Saturday, 10 March 2012

Saturday 10th - Up the Creek

We wake up in daylight and get up when R's phone says that it is 8 a.m. In fact it is 6.30 because she hasn't moved the time on from India. We breakfast on pitta, hummus and banana and R successfully makes tea using the microwave. Today's plan is to visit the Souq and have lunch on the waterfront at the restaurant whose name we can never remember. All that will be missing is Tim & Shelagh.

First step is to head to Lonely Planet's banker internet cafe, quite close and next to an alternative metro station. The cafe is there but has clearly ceased trading and had its furniture repossessed. Armed with our Nol cards we take the Green Line metro, a new opening since last year and with some quite elaborate features in its stations. At Union we get off and walk down to the riverbus stop. It is very bright and sunny but there is a gusty wind and we nearly lose our hats a couple of times.

There are plenty of tourists about, quite a few of them Scots as well as a lot of Americans. The riverbus trip is a very pleasant (and cheap) way to get around and we take in the view. The Old Souq landing stage is right in the middle of the bazaar area which seems very clean and orderly after India although the salesmen have the same persistence. It seems strange to walk down a row of stalls without having to dodge motorbikes and cycle rickshaws.

After a good look round, and the successful purchase of an adaptor that will allow us to use our Indian laptop lead both here and back home, we head for lunch just as the restaurant is opening and get seats in pole position at the water's edge. Last year D wasn't very well when we ate here and didn't enjoy it too much. This time he is able to tuck in to all of our Middle Eastern favourites - hummus, fatoush, falafels and fabulous lemon and mint drinks.

During our meal there is some excitement as a girl dressed in a black abaya throws herself off an abra into the water where she floats face down. Several western men dive in after her and forcibly furn her face up. She doesn't half shriek at this. She is soon hauled back onto the abra and will appear in many tourist videos. We finish off with a pot of mint tea and as we leave there is a queue for tables.

We are quite intrigued by Hindi Lane, mentioned in the LP, and set off to try to find it. Eventually we stumble across it by accident as we walk out of the rear exit of an Indian supermarket. This is a narrow alley containing various small shops selling devotional items as well as a Hindu temple and a Sikh gurdwara. All very colourful but nowhere near as chaotic as Old Delhi or Kolkata's New Market. R buys incense which she had kept forgetting to do in India.

Next we take an abra across the creek to the Spice Souq in Deira. We weren't really buying, just looking, but R expresses interest in smoked lemons and suddenly finds herself the owner of £3 worth. No doubt we will be having some fascinating culinary experiments in the coming weeks. Although it is not as hot as Mumbai we decide that it is time to dodge the sun for a while so we take the Green Line back to home via Spinney's supermarket, where we stock up for this evening.

We weren't feeling too adventurous this evening so we opted for an hour's internet and a quick trip to the Old Vic pub, part of the Ramada hotel and offering their usual value for money. A pint was over £5!

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