Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dubai, Part I

It's gorgeous in Dubai! Even though it's technically winter, every day is 75-80 degrees and sunny. Yesterday, for our first day in the city we checked out the huge Mall of Emirates, the largest shopping center outside of the United States. It has over 450 stores and also houses Ski Dubai, the indoor ski place.

In the afternoon, we went to a hookah bar and smoked some shisha in true Middle Eastern style.
Dinner was sushi (my favorite!) at the Medinat Jumeira souk. Souks are traditional marketplaces that sell everything under the sun - pashminas, textiles, jewelry, spices, trinkets and more. The Medinat souk is a fake souk - it's very new and overpriced.

After dinner we went to a Cuban bar - Malecon - in Dubai Marine Club for drinks and a bit of dancing.

Today we shopped at the gold and spice souks in the morning which was amazing. Each of us bought a jewelry souvenir at the souk. I bought a pretty sparkly white gold bracelet, Ariane got a white gold chain and Eva got an ornate gold link necklace (more pictures of that later!).


Here I am having a sample of dried and salted shrimp. It felt a bit like Fear Factor, reaching into a bin of shrimp and eating one whole...sanitary I'm sure!

Some old men enjoying the Dubai sun:

The afternoon was spent at Jumeria beach, sunning ourselves and hanging out with the AIESECers we're staying with.

And having a bit of a photo shoot:

And yes, we did wear our bikinis at the beach, but it was a bit windy towards the end so we put our overclothes back on!

I'm loving Dubai and experiencing this completely different culture, although Ariane keeps reminding me that I'm in for even more culture shock in Qatar, which is a much stricter Muslim country.

That's all for now, we're off to dinner at a really fabulous traditional Arab restaurant tonight!

Also, I've noticed it takes a day or two for my posts to show up on my blog for some reason. Very odd. Also the government blocks parts of the internet here due to its content being "inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We've Arrived!

Everything went smoothly, Eva, Ariane, and I are all safely in Dubai! We got picked up at the airport by Ariane's friends, and whisked away to the flat we'll be staying in in Bur Dubai.

The flights weren't bad, I actually ended up sleeping more than I expected. The most exciting thing that happened was when we opened our necessities package in our plane seat on British Airlines. We got a sleep mask, socks, headphones, and.......this:

After a bit of discussion, I was convinced it was a feminine product, but Eva argued that it was a flashlight, due to what seemed to be a twisty thing on the end. Can you guess who was right?

It actually turned out to be a toothbrush! Who knew? Much more practical than either of our guesses!
That's all for now, it's 10 hours ahead of Wisconsin time here, which makes it almost 3 am. We're headed to bed and have big plans to enjoy all that Dubai has to offer in the next few days!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another adventure!!

Tomorrow I'm off on my biggest adventure to date! Miss Eva and I are headed to the Middle East for three weeks! We fly from Chicago to London tomorrow night and then Thursday from London to Dubai. All in all we'll be spending 16+ hours on a plane and be traveling for over 24 hours total. We get in to Dubai at 11:30pm on Thursday where we will be meeting Ariane - she gets in about an hour before us.

The rough itinerary is as follows:
Dec. 27-28: Chicago-London-Dubai
Dec. 28- Jan. 2:Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Jan. 2-5: Doha, Qatar

Jan. 5-7: Alexandria, Egypt
Jan. 8-9: Aswan, Egypt
Jan. 10-11: Luxor, Egypt
Jan. 12-16: Cairo, Egypt

Jan. 16: Cairo-London-Chicago (Isn't it crazy that we leave Cairo at 8:30 in the morning and get in to Chicago at 3:30pm the same day!)
I'm so excited for the three of us to be reunited again!