Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Went to Dubai.

I knew when I married someone who had served a mission in Russia, that whether I liked it or not, there was a slight possibility that I may one day go to Russia. Live there, probably not. But go there, maybe.

When, in my adult, life I heard about this foreign place called Dubai, I never expected to go there. But I live in Russia now. And the interesting thing about Russia is that it's a different place, very far away from the United States, culturally and geographically. And all of the sudden Hawaii and the Caribbean, as vacation destinations, don't make as much sense anymore.

A trip to Dubai was the perfect family Christmas gift for us, because it is close (relatively - about a 5.5 hour flight), it is warm (relatively - about 75 degrees),
and there is nothing to do (relatively - there is actually a TON to do, but nothing so pressing that I would feel like we missed out if we did nothing).

So we left at midnight on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, and got in early Christmas morning.
We stayed in a fantastic hotel that found us a room within an hour of our arrival.
We were exhausted (they served a full meal on the plane, and everybody ate it!!! well, not us - we were trying to sleep while everyone else was messing around opening their plastic bags with rolls and silverware, and crumpling their foil, and offering more tea and more coffee at 2:30 in the morning!!! we didn't get much sleep), so it was great to rest and begin our relaxing vacation.
Then we got hungry, so we went downstairs and found...
Santa in the lounge! With presents for everyone!
And we took the shuttle over to the mall to eat lunch. And I'm sorry, but my first meal out of Russia was at McDonald's. But I got a McArabia if that makes a difference. We don't have those in Russia.

After some grocery shopping we went straight out to the beach.

And Barbara got to feel the sand. And the water. For the first time.
She was very curious, and I think she just wanted to get down and play in it.
(But we had just bought the dress, because she spilled her drink all over her at the mall, so we didn't let her get it dirty.)

So, this is the Persian Gulf.

And in the background is the Burj Al Arab. Shaped like a boat, it is the "world's only seven star hotel," according to our Ladies Taxi driver (there is a whole fleet of pink and white little suv taxis driven by ladies. a lady at the airport recommended them. they are so cute.). You can pay to go inside and maybe tour or something. We didn't do that.

Let me remind you before viewing the next picture that in the hours preceding the photo, we: sat in a car for two hours, waited at the airport for an hour and a half, waited on the airplane some more, flew for five and a half hours, waited through a few passport lines at the airport, took a taxi, took a nap, took a shuttle, wandered the mall, and walked to the beach.

If you need to put some sunglasses on to tone down the glare from my skin, I'm not offended. I live in Russia. I haven't seen the sun in two months.

Incidentally, does anyone know a good brand of self tanner?

That's my baby.

Sunset from our hotel room. Sorry about the glare. I tried shooting it through the balcony door. Because I'm lazy.
The buildings that the sun is setting behind are on one of the manmade Palm Islands. If you look down at it from above, it is shaped like a palm tree.

We mostly relaxed at the beach and the pool and the mall, but in order to fit some culture into our trip, we headed down to some souqs (what's the plural on that? souq? souqs? souqi?) one day.
We first went looking for the textile souq, because I wanted to get some cheap scarves. On the way, we found a sort of souvenir souq. It was crazy. Men coming at us as we passed each little shop offering whatever we wanted in the best quality, in every color, for the best price - just come in and look, and try it on. We ended up with a skirt, a t-shirt, and about five pashmina scarves of varying quality. (we did not buy this ghutra. i was tempted though)
We took an abra (the little, very unsafe looking one) across the "creek".
I didn't really think twice about it until we got on and out into the middle of the water, and then I feared for my life for a minute.

Or really more for my baby's life. I couldn't decide if I should keep her buckled in the stroller or not, in case she fell overboard.

Look they have under the street crosswalks here, too!

This was at the gold souq. I almost bought Evelynn a little white gold camel pendant and chain, but Dave didn't think $140 was a good idea.

At the gold souq, there were men holding little old cardboard boxes full of drinks and shoving them unapologetically and repeatedly in our faces offering us drinks (there were also "nonchalant" men walking about every ten feet offering "louis vuitton" and "rolex"). We didn't want a drink, but when it came time for lunch, we couldn't find any food, so we asked one of the men where we could get a shawarma (of course), and he said he would go get it and bring it back. Twenty minutes later, as we were about to give up and leave, he showed up with a couple of shawarmas, and man were they good!!! (much better than the Russian ones, I'm sorry to say). Then, when a man came and held a tray in Owen's face for five minutes as Owen whined about how thirsty he was. We finally bought some drinks.

Later we found this fruit drink place in the spice souq.

I am not a chef. So, I can't tell you anything about these spices. Are they exotic? No idea. Are they exquisite? No idea. Do they look cool? Yes! I can tell you that.
We bought some cinnamon, because we were almost out, and then threw in a bunch of vanilla beans, because they were cheap. I might use them to make homemade vanilla extract. I'll let you know how it goes.

So, that's it.
Relaxing. Sunbathing. Swimming (in the cold water!). Shopping there was a Carrefour grocery store that had a lot of American things I can't get in Russia, so I stocked up). Eating American food (California Pizza Kitchen, Chilis, Subway, Dairy Queen, Hardee's/Carl's Junior, Pizza Hut - the challenge was "how much American food can we eat in a week?").
It was great!
If you are ever living in Russia, I highly recommend a trip to Dubai.

I do have some beach pictures to still post and an Orange Fanta in Arabic (it was really cool to see everything written in Arabic - even the label on the Neutrogena face wash I stocked up on was in Arabic!), but I wanted to give you at least a day to work your way through this post. You're welcome.

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