20 April 2012, Gail’s trip log

Today was the day we stood on top of the world, so to speak. The Burj Khalifa is about half mile high – although we did not go to the very top. The viewing platform is on the 124th floor, which is about halfway to the top and plenty high. The top occupied space is executive offices on the 160th floor, but the tower is much higher than that. The weather today was a bit better than yesterday, but still a lot of haze [and dust and oil, plus high humidity]. We could not see the artificial islands off the coast, but we could see the entire main part of the city and the coastline. Our tourguide today was OK, but he had a much thicker [Italian] accent, so I am glad we had the other one yesterday and heard a lot of the history and details of life in Dubai from her. We had to walk a ways from the bus to get to the tower building. The grounds were spectacular, and the last 200 yards or s we walked via the huge Dubai Mall – 1200 stores – it was pretty awesome. The whole thing was just finished and opened in 2010 took just 6 years from start to finish. Like Dan said, can you imagine trying to do that anywhere where you had to deal with red tape, bureaucracies, environmental impact statements and so on? Here, the Sheik says build it and it gets built! [Plus, he has the money to do it, and do it quickly. At peak times over 12,000 people were working on it all within a 24 hour period, and they worked 24/7/365 for six years.] Anyway, all the reservations to go up to the tower were already sold out for the entire day. After a wait of 20 minutes or so in line for our reserved time slot, we were on the fastest elevator in the world – only 65 seconds for 124th floor! It was very smooth and they had music and informative videos playing, so it was pretty cool. We spent about ½ hour around the observation deck, part of which is inside and part outside, before returning to earth. While waiting for our group to reassemble Dan bought a small sandwich at Subway that was right where we were waiting. Many familiar brands in the Mall – including P.F. Chang’s with three huge horse statues. Almost every major US store and restaurant chain is here in Dubai. Next we drove back to the Jumeira Beach area and the Burj Al Arab Hotel. I didn’t get off the bus, but Dan said he got some better pictures today as it was clearer and we were closer to it. Last stop was an hour at the Mall of the Emirates – 500 stores. After taking a few pictures of the indoor ski and sledding area – we checked out prices at the Apple Store (much higher than in the US, but lower than in Europe) and then hit the Starbucks to wait for our ride back to the ship. Back on board by 215 and we sailed away an hour later. We just went to the Bistro for dinner. Before dinner Dan went back to the medical center for more prednisone – crummy air the last 3 days has stirred up his lungs again. We go through Straits of Hormuz tonight – then 6 days to relax at sea. Back to being good on my eating!

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