A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: drBrooky

New York City

We arrived here in NYC on Thursday afternoon, and finally got through customs at 7pm after our plane had landed at 4:30. We had just over two hours of standing in one queue to get out passports checked. It didn’t give us a very good first impression on this city, but since then has been stedily making up for it tenfold!

I have always heard about NYC and what a great city it is, but thought that it would be hard for it to live up to the hype. So far we have loved evey minute of it from the iconic skyline to the hours worth of people watching.
Thursday night we arrived at our hostel at abour 9pm and we were both shattered so had a quick bite to eat and then crashed. Friday morning we walked over to central park to have a look around. We ended up hiring a couple of bikes and did the 10km loop around the outside which was fantastic. The park itself is just amazing with huge grassed areas, massive well developed trees and baseball diamonds everywhere.

On the bikes around Central Park
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That afternoon we caught the subway into Soho where Nick works and caught up with him there. There we had a couple of sneaky bottles of wine out on the steps of his work, and watched the myriad of personalities walk by. We left his work just before 5pm and went to a bar, The Frying Pan, which is on a big old ship moored on the side of the Hudson River. It had an awesome atmosphere and looking down the river we could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We continued drinking that night and went out to some awesome New York bars.

Sneaky stoop drinks
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View from the frying Pan of the Statue of Liberty, its to the left of the skyline
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Saturday we caught the subway back in to Nicks place and then went over to the Rockerfella centre, which is a skyscraper which is almost as tall as the Empire State building. We went to the top viewing platform which had amazing 360° panoramic views of the city. After that we just walked around the city a bit including looking around Times Square.
Saturday night we caught up again with Nick and went to a comedy show at the Comedy Strip, which is where Seinfield used to do his famous standup leading into the show. The was the guy who hosted the show plus 4 other comedians. Most of them had all performed on famous shows the David Letterman etc, and they were all hilarious. It was such good value for money, we all ended up with sore cheeks from laughing so hard!

On top of the Rockafella
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Wandering around Time Square
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Sunday morning we meet Nick at Central Park and threw a football around, plus a little bit of aerobie!! It was cool being there on a Sunday with people everywhere in the park, from sunbathers in their speedos to super competetive social baseball players. All the baseball diamonds had people playing their beloved sport, which was fun to sit back and watch. Luckily, the weather here has been great with sunny days and early-mid 20°.

Playing in the Park
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Sunday afternoon Rach and I did what we had to when in New York, and went to a Broadway show. We went to The Lion King and we were blown away. The costumes and share talent soon showed us why we had heard so many good things about it. It was definitely not the cheapest activity to do here but was well worth it. After the show we caught the subway back to Nick’s and went and had a delicious Mexican dinner.

It is now Monday morning here and we are checking out of our hostel here and going to stay our last night at the Mulberry hotel, which is over by Chinatown and Little Italy. We had a fantastic Italian meal in Little Italy of bruchetta, seafood soup, eggplant parmigiana and cabonara all washed down with some nice bottle of red. This afternoon we are doing our 20min chopper flight which we can’t wait to do.

All in all we have had an amazing few days here and are not looking forward to leaving this great city. Catching the subway is great fun with super talented people busking in the stations and more than a few crazy people often preaching something that only they could understand. One young guy busking yesterday was playing 3 instruments at once. He had a bamboo drum attached to his foot, an acordian in one hand, and trumpet in the other. He played Radiohead, Creep which was unbelievably good!!

My turn! (rach) The best way to see New York City is from the air!!!! We made our way to the port were the choppers fly out, and did a bit of what seems like the norm in the New York of hurry up and wait. There were like 5 choppers going constantly, man thye must be making some money. But I tell you what it was pretty awesome! I couldnt help smiling from the second we got in, everything just unfolds in front of you. Because we had seen a few things already it pulled it all together, the Empire State building, the Rockafella, central park, uptown, down town etc and we added a few other sites like yankee stadium, New Jersey oh yeah and the statue of liberty. :) I was pretty interested when the pilot pointed out the water treatment plant, because the entire top was covered in sports courts, as he said the utilise every little bit of space.

The beautiful NY skyline
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The Statue of liberty from the air
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On our last day we did a bit of walking around down town and visited central park again before heading to The Museum of Natural History. I enjoyed it, not so sure Dave did. The dinosaur displays were pretty impressive. After that we had time to catch up with Nick for a quick farewell drink, then bam we were at the airport again. So we have had a pretty awesome stay in New York City and we are looking forward to next leg.

Pizza comes big!
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A little old street called....
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Posted by drBrooky 09:55 Comments (1)

Last few days in Dubai

Saturday we got treated to a pretty awesome experience! I think maybe you guys should check it out online it’s a little old hotel called Atlantis situated on the end of the palm! Wow man it was incredible. After checking in we went up to our room which over looked the open air aquarium filled with rays, sharks and fish. It was massive. Then we around the ‘lost caves’ which is a bunch of tanks with all kinds of different fish, fresh and salt water. It feels like we are constantly walking around with our mouths open (I’m not so good at looking like I belong around all the wealth!) So we got to chill out drinking Moet on our balcony watching sharks and rays while the sun went down, pretty special!

Then we went to Nobu a renowned Japanese style restaurant in Atlantis and had the most amazing meal, we had about 9 different dishes including sushi, sashimi, crab, the tastiest duck I have ever eaten and then dessert! Heaven! The most expensive champagne on the menu was just under $NZ4000... FOR A GLASS!!! But we were early to bed as we had a big day ahead of us on Sunday at the water park.

The water park consisted of heaps of mostly enclosed slides which you went down on tubes except for one which was called the leap of faith. Yeah so after a bunch of coaxing I agreed to give it a go. Sharon said she was going to take photos of us and I worked out later that it was a ploy so she didn’t have to go down. It literally felt straight vertically down and I had my eyes shut the whole way down because I was pretty scared, to put it politely. The boys enjoyed it so much they went again, I wasn’t so keen. Then we jumped on the double tubes and went a few more of the slides and it was even more fun flinging around and the whip lash I felt the next day was totally worth it!

Rach admiring the aquarium from our balcony
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View of the aquarium below our balcony
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The next few days were on the lazy side, while we caught up on sleep, washing and emails. We had a cool trip down the “creek” on a Dhow (boat) one evening followed by an awesome Lebanese meal at a restaurant on the river, the garlic sauce was pretty awesome!

On the Dhow heading up the creek.
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We also had a cracker evening on an Arabian nights desert safari. It consisted of dune bashing which was awesome fun, skidding and bumping our way over some beautiful red sand dunes in the middle of nowhere. We then had a typical Bedouin BBQ dinner, went for a ride on a camel, watched a belly dancer and got some henna, all out in the middle of the desert. Then on the ride home out of the desert our driver gave us a bit more of a thrill by switching the head lights off on the car as we flung around some dunes. Man those guys know what they are doing!

Camel returning after its day of roaming
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Just before our mini camel ride
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First thing today we went up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 828m. You can get up to the 124th floor (of 200) where there is a viewing platform. You can walk all the way around and a portion of the platform is outside. Lucky for me the height was a little surreal so my legs weren’t too wobbly. Looking down everything was so tiny!

Up the Burj
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We were staying in the middle tower of the 3-tower complex, top left corner of photo
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We are now getting ready to go for some Chinese, our last meal here in Dubai, before we come home and pack our bags. We fly out at 10am local time and head for New York where you will be hearing from us again.

Posted by drBrooky 17:54 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Sheikh Zahed Grand Mosque

Thursday we took the drive over to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheikh Zahed Grand Mosque. The Mosque is the largest in the UAE and is made out of white marble. The sheer size of it was breathtaking.

Here are a few of the figures; it can capacitate 40,000 worshippers, the courtyard area in the middle is 130m x 130m, there are 82 domes with the main dome having a diameter of 30m.

All women have to wear burqas while visiting the mosque so Sharon and Rach were looking rather cute in their outfits. We walked around the outside for a while and the detail work with the marble was amazing. The entire courtyard is made up with white mosaic marble tiles, with large areas of colourful floral patterns done with numerous different coloured pieces of marble.

We went inside and that was just as impressive. There were massive chandeliers hanging from the domes, one of which used to hold the record for the largest in the world. In saying that, they may have been massive but boy they were ugly!! The rest of the inside was stunning though.

One our way home we called into Ferrari World, which is a theme park mostly indoors. We decided we wouldn’t pay the money to go in but the building itself was pretty spectacular.

Yesterday we went out for the famous ‘brunch’. We went to a hotel where you pay a fee which covers you for all the food and alcohol you can consume in 4 hours. The food was South African and was delicious and the drinks were going down quite well too.

From there we went to Barusti Bar which is a massive bar on the water front and caught up with friends of Shaz and Mike. Everyone hangs out on the beach which is covered with beds, couches and bean bags. They had a big screen TV up covering the royal wedding so there was a big crowd of cheering poms. We had an awesome time there drinking on the beach and smoking from the famous shisha pipe.

Today we are being treated to a night at Atlantis Hotel which is going to be fantastic. It is located at the far point of the palm islands. There is a big water park there which we can use at our leisure and tonight we are going to a great Japanese restaurant in the Hotel.

We will let you know soon how that goes. 

View from high rise of palm island.
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A couple of Abu Dhabi buildings
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Outside Mosque
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Rach and I
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Rach and Sharon with people in background giving a good idea of size
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Rach washing her feet before prayer
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Detail work of courtyard floor
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Inside the Mosque
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Barusti bar
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Rach getting looked after by security
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Posted by drBrooky 10:02 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Oman Diving Trip

  • *Please note if you are struggling to see our landscape photos you can click on photography to the right and can see them better.

Wednesday we skipped on over to Oman as you do for a fantastic boat ride and oh yeah an amazing couple of dives! First things first, the car ride to Oman was surreal, the landscape goes from vast areas of sand plains to the most amazing rocky hills and mountains. We arrived into Oman near the coast in a town called Dibba, and passed through a check point where our passports were checked and we narrowly avoided jail (ok not really) as Dave was very politely asked to delete the photo he had just taken of the check point by a slightly serious looking guard. We got to the port all ready to go by 9 and jumped on an awesome speed boat with 2 English guys, a Russian, the 4 of us and the boaties and guide from a company called Sheesa Dive.

We headed off towards the Musandam which is the peninsula and known for its dive sites. The boat ride itself was amazing we passed cliff faces and points of sheer rock faces with no vegetation to be seen. Our first dive site was in a bay, and as soon as we stopped you could tell it was going to be amazing, the water was so clear. We got all geared up and dropped in and I loved it from the get go! There were heaps of fish, form your tropical to snapper but the abundance was what hit me, that’s what oceans should be like! Our dive guide, a South African dude decided to show us his skills or fearlessness by playing with a moray eel that was the size of my thigh! He just rubbed it under its chin like a cat. There were lion fish and heaps of soft coral, again truly amazing!

After coming up we were treated to some dolphins before heading off to our next site, and man how picturesque can you get! So we jumped in for our second dive and headed off to a point and not far into the dive I got excited to see a small Cuttlefish so I was busy trying to get someone’s attention to show them my amazing find. I was not succeeding when I saw the guide power off towards something so followed suit, and there he out did my find with a massive cuttlefish, it was so beautiful and right up there with my favourite things in the ocean! I couldn’t have been more excited!

When we surfaced I was stoked to hear Dave, who had been snorkelling while we were down had also seen a group of them. Then once on board the boat and cruising our way out of the bay he told us how he had spotted a reef shark! Apparently he didn’t stick around much longer after that, but longer than he wanted to as the boat was pretty far away! When we got back to port there was a fish market on and amongst the masses of fish there were several big bull sharks caught in the area and are regulars apparently, luckily we weren’t told that before  Again it was truly a day to make you appreciate what we have in this world!

On our way to Oman in the morning.
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All ready to go!!
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Dolphin
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Our second dive spot
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Boat ride back into Dibba
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Fish market in Dibba
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Fish drying on green nets in foreground
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Coming back into Dubai
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Posted by drBrooky 09:31 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

Dubai

First couple of days

sunny 38 °C

The last day we had in Melbourne we went into the city and spent a bit of time down by the river on the south bank which is lined with cafes and street performers. There we met up with Lyn and Charlie and Shelley and Seb for lunch which was a few hours of great fun. From there we went up the Eureka tower which is the tallest building in Melbourne and has a higher viewing platform than our skytower. The view was incredible and it was a perfectly clear day.

From there it was time to pack up and get back into our sexy outfits and get on board for our 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi.

We arrived yesterday at 6:30am and were picked up by Shaz and Mike and brought back to Dubai. We met up with Sue and Pres at about 10am and spent the day with them while Shaz and Mike worked. We caught up down by the Dubai mall which is of course the biggest in the world, and only a few minutes walk from where we are staying, and had a walk around. We saw very little of the mall itself but saw the famous aquarium inside which has the largest pane of glass for an aquarium in the world. The pane of glass is 33m long and 8m high.

Outside the mall is the Burj Khalifa which is the tallest building in the world at 828m. It is the most amazing building I have ever seen and can’t seem to take my eyes off it. (Luckily we have an unobstructed view of it from Shaz and Mikes’ apartment.)

After a bite to eat we booked a bus tour for the four of us which took us all around Dubai with a great view from to top deck of the double-decker bus. The buildings here are just unbelievable. At times we felt bad as we wouldn’t even give a building a second look, but if it was in any other city it would be a great landmark. It seems like no building goes straight up or has a square corner they all seem to be rounded, bulge out in the middle or do something special. There was one we saw which looks close to being finished, a four sided high-rise which does a 90° twist from floor level to the top.

It was great to get away from the city centre a bit as it gives you a better perspective on how tall the Burj Khalifa really is when you see it in the skyline next to the other massive sky scrapers.

On the bus tour we also got to see the famous Burj Al Arab which is the 7 star hotel, shaped like a boat’s sail. From there we drove out onto the palm island where the Atlantis Hotel is. I have seen pictures on TV and the internet of the island, but it was far bigger than I could have imagined. It goes 5kms off the coast and is 5km wide.

We arrived back at the mall just before 6 in time to see the fountain show outside the Burj Khalifa. They go every 15 mins and have different shows with different songs and are amazing especially when it gets dark and the lights come on.

We said our goodbyes to Sue and Pres and went out for dinner with Shaz and Mike and a few of their friends.

This morning Sharon, Rach and I went for a walk around a specially laid 4km soft running track which goes around the outside of a park. There were a lot of people out running including quite a few Arab women, dressed in their full burqas and running shoes!

Unfortunately I was misinformed in believing the average temperature here at this time of the year was around 26 °C. Yesterday was forecast for 40 °C and it felt like every bit of it. Today was just the same so we had to go to the beach and cool off in the crystal clear blue water.

Tomorrow we are crossing the border into Oman, where Shaz, Mike and Rach will do some diving while I keep things in check on the surface with my mask and snorkel. We are both really looking forward to it, as the diving there is supposed to be amazing.

Hope everyone is well back home and we will do another post in a few days 

Dave and Rach.

Our sexy outfits

Our sexy outfits

Gorgeous Alleira

Gorgeous Alleira

Wedge-tail eagle

Wedge-tail eagle


Lunch with the Griffiths clan

Lunch with the Griffiths clan


View of MCG and Rod Laver Arena from Eureka tower

View of MCG and Rod Laver Arena from Eureka tower


Us with Lis in Melbourne

Us with Lis in Melbourne

Dave driving... Safety 1st!!!

Dave driving... Safety 1st!!!

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Dubai skyline

Dubai skyline

Souk Madinat in Jumeirah in Dubai

Souk Madinat in Jumeirah in Dubai


View from Shaz and Mikes' Balcony

View from Shaz and Mikes' Balcony

Twisted Building

Twisted Building

Lunch with Sue and Pres

Lunch with Sue and Pres

Posted by drBrooky 06:54 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged dubai Comments (1)

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