Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Final Trip... the return home. Part 1.

The Final Trip - the return home.


With the contract finishing in the UAE Joy and I, along with our colleagues, began to pack up and ship our furniture and possessions home. Joy got really enthusiastic so that every time I came home there would be more and more of our stuff bubble wrapped and stacked ready for the packers to box up and ship off back to NZ.

While Joy & I were preparing to return home several of our friends got enthusiastic over a contract as advisors in Khasakstan. The initial contract was to be four months with possibilities of extension for two to three years which was very attractive to those who applied and were accepted. Now, once they're back home, the contracts appear to have been held up, altered and somewhat vague and the initial four month time cut back to three months. For us the process of settling back home has begun as we wait for the tenants to move out and we can redecorate the place before moving our furniture back in.

Anyway, before coming home Joy and I decided that we should take the opportunity to do a tour of Eire, England and northern Italy as a sort of swan song to our Middle East experiences. There were good reasons for the tour, apart from the tourist thing, as I wanted to add more information to the Bates side of our genealogy as well as building up a file of family photographs that would illustrate the Irish side of the history.

With all our worldly goods dispatched to New Zealand we were basically camping in our apartment until the last day of the contract so quitting Abu Dhabi was easy. We simply closed the door, left the key for Cognition to access the flat and headed off to Dubai for the evening to be ready for a 3.00am start and the flight to Dublin.

We had booked a room in an hotel close to shops, restaurants and the airportso we wouldn't have too many hassles for our early morning start. Unfortunately, we had booked into The Royal Falcon Hotel which looked OK from the website and had had reasonable reviews on the booking site but now had started the decline towards an inevitable restructuring and possible disappearance. ( The link gives reviews from Trip Advisor which weren't on the booking site for obvious reasons.) On arrival we discovered that our room wasn't ready but a temporary room was available as a transit until "our room" woud be ready. Fat chance!!

Despite several requests and promises of a better room than Room 210 with its solid hard wood mattress nothing happened. Joy and I decided to make the best of it - after all we were leaving at 3.00am the next day - so we went looking for a meal at the restaurant advertised on the hotel website and reception board only to be told that it had been transformed into a Bollywood nightclub and no longer served meals. We weren't told that it was directly below room 210 and would begin its throbbing at 9.00pm and would not stop its beating until 3.00am.

A later review of the hotel we read on Trip Advisor said:
"The Royal Falcon Hotel is a two star Dubai Hotel which has obviously seen better days in the Dubai sun. The Restaurant no longer trades, except as room service, and appears to have been converted to a Bollywood nightclub.
Why anyone would choose to stay here would be a decision based on a masochistic desire to be deprived of sleep on a bed as solid as a bed of marble while being subject to torture by cacophony of what passes for music from the nightclub on the mezzanine floor.
The nightclub throb and crash began at 9.00 pm and ended in a crash of cymbals at 3.00am with crescendos of desperate drumming every hour between which, if one has an early morning flight and wants a modicum of sleep before heading to the airport, doesn't make for a restful night.
The plumbing in the bathroom was a prime example of botching to ensure the pipes remained in place and smelt as well and the room lacked any accessible electrical plugs to recharge phones and computers.
The only advantage to a traveller is that it is on the metro green- red lines to the airport and across the road from the Reef Shopping Mall otherwise avoid this hotel. There are better and more comfortable two star hotels in the area." 

 Needless to say we won't ever be booking into the Royal Falcon again!!!

 Still shaking from our experience Joy and I quit the hotel, found a taxi and headed for the airport where we could find breakfast and some quiet before our flight to Dublin.


 When Joy and I first went to Ireland, 15 years ago, the days were overcast and distinctly damp, at least that's what our photographs of the trip show. This trip was at the height of the Northern Hemisphere summer so we expected to experience some sunshine. However, the adage that while the Bible called 40 days and nights of rain a disaster the Northern Hemisphere merely shrugs and declares it to be a summer shower proved to be true. Although we did discover that there could be sunny spells breaking out in occasional protests.

We had booked into a B&B in central Dublin for three nights which allowed us to explore the city and discover a bit more of Ireland's history. 

James Joyce statue
The B&B was well run and very comfortable and in walking distance to the central city and good local pubs. I was able to visit the places mentioned in my favourite high school reading - "The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and "The Dubliners" as the James Joyce museum was just around the corner.

We discovered the National Museum of Ireland and spent a morning exploring Ireland's past - from the neolithic bog people, the Druids and Celts through to the invasions of the Vikings and, later, the English. 

The displays allowed us to see many of the objects I had only seen in old black & white textbook photographs. 

Preserved bog man -

Gold Torcs

Gold Votive boat

The Dublina museum also had recreations of life under the Vikings and English. This re-enactor Silversmith gave us a very personal account of how coins and silver were worked in Viking Dublin.

From the museums we headed for Trinity College to see The Book of Kells and the Long Room of the Library. Here we joined a queue to enter the Library and the display explaining the illustrations and relevance of the texts. The queue stood and chatted quietly as it drifted towards the doors apart from a trio of American women who involved the courtyard in their conversation. 

They informed the queue that they were all school teachers and that the main talker was a history specialist. Her specialist subject being English history. She expounded loudly on her qualifications and knowledge about England and Ireland to her companions and how this trip was giving her he chance to see all the places and events she taught back in "Kansas." 

In the Library shop, waiting for the tickets for the exhibition, there was a video clip being played showing Queen Elizabeth shaking hands with Martin McGuiness in an act of reconciliation between England and Eire. Immediately on seeing this the loud English history specialist turned her companions declared to all who could hear her: "Look, look, there's Queen Victoria on her diamond jubilee celebrating with her visits to parts of the United Kingdom!" 

Her companions nodded sagely and opined that that Victoria's jubilee was a great event for them to witness.  I was a trifle slow on the uptake - as I said to Joy later - I should've turned to the voice and asked, ever so politely, if that lovely President, Mr Abraham Lincoln was still taking an active role in the promoting equality in the Union and helping the Confederacy come to terms with the world? But then I doubt if any of the women would have understood irony.

We realised this when we told the story to friends we were told of an exchange that took place when they were visiting Stonehenge in which an American tourist proclaimed that  "Stonehenge was impressive but it definitely couldn't match Disneyland." Later the impression was given greater support when , while at the Bushmill's distillery, we were accosted by an irate elderly American who had just visited the Giant's Causeway and couldn't see any reason why the tour company had taken them all to see a bunch of rocks.

While in Dublin we met up with relations, Roy and Inez Cooper, and began to add more detail to the Bates Family tree.


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