Travelling to Agra:
We opted for a taxi ride from Delhi to Agra, with the main intention of visiting the Taj Mahal. The taxi ride was approximately 3 hours. This was a pre-booked excursion through a reputable company.
Fast facts about Agra: The city is situated on the banks of the Yamuna river.Previous emperors ruled from Agra included; Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Luxurious forts, palaces and mausoleums were all created in this city. The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort have been declared World Heritage Sites by Unesco.
Stunning… Opulent… Holy. The 3 words I would use that perfectly describe the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Somehow this unbelievable Muslim mosque was built in a mere 11 years. It contains the largest hand sewn Persian carpet in the world, weighing 45 tons, and up until recently also boasted the largest chandelier in the world. We’ve been here before but would highly recommend the tour as there is so much to know. The 5 most interesting points to me: 1) prayers are 5 times a day, the first is before sunrise at 4:35 am; 2) prayer is made along the raised lines in the carpet, standing shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe to symbolize brotherhood, unity and also to keep evil from getting past; 3) there are 100 names, qualities or attributes of Allah and 99 of these are featured on a wall called the Qibla wall in traditional Kufi calligraphy. Only 99 are known to man … the 100th will be discovered upon meeting him face to face after death; 4) 2.5% minimum of earnings are expected to be given charitably … to a brother, or cousin in debt or even a neighbour and 5) prayers are made while facing Mecca, the holy land. Very interesting to learn how beloved Sheikh Zayed ruled, as he provided free education and healthcare among other benefits to his fellow Arabs, as he embodied the Muslim belief that every person is equal. This mostly marble, Mother of Pearl and 24 karat gold structure boasts 82 domes and 1,000 pillars that are intricately inlaid with floral designed mosaics of agate, jasper and amethyst. As I walked barefoot on the cool marble hand-laid floors, a breeze rustled through the traditional Abaya robe I wore, and the beautifully nostalgic reciting of the Holy Koran flowed. Omar was our friendly, informative guide who spoke softly of the history of the majestic mosque itself and of the religion and daily observances of Muslims. Plan to spend a couple of hours here as the tour lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and the photo opportunities are plentiful. There are many places to sit and soak in its beauty. Visit my travel blog.
Views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to fun on the Arabian Sea. The welcome team at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr are friendly and helpful upon arrival. http://www.myreturnticket.org
Immaculate, luxurious, spacious bathroom in a Fairmont Gold suite at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, UAE – http://www.myreturnticket.org
Luxurious tub & rain shower room in a Fairmont Gold Suite at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, UAE – http://www.myreturnticket.org
A well appointed beverage centre in a Fairmont Gold suite at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, UAE – http://www.myreturnticket.org
Walking along the beach from the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr to the Shangri La Hotel in Abu Dhabi – http://www.myreturnticket.org
The beach on the Arabian Sea & the pool at the luxurious Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi – http://www.myreturnticket.org
The stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as seen from the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr – http://www.myreturnticket.org
The Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi as seen from the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr – http://www.myreturnticket.org
The wonderful Fairmont Gold Lounge at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr & its view of the Arabian Sea & Abu Dhabi – http://www.myreturnticket.org
View of the Arabian Sea & the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from the Fairmont Gold Lounge at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr – http://www.myreturnticket.org
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from a Fairmont Gold suite at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr – http://www.myreturnticket.org
|An amazing view of the Acropolis from the ruins of the Temple of Zeus|
The “I Amsterdam” Pass
When travelling in Amsterdam, before you even leave the airport, stop in at the Visitor Information office and buy the “I Amsterdam” city card. There are different packages depending on how long you are visiting with lots of tips and savings.
The line ups at most attractions are very long but you are able to be fast tracked and go into a completely separate line if you have the pass. There is free public transportation as long as you swipe your pass upon entering and leaving the transit bus. We rode the bus from the airport right near to our hotel for free.
We received a free canal boat tour with the pass, there are many discounts on food and other things, and we did get to tour the unbelievable Van Gogh Museum for free as well. There was an extremely long wait outside of the museum but when they saw we had the city card, we walked right in!
The Return Ticket gives the “I Amsterdam” Pass: four tickets out of five.
I’ve travelled to over 9 countries & 3 of the 7 continents so far… Let’s see — Bangkok to Bath — Athens to Amsterdam to name a few… and I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon!
And I have over 37,564 readers on tripadvisor!
If you have any suggestions, comments, or if you’d like to tell me how a post helped you – please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at: email@example.com or read my contributions on tripadvisor.ca/members/ChrisFranklin
|Paris & Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The pool at the Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
The Return Ticket gives Las Vegas, Nevada: four tickets out of five
This is the story of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide.
The theatre itself was very nice and our seats were fourth row! The music and generally the whole production of this show were A-1! I loved it, the entire audience was singing and dancing and I’d see it again in a heartbeat! Buy the CD on your way out in the gift store!
The Return Ticket gives the Jersey Boys: five tickets out of five
|The Beach at Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|My amazing husband & travel companion, Andrew (&me!) atop the Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Gordon Ramsay’s newest restaurant in Las Vegas, called “steak”… have to try this place next trip|
|one view of the Harley Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Close up of the massive Harley motorcycle crashing through the Harley Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The roller coaster at the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The Brooklyn Bridge at the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The whole picture of the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|One of the pools at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|THE hotel, part of the Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The Gondola at the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The view from the Eiffel Tower tour #1, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The view from the Eiffel Tower tour #2, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|We were surprised in our room at the AVA hotel, Athens, Greece with this bottle of bubbly! The service & welcome was unbelievable!|
|The Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece… a must visit; the recovered treasures are amazing.|
|Our room at the AVA Hotel in Athens, Greece. Spotless, modern, and welcoming.|
|The Harbour in a quaint village called St. Mawes in Cornwall, England|
|Waterways Houseboats on the Shuswap, B.C., Canada|
|My amazing travel companion, my husband Andrew, and I at the Acropolis overlooking Athens, Greece
In Greece, there were many a store just like this one with quality purses, shoes, art pieces – you name it!
|The view from our room at the Chatrium Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand
(the famous Chao Phraya River)
|A temple in Bangkok|
|Famous dance of the warrior monkeys in Bangkok, Thailand|
|The Big Buddha – Phuket, Thailand(a very hot & bright day!)|
Chatrium Hotel Riverside – Bangkok, Thailand
This was a lovely stay for sure, our view of the famous Chao Phraya River was spectacular. This hotel was immaculate, quiet and the service was outstanding. When we arrived it was like we were royalty, they whisked away our luggage and a lovely gentleman named Chatchawan took us on a tour of the hotel.
We were shown the amazing office space where we could use top of the line computers and the internet for free, enjoy cocktails and canapes each evening and then our spacious room. He was very helpful and full of suggestions for us. Breakfast was included and the buffet was unreal.. anything you could want for breakfast or you could order a la carte. There is patio dining if you wish.
There’s a free small ferry that would take you down the river and back to sightsee. Unfortunately we did not get to take advantage of the beautiful pool, as we were with a Rotary Convention so had not a minute of free time, but it did look lovely.
The hotel room was spacious with plenty of space for clothing to be stored, a proper iron and ironing board; the washroom was large and well appointed; room service was quick and delicious. I would highly recommend a stay here and do hope to go back one day.
Another note: the Chatrium will help you to book a reputable dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River as we did and the temples etc were a lit up beautifully. They serve a buffet dinner, ours was excellent, and there is entertainment. Well worth it, especially as we had taken video and to know you’ve been on this famous working waterway is priceless.
The Return Ticket gives the Chatrium Hotel Riverside, Bangkok: five tickets out of five.
|On a whale watching trip in Victoria, British Columbia; cold but a blast!|
The Amethyst Inn
Our experience on Virgin Airlines
We were so excited to try out Virgin Airlines from Vancouver to England as it is such a long trip, and as per the commercials, Richard Branson himself speaks to the luxury of his airline. However, our first experience of Virgin was less than impressive. The rows were so close together we could barely squeeze into our seats. Neither my husband or myself are large people, so can’t imagine what a taller or broader traveller would experience.
I wanted to read my tablet yet there was no space between myself and the seat ahead of me; THEN the gentleman traveller in front let his seat back. . . I was literally staring at the back of his head directly in front of my face until our first meal arrived. Our seats would not recline at all (keeping in mind this is an 8.5 hour flight) and try as we might to stretch or cross our legs, there was no way to do that. We were seated in the centre section and as we looked at the seats across the aisle from us (window seats) we realized the rows were further apart than ours…
The staff was kind and we did receive a traveller kit with mini toothbrush, toothpaste and a sleep mask. But it certainly did not make up for our discomfort.
Chances are that we would NOT choose to fly Virgin again.
The Return Ticket gives Virgin Airlines: One ticket out of five