Friday, January 07, 2011

A Day in Dubai

We have been told to go to the Transfer Desk after our arrival at Dubai Airport. The queues there are not very long, but are moving very slowly. When it is finally our turn, we are told to go to another desk in the arrivals hall, to the "SPTC" desk (or something like that). In any case there is no desk with that label, so we just go to the customer service desk. Turns out to be the right one. After some waiting in another queue we receive a voucher for a hotel and a one-day visa for visiting Dubai.

Our luggage stays checked-in. Fortunately I had taken in my carry-on a set of stuff so I could survive for 2 days without the suitcase. Waiting outside for the hotel shuttle. A blue-sky morning, with mild air. Reminds me somehow of Southern California. The Shuttle drives to the "Majestic Tower Hotel". This is not THE tower in Dubai, but is located towards West of the city centre. Very classy hotel, 24 stories high, with all amenities. We freshen up in the rooms and then have some breakfast at the buffet. There is a pool on the terrace. And free Wifi! So I can upload my first tweets from the travel.

We take a taxi to the Burj Khalifa, which is the name of THE tower, currently at 828 the tallest building in the world. It is within a kind of park, with an artificial lake in the centre a large in-door shopping mall to the right (they have there a California Pizza Kitchen and a Nordsee restaurant - very international) and another indoor mall with Arabic crafts to the left. Very generous space design, but quite empty and devoid of people. Brian's comment: "this is how I imagine hell". But I like it - it really reminds me of the outrageousness off Southern California, with the everything-is-possible attitude. This space is built for the future, eventually there will be tourists here. Yes, it is a bit commercial with its Gucci and high-class luxury mall shops, but I find it is also forward-looking optimistic. In any case, I like high buildings, and currently it does not get higher than this! Of course I take the opportunity to go up to the tower - the elevator moves at up to 10 m/s. It ends at the 124th floor - there are still about 38 more floors on top of that - a total of 162 floors! This building is just incredible. Most offices and flats are empty - like the Empire State Building during its first decades. This tower is ahead of its time, but I think that it will see a great future.

Since we would stay not even one full day in Dubai, we had not exchanged any money. In the stores foreign money is accepted - but only US$ and Euro. The UK pound is not accepted... this became a problem when I became thirsty and wanted to buy one of these sparkling lemon drinks. But the lady who made the drinks said - "ok, I can give you that for free". Now that was very nice! I found a grocery store in that Arabic mall where I could buy with my credit card a few bottles of sparkling water and freshly-pressed grapefruit juice.

At around 1pm we decided to go back to the hotel and use the rest of the time to get some sleep. It was a pity to waste that beautiful warm sunshine, but we really were quite tired and needed some rest, especially with another long awake-night ahead. I fell asleep like a stone and slept for 4 hours. We then met for a drink in the hotel bar, then had dinner in the restaurant. Excellent food, again a buffet. At 21:00 pm our shuttle left and brought us back to the airport. We went straight to the gate, since we already had the boarding passes. Since this was a rebooking, we did unfortunately not have window seats... so again no GPS flight tracking. We tried to sleep, but the flight was just too short (2 1/2 hours) to squeeze more than a brief nap in between take-off, food, and landing. At 3:00 am we landed in Ahmadabad.

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