Oh, the Places You'll Go: Dubai
Well, our journey through Europe is crawling to the finish line, and I think we'll end this particular trip with our layover in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
I've never been to the Middle East before, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found there. First of all, we hear of all these terrible things going on - which of course are happening - but I think as westerners we tend to blanket the entire Middle East as a place of death and bombings. Dubai was not like that.
Yes, there were a lot more burqas than what I was used to, but I definitely didn't have to wear a burqa and the only dress code was that I needed to wear something with sleeves and not short shorts. I honestly felt very safe and comfortable my entire time there, even though I had been quite worried leading up to our stay.
Fun fact: Dubai has serious money. And they have awesome malls. I'm not usually a mall person, but I was terribly impressed. One of the malls had a ski hill inside. A SKI HILL. IN THE DESERT. It wasn't very big, but it was still cool. And pretty much every mall was three stories tall with two or more food courts and a million stores. (Who needs exercise when you can walk three billion kilometres to find the Nike store?)
|Then there were these umbrellas hanging from the ceiling just because they looked pretty.|
|I also tried out the virtual reality goggles for the first (and I nearly ran into a wall but they were super cool anyways). And they had the biggest and most beautiful bookstore ever.|
|And these statue dudes were at the water fountain. I was fascinated by them.|
One of the things I noticed in Dubai was that everything was new. The metro was brand-new, new skyscrapers were being put up left and right, the streets were clean and un-warped, there was no graffiti and everything just worked so well. Seriously, a lot of money had been sunk into that place.
|The hotel we'd stayed in.|
We also caught a taxi to the Burj Al Arab. (You know those pictures where you see nothing but beach, ocean, building and sky? Those were taken from the beach you had to pay to get to (on the other side of the wall in the picture). We went to the free beach, where the pictures were less amazing but a lot less expensive.) And I went in the Persian Gulf!
One of my favourite things that we did on the trip was go on a tour to the desert. We had to drive out to where some camels were waiting for us, then we got to ride them for a full hour.
Things you should know about riding camels, by Victoria Jackson
1) Camels do not want to walk in a straight line. You know those Arabian movies where there's these three wise dudes riding through the desert, their camels in a straight line and behaving like they're supposed to? Cool music, the setting sun, and everyone's not sweaty and/or losing their shoes? That is not how it works. The camels were more interested in walking side by side instead of a straight line LIKE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO. My sister actually had bruises from where the camels squashed her leg between them.
2) It is extremely difficult to take pictures while riding a camel. It's like trying to take a half-decent photo on a bumpy rollercoaster while your cart tries to jump off the tracks and bump into the cart in front of it. I basically pointed and took the picture without even checking to make sure the sky and ground were in the right place.
3) When they stand up/sit down, you briefly fear for your life. You know those 4D movies where the chairs move in time with the screen? It's like that, only a hundred times more intense and you are worried about falling off and meeting an untimely end via tramplation (which is totally a word) from a headstrong camel with leadership issues.
4) Riding hurts your butt like crazy. I shifted to the side a bit halfway through and that helped a lot, so I would not advise riding it like a horse. I was sore all the next day.
5) It was such a beautiful experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. The desert was beyond gorgeous, I couldn't stop laughing because my sister kept calling the camel Wilma, the ride was relaxing and fun, it was like nothing I've ever done before, the camels (while annoying at times) were so incredibly cool and and I would recommend it 100%.
|Just ignore the fact that the muzzles were there so they didn't bite your hand off.|
We had supper out in the desert, my mom, sister and I had henna done up our hands, I had a falcon sit on my head (which was the coolest thing ever, by the way (although I wasn't sure if the guy holding the falcon or the falcon was more miserable)) and we got to see a desert sunset. Sure, the quads, souvenirs and 4 by 4s kinda ruined it a little, but let's focus on the positives, shall we?
We got to see/go up the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world and the one that Tom Cruise climbed for Mission Impossible 4. Dad was really into it, even though *whispers* I thought it was just another tall building. I've seen lots of tall buildings, mostly because Dad's always really into them.
|View of the Burj Khalifa at night. Right beside where we |
were there was also this amazing fountain show every
hour. The one we saw was to the song "La Vie en Rose."
Well, there you have it. A full month in Europe. Lots of pictures. Lots of wonderful food and people and buildings and history. I have more that I want to talk about (George the 3rd's library in the British Museum and Versailles, for example) but that can wait for another day.
If you could go anywhere in Europe, where would you go? Would you ever go to the Middle East? Is anyone else not one for shopping malls like me?