Archive for category Travel
After driving 1,960 miles in 4 days across 5 states I have determined that Colorado (my home state) does the poorest job of maintaining it’s interstate highways. The miles of patched and uneven pavement are endless.
My emotions on days like this run the gamut. I am headed to Dubai with my wife/business partner for some work and a couple days worth of fun. I am excited to travel internationally, see new places, meet new people and have interesting experiences in general. However, to have this experience means I must leave my children at home. They will be well taken care of, have fun, and probably not miss us a whit. But no one can take care of my kids as well as me, right?
I get uneasy being half a world away. I know it is only 20 hours, but it is half of a planet! I will miss the things that I have done every day for ten years. Repetition has not quelled the simple satisfaction of being an active parent. I will miss being there when they get home from school to get them a snack, hear about the day, and get them started on their music practice.
So, my excitement at traveling around our planet is tempered by the seperation from my kids. I hope I can come home with wonderous stories, pictures, and memories to delight their imagination and enrich them just a little, making the trip beneficial to all of us.
Lookout Dubai! One dad is on his way to collect precious memories.
I was watching a tutorial this morning on search engine optimization and the trainer used the Dale Chihuly website as an example. After seeing some of Dale’s glass art pieces I realized that I photographed a huge piece of his when I visited London last year. Stacy and I went to the Victoria and Albert museum and loved it. They have a wonderful collection. Dale’s glass sculpture hangs over the information desk at the entrance to the museum. I photographed it using two frames and stitching them together using Photoshop.
Ok, I have been back in the good ole USA for over two weeks now and am just getting over my anger at Dulles International Airport customs. After 10 days on the road, the return trip was harrowing once we got to Dulles from Heathrow. Let me provide you with a detailed description of how things went down.
The eight hour flight from London was uneventful, we slept, watched a couple movies, listened to iPods, etc. Upon landing we taxied to a gate. No wait, the gate had a broken down airplane stuck there so lets park on the tarmac and unload the passengers on people mover vehicle thingies. The people movers must hit traffic in route because it took an eternity for the first one to arrive. We stood patiently waiting while the mover got loaded and just before Stacy and I were to board it was declared that the thingy was full. Now we must wait for the next mover to clear traffic and get to the plane. When the thingy gets to the plane it must park near the door of the plane and then engage the hydraulics to lift the mover cabin up to the level of the plane’s cabin. Once it is at the correct level. It adjusts the walkway to jut out and meet the plane’s sides and provide a safe method of boarding. This all takes time. Stacy and I board the thingy with 100 or so of the smelliest overseas travelers. For some reason, once the thingy was full we needed to stand still and wait for 10 minutes until at some unknown signal the doors were closed and the mover cabin was lowered to ground level and we made our way to the customs area.
As a follow up to my previous post regarding video footage from Dubai, here is all 2 minutes 30 seconds of video from London. It will just give you a sense for the area of the city we were staying. You will also see the “Traditional English Breakfast” that we had several mornings. The breakfast was good and not very different from what I do at home save for the baked beans.
At the end you will see a reference to “mind the gap”. When riding the Tube, this is a seemingly never ending reminder played over the loudspeakers at every stop. I assume there have been some costly lawsuits over people getting feet, clothing, bags etc. caught in the gap between the train and the platform. I found the word choice interesting compared to the American “watch your step”. In another example the Brits used the sign “way out” for uses where we would use “exit”.
Before going on a vacation I always get excited about all of the photography opportunities I will have. I try to keep my camera bag to a minimum of gear but can always think of a reason I just might need this or that gadget. I end up with a bag absolutely stuffed with everything and end up with shoulder problems in the airports. Then, when I finally get to the destination, I end up leaving the camera bag in the room most of the time. I feel like a spectator to my vacation when I am photographing all the time.
This trip was no different, I took the new video camera and almost every piece of still camera gear I own. However, when I finally got to Dubai, I did not take a fraction of the pictures I had planned to. I wanted to actually experience this trip as a participant, not just a spectator, without the burden of always looking for the next great shot.
I only took about 400 pictures during the entire 10 day trip to Dubai and London. This is laughably few for someone who considers themselves a photographer. Anyway, here is all 2 minutes and 38 seconds of video I shot in Dubai. Near the end you will see the worlds tallest building as I shoot it from a taxi.
What a great way to end our trip! Two tickets in the 4th row of Royal Albert Hall to see the amazing Mark Knopfler. We were within 20 feet of the stage and 25 feet of Mark. The songs were great and the musicianship was excellent. The newest member of the band is a young Scotsman who plays the fiddle, recorder, and sitar masterfully. We could tell that Mark himself was a fan and watched in amazement as the Scotsman played.
The hall itself is a beautiful building and a great spot for a show. I would not have guessed that it is 140 years old.
We were amazed at the international diversity of the audience. Before the show even started, Stacy and I asked a couple to take our picture in front of the building and we returned the favor for them. It turns out they are from Spain and came to London for the concert. Stacy sat next to a couple of nice young Brits who were seeing Mark for the 3rd night in a row. There was a family of Phillipino’s behind us. A middle eastern couple sat next to me, and we were guessing the men in front of us were Italian!
The show was memorable and I hope to take Max and Avery to see Mark when he comes to our backyard, Red Rocks, in 3 weeks.
I have not blogged in several days. Tuesday was a travel day, hot, crowded, uncomfortable flight at the back of the plane. The only positive out of the flight was watching “I am Legend” for a couple of hours. It turns out I was starting to get ill on this flight and have been fighting it ever since. I never should have eaten that piece of “jet” fruit (no idea what it was) the vendor offered me with his bare hand! My desire to be courteous won over my common sense. No more mister nice guy!
The London Underground was a great way to get from the airport to the hotel. The “tube” system is very easy to navigate and very convenient. We are near the Earl’s Court tube station in Kensington. The neighborhood is loaded with hotels remodeled from old row residences.
The blisters started to form today as the miles continue to mount. The feet, more than anything else, will enjoy the return to the USA. I don’t mean to complain too much, we are actually having a great time. We will soon be leaving to meet Silvia for a drink before we see Mark Knopfler at the Royal Albert Hall in concert. Silvia is an IABC colleague of Stacy’s from London who gave the “opening remarks” for Stacy’s workshop in Dubai.
How many miles have I walked today? I do not know, but more than my feet would like by a long shot! After walking the city near the hotel I took a taxi to the Mall of the Emirates, the worlds largest mall. The taxi ride is 30 minutes and goes through some of the worst traffic I have seen outside southern California. The first thing I saw upon entering the mall is……SNOW! At least it was on the other side of a glass wall. The ski Dubai area is a year round ski resort. I use the term “resort” loosely. Check out the picture below. A nice view of people on the ski lift through the window of the T.G.I.F Friday’s restaraunt.
The feet beckoned me to return to a stationery position so I hailed a cab for the return trip. On the way, as we were passing the worlds only 7 star hotel I asked Amman (from Pakistan) if he could get me close enough for some pictures. He obliged and we spent the next hour and a half driving around taking photos. The language barrier fell away as he bought me a bottle of water and informed me he does not like Phillipinos or Iranians. He speaks portions of 10 languages and will never return to Pakistan.Â
He also took me to a beach so I could wet my toes in the Arabian Gulf, the locals do not like to call it the Persian Gulf. The water was clear and as warm as a babies bath water. I wished Stacy and the kids could be with me and we could play in the ocean. The beach was literally littered with shells. I picked the five up at my feet in one place and walked back to the taxi. Avery and I have walked a quarter mile and spent an hour to find fewer shells than I found as a second thought standing in one place! Pack your bags kids, we’re headed for Dubai!
The drive home took me by the world’s tallest building once again. The amount of construction here is astounding. We have heard that somewhere between one third and one half of the worlds construction cranes are in Dubai. I believe it! I counted 14 high rise construction cranes in one field of view.
Stacy finished day two of her workshop and everything went well. We quickly made our way to the pool area to wind down. The evening was terrific, a warm breeze with the sun setting over the gulf. We had the priveledge of talking to (and buying beers for) two navy service men from the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier on shore leave. This was the second group from the Abraham Lincoln we conversed and shared a drink with. Thank you John, Luke, and Chuck, it was a pleasure meeting you!
Thanks to Ambien we had a great night sleep. Woke up early no problem and started day 1 in Dubai. The Hyatt Regency is very nice here and we had a wonderful breakfast buffet. I had lychee fruit for the first time and absolutely loved it. It tasted like lemonade and grapefruit to me. The cheeses and baba gnoush, foul medemas were terrific. Thanks to my uncle Aref I started early, eating and loving middle eastern cuisine.
We walked to the gold souk which is interesting. Several hundred stores filled with gold based jewelry and plenty of salespeople from every possible nation on earth to show the goods. I rather liked an $8,000 necklace for Stacy but decided to save my money for a car or a year of college for the kids. Of course this necklace was no where near as expensive as much of the wares.
After some serious gold over exposure we found our way, with many stops to ask directions, to the spice souk. Again, many shops, many people enticing you to enter their shop. The area is full of wonderful aromas, interesting sites, and friendly people. I finally found a ready supply of zatar. In Denver I always have difficulty finding it. Here it is available in every shop with a 10 pound bag of the stuff.
Finally got to see what frankincense is after hearing about it all these years in christmas songs and stories. The saffron is of the Iranian variety and much cheaper than what we can get in the US. We have learned their are a lot of Iranians here and they use saffron in almost everything. The Iranian cuisine is significantly different than the Arabic food I am used to.
We continued our exploration of Dubai with a quick, nondescript lunch at a middle eastern chain. We hired a “guy off the street” to drive us to the fabric souk on the other side of the creek. Until now we had stayed on the south side of the creek in the Deira section of the city. The fabric is in the Bur Dubai area, north of the creek.
At first Stacy was dissappointed because we learned that the stores don’t sell by the yard they sell by the roll! A roll is usually 25 yards, so unless Stacy is going to make the whole family matching head-to-toe outfits she won’t need anywhere near that much fabric. Luckily, after some diligent shopping, we found some hand made Indian fabrics that are too elaborate to sell in such bulk and are packaged in 2 meter lengths; just right for a Stacy project! We went on to find other options for Stacy to feed her fabric habit. This nice gentleman in the photo was patient with us as we scoured his store and even gave us a cold can of peach juice. A very nice gesture indeed considering the heat outside.Â
I can’t wait to see what day two will bring!