25 September 2010

Settling In

It's hard to believe it but Eleonor and I have had the keys to our new place for three months already! Handover occurred on June 24th 2010. Of course we didn't move in straight away but the three months has flown by.

So I look back and think of how much we've been able to do in that time. We've made our house more of a home and furnished it accordingly. We've already had a number of guests over who've taken a look and complimented us on our progress. I'm now more familiar with this place than when I visit Mum's - which can only be a good thing!

Even so, there's still so much left to do. I'm told that owning a home is always an ongoing project and I'm beginning to see that. The 'big' project to work on is the backyard. Mirvac left us with a lot of work to do out there. Thankfully Eleonor's Dad has been very active and keen to help us fix this up and I'm betting this weekend we'll be focussing our attention out there.

I still have several large items at Mum's. They're quite keen to see those gone and we'll get them over here sooner or later. There's still lots to be unpacked and sorted out at the receiving end. But it all takes time and we're making good progress.

A year ago this place was still just an empty block of land! Now it's our home :)

19 September 2010

Dubai Trip Review: Burj Dubai & Dubai Creek

Hi All,

This is it! We're at the end of the holiday blogs with this entry. Rounding up our last full day in Dubai. Eleonor and I were able to explore at our own speed without worrying about anyone else ruining the party.

We were given a brief tour around Dubai and some of the palaces of the influential Sheikh's living in the area before heading to The Dubai Mall so Eleonor and I could preorder our tickets to go to the At The Top Observation Deck, the highest in the world at the one and only Burj Khalifa.

We were in luck when we arrived to purchase our tickets as they were allowing immediate entry to the tour for the same discounted price. So we took the opportunity to head up the Burj Khalifa instead of using the hour provided by our driver to explore the world's largest shopping mall.

The tour is quite in-depth and takes visitors on a journey from the conceptual designs of the tower through to its construction and realisation. After all this, you enter the lift that takes you 124 floors up to the observation deck. The views were spectacular and the deck even includes an outside area, which was blisteringly warm!

Cameras and viewfinders are provided for visitors to zoom in on locations and even see how it would look at night time. The experience also opens at night time, which might have to be something we try on our next Dubai stopover!

Sadly, their gift and souvenir shops didn't offer any replica Burj Khalifa towers which I had been looking for, so we found our driver waiting for us and decided to head to the Dubai Museum, a destination we missed on the previous day due to the others in our group spending big at the Gold shops.

On the way, we stopped by Dubai Creek to see some of 'old Dubai' and then given an hour or so to explore the museum which provided a great history of the city from it's beginnings as a village to what it is today. Thankfully I was able to source a replica of the Burj Khalifa from this shop so all was well!

Following our tour, our time with our driver was coming to an end so we headed back to The Dubai Mall to give it a proper lookover and bid our driver farewell. What more would you expect from the world's largest shopping mall than a massive aquarium inside? You could even dive in the tank (and have shoppers watch you from the massive window!) Everything was grand and lavish in the Dubai Mall and it seemed to go endlessly with the number of floors and how expansive each level was. Even after 3 hours of exploring, we had barely scratched the surface.

At this point we decided to check out some other shopping centres so we headed to the Mall of the Emirates which is the home of Ski Dubai. Not as big as The Dubai Mall but still quite impressive, we stayed here for a little while before taking a taxiride back to our hotel to prepare for the evening's Dhow cruise on Dubai Creek.

In the evening we awaited our lift to the Dhow for the evening cruise, unfortunately it appeared there had been some sort of mixup and our driver arrived late and we held up the Dhow, but that wasn't our fault. The cruise was great. Eleonor and I sat atop the Dhow in the fresh (yet warm) air of the night and had a great view of the creek as we cruised along.

Dinner was a buffet and a magician provided some entertainment as well.

So our day ended and we made sure we were packed and ready to depart in the late morning the following day.

We boarded our Emirates A380 for the return flight but were held up at the gate as a strong tailwind would push us along to Sydney and mean we would arrive too early for the morning curfew. I think we were at the gate for about 45 minutes before pushback. Luckily the flight was nowhere near full so Eleonor and I were able to stretch out across three seats in the forward section of the plane.

Once on our way I snapped a few last aerial photos of Dubai. The first below even captures the now retired Cunard QEII cruise liner, probably awaiting her conversion into a hotel. The second shot shows the Dragon Mall which we passed on our way to the Sharjah Desert.

Our flight took us over The Maldives (above) before entering the night. We arrived at Sydney as dawn was breaking, in much cooler temperatures than we were used to in Egypt and Dubai.

So ends this trip report, but what a fantastic trip it was. Even now, 4 months after the adventure it's been fun recalling the events and putting them up here.

Hopefully the upcoming blogs won't be any less interesting as we've been well busy since returning from this trip!

Stay tuned as always!


09 September 2010

Dubai Trip Review: Dubai and the Sharjah Desert

Hi All,

Apologies for the month-long wait for the wrap-up to our holiday. It's now September and I'm still chronicaling our holiday that happened in May! The busy side of moving house has passed so hopefully I can wrap this up quickly and move onto other news in future posts!

So, our holiday brings us to Dubai. I had been looking forward to this destination for quite some time and it was great to be here and out of the airport, even after a 1am arrival!

Unfortunately some drama struck our group as no one met us at the airport. Eventually we all made our own way to the hotel (and were never reimbursed for that inconvenience). We barely had a few hours sleep before we were up for the day tour of Dubai.

We cruised in air-conditioned comfort as we quickly realised how hot Dubai gets during the day. Our guide took us through the old and new parts of the city. We got to visit an Islamic Art Centre before heading for a photo-op near the Burj Al Arab, the famous 7 star hotel.

Dubai Photos
From this location we continued to the Palm Jumeirah, the first artificial palm nearing completion. We drove to the end and stood before another 7 star hotel, the Atlantis. From here we drove back into town and the new Burj area where we could see the Dubai Mall (the world's largest shopping mall) and the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building).

The rest of our group were quite eager to check out some gold shops so we ventured to a place called 'Gold Land' where there were endless rows of shops with lavish and extravagant jewellery on offer. Eleonor and I took it a bit easier and shopped for souvenirs instead during this time.

Extravagant Necklaces
Once the other ladies in our group had satisfied their jewellery appetites, we headed back to our hotel for some lunch and a rest before the evening's trip to the desert.

Come afternoon and two of our group of six decided to drop out, instead opting to go hunting for more gold. The rest of us headed out to the desert heat. We had a brief stop at a place where a monkey jumped on Eleonor after she went to take a photo of it. There were also donkey's, peacock's and other animals in the area.

We then set off into the desert for a bit of sand duning. Except one of the ladies in the car absolutely hated it and soured the experience. After reaching a picturesque spot in the middle of nowhere for a photo opportunity, our driver took us to the boring blacktop and we drove, unexcitedly to our destination.

Dubai Photos Check out what little sand duning we did manage to get up to via the YouTube video below:

After arriving at our camp site for the evening's entertainment we were treated to a complimentary camel ride. We got to ride aboard the camel with the cute 'tea-cosy' on its nose in the photograph below. It was quite an experience, particularly as you don't realise how high you end up going when they get up to walk!

Dubai Photos Within the camp were several stores. One offered Henna painting for the ladies, which Eleonor indulged in. We were also able to experience a wealth of middle-eastern cuisine which was interesting, tasty and filling before seeing a bellydancer performance.

At the end, we were driven back to our hotel to finish up our first day. The other four ladies in our group would fly back to Sydney the following morning, leaving Eleonor and I to happily continue exploring Dubai at our own pace for Day 2!

The holiday will finish up in the next post, which I'll try to get out as soon as possible!

Until then,