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Roaming Around Prague

April 4, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

tram ticket

Our studio apartment is one block from the end of a tram line. We wondered around a bit looking for a place to buy tickets and finally stumbled upon the ticket vending machine. It had enough English assistance that we were able to get our 30 minute tram tickets.

man in front of a tram in front of a church

About halfway to our destination, a van accidentally connected with the side of our tram, so we got off and walked through the neighborhood. By the time the accident was cleared and the trams were running again, there was only 3 minutes left on our tickets, so we just walked the rest of the way down to Wenceslas Square.

view of Our Lady of the Snows Church from Franciscan Garden

In our wonderings, we found the Franciscan Garden, which is a lovely, peaceful park surrounded by buildings. You have to know where to look to find your way in. The tall building in the background of this picture is the Our Lady of the Snow Church which became our next destination.

statue of a winged man holding a woman with an owl at his feet.

What appeared to be the gate to the church was locked, but we peeked in to see what we could see and continued to roam the neighborhood. Behind this sculpture is a door and we went in because the sign hanging next to it promised books. Little did we know that this was the actual entrance to the church.

entrance to the church

The church is very beautiful and impressive from the outside. The inside, however, went beyond our expectations.

very tall ornate church altar

This picture doesn’t do it justice. It was awe inspiring and definitely the highlight of the day.

To see all the pictures of the day, click here.

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Beer, Sausage, Cheese – Rinse, Repeat

April 3, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Our agenda for the next few days in Prague, Czech Republic is beer, sausage, and cheese. We will probably get a bit of sight seeing in, too.

street view in Prague

For the first few pictures, click here.

From the moment of touchdown, our experience has been lovely. The flight, however, was not so lovely. We arrived at Dubai International Airport at terminal 3. After check-in & baggage drop off, we went through passport and security. These were all normal and easy. Our gate was A7, which is at the newer terminal (number 4?) so we took the train to that terminal and walked down to the end of it, gate A7. This is were it gets stupid. Gate A7 is actually a bus terminal. They load people onto buses and drive them to a plane. I hate this because it means standing in a moving bus which has no seats and is crammed with people followed by climbing wobbly metal stairs, dragging my carry on luggage to get into the plane. This bus ride was ridiculously long. They drove us from terminal 4, through terminal 2, to the far end of the airport. An exact map of the airport is not available, for obvious reasons, but here is my approximation:

Google map of DXB airport showing point of departure to point of arrival at plane on opposite ends

Emirates Airline is clearly over-reaching and scheduling more flights than it can actually handle. The last several flights we have taken with them have all be late in departing due to stupid stuff like this. Next time we book a flight we will look at other airlines a bit more seriously.

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EAFOL: Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature 2014

March 16, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

We attended the Friday and Saturday EAFOL events again this year.

Julia Johnson presenting her new book The Turtle Secret

I started with the presentation by Julia Johnson on her new book The Turtle Secret. It is a chapter book intended for ages 8-12. The characters are Emirati and the story revolves around sea turtles, poaching, and the need to protect these endangered animals. I picked up two copies, one for me and one for my library. It is excellent. I would love to have a class set (20+ copies) so that our students could read it together. We need many more titles like this written with local interest and in the English language. These are crucial in helping students learn English.

Jim Al-Khalili presenting about his book Pathfinders

Next was Dr. Jim Al-Khalili. This was the best presentation I attended. Very interesting. They should have given him two hours instead of just one. I purchased his book Pathfinders: the Golden Age of Arabic Science. I hope it is as interesting as his oral presentation. I hope that they invite him back next year and give him more time.

panel discussion

Charlie Higson and Philip Reeve had to carry on without Eoin Colfer who was unfortunately ill and absent. These authors are very humorous and enjoyable to listen to. After this session I’ve put Reeve’s King Arthur book on my list to buy.

Sally Gardner presenting her fairy detective series

I had not heard of Sally Gardner before and found her very interesting. She has dyslexia and has had to find ways to cope with the challenge that presents when writing stories. She is a staunch advocate for changes in education to help students who don’t fit the “normal” pigeon hole. I look forward to reading her books.

Philip Reeve and Sarah Mc Intyre on stage

Next was Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre promoting their collaboration Oliver and the Seawigs. One of the best parts of going to all the children’s literature presentations is that they are usually interactive and the audience (filled with kids and parents) are responsive and enthusiastic.

Sarah McIntyre and her sea monkey drawing

The villain’s minions are sea monkeys, so Sarah walked us all through the process of drawing our own sea monkey. Here is mine:

pencil drawing of a sea monkey

Time for a singalong:

 

Charlie Higson

Charlie Higson, again, very interesting to listen to and gives the kids in the audience good advice about writing.

Eoin Colfer on stage

Eoin Colfer recovered enough for the second day. He spent the whole time telling funny stories, mostly on his own children. He was originally intended to promote his new book series W.A.R.P., but he took a look at the age of the audience and decided the book wasn’t age appropriate. He had them laughing with several bodily function stories (involving the phrases “pee pee,” “poo poo” and “pee poo!”) He’s an excellent storyteller. I picked up a copy of The Legend of Spud Murphy which is a story about a mean librarian. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m tempted to read it to my students.

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Al Bidyah Forts

March 15, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

stone ruins

We returned to the Bidyah area to take a look at what remains of a Portuguese fort. In the background is a roof structure which protects a much older fort that we visited previously.

stone ruins

The Portuguese fort dates from the 16th Century.

stone ruins

If you are wondering where this fort is, it is in Al Bidyah behind the Ice Palace.

three story building with ice palace restaurant

More information here and here

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Al Tarboosh

March 14, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

I have fallen way behind on posting. My apologies. I was spending my every waking moment working on a consultancy project, which is done now. Even though I had my nose to the grind stone, there were a few food moments in the last month.

About three years ago when we were preparing to move to Fujairah, we had breakfast at Al Tarboosh restaurant on one of our apartment hunting weekends. It was an interesting experience (click here), so it took us a while to go back for another try.

artificial rock-face waterfall inside the restaurant

It was good to see that they still have their indoor waterfall feature, although they have removed the bridge and added more tables. It is kitschy, but they have kept it in good condition.

bowl of lentil soup

We weren’t sure what the complimentary items might be, so we kept our ordering to the minimum. First complimentary was lentil soup.

basket of fresh pocket bread

The bread was lovely. I resisted because I need to stick the diet better than I have been. DaddyBird indulged and deemed it good, but not amazing.

green salad, hummous, mutabel

Additional complimentaries included green salad, hummus, and moutabel.

plate wrapped in aluminum foil containing mixed grilled meats

Then came the mixed grill – arayes (grilled flat bread with a finely ground meat filling), chicken & lamb tikka, chicken & lamb kabab, and lamb chop. Notice the fancy aluminum foil presentation.

desert bowl with fresh bananas, orange, apple, pomegranate seeds

To top it off, I ordered the fruit cup. Yummy. All freshly cut fruit except for the light drizzle of strawberry sauce.

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In Search of Petroglyphs

February 8, 2014

Posted by Kanga

old stone structures

In case you hadn’t noticed from previous posts, DaddyBird’s new hobby is researching and finding archeological sites in Fujairah. He noticed this one right along side the new Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road which we drive every time we go to Dubai. Why it took us so long to notice it is a mystery.

stone foundation of a khaimah house

There are three surviving structures. Two khaimah houses – low stone foundation which would have been topped with a palm branch tent – and one rectangular stone house with wooden beams supporting the roof. The fact that the wood beams are still part of the structure means that it is probably a fairly recent structure, abandoned only a few generations ago.

rectangular stone house with wooden beams across the top

We continued our exploration by driving up Wadi Sahm which was just recently paved. We stopped here.

dry valley and hillside

Which might not look like much, until you get close enough to see that there are several large boulders around which stone shelters were built long ago.

large boulder with a low rock wall built around it

We didn’t do an official count, but would estimate that there was a sizable settlement here of 15-20 structures. They took advantage of the large boulders to form at least one wall of their shelters and provide support. It is likely that these were low rock walls topped with thatch roofs made of bushes.

large boulder with petroglyphs

There were a few petroglyphs at this site. This boulder has both old designs and more modern markings, including Arabic script.

large boulder covered with petroglyphs

Further up the valley is a large boulder right on the side of the road covered on all sides with petroglyphs. A short distance from this is a small plateau with a few piles of stones and quite a few petroglyphs.

two snake markings on a soccer ball sized rock

Snakes

camel petroglyph

Camel

It’s too bad we don’t have time travel technology. I’d love to take a little peak back in time to see how these people lived. What they valued. What made them laugh.

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Walk Through Meena Bazaar

January 24, 2014

Posted by Kanga

Blue Water Sweets shop next to Sweety Sweets shop

After a lovely dinner at Special Ostadi, we took a walk through the neighborhood and Meena Bazaar. This afforded an opportunity to take some sign photos.

Blue Water Sweets shop sign

Blue Water Sweets is right next door to Sweety Sweets.

Sweety Sweets shop sign

I’m glad they spelled sweety correctly. It could have just as easily been “sweaty.”

Choice Corner General Trading shop sign

Choice Corner General Trading – it’s good to have a choice corner.

Spider Star Electronics

Spider Star Electronics – sometimes I think they just pull words out of a hat.

Al Meher Recording shop sign

As we approached Al Meher Recording, we were surprised to hear:

Here are some of their hard to find titles:

album covers Burl Ives, The Ventures, Olivia Newton John, James Brown, Freddie Fender, Roger Whittaker, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, Connie Francis, Donnie Osmond

I’ve probably posted this one before, but it is a gem.

Sew and Reap Outfitters shop sign

Tasty Village Restaurant.

Tasty Village restaurant sign

The new souk (market) building has a Loading Unloading Area.

bilingual sign for Loading Unloading Area

It was a pleasant walk. We enjoy the cool winter evenings when we can walk without sweating and being miserable. (It reached a low of 59F.) Of course, “cool” and “winter” are relative terms. We walked around with no coats.

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