Sunday, 3 December 2017

Trip #3 Dakar Senegal

Dec-02_2017
Trip #3 to Dakar Senegal

I've been so busy at work and home that this trip crept up and I felt like I wasn't ready for it. It felt like I was missing something or maybe I got the hang of the travelling thing that it doesn't scare me as much. I certainly learned to pack less stuff for a one week trip. That's it! I only have one luggage this time.

Landed in brussels! Flight from Montreal with Air Canada was great. First time on B787-800. Well fed and managed to watch Atomic Blonde. Found out there is a whole terminal serving Africa! Brussels is one big airport. I thought I was at Disney World for a second, the airport's arrival takes you right through the stores with merchandise before getting out to the main concourse corridor. Travel with one luggage is great! No worries about dragging the carry on around just the knapsack. Easy peasy! On to the next flight to final destination which departs at 11am.

Landed in Dakar! I must say Brussels Airlines is not much to brag about and those Airbus 330 are old and needing an update. The food was ok in comparison to Air Canada. Had lots of time on the flight so I watched Collateral Beauty with Will Smith in it. I cried!! What can I say I'm a softy when it comes to drama!

Interestingly enough I arrived at the old airport and will be flying out of the NEW airport which open Dec-7. The old airport is a disaster! Old, no air conditioning, crowded and dark reminds me of the Lagos airport. I also found out a quarter of the luggage from this flight got open for inspection and rewrapped in saran wrap coming off the carousel. Lucky my luggage didn't get opened.

Day 1 is in the book.

I stayed at the Rysara Hotel in downtown Dakar. The hotel is walking distance to the embassy. The hotel is small but decent. It doesn't have any amenities like the big chain hotels. There is a restaurant on the ground floor where I go for breakfast every morning. The breakfast is included that consists of dried toast, a pastry with coffee and fresh orange juice. Same offerings every morning.

The embassy recommended a few restaurants such as Lagon 1 by the ocean, Le Rond Point Brasserie in Place l'independence. I also found a Vietnamese / Chinese restaurant called Le Dragon. Food was OK. Has its own flavour.

I haven't had much free time to take in the city too much.

I'm leaving today.



Wednesday, 13 July 2016

MORE WORK LESS PLAY :(

Today was a full day. Didn't get back to hotel till 7pm. Uneventful but I managed to take some photos during my evening walk.
Art Gallery on Ben Yehuda St.

Another art studio

People are sitting on swing seats along the window at this popular yogurt place.

Nightlife street cafe

The Great Synagogue on Allenby

Isrotel Tower's rooftop pool


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY!

Today I managed to try the hotel's roof top pool. it was awesome! It's the highest point along the beach that I can see the entire city 360. The sun prevented me to stay longer. Oh well, I enjoyed it and I will try again some other times.

What else is new, I learned how to say thank you in Hebrew, toda! and toda rabat! for thank you very much. That adds to my long list of vocabularies besides Shalom (hello)! with this pace I should be able to speak fluently in 2 weeks! NOT

I have to write things down in my notebook like the address to the office because no taxi drivers can understand me trying to tell them where to go to.:( oh well as long as I get there! the rest is details!

I must say Tel Aviv is a beautiful city with beautiful people. There are so many young adults hanging around the beach. They think they own it or something! I think they do. :) day and night there is always somebody jogging or cycling on the boardwalk that stretches over 10 km.

You know I like food so I set out to look for something different last evening to fill my empty stomach. So I decided to take a walk along the boardwalk and see if there is anything worth my taste buds, there are so many restaurants along the boardwalk. It's close to 10pm and now I really have to eat so I stopped by this place called Fish Kitchen next to 3 London. The two restaurant shared a patio large patio that offers seafood (Fish Kitchen) and steak (you guessed it, 3 London). Cool concept! Server brought me a surprise drink she said it's lemonade with Oozo, I didn't feel the Oozo! Anyways, it was late and my stomach demanded me to order quickly because it's almost bedtime! after looking at two menus I decided to get the Mini Wings for appetizer and Fish n Chips. Well, these were the only two dishes that I could afford, frankly! and I thought that should be enough food for the night. My eyes were doubled the size of my stomach (I am sure the people at the next table felt the same way but were too kind to say anything!) when the server brought the food to the table. There was a plateful of full sized wings (not MINI), a large platter of two large strips of fish over a bed of fries and veggies and couscous and a fair size side salad. Can you envision that? I obviously didn't!! Oh well I hate to throw food to waste so I devoured ALMOST everything just to show the next table that I meant it. I had to take a long walk after that to clear my system. HEHE

It turned out to be a late night unexpectedly. Here are the evidents. Wowsers!



Monday, 11 July 2016

BEACH DAY

I finally tried stepping foot in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time today. I was completely surprised of how warm the water was, it's warmer than most indoor pools! Anyway I had a great time jumping the waves. I was at the Bograshov Beach around 7pm the beach was less crowded at that time and more young families came out to play. It was awesome watching the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. 

I came back out to the Boardwalk later on in the evening in search for a place to eat. Even though there was nobody in the water at that time but plenty of people on the boardwalk. There were joggers, walkers, bikers, and skateboarders took over the boardwalk at night time. There was an area with gym equipment for enthusiats to work out and strut their golden bodies to people passing by. Beach volleyball is also big in Tel Aviv. In Gorden Beach there was an area setup with a dozen volleyball nets for the die hards to try their skills. 

Enjoy the photos
Beach scene

Beautiful senset

A memorial structure on the Jewish settlers

The warm Mediterranean Sea

Isrotel Tower and Orchid hotels close by

Sunday, 10 July 2016

SUNDAY IS WORK DAY IN TEL AVIV

They put me to work today.... on a Sunday! Well I quickly found out Israelis work from Sunday to Thursday and 1/2 Friday so they can go on Shabat Friday and Saturday every week.

I was glad to get to work today to find out my new furniture fit in the new space perfectly.  breath easier now!! It took all afternoon to complete and it looks great. I came back to the hotel only to find out my lost luggage has arrived while I was away. It went to Munich before heading to Tel Aviv. Phew!!

I got wicked blisters on my feet that from the heat and no proper sandals as all my sandals and flip flops were in the lost luggage.Thanks the lord the baggage has arrived.

Have you been receiving the new posts that I sent to you lately?


Saturday, 9 July 2016

SUNDAY JULY 10

I was told things should be back to normal on Sunday in Tel Aviv as Shabbat is over. One would not notice the religious day's off on Friday after sundown until all day Saturday as Israelis were all over the beaches.

As I am wide awoke at 2:30am Sunday morning I thought I would jot down what I saw and did yesterday. Temperature outside is 25C as things appear to be calm in the streets below my hotel's balcony. The beaches are empty that I can actually see the waves gently rolling to shore. This is more enjoyable temperature but it won't stay like this when the Meriterrannean sun starts to come alive in a few hours.

I had a great walk around town last night. Strolled along Allenby St, taking in the sights and smell of the busy street. I quickly became familiar with the surrounding as it reminds me of the streets in Saigon. The streets are small, and lined with large trees on both sides. I also recognized similar tropical trees that I saw in Vietnam. But what really brought me back was the use of car horns. I hear the constant honking all the time on every street. This is how people move an communicate in a crowded city. But Tel Aviv has more cars / mopeds ratio than in Saigon. But I can draw similarities from the two cities,

I also noticed Israelis are very aggressive in living and very proud people of who they are - Jewish. There are Israeli flag display everywhere in the streets. There are shops everywhere from batteries to jewelleries to shoes to travel agents ... you name it they have it, randomely on the same street.

Tel Aviv is an old city with residential mixed in with commercial on every main street. Graffities are common here on buildings and billboards. However, Tel Aviv is also a new city as constructions are popping up everywhere to join the already built modern high rises such as the Azrieli Mall and Sarona Centre.

Leading up to this trip I did quite a bit of research on Google Maps to help me navigate myself in Tel Aviv. Now that I am here everything seems very surreal. Some of the buildings that relating to work seem smaller or much different once I seem them live.

I'll take more pictures today as I head out again this morning.




PHOTOS OF THE FIRST DAY

Boardwalk

Retsif Herbert Samuel St.

View from the 10th Floor of Isrotel Hotel

US Embassy across the street from hotel

FIRST NIGHT IN TEL AVIV - CITY NEVER SLEEPS

It doesn't sleep it's because it's so hot that nobody can sleep! haha

Summer time in Tel Aviv is summer time in Tel Aviv ... it rarely rain here in the summer months so temperatures are quite warm all day all night. It's around 35C all day and quite humid. It's so humid that there is a haze in the sky all day long. Thanks God it is located along the seashore.

Just came back from a long walk around the city after my afternoon nap to check out where is where.I must say Israelis love to hang out. You can find them in restaurants, bars, walking around, or biking around. You can also see lots of young families walking their kids and/or dogs. There are things for them to do along Rothschild St. one of the main boulovards in the city. I also noticed there are more cyclists on the road and parks mixed with cars and people everywhere in the city and along the beach. I saw a group of older men enjoying a rowdy game of boules. Cleverly they came up with a magnet tied to a string to pick up the balls without having to bend over to pick up.

That's it for the first day. Tulalu!

TEL AVIV - I AM HERE !!

WOW what a day! I can't believe I am finally here in Tel Aviv as I was dreaming and talking about it for months. I was going to keep blogging my trip as I go along, well, I tried up to leaving the Ottawa airport. Then the flight from Ottawa to Toronto was delayed by half hour due to weather in Toronto. Anyhow, Plane arrived in Terminal 1 around 3:50pm instead of 3pm as per schedule and the connection flight was at 4:30pm so there wasn't much time to dangle. Gate E at Terminal 1 was way far and that took about 12 minutes to get to. I started boarding as I got there.

The ride from Toronto to Tel Aviv on Boeing 787-900 was a real treat. The treatment was fantastic with choices of food and drinks in business class. I really enjoyed that, A shout out to Mark and Mona the flight attendances for doing an amazing job keeping the business class guests relaxed and happy.

Besides the great hospitality from Mark and Mona the 10 hour flight across the Atlantic was uneventful. Not much to look at down below plus it got dark into night time for half the trip until we were flying over Greece as the day breaks. The plane hit over 1000 km/h speed and 40,000 ft in altitude. The ride was so smooth.. We arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on time at 10am local time. It took a while to go through customs before luggage claim. Once I got through customs I rushed to retrieve my only checked luggage and just to find out it never showed up on the carousel. I looked and looked and no luggage. The luggage is lost! Filled out the paperwork and hope they will find it and return it soon. I had most of my clothing and work documents in the luggage. Damn it!

Then I took a taxi right to the hotel. The taxi driver must have been in a hurry because he was stepping on the pedal to the metal clicking in 135 km/h on the highway. Anyways he was entertaining giving out tips on the city. I was happy to arrive at the hotel in one piece!!

Then I checked in at the Isrotel Tower Hotel and the front desk said the room is not ready so I had to wait. Good thing I had packed a pair of shorts and some T shirts in the carry on that I changed into to take a walk along the beach strip of Tel Aviv. The beaches were crazily busy with young and old Isrealis came out to enjoy the Meriterannean waters. It felt like 1000 degrees outside it was hot and humid.

On the way back to the hotel I decided to stop by a ATM to advance some cash. Stick the credit card into the machine and follow the instruction. All of a sudden the machine decided to reboot itself. So it kept my credit card so I thought I most it. The ATM started rebooting itself and 8 munites later it spits out my card. What a day!!

Came back to the hotel at 2:30 to find out the room is still not ready yet. So I awaited again in the lobby. 3pm the room is ready!

I am sticky and exhausted. All I wanted to do is to go for a shower and a nap.

Good 1st night.



Friday, 8 July 2016

MAPLE LEAF LOUNGE OTTAWA AIRPORT

Membership has its privileges! Going business class allows me to enjoy the famous Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge all over the world or wherever AC flies.

The Lounge located on the second floor left of the secured departure gates. The entrance is kind of discreet with a single sign on the entrance door. You have to take an elevator to the second level where you'll be welcomed by the reception desk with attendance. This is where they will check your tickets to see if you're allowed to be in. This lounge is free for all executive, business, first class passengers. One can also purchase a 3 hour access pass for $50 to enjoy the food and beaverages that are available in the place. Speaking of food there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of it. For lunch they offer two selections of hot soups - Canadian Pea Soup and Roasted Peper Tomato Soup. I tried them both :) they are good. Two selections of salad - bean and green salads. Didn't feel like trying them. There are also cookies, apples, available on the counter. For drinks they offer a handsome wall of liquors and some on the counter with ice or without. On tap are three selections of beers - Coors Light, Canadian and Guiness.

The lounge location is ideal for watching planes about gates 18 to 21. Spacious interior design with lots of lounge seatings, with plugs available for folks need to charge their electronic devices. The temperature is a bit cool in the lounge maybe because it's overcast outside.

It's 1pm time to leave the lounge and head down to the Gate 14 ready to board the B767-300 that came in an hour ago from Frankfurt. I am looking forward to trying out the business class pod seat on the plane but the ultimate experience will be on the B787-900 from Toronto. Got to go ...

See you in YYZ