Africa/Middle East 2014:
Day 11 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates


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Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014: Another day, another view of the Burj al Arab to greet us.
We caught a taxi from our hotel and drove underneath the bridge to the Metro that we'd be taking to the airport on Thursday.
We passed LuLu Hypermarket. We aren't sure what a hypermarket is and didn't get a chance to find out ...
... because we were on our way to the Burj Khalifa.
Our taxi driver dropped us off at Dubai Mall and we hurried to the Burj Khalifa ticket counter.
We had limited time so we spent the extra money for a Fast Track ticket which allowed us to bypass the lines on our way up and our way down. It probably saved us 45 minutes or so, which made it completely worth it.
As the elevator climbed to the 124th floor, the current floor was displayed on the exterior doors.
In no time, we were in one of the elevators heading up.
Here we are: the 124th floor, 1483 feet above the ground.
The building is actually 163 floors tall, but trust us, this was plenty far up. This is the view looking southwest to Bay Avenue Park and the Executive Towers.
Here's the view looking northwest at the Sofitel Hotel and the Al Hikma Tower.
Here's the observation deck.
Looking northeast to the Index Tower and the Emirates Financial Towers.
Check out the Burj's shadow! Those are the Emaar Towers in the lower right.
This building is called the Address Downtown Dubai, a 63-floor 5-star hotel and residential skyscraper.
We found LEGO models of the Burj Khalifa in the gift shop, and then an even larger display in the main gift shop down at mall level. A friend of ours knows the man who designs these, so it was fun to find them.
A display on the main floor showed all of the phases of construction.
This display showed the Burj Khalifa at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve 2013.
A moving walkway returned us to the mall, while overhead monitors displayed advertisements to the captive audience.
We headed outside to the fountain area ...
... and Tom got a panorama of the scene.

Here it is: Burj Khalifa Lake.

To the right, we had another stunning view of the Burj itself.
Next, we began the very, very long process of trying to find the taxi stand. Debbie took pictures of all the pretty things that caught her eye on the way, such as this patisserie filled with colorful macarons, ...
... this gold-dispensing vending machine, ...
... a colorful cupcake shop, ...
... a sweets shop with the UAE flag, ...
... and a tower made of candy.
Here's Red Lobster in both alphabets.
We saw this fun conveyor belt sushi restaurant but didn't have the time or the need to eat there. We hoped to find one just like it at the Mall of the Emirates later on, but there wasn't one. When all hope was lost, we found one at Heathrow Airport in London at the end of our trip.
Here's a beautiful sculpture, appropriately named "The Waterfall."
We passed the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Pretty!
You know we have to get a photo of Claire's. That's our girl's name written in Arabic on either side.
We walked past LUSH, one of our favorite stores ever, and were immediately approached by a salesperson, so we snuck this photo from afar.
As we passed the indoor skating rink, we heard the call to prayer. The mall signs displayed the outline of a mosque to serve as a visual reminder as well.
We finally, finally, finally found the taxi stand at the mall so that we could head to our next destination. Off we went, passing this sign for Yas Waterworld.
We had a reservation for the 1:00 Sky Tea at the Burj al Arab. After confirming with security that we were on the reservation list, our taxi driver was able to enter the short causeway connecting the hotel to the mainland.
Here's the entrance, ...
... and here's the water fountain leading up to the next level.
The fountain is flanked by escalators next to large aquariums.
Here's the view from the top of the escalators looking back to the entrance, ...
... looking up at the sail that makes up the front of the building, ...
... and looking straight up to the top of the atrium.
At the top of the escalators is this beautiful water fountain. The water patterns it produced and the splashing sounds it made were mesmerizing.
A long hallway leads past upscale shops and restaurant entrances. This pretty chandelier is the only photo we have of this area since we tried to not spend too much time looking like tourists.
We headed to the back of the hotel to a small lobby where we waited for our turn to be let upstairs. Here's the view looking up at its atrium, ...
... and here's the view of the sundeck outside for guests.
Soon, it was our turn to take the glass elevator to the top floor.
We got another view of the sundeck below.
On the 27th floor, we waited in another lobby until it was time to be called into the Skyview Bar.
We could see it from where we sat.
Here we are! We were seated at a table for two along the window, with the rest of the Skybar to our backs.
As soon as we were seated, we were served a tray of dates and offered hot towels to wash up.
We had a fantastic view of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel with ...
... the Dubai skyline in the distance.
Slightly out to sea on our left was the incomplete World Islands project. 
We toasted each other with Louis Roederer Brut N/V Champagne.
We were each served an elegant berry tart. Debbie had a pot of blackcurrant & hibiscus tea, described as a sweet spectrum of berry fruits, brightly supported by a tart finish. Tom had keemun tea, described as clean, elegant, fresh, and harmonious. We both took advantage of the rock sugar sticks to sweeten our tea.
The Chef's Carvery of the Day was roast beef with creamy mashed potatoes.
We were amused by Jetski races on the water below.
We had an assortment of finger sandwiches ...
... served on a two-tiered tea tray in the shape of the Burj. We each had an identical assortment so that neither of us had to share.
Next, an even larger four-tiered tea tray arrived. It contained Devonshire clotted cream and homemade jams on the top tier, scones on the second tier, an assortment of mini patisseries on the third tier, and two tiny ramekins of creme brûlée on the bottom tier.
After all that, our server brought out a special early birthday treat for Debbie as we were drinking our second pot of tea. Debbie had stuck with her first choice of blackcurrant & hibiscus tea, but Tom opted to try a pot of Vanilla Black tea, described as dark vanilla notes of roundness and charm, supported by a discreet, soft but full-textured black tea base.
We finished with a scoop of lychee and rose sorbet topped with a sugared rose petal. Our server also brought us a beautifully wrapped rose and a box of four truffles to enjoy later.
On our way out, we got a quick photo out the back toward the Palm Jumeirah ...
... which is what diners on the opposite side of the Skybar had as their primary view.
Then it was time to go back through the tunnel to the upper lobby, down the elevator, ...
... down the hallway, down the escalator (with a brief stop at the bottom when Debbie's skirt got caught in the escalator) ...
... and out the front door.
Here's the damage to Debbie's skirt. It was torn so badly that it ended up in a trash can of our Kempinski hotel room.
Here's the hotel in all her glory as viewed from the causeway, ...
... and here's the view of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Our server had assured us that there would be plenty of taxis waiting for us just beyond the security gate. False. We walked around a bit looking for a tax and finally were directed to the entrance to a taxi queue in front of the Wild Wadi Water Park. Private drivers offered their services to us at triple the going rate so we declined.
After 20 minutes, we were finally in a taxi back to our hotel. We passed this stretch Dodge Challenger limo as we were leaving.
Cell towers were often disguised as palm trees. Can you spot the cell tower in this photo?
We saw more expensive cars on the drive. Here's a Lamborghini Huracán, a steal at only $300,000.
Here's a Maserati.
Before long, we were back at our beloved Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates. Our suite was in the center of this photo on the right side of the top floor of the section of the hotel that juts out, recognizable by the very tall windows facing our way.
Back in our suite, fresh flowers were waiting for us. We had a couple of hours to relax before heading out for our next adventure.
We went to the mall again, passing through the Aspen lounge, decorated with a snow-themed sculpture on one wall.
In the mall's second food court, we puzzled over the Texas Chicken logo. It looked so very familiar, but we just couldn't place it. It made perfect sense once we looked it up and realized that it was the Islamic version of Church's Chicken.
Hardee's got an Arabic version of its logo but KFC did not.
Look how adorable Dunkin' Donuts' logo is in Arabic!
We saw many of these signs advertising the Red Chili Chicken sandwich at McDonald's. We knew that time was running out to have one in Dubai, so we were hoping we'd get to try it in Bahrain. (Spoiler: we did.)
The point of going to the mall was that it was one of the starting points for the Big Bus Night Tour.
Off we went, immediately passing by our hotel once again ...
... and the Burj al Arab.
Yeah, that's a Bentley.
We drove up the Palm Jumeirah again, ...
... past one of the highrises on the trunk, ...
... and stopped for a photo opportunity facing Atlantis.
Heading back to the mainland, there's the Dubai Marina.
These are the Business Central Towers, also known as the Al Kazim Towers, built to look like the New York City's Chrysler Building.
Here are the Trio Towers.
These buildings contain the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, the tallest hotel in the world.
At night, the Burj Khalifa is even more impressive.
These are the Emirates Financial Towers.
On the left is the Al Yaqoub Tower, inspired by Big Ben, but missing the clock.
Here's a colorful but unidentified building.
We arrived at Wafi Mall for a light and sound extravaganza. The pyramid in the background is Raffles Hotel.
The building in the lower left above is a souk. This camel stood guard at the entrance.
While we waited for the show to start, we peeked inside. It contained a restaurant and the usual assortment of Arabian gift shops so we didn't stay long, but we did photograph several of these huge gem-shaped railing ornaments in different colors.
We chose a location on the second level to watch the show. It consisted of images projected onto this wall, with musical accompaniment.
Images like this ...
... and this ...
... and this.
We found it quite boring so we headed back onto the bus ...
... and back to our excellent seats in the back of the bus. It was windy and chilly but you couldn't beat the views from back there.
Views like this large IKEA billboard advertising those classic Swedish meatballs.
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel looked especially lovely lit up at night.

We were dropped off back at the mall and intended to have a later dinner in the Executive Suite but it had already closed by the time we arrived. Fortunately, we had lots of snacks with us so we didn't go hungry.

Day 12 >


Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

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