30 December 2010

Rocking to the end of 2010

The second half of 2010 has sure been busy and interesting. With the Air and Motorshows covered in the last entry to this entry which covers music concerts.

Metallica

This goes back to May when I first learnt that iconic metal band, Metallica would be coming to Sydney to do a show in November. Unfortunately, the ticket sales would begin while I was away in Egypt, so I thought I'd never get to see them. Thankfully, a special pre-sale release came up and I was able to secure tickets almost as soon as the clock ticked over to open them for sale!

Fast forward to November and Eleonor and I are seeing them live in an awesome show that lived up to the hype and expectations. So much so I was further fuelled to play guitar and learn some new songs :)

See some of the concert at the following YouTube links:
- For Whom The Bell Tolls
- One
- The Unforgiven (Intro and Chorus only)
- Master of Puppets (Interlude and Ending only)
- Seek and Destroy



Linkin Park

One of the most anticipated album releases of 2010 was that of Linkin Park's album 'A Thousand Suns'. It was met with mixed reviews from most people I knew who were diehard fans, so when I received a special preorder for their Sydney show in November I passed up the opportunity. Luckily, they sold enough tickets for a second show and four of us decided to go along and see it.

It was a good thing we did! Linkin Park delivered a high energy show to rival their awesome performance from 2007! Good seats helped and their ability to make all of their songs sound great made for an enjoyable show including the following songs:

- What I've Done
- No More Sorrow - From The Inside
- Numb - The Radiance
- Fallout - The Catalyst
- In The End - Bleed It Out (A Place For My Head)
- New Divide - Faint - One Step Closer (Intro only)



Gorillaz

Eleonor had been wanting to see the Gorillaz perform live since we found out they would be having a concert in Sydney. However, we missed out on the initial 'good' seats and soon came to accept that we missed the boat. Unfortunately they would only run one show as well.

Luckily, one of her Facebook friends was selling some unwanted tickets so we were able to get back in the game and see the show - the day after we saw Linkin Park!

A completely different vibe but just as great to watch, Gorillaz allows you to appreciate their music by seeing exactly what's involved in putting it all together. From strings to percussion, brass and even a Syrian band shipped over from Demascus, the unique Gorillaz sound was recreated perfectly and assisted by performances from De La Soul and others.

I'm not as well versed on the Gorillaz discography as those of Metallica or Linkin Park, but still had an enjoyable time!

- 19-2000
- Stylo
- Dare
- Clint Eastwood - Don't Get Lost in Heaven - Demon Days



Best Concert of 2010

Since I'm in an award giving mood, of course there's an award for the best concert I attended.

Best Concert: Linkin Park - high energy, proved the doubters of the new album wrong.
Special mention to Metallica for the most anticipated concert of the year and delivering.


Best Movie of 2010

An additional shout-out to the movies that I thought were the best of 2010.

Best Movie: Inception. Floored me with how well this movie was done and how much it made you think. Another gem from Christopher Nolan!
Special mention to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. A movie I went to see with no idea what it was about and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Definitely underrated.
Special mention to Alice in Wonderland 3D, for showing us how 3D movies can be done well, without copying Avatar.

2010 comes to an end tomorrow! Hopefully I'll get one more blog in before the end of the year!

29 December 2010

Motorshow & AutoSalon 2010

On October 16th Eleonor and I went with a friend of ours to the Sydney Motorshow. This was the first time I'd been since 2007 and the motorshow had become an event held every two years since 2008 (when Eleonor and I were in the UK). Needless to say I was quite excited to go back again after so long - but car manufacturers were obviously still reeling from the Global Financial Crisis, so not all of the marques were there including Ferrari/Fiat, BMW, Aston Martin and others.

That didn't matter though, there was still enough to feast your eyes on as Lamborghini, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz put on decent enough displays to excite, there was even an appearance by a Koeniggseg!

Sydney International Motorshow 2010 Click for Larger Image

For me, this would probably be the last motorshow I'd see before I seriously consider replacing my current ride, so I was researching, examining and trying out different cars with that in mind.

Overall, it was a decent show, but the lack of some of the popular marques showed and there didn't seem to be too many people there as I remember from previous shows. No wonder they made it come once every two years!


The Auto Salon Final Battle returned to Sydney in November and I tagged along with my brother and his girlfriend. This show had a similar vibe to the motorshow - it didn't have the same excitement as the last show I visited in 2006! There didn't seem to be as many cars on display either - nor girls roaming around scantily clad to pose for photos with!

AutoSalon Final Battle 2010 Click for Larger Image

The show was still interesting with mods of all shapes, sizes, colours and craziness all on show. From the tasteful to the ridiculously awful were out there for all to see. No standouts for me but at least the numbers of Hyundai Excels, old school Civics and Barinas were significantly less than previous outings!

With three shows in the last half of the year (including the Williamtown Airshow) I've decided to hand out some awards, so here's the first...


Best Show for 2010: Australian Defence Force Airshow, Williamtown Air Force Base
Runner-up: Sydney International Motorshow


Still wrapping up the events of the year so don't go away. Another blog will be coming real soon! I promise :)

26 December 2010

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

I hope you've all had a great time, spent it with family and friends, eaten lots and shared many laughs and smiles!


This year, Eleonor and I get to celebrate our first Christmas together - not just in our new house, but actually spend Christmas Day with each other! For each of the previous years we've been together, we've always dedicated Christmas Day to our respective families and then we've caught up on Boxing Day.

We had both our families come together for a Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve to share in the Christmas cheer and exchange some gifts. On Christmas Day we spent the morning together opening our gifts before heading out to dinner at my relatives place. Tomorrow we'll head out to meet up with Eleonor's family, continuing the Christmas fun :)

The year's drawing to a close, but I'm not done blogging for 2010 just yet! With a bit of time off I hope to recap on the past few months and offer my usual reflection of the year in the next few days!

Happy Holidays to you all!

19 December 2010

Airshow 2010

It's been four years since I last visited an Airshow, held at Richmond Air Force Base. Earlier this year in September, another Airshow was held at Williamtown Air Force Base to farewell the long serving RAAF F-111's and introduce the new Super Hornets.

Unlike Richmond, which is a measly 20 mins drive from home, Williamtown is a 2 hour trip north, but it was still worthwhile as this show offered a lot more flying displays and variety of aircraft.

ADF Airshow 2010
Getting in was easy (getting out was a game of patience) and from virtually anywhere around the field you could view the flight displays, either from the carpark (where an entry fee wasn't technically required) through to where the static aircraft displays and information stands were on the opposite side.

Highlights included the many aircraft you could walk through including one of the RAAF's four C-17 Globemaster III transports as well as the HARS Museum's L-1049 Constellation and their Catalina. Flight displays included many formations and tributes to the frontline combat aircraft of the RAAF through the years, three F-111's in formation displaying the three wing configurations, the Hornets and the Roulettes, but in a fiery send off, they all seemed to pale in comparison to the impressive Dump 'n Burn maneuvers, including one impressive touch n' go n' burn from the retiring F-111's!

This airshow marked Eleonor's first time to experience one for herself and she appeared to be enjoying herself - particularly when her ears were blown away by the sheer sound of an F/A-18 at full speed!

Of course I enjoyed myself and look forward to the next event - perhaps I'll finally get down to Avalon in 2011?

25 September 2010

Settling In

It's hard to believe it but Eleonor and I have had the keys to our new place for three months already! Handover occurred on June 24th 2010. Of course we didn't move in straight away but the three months has flown by.

So I look back and think of how much we've been able to do in that time. We've made our house more of a home and furnished it accordingly. We've already had a number of guests over who've taken a look and complimented us on our progress. I'm now more familiar with this place than when I visit Mum's - which can only be a good thing!

Even so, there's still so much left to do. I'm told that owning a home is always an ongoing project and I'm beginning to see that. The 'big' project to work on is the backyard. Mirvac left us with a lot of work to do out there. Thankfully Eleonor's Dad has been very active and keen to help us fix this up and I'm betting this weekend we'll be focussing our attention out there.

I still have several large items at Mum's. They're quite keen to see those gone and we'll get them over here sooner or later. There's still lots to be unpacked and sorted out at the receiving end. But it all takes time and we're making good progress.

A year ago this place was still just an empty block of land! Now it's our home :)

19 September 2010

Dubai Trip Review: Burj Dubai & Dubai Creek

Hi All,

This is it! We're at the end of the holiday blogs with this entry. Rounding up our last full day in Dubai. Eleonor and I were able to explore at our own speed without worrying about anyone else ruining the party.

We were given a brief tour around Dubai and some of the palaces of the influential Sheikh's living in the area before heading to The Dubai Mall so Eleonor and I could preorder our tickets to go to the At The Top Observation Deck, the highest in the world at the one and only Burj Khalifa.


We were in luck when we arrived to purchase our tickets as they were allowing immediate entry to the tour for the same discounted price. So we took the opportunity to head up the Burj Khalifa instead of using the hour provided by our driver to explore the world's largest shopping mall.

The tour is quite in-depth and takes visitors on a journey from the conceptual designs of the tower through to its construction and realisation. After all this, you enter the lift that takes you 124 floors up to the observation deck. The views were spectacular and the deck even includes an outside area, which was blisteringly warm!

Cameras and viewfinders are provided for visitors to zoom in on locations and even see how it would look at night time. The experience also opens at night time, which might have to be something we try on our next Dubai stopover!


Sadly, their gift and souvenir shops didn't offer any replica Burj Khalifa towers which I had been looking for, so we found our driver waiting for us and decided to head to the Dubai Museum, a destination we missed on the previous day due to the others in our group spending big at the Gold shops.

On the way, we stopped by Dubai Creek to see some of 'old Dubai' and then given an hour or so to explore the museum which provided a great history of the city from it's beginnings as a village to what it is today. Thankfully I was able to source a replica of the Burj Khalifa from this shop so all was well!

Following our tour, our time with our driver was coming to an end so we headed back to The Dubai Mall to give it a proper lookover and bid our driver farewell. What more would you expect from the world's largest shopping mall than a massive aquarium inside? You could even dive in the tank (and have shoppers watch you from the massive window!) Everything was grand and lavish in the Dubai Mall and it seemed to go endlessly with the number of floors and how expansive each level was. Even after 3 hours of exploring, we had barely scratched the surface.


At this point we decided to check out some other shopping centres so we headed to the Mall of the Emirates which is the home of Ski Dubai. Not as big as The Dubai Mall but still quite impressive, we stayed here for a little while before taking a taxiride back to our hotel to prepare for the evening's Dhow cruise on Dubai Creek.

In the evening we awaited our lift to the Dhow for the evening cruise, unfortunately it appeared there had been some sort of mixup and our driver arrived late and we held up the Dhow, but that wasn't our fault. The cruise was great. Eleonor and I sat atop the Dhow in the fresh (yet warm) air of the night and had a great view of the creek as we cruised along.

Dinner was a buffet and a magician provided some entertainment as well.


So our day ended and we made sure we were packed and ready to depart in the late morning the following day.

We boarded our Emirates A380 for the return flight but were held up at the gate as a strong tailwind would push us along to Sydney and mean we would arrive too early for the morning curfew. I think we were at the gate for about 45 minutes before pushback. Luckily the flight was nowhere near full so Eleonor and I were able to stretch out across three seats in the forward section of the plane.

Once on our way I snapped a few last aerial photos of Dubai. The first below even captures the now retired Cunard QEII cruise liner, probably awaiting her conversion into a hotel. The second shot shows the Dragon Mall which we passed on our way to the Sharjah Desert.


Our flight took us over The Maldives (above) before entering the night. We arrived at Sydney as dawn was breaking, in much cooler temperatures than we were used to in Egypt and Dubai.

So ends this trip report, but what a fantastic trip it was. Even now, 4 months after the adventure it's been fun recalling the events and putting them up here.

Hopefully the upcoming blogs won't be any less interesting as we've been well busy since returning from this trip!

Stay tuned as always!

Dan

09 September 2010

Dubai Trip Review: Dubai and the Sharjah Desert

Hi All,

Apologies for the month-long wait for the wrap-up to our holiday. It's now September and I'm still chronicaling our holiday that happened in May! The busy side of moving house has passed so hopefully I can wrap this up quickly and move onto other news in future posts!

So, our holiday brings us to Dubai. I had been looking forward to this destination for quite some time and it was great to be here and out of the airport, even after a 1am arrival!

Unfortunately some drama struck our group as no one met us at the airport. Eventually we all made our own way to the hotel (and were never reimbursed for that inconvenience). We barely had a few hours sleep before we were up for the day tour of Dubai.

We cruised in air-conditioned comfort as we quickly realised how hot Dubai gets during the day. Our guide took us through the old and new parts of the city. We got to visit an Islamic Art Centre before heading for a photo-op near the Burj Al Arab, the famous 7 star hotel.

Dubai Photos
From this location we continued to the Palm Jumeirah, the first artificial palm nearing completion. We drove to the end and stood before another 7 star hotel, the Atlantis. From here we drove back into town and the new Burj area where we could see the Dubai Mall (the world's largest shopping mall) and the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building).

The rest of our group were quite eager to check out some gold shops so we ventured to a place called 'Gold Land' where there were endless rows of shops with lavish and extravagant jewellery on offer. Eleonor and I took it a bit easier and shopped for souvenirs instead during this time.

Extravagant Necklaces
Once the other ladies in our group had satisfied their jewellery appetites, we headed back to our hotel for some lunch and a rest before the evening's trip to the desert.

Come afternoon and two of our group of six decided to drop out, instead opting to go hunting for more gold. The rest of us headed out to the desert heat. We had a brief stop at a place where a monkey jumped on Eleonor after she went to take a photo of it. There were also donkey's, peacock's and other animals in the area.

We then set off into the desert for a bit of sand duning. Except one of the ladies in the car absolutely hated it and soured the experience. After reaching a picturesque spot in the middle of nowhere for a photo opportunity, our driver took us to the boring blacktop and we drove, unexcitedly to our destination.

Dubai Photos Check out what little sand duning we did manage to get up to via the YouTube video below:

After arriving at our camp site for the evening's entertainment we were treated to a complimentary camel ride. We got to ride aboard the camel with the cute 'tea-cosy' on its nose in the photograph below. It was quite an experience, particularly as you don't realise how high you end up going when they get up to walk!

Dubai Photos Within the camp were several stores. One offered Henna painting for the ladies, which Eleonor indulged in. We were also able to experience a wealth of middle-eastern cuisine which was interesting, tasty and filling before seeing a bellydancer performance.

At the end, we were driven back to our hotel to finish up our first day. The other four ladies in our group would fly back to Sydney the following morning, leaving Eleonor and I to happily continue exploring Dubai at our own pace for Day 2!

The holiday will finish up in the next post, which I'll try to get out as soon as possible!

Until then,

Daniel

10 August 2010

Egypt Trip Review: Aswan - Cairo - Ismailia

"I'm finished. Where's my tip!?"
- Standard greeting from Aswan Airport's baggage handlers.


Hi all,

Trying to finish up the trip review of Egypt and get to Dubai (and all the other stuff going on at the moment) so here we are... The above quote was a standard request made by baggage handlers once they thought they'd helped you transport your luggage from the tour bus to airport checkin. The only problem here was the person who directed the request at me obviously hadn't seen that I had wheeled my luggage the entire way from bus to checkin without anyone elses assistance.

It was a truly amazing and intimidating sight though as we got off our bus at Aswan airport to have all of these handlers rush our group like a swarm of bees trying to wrestle your luggage from you. Neither Eleonor or I ended up with help carrying our luggage though.

So we were off from Aswan and Upper Egypt aboard an Egyptair A320 back to Cairo. It was an early flight and meant we had all day back in Cairo to sort ourselves out and figure out what to do with ourselves.

On the plus side we were 'upgraded' to some deluxe rooms at the Santana Hotel which were quite lovely, particularly compared to the rooms we had stayed in during our previous times here.

Our group took another walk into Downtown Cairo before some rest back at the hotel. One of the ladies in our group decided to visit a restaurant on her own and had a very forward encounter with a young Egyptian male on her way back to hotel who apparently propositioned her for a night with him and his erm... self-proclaimed large appendage!



Our trip the following day would take us out to Ismailia and the Suez Canal. This was a long day but into some interesting parts of north-eastern Egypt. Ismailia is a fair distance out from Cairo and upon arrival we had a quick look around the town before heading onwards to the military protected Suez region. With military escort we we restricted for photo opportunities as we crossed the Suez Canal on a ferry and driving through the Sinai region before crossing the Egypt-Japan friendship bridge (aka Suez Canal Bridge) back towards Ismailia.

We did at least get to see several large ships making their way through the Canal which provided a sense of scale.

With one more day in Cairo (we would fly out in the evening) we decided to walk to the Cairo University where staff allowed us to take some photos from inside the entrance. The rest of the day we spent killing time before packing up and heading to Cairo International Airport for our flight out to Dubai.

So ends our tour of Egypt. It was great and extremely memorable for a great number of reasons. Definitely a trip worth making at some point if you're considering it!

Will aim to make the next blog update soon and cover our tour of Dubai which was equally amazing!

Until then,

Daniel

21 July 2010

Egypt Trip Review: Abu Simbel & Aswan

Hi All!

After our ship, the Nile Story arrived at Aswan, we stayed overnight and four from our group prepared for our trip to Abu Simbel. This was an optional tour, but one that we felt was worthwhile seeing.

This involved an interesting trip with questionnable methods as when we arrived at Aswan airport we were allocated boarding passes with random names on them. Our confidence lessened when we found out we were flying with Air Memphis, an airline that had been mentioned in less than favourable conversation with our guide in Cairo!

For me, the flight was exciting! We boarded a 30 plus year old McDonnell Douglas DC-9. Sure, it looked and felt old, but the chance to fly aboard something like this doesn't come up very often! Regardless, many on board didn't feel safe until they were back on the ground. Luckily for them, the flight didn't take too long.

We were bussed over to the Abu Simbel Temple where we were given time to explore by ourselves. It was amazing to behold such a huge temple but also to realise that this monument had been relocated, piece by piece from its original location to this place to avoid it being submerged in Lake Nasser.

We were soon taken back to the airport and flown back (aboard the same, trusty DC-9 with different names on our randomly selected boarding passes again) to Aswan. From here we met up with the other two members of our group and looked at The Unfinished Obelisk in one of Aswan's quarries.

Our day was just starting! From the Unfinished Obelisk we visited the High Dam and took in the views of Lake Nasser and the surrounds. Following this we took a boat to the Philae Temple. This monument was also relocated to avoid flooding during the High Dam's construction.

With the day winding down we enjoyed a Felucca ride along the Nile with the opportunity to buy some souvenirs onboard before heading back to our cruiser for our last night in Aswan...

More to come!

Dan

08 July 2010

Egypt Trip Review: Luxor & The Nile

Hi All,

Continuing our trip review of Egypt, from Cairo we took an early Egyptair Express flight to Luxor in Upper Egypt.

(17 May 2010) Upon arrival in Luxor we met our new guide, Ahmed and were transported by bus to the famous and massive Karnak Temple. This is where we got our first look at an Egyptian Temple and an introduction to their design and function.

The Karnak Temple has the largest and most complete gate (entrance) of all the temples in Egypt. This entrance is lined with Ram statues. Within the temple itself are three separate sections, many obelisks and many more statues.

From the Karnak Temple we moved on to the Luxor Temple which is at one end of the recently excavated 'Sphinx Avenue', a passageway lined with hundreds of Sphinx statues. The gate to the Luxor temple features two statues and originally had two Obelisks. One remains, the other was sent to Paris as a gift.

Within the Luxor Temple it can be seen that other generations have had their influence. In many rooms there is evidence of Christian artwork plastered over Egyptian hyroglyphs as these temples were re-used as places of worship. Near the entrance to the Luxor Temple is a doorway high up on a wall. This is actually part of a mosque that was constructed on top of the Luxor Temple ruins.

From the Luxor Temple we were taken to our Nile River cruiser, the M/S Nile Story.

We took up an optional experience for the following morning, a balloon flight offering panoramic views over the Luxor area.

18 May 2010, another early start for three of our tour group. We boarded a boat and crossed the Nile while having breakfast and tea. We were then taken with other budding balloonists to the launch site where many balloons were filling the skies already.

The balloon flight was awesome and offered some excellent views over the valley region including the Tombs of the Nobles, the Temple of Al-Deir El-Bahari and the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. For our first ballooning experience it was definitely worth the price and the early wake up!


Back down to Earth we awaited the rest of our tour group (who had enjoyed a sleep in and some proper breakfast aboard our cruiser) and headed off to explore the tombs in the area. First stop was the Valley of the Kings. No photography is allowed here, but we explored three different tombs as the temperature rose! From here we continued on to the Al Deir El-Bahari Temple, this one is better known as the Temple of Hatchepsut.

We paid a quick visit to an Alabaster shop where we were shown the differences between real and fake alabaster as well as how certain alabaster items are created. Following this little rest stop we continued to the Valley of the Queens where we explored two more tombs.

After a long day exploring in the heat we returned back to our cruiser for dinner and to set sail along the Nile. On arrival at Esna we came upon several row boats in the water. These turned out to be salesmen offering carpets, scarves, galabeyas and more. The negotiations from the top deck of the cruiser provided a lot of entertainment and the throwing of items back and forth as we all looked for a great deal.

The following day (19 May 2010) we visited temples at Kom-Ombo and Edfu, each offering their own unique stories and purposes. The heat was a lot more noticeable in Upper Egypt but it did allow for a chance to relax on the top deck of the cruiser and indulge in the pool to keep cool. By the end of the day our cruiser had already arrived at Aswan.

Stay tuned for more updates from Aswan!

Cheers,

Daniel

04 July 2010

Egypt Trip Review: Alexandria

Hi All!

Continuing the Egypt related blogs, on 14 May 2010 after our tour of Cairo we were off to Alexandria aboard a bus. On the way we visited two of the many monasteries between Cairo and Alexandria.

Our first stop was at St Bishoy's which offered a look at a traditional monastery while the second we visited was St Mina's which was a bit more modern.

Pics from Alexandria
Much of this day was spent in transit to Alexandria. 15 May 2010 allowed us to tour Alexandria a little more - our day started with a visit to the Montazah Gardens and the Palace of King Farouk. We then headed along the Corniche to Downtown and visited the famous Catacombs. We were then given a guided tour of the modern Alexandria Library, Bibliotecha Alexandrina before heading back to our hotels.

There were some wonderful sights in Alexandria which is still quite a busy place like Cairo, but with beaches and sea breezes. The Bibliotecha Alexandrina was an amazing place and even with a free ticket for Internet Access on their computers, both Eleonor and I resisted the urge to log on!

In the evening there was an offer to experience a guided tour of Downtown Alexandria and a dinner but our group decided to save some money and explore of our own accord so we took a taxi ride along the Corniche to walk the streets of Downtown and see what bargains we might be able to grab.

Check out footage from our taxi ride here:

We had a good look at the markets and shops in Alexandria but didn't bag any deals so we headed back towards our hotel where we had some very tasty Pizza from a nearby shopping complex.

16 May 2010 we left Alexandria and headed along the coast to El Alamein, an important place where soldiers fought in World War II. Passing the extensive arenas on the Mediterranean coast we visited the War Cemetary which included an Australian War Memorial and a large number of graves for soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Canada.

El Alamein War Cemetary

After this visit we explored the War Museum before hitting the long and lonely road back to Cairo. We returned to Cairo during peak traffic which showed us just how the Egyptian locals deal with clogged roads before visiting a cotton shop in Giza.

We returned to the Santana Hotel in Cairo for the night in preparation of an early departure the next morning to head to Upper Egypt.

A special shout-out to FlightsDubai.org who have actually featured two of my trip reports regarding Egypt on their site!

More to come in future posts :)

Daniel

23 June 2010

Egypt Trip Review: Cairo

Hi All,

Yes, it's finally time I got to writing up our trip report! So I'll try to do it based on destination for each new entry.

We departed Sydney in the evening of May 10, 2010 and flew through the night to Dubai with Emirates aboard their A380. The flight was great and allowed for some rest in advance of our trip. Dubai Airport was great for a stopover and allowed us to fill in the few hours between flights quite well.


Images from Emirates flight & Dubai Airport
May 11th, 2010 we fly out from Dubai to Cairo aboard an Emirates B777-300ER. We arrive in Cairo in the late morning, meet the other four companions on our tour and we're taken to our hotel, the Santana 3 star. Our room was adequate for our stay.

Eleonor and I were the only two who opted to see the Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids, so we scored a unique look at the Giza complex during Sunset and into the night followed by an introduction to Egyptian cuisine at a nearby restaurant.



The following day we met our Cairo guide named Mohammed. He took us to the Giza complex to see the Pyramids during the day and the Sphinx. Seeing these amazing monuments that are so recognisable was a treat and we were also provided with exceptional weather which helped with the photographs!

"Buy - Don't cry..."
- Salespitch from a woman at the Papyrus shop

After spending much of the morning in Giza, we visited a Papyrus shop before travelling along the Nile to Memphis and Saqqara. Memphis being a former capital of Egypt and Saqqara the site for the first pyramids. We also visited a couple of tombs amongst the ever expanding finds at Saqqara and explored a museum dedicated to the architect Imhotep.

We also toured a carpet factory where school children learn carpet making as a trade.


On our return to Cairo we had a few hours rest before heading out for a special walk to Downtown and throughout. Mohammed showed us a number of places such as markets, extensive shopping streets, hidden shopping centres and we enjoyed watching the sunset along the Nile in one of the public parks. He also introduced us to a wonderful food shop near our restaurant that made the best fresh mango juices! Our tour of Downtown got us all used to crossing the road in Egypt and we even boarded the Metro for the railway experience!

Our next day in Cairo took us to the Egyptian Museum to look at the many artefacts preserved there and Tutankhamuns treasures. We were taken to a perfume factory before visiting the Alabaster Mosque at the Citadel of Salah Al-din. At lunch time we headed to the market of Khan El-Khalili.

Cairo is a very interesting place and with a population larger than all of Australia living in this city you can imagine it's quite busy!

The entries will continue on through the rest of Egypt as from here we will travel to Alexandria, Upper Egypt and more...

Stay tuned,

Daniel

30 May 2010

More Memories - Back to Reality

Hi All,

Both Eleonor and I have safely returned to Australia and our 2010 holiday is now behind us. We had a great time in Egypt and Dubai seeing all the different places and popular locations (and some not so popular locations). It was definitely an experience and a huge contrast between Cairo and Dubai!

I'm still coming down to Earth and reality will strike as I return to work tomorrow. There's a tonne of photos to sort through and I'll be looking at getting those online soon to share with everyone and the upcoming blogs will document our adventures. So stay tuned!

Back in Australia it's approaching Winter so the weather has been noticeably different to what we've been experiencing. It looks like our house has continued to progress while we were away and who knows? We might be moving in some time next month so there's more exciting stuff on the way - and no rest for the wicked!

Will be back soon, so see you then,

Dan

09 May 2010

Countdown to the H's

It's an exciting time right now - tomorrow, Eleonor and I will fly off on our adventure to Egypt for two weeks and check out all the wonders of that place as well as a brief stop in Dubai on the way back.

This is our first holiday in a year and a half so something we're both looking forward to! Will post some updates when we can, but most likely this blog will next be updated when we're back on home soil.

Another thing to be excited about is our house - which should be finished at or around the time we get back.

So it'll be a busy time as well, but finally we'll be able to move into our new place (a little later than Eleonor might've liked).

A quick one today as I have to start packing!

PS: Happy Mothers Day!

02 April 2010

Celebrating a Decade

On Monday 29th March 2010, Eleonor and I celebrated 10 years together in our relationship. It's quite an achievement for both of us and definitely a milestone because no matter how you look at it - a decade is a very long time.

It's hard to imagine now, but when we first started out, I was hardly thinking we'd make it to two weeks together! My problematic self-confidence is still a personality trait with me today.

Eleonor and I met through high school. We only got to know each other in Year 11 when we shared homeroom and several classes. It wasn't until Year 12 that we became more interested in each other. We talked a lot more, shared a lot and with the behind-the-scenes help of friends we were brought together via phone conversation on 29th March 2000. Eleonor was quick to show us off to everyone at school the next day!

From there we completed our HSC year and went onto uni. We would often meetup for lunch and even sneak into each others lectures from time to time. However, the university years were probably the slowest years of our relationship as we mainly studied and worked through our degrees. Fortune would have Eleonor galavanting around the world on numerous holidays during this time.

I think it was 2005 when we went on our first holiday away to the Blue Mountains. In 2006 we had our first holiday involving a flight to the tropical north, Cairns. From there, the travel bug had bitten and so the world was ours! Travelling to China in 2007 (after I secured a better paying job), Perth in early 2008 followed by the UK/Paris trip later that year, Brisbane in 2009 and looking towards Egypt this May.

We have both changed throughout the course of our relationship and through thick and thin we have stuck by each other.

With our (recent) engagement and our very own house nearing completion in the coming months, I'm sure there are many more decades we can look forward to spending together...

:)

Oh, and let's not forget: Happy Easter everyone!

21 March 2010

Pay-off & Celebrate

March is usually a good month for celebration, particularly as I celebrate my birthday on St Patricks Day and some good friends of mine also celebrate their birthdays as well.

This March has cranked it up a bit as I found out I've finally finished paying off my car! 2 months early (and so having to pay an early exit fee for the privelige). It's quite a relief in some ways, there's a few hundred dollars per month I no longer have to dish out to the finance company! After almost 5 years, I wonder if those extra dollars will make much of a difference.

To celebrate this achievement, last week I installed some new HID (high intensity discharge) bulbs to improve visibility at night and they look cool too :P

This month has also seen some great progress with our house. We've gone from slab to frame and now the windows and bricks are going up. It's quite amazing to see how quickly things can happen when everything falls into place. The downside being that our loan slowly gets larger and larger with each stage of completion :(

Bricks going up on our house
We've also managed to pay off our upcoming Egypt/Dubai holiday which is coming quickly in May. Both Eleonor and I are very excited about travelling to what should be two amazing places. Seeing the Pyramids with our own eyes, cruising the Nile and checking out the other wonders of Egypt as well as going to the ultra-modern and super-rich Emirati city of Dubai, a place I've been keen on visiting since it sprung out of nowhere and became such an infamous place for 'great things'.

My parents will beat us to Egypt as they travel there next month, but they'll also be able to give us an indication of what we should expect when we travel there a month later :)

2010 is certainly living up to expectation with a LOT happening so far. I think that's reflected in the number and frequency of blog entries I've been making recently!

Until the next exciting update, take care...

06 March 2010

Old Fashioned Customer Service

Whatever happened to it?

With Eleonor's recent troubles with her MacBook Pro, it was easy to see why she'd lost faith in the brand. I could also sympathise to some degree with her frustration as her saga continued on and on. But with my recent tyre issue, you really have to wonder where old fashioned customer service has gone to. People - and companies don't seem to care anymore.

So, last week I was driving along and picked up an odd vibration through the front wheels. I get home, jack up the front of the car and take a look to find that one of the front tyres has blistered. Now, this tyre isn't that old (purchased in June '09) and still has a good amount of tread on it, so we're wondering how this could have happened.

Blistered Tyre from an Impact Fracture

So I take it back to the shop it was purchased from to see what they can do - whether there's a warranty claim in there at all. The guy says they'll have an answer by the end of the day (Monday at the beginning of this week) and I'd get a call on Tuesday.

Of course, Tuesday came and went and I didn't get a call.

I call them back on Wednesday and the wheel still hasn't been looked at. The guy re-promises that'll happen that afternoon and I'll get a call.

Of course, there's no call.

I call them back on Thursday, this time I get an answer (surprised?) and the tyre manufacturer won't provide a claim. They say that it's the result of an impact fracture. I'm still not really surprised. I would have been surprised if I had a resolution by Tuesday afternoon! So I take the tyre back on Friday and am no better off.

So, my understanding of this tyre manufacturer's reasoning is that if you have one of their tyres and you hit a pothole, you're s**t outta luck. So don't by NEUTON branded, or any no name brand tyres I'd say!

Anyway, back to the case at hand. I'm sure many of us have had the situation where we're promised a resolution or a call back and it never happens. The question is why? Or maybe the better question is, what can you do about it? Perhaps nothing... Something's up with the work ethic of people maybe? They just don't care anymore? There's any number of reasons I suspect.

At the end of the day though - it just wastes our time and leaves us feeling bitter about the brand/company involved.

Maybe if they annoy enough of us they'll take notice? I think that might be wishful thinking as well!

Until next time, take care!

28 February 2010

The Difference a Year Makes

Hi All,

Already the end of February. Just last week I realised it had been a year since Eleonor and I placed our deposit on what was then just a piece of land in a new, up and coming housing estate.

Our piece of land, 21 Feb 2009
Many of you might know the troubles we went through last year to see any sort of real progress happen on this site. While the builder assured us we'd be under construction by May, nothing happened. Then it was supposed to be October, and more issues came up... Construction only really started in January of this year! Finally, things have started going well and our house is taking shape...

Our house under construction, 21 Feb 2010
The above photo was taken a year after our deposit was put down. We are now seeing the framework come together and our house actually start looking like a house!

The rollercoaster ride we suffered last year isn't too dissimilar to an ordeal Eleonor's had to go through with her Macbook Pro laptop. It begs the question: "Why can't companies get it right anymore?"

With her situation unresolved, I'll save that story for another blog.
Regarding our house, the recent updates and the speed at which construction is happening has washed away some of the pain and stress from 2009. We're just hoping there's no more ugly surprises waiting to rear their heads at us!

In other news, Happy Birthday to my fiancé Eleonor and my cousin Jacqui who both celebrated their birthdays on Feb 20. Jacqui's was her 21st. Both have blogs you can follow (click on their names in this paragraph).

All the best to everyone. It's the last day of Summer in the Land Downunder, so I'm looking forward to some cooler weather! (Most people would prefer Summer to stick around a bit longer!)

Take care!

14 January 2010

A Sign of Commitment

Thursday 7th January 2010

Nothing stood out about the day or the date. It was just any old Thursday night. It was a week into 2010 but bore little significance. Except to me, and it wasn't until later that evening it would become more apparent why I had chosen this night to take Eleonor out to dinner.

Whilst some people know I can be good at keeping something a secret or setting up a good surprise, I was genuinely wondering if I could pull this one off. Any little thing could upset the night's events and so I tried thinking of all the different approaches and backup plans possible in case something did go wrong.

As it happened though, I didn't need them. I took Eleonor unsuspectingly to Sydney Tower without any trouble. We got to the 360 Bar and Dining revolving restaurant without a glitch and enjoyed a wonderful meal with one of the best views Sydney had to offer.

It was after our meals had been finished and cleared that I put everything in motion. Thinking that no other venue that night would be as 'perfect' as the here and now, I proposed to Eleonor and with watery eyes she accepted - and we are now engaged :)



We've both been excited since that night (a week ago) and thank everyone we've told so far who have offered their Congratulations and well wishes. Eleonor has been on Cloud 9 ever since and the happiest I've seen her in a long time - maybe the happiest I've ever seen her!

Of course the big question regards the ceremony and when all that will happen but we have decided to concentrate on the construction of our house for the moment which should be completed in the first half of the year. After that, we can look at other milestones in our lives.

2010's off to a very good start so far!

06 January 2010

AbraxasVideo - Live on YouTube!

I finally got myself a YouTube account to bring some of my video work to the online community! You can check out my new 'channel' on YouTube: AbraxasVideo.

My first video is an aviation related piece that I've been working on throughout much of 2009. Footage taken by me from 2007-2009 has been matched to a beautiful piece of music called 'Serenata Immortale' by Immediate Music.

Struggling for a title I named the piece 'Serenade of the Skies' (as opposed to the Seas as I've seen many results for on Google) which includes footage mainly filmed from locations around Sydney Airport but also onboard flights during my globetrotting adventures and a rare Alitalia visit to Richmond AFB when the Pope came to Sydney in 2008. I tried to include the huge variety of airlines that come through Sydney so that everyone has something they can look for and/or recognise.

I'd recommend viewing the vid at YouTube itself in a larger resolution, but for those who can't wait, here's the video, I hope you enjoy!


I'm looking forward to another video project for me to get into now that this one's done...

Until next time, take care :)

01 January 2010

2009: The Year of New Priorities

So, 2009's now behind us and we're moving along into another new year. Last year went as quickly as most others and certainly presented a great number of challenges.

Mainly 2009 was a year to set up our future. Starting early in February when Eleonor and I put down a deposit on our very own block of land in Woodcroft. It was all exciting and we were finally on the road to independence for ourselves looking at getting our very own place built there. We weren't so prepared for the rollercoaster ride that would follow though - but that was all part of the 'adventure' 2009 brought us.

Work continued to be interesting in '09, but brought up several of it's own challenges creating more internal politics than any of us expected but the people I care about and enjoy working with have remained much the same. The most satisfying aspects came out of professional development which was sorely lacking in '08 as well as a work paid trip to Brisbane for the CreateWorld conference later in the year.

Aside from the above mentioned trip to Brisbane, 2009 was very light on the travel side of things. The only other trip occured in May which was also to Brisbane for a friend's wedding. Eleonor and I expected a light year for travel since we were putting our concentration into saving for the house - so it was nice when the CreateWorld opportunity came up. We're addressing the travel 'issue' in 2010 with a trip already planned to Egypt in May and who knows where else?

Sending out some Congratulations to friends including Craig & Maria, Ebony & Andrew and Leon & Kim who each tied the knot in marriage in 2009. Congratulations also out to Eleonor's brother Henry and his partner Megan on their engagement :)

On a different line, but Congratulations are also in order for my good friend Steve who purchased his very own apartment this year and also to Eleonor for purchasing her very own, brand new car in December.

With the massive purcahse Eleonor and I were undertaking, I cut spending on most of my hobbies. Flying was only every fortnight and even that was only when the weather would allow it to occur. I dropped a number of magazine subscriptions and decided to readjust my collecting criteria with my diecast cars and planes. The cars were helped with the news that TeamVodafone, the V8 Supercar team I follow would be changing sides next year from Ford to Holden. This allows me to kill a few birds with one stone, as I've been supporting their iconic race driver Craig Lowndes since he came to Ford in 2001 and now he's going back to Holden... well, it seems an ideal time to pull out of supporting the category myself as well.

My diecast plane collection never quite reached 400 models and in the past 6 months or so I've been selling off unwanted planes to other collectors. This will continue in 2010 as I hope to cut back to only the planes which I've had the experience of flying aboard.

In terms of music, of the bands I enjoy, Rammstein were the only ones to release an album in '09 (that I purchased) but I did get to see Eskimo Joe & Nickelback perform live at the Hordern Pavilion and Acer Arena respectively with Eleonor in what were both great concerts.

Sci-Fi was back in '09 as well with the conclusion of the Battlestar Galactica (reimagined) series and the backstory provided in 'The Plan'. Stargate reincarnated itself again with the series 'Universe' and we're still watching through the Atlantis series.

While we were treated to such movies as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation (haven't seen), the two standout films for 2009 would definitely be Star Trek and Avatar 3D.

I only saw Avatar in the last few days but the 3D experience really sells the film. However, getting past the technical mastery & wizardry presented, the story is something much simpler and predictable. Still a superb piece of work in anyones mind, but it depends on your perspective and what you look for in a film. Star Trek is this year's obvious winner for me but I try to say this without the Trek bias coming out. This film was able to reboot the franchise and make it fresh, new, interesting and cool - something Star Trek has always struggled with. The fact that so many of my non-Trek friends have said how much they enjoyed the movie reinforces that. Even though there were still some holes in the story (pointed out by the devoted 'canon followers' of Treak). So, 2009 was the year where being a Trekker(ie) was finally okay!

I'm looking forward to what 2010 might bring. As said above, '09 was all about setting up the future and I'm hoping to finally start living some of that future in the coming year. I'll aim to be a bit more dedicated to my blog as well, which yes, I know, was neglected in '09!

All the best to all of you,

Daniel