Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ft. Worth, Texas; Duncan, Oklahoma and Wichita, Kansas!

Photo: View of Wichita, KANSAS from my room at the Wichita Hyatt Hotel.

Ah, the joys of simple DOMESTIC (in country) travel! I was thankfully blessed with a trouble free trip last week as part of a three-stop lecture tour in the central USA that took me to Ft. Worth, Texas (my fist visit to Fort Worth!!), Duncan, Oklahoma (my previous visit to Duncan was about 25 years ago) and Wichita, KANSAS (my first ever visit to the state of Kansas!). I am pleased to report that all my flights and associated flight connections were ON TIME and the weather was most pleasant (generally fair weather - albeit cold - without any snow storms to disrupt the flight schedules as would have no doubt been the case had I travelled the week prior when Ft. Worth had over a foot of snow!).

A side benefit: A total of 94 people showed up for my lecture in Fort Worth, the second best attendance of all my presentations to date (about 120 people attended my lecture when I was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia last month).

Some lasting impressions: (a) downtown Fort Worth was surprisingly pleasant; I walked around at night and did not feel threatened; (b) Duncan, Oklahoma was next door to Fort Sill - one of the largest military bases in the USA. As a result, there were many Army and Air Force personnel on my flight to/from Lawton, OK; (c) although I was in Kansas for only about 19 hours, the people in Wichita were most friendly and hospitable - always a welcome treat on any trip! (A pleasant contrast to the rude people I once ran across in Vienna, Austria during my visit there in the mid-1990's!) A sampling of the photos I managed to capture follow:

I never did find out what this building was but it sure figures prominently in downtown, Fort Worth, Texas.

The Bass Performance Hall (built by the Bass brothers who reportedly own most of the real estate in Fort Worth, Texas).

A nice contrast of old and new buildings in Forth Worth.

A restored area in downtown Fort Worth. Many shops, restaurants and cafes make for a most pleasant stroll.

OKLAHOMA ..... from the air. I was surprised by how makes lakes dot the land!!!
NAPOLI's Italian restaurant in Duncan, Oklahoma. I nice, simple, unpretentious place for dinner.

Main Street in Duncan, Oklahoma. Not much to brag about here .....

Apparently this boat, located across the street from the Wichita Hyatt Hotel where I was staying, once raced in the Americas Cup???

The Wichita Petroleum Club where I gave my lecture. A small turnout greeted me: only 19 people attended. :-(

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bye Bye Dubai and the Long Trip to Home

Well, it's that time again - time to return to HOME-SWEET-HOME! I thoroughly enjoyed my short overnight stay in Dubai. This time I booked a room at the Intercontinental Festival City Hotel (shown above). The hotel is right next door to the Festival City Mall (pictured below) - one of the newest malls in Dubai. There are plenty of choices from which to select when it comes to restaurants and coffee shops.

I believe I've said this before but I'll say it again, if you have never been to the Middle East, try to arrange at least one visit to Dubai. It's an adult playground, very relaxed, alcohol is allowed at the hotels, and a visitor can get an excellent introduction to life in the Middle East. Just bring your credit cards folks as it is expensive to stay here!! Try it, you'll like it!

Coffee break in the Festival City Mall.

Outside view of the Festival City Mall next to the Intercontinental Hotel.

I spotted this 'medicine' in the pharmacy section of the HyperPanda supermarket store in the Festival City mall. Anyone have any idea what this stuff is good for and does it really work??!!

A great place to purchase teas. (This particular store is located somewhere within the Festival City mall.)

My itinerary home was NOT one I would have chosen! The Society of Petroleum Engineers booked my ticket and selected my return via Delta 7 from Dubai to Atlanta. I departed Dubai at the delightful hour of 11:30 pm. Wheels up was @ midnight. We landed at Atlanta International Airport after 14 hours and 40 minutes of flying. I did NOT like the seating ergonomics aboard Delta's Business Class section. The seats are way too cramped for a tall person like myself. At any rate, at least we were not delayed and upon arrival I managed to zip thru immigration and customs in a relatively short time. I rode the train to Concourse 'D' and waited about 2 hours for my connecting flight home. We departed from Gate D13 on time (!) but had to wait a while before actually taking off. Our plane (Flight 5179) was way behind a long line of other jets waiting to take off at Atlanta's airport (picture above). Once I was at home in my apartment, I unpacked a little and then dove into bed for a blissful sleep! Home at last!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Return to Work in KUWAIT!

Photo: Sunrise over the Arabian Gulf at Mina Al-Zour, Kuwait

Well here I sit in my comfortable room in Dubai and I finally have time to pen this posting summarizing the prior ten (10) days in Kuwait. Time flies when you're having fun! And this short visit sure flew by! I flew in on Friday, January 22 and hit the ground running on Sunday, Jan 24. Too much work to do and not enough time to do everything! However, I managed to squeeze in a pleasant weekend (Jan. 29 & 30) following the conclusion of the work week. I ventured to the Avenues Mall (Kuwait's largest and newest mall) on Friday and, afterwards, enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Moevenpick resort hotel in Salmiya. On Saturday, I simly went to the Starbucks nearest our camp (about 32 km north of our compound). The rest of my Saturday was work related and so I shall not bore you with that! FYI: The Al Zour Starbucks is STILL CLOSED! Something about a "license problem" .... On Sunday (Jan. 31st) I departed Kuwait aboard Emirates 856 at about 10:30am and arrived into Dubai at almost 1 pm. We arrived into the new Terminal 3. You gotta see this place to believe it!! The one negative first impression I came away with is that the walk from the gate to pasport control was way too loooooong (about 10 minutes, at least!). But once I was in the baggage claim area, WOW! It looked like the inside of a palace. It was huge. And being so brand new, everything shined and glistened in the bright lights overhead! I grabbed my suitcase and met my driver and I was off to the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City. Then it was time to rest and relax!

Next (and final posting for this trip): DUBAI

A very nice home spotted alongside Highway 40 heading into Kuwait City.

My favorite - water towers!

It's alive!!! We've had some rain in Kuwait in the last few weeks and all it takes is a little water and the desert comes alive with flowers and grass.
A violinst played near my table wile I ate my Friday buffet lunch at the Moevenpick resort hotel in Salmiya.