The end of my summer holidays was marked by a visit to Lisinia, an organic farm and wildlife rehabilitation centre in Burdur, south east Turkey. I had been looking for ways to extend my ‘holidays’ and needed a reality check after my outrageously expensive stay in Dubai. This is when I came across workaway.info, probably was the most amazing discovery I had ever made.
I have only just returned from a one-week-long trip from London and embarrassingly, I have to admit, I barely went out of Zone 3 during the time I was there. Instead, I spent most of my time standing in the cold waiting for Novak Djokovic – for those who do not know who that is, he’s only the current number one male tennis player in the world – to make an appearance and when I wasn’t doing that, I could probably be found watching one of his matches inside the arena at the O2 in North Greenwich.
We thought we would take on the ruins on the second day but ended up a hiking trail, part of the Lycian Way, the 540-km trail along the ancient coast of Lycia – one definite thing on my bucket list. Since we had water with us – as well as chocolate – we abandoned the old ruins in preference for a short but quite good walk away from the buzz of the beach. According to the timestamps on my photos, we apparently did about three hours walking, more or less. We definitely came across more ‘serious’ hikers who were armed properly for the long haul, even in spirit as some of them went along singing as loud as they can.
It’s quite hard to believe that only a month ago, I was basking in Mediterranean sunshine without a care in the world – okay this is me we’re talking about, so with less care in the world than usual.
My Dubai trip ended up being a reunion with all sorts of people, mostly people with whom I share my surname, some of which happened to be on honeymoon in Dubai – why would anyone want to have a honeymoon is beyond me but there we go (if you’re reading this, which I know you don’t, I’d appreciate an answer) and some very good friends from London. I spent my last two days with said friends catching up and exploring, giggling like little girls basically.
We got shown around by an Emirati the first day and went on a very long drive out to Sharjah, one of the seven emirates. Sharjah is quite smaller and definitely less wealthy than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Since we were getting driven around, we weren’t quite as free to explore the city as we wanted, and were stopped at some places for just a photo opportunity. It was however quite nice to just sit back, have girly talks and just enjoy the drive.
After a week spent in Dubai, I think we were all begging for a change of scenery – and my cousin for us to go home so she could clean the mess that had piled up. Since I wasn’t expected to be in Turkey until the end of September, I had extended my stay by a few days, which gave us enough time to fit in a day’s trip to Abu Dhabi. We hopped on a bus to Abu Dhabi in the morning and 90 minutes later, we were in the capital of the UAE. I’m not sure quite sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a completely normal bus station which could easily have been one in Turkey or any other place in the world. Yes, a week in Dubai had really skewed our imaginations about how the whole Emirate kingdom should look like.
We grabbed literally the most expensive breakfast ever and then got on a bus to go to the Sheik Zayed Mosque – the only reason I had been able to drag the lazy bums all the way to Abu Dhabi. Since we weren’t quite sure when the mosque actually was, we ended up following an Asian couple but at some point, it somehow ended up with them following us.
After indulging into the touristic ‘attractions’ that Dubai offered and getting wow-ed mostly by what ridiculous shit people with money come up with everything, my cousin thought it would be good to bring us back to earth by taking us to what we nicknamed as the ‘slums of Dubai’. We took the metro to Deira, one of the neighbourhoods where the expats, a.k.a. the cheap labour behind the phenomenal growth of the city, call home.
For the actual birthday bash, we ended up booking a dinner cruise on the Marina for the spoiled kid who definitely took us on word that we’ll pay everything for him on that day; I think someone is definitely regretting some shopping trip.
Next on our list was the Desert Safari Tour which apparently was one of THE things to do in Dubai. I would have been happy to have simply been able to play with sand in the desert and our birthday boy was probably more excited about an experience in those big Desert jeeps – I cannot even remember what they’re called anymore although I did get quite an intensive lessons about jeeps and their specifications as we drove outside the city to the middle of nowhere.