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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 62, Thursday - RAK to Dubai

*Sorry but I can't upload more pictures until I buy space (turns out there is a limit of free space and I have used it all up :) ). I will work on that, but right now it is very late so I will work on it tomorrow. For now, you will have to use your imagination!*

*Yay for pictures! So, if I go back and compress the images I get more space, but as this is a very time consuming process to copy, compress, and replace the images, I will try do only do as much as I need. Anyways, enjoy!*

Today (November 18th) is a big day for three reasons:

1.) It is the 40th National Day of Oman! Happy National Day to all my Omani friends!

2.) It marks the two month point of my trip.

3.) It is my birthday. :)

So hooray all around! Asma and I had decided that because I had to fly out of Dubai, we should go a couple days early so that I could see the city a bit.

After breakfast, and my pot of tea of course, we finalized our packing and headed out late morning. This requires another map:
Look! It's a complete triangle!
Our first stop in Dubai was the Gold Souq (market). After a bit of driving, we found it and I got out to walk through the area.

After the souq, we drove into the city a bit more and I took a couple pictures of a few buildings for you:
Through a tinted window which is why it's kind of bluish.
Then it was time for lunch with a friend of Asma’s who took us to a place called Shakespeare & Co. next to the Burj Khalifa (formerly known as “Burj Dubai” and currently the tallest building in the world. It’s tall. Really tall. By the way “burj” means “building”).

I really enjoyed the restaurant which had a sort of British mixed with Middle Eastern feel. I typically think of English places as being very cozy with lots of little details to fill up space, while Middle Eastern design tends to be more open and fewer bigger things. This had the tables and chairs in a British style but with a Middle Eastern open-air arrangement.
Oh, I also learned that you can't smoke inside in Dubai. Not that I smoke, just an interesting fact, and coming from a city where smoking is also banned indoors, I appreciated the smoke-free environment. You can still smoke outside though.

The menus were like old, hard-backed books and I had the most amazing chicken with a mushroom sauce, and I’m not even that big a fan of mushrooms.

Burj Khalifa
The restaurant is in a sort of mall type place which leads to the plaza in front of the Burj Khalifa. This plaza boasts the largest “dancing water display” timed with music in the world. We caught the tail end of the show and I only snapped this picture before it ended. I have been told that it is really something at night. I thought it was impressive during the day so I am really hoping to see it at night.

The indoor "souq"

Burj Al-Arab

After checking into our hotel, which was a bit away from the center of town, we arranged to meet up with a few of Asma’s friends and go to the Burj Al-Arab for coffee/tea/light dinner. One of her friends is an Emirati psychologist while the other is an American guy whose mother became friends with Asma after she, Asma, gave a talk at a college in Alaska. It’s a little tricky to follow, but it helps if you know that Asma has traveled quite a bit and has friends everywhere. :)

After a bit of an effort to get in to the Burj Al-Arab (turns out you need a reservation, which is a newer rule and one we were not aware of before we arrived), we went up to the “coffee lounge” area where we chatted while listening to a beautiful classical quartet.

After our light meal, the hostess brought over a dessert with a candle in it and the string quartet played happy birthday for me, it was really nice and I enjoyed it very much. After “Happy Birthday,” they played “Time to Say Goodbye” which was not a request, but happens to be one of my favorite classical crossover songs.

We took a little tour of the building before heading out. Keith, the American guy, invited me to hang out with some of his friends for the evening so we went to his place to meet his friends and then to a “beach bar” which is kind of like a “beach club” in my opinion. There was an upper area where you enter and then stairs down to the beach where there was a live DJ.

I got a bottle of water from the bar, I know, exciting, but it reminded me that I have forgotten to make an important note in my blog. I have been drinking a lot more water here than I do at home, mostly out of necessity as it has been so hot (that wasn't the important note by the way). The thing I have forgotten to mention, is that it has been cooling off lately. When you step outside in the morning, it is often cool now. Don't worry though, it still warms up quite a bit during the day.

At the end of the evening I hopped in a cab back to the hotel and had a good night’s sleep after a very fun and busy day. :)

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