While we’ve been drowning in the rising seas of rain, I hear that Chicago’s been soaking up a heat wave. Good for you! It’ll probably snow next week. Sorry, that was cheeky.
Busy times in Bahrain. We made our first “happy feet” adventure to Dubai, and golly, it was fun. Just an hour flight, we met a flock of falcons at the airport (really! Did they fly coach or business, I wonder?) and should have known then that the trip would be over-the-top.
“The Dubs,” as I’m sure you’ve heard, is much like Vegas but without Circus Circus and people walking down the street with yard-tall drinks. We were told by many to hit up duty free for “beverages” on the way out of the airport because, in some ways, Dubai is more traditional than Bahrain. Dress? No. In our denim jackets and cardigans, we were the most covered people around at the “Candy Pants” brunch we attended, the event drawing our attention because they advertised “inflatables” (see swans below). Oh, I forgot to mention that Dubai is also more liberal in their “click it or ticket” seat belt laws, as we jammed 5 in a cab, college-style, with me seated on the floor behind the driver’s seat. Actually, this isn’t much different than BAH, where I don’t know if cars are even required to have seat belts. You’d be amazed by how many toddlers I see STANDING ON THE BACK SEAT with their heads out the window on a daily basis!
From brunch, we headed over to the Burj Khalifa, the now-tallest building in the world. You’ll notice I say “now” because the honour once went to the Sears- I mean Willis – Tower in Chicago. Now, here’s the scam: you can only take the elevator up 1/2 way, so the view really isn’t that much more astonishing than others I’ve seen (ahem, ahem)…and for $138!!!!! But hey, it’s always bigger in Dubai! And they gave us free dates and Arabic coffee while waiting.
The Burj is connected to the Dubai Mall, possibly the most notoriously-upscale shopping establishment in the world. Every store you can imagine is inside (including a camel chocolate shop!), the centre atrium is a huge, shark-infested aquarium, and most renown of all – it has a Cheesecake Factory. Now, as background, whenever you ask someone what they did in Dubai, they say they visited the Cheesecake Factory…or PF Chang’s. So what did we do? We visited the Cheesecake Factory!
Saturday was filled with a lay-in (there goes that Brit influence), breakfast at a sidewalk cafe where I have no idea what I ordered but it ended up being a delicious fried chicken-like wrap, and exploration of the Gold Souk (market). The GS is in the older part of town on a canal where ship after ship comes in (from another middle eastern country whose name starts with ‘I’ and ends with ’N’) carrying thousands of LG TV’s and vacuums (fancy Dyson’s, I’d assume :). We were pounced upon by a group of gentleman who offered to let us use their restroom…which happened to be in a secret showroom (nameplate reading “Awaf LLC”) of knock-off purses.
Armed with fake Gucci sunglasses, perfume oil, scarves, and gold trinkets, we made our way back to the airport, already planning our trip for return. They have a “Global Village” through April, and it’s supposed to be a cross between the old World’s Fair and Epcot Center. Sounds delightful! Justin Bieber is also going to be in town in May… in case any Belieber’s out there fancy a visit.
A few other updates of the strange things around town…
- Hottest story around – the rain! The streets have no drains, so everything’s a river (especially nasty in those dirt parking lots). There were photos of the resulting craziness in the streets all over Facebook, including a woman using a children’s mini-bouncy house as a flotation device complete with paddles. Note: due to late press date of this blog, water has drained so we’re left with mucky potholes as remembrance.
- While doing a TP/paper towel run at the Walmart-esque Geant, I saw someone giving small children pony rides in the mall parking garage. Huge traffic jam – probably from people like me taking photos.
- Did I mention the escalators here? Instead of the separate cart escalators a la Ikea, we take our carts with us on a slanted conveyor belt. Instantly, our carts are locked into place – no hands!
- I attended the Autumn Fair – sort of a craft /flea market with a bunch of “As Seen On TV” merchandise booths. I ❤ Shamwows and hair straighteners! We were some of the only westerners there, so the vendors’ selling tactic of choice was shouting promises of marriage to us.
- Birthday celebrations: Attended a friend’s birthday brunch with lots of dancing involved, and a low key birthday on my end with tacos, truffles, and pizza. I was deeply touched by all the love shown from back home – thank you!
Well, this is far too long, and if I actually still have your attention, you’ll be relieved to hear I’m signing off here. I think of all y’all daily, and I’ll see you sooner than I can believe!