Ethiopian Journey, Dubai


If you have a long enough layover in Dubai, they put you up in their Emirates hotel and feed you in the cafeteria free.  The hotel is nice, the food excellent–quite a nice perk.  From the hotel it is easy to walk to several places as well as take a van tour around the city.  We did both.

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The view from my room.  The pool has a swim up bar but it is not open during Ramadan which was occurring two years ago when we were there.  Alcohol is available in some restaurants and bars but you must imbibe inside.

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One of the first places we visited on the tour was this mosque, designed to look like the famous mosque in Istanbul.  The following photos are of typical houses near the mosque.

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Then we arrived at the beachfront of the Persian Gulf.  The water is warm, like lukewarm soup.  In the background two of the most expensive hotels in the world tower above the water.

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The street goes along the waterfront with luxury hotels on the left.  Many of these areas are fill–manmade peninsulas.

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You can visit the sister hotel in the Bahamas.

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Because of the fill, the fake peninsulas, it is easy to get a bit disoriented.  Plus during the summer there is so much haze, it is rather difficult to determine directions.

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The tallest building in the world.

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After visiting several smaller shopping areas, we arrived here, the famous Dubai mall.  This is the largest aquarium in a mall in the world. Here you see people from everywhere in the world dressed in every way imaginable.

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A children’s store across from the aquarium contained this lollipop tree with giant lollipops.

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In spite of high heat–it was 108 when we arrived–no wind and high humidity (yes, because on the Gulf, even though it is desert, the humidity is stifling), many people were outside awaiting the fountain show.

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One part of the skyline reflected in the lake.  The fountain show, synchronized with music, is worth the wait even in the heat.

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On to the gold and silver souk.

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Gold and silver are sold by weight.  You can also buy gold in shops at the airport; however, nothing quite has heavy and exotic as some of this.

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We did actually shop in the food shops and bought nuts covered in various spices to take along for snacks.

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Ethiopian Journey–The Beginning


Two years ago today, two friends and I flew from here to Dallas to Dubai.  The final destination:  Ethiopia, where I spent nearly three weeks with them and my friends’s family plus a road trip through the north.  Ethiopia was nothing like what one sees in the news, in famine photographs, nothing like the image most people in the USA have of it.  My main goal when I returned home was to show people photos and inform them what it really looks like, how incredibly beautiful it is there.  This mission continues two years hence.  For the next several weeks I plan to relive this journey and share it on my blog here.

It is a short trip from Amarillo to Dallas via air.  In order to carry the baggage allowed on Emirate Airlines, we first flew via Southwest to Love Field, then took a taxi to Dallas International.  If you plan to fly long distances, I highly recommend Emirates Airlines.  Compared with all the others I have experienced even coach class is wonderful:  bigger seat room, more than a hundred movies to watch, good food, an area where you can help yourself to fruit and snacks, unlimited wine and beer, and an international group of flight attendants.

From Dallas to Dubai is fifteen hours of flying.

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People wonder why they fly over Greenland, Iceland, northern Europe to get to Dubai.  Do not look at a flat map.  Get a globe and trace the route.  It is the shortest way to go.  Dubai is not like many think here.  No, I did not see endless lines of Lamborghinis and Ferraris.  In fact, I do not recall seeing any at all.  Tomorrow, photos of Dubai before heading on to Addis.

My Ethiopian Adventure–Final Days


It took me a while to post this because I did not want the adventure to end.  Of course, it will never end in my heart and mind.  Nevertheless, this last post about my three week adventure brings a feeling of termination I have apparently attempted to avoid.  I spent the last few days of my trip, staying with my friend’s parents in Adama.  They took me on the wonderful adventure described in my last Ethiopian post, the day trip to Awash National Park.  Later, we went shopping for gold, silver, and textiles, ate, wandered around, visited, relaxed.  We listened to the Muslim call to prayer and the Ethiopian Orthodox chanting.  One day I heard another voice over the loud speakers and asked, “What is this one?”  The Pentecostals competing–three types of churches all on loud speakers, calling people to worship.  Because at least two of them start before dawn, it kept my friends up.  By this time in the trip, I had earned to sleep through it all.

I like the climate in Adama, especially after being cold for most of the first half of the trip.  It seemed I could put on multiple layers and still shiver.  Adama is nice and warm, hot, but not too hot.  Flowers and tropical fruits thrive as in the photos below–my friend’s mother’s lush garden and her elegant table.

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The plates are an Ethiopian design apparently only available there–Ethiopian figures in a circle. Even breakfast is a work of art.

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The neighbor’s grape arbor amazed me.  I have never seen anything like it.

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Zoning remains unheard of here.  Next to a new, well built, modern house where one or two families may live is a place like this or the one on the other side of my friend’s parents’ house where both cows and no one knew exactly how many people live.

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In the dark space in the middle of the above photo live two cows–if they have not been slaughtered by now.  From this vantage point I could see a minaret, a modern wind farm on the far hill, cows, goats, an empty lot, a luxurious looking house being built on the other side of this adjoining lot, everything from the most modern to the ancient.  Every bedroom possessed its own little patio.  The photo below shows the view from mine.

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So we would not have to make a mad rush to get me to the airport through Addis traffic, we went back to Addis the day before my flight out.  I took a few photos from the front of the Addis airport before I left.

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Due to the kindness of a complete stranger, I made my flight.  When I was about to go through the passport line, I discovered I had my friend’s passport which meant she had mine.  In Bahir Dahr, we had to show our passports to the hotel before getting keys for our rooms.  Apparently, the young man switched them when he gave them back to us.  We took them and put them away without looking.  My phone did not work in Ethiopia.  I experienced a major panic.  I had my Ethiopian friend’s phone number but no phone.  I explained to the guy checking passports the problem.  The man standing in line next to me heard and offered his phone.  He actually got out of line to help me.  I did not recognize his accent and have no idea his country.  He called the number for me.  The call failed to go through.  He waited, tried again.  Eventually, it all worked out and I made my flight, all due to this man’s patience and kindness.  When I finally made it inside the airport, several people who had heard the problem actually came up to me and told me they were worried I might not make it.  I knew none of them; yet they cared.

With a six hour layover in Dubai, I had a lot of time to wander, drink coffee, explore the airport, which is huge, really huge.  I bought some perfume–Muslim perfume with no alcohol in it.  I like it so much, I will have to figure out how and where to order it when it runs out.  Many of this airport’s shops are opulent.  People stood in line to buy gold, high end cosmetics, designer everything.  It is cosmopolitan, clean, efficient, fancy, welcoming.

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In this airport, I saw one of the women who was relieved to see me inside the airport at Addis after my passport scare.  She unfortunately experienced a frightening incident during the flight and they had to give her oxygen.  We chatted, she seemed fine finally.  As I write this, what do I remember most of those last 36 hours of the trip:  the kindness and concern of total strangers.

 

A Day in Dubai


Much to my surprise our route took us over the southern tip of Greenland, over Iceland, Copenhagen, eastern
Europe, Turkey, and Iraq.  We landed late here late this morning.

 

 

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From one to five we took a tour of the major sites.  Photos follow.  Because I have limited wifi time, I will post photos and explain more later if I run out of time.  As a person not particularly fond of cities, I did not expect to like Dubai so much.  What an amazing city.  One of my favorite stops, Saga, displayed amazing crafts, clothing, rugs, art work, all from this part of the world.  However, we were not allowed to take photos there.  Some of the photos were taken from the little tour bus.  The humidity surprised me.  If you have been to Houston in the heat of the summer, well, it is more or less like that with no breeze.  It was also very hazy.  We did have a chance to stick our feet in the Arabic part of the Persian Gulf, the visit the mosque modeled after the one in Istanbul, see the world’s fourth tallest five plus star hotel, see the Atlantis resort at the end of the island built in the shape of a palm tree, stop by the aquarium in Dubai Mall and see the fountain show in front of it.  Our final destination was the Gold and Spice Souq.

 

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Up, Up and Away


Except I won’t be in a balloon.  This will be very short because I leave my house at 5 in the morning headed to the airport.  Board a plane for Dallas at 6:20 or so.  Then at 12:25 board Emirate Airlines to Dubai.  The longest flight I previously experienced I think is from Tokyo to San Francisco.  This flight to Dubai is 14 hours and 45 minutes.  We will spend a day in Dubai and then head to Addis where it will be approximately 35 degrees cooler.  The temperature in Dubai the last time I looked was 109.  With any luck, my next blog post, assuming I get Internet to work there, will be a Day in Dubai.