Showing posts with label Oman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oman. Show all posts

Friday, November 30, 2018

Setting Sail on the Arabian Sea

'Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.'
                                   --Kurt Vonnegut

If that is the case, then it is time to put on the dancing shoes!

We are going on a cruise next week. Admittedly, that in itself isn’t anything too out-of-the-ordinary but the routing may strike some of you as a bit bizarre: we are cruising in the Middle East.

We had booked a similar cruise back in 2016 but got lazy and switched to cruise closer to our Greek home. We flew to Rome and sailed to Athens. But this year it is time to stretch our comfort zones.  We'll fly from our gateway airport, Athens, on Etihad Airlines, (national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ) to. . .

Abu Dhabi

Just let that roll off your tongue: Ahh-Boo Daah-BEE. Reminiscent of the mid-century cartoon character Fred Flintstone’s call of Yabba-Dabba-Doo, just saying Abu Dhabi makes me smile!
Abu Dhabi, with a population of 1.8 million in 2016, is the capital and the second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates. It is capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the UAE seven emirates. This modern city can trace its history back to around 3000 B.C.

Celebrity Constellation will be our home at sea

In doing our pre-trip research we read that Abu Dhabi has a 'more distinct Arabian ambiance' than nearby Dubai.  We’ve given ourselves an extra day prior to the cruise to do some exploring on our own. I’ll let you know if we agree with the claims of more Arabian ambiance or not after we’ve had a chance to experience both.

We’ll board an old favorite ship while in Abu Dhabi, Celebrity's Constellation (or ‘Connie’ as many former cruisers like to call her.) She’s been refurbished since we last sailed on her in 2016, so in many ways it will be like being on a ship that is new to us.

Store display at the Dubai Airport


When we set sail on the Persian Gulf  we’ll be heading for Dubai, the modern city that travelers who've been there tell us we’ll likely hate or love. There seems to be no in between for this ultra sleek neighbor only 93 land miles away from Abu Dhabi.
Dubai, with 3.14 million population this year,  is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.  It is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai.

We have booked a balcony room again as we don't want to miss any sights 

Up until a few weeks ago I have to admit the only thing that came to mind when I thought of ‘Persian Gulf’, was Operation Desert Shield, the war of the early 1990’s. Back then this part of the world was in such conflict that I didn't think we would ever -- in this lifetime -- travel here. So the idea of actually sailing on the Persian Gulf has me dancing a happy dance.

Sea days are one of our favorite parts of cruiseing
One of our favorite parts of cruising are those lazy days at sea. With the call of the sun, sea, and a good book we easily laze away our afternoons at poolside. Mornings will be spent in the ship’s gym as we are both missing our workout routines we had back in the States so it is high on our list of sea-day activities!

We’ll have three of those carefree days as we cross the Arabian Sea heading to . .


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Fishing nets at Cochin, India

Our introduction to India was aboard a cruise ship four years ago. We are delighted to be revisiting two of the ports we visited then, Cochin and Mumbai, as well as adding Goa and Mangalore to the list on this cruise.  It will be a rapid-fire tour of the four as we have only one day in each port, but we’ve always considered cruising to be the appetizer of travel: we get a taste and if we like it we go back for a larger serving at a later date.

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Holy man at a temple - Mumbai, India

We’ll have a couple more sea days to rest up from our travels in India then make a stop in


Covered from top to bottom and with bare feet I could enter the mosque

This time we’ll be heading to Muscat instead of Salalah as we did on an earlier cruise.  I have to tell you that when I talk of stretching one’s comfort zone, this is a place where we did just that!  It was hot – an intensity of heat that finally gave reality to the phrase white heat. It hurt it was so hot. And it was definitely a different culture and way of life. So much so, that we are eager to have another look at another city and see if we have the same reaction as last time.

Then we’ll sail back to Abu Dhabi and after a night on board the ship there, fly back to Greece just in the nick of time to celebrate Christmas here.

We are eager to expand our explorations of the world and this itinerary is an intoxicating blend of Arabian Nights, Lawrence of Arabia and Jewel in the Crown, don’t you think?

Again thanks for the time you spent with us today and we hope you’ll come back for more tales of travel. We’ll be back next week – hope you will as well! Until then, safe and happy travels to you and yours ~

Linking up this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Best of Weekend

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gulf of Aden: Somalia to our Left ~ Yemen to our Right

With hummingbird speed and size, they skim the surface of the sapphire sea in which we are now cruising.

Flying fish, they are called.

Sometimes in small schools and other times alone, these tiny entertainers are providing a continuous show as we enter the Gulf of Aden -- yes, that, Gulf of Aden, the one making headlines in recent days.

It is the Gulf where pirates have gained notoriety and where war ships recently gathered. Somalia on the Horn of Africa is to our left and Yemen on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula is to our right.

We've not seen land on either side - yet. Today though,with increasing regularity, we are passing more and more freighters traveling on this shipping route to and from the Red Sea and Suez Canal. Aside from the freighters, we've watched flying fish on this our first of four sea days it will take to reach our next port of call, Safaga, Egypt - our gateway to Luxor.

We were officially introduced to the Middle East with Monday's stop in Salalah, Oman. The exotic sights, sounds and smells didn't disappoint. While we'd left the humid Far East we hadn't left the heat. The sun was relentless as we walked the city's streets - some shops providing an air-conditioned reprieve and others being small ovens with no cooling systems.

Although brain-numbing hot, the dress for both men and women is conservative in this Arabian country. I posted this photo of myself on Facebook following our visit in Oman as an example of the conservative dress required to enter a mosque: womens' ankles, wrists and head must be covered and men must also have long pants and conservative shirts. Feet must be bare (yes, those tiles were hot). The rules are much the same for the Buddhist wats we visited in Thailand and the Hindu temples we entered in India.

The cultural differences, the astounding history we are discovering, the religions we are being introduced to are simply overwhelming. We find ourselves in need of 'de-compression' time back on the boat - to process all the incredible experiences we are having.

I had The Scout pose with our wad of  Indian Rupees before setting off to explore Mumbai on our own last Friday. We'd exchanged $100US and in return had a stash that filled my purse. ($1 = 63.2IND).  Currency calculations and shopping has been an inexperience in itself as vendors offer their wares with machine-gun-like rapid fire persistence and enthusiasm.

We find it difficult to believe that we are already more than half way through this amazing adventure - we really are much richer, even without those Rupees, for the experiences we've had on this 35-day Oceania cruise on board the Nautica.  We thank you for being with us. I have many more tales to tell about the Middle East, so move over Scheherazade, I may just top your tales that filled Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

For now, we have some flying fish and freighters to watch!

Linking this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday
Weekend Travel Inspirations


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