Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amazing Dubai (Dec. 10-15, 2010)

The flag of the United Arab Emirates…

Here we are sailing into Dubai. It was very smoggy, but you could see Burj Khalifa on the right, the world’s tallest building. Dubai is one of seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates and it is the largest. It is extremely modern and rich. At one time it was just a fishing village at the head of the Dubai Creek, with trade in silver, gold and spices. Today these original souks remain, but the rest of Dubai is ultra modern.

Beautiful port facilities with another cruise ship in the background.

Oh dear, here comes the ambulance that has been waiting to take Jim to the hospital.

We were the first ones off the ship and when I turned around and saw many of our friends on the balconies waving, it was really hard. Tracy and Nadine, the nurse and the doctor onboard, came out with us and when Tracy hugged me, I cried like a blubberpuss. It was very hard to leave the ship having had such a wonderful cruise with such great new friends. I wish I had taken a picture of the ship with everyone waving as we were leaving, but it will just have to remain a great memory.

The important thing was to get Jim somewhere they could do more tests to give us a better idea of what was happening with his oxygen levels. We arrived at the hospital and went immediately into emergency. Poor Jim! I said “Smile!” He no more felt like smiling…

Here he is settled in his room. By now the doctor had concluded that there was nothing wrong with his heart, liver, or kidneys, so that was great. He still had a slight infection in his lungs and, believe it or not, had been receiving too much oxygen.

After we got Jim settled, Amer (the guy assigned to us by the port) and I headed to the hotel so I could get checked in. It was definitely getting close to Christmas.

Hmmm….we’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

I had a nice room where I was very comfortable and it was within walking distance of the hospital, so that was great.

Oooh…there was an exciting view out my window. Lots of construction everywhere.

It was quickly obvious that it would be easy to get around here as every sign was in English as well as Arabic. Everyone in the hospital spoke English, because just about all the doctors and nurses were from somewhere else and English is the common language.

It was very clean…

Right across the street from the hospital was the high school. The first night when I left the hospital at 6:00 p.m., it was already dark and the kids were just getting out of school.

Looking back towards the hotel…the hotel was at the end of the street and then around the corner. Everyone assured me it was very safe for walking but I was quite nervous the first night in the dark. After the second day I found a shortcut through another hotel which took about 5 minutes off my walk.

Jim started looking perkier. The hospital was private with 120 beds and had room service for guests. You could order by phone from a menu and they would charge it to your room. They also came around about an hour before meal time to take your order personally if you wished.

This was my meal the first day. It was huge and it was very good. Jim loved the food in the hospital!

We arrived at the hospital on a Friday and the doctor said Jim could leave on Wednesday. By Monday, he was feeling much better and was off the oxygen. I decided to take a taxi one afternoon to visit Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. You can go up to the 124th floor to the observation deck and I was really hoping that I would be able to see the two islands that have been built. One is in the shape of a palm tree and the other is a map of the world, complete with every country. How crazy is that!

The taxi was pretty inexpensive. It cost 30 AED (about $8) to go to the Dubai Mall where you bought tickets for Burj Khalifa. Lots of skyscrapers…

But they aren’t crowded…

I arrived at the mall at 2:30 only to find out that you have to make a reservation and the next one was for 7:30 that night. Drats…I made a reservation for the next day and wandered around the mall.

This was interesting…

A skating rink…not quite as good as the ski hill at the Mall of the Emirates!

I took a taxi back to the hospital. This supermarket was next door and the people were so friendly. After seeing me for 4 days in a row, the cashier asked “Where are you from, ma’am? And why are you here?” I told her our story and she said “OK, ma’am. See you tomorrow!”

Jim was looking much better. Look! No oxygen!!

The next day…Round 2 for the tallest building. The taxi drivers were very aggressive. Many interesting buildings…

Ooohhh…here it is in the distance. It was quite smoggy and I wondered how much I would be able to see.

My reservation was for 2:30 so I wandered around. There was lots to see…like a huge aquarium.

And a cute gingerbread house...

And a monstrous Christmas tree…

I went outside and discovered the Dubai Fountain, which is like the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It was so hot, you wouldn’t want to wait outside for the show to start. I found out it’s only at night anyway. Booo…

This area was huge!

No tiny buildings here…

And no boring shapes!

Holy moly…I couldn’t even get the whole thing into the picture.

Ooh! For a minute I thought the fountains were going to start, but it was just a puff of smoke.

Dubai is a happening place. The International Film Festival was going on and also the World Swimming Championships. I saw a lot of Team USA…no Canada though.

This team came singing through the mall…

And a lot of traditional dress, which they wear, for the most part, because they choose to. Designer purses are in abundance…

And it was time to go up…a model of the building. It used to be called Burj Dubai until Khalifa decided to rename it after himself.

They call it a vertical city as it has homes, offices, suites, a hotel, and stores.

Determination and lots of money will overcome obstacles!

It has more than 200 floors; you can see the tip of the spire from 95 km away; it has 57 elevators. And here is the view from the observation deck…

Look at how the roofs of the buildings look like Lego. No flat tops here…

The Dubai Mall…

The observation deck outside. You can stick your camera through the openings to get a clear photo.

You forget you’re in a desert until you see this.

A beautiful city…I wish Jim could have enjoyed it.

Apartments or condos…

But sadly it was too smoggy to see either the palm island or the island of the world. I read online that the morning is the best time. Oh well!

Neat shapes…

The observation deck from inside…

Of course, you must have a gift shop. It was surprisingly small, although when you came back to ground level, you exited into a larger shop. No postcards though…weird!

Just a few of the many, many people involved in the project.

Heading back to the hotel…look at these ramps with the colour and design.

As I got walked back to the hospital, I could see all kinds of emergency vehicles. What the heck? Turns out there was a fire in the restaurant beside the supermarket.

And it was Jim’s last night. Some of the wonderful staff. We learned a lot from them. The eye opener is that the rich people are so rich, that the “poor” people are the professionals. Can you imagine??

Jim and Kim at Welcare Hospital…

Wonderful people! There wouldn’t be one thing to complain about. The hospital and staff were top notch.

At the airport going home...David Hogan was the medical person Princess sent to accompany us home. Jim needed oxygen on the plane and we felt very confident having David with us. He is a nurse, a firefighter and a paramedic.

OMG…I was so playing tourist. We flew business class with Air Emirates. The insurance company paid for David and Jim and we upgraded me. I think Jim felt sorry for me! This map is not of the airport. It is the map of the business class lounge. The thing was huge!!! And they had another one for first class. Crazy!

The area all around the top is about 1/3 of the lounge.

Here was the plane…a biggie double decker. First class and business class were on the top and economy was on the bottom. They had separate ramps for the three classes. Heaven forbid they should mingle!

We were so happy to get a direct flight to Toronto. It was 14 hours…

Jim was not walking anywhere. David was not taking any chances on him being low on oxygen.

It was interesting to look at the English on one side and try to figure out the Arabic on the other. The flight number 241 looks like a backwards 137!

Oh, we were so hamming it up. Business class has changed a lot since we flew that way many moons ago!

David switched seats so he could monitor Jim.

I love the attendants' hats…so distinctive!

Only 6878 miles to Toronto!

They have cameras underneath the plane and at the front and back. I was still hoping to catch a glimpse of those man-made islands, but it was not to be. We’re just going to have to come back!

Good grief…there was a stand up bar. I asked the attendant if I could take her picture and she kindly went and got her hat and put it on. I am sure I am not the first to ask! The funny thing was you could stand around the bar and have snacks and drinks, but when you went to your seat, you had to put your seatbelt on!

Great scenery. There was even a window in the washroom!

And here ended our wonderful trip. Jim was feeling much, much better. This cruise was without a doubt the best we have ever been on.

We have a cruise planned for February and this will be the deciding one. After requiring medical attention on our two last cruises, if it happens again, we'll have to reconsider our method of travel!

Here endeth the African blog...


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