, oysters, prawns and whole crab claws.

Plus a sushi buffet, a buffet with local dishes, small dishes, fine cheeses with tasty ‘extras’, a wide variety of breads and biscuits, a huge dessert buffet with many exciting desserts and lots of fresh fruit. In addition a chocolate fondue and Arabic delicacies and several kinds of dates.

Local Arabic specialties.

abudhabi_eh_img_4628

International specialties. The small plate in the middle contains a salad with quail eggs.

abudhabi_eh_img_4636

Semi-healthy dessert. Fresh fruit and several kinds of mousse, panna cotta, cheesecake, cake and a delicious crème brûlée; a favorite.

abudhabi_eh_img_4637

A delicious tuna dish.

abudhabi_eh_img_4631

In addition to a wide range of hot dishes, there were 3-4 cooks making special dishes on request. A paradise for food lovers.

That was nice.

After this tasty end to the day, we headed back north and were soon back in Dubai.

After a sightseeing-packed day we sleep heavily.

Travelling time: Back in Dubai, Dubai

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photos: Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard.

From Denmark to Dubai. Again.

A client asked me “why go there”?

Dubai has become a popular international holiday destination; not strange: When you step out of the airport, you are almost blown away by the desert heat and vibrancy of the city, which never sleeps.

For my part I like visiting friends and taking photographs of amazing architecture.

After half a day’s journey from Denmark to Dubai, we, Henrik and I, fly into DBX, Dubai City Dubai International Airport.

10 years ago a coach student told me, that she had been to Dubai, and I thought that it sounded exotic and interesting, but also expensive and difficult to travel to. Fortunately, although going to and staying in Dubai can be quite expensive, you can still find cheap(er) fares, hotels and restaurants. It is not utopia to go there.

dubai_dbx_img_6208Waiting for a train. In the terminal. Ready to board the train bound for the arrival hall.

Sunday is gone. Monday is here: Time for a bit of city sightseeing again.

dubai53

Dubai

The city lies on the south-east coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the emirate of the same name; Dubai. One of the seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates, United Arab Emirates, UAE.

dubai_marina_view_img_4579

The city refers to itself as ‘the city ot the many records’, for example, home to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. A unique landmark – star of Mission Impossible 4 movie – with its 828 meters (2,717 ft) and 163 floors can be seen from many miles away.

Dubai urban area covers 4,114 sqm. and has almost 3 million inhabitants 2,714,719 (29.01.2017). The population consists of 17% local, Emirati, and 83% from other countries. A lot of expats, foreigners who live and work in the city, live here temporarily.

Every year Dubai is visited by 15 million tourists from around the world. The temperatures range from 23-30 degr. C in winter, from December to January, up to 55 degr. C in summer, from June to July. The winter months are the best time for a visit.

dubai_libanesisk_mm_img_2863Last visit: January month. 23 degrees on the restaurant’s terrace. Having a Lebanese breakfast while overlooking the Persian Gulf, Palm Island and the Promenade.

The city has no long history. Dubai was first mentioned in 1095 and the earliest settlements dates back to 1799. Dubai was founded June 9, 1833 by Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum when he with his tribe members settled at Dubai Creek; estuary; Here you will find the old town. Dubai became independent (after having been under the protection of England, UK, since 1892) and part of the UAE on December 2, 1971.
This day is celebrated every year with the ‘National Day’, a major festive event.

Shops and trade

Dubai, also known as the ‘Middle East’s shopping capital’, already in the 1900’s was an important port and trading center. Today the city has more than 70 shopping malls, among others, the well-known, older, Mall of the Emirates with an indoor ski slope and the Dubai Mall, the largest mall, that houses a giant aquarium, an indoor ice rink and shops with all of the world’s most exclusive brands .

dubai1018dubai749

The country is no major oil nation. Oil was discovered in 1966, but resources and production was low. The country has boomed as a commercial and tourist center. After a a ‘downtime’ after the financial crisis, Dubai is on the way up again and preparing for World Expo 2020. A guess: It will be spectacular.

dubai2104  dubai1333  dubai1419Crazy about cars? Then you will love Dubai. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys and more.

See the city by RTA

The city is no usual city, where you can stroll through it from one end to the other. The city covers a very large area and has three city centers; Dubai Creek and the old town, downtown with Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Marina, with the marina and numerous hotels, restaurants and shops.

dubai8dubai277A metro Station between mega-buildings. The metro is nice and easy to use.

You go from one end to the other via the six-lane highway or the metro, which only has two lines north-south and east-west, between the skyscrapers . There are also trams in some areas plus buses and 3,000 taxis. It takes at least half an hour to get from one end of the city to the other, longer during rush hour.

dubai_walk_aften_img_2875
In some places you can take a longer walk: For example on The Walk in the JBR area.

Top 7 Attractions Dubai

# 1
Dubai Marina
is one of the most popular places in the city with a free attraction: A 7 km long promenade encircling the water with impressive skyscrapers, restaurants, shops and the Mall. Here you will see the ‘medium sized’ yachts and it is lively around the clock.

dubai_marina_aften_img_2885

# 2
Burj Khalifa, downtown: A very, very beautiful and brilliantly designed building, which houses the Armani Hotel.
This landmark is a must-see attraction. One should book in advance to sure to get in and up at the desired time. Also, one should set aside plenty of time, because of the way up to the tower escalator, there are posters about the building and construction process.

dubai671dubai822

At the panorama platform, you have formidable – or scary – views of Dubai. And there are slides showing how Dubai has developed at high speed during recent decades.

dubai839

In the tower you look down on other skyscrapers – they seem small in comparison.

# 3
Right next to the towering building there is another ‘free’ attraction: the world’s largest shopping center, Dubai Mall , which these days are expanding! One should set a whole day aside for a visit.

Even if you are not shopping, you can go window shopping at Tiffany’s, Boucheron, Louboutin, Prada and many, many more shops with fabulous exhibits that entertain and inspire.

If you get tired of (window) shopping, you can dine in one of the many restaurants and cafes. There is something for every taste and (almost) every budget.

dubai967dubai1040Almost every wish is catered for. Bathtub in green marble mounted with gold feet, anyone?

# 4
It’s smart to reserve a table at one of the restaurants by the water – yes, there is an artificial lake between Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall – as here every evening between 17:45 and 22:00 there is a spectacular fountain show, the Fountains , accompanied by music and a light show on the tower: This attracts massive crowds.

dubai1225

# 5
Another recommended attraction is the ‘sail’, the architectural masterpiece Burj Al Arab , the world’s only seven star hotel. Though some critics argue that the hotel have assigned the stars themselves, the hotel is worth every star (I have inspected the premises!).
Normal price for even the smallest suite is very, very high, but sometimes, for those willing to lash out, there are special deals to be found.

Another alternative is to have dinner or afternoon tea in the hotel. You do not go in straight from the street; you book in advance and enter by car or taxi; past the gatekeeper and then over the bridge to the hotel. Prices are high, but the experience is worth investing in.

dubai345 From a distance the ‘sail’ looks ‘small’; an optical illusion. It is 321 m high; 60 floors. dubai1650The ‘sail’ at closer range, seen from the beach in the evening sun. img_4150The ‘sail’ inside. Most of it is ‘air’, a sign of extra, extra economic surplus, and pure gold.img_4119

# 6
Another attraction is the giant hotel Atlantis with an impressive water park and fine restaurants. Located at the edge of The Palm, on one of the many artificial islands and peninsulas in the area.

dubai1781

The Sea Theme cannot be overlooked; seashells, shells, sea anemones, fish and water.

dubai1867   dubai1866dubai1864

However, there are many more impressive hotels, where you – surrounded by giant chandeliers, rich decorations and thick carpeting – can feel like king or queen for a day.
The prices for dining in hotel restaurants are moderate to high, but not unreasonable compared to e.g. European prices and the surroundings and service is worth every penny.

There is no serving of alcohol in the city’s restaurants or cafes. But. There are no limit to what you can enjoy of the world’s finest wines and other alcoholic beverages in the hotels, which of course is for the tourists, but at sultan and sheikh prices.

For a low budget trip you can choose the brasserie rather than the restaurant, and enjoy a mocktail instead of a cocktail or wine. It is still festive and tastes wonderful.
Speaking of party; at hotel bars and lounges you can party all night long.  

# 7
In the old town (and in Dubai Mall) in Deira on the Dubai Creek, there is a  Gold Souk , a market, which sells tons of gold and jewelery in all price ranges. It is worth seeing whether you are buying or not.dubai555dubai467dubai474 dubai482

Dubai is certainly worth a visit.


Respect the rules of the country

Dubai is a Muslim country and the Koran and the laws are strictly enforced. This means among other things that:

  • Five times a day prayer (is called).
  • Friday (and Saturday) is a public holiday (s) and weekend. Much is closed Fridays.
  • Public displays of affection is prohibited. Even holding hands in public is frowned upon and even if it is not illegal for a married couple, they can still be arrested if a local is upset by it.
  • It is forbidden to take photographs, if there are other people in the picture. They must be asked for permission. Moreover, one cannot photograph everything everywhere. One should stick to tourist attractions. If in doubt? Ask!
  • Alcohol is prohibited (except in hotels). So you can not  buy alcohol in town, or (as in Europe) walk around in the streets holding bottles of alcohol.
  • There is zero tolerance towards alcohol and driving. The limit is 0 % and violations carry penalties of imprisonment and / or a minimum fine of 25,000 AED.
  • It is – like everywhere else – forbidden to drive too fast: The speed limit is 20-40-60 km / h on the streets and 100-120 (a short stretch 140) km / h on the highway. Dubai is a dangerous country to drive in: People with very different driving experiences get around in everything from old cars to the world’s fastest street cars. Drive safely.

To travel or not to travel? Boeing 777 Budget Trip!

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Friday night. Yes or no? A small trip. No time, not in budget. Surf the internet anyway. Find a same-weekend round-trip flight at a very reasonable price.

Under 2 K DKK (under 280 EUR) for an out-of-Europe trip. And with a reputable airline at that. So hubby contacts friend at the destination; can we stay in your apartment? “Yes”. So without hesitation we proceed and book the flight. Perfect time: You may get lucky and get a favorable price when booking well in advance or at the last minute …

Saturday; hectic day doing laundry and continuous packing in between other tasks.

Sunday morning

Departure by car to Aalborg Airport (AAL photo), which has free parking. Perfect.

csm_aal apron-fly-klm-terminalbygning__3760x2507__fc50e19362

Sunday noon

Take-off. From AAL. 1:25 t flight.

Pleasant and short trip; we only had time for a a cup of coffee and a sandwich and reading Holland Herald before moving out again.

dubai_klm_aal_aas_img_4563Tiles, cows, clogs and windmills. It is not hard to guess the name of the airline.

We are to stop over in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, AAS. A so-called ‘tight connection’; as in really short transit time: 50 minutes from landing to departure. It sounds like plenty, but in reality it means 20 minutes from landing to boarding. Add to this, that Schiphol is a major airport and you have to go through passport control on your way onwards.

But of course we will make it. We sit quietly and our plane bound for NL takes off.

After a short while a message in the PA system: Captain: We will be delayed by about 10 minutes. Oh no, it may mean that we do not catch our connecting flight.

Sunday midday

Stopover in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, AAS.

As the plane rolls down the runway for the gate, our bags are packed and we’re like springs, ready to ‘squeeze’ past the other passengers on the way out to the terminal.

Clear of the gangway we cover the distance between arrival gate B and departure gate F in jogging tempo despite fully loaded backpacks with pc’s and photo equipment. Fortunately, there is no-one in front of us at the passport control, so we sprint onwards.

We spot the gate and increase the cadence … and – along with two other Danes – board the waiting aircraft as the very last. Gate staff closes the gate immediately after we have jogged past.

In the cabin: One of the world’s largest aircrafts, the Boeing 777-300ER. 73.86 m long with a wingspan of 64.80 m, a max total takeoff weight of 351,543 ton and like the older jumbo jet with room for 408 passengers (in economy 3 + 4 + 3 seats across).

For a reasonable sum we were able to upgrade to business class, but even though the huge lounge chairs look very appealing, we declined this time around. It is after all ‘just’ a flight of 6.5 hours and the economy seats are spacious enough.

dubai_klm_img_4566

One can tell, that it is a new aircraft. Stylish, spacious and entertainment system of high quality. You can choose between several of the latest movies, a large selection of older movies or play games or quiz show.

After having read for while and seen a movie (duller than the preview is suggested) I go for once in ‘gaming mode’, Jeopardy and Sudoku simultaneously with a favorite: Watching the in-flight viewed from the cockpit angle. Time flies (ha ha!).

dubai_klm_img_4573

The catering on this tour is also fine: Ongoing drinks. Rather tasty (airline) dinner – you can choose a special dish or a choice between chicken or vegetarian pasta. We chose the latter. Oops! Finished everything again before I remembered the foodie photo.

Then more drinks (water and juice … or soda and alcohol) and finally a light late night snack and then the trip was over.

Sunday evening

A perfect landing. Smooth taxiing to gate. From there to the arrival hall. But then: Approximately 45 minutes of waiting in line at passport control, where the inspector is remarking, that it’s a long time since we last visited the city.
Fortunately we are let in without further charges.

Quickly we find a taxi, which via the six-lane highway, in 40 minutes takes us to the other end of town, where we are received in the street by our friend.

Sometime after midnight we enjoy a light refreshment and the night sky for a few minutes and then go to sleep.

Outdoor Training by Graffiti: Port of Aarhus Walk

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Outdoor training is always interesting. It provides a chance of sight-seeing.
No matter if you are at home or abroad, there is always something to see.
If you take a closer look.

I am a BIG fan of ports (and the sea), graffiti (not ugly tagging) and exercise.
This day it is a nice 3-in-1 surprise (but no no, no choko Kinder eggs before Easter) as the graffiti was unexpected, but very, very cool. Respect, Grisk, Peter Birk.

Graffiti_Peter_Birk_BSann_Grisk_Full_w2013Graffiti_Peter_Birk_Tree_Grisk_w2013

Around the corner, in the outskirts of the Port of Aarhus, earlier (during winter):

Graffiti_Tagging_Aarhus_Havn_w17012016

As I said: I don’t like tagging, especially not, when it is defacing beautiful buildings.
This, however, is street art, I believe, and in an otherwise bleak, remote place:
“A piece of heaven fell from the sky. Luckily the sparrows put it back before anyone noticed”.

2016_Aarhus_Havn_IMG_25952016_Aarhus_Havn_IMG_2596 2016_Aarhus_Havn_IMG_25972016_Aarhus_Havn_IMG_2598w

Gloomy looking, but good (interesting views).