Category Archives: Dubai

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!


Dubai, UAE

Dubai is the city of superlatives.

The – best, largest, biggest, tallest, luxurious, richest,, iconic, uniquest, fastest, cleanest, most-est…

We stayed at the Marina Sheraton (filled with Russian guests), nine stories tall.  Ten years ago we stayed at the Ritz Carlton, four stories tall.  These hotels are now absolutely dwarfed by dozens and dozens of 30 -100 story neighbors but they both have vast private lawns and beaches; and are reminiscent of the Raffles in Singapore and the Metropole in Hanoi, symbols of a bygone era in travel.

On Dubai Creek – a U-shaped nine mile long inlet – is the old quarters. Amongst everything you’ll find gypsum and coral buildings, gold and spice souks, textiles and wooden dhow boats delivering goods and merchandise to the Middle East and North Africa.  The lack of everything tall and big is a contrast to the new Dubai.  Contrary to the balance of the Emirates, only 1% of Dubai’s annual revenues come from oil and gas.  It is sustaining and succeeding on returns from shipping, logistics, finance and tourism.

Dubai’s population is just over 3,000,000 with approximately 15% being UAE nationals, the rest are expats. Islam is the state religion.

Nationals wear traditional clothing – women, the Abaya (long cloak – mostly in black) with a hijab and men, the Kandura (long cloak with long sleeves – white in the summer and darker colors in the winter) and the ghutrah (head-dress). 

On the contrary women were wearing clothing so revealing that it left nothing to the imagination – g-string bathing suits were the rage on the beach – worn by young women to old ladies!

With the cruise in the rear mirror we now have the time and freedom to explore at our pace.





Dubai – painted with a brown palette – the horizon nondescript muddled by the recent sand storm. The only contrast is an occasional grassy park.

Think L.A. meets Las Vegas with the beautiful Persian Gulf thrown in. Only 6 years ago the metropolis was sporadic low buildings hidden by the desert sand. Today there are high rises, cranes and continual road construction – traffic a mess.

Proud of their glitzy malls (the largest in the world), shopping is a hard core sport.

Burcas and thobes stand out amongst the world’s western dress code… the one sign we were in an Arab country.

While wading in the warm waters of the Gulf 2 camels and their driver appear on the beach like a mirage.

The hotel staff and taxi drivers are mostly from India – proud to be in Dubai.

Of course, the Palm Island is best viewed from the sky or a postcard as well as the Burj Al Arab (Sail) hotel – appearing more regal in ads and suffering from shrinkage in reality.

We did enjoy a gin and tonic and a glass of wine – commerce trumps customs.

Glad for our 24 hour stopover – we are happy to get back to Vietnam – my 6th time and Bill’s 8th.