Bahamas

Paris/Dubai 2010

October 2009 - Planning

After weeks, and I do mean weeks, of planning and manipulating, I was finally able to score 2 business class tickets to Dubai...and Paris! For 2010. Our flights required stops in Europe and Andy has never been AND it did not cost extra so we expanded our trip to include Paris. Coincidentally, our 10th wedding anniversary would be in the middle of the trip.

Despite having an entire year to plan, it would not be until July 2010 before I would find time to plan. And I barely made that happen. Thank goodness my girlfriend got a teaching contract in the UAE and my brother in-law was studying Arabic. Together they would give us all the info we needed. Ha!

July 2010 A Nugget

While researching our trip, I came across a little nugget...The International Jewelry Show of Dubai was happening in the middle of our vacation!! Wooohooo. The trip is now a write off..at least partially.

September 2010 China
An unplanned trip took me to China. There was definitely no time to think about Dubai. We will just have to wing it.

Sept. 25 - Chinatown, NYC
And we were off. Packed it in the car and headed for NYC. Andy wanted to drive so that we could be more leisurely about our travels. Try as we might to miss NYC traffic, the last hour took 2.5 hours. We arrived just in time for dinner.

We picked up Mike (my brother in law) and headed to Chinatown in Flushing. This is the first time I had been to Chinatown since my visit to China. The similarities were shocking. I never realized how similar the two places are. The biggest shock to my system was being around so many Chinese people who spoke ENGLISH. I had to remind myself I was in the US and not to insult someone by asking, “do you speak English?” Which, almost passed my lips several times. Ooops.

Dinner was at a food plaza my sister had been geeked about for the past year. She has dying for me to go. I think I would have been much more impressed if I had not just come back from China 10 days before. The dumplings sucked, what can I say.

Sept. 26 – Reservations
Spent the day in Stamford, CT at an artshow then went shopping for a cricket cage in Chinatown which we never found (long storie). Then I spent the rest of the day looking for a hotel reservation in Paris. This was suppose to be the easy part of the trip. But for some reason (the UN in session), all of Paris was booked and I can not put my hands on a reasonable rate. My brother in law suggested the IBIS hotel and to my surprise was able to immediately find a hotel, IN Paris! phew.

Sept. 27 – Take off

Up to this point I had not been excited in the least about this trip; arriving at the airport, the excitement finally kicked in. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was just excited. This is the first real adventure I was taking with my husband after 10 years of marriage. No idea what took so long.

Arriving at the airport I immediately flashed back to previous European trips…Hoards of people trying to do ALL do the same the at the same time and NO one to direct them, and NONE of them wanting to play nice. There were at least 75 people violating 6 ticketing kiosks. I don't think that "forming a line" is a European's vernacular.

My best efforts to avoid the hoards of people at the kiosk was in vain. The guy at baggage check-in just pointed us to the kiosks to get our boarding passes before he would let us enter. (I did try to tell him we were flying upper class but it fell on deaf ears.) Not helpful.

Like a good girl I joined the swarm. (more like a lemming) and quickly discovered a machine that was not being used, even though there were so many people standing around. (not my problem) Me being me, I asked the guy in front of me why the computer was not in use. He didn’t know, so I urged “him” to step forward. Low and behold, it worked! Ta, ha!. I guess my line just got shorter. My triumph was short lived. A French women stepped in front of this guy and pushed him off…huh? Let me just say she got out of MY way! I was glad for this first experience. It reminded me to prepare for “European” attitudes in large groups. Note to self, brace yourself and defend your position.

At baggage check I looked around for the “special” line. When I did not see it I resigned myself to the fact that there was not a separate line for “upper class” travelers. (“upper class” seems to be the designation of choice in periodicals when talking about business/first class travel.) I was wrong. When we got to the counter the attendant immediately said, "do you know there is a line for upper class across the way?" We do now. She agreed to check us in anyway. I can't get my 15 min. back. Oh well.

This is Andy’s first trip overseas, longest flight, and first time flying business class so we wanted to soak up all the amenities. We headed directly to the executive lounge. International carriers really know how to do it right! The buffet was a great spread of French “snacks”. Unlike the sucky domestic carriers where you only get bags of carrots and peanuts, and paid for your drinks, this was very refreshing.

While there, I noticed a woman traveling with a baby and of course the thought was, she is about to make a bunch of upper class passengers very unhappy. I knew that as soon as that thought crossed my 2 brain cells I was doomed. Lemme just say, doomed I was. She was sitting in my seat! Not a problem! We were willing to wait for her to move or figure it out. So she got up, placed the baby on the seat and proceeded to ask me to watch the baby while she fetched her ticket from her bag which was already in the overhead compartment. (really?) Gee, surprise, she was in the wrong seat! Now she was ready to move. But along the way she asked me to help her (move the water bottles, the baby bottles, the stuffed toy, the pillow…dear gahd! did she move in?) and then she asked Andy to get her bag from the overhead. Did I mention that she was spread out between TWO seats?

The flight attendant who was making his way up the aisle noticed the exodus and Andy reaching for her bag (which I am sure HE had put there in the first place). He look confused the realized what was happening. He quickly grabbed her bag from Andy with a horrified look. ( I am sure it went something like this… “OMG, a passenger is moving bags for another passenger?) eeegads.

So again she spread out in two seats at her new location, only to find out again that the seat next to her was about to be occupied. Oops. I was feeling sorry for that passenger. Funny, when he arrived (he was on his cell phone), he slowed down at his seat, checked out the situation and kept on walking. (I overheard him say on the phone, “there is a baby in the seat next to me…) He cased out the area and found another seat. Lucky him, business class was not full.


The first course, cheese plate, cold cuts, pesto, scallop souffle.


Second course, boullabaise.


Andy's second course, steak.

 

Day 1 – Paris

Charles de Gualle airport is not at all as I remembered it. I suppose things do change after 20 years. (Hard to believe it has been that long since I have been in Paris.) It took us 3.5 hours from the time we arrived at the airport to the time we arrived at the hotel, which was only 30min. from CDG! Wah? Huh. Well, smart me wanted to take the train (supposed to be cheaper and faster, conveniently located at the airport). But to reach our “final” destination there were 2 train changes, 3 flights of stairs (maybe more, lost count) UP! then 3 flights down! I thought Andy was going to kill me. Then one final flight up to the street.

When we finally made it to the street, a taxi took us to the “rest” of the way…sort of. The taxi stopped at the right address but there was no hotel, but instead an apartment building? My brother in law mapped the wrong location. We were in southeast Paris but the hotel was actually outside of Paris. North! 27km to be exact. OMG, just kill me. This added 45 minutes in a taxi.

We finally arrived in the right place at 3pm and passed out, as either of us slept on the plane.

On our first day we discovered that French people could be really rude, however, they could be nice too. Three people stopped to help me with the baggage up and down the stairs in the subways stations. They saw Andy’s disposition and offered to help carry the luggage. One guy went so far as to ask if I needed help beyond that point. Wow. Good Start.

Day 2 - More steps

People really don’t know until they know. Having been to Paris and Europe before I was very leery of how well Andy would cope, as stairs and steps are particularly challenging to him. And I was right.
Despite the fact that Paris is a metropolitan city, it is a very old one. There are few ramps, escalators and elevators. When there are escalators there are still steps to get to them or they were only available going UP? huh? I don’t get it. Most of the old monuments have nothing to assist handicapped people. And bathrooms in restaurants are mostly down winding steps. Travelers with handicaps take caution.

These are all things I had considered before I committed to this trip. But of course there were other people’s opinions, “It’s a modern city, you’ll be fine.” “There’s lots of transportation, it’s easy to get around.” … Bastards! They just don’t realize that even high curbs and cobblestone can cause problems.
Whoever told Andy we should go to Bastille Sacre Coeur should be taken out, stripped, and beaten! (I believe it was his doctor who should have known better.)
Going to Sacre Coeur was suppose to be an easy trip with only one subway change…that is until I screwed up and put us on the Wrong platform. Resulting in extra steps. Ugh. Down an extra set of stairs and up an extra set of stairs we went.

Arriving at the “base” of the church there was suppose to be a funicular to take us to the top…Uh, someone (his doctor) failed to mention there was a cobblestone street, UPHILL BEFORE the funicular. He Also failed to mention that there was also 1.5 flights of stairs before the church STEPS. (I always assume there is a set of steps in front of a church so I’ll give him that one.)

Then what about the ass at the top of the funicular who told us that the bus transport was at the bottom of the hill? I should take him out too. Because halfway down the hill, a women told us the bus we wanted was at the top! Just beyond where the ASS was. Just a little tormented?


Bastille Sacre Coeur. Paris


View of Paris from Sacre Coeur. This is the best place to see all of Paris


Just a really pretty candy store along the cobblestone walk uphill.

 

Despite all of these challenges we did find our way to the Arc de Triomphe, where we bumped into our first tourist scam. (You might want to take notes.) Standing on the sidewalk looking through my purse a guy stopped in front of me, bent over, picked up a gold ring, handed it to me and said, “For good luck.” And walked away. Five seconds later he turned around and said, “Do you have money for food, to eat?” and pointed to the ring. Can we all say SCAM? So I handed it back to him and told him to go buy himself some food! Make no mistake our getaway was not that simple.

Immediately after this incident a well dressed young man approached me and asked, “how do get to the middle?” pointing at the Arc de Triomphe, which is in the middle of a very busy traffic circle. By assumption I pointed to the closest set of stairs that looked like the led to an underpass. Uh, no? We got to the bottom, he looked at me, I looked at him and we agreed we would walk around the circle to find another passage. As he would put it, “Crossing the boulevard seems a little dangerous.” Ha, ha. No kidding. A traffic circle in the middle of Paris with 5 spokes feeding into it, dangerous? Ya think?

Along the walk I learned that my companion was in Paris for a grant/job interview. He is an Iranian, living in Berlin, who speaks English, German and Persian. None of which were helpful to our cause as either one of us spoke or read French.

Next on the tourist path, the Eiffel Tower. Andy was underwhelmed. All I have to say is, wasn’t it red at one time?
On the way to the top we met a group from Toronto who’s comment was, “Cleveland, that beautiful country.” Then came the Australian, Claire, from Brisbane with the vertigo husband. (He didn’t go past the second level so we accompanied her to the top.) Andy offered to hold onto her belt if she wanted to lean over the edge for a look, her husband was not so amused!

On the way down we met guy from Kansas City, MO, which is where Andy and I first met. He said we were first people to ever ask, “Kansas City, Kansas or Kansas City, Missouri?” Really? He was impressed.


My cliche lunch, or should I say quiche lunch.


Andy's lunch, dried salami sandwich and the best fries we have ever had!


In the underpass.

 


"ahhhhhhhh."


Arc de Triomphe, picture taken by my new friend.

The Eiffel Tower from the Arc.


Mohin my tourist pal for the moment.


Those are crystal embedded stairs.


Just pretty.


I thought this was ironic, as Cleveland has one of the largest collections of Monet. And I had to go all the way to Paris to see it? Not.


National Museum


National Museum of Art

 

Can't remember.

 

 
 

More military.


This is suppose to be a pix of pigeons pooping on tourists passing underneath.


The park in front of the Eiffel Tower.


Another view.


Arc de Triomphe from the Eiffel.


Claire, from Australia.

Look closely, that is the US flag, pointing in the direction of NYC, 5849KM away


So I decided to sneak in a pix of these guys in uniform. Didn't think they would notice. But then he approached me and started pointing to my camera.


Then he asked if it was good pix. As he noticed I was looking at my screen. Fortunately for me the play back was other pix. He was a little embarrassed so I scammed him into standing for another picture! LOL!

 

 

 

Day 3 - Welcome to Paris!

After a very long night of jet lag and rowdy 15 year old Dutch kids in the room next door, we finally dragged ourselves out of bed for more tourists stuff.
At the train station we asked for assistance to ride on a “special” elevator to the platform which required an attendant with a key. On the way down, there was a very distinct odor of uh-hum. The attendant made a sniffing sound and said, “ouf” (so French) then he said, “Welcome to Paris!” It was a good laugh.

So away we went to the Bastille, underwhelmed. Then the Louvre, completely outstanding. Then St. Chappelle, oh so beautiful, and finally Notre Dame, not as big as you think but still big. Is it over yet?


The Louvre

 
 

More military detail to my right.


River Seine


Look familiar? The french version of the cow in China. ha!


Another cliche meal. French onion soup.


Stec au pomme frite


St. Chapelle, near Notre Dam



Outside


Inside


Notre Dame


Inside, during mass.


Hotel bathroom. Notice the lack of shower curtain and shower head.

 

Day 4 – Onto Dubai

Another day, another airport. We knew that flying upper class afforded us a few privileges but this next one takes the cake. Despite being told that security check was to the right, after receiving our boarding passes at the “elite line” we were instructed to the left. Where 2 nicely dressed attendants opened a roped area and allowed us to proceed…to the “private” customs and security gate. Just for the upper class flyers. Nice.

It is always interesting to people watch at the airport. Regardless of where you are there is always free entertainment. The boarding area was particularly crowded, standing room only. Air France really needs to expand their terminal. It was so crowded that the upper class and coach lines were really marred, which, I am sure, is the reason we got the complete stair down by a fellow upper class passenger. Little did he know, ha! we were flying with him! So hard to believe.

Arrival was a gasp, literally. Since when do Men spritz cologne in public…in an airplane? My head was just swelling. Then came the brick wall of heat that hit me as soon as we walked outside. Desert heat comes with humidity? Gag.

Starbucks


Chocolate Camels. They made me smile.


The ski slope inside of The Dubai Mall. Doesn't look real does it?


Chicken Curry and flat bread.

 

 

Day 5 – It’s so Clean

As luck would have it our hotel was located 3minutes walk from the metro station. But man, even those 3 minutes were brutal in the mid-day sun. wow. I am really starting to wonder if I am going to survive the heat!

Upon entering the metro station it became very clear that Dubai was going to live up to everything the press had reported. The metro station was equipped with elevators, escalators AND people movers AND it boasted ZERO emissions trains. Did I mention how clean it was? You could practically eat off the ground. Andy and I even agreed that the 10second rule applied here. (This is not even thought in NYC!)

First stop, the Dubai Mall to find a bikini and a power cord for my laptop. My bikini went missing before we left then I left my power cord at my sister’s house. At the electronics store I approached a gentleman and proceeded to ask, “do you speak English?” answer, “Of, course, why shouldn’t I?” “I don’t know why.” Huh, not what I expected. Okay then. This is going to be a very easy trip.

The famous indoor ski slopes were located at this mall and yeah, it is exactly like the pictures. Everyone was dressed in ski wear issued by the facility. So the women were in full length, black ski jackets with their black head scarves and the men in blue with their which scarves. This was just hilarious to me! The only thing I could think was, in the US we think of snowmen when we are all bundled up like that in white; what do you call one that is black?

The mall was simply impeccable, from the selection of stores and restaurants to the cleanliness. I have never been to a mall this clean before. Attendants in the restrooms to dispense soap for you and squeegee the counters when you are done? Trash cans were so pretty we had a hard time distinguishing them from the art. It was endless.
In the afternoon we headed to the spice souk, a market we had read so much about. It sounded so exotic. Clearly this was a tourist market, but it was fun anyway. Most of the spices are from other places, so we only bought spices that were from the region.

Tonight we had the best dinner so far. Directed to this area by a vendor at the spice souk, we found ourselves down a back alley where there were several local restaurants. We chose the busiest restaurant that looked the least like a tourist trap. It was filled to the brim with local men, not a woman or tourist in sight. As much as we looked like tourists, we tried to not act like tourists. I was careful to watch the other patrons to figure out the protocol. But I am sure that my handi-wipes turned a few heads. I could have saved myself from the stares had I been observant enough to notice that there was a wash basin in the restaurant for washing your hands! Smart. Clean up after our meal was easy.

Lack of a picture menu we were clueless so we pointed to the table next to us and indicated that we wanted what they were having. Couldn’t be bad, most everyone was having the same thing. It turned out to be chicken curry (not curry chicken, and definitely nothing we had EVER had before). OMG was it good. YUM. It was accompanied by a dish of raw vegetables and fresh flat bread directly from the oven to the table, we were in heaven. Did I say YUM? YUM! The waiter was so kind, he watched us the entire time and if it looked like we needed something he just brought it; more sauce, more vegetables, more bread. It was so good we both considered licking our plates but resisted since no one else was licking their plates.

I am always worried of being ripped of when I am in a place where I can’t speak the language so I also tried to be mindful of how much people were paying for their dinners. The check was about $7 for both of us! I guess we got a good deal.


Fogged up camera from the Dubai humidity.


Burj al Kahlib (10 min. later) The talles buildig in the world.


Mall of the Emirates


The Dubai Aquarium at the Dubai Mall. This is the "world's largest panel of acrylic".


Taking pictures outside were always a challenge because of the humidity.

 

 

Day 6 – Sites

We headed to the Mall of the Emirates and the Burj al Khalib, both are amazing. It is so hard to believe that Dubai can support so much shopping. We have now been in 2 malls and they were both stacked with the best of the best of stores and brands. Chanel, LV, Fendi, Tifanny, Cartier, Bulgari, and the list goes on, and on. And they were all in duplication. If there is one Chanel there are SEVEN, Louis Vuitton – THREE. And So on. Wow. Is there really that much shopping in this town to support that many high end stores? This completely dwarfs Rodeo Drive in Hollywood or even Fifth Avenue in NYC.

As an American, you could not want for anything. It seems as if EVERY American brand was represented here. If you missed food from home, it is all here. Baskin Robbins, TGIF, Johnny Rockets, I can not even think of a chain that I did not see. (Well, I didn’t see IN n Out, but anyway...) The only thing that was really “missing” was the dirt. Every place we have been to, has been is so clean. We at the food court at the mall and there were people to pick up our trays. Really? I thought this was fast food? I almost felt guilty handing someone my tray.

I was in desperate need for a tall, icy, cold Coke tonight. So, on our walk back to the hotel I made a pit stop at Burger King which was at the gas station across the highway. I knew that BK would come through with ice. They don’t seem to like serving it here. I think that was the best Coke I have ever had.

Day 7 - Abu Dhabi

The bus station was probably the grungiest place we had been to in all of Dubai. But we were rewarded with another great meal. The restaurant was hot and steamy but the waiter was kind enough to turn on the A/C unit that was near our table. For both of us $6 got us grilled chicken and rice, chicken curry and 2 drinks. YUM!

A clean, air conditioned luxury bus took us to Abu Dhabi for about $4 each.

Abu Dhabi is much crowder than Dubai. The buildings are older and it was not as clean.

We made our way to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the eighth largest mosque in the world. It accommodates 40,000 worshippers. I can not begin to imagine a larger or more beautiful mosque. This is truly the most beautiful man made facility I have ever seen/been in. The serenity there warmed my heart and immediately brought me peace. It was amazing. I can not even put what I felt into words.

When we arrived there were abayas for the women and robes for the men. I was a little concerned to put on someone’s sweaty robe but to my delight they were freshly laundered. When we were done they were put into a laundry bag.

Our timing could not have been better. The taxi driver told us that there would not be tourists there as most tourists came in the morning. He was so right. We also arrived while it was still daylight, but by the time we left it was nightfall so the mosque was beautifully lit up. Did I mention how amazing it was?

Not surprisingly, it was so clean I took off my shoes and enjoyed walking on the cool marble. The bathroom was equally as beautiful. The ablution was amazing. But out of respect I chose to not take a picture. There were attendants everywhere.

On our way back to the bus station we were overcome by the sweet smell of a bakery. I chased it down and found a lovely local bakery. It was hopping with activity. Having no clue what anything was and trying hard not to make trouble, I took two of everything. How bad could it be, right? Then I noticed the bakers working feverishly on what looking like calzones. People were buying these by the dozen, so of course I had to have one. The guy asked which one. I said one of each. He was clearly amused. They turned out to be freshly made flat bread with melted feta cheese, spinach and combinations of. Oh so yummy. If we had not just had dinner I would have finished it.


Sheik Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi


The world's 8th largest mosque.


The courtyard.

We were required to cover.


Even the restrooms were beautiful, I could not help taking a picture.


The other side of the sinks. All in layed marble.

 


Their idea of Hommos. The peas were so tender they melted in your mouth.


Arab pizza? Feta and spinach. There was a line for these yummies.

 

Day 8 - Shwarma

Today we had lunch reservations at the Burj al Arab Hotel, probably the most famous and most photographed hotel in Dubai. It looks like a sailboat on the water’s edge. To get on the property you must have a reservation of some sort. Since we simply could not afford the $1500/night rate, we opted for the cheapest meal we could get, lunch at the Japanese restaurant. It was the worse and most expensive meals we had. We actually paid $20 for a bottle of water. Eek.

At the restaurant the hostess is Malaysian, the waiter is Chinese, the manager is from the Philippines and the cooks are all Chinese. Huh. This explains why there was so much Chinese food and it tasted a bit lacking in the Japanese department. Where is the Japanese in all of this? Oh, the guests. The best part of our meal was the Wagu beef, the Aussie version of Kobe beef. Geez, even the beef was a knock off!

The hotel was, well, tacky and did not impress. It was like one big cliché. The oddest part was that there were NO Arabs to be found. 98% of the people I saw were Asian and I only saw one white person other than Andy. The staff was Asian too. The manager informed us that of their guests, Americans made up less than 2.5%.

The haze across the city made viewing very hard, we could barely see anything. We really only got to see a little bit of the Palm Jumeirah and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Both are great sites, but so disappointing not to be able to see anything else.

For dinner we headed to Al Mallah for shwarma, meat grilled on a vertical rotisserie. This was the one of two planned meals on this trip. We can now officially say, “WE are NOT shwarma people”. Up to this point we had had it a few times on the streets but were not impressed. So we thought that going to Al Mallah, the oldest and best shawarma house in Dubai, would finally satisfy our palate. Not. Uck!

At Al Mallah, we bumped into an American couple from Philly! Jeff was born in Dubai and his wife was from Philly. They had just moved to Dubai a few months before she got a job in Dubai. (Much to his parents’ delight but her parents’ chagrin. So funny how things work out.)

Jeff was so impressed that we were eating at Al Mallah because it was such a local place. According to him, 15 years ago there was nothing there but Al Mallah, Pizza Hut and Carl’s Jr. Really? Al Mallah, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr. and the desert? That’s it. Really? I could not even imagine. This area was so built up, you would have thought you were in NYC. I still can not get over Pizza Hut and Carl’s Jr.? Of all things.

He was clearly excited that we were eating at one of his favorite places. So we lied and told him the shwarma was GREAT!


Jumeirah Mosque


Though beautiful, this mosque paled in comparison to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Burj Al Arab Hotel


Lobby view looking straight up.


Sister property, Jumeirah Beach Hotel

 

Day 9-11 – Atlantis

Our last three days were spent mostly at the Atlantis Dubai Resort. Located at the top of Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis is an architectural marvel. We were impressed from the moment we walked in. From the greeter who sprinkled rose water into your hands to the 30ft Chihuly sculpture. I had a hard time figuring out where to start.
We chose to stay on a resort for our final days so that we would not need a vacation from our vacation when we got home. So we indulged ourselves at the beach and the pool. There is nothing like laying out on a bed of cool water on the pools edge with a fountain trickling in your ear. Somehow I stopped feeling hot. Did I mention the guy who came around to wipe off your sunglasses for you? Really.

The lunch buffet was one of the best I have ever had. (I hate buffets, usually.) Hard to believe that on this buffet I had bread that was as good as what we had in Paris and pasta that was simply out of this world. This buffet was so big I don’t think there was anything missing, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, American, Italian, and it went on. The desserts were also international. I left quite full.

The property also had boasted some pretty impressive shopping. I don’t think I have ever been in a place that had its own Tiffany’s store. Not just a counter inside of a gift shop but an actual store. Here I was introduced to Paspally Pearls, let me just say, Mikimoto has nothing on them. The manager was kind enough to educate me on his store and introduced me to a one hundred and thirty thousand dollar strand of pearls! Yes, that is $130,000! And these were the “cheap” ones. Apparently there was a $300K strand over at the Dubai Mall.

At some point we figured out that it was less expensive to take a 20min. taxi off the property to eat than it was to eat there. So we ventured back into the city for our final meal at our new favorite chicken curry restaurant. Being our final meal we had to completely indulge, so we had drinks, chicken curry, lentils, and chicken tikka…for $8! I was so sure we were not screwed the first time we were there. Although, $7 was a cheap meal the first time we were there, it became clear that we were screwed.

Day 12 – Departure

4am came so quickly this morning I opted out of a shower. Was there a good reason to wake up? We were only getting on a plane for 6 hours to Amsterdam. We had a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam so there was a lot of time to kill. First order of business, a shower. I had discovered that the airport lounges were usually equipped with showers, so I took advantage. That was a nice surprise. The showers were equipped with all the amenities so you don’t have to provide anything. Which was a good thing because I did not have anything. Shampoo, razors, toothbrush…etc. I fully expected locker room style showers but was surprised with a private shower room. Not just a stall but a room with a security key. I can not believe there were TEN of them. I wonder how many people actually took advantage. It was so nice to be fresh for the next flight to NYC.

Final thoughts.

There are no Arabs in the UAE. We only now know that Arabs make up 20% of the population. Had I known that I would have never bothered with learning Arabic! Ala wu sahalan. I love saying that.

Dubai was the most civilized place I think I have ever been. The people there were incredibly nice and kind. I do not remember ever being uptight with anyone. Nor do I remember ever witnessing anyone being upset or any kind of altercation. Women appeared to be well respected in this country and it wasn’t just me. I watched how other people were being treated and it universal.

All of the taboos you hear about seem to be over-rated rumors. You should expect to be arrested if you are doing something disrespectful, but if you are reasonable person this should not be a challenge. I would definitely never wear daisy dukes outside of the resorts, but you could wear spaghetti straps and sun dresses.

The heat AND humidity was incredible. I thought I was surely going to melt. For an Asian girl who doesn’t really sweat, I sweated. It did not take long to figure out that even the slightest bit of snug clothing was too snug. My sun dress was the best thing I could have packed. This is not an ordinary desert.

Andy and I decided that we would like to go back in about 15years to see how much it will have changed. To see if Dubai’s charm is still intact or if the world will cast its influence upon it. To see if they follow through with their vision and be able to sustain it.

 


A traditional wind tower.

 

Atlantis, Dubai


View from our room.

Our room. Such a contrast to Paris