Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The trip details
In order to get a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to the biggest airport near Nairobi we had to fly Emirates to Dubai, UAE. This required 82,500 miles per person one way for a business class seat. I had to figure out which was the best way to build up those miles and then hope we could get the flights to work out with the travel dates. Thankfully we had a year to do this.
Emirates Business Class is top notch. They take very good care of you in this cabin, sadly we had hoped to fly on the Airbus A380 on the upper deck but the airline switched it out for a Boeing 777. We were excited to visit the bar in the back of the A380 upper deck but it wasn’t meant to be.
Next was where to stay for basically 2 nights in Dubai. We planned to do a bit of tourist things while there and head they have a fantastic mall with an indoor ski run! We checked out the location of the mall and went with the Hilton Garden Inn which is basically just a few blocks away. Knowing someone who works for Hilton comes in handy as we were given a bit of special treatment at this property.
Arriving in Dubai
We flew for nearly 16 hours, the longest we had ever flown before. It wasn’t terrible, of course being in business class made it easier to tolerate being stuck in a plan for that long. I have never been able to get solid sleep on a flight no matter if I’m laying completely flat, it just isn’t my own bed. I think I did doze off for a few moments through the flight. The service was terrific, the food and the beverage selection are some of the best I’d ever had.
Leaving from Los Angeles you arrive in Dubai after 7pm and it seems as though every flight is coming in or going out because of the heat. We flew over in February and it was warm at 8pm, about 80F. I can’t even imagine how hot it gets during the summer months of July and August. It’s no wonder their shopping malls are like palaces. After having picked up our luggage we made it through Passport Control and out to get a taxi. As expected, EVERYONE was out there trying to get a taxi and it was chaos. We managed to get one after a few minutes and we’re off to our hotel.
If you’re looking for a city of the future with a foot in the past Dubai is one of them. The amazingly tall, beautiful buildings all covered with glass are a site to see. And then there’s all those older buildings that remind you of the history of the city. They’ve just built so much around the older sections and even reclaiming land to build out off the coast. As I mentioned the shopping malls are incredible! They’ve really found a way to get people out during the daytime in those super hot months to socialize.
Speaking of malls, they have a ski run inside one of them! It’s not huge but it is outrageous. They even keep a few species of penguins in a sort of zoo near the base of the ski run. We just had to do this! You rent all the gear and buy the gloves. The snow conditions remind me of late winter, early spring skiing. But again, it’s fine and since it’s man-made it’ll be fun to just take the ski lifts up and slide down a bunch. They also offer snowboarding and off to the side they have tubing for those who just want to slide down.
After you get done with skiing you can then make your way over to visit the penguins. You have to sort of reserve the your time as they don’t want a huge crowd all hovering over the birds. They bring in a couple birds and explain what subspecies they are along with a couple photo opportunities for you. The birds must be used to it by now, they’re pretty calm and unlike wild sparrows they stand still for the most part. I suppose they get lots of fish treats for their good behavior.
Sleeping in Dubai
Since this and most of the cities in the UAE are all about the oil there are no shortages of luxury hotels. We didn’t want to blow our budget and found that other Hilton Garden Inns were fine. We thought it would be good enough for our stay. The property is relatively new or has been refreshed not long before our stay (2017). The front desk is well staffed that speak several languages and check-in was a breeze. One thing we know about travel is to adjust to the time as quickly as possible. This means forcing yourself to wake up when it’s morning there instead of sleeping through it. Get up, get going and stay busy! Jet lag is a beast but if you work to overcome it. You’ll eventually win out and your body will adjust.
I can only imagine how over the top some of the more expensive hotels are setup. This city oozes money like crazy! I’m sure they’ll cater to anything and everyone for the right price. Being more of a practical person the hotel we stayed in was great for our needs. The room was fine, the bed was very comfortable, they have well appointed bathrooms and the restaurant offered a terrific breakfast and full menu for dinner. What more could you need?
Next up, Africa! (finally)
Told you this would be a long post. Africa part 3 is next.
If you’d like to check out the photo-log, click here!