Welcome! (You are not logged in)
 

Pete Bartlett's Posts
Pete has posted 4 reports and 0 photos.

Existing reports and photos: (Mouseover any camera icon for sample images. Click on any camera icon for all images)
 


Abu Dhabi Visit: 2007-9
2007-09-19 - The seven emirates of the UAE are listed separately on even the TCC list and so I guess they are a popular run for those who wanted to bump their visited count pretty quickly. I'm guilty of this too... and here's my trip report.

Landed at Dubai at ~7am Saturday morning. My 8.30 I'd picked up my free visa (I'm British) as well as a hired a 4x4 Ford Explorer. The latter required an International Driving Licence but I am sure you've got yours by now. I'd read some pretty horrendous things about driving in the Emirates. I even chose a 4wd not to go in the dunes (which would invalidate the insurance btw) but so that it would be less of a mess if some clown clattered into me. As it turned, and as usual, the problem was wildly exaggerated. The roads were lovely, and often deserted, during this Ramadan period. We rattled through Dubai (where I'd spent some time previously), Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain and Ras al-Khaimah by lunchtime. Perhaps a little too quick, but there was no traditional new country beer to slow me down, this being mid-morning and Ramadan. Sharjah in particular warrants a further investigation next time Dubai beckons.

There is a great new road from Ras al-Khaimah airport through to Dibbah on the east coast (close to the border with Musandam). The desert mountain scenery is spectular on this journey. The drive down through Fujairah and eventually to Al-Ain was not so interesting. A very small diversion takes you to the Omani exclave, and MTP candidate place, Madha. Very little exciting about this place apart from its candidate status!

Al Ain on the other hand, is a very nice place to spend a day or two. These days there is a border of sorts between the UAE side and the Oman side. With a non-GCC passport you need to head to either the Hill Point Border or Intercontinental Border Point. They wouldn't stamp my passport, and after only 30 minutes in Oman the heat got the better of us and I feel very dubious about having a tick next to Oman!

We then drove over to Abu Dhabi whose hectic building pace is nearly as frantic as Dubai. The Emirates Palace looks fantastic, though I guess if you think the Burj al Arab is over the top then you might think the same of the Palace. The dates from Royal Dates outside the Abu Dhabi Mall were second-to-none.

Surprised to see upon returing the car back to Abu Dhabi airport that we'd done 900kms of driving in just over two days... it had been so easy to flit from one town to the next and have a quick nose round. And given petrol was a fifth of the price I'd've been happy to go round again!



DRC (Zaire) Visit: 2007-5
2008-01-23 - One way to visit to the DRC is at Goma - just a short walk from the Rwandan town of Gisenyi.

When I visited in May 2007 there was a very visible NGO and UN presence in Goma, but the violence had not yet re-flared up. Many refugees were reported to have gathered in Goma in the second half of 2007 and I doubt the surrounding areas were safe at that.Indeed the border itself was closed at times. Today (23rd January 2008) a peace agreement has been reached. It remains to be seen what effect this will have locally. For those who want to "bag" the DRC whilst enjoying the gorillas in Rwanda, I imagine an afternoon in Goma remains a plausible option.

I, a British passport holder, didn't need a visa to enter the DRC from Rwanda. Instead we paid an entry fee of $30 each. Assuming relatively safe times, many tour operators in Gisenyi will arrange short tours around Goma with a guide/driver. I think we paid around $40 + a beer for the afternoon but didn't bargain hard.



Liechtenstein Visit: 2008-4
2008-04-22 - It is increasingly difficult to get passport stamps in Europe these days. Liechtenstein however is an exception. Although there are no border controls at all between Switzerland andLiechtenstein and the border between Liechtenstein and Austria is thesame as that between Switzerland and any of its neighbours (i.e. they just wave you through), you can go either to the tourist office in the centre of Vaduz or, if that's closed, the information kiosk at the bus station. The latter is open around 9-5 7 days a week. For the princely sum of 2SFR or 3Euros, they'll put a stamp in your passport.

At risk of upsetting the locals, we found little to distinguish Liechtenstein from Switzerland. Fabulously beautiful, we spent hours supping beers and admiring the mountains.



Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Visit: 2009-1
2009-01-05 - Visiting the Turkish-administered part of Cyprus is relatively easy these days.We crossed over in a hire car at the Astromeritis/Zohdia crossing point about 20 miles to the west of Lefkosia/Nicosia after a lovely drive in the snow through the Troodos mountains. Passports were looked at but not stamped, but you are given a stamped "visa" which is probably sufficient proof of your visit for MTP purposes. The buffer zone contained some very very tired looking UN buildings and watchtowers, and I assumed very were deserted. Not so, just as we were waiting to purchase the mandatory car insurance at the border (20EUR), a UN helicopter landed at the buildings.The extent to which Greek Cyprus does not recognise the Turkish claim extends to maps handed out to tourists. These can be a bit confusing. Although the maps will mark the Green zone itself, everything else will appear as if the invasion never happened. Placenames in the north will be marked in Greek, all roads across the green zone will appear to be open etc. After a pleasant afternoon in North Nicosia we crossed back to the Greek side at the Agios Demetios/Metehan crossing to the west of the city. The crossings were not well signposted and, with the map near useless, we found the crossing by going into the centre of the city and driving west, keeping the green zone as close as possible to our left.The crossing in Ledra Street (note this is not crossing at Ledra Palace) is definitely now open to foot traffic - the border guard told me it had been open for six months but most internet pages covering border crossing points seem not yet to have been updated (Jan '09).
No reports or photos on:

Ajman
Alabama
Albania
Alsace
Anatolia (Turkey in Asia)
Andalusia
Andorra
Antigua
Aquitaine
Aragon
Arizona
Aruba
Austria
Azores
Baden-Wurttemberg
Bahamas
Bahrain
Balearic Islands
Barbuda
Bavaria
Beijing (District)
Belize
Berlin
Brandenburg
Bremen
Brittany
Brussels-Capital Region
Burgundy
Busingen
California
Cambodia
Campania
Campione d'Italia
Castile and Leon
Catalonia
Centre
Champagne-Ardenne
Chubu Region
Colorado
Connecticut
Croatia (other)
Cuba
Curacao
Czech Republic
Delaware
Delhi (NCT)
Denmark
District of Columbia
Dodecanese Islands
Dominica
Dry Tortugas
Dubai
Emilia-Romagna
England
Euskadi (Basque Country)
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Finland (mainland)
Flemish Region
Florida
Franche-Comte
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Fujairah
Gauteng
Geneva
Georgia, State
Gibraltar
Graubunden
Greece (other)
Greenland
Guernsey
Hamburg
Haryana
Hebei
Hesse
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
Idaho
Ile-de-France
Illinois
Indiana
Ionian Islands
Ireland, Republic of
Isle of Man
Jamaica
Jersey
Jiangsu
Jordan
Kansai Region
Kanto Region
Karelia Republic
Kentucky
Kenya
Kuwait
La Rioja
Languedoc-Roussillon
Latvia
Lazio
Leningrad Oblast
Liguria
Lombardy
Lorraine
Louisiana
Lower Normandy
Lower Saxony
Lucerne
Luxembourg
Macau
Maharashtra
Maine
Maldives
Manitoba
Marche
Maryland
Massachusetts
Mauritius (main island)
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Mexico D.F.
Mexico State
Midi-Pyrenees
Mississippi
Monaco
Montana
Montenegro
Morocco
Moscow (City)
Moscow Oblast
Murmansk Oblast
Namibia
Navarre
Nebraska
Netherlands
Nevada
Nevis
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New South Wales
New York
Nord-Pas-de-Calais
North Carolina
North Island
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Vietnam
North West Province
Northern Cape
Northern Ireland
Norway (mainland)
Oaxaca
Ohio
Oman (other)
Ontario
Pays de la Loire
Pennsylvania
Picardy
Piedmont
Poitou-Charentes
Poland
Portugal
Provence-Alpes-Cote d\'Azur
Puebla
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Rajasthan
Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Musandam
Republic of Cyprus
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhode Island
Rhone-Alpes
Rodrigues Island
Romania
Rwanda
Saarland
Saint Petersburg (City)
San Marino
Sapmi (Lapland)
Sardinia
Saxony
Schaffhausen
Schleswig-Holstein
Schwyz
Scotland
Shandong
Shanghai (District)
Sharjah
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Carolina
South Dakota
South Island
South Vietnam
Sovereign Base Areas (Cyprus)
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
St. Gallen
St. Kitts
Sweden
Taiwan (main island)
Tennessee
Texas
Thailand
Thurgau
Tianjin (District)
Ticino
Trentino-Alto Adige
Turkish Thrace (Turkey in Europe)
Tuscany
U.S. Virgin Islands
Ukraine (Other)
Umm Al Qaiwain
United Nations Headquarters (New York)
Upper Normandy
Uri
Utah
Valais
Vatican City
Veneto
Vermont
Virginia
Wales
Walloon Region
West Virginia
Western Cape
Wyoming
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Zug
Zurich