Read more about the article Muscat – Oman
Muscat - Oman

Muscat – Oman

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Cryptus Portus, the Hidden Port

Continuing on our journey bound for Tanzania, this is our second intermediary stop after Luxembourg City and Nancy. Muscat it is then for the entire day since the very early morning until the very late at night departure on the next and final flight into Zanzibar. Although we knew this was not that much time for such a beautiful city, it did work great for us in being the first time in this incredible country, now looking forward to discover in full in the near future and not just its capital city, but the many historic villages and that incredible ochre landscapes of the mountains and the yellow of the desert amidst the blue of the Arabian Sea.

Muscat is in any case, a small city; “narrow” but very long, with a very small historic old town in a creek flanked in between the Portuguese forts among the bendy coast and the mountains. All is there to see and visit can be perfectly done in a day, and even less, but bear in mind a very important subject here: the heat. If you are coming between March and October, it is guaranteed to be over 30 degrees during the day. That sounds still OK, until you experience the over 40 degrees, very dry, June to August months. During the night it does not really drop much and remains stable at around 30, therefore if there is something I can strongly recommend you here is to rent a car. You cannot imagine how much you will appreciate this. Muscat, as opposed to what Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha or Kuwait are, it is still very laid back and living in the past. Public transports are only a bunch of buses, not even as efficient as the other neighboring countries’ capitals. There are no metro system nor air-conditioned bus stops. The heat simply feels like fire, and so it did in our stay making it quite uncomfortable if I am to be honest, even though we thankfully had a rental car.

Now, what at one hand is the down-side, in the other hand this translates in a very unique city. Forget the shiny skyscrapers and islands gained into the sea as for neighboring UAE or Qatar. Forget a “westernised” world and enjoy instead a truly unspoiled Arabian experience. Its architecture, its culture, the food, the people; our country number 86 and it was stunning and a wonder! (more…)

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Read more about the article Doha – Qatar
Doha - Qatar

Doha – Qatar

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Al-Bidda, Ad-Dowha

It’s great and nice to return to a city and place I so much enjoyed in the past, even if this is only for just a day as a stop over on our way to Tokyo, Japan. It’s been over 3 years since the first ever trip here, back then with a friend, now with my family so an extra reason why to really enjoy again by showing them this fascinating modern and at points, futuristic place. Their first time in the Middle East. Yes, I know a day is very short, but actually enough to see the most important sites and not suffer that much the horrific heat at almost 45 degrees Centigrade. Scorching dry heat is really the major drawback of cities in countries in this part of the world during the summer months. It’s only towards the evening when walking along the Corniche or by the MIA Park is the most enjoyable part of the day in Doha.

Back in May 2014, Doha was our second stop over after Kuwait, and so I will retain the structure in this guide as it was written back then, only revamping and expanding it with further new information and points, dates and the extra hotel we stayed in this occasion.

Comparing it with the more laid back Kuwait City which has just started to kick off in development recently, and at just 50 minutes away by plane, Doha is quite the radical change. In here, the over-development and frenetic construction round the clock currently happening is even difficult to explain and understand. After also experiencing Dubai couple of times, Doha is definitely the next city from all the ones I’ve been where such crazy construction is taking place and so dramatically quick. Said that, expect a city where hundreds of construction projects are still in place. New skyscrapers on every possible plot, the new metro system, motorways and bridges on the bay and many more. It will be shocking to come back in few years’ time and see a completely new city, although as for now, it is already shocking enough with a great skyline so far.

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Read more about the article Kuwait City – Kuwait
Kuwait City - Kuwait

Kuwait City – Kuwait

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Madinat al-Kuwayt

One of the craziest bank holiday trips we’ve ever done. In fact, why to even think, it was the craziest with no equal. Visiting 2 countries in just 3 days. Qatar and Kuwait. That would be something very normal anywhere in our European city breaks, but not for going that far to the Middle East in such a short time. And actually in this case, that was not one of these low air fare offers, but instead an on-purpose Qatar Airways flight merely to boost the tier level of our Executive Club membership. Quite worth it knowing how many times we fly using any of the One World Alliance partners which means for us lots of air miles and other benefits.

So you might wonder how is it possible to visit 2 capitals in different countries in just 3 days. Well, let me tell you it is possible. Yes, it is very short time and definitely I would love to have been longer and enjoy visiting other places nearby and of course, more time by the beaches on the Gulf. In any case that was yet another well worth it trip back to a little piece of the Arab World. It was a day and a night in Kuwait City before flying the following morning to Doha for the next 2 days, then back to London.

As there is not really too much to see or do in the city, a day was definitely enough for us, of course bearing in mind that our peace for sightseeing is quite fast as we are very used to travelling, all extremely organised to the detail and specially with not much time to spare. (more…)

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Read more about the article Abu Dhabi – UAE
Abu Dhabi - UAE

Abu Dhabi – UAE

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Father of Deer, Emerging Emirates

As a final stop over on this trip, we decided to spend another 2 days in Dubai, and take the chance for visiting the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. Indeed a great decision also in order to split such a long flight back from Southeast Asia, get back to usual time and try to avoid the bigger jet lag, well, at least in theory because in practice, it was not the case once back in London.

Reaching the city was once again fast and straightforward, especially when having a rental car. Basically you just follow the Sheikh Zayed Road which traverses the entire Dubai, and continue all the way southwest. Soon the desert will surround you, but notice how many trees have been planted in between the lanes of the road. Not only here, but at both sides of the road too. This is even more notorious when approaching the city, where you will get to see big fields of green grass, many trees and plants. This is one of the long term ideas of the Emirates, changing the harsh environment for something much easier to stand and coop, and nicer. Vegetation brings humidity and moisture, and after all, water; but it does also reduce the temperature. It felt much nicer in here than in scorching Dubai.

The city itself has not much to offer to the visitor, well especially when comparing it to Dubai, but still impresses anyone to see the grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Emirates Palace or the shiny skyline by the Corniche. Also, the spectacular Guggenheim or the Louvre museums, or the Ferrari World or Formula 1 among other worldwide names.


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Read more about the article Sharjah – UAE
Sharjah - UAE

Sharjah – UAE

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Al Shareqah

Sharjah, the third largest of the emirates that form the United Arab Emirates as a country, is literally the next northeast of Dubai, with Sharjah City, its capital. Basically, it is a continuation of Dubai. Once you cross the Dubai Creek it’s not even a kilometre farther and you are already there. The only clue which alert you are in a different emirate and different city are the signs in the road. As for the look of it, you could never tell if you have left Dubai. The emirates are so small and the cities so long along the coast that you move in a continuous urban area. Abu Dhabi being the largest, the remaining 6 emirates are tiny and together towards the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Although not as spectacular as Dubai, it is rapidly kicking off with lots of projects going on. Construction, like everywhere in the Emirates, is at its peak. I imagine the city in few years time, certainly hard to recognise to what I saw during this trip.

There are only 2 reasons why would you want to come here. I cannot think on any other, unless you are just curious to know how it looks and to say you have stepped on it. One, the beaches. There were absolutely empty! Nice sand all along, and many kilometres of it. The promenade, Corniche, runs parallel and was also really nice for walking (bearing the intense heat). The whole promenade just for yourself, rarely someone else, oddly some random tourist here and there. (more…)

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Read more about the article Dubai – UAE
Dubai - UAE

Dubai – UAE

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The city of the future

An incredible trip to the Middle East bringing us to the shiny and spectacular city of Dubai. Just few days here as a stop over before continuing on to Southeast Asia, the final destination on this journey. And what best way to fly here than with Emirates, the flag airline carrier of Dubai, on their Airbus A380. That is always an amazing experience to fly on such a plane, especially for an airplane lover as I am.

Leaving London behind with barely over 12 degrees, and landing a little over 6 hours later at over 35 degrees, that’s priceless for a late in the year holidays. What I was actually not prepared was the temperature shock once the doors from the airport to the outside opened. The heat is such and so, so dry, that it is hard to stand it the first minutes until your body adjust. And that was just 35, considering the +45 experiences in Doha and Muscat from other trips. Thankfully we were prepared and changed the cloths from winter to summer while still at the airport.

It was just matter of few minutes later when we were in the rental car heading to our hotel when we felt out of this world. And what a experience was that! The impressive Sheikh Zayed Avenue heading north passing such a wonderful collection of super tall skyscrapers. The city of the future. This avenue was a hint of what was yet to come. The Burj Khalifa follows after more or less half way toward the Mall of the Emirates, and on and on; the collection of landmarks continue. (more…)

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