Thursday, November 27, 2014

High and low

Yes, yes, it's the essence of a First World Problem - but that doesn't change the fact that it's very hard to pack for a trip where the destinations are currently registering 30 degrees Celsius, and a scant 3. That's Dubai, and Budapest - Auckland, FYI, is right now a balmy 19 degrees, which feels just right, so that's no help. Really, as far as this sort of thing goes, the best time, packing-wise, to travel to the opposite hemisphere is either spring or autumn, when you're already wearing the clothes you want to take. (That's not allowing for that broad band around the middle of the planet, mind, where things just get silly.) Otherwise, you have to use imagination, which is not my forte.

So, tomorrow I'm heading for Dubai in the sybaritic luxury of Business class on Emirates' A380 (for free, which will maybe mitigate somewhat the pain of having recently had to PAY for flights with them to Turkey next year, an eye-watering sum that was undercut three days later by $600 on a special offer from Singapore Airlines. Still hurting). On my last couple of trips to the UAE I had to go on a desert safari which included dune-busting in a 4WD, the last time leaving all us passengers sick as dogs from all the lurching and cornering, and totally unable to enjoy our "Arab-style buffet feast" - which, as it turned out, was no tragedy. So I've got out of it this time round and instead have paid (sigh) to do something much pleasanter and more peaceful: a ride over the dunes on an Arab horse, and then a sunset trek on a camel which will last 45 minutes and be much more fun than the scant three minutes you get as part of Arabian Adventures' desert safari.
Then it's on to Budapest, which I visited a couple of years ago on an Insight coach tour - beautiful city, no penance to return there. This time though I will be leaving along the river, on Uniworld's River Beatrice which will be my home for four nights as I sample the first part of their Danube cruise. I'm so happy to be returning to river cruising - quite my favourite mode of travel - though it is going to be cruel, making me leave after Vienna when everyone else will be continuing on to Passau in Germany. So I shall just have to make the most of my lovely cabin, the friendly staff, the great food, and all that continuous, 360-degree scenery. And you know what's going to make it even better? Christmas markets! I can taste the Gl├╝hwein already...

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