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Nov 19, 2009 - Around the World    No Comments

Vietnam Feb/Mar 09

This was a 13 Day conducted tour with Kuoni starting in Hanoi and ending, via Ho Chi Minh City, at Nha Trang for a three day chill out. The Slide show is in chronological and location order from north to south.

Nov 8, 2009 - Around the World    No Comments

Sharm el Sheikh Nov 09

If you want to miss all the following blurb and just see the photos please click here.

After an uneventful drive to Dublin and a very early start (4.45a.m.) We arrived at Sharm airport around 4pm local. Usual eastern bureaucracy.  Fill in entry form – go to passport control – told we have filled in wrong form – fill in correct form – go to passport control – stamps form and visa page without reading either!  

The Hilton Waterfalls Hotel only about 20 mins from airport as we had a minibus to ourselves.  The hotel is fine although Josephine commented that the reception clerk could have done with a clean shirt.  Nothing wrong with the service or the room.  Our balcony exits onto the heated winter pool!  Usual start, shower – unpack.   Went down to dinner, buffet is typical middle eastern.  Large selection of salads, main courses fine  and sweets out of this world if you like baklava or rice pudding for example.  Wine mediocre but it’s free and drinkable.  We have adopted two waiters so glasses never empty!!  There is a “hubble bubble” bar which looks down to the beach, quite impressive with the lights on at night.

The one thing that is immediately apparent is that the hotel is occupied mainly by Russians who have some quite stunning WAGS. On the whole they do not seem the most communicative of people but as my russian consist of da, nyet and guhor this is probably not surprising!

Friday our first day – breakfast spread pretty impressive, but as all ME hotels it is not a good idea to try the bacon and sausage! Josephine discovers that, having forgotten to put on the insect repellant on the plane she has, as usal, been badly bitten.

Made contact with Dave and Connie, last met in Agadir 6 years ago, and booked to go to St Catherine’s Monastery on Saturday (£35 a head including lunch) then off down the hill to the “beach”. We decided to bypass the aerobics class and headed out onto the pontoon where we duly became the adopted parents of the lifeguard, “Luka” who proceeded to lend me a set of fins, mask and snorkel for the week. Lunch in the Lebanese pool bar. More of the same in the afternoon and back up for dinner.  There is a “cabaret” at 10 each evening but nothing to get really excited about.  Passes an hour.

Saturday Up at 5.45 to get the bus.  Collected a truly international group, 3 Russians, 2 Swiss, 2 English and 2 Portugese Linda and Clara. Luckily everybody but the Russian spoke english so our guide only had to translate once. 

 I don’t know if it was on purpose but, the dog unit of the tourist police is named K9 and they have this in huge gold letters on their uniform.  Egyptian police are not photo friendly so no backup pictures.

Sinai Desert, not a place to breakdown

The drive to St Catherine’s is about 2.5 hours through the desert.  Not a desert as I had imagined, this was stark hills with the odd sandy wadi.  Also amazed to see a sanger with a heavy machine gun mounted on the roof sited, apparently, in the middle of nowhere. 

Follow the link for full details of the monastery, it is too complex to write up here but suffice to say the ecclesiastical library and icon collection alone would have made the journey  worthwhile.  Sure, if it was good enough for Moses it’s good enough for me!

We set off back via the inevitable “factory shop” visit;  if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all!  The next stop was for lunch at Dahab a coastal town which claims to have a beach suitable for swimming.  Not for me it doesn’t! Still the food wasn’t bad and it broke up the journey.

Joined a party of Poles for dinner at the hotel.  One was a banker who had worked in Milan for 4 years so made for an interesting evening.  Needless to say there was no language problems with them.

Sunday we met up with Dave and Connie, he is a theatre consultant originally from East Belfast and she a nurse from Sligo, and went for a meal in the old city.  This is like the new city but older!  Had forgotten that you can’t buy beer in public outside the hotels, the odd bar being the exception but then the prices are ludicrous!

Monday I persuaded Josephine to try the “sea spi” a sort of  electrically controlled raft with viewing ports to watch the reef.  Great success, though half an hour with the sun on ones back is plenty. We encountered our one and only topless sunbather that day – Danish obviously!

The rest of the week took much the same pattern and was a great way to recharge for the next month or so of Irish weather.

If you’ve nothing better to do it’s a great holiday.

As a bonus for getting this far click here to see all the photos.

Oct 25, 2009 - Around the World    No Comments

Italy visit Oct 09

The pictures below are from a flying three day visit to our major Italian furniture supplier, Las Mobile, who is based in Tortoreto on the adriatic coast between Ancona and Pescara. The town is major holiday resort, especially frequented by Germans, between April and September. It boasts a long beach which extends to the neighbouring fishing port of Guilianova.

Our objective was to see if there had been any major developments in manufacturing technology and to meet with the designers and manufacturers to see if could find a machine particular to our needs. Unfortunately the only one which had the operational scope was not only extremely expensive, approx €200,000, but would also have taken up half my warehousing space. Back to the drawing board but with a couple of possible simpler solutions. Having completed our business and being taxied back across the Appenines we spent half a day sightseeing in Rome.

Café de Paris, Rome

Café de Paris, RomeI spent half a day sightseeing in Rome with two business partners whilst waiting for a late evening flight on our way back from Tortoreto on the Adriatic.  We had left our bags at the Hotel Medici in the Via Flavia and had decided to walk to the Spanish steps and thence to the Vatican.  By the time we reached the Via Veneto it was well past lunch time and the Café de Paris just happened to be adjacent.  It certainly has the air of celebrity and the waiter ushered us to a table in the corner which gave us an all round view of the street.  We ordered water and soft drinks, I had an exceptionally good fresh orange and grapefruit mix.  A basket of rolls and butter, olive oil, a spray container of balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt were left whilst we contemplated the menu. For starters two  had soup, one onion and one seafood.  Both were extremely tasty and definately substantial. The third choice was a lasagne alla bolognaise and again there was no complaint.  I chose escalope of veal with a mushroom sauce and artichokes and my companions had escalope Milanaise and sirloin steak: we ordered a plate of fries on the side.  The portions were of a  reasonable size and well presented.  The escalope was well cooked and the sauce delicious.  The vegetables accompanying the other meals were shaved carrot and sweet potato.  We did not bother with coffee.  The establishment is not a place to visit if you are travelling on a budget and the price tag of €201 plus some small change reflects this.  Still, if you want a great ambience and to sit and watch the great and the good go by I can think of far worse places to do it.

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