Jul 2, 2012

Dubai, February 2012

After being in London for 8 months, I desperately needed to go someplace warm & sunny (that wasn’t more than a 7 hour plane ride away).   Evidently – Dubai was that place, so I packed up the family & off we went.  We stayed at the Atlantis on Palm Island.  The Palm Islands are artificial – they drew up a plan, they brought in rock & sand and voila a palm tree shaped island.   It’s very clean & very beautiful but you can feel that it’s not quite authentic.  The hotel is great (similar to the Atlantis in Bahamas, a little smaller & no casino) they have lots of restaurants & shops, an aquarium & a water park (not to mention a beach & pool).  Our favorite restaurant was Yogurt berry – where you could get a huge cup of fruit, topped with frozen yogurt (we had that for lunch a couple of times).  The aquarium is amazing – we went at different times throughout the week (some fish will only come out at night). We also did a back door tour – where they show you how everything is run & then let you feed the eels. Amber & John swam with the dolphins – one of them kissed Amber on the cheek.  John danced with another one. The waterpark is busy but fun - the kids wanted to go to every day. They have all sorts of slides, rides & wave pools.  The craziest slide is a 7 story slide that is pretty much straight down – John & the girls did it quite a few times but I passed (I did it once in the Bahamas when I was younger & once was enough for me). 

BEWARE – of the lazy river!  Picture this - Lauren & I are on a double raft.  John & Amber are on a double raft (in front of us).  We are lazily drifting down the river, every once in a while there will be a small rapid.  We are having fun, enjoying the sun –when we hit a rapid, no problem except at the bottom of the slide, right smack in the middle is a man, COMPLETELY stopped!  Nothing I could do – we hit him (BAM!), he went flying.  I went under his raft – and all I could think about was “oh my word, where is Lauren”.  I come up from under the raft like a roaring maniac – the raft goes flying, my sunglasses go flying.  The only thing I care about it finding my daughter.  I locate her – thankfully, a lady saw what happened & helped her get to John.  I hear the life guard yelling – I think he’s telling me where my sunglasses are (he keeps motioning down).  NOPE – he’s telling me I’ve fallen out of my top!  With as much dignity as a can muster (not much at this point) – I fix my top, grab my raft & swim over to my family.  Where John is laughing so hard he can barely talk. His words between gasps were “only you honey, only you”.
The weather was only bad for 1 day – when we had a sandstorm.  It was interesting – it looked like fog. We decided to go to the mall that day – they claim the largest in the world.  There is a skating rink, an aquarium, a movie theatre; sega is there with rides, tons of shops & restaurants.  We didn’t get to see it all – there were lots of American shops, we found Justice for girls & were in there for over 3 hours.

I had just watched Mission Impossible a couple months earlier - where Tom Cruise scales the outside of Burj Khalifa.  So we had to stop & see that – it’s currently the tallest building in the world.  The outside was impressive – we didn’t go to the top (we wouldn’t see much with the sandstorm).

The other big excursion we did was called Arabian nights.  We met up with 3 other couples we knew, they had kids the same age – so it was very fun for the girls!  We are driven out to the desert in big 4 X 4 vehicles.  We stop & take pictures with the camels & we see a falcon show.  We get back into the vehicle & do a little dune bashing – by dune bashing I mean racing up one side of a dune – pretty much jumping the top (you have to go pretty fast or you’ll get stuck on top – which happened to friends) & then fly down the other side – fish tailing & sliding. Oh my word – I was screaming!  The more I yelled, the more the driver laughed & the faster he went.  We are now in the middle of the desert, surrounded by sand dunes.  We stop & take pictures – it is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I can’t even describe it – it’s so beautiful.  The kids are running up the dunes & sliding/tumbling down.  We watch the sunset – it’s magical!  From there we head out to a Bedouin camp – where the kids & John ride camels, hold falcons & climb more dunes.  The girls & I get henna tattoos - (which I think are like the ones in Hawaii that wash off after a week, when in reality – I will be sporting it at the formal event I’m attending in 3 weeks). The food is amazing – tapa’s 1st, then the main meal.  The kids loved the food too!  Following dinner there is a belly dancing show – I was not impressed (I like the hula dancers in Hawaii way more).  Then they turned out all the lights in camp – we could see all the stars & constellations (again – amazing!) It’s 10:00 pm & time to go back to the hotel – as we are walking to the vehicle, the driver looks concerned – we have a flat tire.  As everyone else leaves & we are standing in the middle of the desert, all alone – I get a tad nervous but our driver patches it up & we make it back.
The rest of the time we lay by the pool, went to the water park, played at the beach & just relaxed!  It was an amazing family vacation.  The girls have already requested to go back next year.

I can’t end this without telling you about our return home.  We were scheduled to leave at 2:00 pm Sunday afternoon.  On Saturday night, about 11:00 pm – John & the girls are planning out their last morning at the waterpark.  John is sitting at the computer (checking email) – the girls & I are snuggling in for the night WHEN……….John says “Honey- I think our flight leaves in a couple hours”.  WHAT – our flight is at 2pm Sunday – NOPE, it’s 2:00 am not 2:00 pm (evidently, they use military time – 2:00 is 2am, 2:00pm would be 14:00 - opps!)  We called the airline, all other flights are full – okay, don’t panic…..we can still make it.  We have 2 ½ hours before our international flight leaves – all we have to do is change out of our jammies, pack, check out & drive to the airport.  Of course we are late & they don’t want to let us check in BUT thankful John is a fabulous sales person & gold with British Airways and they finally let us board.   We didn’t get our last morning at the waterpark & we didn’t get much sleep that night but John & the girls were good sports and we ended up with a free Sunday to catch up with everything.

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