A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about sand

Summer At Last

Maspalomas

sunny 29 °C
View Maspalomas on kmmk17's travel map.

As we all know, Corona has ruined the 2020s so far. It also caused us major disruption, firstly by cancelling our Egyptian trip with just a few days to go, but also by completely ruining our Wedding plans. The whole thing had been moved backward by 53 weeks, but with Covid still in full swing a year later, there had been no Stag Do, no fun lead up, no Mini-Moon, and from a fortnight before the wedding, also no Honeymoon either.

2021 was also a pretty miserable year weather-wise. The summer in the UK was pretty cold and wet, with just a handful of decent weeks of sun and heat. After having moved home, and spending a year decorating, by the end of Summer 2021, having been on just two UK holidays in the last 2 years, and having not been abroad this decade, we were desperate for a week to relax and enjoy some sun and heat.

With things starting to stabilise, and having been vaccinated, we decided to finally get away to the Canary Islands and finally have a break. This wasn't our honeymoon, or even a mini-moon, this was just a well overdue relax. We decided to go to Gran Canaria, where things looked good Covid-wise, and there wasn't too much we wanted to see, so we could just settle in the hotel where it was safe, without feeling like we were missing out on local sights.

The testing regime was a nightmare to get our heads round. At the time we travelled there was a three category list of countries which changed every three weeks, and there were different rules for those who had been vaccinated or not. Spain was looking like it would not move to the dreaded Red List (where expensive hotel quarantine would be required), and we deliberately chose to go during a week between announcements so we could be sure it would all be fine once away.

But even booking last minute, we still didn't manage to avoid all the potential drama, as a couple of days later, La Palma started erupting. This was 150 miles from Gran Canaria, but that hadn't stopped Eyjafjallajökull in 2011, and this is the volcano that is predicted to collapse into the sea and cause a massive tsunami, flooding even the south coast of England. Maybe a hotel on the beach wasn't such a great idea after all?

Arriving in Spain required a form to be filled out. Staying in the hotel needed confirmation we were vaccinated, and then we would need to pay for tests two days before flying home, and also two days after as well as fill in a form to arrive back home.

After getting everything prepped, we were finally able to get away, and on Saturday morning we headed to the airport. Once inside it was the start of a long day wearing a face mask. Dropping the bags off took ages as everybody was subjected to a document check - forms, vaccine certificates, boarding passes, passports etc.

After breaking the machine, we had checked our bags in and headed up to the Departure Lounge to grab some drinks and magazines before our long flight. The airport was busy, and there was little social distancing. The airport is simply too small for the amount of people that were there. In an effort to try and give us more space, as we arrived at the gate, they only processed half of us until we were actually boarding the aircraft. Of course, there were still many who weren't fully prepared. Mostly those who had hand luggage only and so hadn't been checked at bag drop off. This included an old couple who had printed out their Spanish health form, not understanding that only digital versions were permitted. The boarding staff decided to help them, and started filling in the form on their behalf. Once complete it needed email validation, but the old couple had no idea how to get to their emails so just sat there claiming blankly "I don't know how to get to them". Well good luck getting to Spain then - no one else is going to know, Doris!

It would take over four hours to reach Gran Canaria, so as we boarded the plane we used the opportunity to lower our masks, and get some fresh air - but instead all we got was Kerosene for a few seconds before being masked again for the duration of the flight.

En Route

En Route

As the time zone was the same in the Canaries at home, and our hotel was an hour from the airport it was going to be a long day. We also realised that the local shop would be closed the next day so we wanted to get to the hotel as soon as possible. This was our first trip to Europe since Brexit, and so we would be entering the slow queue, and as we were at the back of the plane, we were one of the last to disembark. Once we were off we tried to get through as quick as possible. But this was actually not necessary. In what was the slowest baggage claim I'd ever seen, twenty minutes after the last person got through immigration, the carousel as finally switched on. With just 5 minutes until the bus we needed was due, we expected we'd end up missing it, and so we planned to head to to the shop in the airport before boarding, rather than wait until we were at the hotel.

However a stroke of luck, our bag was the very first one to come out. We grabbed it and headed to customs, where they quickly scanned our health form, and we were free to continue our journey. We had four minutes to get to the bus stop, so we ran. With a mask still covering our faces we ran as fast as possible for what seemed like ages. Along corridors, up escalators and more corridors, we then found the right exit, headed outside and arrived at the bus stop with a minute to go. We could finally lower our masks, get some air and have a drink. It was hot already, and it was quite a shock to the system. Not knowing whether we had missed the bus (it was stopping here en route down the east side of the island) we waited. Just a few minutes after arriving, the bus showed up. We put our masks back on and then boarded for the long trip down to the south end of the island.

An hour later we arrived in Maspalomas. Just a short walk away was the hotel, and after arriving at reception they did a temperature check. Although hot and sweaty it obviously didn't cause too much concern as they let us in anyway. As a large Irish group was already being processed we had to wait a while.

Views from the Hotel

Views from the Hotel

Eventually we were checked in and able to head to our room. As this was Covid, we had to book slots at the restaurant, so we decided to book for 45 minutes time, at 8:30pm. This gave us chance to head over to the supermarket, next to the bus stop, get back and freshen up for dinner. Bearing in mind we had left home at 10am, and Covid has made us lazy, we were already pretty tired!

When we headed down to the restaurant it wasn't too busy. And thankfully they still had a large buffet dinner for us to enjoy, just as normal. After eating a bit of everything, we headed back to the room, and finally got to chill after the long day!

Delicious Puddings

Delicious Puddings

The following day after having our fill with a large buffet breakfast, we had a chill day. We spent all day sitting around the pool, swimming and sunbathing. It was amazing. After the last 18 months this had been long overdue, and getting sunburnt and needing After Sun was a pleasure!

In the Pool

In the Pool

I never normally like to go on holiday, and then spend the whole time in the resort. But with the risk of Covid stopping us getting home, this time we made an exception. Maspalomas was the perfect destination. Hot, sunny, and only a few things outside the resort to see.

On Monday we headed over the the Dunes. It was around a half hour walk down the coast, passing many other hotels and the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

After an easy walk along the pavement, once on the sand it was a different story. We headed east, where it was quieter, passing the family bit, the nudist bit, before reaching the gay bit. By now we had had enough of walking and it was starting to get quieter, so we sat down and watched the sea. I then decided I wanted to head up the dunes, so climbed up the nearest empty one, took some pictures and then slid down it.

On the Dunes

On the Dunes

We then headed back to the hotel, and after popping to the supermarket to replenish our supplies, we went for another dip in the pool.

At Playa del Inglés

At Playa del Inglés

The following day we also headed out of the hotel, taking the bus into Maspalomas, and Playa del Inglés. There wasn't much there but it was nice to have a look around. Upon returning back to the hotel we once again chilled by the pool.

The hotel has a kids club, and a mascot - Daisy. But with there being almost no kids in the hotel, the entertainers were clearly kind of bored and so instead walked around talking to the adults. "Do you know Daisy?" they asked. "Yes I do" I said. Daisy was the same mascot the hotel chain had when I was a kid myself in 2003!

With Daisy

With Daisy

I asked if I could take a picture with Daisy and they were quite happy to. Then I sent it to my family chat an we all had a laugh at the silliness.

Being part of the hotel's member club I not only got a large discount when booking, but also get a free drinks token. As tonight was Flamenco we decided to use it, and headed down at 9 to watch.

Free Cocktails

Free Cocktails

Not that Flamenco is actually traditional to the Canaries - it's actually Andalusian. But they know what the foreigners want and unsurprisingly the crowd was pretty large.

Flamenco

Flamenco

Half an hour later, they were done, and as nightclubs were still not permitted, that was the end of the entertainment for the night. Spaniards must have been appalled at this early hour - Siesta only ended a few hours ago!

After two days out, we had another lazy day, spending it all in the hotel. That night we headed to dinner and found for the fifth day and ninth meal in a row, we were once again served by Raquel. Is this woman not allowed out? Is she a human slave? By now she knew what we wanted - two still waters thanks!

Working in a place like this they must get used to odd characters. We had noticed them ourselves:

  • Judgey Couple - Who looked down on us getting up more than once per course (don't they know it's a buffet?)
  • Nutty Woman - Complaining about everything from having to pay for drinks (the website does say), to having her plates cleaned. And went to adjacent tables to steal their cutlery
  • Workaholic Man - Who brought his laptop to the table every day, and sent out emails whilst eating, leaving his wife sat there looking bored (are you incapable of stopping work for just twenty minutes during dinner on holiday?)

Workaholic Man

Workaholic Man

The following day, after seeing Daisy at breakfast, we headed back out to the Dunes. They were fun the first time so we thought it might be nice to see them once more before the holiday was up.

The Dunes

The Dunes

After arriving back at the hotel we took our return tests. Thankfully they were negative, and after registering them we received our certificates and could complete our UK arrival forms.

As it was the last day of October, the hotel had laid on an Oktoberfest theme for the guests. The entertainers were dressed up in traditional outfits, and they had brought in an accordion player. They told us to come over as there would be beer and sausages

Say no more, we headed over and they started handing out tonnes of food and drink to everyone: beers, sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels - we weren't even All Inclusive but they didn't mind. There were silly games and silly costumes which made for an entertaining afternoon.

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

After dinner we noticed that there were cats eating from bowls in a flower bed by the restaurant. It transpired that the hotel has its own cats and so we headed down to say hello. There were three - a very friendly black one, a very scared and thin baby one, and a chunky one that had clearly eaten too much food. We said hello to the cats and they were very friendly to us.

With Chonk

With Chonk

The next day was our final full day. We spent the day in and around the pool, before enjoying our last fancy dinner, where this time Raquel brought us two still waters without even being asked!

It was still around 30C here, but at home the weather had changed and cooled to around 15C. As this was the last warm evening we'd be getting for months, I decided to take a little walk around the hotel and the beach. En route I got distracted by the cats so in the end I'd been gone well over an hour!

Evening Stroll

Evening Stroll

The next morning we were shocked to discover Raquel had been given time off, and after enjoying a last big meal, we headed back to the room to pack. As we didn't need to leave until almost 2pm, we dropped the bags at reception, and then sat around the pool.

Around 1pm one of the entertainers came round and asked us if we wanted to play the 'Cocktail Game'. "Yes I did" I said - I had been waiting all week to play this game! I asked how we played and it was basically Play Your Cards Right, and the person who gets the longest run of correct guesses wins a cocktail. "But we are leaving in half an hour" I said. "No worries, if you win you'll have time to drink the cocktail before you go", he claimed.

I got a dismal 3, but Chris got an amazing 11. "You're probably the winner" he said. Well let's hope we find out soon, cos we need to go! 15 minutes later he was back. "You won! Enjoy your drink and safe flight home!" As Chris didn't want it, I quickly headed to the bar and ordered a drink. But the waitress didn't take my token. "Keep it and have another later at the Tirajana Bar!". If only she knew I was leaving the hotel for the last time in 10 minutes... what a pity as we'd've loved this earlier in the week!

Free Cocktail!

Free Cocktail!

I downed my cocktail and we headed back to reception, grabbed the suitcase and made our way to the bus stop. After an hour on the bus we arrived at the airport, changed into warmer clothes, and then joined the bag drop queue. This was so slow. After an hour and a half we had finally dropped the bag off, and there as just 45 minutes until we were boarding.

After getting through security we had hoped to grab and eat a meal at the Burger King. It was 5:30 and we wouldn't be landing until almost 11! But after the slow drop off and with a large queue at the Burger King we had to give it a miss. Instead after boarding we purchased a hot meal on board. Thankfully they had started at our end of the plane as there wasn't much available, and those served after us didn't even get any hot food on offer.

After landing back at home, we then found that due to a busy departures hall, we had to get on a bus and be driven to a door on the other side of the terminal. Luckily we had got off the plane quickly and managed to get on the first bus to depart. Upon entering the Immigration Hall, we were at least in front of almost everyone on our plane, even if there were at least two other plane loads in front of us.

They weren't even checking documents other than passports. The reason for the slow processing was because so many dimwits kept their masks on whilst using the e-gates - despite the staff endlessly shouting "Take your masks off". How on earth will they know it's you if half your face is covered... welcome back to the UK...

Eventually we got through, grabbed our bag and headed out into what felt like blistering cold. My brother had come to collect us, and after heading home via McDonalds, our trip was now over.

Two days later we posted off our arrival tests, and somehow had managed to avoid Covid despite the chaos at the airports.

Despite the agro, the holiday was well worth it. We needed the break and the heat. Now just 6 months of winter to get through....

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 16:15 Archived in Spain Tagged sea beach hotel sand summer sun swim swimming pool entertainment flamenco Comments (1)

Lava and Lounging in Lanzarote

Canary Islands - Lanzarote

sunny 27 °C
View Canary Islands on kmmk17's travel map.

After around half an hour of crossing the short channel between the islands we arrived in Lanzarote. The ferry port is on the south side of the island in Playa Blanca, which was luckily where we were staying, and it was only a short walk with our suitcases to the hotel.

Inside the hotel

Inside the hotel

Similar to the last, being built into the hillside, we arrived at the reception on one of the top floors of the hotel. Check in was pretty quick and we walked down the corridor towards our room we noticed ours had an extra sign. As we got closer we couldn't believe our luck as it said "suite".

Our room

Our room

Inside we found that we hadn't just been given an upgrade, but had received the best they had, a suite with a huge bed, sofa, two tvs, double balcony with sun loungers, and a complimentary bottle of wine.

Inside the room

Inside the room

After settling in, and taking a tour around the complex, we made our way down to our first dinner in the new hotel, and found it far better than that in Fuerteventura.

Sunset

Sunset

The rest of the evening to this long day of travelling was spent chilling and enjoying the sunset from the room - at least until the fireworks show later on, which were exploding just metres from our window!

Fireworks

Fireworks

The following day was another relax day. After breakfast we took a walk down the coast to the harbour, before sitting around the pools and taking a dip. The evening had an ABBA tribute act, and so we decided to sit watch the performance.

ABBA Tribute Act

ABBA Tribute Act

The following morning we had booked an excursion to the National Park. We woke up earlier than usual to be ready for the pick up at the hotel. Waiting before the pick up time many coaches showed up, but not the one for us. We waited and waited, as did a few other people who appeared to be on the same tour as us, but nothing. By now it was half an hour late so I made a call to the number of the confirmation form. I was told it would be on it's way, but when i queried that it was already now half an hour late I was told that it had already been here and we weren't there. Absolute rubbish, as we were there 15 minutes prior, but nevertheless no trip for us. I was told there was space on the excursion the following day but I would need to rebook.

I contacted the booking agency and explained and luckily they rebooked us without further charge. However by now I was not only annoyed at being lied to, but also having to get up early to sit around and wait for nothing. Tomorrow would now be another early start and who knows if we would even make it on a bus? Nevertheless we still had the day to relax, so we did the same as yesterday sitting around the pool before dinner and an evening walk.

Evening stroll along the coast

Evening stroll along the coast

The following morning after another early start we were not very hopeful. We showed up even earlier, and tried to be more pushy with each coach that did turn up to make sure we didn't miss the right one. But eventually the correct bus showed up - right on time and right outside the hotel, exactly where it was supposed to. This definitely didn't happen yesterday! As we boarded the bus the lady asked if I was Kevin - yes I said as she apologised for yesterday saying it was her fault!

Well, at least we were on the right bus. The other couple who were on the same tour as us however we not so fortunate, as after a bit of confusion were not allowed on. Who knows what was going on, but we were on a bus at least and headed to the national park.

Lago Verde

Lago Verde

After picking up many others, we finally made it to the tour proper. We began by stopping at the the Lago Verde, a green lagoon in the middle of a half submerged volcanic crater, filled with minerals and microorganisms. We had a nice view from the edge overlooking the lake, black sandy beach and the sea.

Landscape

Landscape

Continuing through the remnants of dried black lava from the last volcanic eruption, the next place on the trip was just down the coast at Los Hervideros. This coastal area has cliffs made from the solidification of the lava and subsequent erosion, causing unusual balconies overlooking the sea smashing into the cliffside.

Los Hervideros

Los Hervideros

After driving past the salt farms we headed further inland to the wine growing areas. Here grapes are grown in holes in the ground, which keep them warm and shielded from the wind. We had a taste of the local wine, which was almost syrup like, before boarding the bus again.

Wine Fields

Wine Fields

We were now headed for the edge of the national park proper, where there are camel rides. Although we weren't interested in taking a ride, we did watch others, including the couple who were refused onto our bus this morning - they must have been on a different tour to us after all!

Camel rides

Camel rides

After a lunch break we finally made it to the national park. Here it looked like Mars, with orange sand, and craters unlike anywhere else I'd ever seen. We stopped at the entrance to the park where a restaurant sits on the top of a steep hill next to geological experiment areas.

Fire

Fire

We were first shown the heat beneath us, with burning gravel just inches beneath our feet, before shown hay burning from just sitting inside a hole, and the most exciting - a geyser experiment with water being poured into a vent.

Geyser

Geyser

We then took a look inside the complex to see that the food served in the restaurant is cooked over a large natural chimney, before boarding the bus again for the last time.

National Park

National Park

We were now headed for a half hour tour around the national park which would take us up, down and through the landscape showing the rocks and craters that make this place so unique.

Looking inside a crater

Looking inside a crater

By now it was already getting late and after arriving back at the hotel we took a short rest before making our way down for dinner.

Our final day was spent enjoying the sun, pools and beach, as well as taking a walk down the coast and popping into the local shops.

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca

With our time for collection the following day confirmed, tonight would be our final meal at the restaurant, and after tucking in to the last buffet, we enjoyed what remained of our final evening on the island.

The following morning we checked out and boarded our transfer bus to the airport. After 4 hours of screaming children and views over Central London, we eventually made it home, but again like the journey on the way there, found by the time we got home we were pretty tired and it had taken all day!

Nevertheless it was a great trip, enjoying something different from before, as well as a chance to finally rest after 9 months of working hard on our house.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:38 Archived in Spain Tagged sea beach island spain sand sun resort pool geothermal geology geography geysir canaries Comments (0)

The Calming Canaries, part I

Canary Islands - Fuerteventura

sunny 24 °C
View Canary Islands on kmmk17's travel map.

After finally getting our house sorted, we treated ourselves to a relaxing week away in the Canary Islands. Not wanting to have an exact copy of the enjoyable holiday last year, we narrowed down our choices to Greece, Cyprus or the Canaries, eventually settling on the latter. As they are geographically African, and seeing as we were flying that far I wanted to make the experience feel as North African (and less Spanish) as much as possible, and so booked two hotels - one designed like a Moroccan Kasbah and the other surrounded by dunes. Being me, I couldn't spend a week trapped on a single islands, and so we were island hopping between Fuerteventura (the one that looks like the Sahara) and Lanzarote (the one with the volcanoes and landscape like Mars).

After a week of work, we got up early on Saturday to take the journey up to the airport. Heading to our gate once boarding commenced we joined the priority queue, along with most other passengers, and somehow managed to board the plane first. Nevertheless it was still another 4 hours before we landed in Fuerteventura, and then boarded our transfer bus on to Costa Calma, where we were staying.

Most of the island is rocky, but parts are full of sand dunes. This included Costa Calma, which is built on a low lying isthmus in the south of the island. And as our hotel was on the southern edge of the town, we would have views directly over them.

View from the room

View from the room

Eventually arriving almost 12 hours after we had awoken earlier that morning, we checked in. After a bit of confusion we were told our room 'is a nice one'. Heading off to take a look ourselves, we found it on the top floor, where just a handful of rooms were located, and it had glorious views of the whole complex, including the pools, terrace and beyond over the sea, lagoon and sand dunes. Exactly what I had hoped for now were had arrived in Africa!

View of the hotel from the pools

View of the hotel from the pools

The hotel was 7 floors high, and built into the hill. The reception was on the fifth floor, at street level, whilst lower levels had the restaurant and spa, before opening to the ground floor with a turtle pool, and the outdoor pools.

Turtles within the hotel

Turtles within the hotel

Further on from the pools heading further down the hill were more rooms, which led on to a gate and a path to the beach.

Our hotel from the beach

Our hotel from the beach

By now I was already feeling tired, and after popping to the supermarket and touring the complex we made our way to our first dinner. Being the same hotel chain we stayed in the previous year, we were expecting a full range of buffet options. Although this hotel was not quite as good as that in Salou, it was still good, but my tiredness didn't allow me to enjoy it tonight as much as I would on following nights.

After an early night, the following day was to spent between the pools and the sea. After eating a big breakfast, we were fortunate to find that the pools were warm enough to swim in. We spent the morning between the pools and the sun loungers, topping up our tans, and then in the afternoon we went for a walk down the the beach, and then across towards the Lagoon.

Sotavento Lagoon

Sotavento Lagoon

We had seen the lagoon from our hotel room, and by afternoon it had filled with water, being a popular place for kitesurfers as well as people taking a dip. The lagoon is separated from the sea by two long spits, with a small opening into the sea, and it was possible to walk along the spits with a shallow amount of sea water rushing into the lagoon. This was an interesting experience, being safe yet surrounded by water.

After walking back we chilled before it was time for dinner. This time getting to full enjoy the full range of delights on offer, before enjoying Sangria on the balcony.

The beach

The beach

The following day was much the same, between the pool, sun loungers, and then off to the beach. After chilling and then dinner (this time sat on the sea view balcony, rather than inside) we took an evening walk around the area, before enjoying the final night in Fuerteventura.

The next morning we had plenty of time, as although we were crossing the island, heading for Lanzarote, we had all day. We awoke and grabbed our final breakfast in the hotel, before checking out and heading to the bus stop. Once we arrived, we saw a big crowd of people, which meant a) we were in the right place, and b) we hadn't missed the imminent bus.

With our suitcases in tow, a German suspected we were headed for the airport and came to ask me in German if we were headed to the airport. Hardly surprising, as it appeared this whole resort was mostly full of Germans, with very few English people. I replied "Ja, ich... glaube" (Yes, I think so), trying to remember which was the appropriate verb. He then realised, like most Germans do, that speaking in English was more time efficient than me speaking in broken German, and so instantly switched the conversation to English.

We explained that although we thought the bus was headed to the airport (most didn't, but coincidently this one was), it was irrelevant to us as we weren't heading there anyway. Somewhat bemused by what we were actually doing, he went on to tell us all about how he often travels here for wind surfing - leaving us to wonder why we were somehow the experts in local transport when we had never been here before and he'd been here loads. Nevertheless the bus soon turned and we headed off towards the capital of the island.

After an hour and a half we arrived in Puerto del Rossario, and had half an hour before the next bus. We decided to take a quick walk into the town as we had plenty of time, finding a small town much more traditional and different to the tourist resorts across the island.

Puerto del Rossario

Puerto del Rossario

Heading back to the bus station we had missed the next bus by a minute or so, so took the following bus on to Corralejo - the northern port town. Unfortunately the usual route through the dunes was closed, which I had hoped to jump off at, and instead headed on a route more into the island, where we could only see the dunes from a distance.

Corralejo Port

Corralejo Port

By now it was getting later, and the much cheaper ferry we had wanted to take was still well over an hour away. Instead of hanging about to see some of the town, or head to the dunes with our suitcases in tow, we decided to take the next ferry and not long later, after walking through the mouth of the ship, we island hopped to Lanzarote.

Posted by kmmk17 13:58 Archived in Spain Tagged sea beach island spain sand sun resort pool canaries Comments (0)

Touring the Colonies

RTW - Caribbean

sunny 25 °C
View Round The World Trip on kmmk17's travel map.


Eventually arriving in St. Maarten I wondered - would this really be worth it? Should I have just flown straight to New York and be done with this palava of getting there? After all, I had just taken an 5 hour overnight flight from San Francisco on a boring old plane, waited in a mostly closed Miami Airport without WiFi for another 5 hours, and then boarded another fairly old boring plane for 3 hours to an island that from the face of it seemed much like Fiji - bad infrastructure and potential for hassling, and this was also hurricane season! - but boy was I wrong, this island was amazing!!!

View from the Apartment

View from the Apartment

The apartment I was staying it wasn't that cheap, but then it came with a kitchen, free WiFi, a huge double bed, air-con, satellite TV, beach front access, great location and best of all - free international calls! Just a 20 second walk from where I was staying was the most beautiful beach you can imagine - even on a miserable day (of which there was very few, as shown by the landlady's comment on one, that it was warmer inside her house than out, something she was not used to!) the sea was still turquoise! There was a supermarket about 5 minutes away with a range of products, an efficient and cheap (mini)bus service that ran almost constantly, and above all else, friendly un-hassling locals!

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

The island was also far more entertaining than I had imagined - being there for 10 days I thought I would be utterly bored out of my skin, but actually, I could have stayed another couple of days! Three times I took a half hour walk along to beach to Maho Bay, where at the end of the runway, planes (including huge Jumbo Jets from Europe) land just 20 metres or so above spectators' heads - a thrilling experience after you get used to the fact they aren't actually going to hit you, as much as how it looks. There was even a bar at the end of the beach for spectators to make themselves as comfortable as they wanted...relaxing in on a beach chair, swimming or simply standing by the fence.

Phillipsburg

Phillipsburg

Another day, I also took the trip over to the capital of this Dutch colony, Philipsburg, to do some serious souvenir shopping, and found the beaches on that side of the territory island were as equally beautiful.

Dutch-French Border

Dutch-French Border

I also spent a longer day taking a colonial trip over the border into the French side (after all this was one of the worlds smallest divided islands), stopping at the Dutch-French border (Belgium of the future?) before taking the ferry over to Anguilla - a British colony.

The French side of the island, classed as an integral part of France itself, and therefore part of the Eurozone and the EU, was completely different to the Dutch, feeling much more colonial, and using different languages, currency and even electrical sockets - to call one side to the other is an international call, despite a completely open border.

View over Marigot, Saint-Martin

View over Marigot, Saint-Martin

I spent a few hours walking around, as well as walking up the hill to the fort, where there was a beautiful view of the western side of the island, as well as Anguilla over the channel.

Tsunami Warning Sign

Tsunami Warning Sign

Anguilla, unlike St. Martin was completely flat, with the entrance to Passport Control containing a Tsunami warning sign!

Above all else, this island will remain in my memory as one of the most beautiful places I'd ever been....turquoise seas all around, and I would not only recommend it, but I would also happily go back myself.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Sint Maarten Tagged hills boat beach airport island sand plane border rtw colony Comments (0)

"You have food!" "No, it's a teddy bear..."

RTW - Dubai

sunny 40 °C
View Round The World Trip on kmmk17's travel map.


After a late flight from Heathrow on a cold Tuesday morning and flying over desirable locations like Syria, Iraq and Iran, I finally arrived in the United Arab Emirates just as the sunset to begin my 77 day adventure. And the first thing that hit me (quite literally) was the heat! Although it had been the same temperature in Hungary just three weeks earlier, the humidity was so much more making you feel sweaty almost instantly - every time I went outside my glasses steamed up! The thing I can compare it most to, is like when you open the oven door when cooking and all the steam blows in your face....only this didn't end!

One of the most annoying things was actually the air conditioning...being that it was kept too cold! Meaning the inside temperatures were around 25 degrees colder than the outside. It was quite annoying that just as you got used to the heat, you'd go inside and freeze...then as you got used to that you'd be boiling again - a bit like when you walk round the freezer section of the supermarket in your shorts - I resorted to bringing my jacket round with me all day!

Dune Bashing

Dune Bashing

On my first full day I was still getting used to the temperature and so I had a long lie in before a short walk around the area, where the souqs were located and then going back to my hotel before being picked up at 3 for my Evening Desert Safari! This was a lot of fun, being driven over the sand dunes as well as getting to ride a camel and then an evening meal whilst watching belly dancing. Definitely worth the money! One the second and third full days I had booked myself onto the bus tours of the city (having experienced what heat does in Hungary, I knew that this was probably the best way for me to see the sights in my limited time in the city) and so on the first day I saw the Bur Dubai and Deira areas and then change bus to see the new development areas such as the Palm and the Burj al-Arab hotel and many of the huge shopping centres.

Burj Al-Arab

Burj Al-Arab

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

This then took me to the tallest building in the world - the Burj Khalifa, where I had booked a ticket to ascend to the observation tower, although for a moment I wondered whether I would in fact make it up there - having put my bags through security, Kevin Bear was picked out as being food! (something banned from the top) Whether this was a genuine mistake, or a reflection of Middle Eastern eating habits is still unclear. But once making it to the top it was an incredible experience, being on the 124th floor looking down over the desert - although unfortunately the humidity does limit the distance that can be seen.

View from the Burj Khalifa

View from the Burj Khalifa


Dubai by night

Dubai by night

I had timed this visit so that I would be able to see the city in both daylight and at night..amazing to see a city lit up at night! I spent a while up the tower before coming back down to view the fountain show and then heading back to my hotel.

Dhow Cruise

Dhow Cruise

On my final day, I had a late flight (or is it early the next?) at 2:50am, and so I had a long day to visit more of the city. I therefore took the free Dhow cruise down the river, before making my way on the bus tour to the meeting point where we would have a free guided tour of the neighbouring Emirate of Sharjah just to the north east of Dubai. After arriving back I then made my way over to the Dubai Museum and Sheikh's house which were too free after purchasing my tour bus ride, before making my way back to my hotel to collect my luggage and travel to the airport...albeit 5 hours early.

Sheikh's House

Sheikh's House

Dubai was an incredible experience...seeing both luxury and Arab culture although I would say go in the winter months instead, as several continuous days at 40+ is really uncomfortable!

Next stop: Tokyo!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged desert tower city sand rtw Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]