Here today and here tomorrow

Well

Now I seem to have for some reason purchased a couple of Domains not exactly sure why,most probably to stop someone else buying them

House from the chapel opposite

So here is the house from across the valley to the North.

 

Hope you enjoy the picture below it iis of a Mosque in Yazd Iran a trip we took in 2017

 

 

Regards Steve

day 2 or 3 depending on how you count

Category: Personal

Well travel days are always interesting, first flight is to Moscow which I know well,  what I had forgotten was how much duty free they buy and how much they can cram into the overhead lockers.
Lunch was chicken with noodles or lamb with buckwheat given I expect to eat a lot of Plov in the near future I went for the chicken because as we know everything tastes like chicken.
2 beers to keep our spirits up cost $21 which is also a reminder we are in Moscow and in an airport as well. 
A couple of hours to kill before the next flight which will be interesting, off to Tashkent in Uzbekistan we should arrive at around 3am which will be nice,  hope it’s quiet, 
Arrived 3:45 and 2 hours later exit the airport building, I could try and describe what happened but it would be difficult to believe.
So here we are in Tashkent in Uzbekistan at are rather plush hotel in the centre of town. A couple of hours sleep and though I would get some breakfast. They have  almost everything you could wish for except eggs.  
I ask and they say fine sir how many,
 2 say I,
 for 2 people they reply, 
 no 2 eggs for 1 person, 
fried?, 
yes said I, 
fried on one side or on both, 
on both sides say I.  
By now I am thinking how efficient they are however 10 minutes later an omelette turns up, l just eat and drink my coffee.
I will post a picture of my room later as it is the biggest single hotel room I haveever been in.
Also met a couple of our fellow travellers a couple from Miami
So we now only need a guide and17 other people and we can get off

Day 7 The second most important city in the Roman Empire

We dock in Alexandria around 7:15 but I have been up for an hour or so. Once I have had my 6 hours it is difficult to stay prone. Not sure what gene it is but it gets me up when the sun rises. I sneak out to get a coffee and sit on our balcony. As I am slowly waking along comes a Dolphin and swims alongside the ship right outside our cabin. I grab my camera and run off a few shots as it breaches the waves to grab air. In the end I just sit and watch as it plays around easily keeping pace with us. Judi thinks I should have woken her but its a choice you take it was not there for long


We take on the outer harbor pilot who steers us into the Western Docks. This is a working port and there are ships of every shape and size and you can see the cranes and barges already working hard to load and unload them. Another pilot brings us to the pier with precision we gently come to rest close to the port gates. On the other side of the pier is another cruise liner which looks to be 4 or 5 times our size. Our tea and coffee arrive and we collect ourselves. We are not doing the Pyramids this trip one because we have already seen them, two because it is a 3 and a half hour journey each way so 7 hours in a coach is not a holiday.


We are doing “Easy Alexandria” Named after Alexander the Great as his Imperial capital the all conquering warrior never actually lived here dying at 33 he was brought here for burial although they are not exactly sure where. Alexandria was the capitol of Egypt under the Ptolemy’s and the Romans. It was Cleopatra’s base and had one of the seven wonders of the world the Pharos lighthouse and the Library which for several decades was the leading place in the world for all manuscripts. Books were confiscated from travelers arriving here copied and handed back. The unfortunate thing is fate failed to smile and the city fell into decline being revived by Mohammed Ali in the 1800’s. The British also used the port during both world wars. You can see the former glory in some of the buildings however it only serves to remind you of how it was not how it is.


How it is is rather different, the Egyptians have a knack of accumulating rubbish and they do it well every gutter and street corner has 20th century rubbish, drinks bottles and cans, plastic bags, remnants of food and everything in between. Lets hope the Pharos are not looking down on them, once leaders of civilization and architecture and now something else entirely.


Out tour starts at the Fort of Qait Bay partially built from the rubble of the lighthouse which shows a healthy disrespect for ancient monuments which we in the west have also adopted, lets tear it down rather then preserve it. It was Ok neat and at least clean, on to the new Library with strangely enough lots of books. For some reason our guide can not take us in and we wait for an “official” guide for 40 minutes (Process & progress). The new guide tells us all about the new library but nothing at all about the old one. The only point our tour remembers is the ticket includes an hours free internet access so everyone dashes off to the machines as soon as she stops speaking. Several emails and facebook entries later we head for the Roman Amphitheater. Quite good but a little small. Ruined by the Egyptians building a new one opposite the original and spoiling the ambiance. It is very hot and we are given 40 minutes to wander around a 400 meter site not surprisingly we head for the coach after 15.


Back at the dock we decide not to head for the ship but to take a walk around the shops. Once we pass the Taxi and horse carriage drivers who in other countries would be charged with harassment we saunter around. Surprisingly we are ignored by most people even though we are plainly not local and are dressed in white with straw hats on. We enter a road full of stalls selling food, there is a man with a bicycle which is covered in herbs which people are pulling off and buying. Tomatoes, potatoes, various peppers and lots of stalls selling fish. I really really want to get me camera out but decide I will commit it to memory. No picture could adequately show the mayhem. The Fish mongers are trying to out shout each other laughing and clowning around the people being drawn one way then the other as freshness is touted as well as price. It is all great fun an we just stand and watch for a while as shrimps, crabs and small fish are wrapped in newspaper and handed over for a few coins. Whilst we stand several people say hello or ask are we ok or how we like their town. It is difficult right now to comment on litter even though it is in the back of my mind.


We eventually drift off as we are not looking for food but some linen trousers for me. We are guided into a few shops by eager locals and eventually I find what I am (well Judi) is looking for not too trendy and not too thin. Just right although possibly 4 or 5 inches too long, no matter I will just roll them up. Eventually we head back the souk was a blast and it is a little “Hansel and Grettle” trying to retrace your way out of one of those places but with a little help we are back where we started from. We were probably fleeced on price but in reality we still paid cents on the dollar.


The afternoon is spent hanging around although we did try the 4:30 trivia quiz and got 9.5 of 20 which should be worrying (although we were not the lowest) but given the first prize is a luggage tag it is not worth worrying over. We head for diner which tonight is “undefined seating” which means just find a table. A number of the passengers are staying overnight in Cairo so they have reduced the dining into one sitting. We manage to sit at our usual table and we talk to some Scottish people who had braved the 7 hour Pyramid trip and their comments were all about the rubbish and heavy handed hawkers. A shame to come away from what I consider to be possibly the greatest series of building made by man thinking only of the impact of modern society on it.


We meet ups with David an Jo for a drink or 2 or 3 later taking our leave only when I point out we have Yoga again tomorrow.


 

Day 4 Pompeii the best thing that ever happened to Italian archeology

Day 4 Pompeii the best thing that ever happened to Italian archeology


This was how the guide book we got from the ships library described our scheduled outing today. Not sure the residents of Pompeii who numbered around 8,000 would have agreed as the hot ash from Vesuvius rained down on them for three days killing every living think and burying it under several meters of the stuff.


We are woken at 6:30 with tea and coffee brought by our Thai steward. Just enough English to get by on he is pleasant and courteous which is more than I can muster at that time in the morning. I am normally limited to grunts so early. I need some caffeine and nicotine to kick start my day and I like to do in quietly on my own thank you very much. The reason for such an early start is we need to muster on deck 5 at 7:30 to depart. Ok drag myself together double check we have everything, camera spare battery so I am ok. Judi can worry about the tickets, sun cream, hats, money, etc. Off to deck 5 half way there Judi suggests we should have water. When I say suggest I mean decides, (they are very close) so I double back to get some and we still make it in good time. An hour later we are still there. We have our colored stickers K3 in Red. The reason for the tardy start is that we are using tenders which is a code for the lifeboats to get to the dock. We are moored in the bay and there are all sorts of customs and official stuff the ship has to go through and not point in getting agitated it will sort itself out.


By 9 am we are at least on the dock but managed to lose some of our K3 team on the way down two flights of stairs to the little boat shuttling back and forth. Another 20 minutes and the gang is all there. Now on to a shuttle but to take us to another bus. Think the guy has a relative in Moscow as he can pack them in and I can see Judi getting anxious as more and more people push us towards the back of what is actually a very small bus with 90% of the people standing. Up quite a steep slope to the town of Sorrento which looks cute. Through the town at pace and to the bus depot. Our coach is clearly labeled and as we board we get handed some small radio receivers and ear pieces. This is a fairly new idea I think. It allows the guide to give us the shpeal without actually needing us to stop and gather close. A few glitches as people fail to manage the technology of plugging in the ear piece and switching them on but it gets sorted. The driver takes us on the “scenic” route which is along the cliff tops. Quite spectacular the way these Italians can dart in and out of the traffic on their scooters. They are like bees buzzing out in front of the cars and darting back in at the last second and the scenic views are good as well. 40 minutes later we pull up at Pompeii with its usual ensemble of stalls and cafes and a “Cameo” shop. The toilets are downstairs at the back of the shop which of course means you have to pass by around 30 sales people before you get there. A tip is to let everyone else go in first and as they get picked off by the sales people you slip past and you end up being the only one getting to the facilities.


Our guide a tiny elderly lady is fending off silly questions like a professional. Was the Cameo Factory dug out of the ash as it has electricity, Can I call the US on this radio, and many more just as interesting. We chat to some people whilst the guide tried to herd the cats back into some order. Some people have taken the time to make purchases and ar enow laden with bags which they are going to have to carry around with them. There is a family with two small kids and a push chair that going to be interesting. A family in team shirts the eldest with a cap proudly baring the words ex Marine Veteran. Slow on his feet but staying with us none the less. Into the ruins and the radios work fine as long as you are within 40 feet of the guide. This seems to manage the mob and we can still wander off but once it goes quiet we know we need to rejoin the pack. Within the first quarter mile we have 6 people drop out and head back to the exit. It is very hot, it is elevenish and there is no shade to be had in the ruins.


If you are not familiar with Pompeii google it. The story is legend. The most interesting thing for me is that it was not as such ruined it was just covered. No earthquakes not burning down, no hoards of barbarians sacking the place and not taken to pieces to be used somewhere else. Many historic sites supper these fates and you are left to “imagine” who it might have been. Now that is not to say Pompeii is exactly how it was but all the infrastructure is there and you can see how it hung together as a working town. You can walk the streets and see the wheel marks worn into the stones. The fountains set at regular intervals overflowed into the street to wash them. The stepping stones used to cross the road even the no entry and one way systems. There were 60 odd bakeries and you can see the casts of people they found whilst excavating. Whilst all this was happening the English had only learnt how to paint their faces blue. The sophistication of the Roman empire is something to behold and something which has fascinated me since childhood. A point worth noting is the American veteran is still managing to keep up but the guy with the pushchair is struggling with the cobbles.


An hour later we are back at the cameo factory and we are let loose on the vendors. 15 minutes and back to the bus. The guide miscounts us and someone says loudly “has anyone seen my husband” Forgive me whilst they might be an accurate social status it might have been better to say has anyone seen a 6 ft man in a red shirt with a beard. I mean can you imagine searching and asking someone “are you a husband”. Anyway he turns up 10 minutes later (without an apology I might add) and we are off back down the cliff road to Sorrento. We arrive around 1pm and we have around 3 hours. We find a little place to have lunch which reconfirms my theory of fresh produce and simple preparation are the key to good meals. A small amount of wandering around although we decline the linen shirts at 3 times the price I paid yesterday. We do replenish the peanuts and diet coke which was good.


Onto the small shuttle down to the dock to get the tender not quite as packed as before but still a little sticky. The tender takes us quickly to the ship and we can relax. We are due to sail at 4:30 a schedule delays by 6 people who are late. There were several announcements looking for them on the ship but the way they check people on and off there is little doubt they are still in the town. They turn up 45 minutes late which in many cases would have meant they would have missed the sailing however as our next stop is Egypt in 2 days waiting will not disrupt our trip much. The people turn out to be from the Dominican Republic and it seams three are nearly 80 of them on this trip. Total guests are around 700 -750 so the majority on the tourists are from the Dominican Republic which I think is interesting given its economic status.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried


I am on the last leg of my trip so London to Moscow.

The following events are recorded as I remember them and trust me there is little or no embellishment.


The gate for our flight is 5c which is one of those many satellite gates Heathrow has.


Along a corridor down the slope ignore International Transfers and hang left, up the escalators along then down the escalators, down the steps and through the doors. The reason I comment of the route is I am waiting at the gate and a woman has just arrived with a stroller with a kid in it and 5 bags hanging off it. So way to go you. That was some feat to navigate that obstacle course. The lady takes the kid out of the stroller however every time its feet touch the floor it takes off like the energizer bunny. It does had reins attached so not sure why she is not using them. Anyway after a while she gives up trying to untangle all the bags and puts the child back in the buggy.


Now you should know there is a fault with the display boards at the gate and they are at times showing “Go to Gate”, “Boarding”, “Closing” or “Closed”. Now what this causes is mild waves of panic in the assembling crowd of passengers. Each new intake to the gate area falls for this until the not so friendly desk girl explains v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y which is a particular English thing when speaking to foreigners. This includes Canadians and Americans after all they do speak a different language. Anyway as the board cycles through options little waves of panic until we start to board at which point of course everyone panicked.


Russians can queue but it is disorderly not really queuing more bunching or grouping. Even though the call was for people with children everyone moves forward. My lady with the stroller moves forward clipping peoples legs with the bags however it is effective at clearing a path which is immediately filled by a trail of people spotting the gap. Next call is for rows 20 -44 which does not have the desired effect of thinning out the queue in fact the assembled throng (its now clearly larger than a group) continues to try and slip onboard however the gate girl stands firm and anyone with a row less than 20 is stopped at checkpoint Charlie (if you don’t know about checkpoint Charlie, Google it)


The reason I see all of this carnage is that I am in row 11, I managed to get the BMI automated kiosk to move me towards the front of the plane an aisle seat with nobody in the middle chair. The 10 -20 call comes and the bun fight ends as I slip quietly past whilst some guy with a heave Irish accent tried to explain to the desk girl exactly where she went wrong. Down the stairs and out and bump into the end of the queue to the plane. Probably about 40 people waiting to board so this idea of getting the back rows on first did not seem to have the desired effect.


It’s ok remember I am at the front with elbow room, well maybe not, I am at the front but the lady with the toddler and the bags is sitting in the middle seat (what joy) I have a Babushka at the window the bag lady plus kid on her lap in the middle then me. Ok stay calm you can do this its only 4 hours. Surprisingly there is ample leg room certainly although the row in front is still close enough for the kid next to me to easily kick the back of the chair in front. Mum turns him sideways so he could kick me instead. Not funny. Mom is trying to read a nursery rhyme to him however I think he is more interested in plotting an escape route. Whilst all this is going on a man in the row opposite decides this would be an ideal time to have a nose bleed. He is in the window seat and his companions vacate their chairs extremely quickly to let him through. The man with the Irish accent stops him a few rows back and explains exactly what he needs to do to stop it however I don’t think the Russian guy fully got it. Whilst all this is going on Mum has been rummaging through the three bags she has stuffed under the chair in front of her for something. What ever it is it is not there so up she gets and who gets to hold the brat child (got it in one) I do consider a short pinch but decide a crying baby at this point would not help. Some strength in these kids today. Mum finds a small bottle and he makes a leap for it using my general groin area as a launching pad. I need a moment before I can stand and let her in again.


Ok lets all settle down. Nose bleed man has come back although his shirt is quite a mess. Irish accent is asking if we are still planning to take off today. The stewardess who is quite young seems to have a perfect smile stuck on her face. One of those “I am very pleased with myself” smiles or “this is my first flight and I am having so much fun” what ever it is is keeping her very happy. So are we ready for the off, not really the Babushka at the window now decides to goad the mum with the kid into asking the stewardess if she could move up a row. We are in 11 and 10 is behind business class so there is probably 6 inches more room. Mum presses the attendant button and smiler comes over. Several versions of explanations later some middle aged woman agrees to swap places which I personally think is a great idea however the muttering going on under the middle aged woman’s breath indicate she is not so pleased. I stand whilst the cabin shuffle takes place mum kid three bags, middle aged lady a bag as big as a sack plus the tapestry she is sewing all dancing back and forth. An Irish accent is heard to say “they won’t bleedin take orf wit all those people standing up” I don’t even validate this with a backward glance. My mantra is its only 4 hours only 4 hours only 4 hours.


So are we set to go,,,,,,,,,, well nearly the pilot says due to the extended boarding time we are waiting for a new slot and should be a few minutes. Middle ages lady now next to me is furiously searching the tapestry for something. I note the pattern is of a panther on a mountain, given half the thing is panther and the panther is black I don’t think this will be too much of a challenge to her. Anyway she is obviously looking for something. It is her needle which she can not find. A though rus through my head that if she left is on her other seat the mum will no doubt find it soon sticking out of the kid somewhere. Middle aged lady wants to get up and go and look for it and stands. I notice it was on her lap as it falls to the ground. I lean forward to pick it up and she tries to vault over me in my doubled up position. Somehow I stop her crashing over me into the isle and present her with her needle. She says I am a very nice man and kisses me on the cheek.


The stewardesses while away the time by going through the safety demo, the kid steals the life jacket and won’t let go but smiler continues as mum prizes it from his grasp. She is now out of synch with the announcements but never brakes the smile, what a trooper.


A voice from behind asks “are we ever going to bleedin take orf” Smiler goes to investigate and I can clearly hear an Irish accent explaining how an airline company can be run more efficiently.


The question is will we ever take off, you will have to wait for the next installment.