Camel Milk Shake and Camel Burger

When I was in Dubai I had the perfect hotel room, but no breakfast included. My friend I was with in Dubai has the same nutrition style I have, and so we both didn’t want to pay for a breakfast which we couldn’t eat 98 % of. She booked without any meal. So in the morning where could we get my so needed wake-up-coffee? The answer was just easy and perfect: at the Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Café.

Thanks to Google and my friend’s smartphone she found out it was a very nearby place we could walk to in just a few minutes through the heat. Ideal for getting used to a warmer climate. Ideal also for ‘getting lost’ on the way. There is a whole heritage village with shops and museums in between.

But we talk about our mornings and our brunch-time. I only eat once a day, so we used to go to the Arabian Tea House around 10.30. We had a kind of coffee (you know, the one out of a machine) already in the room before leaving. The way was short, about 10 minutes maybe, and we tried every day not to ‘get lost’ on the way to. But it never worked out, and we always arrived hours later.

The tea house is actually a restaurant. You can sit outside at the street side and inside. It is cozy, not crowded (at least not when we were there) and friendly people served. I especially liked the young coffee-man. He stood outside to greet people coming to the place and shortly after he always arrived with the coffee. I love Arabian coffee, it is made with cardamom. And they serve it in small cups like I am used to in Italy. So you never over-drink coffee.

We tried out the milk shakes made with camel milk. I was previously reading (on my friends smartphone) that camel milk doesn’t give problems with lactose and I had no problems at all. And I loved the shakes! The Arabian style salad was yummy and more than enough for a meal. The camel burger… well, special like the bison burger I had a few times in the US. You really taste when the meat is good, clean and lean. I was laughing: when I asked about a burger without the bread/roll, the guy looked at me incredulous asking: how does that look? Well, I told him we would not eat the roll anyway and this way he doesn’t need to through it away.

If you are in the area, you should go to the Arabian Tea House which I saw has three different places in Dubai. They are kind, the food is really good and the prices are good. Don’t miss the coffee or tea! They come several times to ask if you want another one!

Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Café, Dubai/UAE:

For further information:
Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Café
Al Fahidi St.
(opposite Musalla Post Office)
Bur, Dubai

Opening hours: 7.30 am to 10 pm

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Desert Flair in Futuristic Dubai

Dubai – that was on my list for a long time. A friend of mine, after a long trip to Africa, had a few days there and asked me to join her. Of course, I did. She booked the hotel, and she couldn’t have made a better choice!

The Al Seef Heritage Hotel in Dubai is right in the center of the city, but close to the Creek where there is the old center and the souks. With the taxi it is just 15 minutes (it depends on the traffic of course) from the International Airport, but you would not notice it in the hotel.

In the historical Al Fahidi district the hotel appears in a tradition of Emirati architecture. The hotel has 190 rooms in 22 traditionally designed Arabian houses. Very nice to see, with wind towers and a perfect contrast to the futuristic modern Dubai.

Personal experience:

We arrived in the middle of the night (2 am), but there was no problem for the check-in which is 24 h/day. Friendly people helped us with the luggage (I was a little embarrassed with my little just 5 kg carry-on). Our room was on the first/second floor right on the top of the entrance. The view was amazing onto the lights of the modern looking city on the other side of the Creek.

The room itself was all designed in natural materials, had organic amenities, free WiFi, I think a TV, an espresso/tea machine and a hair-dryer in the bathroom. We had a twin-room, there was a couch, a table and chair and enough space for clothes. The two windows were to the floor but could be closed with shutters from inside as well (for privacy).

The air-conditioning was to regulate easily. We left it on during daytime when we weren’t in the hotel and switched it off for nighttime. Even though outside was a real sauna, inside it was a perfect temperature.

No noises from outside ever disturbed, we enjoyed our stay very much. Even the price was more than affordable.

The people in the hotel, very international and talking to each other in English, of course had all a perfect English and are very friendly and attentive. We got a lot of information about Dubai, where to go, they drove us near to the restaurant or the metro station, as the hotel grounds are very long-drawn-out. In case you decide to have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner in the hotel they will drive you over (and bring you back) to the main hotel which is a good 15 minutes walk away and a very modern, high building.

I recommend:

In my opinion the hotel is the perfect stay for being in the middle of everything but still in a calm environment.

In just a 10 minutes walk you are at the port where the little pedestrian boats leave for the other side of the Creek. There you find the busy life of the Herbal Souk and the Gold Souk. We saw both. The Gold Souk is touristy and super commercial. The Herbal Souk is interesting but you have to wander a little around to find the places were actually also local people buy there herbs and spices. I bought a good bag of Harissa, I can’t find elsewhere in Europe that easy. There are also many other shops and stores, little places where to eat something Arabic or buy some water. But be careful: we had a (sealed) bottle of still water and it was just terrible. We bought another one, sparkling and foreign water. I guess it depends on how they get drinking-water in an environment without water-wells.

Much more near is the Al Fahidi Heritage Center. It has various museums, stores and shops, a Mosque and a little precarious place for a camel mom with its calf. We got lost several times in this center when going to the Arabian Tea House for brunch. The Culture center gives you a real good glimpse into the local culture, local and foreign artists exhibitions are held and the amazing architecture reminds a little the typical Spanish Adobe style.

Very near to the hotel is also the Al Fahidi Fort and the neighboring souk.

If you want to explore Dubai, the nearby metro is the best way to go wherever you want. Fast, easy, cheap and every few minutes all day long. We visited this way the Frame, one of the many must-go places. We got lost in the Dubai-Shopping center which seems to be a half an hour walk from the metro station through elevated walkways with air-conditioning (very futuristic). A tour with the boat was not that exciting as the weather was too hazy to see anything clearly.

I definitely recommend the White Mosque in Abu Dhabi. There is an affordable tour of around 5 hours. It’s one of the most amazing places in the world.

We haven’t been on the Burj Khalifa but saw it during day-time and night-time and it just looks incredible from outside.

Book a night tour by bus! It gives you a nice view of the lights, the city is still very busy as during day-time it is too hot and everyone works and lives in the late evening. This way you get also a tour on The Palm and past the famous hotel Atlantis.

Dubai is full of attractions and offers a multitude of things and places to do and to go. Just don’t be afraid to use public transportation. They all speak a (more or less) perfect English everywhere, it is secure also for women alone during the evening-time (we saw young girls and women with children walking in the streets at night-time with no problems). The city is super efficient. There is no real dress-code but I would always recommend a moderate style and respect the culture of the country.

Al Seef Heritage Hotel, Dubai/UAE:

For further information:
Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
Al Seef Heritage Hotel

Posted in Dubai, Middle East, ON TRAVEL, UAE | Tagged | 1 Comment

Hello Chirp Chirp – Bird Talk in the Bird Park

I recently had a nice walk along the Aalbeck which is a protected area. Passing the bird park here I thought it is a long time I haven’t been to see the birds. I normally don’t like to see anybody in a cage but here are many birds also free to move even though they have for sure cut feathers at their wings, so they can’t fly away. Anyway, I asked some friends if they would like to come with me on one of the following days. And that is what we did.

I know the bird park from my childhood. And actually it was founded in 1973, around the time I started to live in Travemünde the second time. In 1983 the current owner bought the place for his own bird ‘collection’.

In 2009, it was closed shortly as the space for the birds had to be rebuilt.

Today there are living 150 owls (the biggest ‘collection’ worldwide), flamingos, exotic birds, cranes, parrots, many different waterbirds and many more, around 250 different kinds. The park has 70.000 square meters and is wetland. There are two main circular tracks, one mainly for the waterbirds and exotic birds’ aviaries, the other is mainly about the owls in their aviaries. For my taste they are pretty small. There are even a couple of Condors! The owls I highly recommend as they are very funny. It really is a very unique bird! The parrots are in bigger aviaries right at the entrance. Be careful: they talk! And some like to cuddle very much.

We spent more than three hours, I took more than 300 photos on this dry but cloudy day. A few are following the text. I am glad we went, it was such a nice afternoon. Especially for children it is a great idea as they can see also many local birds. BTW: many swans, ducks, cranes, geese are everywhere around in the wild of the wetlands of the protected area.

Vogelpark Niendorf, Schleswig-Holstein/Germany:

For further information:
Vogelpark Niendorf (in German)
An der Aalbeek

23669 Timmendorfer Strand/Niendorf

Opening hours: 10 am to 7.30 pm (summer) or dusk (winter)

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The Autumn-Elf

A rustling in the foliage. Glittering water drops on the grass. The cawing of the crow. The young deer raised his head and listened to the sounds. A beam of sunshine tickled his nose, warm and comforting. It spiked its ears as a gust of wind whirled the leaves through the air. They looked like numerous ambers. In all shades of yellow and brown, the recently lush green leaves had dressed. The wind blew human voices towards the meadow.

The deer was dueling. People were to be avoided, his mother had taught him. But where were they? There, he could see them, back there on the walk-way. A small, blond girl ran in front, making gurgling noises. ‘I must hide in the tall grass!’ But it was brown and flat around the deer.

There was a humming sound close to his ear, and he turned his head, bewildered. A small creature flew before his eyes and said: “You need not be afraid of the people walking along here. They rejoice when they see you!” The deer blinked and answered: “How do you know that? And who are you?” “I’m an autumn-elf. I make sure that nature prepares for the winter-time. I help her in her new dress, blow the wind cleaning away the fallen leaves from the walk-ways and let the last flowers bloom.” “I have never heard of you!” wondered the deer. “You’re still young, a summer fawn. I come around this time each year and help all plants and animals prepare for winter when the Snow Queen comes in. “

By now the human voices were gone, as well as the giggling blonde girl, and a swarm of geese traveling south flew cackling in the blue sky. “You’ll see, in winter you’ll be glad that people are giving hay and nuts to you. There is little food in winter and people help the needy. So do not be afraid.”

The deer looked a little skeptically at the autumn-elf as she flew towards the edge of the forest with a slight hum. He blinked in the late autumn-sun and trotted slowly across the meadow to his shelter.

Enjoy the autumn walks!

Posted in Europe, Germany, ON TRAVEL, reflections, Schleswig-Holstein, The Storyteller | Tagged | Leave a comment

Marguerite (A Creepy Story)

Marguerite sat at the window and looked out. The landscape was shrouded in mist, crows flying across the fields. A cold shiver ran through her when a door slammed in the big house. Her hand reached to her neck, where under a touch of silk hung a ring on a chain. Guillaume’s ring.

Guillaume de Rabsteing had knocked on the service door two years ago today. It had been a stormy, cold night, the first snow had fallen. Marguerite had just been in the kitchen to make some final arrangements for the Banquette the following day. The Marquis de Rouvignac was to visit with his wife. Raymond, Marguerite’s husband, wanted to discuss important deals with him.

Raymond … at the thought of him, a melancholy sigh escaped her. Her father had begged her to marry Count Roussillon. He was the guarantee for more influence and security of her family. She had agreed, she thought the Count was upright and friendly. She had only been 17 years old, still full of curiosity about her future life. In the small family chapel, she gave her vows, intimidated and at the same time hopeful for a life on the side of a man, who was older than her father.

She quickly realized that she was just a gem for him. Her marital duties were well-defined, otherwise she was completely ignored by him. Soon she hated this life, became atrabilious.

But on that particular evening, when Guillaume de Rabsteing knocked on the door and asked for a night’s sleep, everything changed. Tall, slender, black, wavy hair that poked his face, emerald eyes… she was lost from the very first moment.
Elise, the cook, had sent him to the stable. Marguerite had later said they needed a new bellhop, maybe the man would match.

It had not taken long and Marguerite and Guillaume fell in love. They had always been very discreet, had only met when Raymond stayed out for longer periods.
For long time she didn’t confided in anybody, but her maid Sophie, who had been with her for many years, eventually became her closest friend. Thanks to Sophie’s help, the two lovers felt safer, because she was on her guard.

Until this fateful morning. Raymond had ridden off the previous day, planning to meet with powerful men in Aix to tackle new regulations by Alfonso Berengario.
Marguerite and Guillaume had left each other in the early morning hours. She still laid happy and naked in her bed, when suddenly the door opened with a loud bang. Terrified, she saw Raymond. How could that be? Had not Sophie been able to warn her in time? Raymond’s face was distorted, his clothes completely dirty. “Where is he, your lover?” Terrified to death, she pulled the silk blanket up to her chin, shook her head, her throat tight. Raymond tore off her blanket. She blushed and noticed out of the corner of her eye the ring Guillaume had given her the previous night, as a token of his love, under the table near the bed. Raymond became aware of her gaze and reached for the ring. Guillaume’s name was engraved in the ring.
Her deceived husband dropped the ring and rushed out of the room.

Immediately, shivering Marguerite searched for the ring. Her sweetheart was hopefully already in town, and she would be able to send Sophie after him to warn him.
But it turned out differently. Raymond quickly got to where Guillaume had gone and rode after him with a handful of armed men.

It was the kitchen boy who came to her shortly afterwards. He reported what had happened. The count had attacked Guillaume immediately, injured him seriously. When the Count took out the killing blow, Guillaume said, “What a sweet reminder that love so often exists!”, then his head rolled into the tall grass. The Count took his hunting knife and cut out the heart of the dead man.
When the boy left, Marguerite screamed in pain. She had lost her love forever. Would Raymond kill her as well?
But nothing happened and it was not until the evening when the count returned.

Her gaze returned to the fields. By now it had become dark, the clouds of mist thick as soup and the crows had left the fields.
The door opened, she rose with a heavy heart and sat down at the dining table. There was nothing more important to her, whatever Raymond had in mind with her. She looked at her plate, which her husband put in front of her. The smell of fried heart rose in her nose, red-brown sauce ran over the potatoes. As if in slow motion she reached for the cutlery and began to eat. She cut into the tender meat and put it into her mouth.
She felt the ice-cold air crawl up her back from the open window as it reached for her neck. When she finished eating, Raymond opened a wooden box he had placed next to him on the table and asked, “Did it taste good?” She looked in the box and in horror saw the head of Guillaume. She felt sick. As if in a trance, she got up and went to the wide-open window. “I do not want to spoil the delicious taste with anything!” she whispered into the icy night and let herself fall into the darkness.


Happy Hallowe’en!


Posted in The Storyteller | Tagged | 2 Comments