|Rosemary, George, Lidia & I spent a day exploring Dubai before departing on our cruise to Venice, Italy. As Lidia & I had seen much of Dubai the previous stay there, R & G (saves a few key strokes !) did some exploring on their own. We did explore together, especially the Souks (marketplaces), and visited the first semi-private school in Dubai. George was sent to detention for asking too many questions ! We did buy some fresh saffron, which would cost a fortune back home; and it was so fragrant & softly moist with vivid color.
After the overnight cruise to Abu Dhabi, we explored separately & together the next day. Cocktails beach side at the Emirates Palace Hotel was an afternoon delight. We also hired a taxi driver and we four could explore more of the city together, and go directly to where we wanted. Saw more interesting architecture, though the one that really stood out was the Al Bahar Towers. These twin buildings are unique in that they each have 100's of computer-controlled sun-screens that function like umbrellas; quite innovative.
Next port of call was Muscat, and we re-visited the Al Alam Palace and spent time wandering the souks. The following day there were excursions to the Wadi Abayeen; an oasis about 2 hours from Muscat. The excursion prices offered by the cruise ship were too expensive, were on larger buses, and probably, invariably, included shopping. So, we bargained with the collections of hawkers awaiting the ship's exiting passengers. After walking away from and re-negotiating with one fella a few times we settled on a personal tour in a four wheel drive (4WD) comfortable new Jeep; leather interior, AC, etc. As it turned out, those who left on big buses had to transfer to 4WD vehicles in order to actually get to the Wadi/Oasis - a whole nother logistic pain which I'm gald we avoided. We drove there directly, and were able to enjoy the oasis before the hoards arrived. It was a luxuriant green sweet smelling garden in the middle of brown rocky dry nowhere. Swimming in the clear cool fresh water was a tactile delight.
It was a real pleasure to re-visit the three cities with dear friends R & G as they explored them for the first time.
Back to the Musica for 5 days at sea as we proceed around the Arabian Peninsula, up the Red Sea, and into the Gulf of Aqaba.
In order for the Trip Journal Map to 'simulate' the water route I take liberties with a couple 'location' sites to better duplicate the actual ship route. The Journal Map wants to/insists on drawing travel in straight lines.
Ciao for now