Tuesday, 19 November 2019

127 Triq Ix-Xatt (Gzira, Malta)

I arrived yesterday in Malta from Cyprus. My stay in Cyprus was on the whole relaxing and enjoyed meeting new people, but it was time to move on to Malta. I did manage to book activities in London starting 14 December, which was nice, but it took two days to make all the bookings. Also, I (intentionally?) booked my flight from Malta for the 13th when I intended to arrive in London on the 2nd of December. I was having problems figuring out what to do from the 2nd to the 14th. So, as a result, I’m staying longer in Malta rather than change the flight.

Yesterday I arrived early at the Larnaca airport and caught my flight to Malta. The weather was perfect as I arrived on Malta and the taxi driver took me right where I needed to be. I forgot to call the Airbnb host as I left the airport but he was waiting for me when I arrived. I like it when it works out like that. In any case, I was having problems connecting to the Vodafone network in Malta so I would have had problems texting him anyway. My phone eventually connected to the Malta Vodafone network.

The flat I’m staying in is the same that I shared with Barb when she joined me last March. It has a beautiful view of the harbor and I have plenty of room since it’s a two-bedroom flat. Nice to stay in a place that I’ve been to so I don’t need to figure out how everything works. Kris, the Airbnb host, showed me around and made sure I had everything before he left.

After a nap I went grocery shopping and also picked up my takeout dinner as well then settled in for an evening of watching The Crown and an episode of Star Trek. I decided to stay in the same bedroom that I had before rather than the one Barbara had, even though it’s a little bigger. My bed is so comfortable, and after the hard mattress that I had in Larnaca it was like floating on a cloud.

Today I did more grocery shopping, including buying a chicken to roast tonight. Later I’ll watch another episode of The Crown and more Star Trek. Not sure what I’ll do tomorrow. Nice not having any plans.


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Ermou 4 (Larnaca, Cyprus)

I’m really settled in now. Made my first batch of hash browns and fried eggs this morning. What a treat! I bought a grater yesterday and now have a way to make hash browns. And also now have ground coffee and made a fresh cup of coffee. I’m all set!

Overnight I received an email from a recruiter in Portland who would like me to contact him when I return to Portland. Another recruiter contacted me a few months ago and I’ll probably follow up with him as well. Do I want to go back doing what I did before? Right now I don’t know but always good to know I probably can if I want to.

I had been thinking of writing a best practices white paper on the subject of managing IT infrastructure projects and as a result of the latest recruiter contact I started to writing the introduction and then will create an outline. The call also triggered the need to start developing a plan for reintegrating myself back in Portland.

I went for a walk late in the afternoon and stopped in at the nearby grocery store before returning to the flat. This is the store my Airbnb host’s mother recommended. Think it will work for picking up odds and ends if I don’t want to walk to the Metro store, but it certainly doesn’t have the variety.

Just had chicken salad sandwiches this evening to use up the left over roasted chicken. I was more tired than usual and went to bed early. Tomorrow I may get a haircut or continue to work on my white paper and reintegration plan. For sure I’ll make some hash browns and eggs in the morning.


Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Ermou 4 (Larnaca, Cyprus)

Not much to eat this morning. I only bought a package of Muesli, coffee, beer and milk at the nearby store last night. Going to the Metro store later is my must-do for today.

The Airbnb host’s mom said there was a nice store nearby but I’d rather go to the Metro store because I know where everything is located, having shopped there many times during previous visits. Before I left for the store I updated a previous shopping list and added the items that I’ll need for the next few days.

Walking into the Metro store was comforting, knowing that I’ll find what I need. I’m at the point where I don’t care to learn anything new, which is one of the reasons I’m in Larnaca for the next few weeks and also to Malta after that. Both interesting places that are familiar in their own way.

After everything I bought was rung up it took three bags to hold all of the items. I then asked the customer service desk at the store to order a taxi for me. No way I was going to lug three full bags back to the flat.

I made a tuna sandwich when I returned, put in a load of wash, then took a nap. It was about 3:00 p.m. After I woke I got caught up on my travel blog posts. Dinner consisted of a roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and spinach. Thankfully the oven was easy to figure out and I put in the chicken while watching an episode of Star Trek.

Was nice to have a home cooked meal. Also nice to have a dishwasher so clean up will be easy. I’d forgotten how much I liked a roasted chicken. Tomorrow I’ll use the leftovers to make a chicken salad for sandwiches.

Another night where I thought I was sleepy but wasn’t. I ended up staying awake until 2:00 then tried again to sleep. Cyprus is two hours behind Abu Dhabi so that could be a reason too. But I don’t worry too much about not getting enough sleep since I can always nap the next day.

Tomorrow I need to start a walking program since the weather here is in the mid 70s and sunny and will be for at least the next week. I’ve been in hot weather for the past month and there was no way I was going to walk in that heat.


Monday, 4 November 2019

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

I woke up at 3:00 a.m., a half hour before my alarm was set to go off. I made a cup of coffee and sat in front of my laptop reading email, texts and getting caught up on the news before I started to get ready to leave. I was actually glad to have the extra time to slowly prepare to leave rather than rush it along and perhaps forget to pack something.

The taxi was waiting for me and was glad to arrive at the airport with time to spare. All went well from the time I arrived to when I boarded the plane. For the most part all went well. Perhaps I was not in the mood for a little boy, about 5 or 6, running around the boarding gate and constantly talking or yelling. I tried not to focus too much attention on him since, as it sometimes happens, that little boy could be sitting behind me for the three hours to get to Amman, Jordan.

Next we boarded a bus to the plane. A couple, probably Instagram Influencers, taking pictures and taking a video of boarding a plane. Then another guy with a phone ringing in his bag and let it ring for the next 10 or so minutes. Who lets a phone ring so long? Maybe the lack of sleep was making me irritable.

Guess who sat next to me on the flight? The guy who didn’t answer his phone is who. Though I was thankful it wasn’t a certain little boy. In any case the flight went well and we landed in Amman on schedule. And after going through security again I easily found the gate where I’ll leave for Larnaca.

I had time for a quick lunch before the flight boarded. It was a short one hour flight since Cyprus is near Lebanon, Jordan and Israel and Turkey is just to the north of the island.

I had let my Airbnb host know that I would be arriving early and he said that I could pick up the keys from his mother who works in the building where the flat was located. I was through immigration and picked up my suitcase very quickly.

My Airbnb host sent me pictures of how to get into the building, which was interesting in itself. It was a mixture of business offices and flats. His mother worked for his dad who was a doctor and she escorted me up to the flat and showed me around. The place, on the third floor, is very nice and modern and somewhat large, even for a two bedroom flat.

I was very tired and the first thing I wanted to do was to take a nap, which I did. I eventually left to buy some beer and also to pick up a pizza from a nearby Pizza Hut. I’m staying in somewhat the same neighborhood where I’ve stayed before. I like the consistency so I’m not having to learn everything from scratch.

Even though I was tired, eating pizza and drinking a beer while watching Star Trek I had trouble falling asleep. Thankfully this lasted only a couple of hours then I finally got some needed sleep.

Tomorrow I’ll go food shopping and do laundry. I hand washed my underwear, travel pants and a few shirts in my hotel sink in Kathmandu since I wasn’t sure about the hotel laundry and now will wash everything now that I have a good washer in the flat. I’ll take more naps tomorrow as well.


Sunday, 3 November 2019

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Sometime after I woke up I realized that I’ll need to get up much earlier tomorrow morning to catch my 7:00 a.m. flight to Larnaca. I’m sure I verbally groaned when I realized this. I’ll probably need to be up by 3:30 a.m. at the latest. <groan>

As for today, I’m visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, once I get myself pulled together. There wasn’t time for a full visit yesterday so I saved it for today. The visit will probably take about two hours. Getting there will be easy since it’s located just down the road from the hotel, in fact I can see it from one of the hotel’s windows.

On my way to meet the taxi I asked if a taxi would be available at 4:30 tomorrow morning and was assured that one would be waiting for me at that time. I asked because sometimes getting a taxi that early isn’t always easy. I usually prefer Uber because I can see the little Uber cars on my phone app that shows me the cars moving around on my screen, and therefore available to take me where I need to go.

After a short ride to the mosque I was let out at the visitor entrance and was surprised, after I took the escalator down, that there was a shopping mall on the way to the underground entrance. Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised there were a shopping mall because due to the number of visitors it would be a great way to improve sales with so many people passing by your store.

Getting into the mosque is almost as involved as boarding a plane. Many security checkpoints until you can move towards the mosque entrance. There were a number of visitors but not so many that moving around was a problem. There were places designated as locations where you could take the best pictures. (Very helpful.)

Saying the mosque is huge would be an understatement. Lots of walking involved, but eventually everyone ends up at the entrance to the prayer room. The other large mosque I visited was the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and there we could walk through the prayer room, but here we could only view it. My driver told me that the largest one-piece carpet in the world was made for this room and it took several years to make.

Lots to see every place you looked and from what I could see, no expense was too much to built this mosque. I’m sure this mosque will be known as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, though it seems to be getting more attention as a world-wide attractions.

My visit lasted about two hours as I predicted. It seemed like most of the time was spent getting into the Mosque (mostly walking) and getting out to where I found a taxi waiting for me.

I took a nap when I returned to my room, knowing that I wouldn’t get much sleep at night. I had my last hotel meal, which was fine with me, since I’ll be doing home cooking for the next four weeks in an Airbnb flat. Though I’ve enjoyed the food from the hotels where I’ve stayed, I prefer home-cooked meals. Actually I like the shopping and the cooking part the most.

As I went to sleep I knew that 3:30 a.m. would arrive all too soon.


Saturday, 2 November 2019

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Today I was up fairly early and was ready for my four-hour driving tour around Abu Dhabi. I still wasn’t 100% sure that the person from the hotel’s travel desk got my order correct, but was happy when she called to let me know my driver was waiting for me.

I noticed the car was an upgrade but she assured me that the quote she provided would be the same. I also made sure, while she was still standing there, the driver understood the agreement regarding what was expected. When we were all in agreement we left the hotel.

One item that was still open was our itinerary for the next four hours. I don’t think he was comfortable with coming up with a tour plan and wasn’t able to give tell me exactly where we were going. In any case his English was okay and we got along fine.

Our first stop was a nearby five-star hotel called the Mangrove. He pulled up to the entrance and stopped. I looked at him and asked what we’re doing here. He asked if I’d like to see the lobby of the hotel. I asked why and he couldn’t tell me. I said we should go to the next stop.

From there we went to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a popular place to visit. I said I wouldn’t be interested in going in but I’d like to get out, and take a few pictures of the exterior of the building and also the nearby bay to get a picture of the city. It seemed after this stop he better understood what I wanted to see.

We made a number of stops for the next couple of hours. The most interesting for me was the city’s open market. It was like an outdoor shopping mall but geared for local residents to do shopping at local stores who provided the best and freshest food products. Also businesses who sold appliances and other household items. The large produce market had most every fruit or vegetable in great quantities.

The remaining sites were of the new hotel, similar to Dubai’s Atlantis resort, the biggest shopping mall in the city, the president’s palace, the royal palace (for official business) and we drove through the downtown area of Abu Dhabi. We finished up by driving into the Grand Mosque complex, just so I could get a feel of the site. (I’ll visit tomorrow.)

After the tour was done I went to the lounge for a late lunch and then took a long nap. Riding around, thankfully on smooth roads, wore me out. The heat was a contributing factor. When I woke it was almost time for my evening meal.

After I published my travel blog for yesterday I started to watch Star Trek and was in bed by 11:00. Think I took too long of a nap because I wasn’t really that tired, but eventually fell asleep. My only activity for tomorrow will be to visit the Grand Mosque.


Friday, 1 November 2019

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

I should have left the hotel today but when I looked outside you can actually see how hot it is and guess I was a little intimidated. Saw a few people down by the pool as I looked out my window and everyone was in the shade or swimming in the pool to stay cool.

I started to look into various things to do while in London and also checked the airfares from Malta. I was thinking of going to Gibraltar but the flight schedules and fares didn’t look good from Malta. Perhaps I’ll take a flight from France next year.

Think I’m ready for my visits to Larnaca and Malta. On one hand I’d like to visit a new place or two but on the other I realize that I need to take some time off, knowing that the first part of 2020 will be busy. I did some research on how to get a visa for Russia and don’t think it will be a problem from what I can see, but I’ll defiantly get it early and not wait until the last minute.

The rest of the day was fairly routine. Breakfast, rest, afternoon lunch, rest, lounge snacks and beer, then watching Star Trek until bedtime. I’m okay with this routine but looking forward to my tour of the city tomorrow starting at 10:00 a.m.


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Another relaxing day ahead. Breakfast, nap, make travel plans and visit the tour desk is all I have planned. Actually not looking forward to going outside because of the heat. And it isn’t a dry heat since we’re on the Persian Gulf.

As for travel plans, I’m now booked through December 2nd. I’ll leave here on the 4th of November and stay in Larnaca, Cyprus until the 18th. From Cyprus I’ll travel to Malta and stay there another two weeks before traveling to London. I decided to stay in the same place that Barb and I stayed last March.

My visit to the hotel’s travel desk was somewhat frustrating. All I was requesting was a driver to take me around the city for four hours. I thought this was a fairly simple request. I finally said, “Driver, car, four hours, Saturday, 10:00 to 2:00.” And I think she finally got it. I’ll see if I have a driver at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. I’m trying to think positive.

Glad to have travel booked for November. Next I need to confirm which holiday events I’d like to see in London during December. Though I haven’t figured out where I’m staying. Also need to start planning travel from January to May, which will be my last sprint of travel. In June I’ll be in Edinburgh, then leave for the U.S. in July.

I’ve been enjoying watching Star Trek and have a few more seasons to watch. It was on for seven years. Nice to have the time in the evening to rest.

Tomorrow I have a few miscellaneous tasks to complete and rest some more.