Dubai (UAE)

At the beginning of November, while heading back from India (after a few weeks of vacation), I'd a stop-over at Dubai (for two days), as I planned on looking around this city, which is well-known for its innovative real-estate projects and other things. I was prepared and had the 'Transit Visa' from the UAE consulate in Germany, before heading for my vacation in India. Anyways, I was a little bit concerned to pass-by Dubai, after reading all the stories from those news websites and other articles, about arresting innocent people at the airports for unnecessary reasons. This is the kind of feeling that people have when they think of travelling to different countries. Indeed, that was a false impression that I had and there's nothing to worry about, if you aint doing anything wrong (or more precisely, 'illegal') and that was proved, after my stay at Dubai. Also, Dubai is a cosmopolitan city with good number of British, Americans, Germans, Africans, Asians (from other countries), Russians, ex-soviet-union countries like Georgia, Armenia, et al.

I reached Dubai sometime around 9 PM and took a taxi to the hotel (At Deira, Dubai) that I booked and was tired enough to hit the bed. The next day, I woke up pretty early, had my breakfast and strolled around that area, to find a book shop and buy some tourist maps. I found a book shop, after walking a bit and planned on going to Jumeira, which is one of the famous areas in Dubai. Here are some pics that I shot, on the way to Jumeira:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


After I reached Jumeira, I walked towards the beach, which is mostly used/occupied by the European/American/Russian tourists. It was pretty hot that day and I felt like jumping into the water, but couldn't do that, as I didn't have much time for that. Also, taking pictures is prohibited around the beach. After that, I'd a conversation with a local guy, about the heat and how hot it would be in different seasons. He said that its cold at that moment and that it would be harsh in the summer (at around 47 degrees celsius). In my opinion, it was pretty hot and burning at that moment (Guess the temperature was between 35 and 37 degrees celsius). In cold European countries, they have bus-stops with radiators. Like-wise, they have air-conditioned bus-stops in Dubai. You can imagine, how hot it would be (although its comfortable in the shade). Here are some pics from around that place:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


After that, I took the taxi to the 'Burj-Al Arab' hotel, which is one of the landmarks of Dubai. Here's a video that I shot on the way (which shows a part of Dubai skyline):



It wasn't that far from the Jumeira beach and so it took, just a few minutes to reach that hotel. This hotel (Burj-Al Arab) is one of the world's famous luxury hotels and its structure is built in such a way, that it resembles the sail of a boat. Also, its one of the most expensive hotels in the world. To visit the hotel and check its interiors, you need to get a permission and for which, you should apply 15 days before your visit. I haven't done much about that and thought that it would good enough to have a glimpse of that hotel, from the outside. There's also an other hotel called 'Jumeira', which is right beside this hotel and is also one of the best and expensive hotels in the world. Here's a video:



And here are some pics from around that place;

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


There's also a 'Helipad' at the top of the hotel, on which the people-with-big-bucks can directly land into the hotel. Here's a pic:

From Dubai - UAE


After looking around and taking good pics around that place, I took the local bus to a shopping mall called 'Batuta', which is said to be one of the best shopping malls in Dubai. Also, I thought that I could see many other places, on the way to that mall, as its located at one end of the city. Here are some pics that I shot on the way:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


After that, I reached Batuta mall and got a breather and was waiting to rush into the mall, as I was sweating profusely because of all the heat and travelling from one place to other. I guess, most of the people (apart from the poor labourers and construction workers) stay behind closed doors in air-conditioned houses/offices/malls, et al places. This is also probably the reason why Dubai is wide awake, even at midnight, coz its pretty comfortable and good to do things, after the sun sets. By the way, most of the labourers and construction workers are from villages or other remote parts of India (specially from the state of Kerala, in India). Also, there are huge number of workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Phillipines, et al. Apart from this, there are also huge number of people from India, who work in Banking/Software/Fashion and other fields. This is the reason why 'Hindi' or 'Malayalam' is widely spoken in Dubai. If you know Hindi/English/Arabic/Malayalam, you can comfortably live in Dubai. Here are some pics from 'Batuta' mall:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


After spending sometime there, I headed back into the city, to an other part, where they were building the tallest structure in the world. Here are some videos that I shot, on the way:





And here are some pics:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


After reaching this landmark structure, I spent sometime looking around and shooting some pics. This building is not yet complete, but was officially announced as the tallest structure in the world. It stands above 700 metres at the moment and is expected to rise over 818 mts, when completed. Here's a video:



And here are some pics:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


After that, I headed back to the hotel, as I wanted to reach that place before the rush-hour, when the traffic gets worse and would take around a couple of hours to reach my hotel (which normally takes a couple of minutes, off rush-hours). Here are some more pics that I shot, on the way back:

From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


From Dubai - UAE


That was it, for Dubai. The next day, I just took a stroll around some main areas of Dubai and caught the flight back to Germany. While on the plane, I got to see the 'Palm Jumeira', which is a set of small, artificial islands and is one of the innovative real-estate projects of Dubai. Its a wonderful creation, but unfortunately, I couldn't capture any pics. Thats it! Ciao ;-)

Liechenstein

Last Thursday (Oct 2), I happened to be there at Google office in Zurich, Switzerland for the 'Open Source Jam' event, where I spent a couple of hours. The next day, after the event, I spent only a few hours in Zurich (since I've been to Zurich before) and took the train to 'Liechenstein' (which is the 6th smallest country in the world), to look around a bit. A few pics from Zurich:

From Switzerland - 2


From Switzerland - 2


From Switzerland - 2


From Switzerland - 2


Liechenstein is a land-locked country, sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, spanning just 62 square kms. It is the 6th smallest country in the world and 4th smallest in Europe (Other being Vatican, San Marino and Monaco). The capital city of Liechenstein is Vaduz. Indeed, its just like a small town, spread over a couple of kms and so, a couple of hours should be sufficient to see this country ;-). As with Switzerland, Liechenstein also relies heavily on Banking/Financial sector, Tourism and other small things. It is also said to be a tax-haven, similar to Switzerland/Monaco (although it aint doing so good and has some economic setbacks, at the moment).

The journey to Liechenstein, from Zurich is just a couple of hours (around 2 & 1/2 hours).I'd to take the train from Zurich to Sargans (Switzerland) and from there, another short ride on the 'Liechenstein Bus', to get to Vaduz (Liechenstein). Here are a few pics that I shot, on the way to Liechenstein:

From Switzerland - 2


From Switzerland - 2


From Switzerland - 2


After reaching Vaduz, I spent a couple of hours looking around the centre (which is where, you can spend sometime and see the main things of this country - apart from the castle on the hill). There's not much to do around this place. So, a couple of hours should be good enough for this trip. Also, I heard that the castle (which sits on a hill and overlooks the capital of Liechenstein - Vaduz) is closed for public (since it is still home to the prince of Liechenstein). So, I didn't plan on going there. Apart from that, I looked at some other areas of Liechenstein, like Schaan-Vaduz, et al. Here are some pics from Liechenstein:

From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


I also walked around the main shopping street and got some souvenirs. It wasn't that comfortable to walk around, as it was raining a bit and also that I had to carry my backpack. Here are some pics from around that place:

From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


From Liechenstein


That was it, for Liechenstein. Later, I took the bus to Buchs (Switzerland), where I rented a car, so that I stuff my backpack and other luggage in the trunk of the car and drive around and get to my next destination (Davos, Switzerland). Once all the formalities were done and I got the car, I drove through Chur, Landquart and headed towards Davos, Switzerland. Davos is a small, town/village located on top of a mountain and surrounded by mountains. More formally, it's an 'Alpine Ski Village' (offering skiing and other stuff) and said to be a famous resort too. One more important thing is that this place hosts the 'World Economic Forum', every year (in which bigtime politicians and other business people from all over the world attend the event). In Europe, most people treat this place as an rich people's resort/skiing place. In general, Switzerland is an expensive place, when compared to many other countries in Europe. Most of the foods and other things cost around 2 times, as much as in Germany.

After driving half-way through, it turned dark and my car had to climb up the mountains, to reach Davos. I was a bit concerned, as I'd to drive on a narrow road (not all the way), on a mountainous landscape, which I'm not familiar with and also the fact that its dark and one side of the road is a deep valley. To make things worse, it was raining cats and dogs, which turned into a heavy snowfall, after a certain altitude. It was snowing all over the windscreen and affected the visibility. I heard that in some parts of Switzerland, you cannot drive your car without snow-chains. Although I drove at moderate speed, there were some crazy guys (obviously driving Porsche/BMW/SUV), overtaking me on that small road. Maybe they are Italians?!?!

After sometime, I was at an altitude that it doesn't go up anymore. The land and trees were totally covered with snow. Since it was totally white everywhere, I could see a bit of the landscape, from inside the car, at night time. It felt like driving in a magical world (specially because it doesn't snow in Germany in that part of the year and also that I come from a place, where it doesn't snow).

Later, I reached Davos, checked-in my hotel and stayed around that place for one day. I planned on going to St.Moritz too, but since it was snowing and the weather condition wasn't so favourable for driving around that place (on the mountains) and also that I'd to get back to home and start working (the next day), I drove back to Zurich, returned my rental car at the Zurich Airport and headed back home. I thought of posting my Davos trip info in a separate post, but I couldn't do it because I lost my camera (pretty new and expensive), in Zurich. Indeed I didn't lose it. Somebody stole it! So, I dont have pics to support the 'Davos Trip' post. I still regret losing all the wonderful pics that I shot in Davos and its surroundings. Anyways, thats it for the trip! Driving around Davos, in the Alps, with all the snow, beautiful nature, huge glacier lakes and mountainous landscape, was the best part of the trip. :-)