Thursday, March 26, 2015

The World's Tallest Adventure

Our adventures were not over.

Much, much later in the afternoon after our harrowing desert experience, we headed out for our special tour of the Burj Khalifa.

Looking up at the Burj Khalifa.
When we entered the building we were ushered into a very nice lounge where we were served coffee and sweets. Our guide told us a bit about the building and what to expect.  Then off we went to the 148th floor of the World’s Tallest Building.  Right!  148 (The top floors after 160 are only available by ladder.)

The view was spectacular (expected) and the building impressive (also, expected).
Our hotel is to the right over my shoulder.
Two engineers enjoying the view.
I held my phone outside the glass of the observation deck to shoot this picture down towards the ground.
Here is a puzzle for all the architects out there. The lights clamp to the outside ridges of the building and are gorgeous at night. Were these lights in the original design or were they an add on?  

Amazing view.
This is the top of the Dubai Mall with our hotel to the right.  The mall is huge.
ML is still resting from the desert experience. Isn't she cute?
After the 148th floor we went down to the public viewing area located on the other side of the building on the 124th floor. Again, great view of the other side of Dubai.

The lower observation deck looked out the other side. It was just as impressive.
Here is my selfie looking up from the 124th floor.
Our dinner reservations were for 9:00PM in the restaurant located in the Burj Khalifa on the 123rd floor, At.Mosphere. Luckily we had a few minutes to rest and change before we headed out to At.Mosphere.

The entrance for the restaurant was on the private residence side of the building so we had a chance to see the opulence of the tower if you were to live there.  AMAZING!

Roads and buildings.
Some of downtown.
The fountain all lit up.
Our hotel with roads and traffic.

Again, the view was fantastic and the food impressive. We had a wonderful time. At the end of the dinner, I excused myself to go to the ladies room.  I never imagined what an experience this was going to be.

The sink was surrounded on both sides by floor to ceiling windows. You could see all the way down while you washed your hands. It was unbelievable! When I returned to the table, I sent D and ML to the powder rooms so they could have the same experience.

Back at the hotel, we fell into bed exhausted.  What a day! Dubai lived up to its reputation for a city full of wonderful experiences.

Our flight the next day was not until early evening so we had the entire day to relax and enjoy our hotel, the view of the Burj and the infinity edged swimming pools.

This was my view sitting at the pool.
We cruised through the mall.  Heck, I am missing a sale at Pottery Barn!
Our bathroom was filled with art.
Unfortunately, ML had work to do for school however; she camped out in our room on our wrap around couch with food from the lounge - including several variations of chocolate. I don’t think I have ever seen her enjoy working on schoolwork quite so much.
Our view of the fountain from the pool.
While D and I were down at the pool, she put her computer on the balcony and was working with the Burj in the background.  It is a rough life.

As our driver made his way back to the Dubai airport, we had one final glimpse of the Burj Khalifa and downtown Dubai. 
Dubai was wonderful. Our experience with ML was just as wonderful.

ML’s last day was the day following our return from Dubai. After a poolside lunch with my Bahraini friends, DW and NS, we spent the day at the Ritz in the spa. Then we had ML’s hair blown out in the Ritz beauty shop.  I think she felt completely relaxed by the end of the day.

All that was left was packing and the long trip back to the United States.

I was very sad to see her go and I can’t wait to plan another trip with her.

As you leave the tourist area of the Burj Khalifa, there is a great sign over the door and it is fitting for the end of our trip. We had a wonderful time in Dubai and a FANTASTIC time with ML.  It was sad to see her go but soon D and I will be off on another adventure - to Jordan!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We did not sleep in the desert - we were scared.

Rising early while you are on Spring Break is not something most college kids would want to do.  However, ML did not complain a bit when we pulled her out of bed for our desert safari on our second day in Dubai.

We grabbed coffee and a couple of muffins before we headed out to jump in our SUV for the drive to the desert.

D and I vacationed in the deserts of Africa some years back. It is one of our favorite vacations - maybe even our most favorite. One night we slept under the stars in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. Our good friend ES kept singing the Eagles song, Peaceful Easy Feeling where they say, "I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight." (Yes, if you are reading this ES, I had to google the song to remember who was the artist.)

Every time I think of a desert, I start singing that song and picture ES singing to us in the desert.

This desert experience was completely different, great but different - a totally new experience for me.

After about 30 minutes of modern 6 lanes of highway, we left the main road for a more rural experience.  

Our driver eventually pulled off the road and parked under a tree.  We thought this might be a meeting point with another vehicle to take us out on the dunes, but he said, “Just a minute as I need to let the air out of the tires.”

Never had a driver let air out of the tires before. Very weird!

Wow!  That was a shock. But when you think about it, tires work much better on sand when they are semi flat.

After the tires were adjusted, the guide turned to us, smiled and said, “Is your seat belt really tight? Be sure to let me know if anyone feels sick.”

I should have been prepared for what came next.

Off we went in a flurry of flying sand.  I am not kidding or exaggerating, it was a flurry of flying sand.

Up over the hills, around another hill, over large dunes and down steep inclines. This was more frightening than any roller coaster I had ever been on.  And, it went on and on and on and on.

Time and again, the sand flew over us.  I did not take very many pictures because I was too busy hanging on to my seat with all the strength I could find.
I kept thinking we would reach our destination but then he would do another donut in the sand, throwing more sand over the top of the SUV and head up over another high dune and done the other side that was steeper than the front side.

Every time we reached the top of a dune, I could not see the other side, I could only see sky because we would be going straight up. I worried there might be another vehicle coming up the back side.

One of very few pictures I took during the ride in the sand.

My heart would stop, the SUV would crest the top and turn downward. It seemed that we would then be going straight down over the crest of a wave. I worried we would get caught on the crest with our tires hanging off each side. It was completely heart stopping.

My hands ached from clinching the underside of my seat.

Fortunately I was sitting in the front seat.  However D and ML were in the back seat.  Later they told me they were thrown all over the place even though their seat belts were snug. When we were in the midst of the ride, I was too scared to look back and see how they were doing.

After the longest time we came to stop by some grazing camels.  Our guide let us all out and we took some pictures (and got our legs back).

This was just the beginning our day in the dessert.

Take a close look. There are a bunch of camels in the background.

Desolate and barren.

We arrived at the base camp located out in a desolate spot. In the far, far distance I could make out a pole for a power line, I think. The only wildlife was some more grazing camels.

After a few minutes we saddled up on our 4 wheelers for some more sand dune fun. The three of us with the guide followed a path of sorts for a while to make sure we could handle the vehicles going up and down the dunes without getting stuck.

At least one time, each of us was stuck in the sand as we tried to crest a large dune. I think ML won the award for the most times. After a bit of switching around (my ride was a dog and we had to switch out with the guide) we took off.

It was great fun. Probably not as scary as the SUV experience because we had more control, but a lot of fun.

After a long while we headed back to the camp.  Our next adventure was to mount a camel for a short ride.  I don’t think any of us really thought through how you get a camel to stand up once you are on it’s back.  It is sort of like being bucked off a horse in slow motion.

ML is not going to like this photo.  But she could never have made this face on purpose. It is really funny and sort of cute.  But I agree with her scream, it was NOT FUN!

I cannot imagine how people rode these animals for days at a time.  It was very uncomfortable.  None of us liked this part of the adventure.

We are on safari now - eat your heart out Lawrence of Arabia.

Baby camels.
The view of the Burj as we returned. In the foreground is a flock of flamingos.

When we returned to the hotel, hot showers were definitely taken by all.

Much later in the afternoon we headed out for our special tour of the Burj Khalifa. It was definitely another type of adventure.  I will post video and pictures in a bit.  Just writing about the desert experience makes me want to take a nap in my solid, secure to the ground bed.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Itty Bitty Head Phones

Just a quick blog – I could not pass up sharing the most adorable pictures my son-in-law sent to me.

RB (my son-in-law) and BHB are big airplane fans and often attend airshows around Florida.

D and I went to one with them once and it was a lot of fun. D is also an aircraft fan. The planes are amazing and they are loud.

LW attended his first airshow this past weekend. We Skyped with him (and the family) while they were there.  However it was very difficult to talk over the roar of the engines.

When we were talking, LW was asleep in his stroller. BHB and RB purchased ear protectors for him and he seemed to be having a great time.

Enjoy these adorable pictures – ISN’T HE GETTING BIG!!!

Oh, how I wish I could give him a big hug and a kiss.  Smoochhh.