Skywatch Friday…

19/4/2018. Sunrise from the mud flats at low tide at Sur Masirah, Oman. Up early to walk the flats looking for shells and just to enjoy a beautiful morning…

Linking with Skywatch Friday

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Thursday Doors, 19/4/18. At Shannah port, Oman…

A brief post this week as I’m on the road in Oman. I suspect this post may prove that doors, any type and anywhere are a magnet for me!

Shannah port, Oman is where you pick up the ferry for Masirah Island, Oman. There is a government service (National Ferry service) on a large car ferry that runs every few hours but there are also old style car ferries that run when they are full.

These ferries are quite old and on my very first trip, 5 years ago, I saw Greek signs on one of the ferries, which made me wonder if de-commissioned Greek inter-island ferries had been sold to the local entrepreneurs in this part of the world.

On my first trip, looking at the unmissable amount of rust and finding the faded and perished life jackets, I did wonder if I would reach the other side!

However, 5 years on and having been a regular customer on these little ferries, they are seaworthy…if anyone is familiar with the poem “Cargoes” by John Masefield, the lines ran through my head on my first trip, but muddled up to move the salt-caked smokestacks to the bluer seas of the Gulf of Oman!

You can wait several hours for them to fill, which is the downside! We had missed the last National Ferry, so headed across to one of the local ferries that was loading up with lorries. We were told it may run if enough cars and lorries turned up, this was around 5.30pm.

We hovered around, not wanting to board and be trapped by a lorry in case the ferry didn’t sail, but at 6.45 pm there were no new passengers so we made the decision to camp up in the dunes next to the port.

Local fishermen build shacks from bamboo and pieces of wood and as there was a strong wind blowing we needed to be in some shelter. Bumping through the very soft sand at the back of the beach, we came across just a perfect place for me!

Behind the door was not an ideal place for camping…

 

In case you are thinking “She seriously didn’t camp there?”… here is the evidence!

 

The view from the tent at sunrise…

 

We were on the port at 6.15am and boarded the ferry that hadn’t sailed the night before. It was full and we left within 10 minutes!

Linking with Thursday Doors

Thursday doors, 22/3/18 Lisbon…

April 2017, Lisbon.

After a visit to friends in the Pedrogao Grande region of Central Portugal, I opted for two nights in Lisbon before my return to UK.

I hadn’t done any research on Lisbon at the booking stage, I was flying in and out and thought  I’d just pop in and make the time to see some of Portugal’s capital city.

I booked into a hotel just behind the main square, it wasn’t budget, but it didn’t break my budget and it was an absolutely perfect place to stay as a solo traveler who wanted a bit of comfort.

I’ve got to the age where I’m happy to have a long day doing it all. Solo traveling at my age is more about making the most of the day and just relaxing at night with a light meal, a glass of wine or two and a deep sleep in a comfy bed.

I had booked a walking tour online with a company called With Locals. A personal tour with a local guide, excellent communication beforehand via the online messaging service for the guide to understand what I wanted to see, and she provided an itinerary in advance.

I was so impressed with their service and my afternoon. I highly recommend this, if I had had longer, I would definitely have booked a second day with my guide.

I thought I had it all sussed, Day one, arrive by train, check in, meet my guide, stroll around in the evening. Hotel, meal, sleep. Day two, a whole day in Lisbon with my friend, repeat the evening and leave for an early doors flight.

The one thing Google maps doesn’t show when you look at the street view option is the elevation… I speed read Lisbon one evening whilst planning my walking trip but failed to notice Lisbon is built on hills, and very steep hills too.

Whilst sitting in the taxi on my way to meet my guide, as we were low-gearing up the street gradients, I had a small worry.

I have a hip replacement and I like to think I’ve moved on from that and I can climb any mountain, but in reality, I choose what I think I can do, with the limitations of my hip in mind. I failed that self-test in Lisbon.

On meeting my wonderful guide, I mentioned the issue and my concern if we were up-hilling it all afternoon.

Bless her, I seem to think she did a bit of an instant head route change.( Awkward client probably shot through her mind) I told her I was very into doors, buildings, and architecture and she just swung me into a comfortable route, which was a gentle gradient, stopping for one of those wonderful Portuguese coffees and a traditional pastry in an Art Deco building. Then downhill, through the steep streets for a long walk along the seafront. Lisbon is a place to return to…

Heading through the streets on top of the hill, plenty of doors….

Heading down hills, towards the River Tagus…Steep streets, tiled houses, unusual doors….

Linking with Thursday Doors

Weekly Photo Challenge: Story…

It’s early Spring in Cyprus at the moment.

20/3/18 is the official date for the start of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, ( I checked, just to make sure) but the hillsides in Cyprus are already in full Spring bloom.

The trees are bursting out into blossom, the ground is full of wild iris, orchids, and field gladioli, not to mention the numerous other small flowers that pop up through the undergrowth and the weather is glorious.

It’s a time for walks in the hills with a camera in hand…

My story starts with an Almond tree, in full blossom…

 

and then I spot a bee…

 

Let’s follow the bee…

 

Oh, that nectar is so worth a deep dive…

 

And it’s so good I’m going in for more…

 

Finished! Time to go home…

 

Now, where’s my hive?

 

 

Story

Thursday Doors, 8/3/18. Doors of the Mizingani…

Stonetown, Zanzibar June 2017.

After deciding to move to Stonetown for our last night on the island, I quickly found a hotel online that looked as if it had an ideal position, had vacancies and wasn’t a ridiculous price.

We chose the Mizingani Seafront Hotel. When we arrived, the seafront was hidden behind large hoardings as there was some sort of construction /renovation going on along the beach wall. A small, stompy moment on arrival, not really seafront when you can’t see it, hey-ho…

No matter, we were going to be walking most of the time and it was only for one night. The hotel is located next to the ferry port and it is ideally situated for those who want to explore the town.

The hotel is a unique historical building converted from a former Palace constructed in 1865 for newly married Royal couples for their honeymoon.

It was a really good choice and the atmosphere within put you in the right mood for exploring Stonetown.

Full of creaky staircases, interesting antiques, staff who glided in and out of the shadows, named suites after Tippu Tip and Vasco de Gama, fourposter beds, colored inset glass windows, views over the crumbling old town, it was a perfect place to spend the night and had exactly the atmosphere I had imagined for this unique town.

Oh, and it also had some wonderful doors too. I was perfectly happy!

Photos were taken using iPhone6.

A place for door lovers…Thursday Doors, hosted by Norm Frampton, pop on over to check out doors from this week…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of this world…

Photographing anemones, underwater, at low tide in the inter-tidal zone.

When I find them, I see the neon glows and the primeval structures that have endured and evolved and I’m awed at the beauty and complexity of the sea anemone.

Out of This World

Thursday Doors, 22/2/18, back to Stonetown, Zanzibar…

June, 2017, Tanzania.

I was lucky to spend 24 hours in Stonetown, Zanzibar, a place with a huge history of doors and for a door lover, a place that surpassed all my expectations. I regret my stay was so short, I would love to return. We only covered part of the town and there are many more doors that evaded me.

I’m only now editing the shots and the results are worthy of a second door post from this historic city, probably a third too.

The streets are small and narrow, with towering buildings, many in a state of disrepair. The buildings shade the rays of the sun and there is relief from the heat at ground level, but it’s humid and enclosed and very easy to get lost as you twist around the town losing your sense of direction, but so fascinating…

I normally use a DSLR camera, but in Stonetown I used my iPhone6 camera as it was the only way to catch the scenes in these narrow spaces.

For the history of Stonetown, the spice and slave trading, the door culture and shots of previous doors posted, please visit my previous post.

Please enjoy Stonetown as much as I did…

 

Thank you for visiting Stonetown with me…

Linking with Thursday Doors, hosted by Norm Frampton. Hit the blue frog link at the bottom of his post and visit some more doors today…

Thursday Doors, Speed bump village, Oman,15/2/18…

On the long drives across Oman from Dubai, towards the ferry to Masirah island, for a large part of the journey, the places we pass through have no name or signpost.

We now tend to refer to landmarks during the journey to mark our passing as there are few mapped names to refer to, for example, Flare roundabout, P-bush (easy to guess), Crinoid plates (ancient fossil rocks), The Mother of all Sabhkas (huge wet sand area), P-rock (for the second part of the journey, there are no trees and bushes in this area) and so on…

Flare roundabout…

 

The few small, lonely villages en route are flashed through, but there is one, now known forever to us as “speedbump village” that lines the lonely road and has four of the most lethal speedbumps known to man.

I once hit one on the initial journey, driving at night, too fast and it was an “Oh my God moment” as we crashed down on the other side. The OH was shaken awake and I crawled through the rest of the village.  Lesson learned. Omani speedbumps are not to be trifled with, especially out in this lonely place, the nearest Mitsubishi dealer is in Muscat, a mere 6 hours drive…

This hamlet consists of a few brick houses, a coffee shop, a laundry, men’s tailoring and a mosque. Oh, yes, and a shop selling food. See the picture, it’s not quite a supermarket!

I cannot imagine what the livelihood is out in this remote place, possibly date, goat or camel farming, but as always, there are doors to be photographed, even here.

They might be old, rusty and have seen better days, but the traditional metal door and decoration tradition is here, much to my pleasure.

The Coffee-shop

 

The Mosque…

 

Selling food…

 

I love the heart doors, seen in the unlikeliest of places…

 

Shame about the modern one…

 

Love this bright blue amidst the gravel plain drabness…

 

An interesting wall, but the door behind makes up for it…

 

I just managed to get both doors in, they just fit out here in the middle of no-where…

 

This door design seems to be a variation on a symbol theme, but the pink wall adds to the green and rust hues…

 

And just so you don’t think I’m completely crazy for repeating this journey time after time, the view at the ferry port…

 

 

Linking with Thursday Doors, hosted by Norn Frampton. Pop on over to see some more doors today…