Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hello Sri Lanka!

Well I finally got online - it wasn't easy.  I don't know what is going on with my laptop but for now it works so thought I would do a quick update on what I've been up to.  It's been a busy week since I left London...

My flight with Emirates to Dubai was, in a word, lovely.  Like traveling by plane used to be like only even better.  Hot meal served (I chose chicken) with complimentary wine (I will take the white thanks), pillows, blankets, attentive airline staff and an entertainment system that has been rated the best in the world.  I believe it.  Instead of sleeping I had a movie marathon watching movies I missed at the movie theatre due to Thelma - "Victoria and Abdul", Goodbye Christopher Robin" (based on A. A. Milne's son) and "Hampstead" which was based in...Hampstead, London.  I enjoyed them all.  Although doesn't Diane Keaton kind of play the same role over and over again? 

Seven hours later arrival into Dubai was a nightmare.   Because we arrived early we lost a jetway so had to land further out and get a bus.  Well we waited for buses for about 20 minutes - then we started loading up at the back of the plane so we trundled  back there, waited when the first one was loaded up...nothing...and waited...and then all of a sudden we were going forward out the front.  Got in the bus only to be caught in some kind of airport traffic jam!  That was a first.  Another 20 or so minutes to finally get into the airport building and then a fairly lengthy walk to customs.  At least that part went smoothly.  The trip on the metro to my stop at Jumeirah Lake Towers was fine - it was trying to follow my instructions from google maps that did me in.  I finally had to take a taxi and of course it took no time to find my hotel.  I never did work out that route and had to take a taxi again when I used the metro one other time. 

Because I arrived in the morning my room wasn't ready so I wandered around a bit but was so exhausted (I blamed it on the movie watching when I should have been sleeping - okay that accounted for a bit of it but not how I felt..that would come later...) I ended up falling asleep on a chair just outside the back of my hotel, waking myself up with a loud snort - startling me and a woman sitting opposite!  Luckily I had my room by now so settled in and had a fairly short nap.  I don't like taking naps as they always make me feel worse but I really had no choice in the matter - I was dead on my feet.  After my nap I wandered across the street to a supermarket and picked up a few bits like yogurt and juice and was started to see a Tim Horton's.  They are everywhere!  Dinner in the adjoining Greek restaurant where I had the best hummus I have ever had in my life - could be because they had added honey to it.  Yum! 

The next morning I woke with a sore throat and realized that was why I felt so rough - a damn cold.  Of course my usual holiday cold...I never get sick at home.  I wait until I am on holidays!

I had purchased a hop on hop off ticket online so that kept me busy over the next few days.  I am not going to cover every day in detail here but here are a few photos from the four days I spent there...

I spent a bit of time at the very interesting Dubai museum.

I took a boat tour of the Marina that also went out onto Jumeirah Beach - pictured is the Giant Wheel that will open sometime soon.

This is the Marina area of Dubai which is where I stayed.  There was a walking path along the water right out of the back of my hotel.  The hotel?  It was okay. 

Oh yes, I also went up the world's tallest building the Burj Kahlifa...163 floors..830 metres to the very tip.  The elevators are the third fastest in the world...600 metres a minute.

Looking down to the fountains below

Taken from a boat ride on the Dubai creek- this is the old part of Dubai.

One of Dubai's very unique buildings - believe me there are many.  The powers that be decided in the very early 21st century that they needed something to keep Dubai afloat in case the oil ever ran they turned it into a tourist destination.  They have way more high rises than New York and all were built since 1999....incredible.  And more being built all the time. They are hosting the Worlds Exposition in 2020 and they will no doubt do a spectacular job.  I described Dubai to a friend as Vegas with camels but it is so much more.  Did I like it?  Yes, it was great for a stopover.  But to fly to Dubai from North America just for a holiday?  Not worth it in my opinion.  You need three days minimum to explore. 

A quick snap of the Burj Al Arab at sunset out the bus window

This "thing" in the Dubai Mall changed colour, pink, yellow, green...

Then there was that trip to the desert with Arabian Adventures - the definite highlight of my trip. I will be writing a post about that trip for sure.  Camels, gazelles and an Arabian type of antelope - oh yes and a picnic breakfast. 

Arabian Oryx - once endangered but now back thriving in the Arabian desert. (which is the largest sand desert in the world...the Sahara has more than just sand.....)

An adorable baby Oryx

Dubai has a population of 2.8 million and 85% are expats from over 200 countries.  Residents do not pay income tax but do pay a VAT of 5% which was implemented by all the Gulf states. 

Such a quick overview but hey this is taking away from my pool time.  There will be lots more later. My first day in Sri Lanka and it's a rest day before I meet the rest of the group tonight and we hit the road tomorrow.  It's going to be full on so don't expect any more posts for a couple of weeks although I will try to update my Facebook page daily.  It's far too early to form any impression of Sri Lanka of course and Colombo, like any big city is not representative of the country it is in.  I can't wait to see the beautiful countryside.

Now it's back to the pool!

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