Wednesday, 31 October 2012








Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

This and That

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi


Jemaa El-fnaa, Marrakech

Graffiti, Morocco

Southern Morocco


Volubilis, Morocco

Road side stall, Morocco

Tanneries, Marrakech

Reading the paper, Chefchaouen


Blue Mosque, Casablanca

Blue Mosque, Casablanca


Apollo's Gate

Oia, Santorini




Aya Sofya, Istanbul

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Geospatial skills doesn't help

It's 2:14am and Mum and I are sitting in the lounge room with a bad case of jet lag. Awake since our twelve hour sleep last night we sit weary eyed and frustrated, eating chocolate and watching trashy television. We have come to the conclusion that laying in bed wide awake is not doing much good.
Jetlag brings on some bad extremes, I have turned to many things in my desperation for sleep, including reading the geospatial skills chapter of my humanities text book, yes i know, very sad. I have read three different books, gone to the toilet multiple times, counted up to 768, counted breathes and sheep. Thought about the happiest things i could which always ended back at "I CAN'T SLEEP!!", tossed and turned at least a hundred times and made several trips to Mum and Dads room for cuddles.
I gave up on the school tomorrow at 7:00am a while ago and switched the alarm to 9:00am.

Our last day in Abu Dhabi was spent in Dubai, water park first and then to the Dubai Mall. It was fun, exciting, and most very excessive, which Dubai is. Followed by a 14 hour plan trip back to Melbourne where we were not so happy to land. Coming home means work again, school again, routine again.

The channel has turned to America's Funniest Home Videos which seems to be an episode from the 90's, great, quality television! (not).
As we sit out he next few hours hoping for sleep I think about what is to come now that we are home.

Goodbye, I will miss you holiday!

Monday, 22 October 2012

a brief post as we turn for home

We have spent the day in Dubai. A water park and a mall. A mere taste, but an enjoyable one. And now I sit in the departure lounge at Abu Dhabi, Maria and Poss are completing last minute shopping ...

Are we ready to come home? Yes and no. We've got so much to look forward to over the next few months, so yes. We have had such a fabulous time and could keep going for a while yet, so no.

Thanks for the notes while we've been away. We've had lots of fun writing our updates. If you are in Melbourne, hopefully see you soon.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

and you thought you were visionary!

In the famous words of Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee (kind of), “That’s not an urban vision, ….”

Whatever observations and interpretations people might make about the phenomena of Abu Dhabi, the largest and most powerful Emirate, high on the list will be an astounding vision. Vast urban landscapes are emerging from the desert dust on the islands. Whole city centres (yes that was plural), massive hotel complexes, multilane freeways, suburbs of villas (read mansions that make Caroline Springs look like Caroline Drip). And apart from the grandeur and architectural/engineering feat that presses relentlessly on, the arresting feature common to all of this new development is it sits there pregnant with opportunity, but still waiting for people to move in.

Yes, blocks of skyscrapers that are sitting like ghost towns of the future, waiting. Waiting. Groups of hotel complexes, huge huge hotels, effectively in the middle of nowhere. Where are the people? The other day we went across to Saadiyat island and viewed the plans and emerging structures of the Louve Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabu, New York University Abu Dhabi and vast residential areas. The vision for what this place could and might become is breathtaking.

Apparently Dubai set out to be the Las Vegas of this hemisphere. Abu Dhabi’s visions is to be the cultural and educational centre, the place where the art, culture and religion of Africa, Asia, and the Middle east is captured and presented in the way the iconic institutions of Europe have done for the West over the centuries. With unimaginable wealth, who knows what might happen when the only limiter is vision. It is perhaps the most grand of all ‘build it and they will come’ experiments.

As an illustration of the extravagance in the planning, have a look at this bridge which Maria photographed yesterday. In many cities of the world a bridge of this scale would be a not only an engineering feature, but a social and commercial foundation, linking communities across a water divide. The staggering feature associated with this bridge is what lies on the other side ...

Zipo. Zero. Nothing. Well, that’s not actually true, there is an island with sand. No road, just a sandy island. The three lane each way bitumen finishes at the edge of the bridge. “Well, one day we might want to develop that island, so better build a bridge just in case.” Welcome to Abu Dhabi.

We lay in bed last night and Maria simply says, “two more days”. Yep, after more than 6 weeks of amazing travel we have just a couple more days. While we are enjoying beginning to discuss our domestic plans, there is still more travel adventure to come. Phil and Carol have been fantastic hosts and we have loved talking and reflecting from breakfast until late as we’ve scratched the glittery surface of this city. This morning we toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and then tonight we put on our best cargo pants for dinner at the ‘7 star’ Emirates Palace Hotel. Can you imagine a greater economic contrast than buying fruit in the medina markets of Fes just a couple of weeks ago, where the society wreaks of poverty, and ordering a cappuccino sprinkled with real gold flakes? I can’t. Kind of messes with your head.

Stay tuned for some reflections on that, as well as a day trip to Dubai on Sunday before Etihad gives us a lounge chair, dining room and bedroom seat for the 14 ‘happy’ hours of the return journey. When I was kid I had a set of jokes that described books by matching authors, such as ‘Cliff Jumping by Hugo First’. Well I just modified one, ’14 hours in row 19 by Major Bumsor.’

Friday, 19 October 2012

Abu Dhabi

Night and day - the view from Phil and Carol's (Colin's brother and sister in law) apartment in Abu Dhabi. After 24 hours of travel - bus, train, taxi and plane it was heaven to arrive to such a beautiful view and apartment and a bathroom where everything works! (not to mention the pleasure of being with family) Johanna and I have been in raptures about the public toilets today, pure luxury. We were also in raptures last night about a beautiful home cooked pasta dinner to celebrate Phil's birthday and 12 hours of sleep.

Abu Dhabi is an intriguing place. We toured around the city today, Phil playing chauffeur. This place must be heaven for engineers, architects and interior designers etc... apparent unlimited money and the only limitation your imagination. We have seen amazing buildings, everything shaped from a plate (tipped on its edge), a leaning building (leans further than the famous one in Italy!), spiralling, curved, tall, you name it, it's been built here, bigger and better. Considering there wasn't much here 50 years ago the transformation is incredible. Oil has catapulted nomads into the 21st Century within a couple of generations. What was noticeably missing though was a sense or spirit of the Emiraties. The history and culture is not apparent in the structure and arrangement of the city. No medina's, not many arches, colourful tiles etc...  like in Morocco. Abu Dhabi is like looking at copied versions of European or Western cities. I guess if you have been nomadic you do not have a history of cities, architectural style etc...  to build upon. If you have the money I guess you can look around the world, see what you like and replicate it here. That's what it feels like anyway, perhaps the ensuing days will shed further light.

What was also strange was the absence of people in all these magnificent structures. Hotels, apartments, housing all relatively empty. I am not sure where all the people will come from to populate the growing city.

Sand, blue water and amazing buildings are imprinted on our minds from today.

Sun and Shadows

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Change of Pace

It is our last day in Morocco, well tomorrow we'll be travelling by bus and then train from Essaouira to Casablanca and then in the evening a plane to Abu Dhabi. So the last non travelling day anyway. Unfortunately Colin is feeling a bit under the weather, the usual tummy upset but a temperature and general unwell feeling to boot. Not the way he would choose to end his time here. So he is having a slow day.

Johanna and I have ventured out and about, walking down to the docks and watching a fishing boat unload its haul and the locals gather with their plastic bags or buckets to grab a bargain before the fish gets hauled away in refrigerated vans. It is busy, bustling and smelly. Later, we wandered the medina making some last minute purchases and had another go at the henna, this time for a fraction of the price we paid in Marrakech and will hopefully last more then a few days - who knows!

Colin joined us for some lunch on a terrace overlooking the square and the sea - relaxed and leisurely. Essaouira has been a welcome rest and a pleasant stay, Morocco with a European feel, and plenty of good pasta and a French restaurant (with four little kittens) just what we have felt like......

P.S Johanna is complaining that she feels unwell too, tomorrow could be a very interesting day!