Fujairah – Al Hayl castle…& a small serving of other things

A new road opened up recently that cuts through the Hajar mountains and provides a more direct route to/from Dubai and Fujairah (yay!). This is excellent news, considering Fujairah is pretty much my favorite place in all of the UAE and it now only takes an hour to get there; previously it was about  1 hr 45 minutes I think?

This weekend, we tested the new road out and took a little detour to peek at Al Hayl castle. Located just a short drive away from Fujairah city, the (pretty quaint) castle is about 250 years old in a gorgeous location surrounded by mountains and date palm farms. Continue reading

Places I Wouldn’t Mind Behaving Badly in 2012

With 2012 swiftly approaching and my penchant for pre-planning the year ahead starting to kick into gear, I’ve begun to to think about my top travel goals for the next 12 months.

Kerala, India: After putting India on the backburner so many times over the years I’ve lived pretty much next-door to it, India is definitely scheduled in for a visit this year. I have to get it out of the way. I’d like to focus on Kerala in pre-monsoon season (ie. May) for a couple weeks. It will be the total opposite of Dubai with its abundant greenery, lack of glittering, soulless housing developments & skyscrapers and bling, and hopefully regular bouts of rain. Exactly what I am looking for in a holiday – the opposite of my normal life. If I’m really lucky there will be poor t0 no internet/phone service so no-one can get in touch with me! That’s a real vacation. And curry, the curry. I just hope I don’t get tired of having to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in-between.

Lebanon: Party, shop and EAT in Beirut. Historic sites and ancient ruins throughout the rest of the country. Maybe summer?

Hong Kong: Whether I continue to consider a move out here or not, I desperately want to visit Hong Kong with the quickness. The urban/natural combo landscape of the area looks incredible and anyway I absolutely love visiting Asia. The city looks far more stimulating than Dubai and I bet there are some good eats, too. I’m particularly curious about Kowloon. And delighted to visit whenever I can fit it in to the schedule.

Wengen, Switzerland: Yeah, so I’ve been here before and am returning to the exact same place pretty much exactly one year later so it doesn’t sound that interesting. BUT! I never got around to trying out that rather dangerous-looking and injury-inducing sledging sledding down the mountain last time. It’s definitely on my list to try this year. After more than a few glasses of Glühwein. Because getting hurt hurts so much less when you’re drunk.

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Outside of this, I hope to pop in some random long weekends/short week trips to other locales around the Middle East (& possibly India, as I think the visa for that country should last a full 6 months, so may as well make good use of it). And I really want to go back to Oman to see an opera in Muscat’s new opera house, Royal Opera House Muscat. And hopefully a Halloween/wedding-related trip back to the states in the second-half of the year?

And I’m certainly not one of those new year resolution weirdos, but if I do have one for 2012, it is this: I will not waste/lose my vacation days next year like I did in 2011. Out of the 30 vacation days I am given, I think I only used maybe 20? I’m in no way pleased about this, as what I don’t use I simply lose at the end of the year, and will be making sure it doesn’t happen again in 2012.

Wengen, Switzerland

the eiger

Switching it up from my more usually planned trips to places where snow and warm layers are never any consideration (I generally hate the stuff), I found myself excited about  a trip to Switzerland.  Cold weather may not sit well with me (it literally causes me pain, like my body just wants to cramp up all over) but I am willing to go through some suffering to get a good bit of snowboarding in.

After spending a good portion of my life skiing (started when I was 11-ish) and snowboarding (started in my early 20’s) in the not-so-glamorous state of Pennsylvania, I was totally beside myself with excitement to finally get the chance to hit the slopes on the Swiss Alps – in the Jungfrau region of the Berner Oberland, to be exact. Continue reading

Alpine Tropics

Back in Dubai’s sun and sand after taking in a rather perfect amount of snow in just about the quaintest Alpine setting of Wengen, Switzerland/Jungfrau region of the Alps.  Much snowboarding delight was had in the shadow of the Eiger!

The best part?  I didn’t follow a para-skier off the side of the Männlichen!

you don’t want to fall off the side of the Männlichen, apparently

Also good?  Minimal snowboarding injuries – just a few (OK a lot more than a few, actually) bruises and I’m not exactly sure what I did to both of my thumbs, but they are in serious pain.  No texting for me at the moment.  But  nothing’s broken or fractured, so great success.

I haven’t got as many photos to go through as usual from this trip, as most of my time was spent snowboarding.  Hopefully I’ll have a proper blog up about my trip later this week.

Currently doing a bit of relaxing at home before heading back to work tomorrow.  Just taking a snappy break from working out some wall designs.  Our walls are shamefully bare (super hard walls that you can’t nail into, frustrating), so today I bought a couple shades of green paint and I am going to paint some stylized bamboo in the living area.  I may live in the desert, but at least within the walls of my flat I can pretend I’m in the tropics!  Anyway, I hope this project turns out well.  I’ve been excited about starting it since before I left for Switzerland.