I started on my 2015 holiday letter on my way to Germany for the UAE's National Day long weekend in early December. In case you missed it, my 4 day trip to check out the Christmas markets in Munich turned into a 6 week long stay in the hospital. It appeared to be simple appendicitis at first but turned out to be a much more serious and complicated ruptured colon. I'm recovered now but I was there right through the Christmas and New Year's holidays and I never got around to completing my letter and sending holiday cards but I liked where I was going with it so I thought I'd pick up where I left off and make it a blog post...
So... Happy Holidays!
Now that I've passed the halfway point of my contract, I get asked a lot about how long I think I might stay. "Not sure" is my answer but I'm always living as though time is slipping away, I don't want to save my bucket list items for a rush at the end. This year (2015) has included some Dubai-life bucket list items starting with ringing in the New Year watching the fireworks shot off the world's tallest building from my comfy and traffic-free apartment balcony. It's the Times Square of the eastern hemisphere and I can enjoy it from the guest bed.
When my sisters came to visit a few weeks later, we went to the Emirates Palace which is a tres swanky hotel in Abu Dhabi famous for serving gold cappuccinos, There's a dramatic shot of the Emirates Palace in the movie Fast and Furious 7 as well. So yeah, we drank some gold dust and then you know we checked the next couple of days to see if it was still glittery post-digestive tract. the answer is nope, it's not.
Dubai does things the largest/ tallest/ fastest and in this case, most expensive in the world! I'm talking about the World's Cup of horse racing, largest prize- won by a sheik who turned around and donated it. No local betting but there were plenty of people wagering online in the UK and there were hats! I went with my friend Amanda and we made our hats. Well, OK, I made mine. There were some pretty amazing hats on display, it was quite the scene.
I had dinner in the dark- an experience at a place called Noire- it felt very Dubai to me though I know they host similar events in other cities. I guess because, like Dubai, it was a bit artificial but also kind of genuine and it was a lot of fun. Artificial in construct- we were escorted into a pitch black room by waitstaff wearing nigh vision goggles. We felt around for our utensils and water glasses. They brought each course, with a wine pairing for those who drink and then genuine flavors and textures took center stage.it was disorienting to start but we adapted pretty quickly. After the meal, we came back into the light and met with the chef to review what we'd had. I didn't guess the snails in the carrot soup, I kept thinking they were maybe unusual scallops. We also got to go back into the dining room trying out the night vision goggles.
|our waiter at Noire|
I was in the UAE for a bit of Ramadan in 2015. I wrote that up here. I didn't know before I experienced it that that was on my bucket list. What makes an experience bucket-y for me? i guess it has to be either one of a kind or especially iconic. It should capture something of the essence of a place or moment in time.
I've now been a couple of times to sunset drinks at the rooftop lounge at Bab al Shams Desert Resort- not that the lounge is so original or fantastic- but the whole business of plonking a luxury resort down in the desert is so wonderful and oasis-y and gets to the essence of the Arabian peninsula's long history of hospitality in a harsh environment.. Still to-do on my bucket list is a splurgy overnight, maybe at one of the resorts where each room has a private pool and a dune view stretching away. Maybe I'll overnight at the Qsr al Sarab resort- the one in the Liwa desert, an area called the Empty Quarter.
I made it to the Empty Quarter in 2015- high on my list- for the first, but not last time. And even made it to the resot but only for breakfast, not for the whole luxury experience. This trip was about the desert. This is where they filmed the desert planet scenes in the latest Star Wars movie. This is where the UAE's tallest dunes are. This is the scenery you think of when you think of the Arabian desert.We spotted gazelle, heard little
I tend to work too long on these posts, trying to cover too much at once so I'll wrap it up now and just keep working my way through my remaining UAE/Dubai bucket list items...