12/03/2016

A Quick Visit to Doha, Qatar


The new modern city, seen from the old city, Doha, Qatar

The tourist visa for Abu Dhabi is only for 30 days, and mine was about to expire, but we needed more time there so that we could meet up with our granddaughter, when she returned from boarding school. We chose Doha for our visa run, as we hadn’t been there before.

Since gaining independence in 1971, Doha has transformed itself from a sleepy pearl fishing village, into a city of nearly 600,000 people. And it is still growing and developing, as we discovered when we looked over our hotel balcony.


Our room with a view

Although the view wasn’t great, the hotel was in the centre of the old city, and within walking distance of most attractions. Souq Waqif was quite close, although we had to dice with the traffic where there were no sidewalks, due to the reconstruction going on.


Souq Waqif is a warren of little shops

On first sight, Souq Waqif is rather reminiscent of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, but on closer inspection we found many of the shops held goods for local consumption. This was born out by the fact that we encountered many locals doing their daily shop in the souq.


We did, however see other reminders of Istanbul, 
like these ice cream sellers…


…and this restaurant

Not all of Souq Waqif is given over to household commodities and luxury goods. A large part of the souq is dedicated to falcons. Falconry is an ancient tradition in this part of the world, and is still popular today.


There are numerous rooms full of hooded birds lined up for sale, like these


The outer buildings of the souq look very old, 
but they were rebuilt to look like the original


Another great shopping and restaurant area,
with the Central Mosque at the end


The Central Mosque has an easier climb to the top for the muezzin
than is found in most mosques…


…unlike the more traditional Grand Mosque

Unusually for this part of the world, dark clouds were gathering the whole time we were there. It culminated in a massive downpour, which, judging from the lack of preparation, came as a surprise to everyone.


As the rain bucketed down, everyone ran for shelter


The streets gradually filled with water through lack of drainage

We sat under an archway just across from this restaurant, but didn’t dare venture out to get wet. Eventually the rain began to ease, and men opened up the manhole covers to let the water drain away, and we managed to get over to a well-deserved lunch. Delicious it was too!

Elizabeth Coughlan

12/02/2016

Red Arrows and UAE Air Force in Abu Dhabi

 

Clare’s apartment complex in Abu Dhabi

We are so fortunate that Clare and Reg’s apartment in Abu Dhabi is right by the Corniche, an 8km long curving walkway and cycle path by the sea. It’s there we can walk, and enjoy all sorts of activities put on for the amusement of residents and visitors alike.

While we were there, the famous Red Arrows arrived to give a stunning display of their skills. It was the same weekend that the Formula One Race was run, so there were lots of visitors to watch the spectacle.


Hundreds gathered on the Corniche to watch the Red Arrows' aerobatic stunts,
as they flew overhead

The Red Arrows visit to Abu Dhabi was part of a two-month long tour of the Middle East, to demonstrate the best of British innovation and industry. It certainly was impressive!



Go Red Arrows!

The following week was Abu Dhabi’s National Day, and this time it was the turn of the UAE Air Force to show their skills.


David standing on the corniche, watching out for the jets



Smoke streamed behind the jets…


 …and left their mark behind!

We had so much fun watching these two displays of precision timing and breath-taking manoeuvres as these jets zoomed through the skies. And I had fun trying to photograph both events. I can tell you, it was no easy task!

Elizabeth Coughlan

11/18/2016

New Balance Beach Run, Abu Dhabi, 2016


Reg and Clare after finishing their 7.2 km Beach Run

Have you ever tried to run far in soft sand? If you have you will know it's a killer for your calf muscles. Well, my daughter, Clare, and her husband, Reg, both signed up for a 7.2 km run on a beach for the New Balance Beach Run in Ab Dhabi, which shows just how fit they are.

The run organisers’ promotion pamphlet said, "The different run options of 1.8k, 3.6k and 7.2k mean that there’s a run suitable for everyone whether you’re an avid runner, lacing up your shoes for the first time or just looking for a fun activity for you and your friends or family."

The day had a carnival-like atmosphere, as runners of all ages got ready for their runs. Fortunately, Clare and Reg were in the first batch of runners, as it was very hot on the beach for us spectators.


Setting off with determination


Clare setting a good pace


Still smiling after the first 1.8 km lap


Competitors beginning to string out


Reg still on track


Reg keeps up the pace right to the finish


Clare receiving her medal


Reg receives his medal, as they take off his race bracelet


Well done Clare and Reg! A monumental effort!

Elizabeth Coughlan

10/20/2016

Rural Headlands, Zimbabwe


View across the land, Headlands, Zimbabwe

Despite its problems, Zimbabwe is still a beautiful country, and everyone should have it on their bucket list. The popular tourist areas like Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Kariba, and Matobo National Park, are all stunning in what they have to offer in beautiful landscapes, wildlife and wonderful experiences.

There are, however, equally amazing places tourists never get to see. While David was on his fishing trip, I went to stay with Sue and Terry on a farm in Headlands. The scenery there is awe inspiring. Every morning Sue and I went for a walk, and later in the day, we often went on a drive to visit different areas of the farm.


We visited this dam…


…where the locals like to fish.


While we were looking at the dam, we heard a shout, and turned
our heads to see this guy cheerily waving at us as he was herding cattle down the road.

Another day, we ventured into a private game park on the next door neighbour’s land. There are no predators in that park, so we were able to get out of the car and walk from time to time.


On our walk, we couldn’t fail to see fireball lilies among the rocks.

This bright red flower is actually a cluster of many tiny flowers, each at the end of a solitary stem.


You can see the tiny flowers here.

Each of these plants produces just one flower each season. These flowers only last for 2 weeks before dying off, so we were very lucky to be there in that window of opportunity.

Later, back in the car, we were scanning the bush either side to see if we could see any game. But we failed to notice this giraffe until he stepped across the road right in front of the car!


You would think this one would be obvious, but when he
is standing among the trees, he is well camouflaged.


Once we had seen one, we noticed others standing by the road.


We also managed to spot this eland, one of the biggest antelopes in Africa…


…and we were lucky to see this sable antelope.

The sable is an endangered species in Africa, because of poaching and big game hunting, and there are several programmes to protect the species and to increase its numbers.

Thank you, Sue and Terry, for allowing me to stay with you. I had such a wonderful time. I hope to see you and the rest of the family in Zim, sometime in in 2017.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!