Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Countdown Has Begun!

We are leaving in about 3 weeks for Dubai and I am starting to get really excited planning our trip. Why Dubai? My sister and her family live there. My mom goes almost every year. This is my third visit and my husband's first.

I didn't want to get too excited about our upcoming trip to Dubai until my renewed passport came in the mail. I twiddled my thumbs for 5 weeks before it finally arrived. Next, I had to get the latest guide book. While I got to know the landscape pretty well before, it has changed drastically in the last 5 years since I was there: The tallest building in the world was built, about 2 or 3 giant malls sprung up, a light rail system was built, and an indoor ski slope opened all since I last visited. Crazy, huh? I am sure there are plenty of other things I don't even know about!

I have a very specific list of things I want to do this time.

1. Visit the Burj Al Arab hotel. It was one of the first iconic architectural buildings built in Dubai over 15 years ago. This is fairly close to my sister's house. There is a restaurant on the ground level that has a giant aquarium in it. I am hoping we can go there for dinner or formal tea. (Lots of the hotels offer awesome formal afternoon teas.) The hotel itself boasts suites costing $15,000-$28,000 (!!!) per night. Those little things that look like ears at the top are helicopter landing pads.

The waterways you see in front are part of a crazy hotel--okay, side note here, all the hotels in Dubai and the UAE are pretty crazy. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is Las Vegas. But Las Vegas on steroids and covered in gold leaf. A hotel in Abu Dhabi spent over a million dollars just on the Christmas tree in their lobby last year!

2. Desert Safari

I did this the first time I went to Dubai, but it is super fun and I think Trevor will like it. You start the adventure by going out in 4x4's out into the desert. A little like a roller coaster. Then you end up at this encampment looking place where you ride a camel and smoke a hookah and eat a gigantic middle eastern feast and watch belly dancing. Pretty touristy, but then again, everything in Dubai is touristy.

3. Visit the observation deck in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It is over 180 stories high but the observation deck is somewhere around the 120th level. Not sure Trevor will be on board for this, but my nephew and sister want to go.
It is hard to understand how tall it is when you just see it by itself. Examine the diagram below for better insight on the craziness that Dubai brings to everything it does.

4. Shopping and people watching

Shopping is the national sport of the United Arab Emirates, particularly in Dubai. Almost as fun as shopping is city at a cafe in a mall and watching the people go by. You see all types of people in Dubai, it is a very international city. But you also see a lot of people in traditional dress (sometimes albeit with a stylish, over the top traditional dress) too.
But you can also spend hours in the fabric souks and the in the smaller, older shopping districts haggling over prices and going dizzy with all the beautiful fabrics, beads, jewelry, and knick knacks that you want to buy. Trevor might not be into this so much either. I think he can go to a movie with my nephew or curl up with a book on the beach.

Also on the agenda:

Henna. I like to get positively covered with henna when I am there. Not sure if that helps me in customs, however.

Custom Tailoring. I really want to have a suit made for Trevor. The first time I was there I had a sari made and several skirts. I want to get some more skirts made this time too.

Spice Souk. Love hitting up the spice souk to obtain cheap and exotic spices.

Eating. Some of the best eating in the world. All ranges of cuisines in all price ranges. An epicurean's delight.

Abu Dhabi. This is the neighboring Emirate that boasts the capitol of the United Arab Emirates. A large financial center, CNN called it the richest city in the world. That alone makes me want to visit.

I will definitely be taking a lot of photos when I am there and I will try to find time to blog too.

This is probably the most exciting thing (and definitely the most expensive!) on my List of 37 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 38.

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