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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Birthplace of the Olympics

Even a non-sporty person such as myself couldn’t resist the idea of squaring off at the starting line where the ancient — and therefore the modern — Olympic Games began.

Olympia, on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, is where it all began. And it’s where the Olympics torch relay always begins every four years.

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Probably the best brewery …

I was going to include these pictures in an upcoming gallery of Copenhagen, but I thought they deserved special attention. They were taken at the Carlsberg brewery, where the famous Elephant Gate ushers visitors into the fascinations of a beer-making process that has changed little over more than 150 years.

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Belgrade: a city of contrasts

I don’t normally take package holidays, but I got a great deal from Abu Dhabi to Belgrade on Air Serbia, booking via Etihad, that took me to the Serbian capital for five nights in a four-star hotel for around US$1000.

Here are a few sights I saw along the way. Much of the city betrays austerity and the ravages of war, but if you’re interested in the murals and funky cafes, head for the Bohemian Quarter.

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Jamaica: I went of my own accord

OK, so the headline on this piece is a lazy reference to an old joke, but don’t let that put you off a visit to Jamaica, one of the jewels of the Caribbean.

Falmouth, Jamaica

I visited Falmouth as part of a cruise itinerary, and I’m keen to see more. The people, from the local tour guide to the people we met on the streets, were friendly and the weather was superb.

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Magical, mysterious Macau

Macau has become a magnet for mainland Chinese and other gamblers in recent years, but to think of it as the Las Vegas of South East Asia would be doing it a great disservice.

Sao Paulo cathedral ruins

The former Portuguese colony about an hour by boat from Hong Kong has its own unique cultural flavour — a potent blend of East and West that can be alluring even for those who are not interested in playing the tables or the machines. Continue reading Magical, mysterious Macau

Petra: the jewel of Jordan

The ancient “rose city” of Petra, in Jordan, is on many a bucket list, and for good reason.

The remnants of a 2,300-year-old civilisation include the ornate Treasury (Al Khazneh), which is carved into solid sandstone. Take a moment, or more, to contemplate the artistry and sheer effort involved in achieving that without the machinery or technology we have today.

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Meanwhile, near the Acropolis

Almost everybody knows about the Parthenon, the Temple of  Venus Nike and the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens.

“Socrates’ Prison”

But a walk around the area where the tourist buses park reveals some other architectural and natural delights, including a church and the (probably bogus) prison of Socrates.

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Flowering of the desert

The northern winter really is a good time to visit the United Arab Emirates. Few people may think of greenery and flowers when they think about the desert, but — thanks to the hard work of dedicated gardeners — it really does bloom at this time of year.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken in Abu Dhabi over the past few days.

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My neck of the woods

Those of us who like to travel sometimes forget about the delights of where we live. While researching the next exotic destination, we are sometimes oblivious to changes in our own neighbourhood.


It pays to have a look around; to go somewhere new but nearby. I did this today with my first proper visit to Al Maryah Island, which has been designed to be the new central business district of Abu Dhabi (which, in case you don’t know is where I live).

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