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It’s Going to Be Hard to Top a Vacation in Dubai… Day 3

Our final day in Dubai started with another buffet style breakfast. IMG_5962After learning what everything tasted like we had a good idea of what we liked and what we didn’t like. Needless to say, I think we both ate a bit more of what was on our plates today.

Back up in our room we began tossing around ideas of what we should do for our last day. We had a pretty good plan for the evening but nothing booked yet for the beginning half of the day. I got on Groupon to see if there was anything that caught my eye. After pulling up about 12 tabs full of very awesome looking activities we decided to go with jet skiing. The only problem was that we were having issues purchasing the deal. I called up the ski company and asked if there was anything available for today and if we’d still be able to use the deal even without the Groupon. He didn’t seem to mind in the least bit and told us to head on over. We jotted down the address and the number of the company and went out front to grab a cab.

Cab rides in Dubai are a bit expensive but they get you where you need to go and are always readily available. As it turns out, the place we were driving to was actually located in the city next to Dubai and was about 35 kilometers away. Our driver’s name was Hamza, and he was from Pakistan. Most of our drivers up to this point have been from other countries and it seems like a lot are from Pakistan. Along the way he taught us how to say hello, and thank you in both Arabic and Pakistani. Hello in Arabic is Kif Hallek, and thank you is Shrukran. In Pakistani, hello is Kasa Haa, and thank you is Shukrea. Both languages are relatively similar.

IMG_5935Driving around Dubai is pretty spectacular in itself. Since the city is so new and modern everything has its place and you can tell that everything was well thought out before being constructed. The major highways are as big as 14 lanes going across, 6-7 going each way. Directly next to the major highway is a very modern looking metro system. I guess it helps creating a city on such a flat surface while having little to no budget. Everywhere you look you’ll see buildings constructed in a way you’ve never even imagined.  The only buildings that aren’t fixed to the grid are the mosque and that’s because they all point east. Like the rest of the buildings though, the mosques are also very beautiful.

Not long after entering the 7 lane highway headed towards our destination were we passed by a Lamborghini. By the time I got my camera out to take a picture it was just about out of sight. Hamza tried to catch up to it but it was no use. Lamborghinis are not meant to be caught… at least not by taxis. It’s difficult to find a cheap car driving about the highways in Dubai. It seems as if everyone is driving luxury or sports cars. Throughout this last day I came across three more Lamborghinis.

Finally arriving at our destination it became pretty evident that it really wasn’t IMG_5922going to matter about needing the Groupon. Along the entire coastline were Jet Ski Company’s trying everything they could to get our driver to pull into their lot. Dan and I both figured that if we couldn’t get the deal we wanted we could probably just shop around until we did. Luckily this wasn’t a problem and before you knew it we were both cruising through the water!

IMG_5926Anyone that knows me well can tell you how much I love jet skiing. I could spend all day out on one of those things just cruising around. We didn’t have all day though, we had an hour, but I think we made the most of it. The allotted area for cruising was much larger than past companies I’ve rented from and we were virtually the only ones out there. There were a couple other small groups out and about but we never really got in each others way. Dan started out with the Go-pro strapped to his chest and flew up and down the coast. The backdrop of our water ski session was really great with theIMG_5916 city skyline painting the horizon. In the not so far distance you could see the Burj Khalifa sticking up much taller than the rest of the buildings. I brought my ipone out with me sealed tight in one of those waterproof bags. When I felt it was safe I pulled it out to snap a few photos. Perhaps that was a bit risky, but I’m glad I did. Throughout the hour Dan and I took turns with the go-pro following each other around, jumping each others wakes and seeing who could splash the other more with a swift last second turn as we passed by.

Just before our hour was up we decided to try and get an action shot picture with the go-pro. There’s an option on the go-pro that takes 30 pictures in one second. The plan was for me to drive past Dan andIMG_5985 leap off the ski just as he hit the button. I knew that when I left the ski that the key would be coming with me and the ski would shut off, but I didn’t anticipate almost landing back on the ski! Had that been the original plan… I would have almost nailed it! Since it wasn’t in fact the plan I ended up having to dodge the jet ski. The worst part about all this was that when I hit the water the key, that had been attached to my wrist, had flew off and sunk to the bottom. Side note: why don’t they make those keys float? Once Dan saw that I was fine he went back to the company to retrieve a new key to bring back for me. I had to pay for the lost key, which I wasn’t happy about… but it was my fault. Looking back on the pictures though and I think it was pretty worth it. To be fair, the key they provided me with was missing the part that’s supposed to secure it to your wrist. You win some you lose some…

Our driver on the way to the jet skis also told us about this place not so far from IMG_5959where we were staying called the Miracle Gardens. He showed me a video on his phone which looked pretty cool so we decided this would be our next destination. Our original plan was to use a Groupon we had found for a 6D cinema. I can’t even imagine what the additional D’s stood for, but when I called up the place they told me that it was closed for the day. As it turns out, the cinema wasn’t the only thing closed for the day because when we arrived at the gardens the place looked deserted. Granted, it was supposed to be a fabulous garden in the center of the desert… but the gates were locked and there wasn’t a person in sight. I thought this may be due to the season, but I’m not really sure because I think the seasons in Dubai are just hot and hotter.

IMG_5956We opted to just head back to our plaza but first we wanted to stop at the Mall of Emirates for a late lunch. Feeling bold we decided to try the East Food Court rather than the west. This meant venturing over to a brand new side of the mall that we hadn’t been to yet. I think the food court alone could fit most standard shopping centers, and this one offered just about every genre of food imaginable. We were torn with our options, but ended up going with a Mexican restaurant. Dan bought 2 tacos, and I went with a fajita. Not quite as big as the portions you’d find at a Chipotle or a Moes, but still very tasty! I’m pretty sure I could eat Mexican food everyday.

Our final evening was meant to be a relaxing one. We swam in the rooftop pool, lounged in the sauna, and tested our limits on how long we could last in the steam room. All these things lead up very nicely to the massage I received in the hotel spa also located on the top floor. I’m a sucker for massages and know the good from the bad fairly well. IMG_5622This one was different, to say the least. We had a bit of a time restraint due to the fact that we wanted to head out for dinner before it got too late, so the therapist squeezed me in to an available time slot. There was a bit of a language barrier as I tried to tell her no hot stones, just a normal back massage. A few minutes into the massage she again asked me if I’d like the hot stones, telling me that she thinks I’d really like them. I told her that I wasn’t paying for hot stones and would prefer not to have them. I thought we were on the same page until I felt a hot stone in the center of my back, and then another. After my back was loaded up with stones she told me she’d be right back and left the room. I was pinned down with these stones. Not because they were heavy, but because if I moved they’d all go sliding off my back. I think it was only 5 minutes but it felt like an eternity before she returned. The stones had gone cold shortly after she left and I found myself wondering if I was being pranked, or if my wallet was still where I left it. Not the greatest things to think about, but at this point I had no idea what was going on haha. Just as I was about to get up she reentered the room, and returned to my back as if nothing had happened. Now that it’s all over I’m still curious as to what she was doing when she left so abruptly from the room. Maybe she had someone next door that she was also giving a massage to and was trying to kill 2 birds with 1 stone..?

IMG_5992Feeling confused, but mostly relaxed I went back to the room and told Dan about my experience. He was going to originally get a massage but the time restraint was making it too difficult and he opted to just skip it. We still wanted to head back to the mall for a proper dinner so we could finish our final evening the right way.

After getting dressed in the only nice clothes I packed for my entire trip (I had been waiting and waiting for the right opportunity to wear them) it was time for us to head to dinner. With the mall so close and having over 90 restaurants there was hardly a reason to go anywhere else. We even had an idea of where we wanted to go. IMG_5994We weren’t positive on which restaurant but we knew we wanted to try a Lebanese place. Right near the entrance of the mall were two Lebanese restaurants that were both catching our eye so we went with the one that seemed more popular. Neither of us had much of a clue what we were ordering but certain words caught our eye. For our appetizer we went with a hummus spread with freshly baked pita for dipping. I’ve never had such fresh pita and we ended up having to order more because of how good it tasted. For my main course I had thinly cut pan seared steaks. When IMG_5990I ordered them I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting but it they tasted fantastic. The best part was this very spicy green sauce that was meant to go with the steak. I’ve been craving some spice in my food for a while now and this was the perfect sauce. It was tasty but you needed to follow it up with a drink. Dan also had a steak dish that was marinated in some sauce and had roasted pine nuts to go along with it.IMG_5989 Before leaving the restaurant we also ordered a couple desserts. Dan had a banana split and I had a German chocolate cake. Both our meals tasted really great and were the perfect way to finish off our stay in Dubai.

We finished off our evening hanging back at our hotel, relaxing on the rooftop. We’d be catching a cab at 5am the next morning so we kept our evening as relaxed as possible. Before going to bed we packed up our belongings, and made sure we’d be ready for our early morning exit.

Dubai was really incredible and I can’t wait to go back sometime in the future. The only reason this trip was possible was because of Dan. He planned and coordinated just about everything we did and even funded our entire way. It was a trip of a lifetime, and I’m extremely appreciative of his selflessness. Thanks for everything Dan!

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The City of Wonders… Dubai… Day 2

With the help of a couple alarms we woke up Wednesday morning around 9:30. On the first floor there was an all you could eat continental breakfast which was included with our stay. Food is often the driving force that gets me out of bed in the mornings and the idea of a buffet had me quick to my feet.

IMG_5961Down stairs we were welcomed into a very fine dining area that was filled with food from all over the world. Some of the things being served I’ve never heard of before but I tried not to be biased. I filled my plate with a variety of goodies and headed back to our table. This first round of breakfast was my learning curve because I found I what I liked and what I didn’t like. Without a doubt my favorite food was crepes filled with nutella. Just writing this makes me wish I had a plate full of them in front of me. My plate was also filled with fruit, waffles, sausage, yogurt, hash browns, and several pieces of food that I was never able to determine what they were. Feeling full we went back up to the room to figure out where we’d begin our day.IMG_5845

From our hotel we could see the Burj al Arab, a building noted for its curved architecture. It’s actually located just off the coast on a manmade island. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is, but it’s nothing compared to where we’d go later in the day.

We took a taxi to the Burj al Arab and realized that in order to get inside you’d need a reservation. This wasn’t too much of a setback though because just next door to the hotel was the beautiful Jumairah Beach. We set our sights on spending the morning at the beach and walked the rest of the way.

This was my first time swimming in the Persian Gulf and it was the warmest water I’ve ever swam in, not counting pools or hot tubs that had been heated.  I was also really impressed with the waves that were coming in. Just down the shoreline from us were a few guys surfing and it really made me wish I had a board with me. I think it the water may have been the saltiest I’ve ever swam in as well. We played around for a an hour or so before we decided to move on.

IMG_5834We were really sure where our next destination was to be but we knew we wanted to head in the direction of the Dubai Marina. When we got there we saw a sign that caught our eye. The Aquaventure Waterpark is located at Atlantis on Palm Island. It’s recognized as one of the greatest water parks in the world and has to be in one of the most spectacular settings imaginable.

Palm Island is exactly what it sounds like, an island in the shape of a palm tree. Just take that imagine and amplify it by the largest number that comes to mind! This manmade island was filled with hundreds of residences, hotels, restaurants, apartments, shopping malls, marinas, and even theme parks. Most notable is the Hotel Atlantis, a stunning hotel at the very top of the Palm Island which offers some of the greatest rooms available. They have a room located underground that has windows into the ocean! Imagine if your entire bedroom wall was like looking into a fish tank! Directly next door to Atlantis is Aquaventure where we’d spend the rest of the afternoon!IMG_5836

With over 42 acres of fun-filled attractions there’s truly something for everyone at this waterpark. There are private beaches, never-ending river rapids, the best of the best waterslides, and several aquariums located through the park. A slide named Shark Attack had you sliding through the dark tubes on your inner tube before spitting you out into a glass tube that ran right through the center of a shark tank.

IMG_5842My favorite rides were the Leap of Faith and Poseidon! Both of these slides could be found at the highest points in the park making them the fastest and most intimidating rides available. The Leap of Faith was an open faced slide that had you drop straight down into a tube that hurled your through a shark tank. You were going far too fast to even notice that you were headed through a tank but the ride was so much fun! Poseidon was a bit more intense. You had to step into a tube and stand on a plexiglass trapdoor. Once inside they closed the tube behind you and told you to cross your arms, cross your legs, and put your chin to your chest. The next thing you hear is an automated count down. 3……2….1.. the trapdoor opens and you plunge straight down. fhjhjkEverything happens so fast but you almost complete a full loop in the waterslide before being hurled towards the finish line. Earlier in the day before entering the waterpark Dan and I decided we were just going to bring one item in with us. That one thing was his Go-Pro. Each ride we went on was filmed from either a first person perspective or with an outstretched arm facing back towards our face. I’ll be sure to share these videos with you all once I’m home! I’m hoping to take a few snapshots of the footage for this blog.

For the next few hours we rode every slide available at the park! Because there were so many options there was hardly ever a line. I think the longest line we waited in had 10 people ahead of us. I give Aquaventure two very enthusiastic thumbs up!!

Feeling a bit hungry we left Palm Island for The Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world! If you thought the Mall of Emirates was big wait till you hear about this one! This mall has 22 cinema screens, 120 restaurants, and over 14,000 parking spaces. Inside you’ll find an aquarium with the world’s largest viewing panel at 33 meters wide by 8 meters high. IMG_5840You’ll also find an indoor theme park, and an Olympic sized ice skating rink.

The aquarium offered scuba diving and special viewing areas but we were hungry and ready to eat. As walked through the mall we passed by the viewing panel into the aquarium and it was certainly a site to see. There are over 33,000 animals living inside that tank!

IMG_5830Just next to the aquarium I spotted something oddly familiar. Inside a candy shop was a human sized Hershey Kiss! What the heck was a Hershey Kiss doing in the Dubai Mall? Everywhere I’ve traveled I’ve always been told by locals and fellow travelers how terrible our chocolate is compared to the rest of the world. I personally love chocolate no matter where it comes from but I never expected to see a little piece of home represented so far away. I know Hershey is well known but this was the first I’ve seen of them on my travels, and I had to get a picture with the kiss. This just goes to show that Dubai really does have EVERYTHING!

Before getting something to eat we decided to head to the IMG_5828back of the mall for one of it’s main attractions. The dancing fountains outside of The Burj Khalifa rank as one of the number one attractions in all of Dubai. These fountains are similar to the ones you’d find outside of the Bellagio in Vegas.. only bigger and better, and the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. Put those feats together and you have yourself a pretty spectacular show! In order to get a picture of the entire building I had to use the panoramic setting on my camera and take the photo from the ground up! I’ve never had to do that before haha. To make it even better the sun happened to be setting in the background to make for another stunning backdrop.

IMG_5827After our fountain show we went back inside the mall to find some food. This mall is so large that they have signs directing you where to go comparable to the signs you’d see in an airport directing you to your gates, or baggage claim. We followed the arrows to the foodcourt but must have been distracted by some of the amazing things we were passing by because we almost completed a full loop before realizing that the foodcourt IMG_5824had been in the center of our loop the whole time. Along our walk we saw an indoor waterfall, the indoor theme park, and the iceskating rink! When we came to a Cinnabon Dan immediately set his sights and made a B-line towards the deliciousness. He got one for me too but I waited till after I finished my dinner. I had a pepperoni pizza while Dan ate a pasta dish. Everyone knows that cinnabons taste their best when you eat them when they are warm so I decided to bring mine back over to their store to ask if they could reheat mine. I figured this would be a minor inconvenience for them. I was pretty shocked when they told me they only served them fresh and didn’t even have a microwave. Next thing I knew they were handing me a new one and asking me if I’d like extra cream. Oh how I love Dubai!

IMG_5856Now that we were both completely stuffed we made our way back through the mall and out to the taxi line. Our next stop was back to our plaza where we had set up a Skype date with our Dutch friends back in South Africa. We had a little bit of trouble with our connection but we eventually figured it out. It was great hearing from them and being able to tell them about our trip and to make things even better they were joined by Mawande, Riri, and Buscha. While online we gave them all a tour of our hotel and even showed them the pool on our roof. The whole time throughout our video chat I couldn’t help but hope that I’ll be able to keep in contact with them via video chats for the rest of their time in South Africa. IMG_5747That would be amazing to be able to check in and see how everyone is doing. It’s hard to say goodbye to the great friends you meet when your traveling but I’m usually confident that I’ll stay in touch with the ones I’m closest with. To say goodbye to the kids is a totally different level of difficulty. I truly don’t know if I’ll see them again and it’s much more difficult to keep in touch. Having the ability to stay connected for the next year sounds pretty awesome though! (Also, I forgot to mention before, but thanks so much for the card you slipped into my luggage. It was great hearing from you two and we took the liberty of filling out the card. We just tried to put ourselves in your position and complete the card based on how we think you view us. I’m so flattered. Haha)

After our video chat it was getting late and we wanted to make the most of our last day. We formulated a basic plan for the next day and went to bed… but not before using some awesome Wi-Fi.

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Expect the Unexpected in Dubai… Day 1

The day has finally come that Dan and I would be departing for our Dubai/Moroccan adventure! We woke up to the sound of knocking at our door. This has become an all too familiar habit of waking up… but I suppose it’s kind of nice. At the door Lupho was waiting to greet us and say one last goodbye before we left. Not long after Lupho came by another boy named Luthando poked his head in to say farewell. These boys came by before school and since the Zulu’s residence is not at all on anyone’s way it meant they had to leave their homes an extra 20-30 minutes before they normally would have. It meant a lot to both Dan and I to see them off before we departed, but I think we both went back to sleep for a little longer once they left!

Our drive to the airport was nicer than I expected. Our driver, Kevin, turned out to be a very well-traveled man. He told us he’s been to Dubai at least 20 times and was able to tell us all sorts of great tips. At this point, Dan had withheld all information from me regarding our trip to Dubai. He had sorted out accommodation and possibly more, but I had no inclination as to what to expect. For the past few weeks Dan has been impressively good at dodging all questions thrown at him regarding our trip. Dude knows how to pack a surprise…

When we arrived at the airport we still had some time to kill so we ate a nice IMG_5494breakfast at wimpys. I think the endless refills are what caught our attention. It’s rare to get free refills on drinks outside of the USA. In fact I think most foreigners are very shocked when they eat at a restaurant in the US because both the size of drinks and the portions they are served are so much larger than anywhere else.

A few cokes later it was time to board are flight. This would be the first time I’d be flying Emirates and hopefully not the last! Not only was this plane enormous, but it was an absolute pleasure to travel on. I’m going to skip telling you about first class because frankly it’s just not fair. The level of luxury that they fly is just at a totally different level. With that being said, our seats were nothing to complain about. Quite the opposite actually! The TV’s on each seat were much larger than any other flight I’ve been on and there were places to charge all your electronics. When you pushed the little button to lean your seat back, your butt cushion also moved forward allowing you to recline much further than expected.

To start the trip the stewardesses passed out warm damp towels so that everyone could clean their hands and faces. I couldn’t help but think there was some sort of chemical on these clothes that would force everyone to relax, but that didn’t stop me from using my warm, awesome, towel in the slightest!

IMG_5493The next thing we received from the attendants were menus. Each passenger actually got a menu so they could choose what they wanted for lunch and dinner! I can’t recall what all the options were but I went with a chicken dish for lunch and Dan went with a pasta dish. Both meals also came with salads, bread, cheese and crackers, coffee or tea, a piece of chocolate, dessert, and a beverage of your choice. Not only was the food delicious but it filled us right up. While eating I watch the movie, The Fast and The Furious part 6. It was alright, I liked the other ones a little better but it was still fun. I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculous stunts taking place throughout the full movie.

Our flight was between 9-10 hours which gave me plenty of time to watch a few additional movies. I also watched Oblivion, Guilt trip, Monsters University, and some show on brain power! At some point we were also served a dinner where IMG_5492I again went with the chicken option. I gotta say, I’m a pretty big fan of plane food and Emirates knows what’s cookin! Both my meals were just right!

Between my fancy meals I was also able to create a South African bracelet. I think this was the first time I’ve ever started and finished a bracelet in one sitting. In the beginning it would take me 4-5 hours to make just one of these bracelets, but I think I’ve cut that time more than in half. In addition to my bracelet making I also played a few games on Hearts, Spades, and Catan on my ipad. Thank you Apple, for always supporting my ADHD.

It wasn’t until about 12:30 that we landed in Dubai. Stepping off the plane was like stepping into the sauna. Even though it was the middle of the night, it was still very warm out. We took a bus from the plane to the baggage claim and I was shocked when it took us nearly 20 minutes to get there. How big was this place? When we pulled up to the airport and went inside we were all funneled towards either the elevators or the escalators. From there we went down about 4-5 stories underground into an absolutely enormous atrium where you’d find the customs and baggage claim. Welcome to Dubai, where things are going to be bigger and better than you’ve ever seen before!

IMG_5857At this point I was still in the blue as to what our plan was but Dan informed me that we weren’t supposed to be anywhere till morning and that we were just going to hang around the airport for a few hours. A couple hours later when we determined that trying to sleep in the booth at the airport Burger King wasn’t going to cut it and we decided to just head to our accommodation early. When I say early, I mean early, because at this point it was about 3:30 in the morning.

As it turns out, Dan had booked us at the Auris Hotel, located just a block away from the Mall of Emirates, a five star hotel in an incredible location. We got there around 4:30 am and had to wait a bit for our room to be prepared but we were so thankful that they were taking us early that it didn’t even matter. The fact that I was going to get to sleep in a comfy bed after traveling ALL day was just music to my ears!

When we finally got to our room on the 13th floor we were welcomed in to the chilled room with the sounds of traditional Arabic music playing from our TV. I could tell we were going to be staying in luxury for the next few days and I couldn’t have been more ready for it! After scoping our room and climbing into bed, my head hit the pillow and I was out like a light.

Tuesday

Like yesterday we were once again woken up by someone at our door. Only this time it wasn’t a young African child, it was room service seeing if we’d like our room cleaned. Not being anywhere near ready to get up we sent them away and learned that there was a button we were supposed to press when we were ready for them to come back. With the curtain closed tight we slept till about 11:00 am without even being able to tell the sun was up. To me, that’s exactly how I like it be when I sleep!

Once we were up and ready to go we decided we better walk over to the IMG_5601Mall of Emirates and see what it’s all about. Dan told me that this was second largest to the Mall of Dubai… the largest mall in the world. I’ve grew in the suburbs of Philadelphia, just a short drive from the King of Prussia Mall. I thought I knew big malls but I was very wrong. The Mall of Emirates features more than 560 brands, has a Magic Planet (Sort of like a Dave and Busters), a 14-screen Cinema, a community theater, 90 restaurants, and one more thing… I can’t seem to remember what it was. Oh right, and indoor ski resort and snow park! The mall has 3 levels, 2 enormous food courts, and outside you’ll find a parking garage that has 7,000 parking spaces. If you like to shop, you need to find a way to experience a mall in Dubai!

IMG_5587We walked throughout the mall for a bit but we both knew what we were there for. Outside it was close to 100 degrees and we were about to hit the slopes for a snowboarding session. Inside the massive facility we rented our snow suits, boards, and gloves. The gloves were actually bought after a quick journey down the bunny slope, and the recognition that it was in fact snow, and it was in fact very cold! Add on the fact that neither of us had boarded in many years and falling down was unavoidable… suddenly, gloves were sounding like the best investment ever!

Ski Dubai had a bunny slope, snow tubing, a 4 person chair lift, an expert slope, an intermediate slope, and a beginner slope. At the very top you had the option of going left for the expert slope or right for the intermediate one. The right side is also where you’d be able to find the jumps and rails, but I knew that wasn’t for me. After a few trips down each of the easier slopes I started feeling a lot more comfortable on the board. Soon enough I felt confident enough to go down any of the paths but still wasn’t interested in trying any jumps.

On the far side of the expert track was a IMG_5596drag-lift that looked enticing. I saw a few skiers and boarders taking that route to get back to the top and decided I wanted to try it. I made my way over and realized I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t even figure out how to dislodge the pull bar that would drag me to the top. After struggling for a few minutes one of the employees came over to give me a hand. The pull bar had a small bend in the bottom of it with a very tiny metal knot at its end. The idea was to put the bar between your legs, sit on the knot, and let the system drag you to the top (still standing in the upright position with your board on the ground facing up). At first this seemed pretty easy actually and I was cruising up theIMG_5595 slope, but soon enough it was time to turn the corner. It’s difficult to explain what happened but basically in order to round the corner the cable I was riding up on had to switch tracks and during that time of transition you come to a stop. What I wasn’t ready for was the huge pull I felt when my bar latched onto the new track. If I hadn’t been holding on tightly I would have been left behind. The pull also came while rounding a corner so my board was struggling to face the correct direction and things were becoming frantic. I didn’t want to let go, but I was being dragged up this slope in a very unconventional way. Finally, my efforts prevailed and I was able to face my board up and ride up the next bit of the slop with the knot at the end of the bar clasped in my hands. I’m pretty sure everyone in the snow park and chair lift watched my battle but I made it! Just over the halfway mark I was able to pull myself back into the correct position with the bar between my legs. My hands were pretty cold at this point but at least I made it. At the top I waited for a few minutes for Dan because despite my struggles the drag lift was much faster than the chair lift. We continued boarding the rest of our allotted session and I successfully went up the drag-lift at least one more time. Ski Dubai was so much fun, and I forgot how much I enjoyed snowboarding. When I get home, I’ll definitely be looking to go!!

After changing out of our snow suits and back into our summer clothes we exited Ski Dubai and back into the mall. We were near the East Food Court and ready for some lunch! It was almost 4 in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten anything since the flight!! One of the things I was most surprised about walking throughout the mall were all the American stores and restaurants. There was a P.F. Chang’s, a TGI Fridays, a Chili’s, a California Pizza Kitchen, and literally every type of dessert stand I’ve ever come across. You name it, and Dubai had it! Cold Stones, Baskin-Robbins, Haagen dais, Krispy Cream, Cinnabon, Dunkin’ Donuts, and soooo much more.

IMG_5585For lunch we ate at Japengos, a restaurant that had been recommended to us by our driver back in SA. This place specialized in dishes from all around the world. Both Dan and I were torn over what to get so I went with a huge burger, and he went with a Chicken sandwich and we split them 50/50. After eating the best burger I’ve had in months, we decided we IMG_5584better stop and get some ice cream before venturing back out into the desert sun. I actually can’t recall the name of the place we got our ice cream but it wasn’t a company I had heard of before. I want to say it was called Marble Slab Creamery but don’t quote me on that. Regardless of its name, they provided me with the most perfect ice cream cone I could have asked for. Similar to Cold Stones they add the ingredients you’d like right in front of you. I went with green mint ice cream with brownies, cookie dough, and hot fudge all added in. This was then all put into a chocolate coated waffle cone covered in rainbow sprinkles. For me, this was perfection in a cone. I ate my ice cream as we retraced our steps back through the mall, and back out into the heat. Once outside it was more of a minty milk shake since the ice cream had zero chance against the warm temperature.

IMG_5625Back at our hotel we traveled to the rooftop where we knew a pool was waiting for us. The views from up there were really incredible and we were just in time for the sunset. Dubai can become pretty dusty sometimes but this just made for a few sweet pictures.IMG_5622

After getting cleaned up back in our room we ventured back up to the rooftop and shared a hookah. In the Middle East and Arab world, people smoke hookah as part of their culture and traditions. Smoking shisha, or flavored tobacco, is like grabbing a drink with a few friends at a bar. Drinking is prohibited in most places in the Middle East, but you’ll almost always be able to find a hookah lounge. It was pretty nice being able to relax on our rooftop with the views of the city on the horizon. With the sun now down the temperatures were much more comfortable.

IMG_5749Before calling it a night we went back over to the IMG_5619mall for a very lite dinner. We both really love Mexican food and the fact that there was a Chili’s so near was just too hard to pass up. We split the biggest bowl of chips and salsa they had and ordered a side of mozzarella sticks. Feeling bold, Dan ordered a chocolate flavored coke. I think they just added chocolate syrup to his coke but he said it wasn’t half bad.

That pretty much wraps up our first full day in Dubai. We were both still exhausted from the traveling and the day’s activities that we went to bed fairly early. Having high speed internet in my room was also a luxury I’ve missed and embraced with open arms!