A Travellerspoint blog

From one great mosque to another

semi-overcast

Up at 4:00am this morning for the 8 hour flight from Dubai to Casablanca, Morocco. Foot was still very sore so was pleased not to have to walk too much today. Upon arrival in Casablanca, I made my way to my hotel then onto the Hassan II mosque. In the last 2 days I have been spoilt for great mosques. The Sheikh Zayed grand mosque in Abu Dhabi was the world's 4th largest whilst the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca ranks at no. 7. What is interesting about the Moroccan mosques is the square minaret they use instead of the usual round minarets of the Middle East. Whilst still impressive I prefer the softer lines of the round minarets to the harsher lines of the square, However what the Hassan II mosque lacks in visual appeal is made up by the location, location, location! Perched on the seaside certainly makes for an overall spectacular sight.

Hassan II mosque pic 2

Hassan II mosque pic 2

Hassan II mosque pic 3

Hassan II mosque pic 3

Hassan II mosque pic 1

Hassan II mosque pic 1

Posted by adtamo 12:35 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

A date in Abu Dhabi

sunny

Today I joined the Big Bus tour to Abu Dhabi, mainly to see Sheikh Zayed grand mosque. Wow! Like wow! Really, just WOW! The grand mosque must surely be considered one of the modern architectual wonders of the world. At the mosque whilst visiting the male rest room I had my one faux pas of the day. An attendant advised I needed to go back outside and remove my shoes. They must be producing holy water in there!

While I was walking around the mosque I started to develop some soreness in my left foot. As the day wore on the soreness progressed into pain. I think I might have hurt my Achilles tendon though I’m not sure how. As my foot was sore I decided to have an easier afternoon. I went on a dhow boat cruise on Abu Dhabi creek, visited the date souk, which was disappointing as all the dates were covered and just sat on the Big Bus as it drove around Abu Dhabi.

Upon arriving back in Dubai the shuttle bus dropped us off at another one of Dubai’s MEGA malls, this time ‘Mall of the Emirates’. Again I was trapped inside for ~30 min trying to find the exit to the Metro train station. Just what I needed more time on my feet! The Dubai architects have really done their job well, once they have you in the mall they have made it as confusing as possible to get out thus maximizing the time you spend inside. Also there is no direct route to exit, they walk you pass as many shop fronts as possible. Grrrrr!

My evening plan was to head down to Burj al Arab to get some night pics but my sore foot caused a rethink and I decided to head back to the hotel to get some ice.

Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 1

Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 1

Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 2

Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 2

Inside Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 1

Inside Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 1

Inside Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 2

Inside Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 2

Date souk

Date souk

Posted by adtamo 07:57 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Confused in Dubai

A fishy start to a tall story

Up early yet again, this time to visit the Deira fish market. I have never seen so many varieties of fish under the one roof, and that includes Melbourne aquarium. Sharks, rays, tuna, pufferfish, shellfish, crustaceans, swordfish and the list goes on. The fishmongers were really friendly, I think they are not used to a tourist visiting their market. They all wanted me to photograph their fish and one merchant even tried to give me a whole tuna to take away. Too bad I don't eat sushi! At the back of the fish market is a small meat butchery could be quite confronting.

From the fish market it was on to the gold souk. Wow, all the glitters is gold in Dubai. Lucky M was not here or I might have been a few $$$$ poorer. From here I went to catch the Metro to the Dubai mall. This is when it all started to go wrong. When my train arrived at the platform I went to enter the carriage only to be met with howls of protest as apparently it was a women's only section. I made my way to the correct area. However, the train pulled away from the station before I had a chance to grab some support and I was thrown backwards into the lap of a local women. Well, if she was in the women's only carriage she would have been safe from my falling big ass!

Dubai mall is HUGE!! It makes Highpoint look like Milleara mall. Problem was I ended up lost inside Dubai mall and could not work how to get out. Coming across a male toilet I went inside only to see lots of many sitting down like a change room washing their feet. I quickly realised this was a prayer room. I now realise the symbol of the male next to the Islamic crescent is the icon for male prayer room. After what seemed an eternity I finally found an exit from the mall. It was now late in the afternoon so I decided to walk to Business Bay to set up for some night pics. I had a map but was soon hopelessly lost. I asked many locals but each one pinter me in a different direction. I finally gave in and hailed a taxi but when I told him where I wanted to go, the driver was also confused and said it would be better if I walked!! Being stubborn I refused to give in and over an hour later I located my location. I think the pics were worth the effort. Now I thought the walk back would be easy as I had the world's tallest building as a visual landmark. But alas no, I was soon lost again and I'm not exactly sure how this possible, but I could not see the WORLD'S TALLEST BUILDING. Eventually I made it back to Dubai mall but the time I was trapped outside and could not work out how to get in! I walked and walked but could not find an entrance until I decided to try going through the underground car park. Success :) I made my way to the Dubai fountains show which was much more impressive than I was expecting. Until next time, in the words of that great rabbit 'That's all folks!'

Dubai at night

Dubai at night

Where's the chips

Where's the chips

Burj Khalifi

Burj Khalifi

Mosque

Mosque

Posted by adtamo 11:55 Comments (0)

Only in Africa.....

semi-overcast

Both of my Ethiopian guides used this phrase time and time again to explain well really the unexplainable

-In my hotel room in Lalibela the toilet was on one side of the bathroom and the toilet paper dispenser on the other side of the room! Only in Africa….

- At the Laibela airport I was made to walk through two different x-ray scanners situated only 20 m apart. Only in Africa….

-The Lalibela hotel room numbers all started with ‘1..’ no matter which floor you were on. Only in Africa……

-Ethiopian airline flights leave when they are ready, often they depart before the scheduled time so you better be at the airport early. Only in Africa……

-During Lalibela peak hour there are more donkeys on the road than cars. Only in Africa....

-The domestic flight lands at the international terminal and passengers are made to pass through customs again. Only in Africa………

-Donkeys hauling loads of Eucalyptus leave. Only in Africa...

-The taxi drive to the airport takes longer than the flight. Only in Africa…..

- The tourism industry is very underdeveloped. The plus side of this is the hawkers are also not as experienced. At the world heritage Lalibela rock hewn churches there few hawkers who politely ask if you would like to buy a postcard. When you decline instead of hassling you they say no problem I will be just over here if you change your mind. Then they walk away. Only in Africa....

-At Bole airport the queue for passengers who checked in on line moves slower than the queue for passengers who need to check in manually. Only in Africa……

- A country with an incredible natural, archeological, anthropological & cultural history. Only in Ethiopia…….

Traditional dress

Traditional dress

The daily water run

The daily water run

Soccer game

Soccer game

Posted by adtamo 21:09 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

They work hard for the money

sunny

Flight back to Addis was not until noon so I used my morning to go for a walk around Lalibela. Earl in the day is the best time to watch the local people go about their lives before they seek shelter form the heat of the day. The streets into town were lined with people walking into/from town carrying out their daily chores. Local women appear to be the beasts of burden carrying loads of either wood, heavy sacks of grains or bright yellow large containers for water all on their backs. I noticed that most older women all walk in a permanent hunch. Water is scarce and they will often walk for kilometres to collect some water from the nearly dried up rivers. Children often in tow carrying a smaller 5L bright yellow container. I not sure why but all the water containers are bright yellow. Also sharing the road are pilgrims covered in white shrouds migrating to Lalibela for the Orthodox Easter, shepard boys with their small herd of goats, farmers driving some donkeys carrying their latest crop to the local market and kids resplendent in their purple uniform making their way to school. The nearby fields are being tended by farmers ploughing the fields with a pair of steer in preparation of the wet season.

One kid, I would guess aged around 10, walked wit me for a while. After some polite introductions he proudly told me he knew all the capital cities in Africa & Europe and for me to test him. I started simple with England, quickly he replied London that was too easy. On we went Germany-Berlin, Netherlands-Rotterdam, Portugal-Lisbon, Switzerland-Bern. He was good. I tried to trick him with Luxembourg but he was up to the task Luxembourg City he promptly replied. I tried some Eastern European countries that I wash;t even sure of the answer but he always replied within a few sends. Lastly I said Australia, first he said Vienna but when I clarified the country he said that is not in Europe or Africa but the capital is Canberra. We said our goodbyes at the hotel as it was now time to leave.

Lalibela airport is very small. At the airport before you can enter the terminal you are required to show your ticket and passport t a well armed military guard. Once you have passed this check it is off with your shoes, money belt, belt & even your shirt all which need to pass through the x-ray scanner. Only minutes after checking in my luggage we were called to board. It was 1 hour early and was soon advised by a Norwegian girl who now lives in Ethiopia that local planes leave when they are ready and not to the schedule. Now the boarding gate in no more than 20m from the airport entrance but again I had to take off the shoes, belts and shirt for yet another x-ray scan. I'm not sure what contraband I could have acquired in this 20m!

Back in Addis Ababa my driver Effem invited back to his place to meet his family and join them for the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Now you all know I'm not a coffee drinker but is is a honour in Ethiopia to be invited and would be rude to decline the invitation. It was an interesting experience lasting about 40 minutes where the host washes, roasts and finally brews the coffee beans over hot coals. The coffee is thick like turkish coffee. The ritual usually involves drinking 3 cups of coffee but I settled for just the one. Afterwards we visited the Mercato, the largest outdoor market in Africa.
Back breaking work 2

Back breaking work 2

Back breaking work 1

Back breaking work 1

Coffee ceremony

Coffee ceremony

Spices, The Mercato, Addis Ababa

Spices, The Mercato, Addis Ababa

Orhtodox priests, Trinity Church, Addis Ababa

Orhtodox priests, Trinity Church, Addis Ababa

Posted by adtamo 19:31 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

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