Saturday, 5 December 2009

Moscow never sleeps

Is the track that i just can't get out of my mind right now, especially writing about the same city :)
I remember...21 years ago...I was here, a little kid with her mom, both flying to Jordan to the dad, Soviet union, the only international airport was in Moscow, it took us 2 days on the train to get there from where we lived in Ukraine. It was winter time, almost new year, our seats on the plane got taken and we had to stay for a week in Moscow (including New year)waiting for the next available opportunity, but i remember i had fun there, we were going out, enjoying the big city, and i attended a great kids party for New year and got a sweets box in the shape of an alarm clock :D

This time it was very different to what i remembered, starting with the fact that everything looked smaller (well, i grew quite a bit in the meanwhile :)), Soviet union was gone, cafes appeared, technology, markets, etc, etc...All signs of letting the world in.

The city was still beautiful, a real cosmopolitan, been all over the place there, Red Square, Vorobyevy hills, Novodevichiy monastery, The church of Christ the Savior and everywhere else i managed to see in 3 days. It helped a lot that i speak the language, it was cool.

I went shopping as well, they have proper shopping malls, i like that, it's very few that i've seen that could compete with our City Stars in Cairo...

But out of all this, my absolute favorites were the St. Bassil church and the monument of Peter the Great.

The church looks like it was straight out of a folklore kids story, very colorful, very beautiful, the domes look like Marshmallow :) (Think Hansel and Gretel). The interior is all painted in traditional Russian style, and by all, i mean all, the whole walls, the ceiling, everything. Plus, you can get quite nice views of the city from up there and some pretty artistic photos :)

The monument was just cool, when they first put it up, people thought it was too bulky, and destroyed the look of the place, i say bull****! It looks great, and again like from a story, a monument of a sail ship riding the waves with Peter standing tall on the bow. Ok, he's way to big for the boat, but that's the point, right? It's a monument of him, and the boat just comes as a symbol anyway. I like!

Another great thing about this trip is that i actually managed to get my mom along, she was very happy and i was very happy to have her with me there, it was much more fun touristing together :)

I still haven't told you how i ended up there in the first place. Well...I booked an OFS3 course there which was 4 days after crew change, so i decided to do the city rather than waste the 4 days flying back and forth, and it was a great idea. The course got moved to Tyumen, Siberia (relax! it's not as bad as it sounds). But that's a different story :)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Konark - The sun temple

So it was one of these times where you have to stay extra in one place because of an official somewhere who refuses to give you the correct document ending up with you having to do extra paper work to set everything 'legal', etc...

I had to stay in Bhubaneswar waiting for the foreign registry superman to come back from the carnival to sign and stamp my papers since the embassy in Egypt incessantly gave me an employment visa instead of a business one... Anyway...

Sunday was free, a friend form the boat was staying back as well (to go touristing though) and we decided to see the famous Sun temple in Konark.

The thing is a real piece of art, extremely fine carving was done there, and it's said that there's an opening in the ceiling that makes the sun shine straight above a statue of God at a certain time of day (Midday, i suppose?). The weather was really nice as well, sunny but not too hot or humid, just good.

One thing about this 'temple' though is that most of the figures on its outer walls are basically straight from kama sutra! A lot of sex related themes, it was a bit shocking really, very pornish to my arabic/east european upbringing (they even had threesomes up there!), the feeling of awkwardness was also increased by the size and detail in some of the figures...ok, enough about that, let's talk about a different place :) (Can't deny it was generally a very beautiful piece of architecture!!!)

P.S. If anybody advises you to visit Puri, don't go unless you're a hindu, the main thing about that city is the Jagannath temple, it's active and only hindus are allowed inside...too bad :(

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Capetown ... An absolute favorite!

I can't believe i haven't written anything about this gorgeous city yet. I loved it! I just did!

I came there with my vessel and had a 2 day stay there, work during the night, touring the place during the day, getting little sleep and waking up for the shift knackered, but who cares?!

We were at Duncan's dock, the thing right across those port hangars was Victoria and Alfred's waterfront, basically one of the busiest shopping/hanging out spots in the city, so as the day started with sun shining, beautiful weather and work finished, the mood was just right in the first place to go out. Lunch at a steak house at the waterfront, then the open roof tour bus all around the place, through the busy streets, famous building, historical and cultural places, muslim quarter, table mountain, the beaches. Awesome! We absolutely loved it!


Those apartments on the man made little harbors were just gorgeous, real luxury! I wonder what one of those might cost :s

Next day was dedicated for shopping and more hanging out at V&A waterfront and another great meal there. I bought a shirt that i love and wear a lot :) That's happy shopping :)

Taxis around the city reminded me of Cairo taxis though, although the prices are decent, a lot of the cars are pretty shabby, they do the purpose though, got me where i needed and back, no problem, safe and sound.

I'd love to go back there, this is definitely on my top 5 destinations so far! Beauty!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Back to Scandi4: Nice little Fredrikstad

I'm a person who highly values a nice relaxing weekend at home with my husband, and there's hardly anything i would give that up for. Still don't know why we decided to go out on Saturday to a new place, it had to be close enough for a day trip and have just enough to see in one day without rushing. Living in Oslo at the time Fredrikstad was a natural choice, and i personally didn't even know what to expect.

I was quite positively surprised by the landscape design of the old town, turns out this city used to be a capital of some sort, it's got a few old castles around, still got it's old city wall and a monument of king Fredrik, after whom the city was named.

It's a nice place to just go around, walk the old town, enjoy the old architecture, then wander into the new part of the city for a reality hit coming out of some kind of fairytale place.

I enjoyed my day there although it started raining on us by the end of it, but that's when we got into this good looking Mexican restaurant, had nachos and stuff then headed home.

I liked it, it's worth a visit. And if it's summer, maybe you should also get to Hvaler, a group of little islands right outside Fredrikstad on the fjord ... a very popular summer spot for the Norwegians :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Amsterdam

I've been here twice, both unintentionally, both short, therefore i don't have that much to say about it.
First time was thanks to a port stay that was suddenly moved from Den Helder to IJmuiden, resulting in me being half an hour from the city, together with 3 others from the boat we got on the fast boat and went into Amsterdam, walked around a little bit, found the red light district, basically a quick pace two hours with the following impression: Dirty, crowded, boring and low ... really low.Second time it was a last minute flight change because of an Aeroflot screw-up that left me in Amsterdam for 7 hours, this time it was a relaxed walking around, different streets, further into the city, nice sunny weather, this time i actually enjoyed it, it felt quite different from the first time i came here, i suppose it wasn't really a time for tourism, giving the city a more sincere look, my walk was really nice, followed by some fruitful shopping :) Amsterdam is not bad at all :)

Friday, 14 August 2009

Accra ... a real African feeling

After sailing from the North Sea and starting the job down here, it was crew change time … in Ghana! Now talk about exotic places :) Landed in Takoradi port from where we were driven to Accra to spend the night and fly out from there.

And given my nice direct flight to Cairo, I had almost the whole day to go around.


Talking to the receptionist for a while, I found out that we were quite away from the city center, which kinda limited my plan taking traffic into account. Nevertheless, I got a taxi and went to the city center.


Started at the National museum which was empty apart from me and the employees, it’s not bad though, they have quite a collection of African origin tools, crafts, etc… I enjoyed my visit and found out a bit about Ghana and Africa in general.


The next part was the best though, the walk through the streets of the capital, at this point let me state the fact that this was much better than I expected, I was thinking I’ll find a poor shabby African city, but Accra was far from that, of course the poor part was there, but the center looked very decent, clean and nice and the atmosphere was really African, a touch of home :)


The street from the museum to Kwameh Nkrumah mausoleum was on the most quite a busy shopping street, and by that I mean shops right there on the street, well…you know, street stands :), somebody was selling music tapes, and it was very nice that the traditional African music accompanied me along my walk.


Then I got to the mausoleum, Kwameh Nkrumah was the first president of Ghana, apparently lifted the country state up quite a bit, the mausoleum itself also has his statue in front of it and a very beautiful fountain with figures of African men blowing in horns. Sad it wasn’t filled up when I was there. His wife is buried right next to him as well, who by the way was an Egyptian lady, Mrs. Fathia Rizk, of whom you can see photos in the little museum behind the mausoleum.


Then it was a quick walk through Makola market where you can probably buy absolutely anything before taking a taxi back to the hotel.

On my way to the airport I found out that I was actually the only one who ventured into the city, all the others just went around the area where the hotel is, and I also found out that I had a better day than most of them J Then there could’ve been nothing better than flying back home, to my own piece of Africa …