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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Middle East & Southeast Asia Vacation: Dubai...A long layover

2016 was a great year for travel!  In May, Hendrik and I took a long weekend in the Dominican Republic.  In June, Caleb and I took a graduation trip to London and Ireland and to top off the year Hendrik and I took our really big vacation this year to Thailand and Bali with extended layovers in Dubai both going and coming home.  When we decided that we wanted to take this vacation I knew that there were two ways to get there 1 through Dubai and 1 through LA going over Asia.  I purposely found the Emirates flights because I wanted to layover in Dubai. Although it was a layover I'm so familiar with the city that 12 hours or more is the perfect amount of time to sight see and do a few things with Hendrik and show him the ropes.  I was so excited to get back to the Middle East and show Hendrik the place that is sort of like my second home.  

This post is going to cover both layovers!  We had a 10 hour layover going to Bangkok.  I deducted 4 hours from that time because once we land and got out of the airport and in a taxi that is around an hour and we had to be back in the airport and ready to board our "connecting" flight 3 hours before take off.  That left us 6 hours for exploring and it was the perfect amount of time and kept us busy even though we were REALLY tired!

We left Dallas on Thursday October 13, 2016 and arrived in Dubai on Friday the 14th at noon.  We flew Emirates directly from Dallas to Dubai.  I love Emirates airlines!  The cabin feels roomier, they give you real silverware with your meals, and they have THE BEST movies to choose from in flight.  

In Dallas ready to get this show on the road
After arrival I got my carry on and we hauled butt out of the airport.  We ALWAYS forget to take a backpack for Hendrik's carry on and we have bought, now after this trip, 2 backpacks while on vacation LOL! I'm sure I won't forget that little detail any more.  OK so... when exiting the airport we got a private car taxi and talked to the driver, for 300 Dirham (approx 100$) he would take us by all the sights, the souk, the Palm, and end at the Mall.  It would take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  I thought it was a great deal and a way Hendrik could see the city.  The traffic was light and our driver was a great guide.

first stop Burj Al Arab- hotel that emulates a sail from a boat
also one of the nicest and one of the only free public beaches in Dubai
 Next we drove down the the Dubai Marina.  Not much going on here but the views of the buildings are really amazing. 

After the marina we drove around the Palm, stopped at the souk (didn't get any good pictures there) and then headed back to be dropped off at the mall.  We walked around the mall for a while before grabbing a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Once we ate and got our bellies full were were REALLY crashing so we headed out the side entrance and viewed the Burj Khalifa.  I had tickets to go up to the top but Hendrik said he wasn't really interested in doing that and I had already done it before so we headed back to the airport to wait on our flight which would take off at 10:30 that night.  Luckily our terminal was very empty and we were able to grab some good seats.  I got all caffeinated and surfed the web while Hendrik napped.  
Burj Khalifa- the tallest tower in the world
airport life
tiniest coke ever!  I think that the Coca-Cola in the Middle East tastes so much better than anywhere else.  I always drank Dr. Pepper until I lived in Iraq and got hooked on the extra acidic cokes there!  Hendrik liked his baby version on our flight from Dubai to Bangkok. 

After the meat of our trip to Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand and then on to Bali, Indonesia we were back in Dubai on our way home.  We were going to be in the city for almost 24 hours so this go around we decided to use that time and get rest and relax Emirates style.  We booked a hotel on the Palm.  We stayed at the Sofitel Resort and Spa.  

We arrived at the hotel on Monday October 24, 2016 at 6 am with a small carry on with toiletries, a change of clothes, and swimsuits.  The hotel was SO accommodating and even though their check in time wasn't until 3 PM they gave us our room anyways.  It was so nice to have our room, a huge king size bed, and an amazing bathroom.  We showered, ordered room service, and turned in for a nap.  Around 11 we got up and headed out to enjoy the beautiful year around summer by the man made beach and crowded pool.  It was so nice having a view of the entire city from the man made islands.  It really put things into perspective and made you realize that so many things in this world are possible...really ANYTHING is possible.  

celebrating the end of our vacation with cocktails

A screen shot of my phone map that shows the Palm and where our hotel was situated on it.
 Once the sun started setting we headed back in to shower and change to head to the Dubai Mall to catch a movie.  It always seems that when we are on vacation we go to the movies...probably because while at home we don't make the time for it and we do really enjoy the movies.  We watched Inferno and it was amazing.  I love Tom Hanks and also the Dan Brown books that the movies are based on so it was a definite win.  After the movie we headed back to the hotel and took a short nap before packing up and heading back to the airport to catch our flight home.

Peace out Dubai- I feel like this city and I are old friends and I loved being back.  I hadn't been back in the Middle East in 6 years and I honestly thought that I wouldn't want to go back for longer than that but I was itching for a visit and it was the perfect time.  It's just as a remember it and Dubai will always hold a special spot in my heart.  I know this won't be my last visit!  

I have never taken advantage or even purposely arranged time to have an extra long layover but I do say that it was perfect.  It was like we were adding a whole other place onto our itinerary for this trip. I'm not sure how I would feel about a long layover in a city I was unfamiliar with but given enough time I think I would for sure do this again just for a reason to explore further!  We were drained mainly on the trip going to all our other places simply because time wasn't in our favor and we did stay up and do activities because of the time frame but the way home was the perfect ending to our fairytale trip.

Stay tuned for more of our travels in October!

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