Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Doha Adventure . . . or maybe not?

Another long weekend - Hijri New Year this time - so, of course, we planned to jet off somewhere. As it was only 3 days and we had just been to Madrid, we decided to stay in the Gulf and visit Doha, Qatar. We'd actually been there in 2011, our first year in Abu Dhabi, and thought it would be fun to see how much the city had changed in almost 5 years.

But, the travel gods had other plans for us.

We had booked ID90 tickets, which means they were at a 90% discount (I know) but standby tickets. I had checked the "load" the day before and there were still 26 seats available so I figured our chances were pretty good. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, pitched up to the counter and I handed over my passport.

And Brian fumbled in his bag for his passport.

And fumbled some more.

And then looked at me with the most pitiful big brown eyes I've ever seen and said, "I think I left my passport at home."  Now, home, for us, is a 45 minute drive one way from the airport so there was no way we were going to make that flight. The check in agent, seeing potential impending divorce said to me, "It's okay madam, the flight is really full so you probably wouldn't have got on anyway."

We laughed and headed to the carpark to make alternative plans for the weekend. And yes, we're still happily married, but you can bet there will be some extra nagging before our next trip!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Madrid Adventure: Random Architecture

One of the things we love most about Europe is the history and age of everything. Most particularly seen in the architecture. Spain was beautiful in that respect with many old and majestic buildings to look at. Here are a few of our favorites.

Just a gorgeous fountain along a random sidewalk. I just love that about Europe!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Madrid Adventure: San Miguel Market

Looking for a place for lunch and stumbled across the San Miguel market. We'd never seen anything like it. It's a complex in downtown Madrid with a whole bunch of tapas and drinks counters. You order little bites of food from the various places and then, if you're lucky, find a table to sit and eat and drink. It was amazing - excellent food, but ridiculously expensive. Very fun experience, though.

 A whole counter dedicated to olives!
 Busy with the lunchtime crowd.
 A whole counter for cheese!

 Everything packaged for grab-n-go - even the dried meats.
And the empty fruit and veg stand - everyone too busy with meats, cheeses and wine!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Madrid Adventure: Segway Tour

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that we're addicted to Segway tours. A super fun way to see three times what you'll see on a walking tour and twice as fast as a bus tour. This one was probably our least favorite as our guide was more interested in telling us about his business model and how he has the best type of segways, than about Spanish history, but even a bad segway tour is pretty darn awesome. Here are some of the places we zipped around.

This is the royal castle, not old by any means and apparently built in a bit of a hurry so still under completion. We had hoped to tour through, but ran out of time.
It was a perfect sunny day - a little hot in the afternoon with the sun beating down, but a nice cool breeze in the morning. A welcome change from the sweltering heat and humidity that's still hanging on in Abu Dhabi.
Another little cathedral - lots of work inside by Spanish painter Goya - too bad no photos allowed!
Brian mastering the stairs on his segway.

A look down into a marble sculpture garden.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Madrid Adventure: A Walk About Town

Another paid holiday means another adventure for the Stolls - this time to the beautiful city of Madrid in Spain. Even nicer was that our flights and hotel were my award for Employee of the Year in 2014. We stayed at the gorgeous Villa Magna Hotel and had a nice walk about town on our first afternoon. A few photos for you to enjoy.
The lobby of the Villa Magna Hotel. It was really nice - we felt under-dressed most of the trip.
A beautiful old church in the middle of a busy shopping street. Brian was across the street waiting to get a SIM card and I wandered over to have a look.
We were lured by Trip Advisor to have lunch at this "quaint, authentic Spanish eatery". It turned out to be a wildly overpriced tourist trap with mediocre food. Ah well, it's all part of the adventure, right?
The architecture was amazing - you'll see more in my future posts.
Another street view. They had these bikes for rent in many areas of the city. We were impressed with how clean the city was and how safe it felt to walk around - even in the evenings after dark.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Summer Farmer's Market - Abu Dhabi style

Even though the temp is over 105 EVERY day, we still have a few ways to get fresh fruits and veggies. Our first option is to pull over at the side of the highway . . . yes, the highway where the speed limit is 85mph and people drive like maniacs . . . and pick your own dates off the trees in the median.

Or, you can shop off the back of a station wagon. There are some die hard farmers who come out every weekend to sell their fruits and vegetables out of the back of their cars. Here's a photo of one we saw last weekend.
Of course you can always just shop at the hypermarket, but where's the adventure in that?