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Scuba Diving @ Marsa Alam

In August 2017 my brother Thomas and I went to Marsa Alam in the south of Egypt for scuba diving. We stayed at The Oasis, a Werner Lau diving center, for a week.
We had good luck: After half a year of absence from Abu Dabbab the dugong had just returned. We were the second group to spot it. Although it was surrounded by a lot of snorklers and scuba divers (us! ;-) ) the dugong kept calm and seemed to be unimpressed. It was always busy with eating and would only interrupt for a few minutes to gasp for breath at the surface. We spent over half an hour with it and the many sea turtles around.
Another highlight was a large shoal of dolphins passing by just after we had entered the water at Marsa Shagra. I had only a few seconds to get my camera ready and take two shots – you can see the result below…
Enjoy!

- Bernd -

Trial dive with Anja in Ibbenbueren

In October 2015 I went to underwater park NaturaGart in Ibbenbueren for the first time. This time I was there with Anja because she wanted to make a trial dive. NaturaGart was probably perfect for that. Shallow water, much more to see than in a pool and a good chance to deal with her fear of “dark freshwater lakes” ;-) Although this time the visibility was not that good (because we went in the summer) and I had a hard time post-processing the pictures, it was once again a great exprience. Especially the feeding of the sturgeons at 5 p.m.!

- Bernd -

A hike through the woods

The Tretstein waterfall – located in the pure and jungle-like woods of the Spessart – is just a short walk from tree house Hotel Seemuehle …

- Bernd -

Tree house Hotel Seemuehle

My girlfriend Anja is always out to try something unusual. So her christmas present for me was staying at a tree house hotel for a weekend. She found Hotel Seemuehle in Northern Bavaria, not far from our home town. I must confess that it was the coolest hotel I have ever been to!
Although there are six different tree houses you hardly see anybody and totally get this feeling of being alone in the woods. The interior is very individual, every tree house has its own theme. We had “The Chateau” in French Style which had a bedroom with skylight, a small lounge and even a bathroom with a shower. It was my first shower on a tree and with a perfect view onto the woods. Outside, there was a balcony where we could sit in the evenings and enjoy a glass of wine. Or two. Amazing!

- Bernd -

Caught in the act

Sometimes you are at the right place just at the right time! Or you are not (because you have to go to the bathroom) and others will take pictures of a seagull stealing your lunch ;-)

- Bernd –

Rome

At the end of April 2017 Anja and I spent a few days in ancient Rome. Considering that the city is only a two-hour flight away from where we live I asked myself why I did not go there earlier. Extraordinary wine and food and a lot of old buildings and ruins to see (the whole city looks like a large archaeological site).
Besides the must-see attractions including the Colloseum, Castel Sant’Angelo, the St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel we also visited the Capuchin Crypt which is an insider tip because it is so macabre. It is filled with thousands of human skulls and bones. Of course you are not allowed to take pictures inside (for the dead people’s sake!) and of course in the souvenir shop you can find shirts with skeletons for Halloween ;-)
If you are planning to go to Rome and see the catacombs it is good to know that there are several of them or at least you have several entries. After some research we visited the Catacombs of Callixtus. They are located a little bit offsite but if you do not mind walking you can make your way there through the Parco della Caffarella which is very nice.
Last but not least we joined a Free Bike Tour. Biking is not my personal preference but it was a good way to see places that can not be reached by foot or public transportation.

- Bernd -

Dubai at night
Desert Driving Training

Remember the dune bashing during our desert safari? This time it was our turn! We did not just want to join some arbitrary fun course. Our personal goal was to really understand how to drive in desert. Therefore, we signed up for a one day Desert Driving Course at the Emirates Driving Institute – the offical driving school.

Our course started with a theory session where we learned about 4×4 technique, driving modes (low range / high range), which gear to use when (totally different from driving on the road!), recovery and even survival in desert. Then we did our practical training with a Nissan Patrol with manual transmission. At the beginning we had to recover our stuck car without digging. Then we started with driving. It takes a while until you trust your car. Like I already wrote in the Overnight Desert Safari post, it constantly feels like you are rolling over, especially when turning the car in a steep dune. You have to drive them at full throttle to use the centrifugal force even though your brain tells you to slow down.

Anyway, at the end of the day we were both able to master the dunes. Thanks to our instructor, he was very passionate and friendly and had a lot of practical advises. I am sure this was not our last offroad experience :-)

- Bernd -

Daytrip through the Emirates

One day we went to the airport and rent a car for a day to explore the area around Dubai.
Our original plan was to cross the border to Oman. Either the north border to see the fjords of al-Chasab or the east border to swim in the “wadis” (natural waterholes) in the mountains. For your information, if you have such plans, too: Currently, it is NOT possible to cross the border as a tourist. You need a guided tour with a local or to travel by plane.
We drove to Ras al-Chaima close to the northern border instead. Not much to see there but we found camels along the way. The rest of the day we made our way to the Hatta mountains. Interesting to see, how the sandy landscape turned into mountained. Not rocky, like the Alps but with pepple stone. Perfect to practice offroad driving, if you leave the highway for a while ;-)
Our destination was Hatta, a village two kilometers from the east border to Oman. They have a big barrier lake and an old Bedouin village (“Hatta Heritage Village”) you can visit for free. Nothing spectacular, but definitely worth the trip!

- Bernd -


Overnight Desert Safari

Spending one night in the desert was more than usual camping with an extra portion of sand. They picked us and another couple up in the afternoon. With a 4×4 car we drove into a wildlife reserve to watch wild animals and a falcon hunting show. After the show we drove deeper into desert for dune bashing (=traversing dunes in a daredevil way ;-) ). It was such a thrill, it felt like your car was about to roll over all the time. Of course, we had an experienced driver. After dune bashing we had a short ride on the back of a camel, which brought us to the camp where we spent the night. The next morning we got up early to watch the sunrise while antilopes were passing by. After breakfast our driver, wildlife expert, chef and camp leader drove us back to Dubai. Yes, I know, the whole story sounds like kitsch ;-) but we had a great time…recommended!

- Bernd -

The new and the old Dubai

The Emirates in general and especially Dubai has been on my list for a few years now so I was very happy when we went there in February. It is impressive seeing what people have built from scratch in only a few decades. Before the sixties Dubai was a little Bedouin settlement. Then oil was discovered and the production brought wealth to not only the three Emirates which own oil themselves but also to the other four including Dubai. Today Dubai stands for luxury and I admit that I have never seen so many Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Aston Martins at one place. The view from the top of Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, was amazing. On the other hand this Disneyland-like kind of entertainment becomes boring quite soon. We felt relieved when we spent a day at “The Creek” which is the old and genuine part of Dubai. We also decided to make another daytrip from Dubai to escape this artifical world. If you are not a shopping wacko a week only in Dubai city will be too long.

- Bernd -