I lost a day, well not a full 24 hours but pretty darn close. It was Saturday afternoon when I caught a flight out of Victoria and headed 35 minutes south, to Seattle. After a few hours of entertaining myself in the Seattle airport, I was boarding a fifteen hour flight to Dubai. It has been a crazy couple weeks up to this Saturday flight so I had lots of time to sleep, process, reflect, and sleep some more. Upon arriving in Dubai my Saturday night and Sunday daytime had disappeared.
Arriving in Dubai was stress free. I knew I had a hotel booked for the night and that the shuttle to the hotel would be waiting at Exit 1 – Emirates does a great job of caring for their passengers. What I was not expecting as I arrived at the hotel, run solely for Emirate flight guests with extended layovers, was a very bubbly, overly polite, madam calling, tour guide sales representative. Everyone had to pass her booth and if you attempted to walk slightly off track to avoid contact she would seek you out, pamphlet in hand, high pitched broken English, and confidence beyond measurable. She did a good job of convincing me that I needed to go on a night tour of Dubai and while I was paying her I was thinking about how my father and I did an extended version of the same tour approximately three years ago during the daytime in 47 degree weather.
However, I was not disappointed. In a couple hours we saw a lot of Dubai and learnt a lot of history. I wish I could remember more than I have, yet, seeing the sites lit up at night was enjoyable. After driving a fair bit, learning about the five modes of transportation (three being by road) to cross from one part of Dubai to the other which is separated by the Dubai creek, out first attraction was the Jumeirah Mosque. This mosque is a replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey and the largest of over 1000 mosques in Dubai. Staying a fair distances away from the mosque as the last prayers of the day were taking place, we (myself and the other 10 tourists) ventured out to take some pictures.
The tour then followed Jumeirah Road through a residential area. The villas must be owned by locals but can be rented by foreigners; the system sounds fairly methodical if you take into consideration that only seventeen percent of the Dubai population is locals. Jumeirah Road took us to the public beach and Burj Al Arab, an iconic landmark that has been built on a man-made island and overlooking the Gulf. The Burj Al Arab is shaped to look like a sail, is 332 meters high, and houses a seven star hotel.
The tour guide was very good about telling us the heights of each of the main buildings; I think it might be something that Dubai prides themselves on. Dubai is home to the first, second, third, and fifth (if I remember correctly that the fourth is elsewhere but it may be the third that is elsewhere) tallest hotels in the world. The Emirates capital (did you know that all Emirates flight attendants attend a college program in Dubai?) also houses the worlds tallest building at 828 meters. The Burj Khalifa sky scraper building began in 2004 and was completed in 2010. At night the lights act as stars in the sky and its height daunting from the safety one feels on the ground; definitely a site to see “tucked” behind a mall and multiple water fountains. (picture to come).
Our last and final stop was to the worlds second Atlantis Hotel. Atlantis the Palm is built on a man-made island that is the shape of a palm tree. Each leaf houses villas (single family homes) while the trunk is home to apartments and hotels. The Atlantis rests on the furthest point of the island and can only be reached via the monorail dedicated strictly to the Palm Island or through a one kilometre tunnel under water. The size was too large to capture in one picture and it’s beauty hard to see up close. However, a view as you drive towards the hotel makes you feel as though you are entering a magical space.
Returning to the hotel was timely as my body sought out the opportunity to stretch in a bed, to rest laying down, and to prepare for one more flight, at least for the time being. Stay tuned, my next stop is sure to be one full of memories, recollections, explorations, and a little volunteer work. Also, a surprise to many who I have yet to inform about my arrival.