Arrival into Dubai Sunday, January 8th, 2012 8:00pm
The flight from Washnigton DC to Dubai was about 17 hours. I was lucky enough to get a window seat, however the guy in the middle seat was a big guy like me, so it was a little cramped. I was thrilled to get a chance to ride in a Boeing 777, which has the largest most powerful twin engines on any other intercontinental jetliner. I watched at least four in-flight movies but after the first hours, I slept for about 8 hours. I had to excuse myself only once during the long flight to get out of my seat in the corner. Actually I was in the very last seat in the back of the plane. Overall, considering the cramped conditions, the flight went very well. It was exciting as we began to land in Dubai, especially when I got my first glimpse of the tallest building in the world, which is the centerpiece of downtown Dubai.
Upon exiting the aircraft, it was a long walk to the baggage-claim area and the way out of the airport. Customs was simple, not a word was spoken. Dubai Exotic Limo was suppose to pick me up at the airport and transport me to my hotel, the Royal Falcon Hotel. I saw al the limo guys with signs up and walked through the line several times, but didn’t see my name of the Dubai Exotic Limo company. I waited about a half hour and found someone willing to make a call phone call to the limo company. I was told that the big stretched limos are not allowed into the same area where the other guys were, so I walked across the street and saw a black stretched limo with the name DubaiExoticLimo on the back. I knew I was getting a ride but wasn’t exactly expecting a stretched limo. I’m getting spoiled now as nearly every time I travel a stretched limo picks us up. The Royal Falcon Hotel was not too far from the airport, and I arrived at about 9:00pm. I checked in and was escorted to my room. The room was decent but no Hilton, or Comfort Inn for sure. After that ling flight, I needed to try and adjust to the ten hour time difference, so I took my sleeping pill and went to bed. I forgot my travel alarm clock, so I powered up my cell phone which has a travel alarm ap. I’m getting personal here, I guess, but I sleep every night with a C-Pap machine for spleep apnia, but I didn’t use it tonight because A….I didn’t want to unpack it, and B….I the power outlet is different here. I did just fine, however, and slept comfortably.
The air conditioning didn’t seem to work in the room, so I slept with the window open all night which was fine, however; I was awakened by a strange noise outside. I got out of bed and when to the window and discovered it was morning prayers being broadcast throughout the city from several different directions. I cleaned-up a bit, and wandered down to the lobby to see if there was any breakfast. This hotel does not offer a breakfast, which is fine. I may take a little walk when the sun comes up to see if I can get a light snack for breakfast. My limo driver is showing up here at 11:30am to bring me back to the airport, where I will meet up with my travel colleague, Doug, who’s flight gets in at about 12:20pm. I’ll pick him up in the limo, then we are off to the cruise terminal where our ship, the Brilliance of the Seas awaits us. It will be nice to check-in aboard the ship and get settled in. Then I will unpack my suit and hang it up, along with my other clothes. I’m proud of myself for the compact packing I did. I’m traveling around the world for ten days with only one carry-on piece, my brief case, and a narrow bag for my tripod. I just don’t like the idea of checking my bags with the airlines. I’m always afraid they will lose my luggage, and feel much more comfortable with everything in the overhead compartment. I’m sure Doug will get a kick out of being shuttled around in a stretched limo. Hey, it’s the only way to get around when in a strange and exciting place like Dubai. So now I have a couple of hours here at the hotel, before we head to the airport again to pick up Doug, so I may venture to an eatery somewhere to get a morning snack. I’m feeling good, and plenty rested. My throat has that slight sore-throat feel, but I think it’s mostly because I probably snored heavily much of the night, since I didn’t use my C-pap machine. It’s Monday morning here in Dubai right now, and 8:45pm Sunday evening in Minneapolis, so I’m wondering if Terri and Jacob made it to our LifeGroup meeting which we attend every other Sunday night. Our LifeGroup are friends from our church, and every other Sunday we meet at someone’s home for great conversation and fellowship.
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Dubai First Day, January 9th
My limo transport arrived at the Royal Falcon Hotel on time at 11:30am. I was picked up and taken to the Dubai airport to meet up with my colleague and traveling companion during this trip, Mr. Douglas Diggle. After meeting up with Mr. Diggle upon his arrival into Dubai, we got into our stretched limo and headed to the ship. On our approach to the harbor where the Brilliance of the Seas was docked, my heart skipped a few beats when the QE2 came into view. What a sight! Having followed the history of the QE2, I did a crossing as a passengers and even worked on the ship as Stage Manager back in 1992. QE2 was retired from Cunard Line about three years ago. I called up to our limo driver and asked him to drive alongside the QE2 which was a treat to see this historic ship close-up again. She looked good after being static for three years. Obviously the current owners put a lot of care into maintaining the ship and keeping her cosmetically shipshape.
Boarding the Brilliance of the Seas was a breeze. It was nice to finally check-in to tour stateroom, which will be our home for the week. The weather and temperature was perfect, about 80 degrees and sunny. Brilliance of the Seas, in the usual Royal Caribbean fashion is spotless, even though she is one of the older ships in the fleet. Our stateroom is 4536, an ocean-view room with a large round window. There seems to be few Americans onboard this cruise. The passenger demographic is mostly European. Getting to Dubai from the U.S. is very tiring, and the time-difference is about ten hours from Minnesota, so there is certainly some adjustments your body goes through. It’s frustrating being so drained and tired, when you want to be more active. I had the benefit of sleeping one night in a hotel after arriving into Dubai so I was feeling ok, but Doug was very sleepy, and it was tough to stay awake and make it to late sitting dinner at 9:00pm. Boat drill was at 5:15pm and the Brilliance of the Seas departed Dubai at 6:00pm. It was truly a magical and surreal experience to see the amazing skyline of Dubai with it’s incredibly tall building as the focal point and the elegant QE2 resting quietly nearby. The moon was full, hanging over the city of Dubai and glistening over the ocean like a painting . It was at that moment, particularly, that I wish my wife, Terri, was with me to experience this incredible sight. Of course it’s tough to take pictures of this because the ship is moving and it’s a very low light condition. We gutted it out and stayed awake till 9pm to meet our table mates, then called it a night at about 10:30pm.