Not just for the birds

Reading recently that billionaire Elon Musk had taken Amber Heard on a date to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Queensland’s Gold Coast reminded me of my childhood.

My family always holidayed at Currumbin Beach, from well before I was born. My grandparents camped on the beach near the long-gone mineral sands works in the 1940s and 50s, and when my sisters and brother came on the scene, my parents booked a flat overlooking the beach for three weeks every year during the Christmas school holidays.

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Dream flight to Brisbane

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of my favourite planes and it didn’t disappoint on my recent journey from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane. Neither did the Etihad Airlines service.

Etihad Boeing 787 (Etihad Airways)

In fact, the only hitch was a 15-minute delay at immigration at Abu Dhabi Airport, apparently because my passport lacked a stamp indicating that I had reentered the United Arab Emirates after my recent Gulf cruise.

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A hotel by any other name

How can a traveller be sure that a hotel is what it claims to be?

The accommodation-booking website Wotif.com sells rooms at a hotel called the “Shreaton” in Khalidiya, a district of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Bookings.com calls the same premises the Khalidiya Hotel. Locally, the hotel is known as the Sheraton Khalidiya and, as the photo on the Bookings.com website shows, it has the Sheraton name and logo on the side of the building.

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Going through the emotions

Previously: Brett has decided to resign from his job in Abu Dhabi and return to Australia …

“How do you feel?” I heard that in the office on my last day at work last week, and I heard it again at drinks with friends afterwards.

It’s an interesting question. When I first resigned, I felt a kind of elation at the prospect of starting something new.

Since then, I’ve been through the gamut.

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The man from the Mercure

I’ve moved from the Ramada Downtown and I’m now ensconced at the Mercure City Centre, Abu Dhabi.

As this is an Accor Hotel, I’m on more familiar turf here. The hotel — one of the oldest in the Abu Dhabi CBD (and, I believe, originally The Novotel), is showing a bit of wear and tear, but the experience so far has been very pleasant.

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The key to nowhere

This is a hotel keycard. It’s supposed to let you operate the lift and open your room door. Except it doesn’t always do that.

I’ve been in the Ramada Downtown for a week, and I’ve had to have my card “recharged” or changed four times.  [Update: it’s happened five times in 10 days.] On the second occasion, the very pleasant check-in clerk told me I shouldn’t keep it in my pocket near my mobile phone.

But it’s not as simple as that.

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It’s not easy being green

My hotel room, in common with every hotel room I’ve stayed in in the past 10 or more years, is very “green”. What I mean by that is that it has little notices like this:

There are a few variations, but basically they are asking guests to indicate whether they want their sheets or towels replaced, reminding us of the damage we are doing to the environment by washing things to often. Continue reading It’s not easy being green

The really friendly skies

Just about everybody on the internet knows about the incident involving an overbooked United Airlines flight. Here’s an editorial I wrote for Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper, noting that United is one of the American airlines trying to limit the operations of carriers from the Arabian Gulf in the US. Dubai-based Emirates airline has made a similar point in this video:

PS: If you think the Chicago incident was a one-off, read this. A first-class passenger was threatened with being handcuffed if he didn’t get off a plane to allow somebody more important to fly. No wonder United is worried about competition. It really sucks. Rather than defend the indefensible, big boss Oscar Munoz should resign and let somebody else take over.

Update: according to this legal opinion, United had no right to take a passenger off a plane in this manner.

Liveable or not liveable?

I’m a big fan of Melbourne — indeed, I have friends there and I often advise people planning a trip to Australia to include it on their itinerary.

Brisbane: didn’t crack the top 10

But I can’t say that I’m convinced that it is the world’s “most liveable city”, as it has been declared by The Economist for six years running. (Will it make seven? Wait until August to find out.)

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The man from Ramada

It doesn’t quite have the cachet of The Man who Lived at the Ritz, but for the next week and a half I’ll be the man living at the Ramada Downtown in Abu Dhabi.

So far, I’ve enjoyed a friendly welcome and I’ve been very happy with my comfy, well-furnished corner room that, among other things offers me a view of my old apartment building.

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Hidden Abu Dhabi

Although I’ve been living in Abu Dhabi for five years — and I’m about to leave —  there are bits I’ve missed.

The other day, I had a wander around the side streets near the corner of Hamdan and Salam (Sheikh Zayed) Streets in the CBD, and I found some thriving small shops and restaurants that had previously been off my radar.

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When will I see you again?

As I’ve noted here before, I am moving on. Even though I don’t know exactly when I will leave Abu Dhabi, which has been home base and starting point for my many travels for the past five years, every day that passes means I will be here one day less. Almost certainly, I will be gone within four weeks.

A toast to friendship!

Even so, it was a surprise today when one of my colleagues, who will be on holidays in the week I will probably leave, said to me: “Do you think we will ever see each other again?”

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Clearing the clutter

My name in Brett and I am a hoarder. I hate to let things go. And at the moment I’m having a minor crisis as I force myself to throw out things I know I’ll never need again but I can’t bear to part with.

To keep or not to keep?

And this is just the start. Once I reduce my possessions in Abu Dhabi to two suitcases and a carry-on bag, I will be back in Australia trying to pare down the accumulations of my entire existence into a manageable amount.

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