Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology

Enjoying stopovers

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Al Bastakiya, Dubai

Walking through the narrow streets of the spice souk in Dubai, I was assaulted by a heady mix of pungent spices and exotic perfume.

From there, I made my way to the adjacent gold souk, whose narrow windows were filled with gleaming jewellery of all shapes and form.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Gold Souk, Dubai

While I was not particularly interested in jewellery (though there were pieces that were quite extraordinary), I still found the souk fascinating for its display of ostentatious wealth.

As the colour started draining from the sky, I made my way to the Dubai Creek.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Dubai Creek

Stepping onto one of the abras, a traditional boat made of wood, I watched the lights come on across the creek as a soft breeze started to carry in the aromas of the nearby spice souk.

It was hard not to feel almost bewitched by this setting, and best of all, my 24-hour trip to Dubai was free!

I had opted for a stopover, at no extra charge, on my Emirates flight between Singapore and Zurich.

And it was fabulous.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Dubai Museum

First, I had to have a stopover anyway, so why not make the best of it?

Second, while I might think hard about planning a holiday in Dubai, a short and free stopover’s certainly not an issue.

And indeed, I’ve taken advantage of airlines’ (little advertised) stopover policies on several occasions to enjoy trips to cities I might have missed.

Like Mumbai.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Mumbai

My plan was to travel to Delhi and then Rajasthan, but opting for the cheapest fares meant I needed to do a stopover in Mumbai.

So why not extend the stopover to two days and visit Mumbai for free?

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Meeting my friend outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai

I had a friend there, and there were enough sights in Mumbai to keep me entertained for a day or two or even more if I wanted to.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai

So in those two days, we visited sights like the iconic Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Hotel.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Gandhi’s House, Mumbai

We also found time to visit Gandhi’s House and the famous backpackers haunt, Café Leopold.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Meeting Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi outside Cafe Leopold in Mumbai

But my shortest ever stopover was in Vienna.

I had a grand total of six hours in the city while travelling between Bosnia and China.

And you bet I made full use of that six hours.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Stephansplatz, Vienna

Upon exiting the departure gates of the airport, I made a beeline for the city’s metro which would take me to the city centre.

And indeed, I was standing in the city’s grand Stephansplatz square in less than half an hour’s time.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna

Over the next five hours (I had to leave enough time to get back to the airport), I had a mini Amazing Race across the city, ticking off sights like the gorgeous gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg Palace, which has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Monument to Emperor Franz in Hofburg, Vienna

I even found time to visit one museum – MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art) – though the pieces were a little too abstract for my taste.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Exhibit in MUMOK, Vienna

And being in Vienna, how could I miss out on trying the Viennese Schnitzel?

And I had one in an al fresco café near Stephansplatz square, watching the crowds go by.

To be sure, this type of rushed travel is not to everyone’s taste.

But between a painfully boring stopover in the airport and seeing a new city, I know which one I’ll choose.

Enjoying stopovers - Alvinology
Change-of-guard parade in Hofburg, Vienna

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