Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: July 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Avianova Airlines Commercial Provokes International Controversy

Being in "The Biz" I had to share this. Seems there is some kind of controversy over the advert. Why?? Avianova is the business of selling tickets and if this works, good on 'em, I am sold! Looks like a fun airline which is sorely needed lately.

No reason for the "sensible shoes and plaid shirt" types to get their panties in a wad. Some folks have to loosen-up.  We all know that sex sells. Judge for yourselves.

Gotta love the symbolisms in the video! I challenge any red-blooded male to watch this video without a smile on his face.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Escape from Abu Dhabi....Part 2

Settled in my room, I enjoyed a hot shower and  "air dried" out on the balcony in the fresh, clean Alpine air. Anna-Lou called and I met her downstairs at noon. She drives a unique car, the Renault Kangoo, a strange looking but very functional vehicle.

Renault Kangoo file photo, (Rudolf Striker)

At one time, France imported cars into the U. S. One could purchase Renaults, Peugeots, and Citroens. For some reason, the cars didn't hold up well in the hot American environment and long, high speed interstate distances so the French cars fell out of favor as being unreliable. Expensive imported parts and knowledgeable mechanics were hard to find. Anna-Lou's Kangoo was a diesel which makes more sense to me than the exotic electric hybrids being developed in Japan and the U.S. They all get the same mileage. Seems most cars in France are diesels.

However, one of the best cars I ever drove was a Citroen I had for two weeks in Britain. It had a clever pneumatic suspension system and I enjoyed playing with the lever that would raise and lower the car. It was quirky though, I once pulled a knob under the steering column at speed to adjust the steering wheel angle and the hood popped up! I almost ended up in a ditch. My fault, I failed to read the Driver's Manual!

Anna-Lou and I drove towards downtown to the city center. We parked some ways out to avoid the congestion. 

Tree Lined Road to Annecy

After we parked the Kangoo, we had about a 500 meter walk to the city center. I found this surprise in an alley on the way.

Vintage Jeep

As the owner of a modern Jeep Wrangler, It was interesting to see how the original shape has not changed that much after 70 years. This one was preserved very well. I have owned MGBs, Ford Mustangs, Saab 900s, Volkswagen Beetles, Porsche 914's  and even  Mercedes 380's and 240's. I enjoy and appreciate iconic automobiles. I miss working on those old, pre-computer controlled cars.

We approach the old city. The colors were amazing!

Annecy. The Venice of France

The buildings flanking the canals were well preserved and functional, people lived there. On the street level were restaurants and retail shops but nothing was "Tourist Tacky". The city was clean, peaceful and everyone I saw seemed to be enjoying themselves.

We saw some historic churches, too:

One of my Favorite Photos....Stained Glass Reflections!

Below is the trademark and  most photographed scene in Annecy. It is the Palais de L'ile. Records back to the 1300's sees this medieval castle a coin mint, church, jail, courthouse and administrative offices of the territory. It is shaped as a boat and is situated in the middle of the canal. There is nothing else like it in the world.

Moi at the Palais de L'Ile

Anna-Lou, my Gracious Hostess, She is a Native of the Area!

We had lunch later at one of the many al fresco restaurants and then strolled lakeside.

A Medieval Castle

The sign Translates to " The Bridge of Love"

A Classic Merry-Go-Round Lakeside

An Intricate Sundial, Methinks

A Tree Lined Canal and Boats for Hire

We wandered back to the car and eventually went the French Walmart, Carrefour, to get some essentials. We met later that night for dinner and I had the best trout filet in recent memory. The local cuisine features cheese, potatoes, fish and sausages, perfect with a regional wine. I slept well that night after a long and fun day.

One more chapter and I will be done! Promise!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Escape from Abu Dhabi....Part 1

In my last post I bitched about the summer heat in Abu Dhabi and I realized what a useless thing that is to do. Like traffic jams, taxes, father time and women, the weather just IS and no amount of my cursing and beating the wall with my fists are going to magically transform any of these absolutes into my idea of what they should be in my little world. Although I can't change the weather, fortunately I can change where I experience it. In this moment of clarity I decided to head north for awhile. I have an open invitation from a friend who lives in the French Alps and she had no objection to my plans to visit. I looked forward to crystal blue skies, green mountains and turquoise Alpine lakes. I was not to be disappointed.

My flight to Geneva left Abu Dhabi at the ungodly hour of 2:20AM but soon after the meal I fell fast asleep. I awoke around sunrise and was treated to a tasty salmon omelette for breakfast as well as this scene:

Traffic at 2 o'clock

Etihad's flight to Milan, a perfect intercept!

The slightly different headings and altitude provided a breathtaking crossover at FL380!

Descent into Geneva

Geneva Airport Flight Line

U.A.E Royal Aircraft

The Royal 747 was parked at a nearby gate, what a coincidence! This aircraft is based a few kilometers from my apartment. No doubt ferrying some deposits for the Swiss bank account.

Due to the early hour I breezed through immigration, easily found my hostess, Anna-Lou, and was soon on my way to France. My destination was the town of Annecy, a medium sized community located 30 km south of Geneva on the shores of, you guessed it, Lac Annecy. 

Because of its proximity to the Swiss and Italian borders, this medieval town saw several shifts in governments over the centuries and was once part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Annecy is crisscrossed with canals and is known as the Venice of France. Last June, the International Olympic Committee announced Annecy as one of the three candidate cities for the 2018 Winter Olympics. From what I saw, the town has a very good chance against competitors Munich, Germany and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

So after a short, pleasant drive on the excellent roads we arrived at my hotel situated in Argonay, a suburban area close to Annecy. I stayed at the L' Auberge d' Argonay  hotel, a charming place reminiscent of a classic mountain chalet. I strongly recommend this small inn, there is a restaurant and bar on premises. The excellent food is of the area and the proprietors are welcoming. I accidentally left with my room key in my pocket at checkout, but it is on its way back via Empost, inshalla! I apologize for the inconvenience!

Anna-Lou and I had hot chocolate and fresh croissants in the restaurant while catching-up a bit. I had a long day already with the redeye flight and went to the room afterwards to decompress for a few hours with plans to meet up later..

View From my Room Balcony

The Mayor of Argonay's Office Across the Street

Closeup of Same

As you can see, the scenery is stunning and an antithesis to the dull, tan, hazy summer skies of Abu Dhabi. I instantly was relaxed and as "at home" as possible. I felt the tensions and anxiety of everyday life easing up as I absorbed the beauty. There was actually an historic church next door that rang its bell on the hour and half hour. As charming as this was, thankfully it was turned off at night!

I hate to do multi-part posts but I have much more to say. The next installment will have me visiting the Annecy city center and after that, cheating death once again! Hell, I may throw in an editorial, too.

Stay tuned....Seeya!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dog Days

Well here we are again in the midst of my least favorite time of the year in Abu Dhabi, I am sure I am not alone. How I wish I could ignore Middle East summers from afar in more northern and temperate latitudes like so many are fortunate to do. I could live without the blazing heat and stifling humidity that force me to stay indoors and struggle with boredom and increased levels of adult beverage consumption.

Not only is physical activity curtailed during the summer, I am convinced the mind is adversely affected as Cabin Fever sets in. This syndrome is more commonly known in Arctic climes where folks are confined to their living spaces for long periods of time by the harsh weather outside. Bad things have been known to happen to the housemates of sufferers of this malady. I am sure the same thing happens here but on opposite ends of the calendar. Everyone I know is grumpy and itchy.

I don’t like keeping a pair of potholder mittens in my car so I can touch the steering wheel or how the back of my shirt is wet when I get out of the car. I don’t like the way my head swims when I walk for more than 100 meters in the intense heat and humidity. I don’t like the way the summer sky is the same color as the desert due to the frequent sandstorms. The sky should be blue.

I realize I can’t change the climate, but I try to endure the best I can. What redeems the summer weather in Abu Dhabi is autumn, winter and spring. During those seasons, it’s about as perfect as one can hope for. Cool nights and mild days predominate, just right for outdoor activities and the sky is blue too!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Optical Illusion

Decide for yourself......