Dubai 9/15

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Over the top, way over the top...

Burj Khalifa fountain view from the 148th floor

Dubai is a treasure in its own way. It does everything big and best and the feel of new money and wealth is palpable. It also seems very safe. We were treated well here. As Muslim countries go, they are aggressively tolerant. Taxis are dirt cheap, but meals and drinks are costly. It is very hot and humid all year in Dubai - 100°F highs are common, but we prepared for that. Our flight on an Emirates Air A380 was as good as any 16 hour flight can be, including a stand-up bar, a Grand Cru French Bordeaux wine and good food.

Wednesday & Thursday September 16th & 17th


Customs was a breeze in Dubai, despite rumors to the contrary on the web, and we were in our (free - gotta love Emirates Air!) limo heading for the Hyatt Regency Dubai by 8pm, 30 minutes after we landed. The Hyatt comped us for the Regency Club, which was great for breakfasts, snacks and soft drinks. We were tired from our long flight, but not wiped out, so we walked to the adjacent mall for dinner at Carpenter’s Pub, which included a live group. We retired for the night hoping for a good night’s sleep.

City view from Al Dawaar revolving restaurant

148th floor looking up

148th floor observation deck

148th floor looking down

Fountain bridge

Friday September 18th - Burj Khalifa


Jet lag was an issue, but we all agreed that we got enough sleep to at least function and met for breakfast at 9am. In the late morning we walked through the historic market area of Deira to the famous gold Souqs. Although they were supposed to open at 10am, we got there at 11am and most were closed. Craig suggested that it might be because of Friday’s high prayer. After a quick look around, we taxied back to our hotel to chill (literally) for a while. We then taxied along Dubai Creek to Festival City where we had a long lunch at the Hard Rock Café – a weakness of mine when I travel.


I had reservations for Burj Khalifa’s “At the top sky” for 5pm, intending to span sunset at the top of the tallest building in the world. We got there early and made our way through Dubai Mall, the largest in the world, to the elevator launch point. The elevator is remarkably quick and we were on the 148th floor before 5pm. We took a lot of pictures from the observation deck (four pictures above and large picture top of page left). The sun was still almost an hour away from setting, so we gave up and headed down, staking out our spot for the fountain show later (fourth picture above).


Burj Khalifa climb fake

Burj Khalifa fall fake

Burj Khalifa dance fake

Burj Khalifa fireworks fake


We bought the cheesy fake pictures on our way out of the mall (four pictures above) – a weak tourist moment. Just after dark, we joined the multitudes for the dancing fountain display (first picture below) before taxiing back to our hotel, cleaning up and enjoying a long dinner at Al Dawaar revolving restaurant (our table view in the large picture top of page right). Stuffed from over-eating and under-exercising for the past few days, we were greeted on returning to our rooms by a big pre-birthday cake and bottle of wine from the Hyatt management. Ooof! But we still ate and drank a lot of it before retiring for the night.


Night fountain

Jumeirah Mosque

"Open doors, open minds"

Ben tries a Cuban at the pool bar


Saturday September 19th - Jumeirah Mosque & desert excursion


Saturday was destined to be a very long day, capped off with no hotel sleep and a 1am pickup for our 4am flight Sunday to Johannesburg. After breakfast, we taxied to the Jumeirah Mosque (second picture above) for their highly regarded “Open doors, Open minds” session run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. It was about 90 minutes long, very well done and very informative about what Islam is and what it isn’t. Despite what is written in travel books and on the web, pictures and questions of any nature are encouraged throughout (third picture above). We had lunch back at the hotel outside at the pool bar so that Ben could try his first Cuban cigar (fourth picture above).


We were picked up for our desert excursion with Arabian Adventures at 3pm. As I had been advised, it was touristy, but worthwhile. It included a falcon show (first picture below), dune crashing in an SUV (second and third pictures below), a buffet dinner and nighttime show. We returned to the hotel around 10pm, packed and caught our (free - gotta love Emirates Air!) limo to DBX (fourth picture below of the huge 3rd floor Emirates lounge) for our 8 hour flight to South Africa. Adventure one of three done, and we're all still standing.



Desert falcon show

Desert dunes jump

Desert dunes sunset

DBX airport

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