Monday, January 31, 2011

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE!

A couple of Fridays ago, John and I drove to Al Ain to "walk on the wild side"!  We wanted to go to the Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort: "A delightful and modern nature park that puts many of its rivals to shame.  It's home to more than 4,300 animals -- many of them endangered."  Now doesn't that sound like fun?

Before we left, we googled Al Ain - Wildlife Park & Resort, and came up empty handed!  All we wanted was a map of Al Ain showing us where to find the park.  But an article in the paper said to go to the center of town and follow the brown Wildlife Park signs posted there.  Easy enough!

So off we went through the rich red sand of the desert....Al Ain is located approximately 120 km south of Dubai. 



We were almost there....


...it was an awesome road trip!  Here are a few things we know about Al Ain:

     * AA is known as the Garden City due to its greenery, the
       many oases, parks, and tree lined avenues.
     * AA is the 2nd largest city in the Abu Dhabi Emirate and
       is the 4th largest city in the UAE.
     * AA is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sutan Nahyan,
           the first president of the UAE, and it has the country's
      highest number of Emirati nationals.

There, now you know as much as we do! :):)  The minute we entered the city we were amazed by the decorated turnabouts....




What was really neat to see were the flowers!  Beautiful petunias were everywhere!







We made it to the downtown area....(typical of the UAE)....




...and finally found the town center....


And we saw signs, many, many signs!  But no brown "Wildlife Park" signs anywhere!  We drove and drove and looked and looked to no avail.  We even stopped twice and asked some locals where the Park was -- they looked at us like we were from another planet!  (Okay, so I guess we are kind of from another planet way out here in the desert!!)

It was yet another "IT IS WHAT IT IS" moment!  Here's a quick peak at a common sight on the streets of Al Ain.....


Tooooo funny!!  And off we went, back through the gorgeous desert, to Dubai where we met up with friends at a delightful Thai restaurant in The Palace Hotel at the Burj Khalifa!


Our menus each had a little light to read by....(be sure to read carefully)....


And our table had a magnificent view of the world renowned Burj Khalifa fountain....


video

Although we missed out on our "walk on the wild side" earlier in the day, our evening was certainly a "Thriller"!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

WE WERE BLOWN AWAY!!

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning in Dubai last Friday.  John and I got up and read in the paper that there was going to be a FREE Australian Meat BBQ Festival at the Dubai Creek Park!  We were blown away -- a FREE BBQ?


It was our first time at the park and it was beautiful!  The Australian Meat volunteers prepared the coals, as families were spreading blankets, playing games, and readying themselves for the big feast!



We lined up to fill our plates with the sizzling Australian meat.....


...when all of a sudden the sky was filled with clouds and something dark and brown and ominous was blowing in....





I've never seen anything like it!  What started as a calm, warm, sunny day suddenly turned into a wind storm with a torrential down pouring of sand!  It was whipping through the air and felt like we were getting sandblasted and, I guess, we were!

In a matter of seconds, paper plates, cups and napkins were blowing everywhere.  Banners were toppled; hats were flying; trees were uprooted....





The force of the wind and the sand was unbelievable!  And, as fast as it came, it left.  Once again, there were blue skies to enjoy and activities that made everyone forget what had just happened!



video

But on our way home, we were reminded again and again of the storm that had taken place, by all the trees that were toppled and by the piles of sand in the streets! 


The next morning the The Gulf News detailed our experience...



Yes, on Friday we were absolutely blown away!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

THEY'RE COMING! THEY'RE ACTUALLY COMING!!!

Finally, and at long last, they are coming!  I've waited six months to be able to look out at the world clearly; they are coming!  I'm not sure how long they will take, but I am sure that they are coming!



Yes, they are actually coming!  And I couldn't be more excited!!  Tell them to hurry, please!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DSF! DSF!! WHAT THE HECK IS DSF?

The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) has begun in a BIG WAY!!  Signs are posted all over the city, lights are flashing everywhere highlighting the special events, and "Part Sales" are advertised in every paper!  What, exactly, is the Dubai Shopping Festival?

...."Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), known in Arabic as 'Layali Dubai', was first started in February 1996 by the Dubai government as purely a retail event aimed to promote trade in Dubai. Since then it has become an annual shopping, entertainment, and cultural extravaganza that continues to promote tourism in Dubai and draws people from around the world each year.



Dubai Shopping Festival is basically a shopping paradise. Dubai is know around the world as such a paradise throughout the year, but they really lay out the red carpet during shopping festival month, with over 2,300 retails outlets participating, that offer everything imaginable from gold, perfume, haute couture, cars, electronics to handicrafts and textiles. In 2009 alone, visitors reached the 3.35 million mark and spent Dh9.8 billion in 32 days of the festival."


Last night John and I walked across the street to the JBR Beach Walk to grab a quick dinner and found it buzzing with activity!  It was a Tuesday night for goodness sake!!  What in the world was going on?
 




 
Oh, just a little jazz playing every night for eight nights to celebrate DSF!!  That's right -- Dubai Shopping Festival!  Gotta love it!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WINTER IN DUBAI!

We just experienced winter in Dubai.  Let's see, I think it went something like this:

Three long days of overcast weather.  No sunshine anywhere, not even a glimpse.  Then one day of beautiful, warm sunshine.   Then, OMG I couldn't believe it, one full day of RAIN!!  HERE.IN.DUBAI!!!  After six months here we got a day of rain!  Wonders never cease!

Here is what rain in Dubai looks like.....






Yes, kinda like what rain looks like in Indiana!  But I'll tell you one thing.  When the sun came back out to stay, I totally appreciated it!  I'll never take the sunshine for granted again! 

And that, my friends, is winter in Dubai!  I'm feeling for all of you, I really am!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW TO ENJOY!!

John and I drove to Al Ain (another Emirate in the UAE) last weekend.  I'll write more about it later, however, I wanted to show two things that we'd never seen before.....


Any guesses as to what this sign means?  Maybe this one will help....


Of course!  Why didn't we think of that?  There are humps ahead!!  Speed bumps!!  Sleeping policemen (just learned that one while out to dinner with friends from the UK!!)

And having lived in Indiana for many years, it was not uncommon to see a truckload of horses, or cows, or pigs, or chickens........but this, this was something different... 





Yes, there's always something new to enjoy in the UAE!!!