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Published: August 18th 2014
And so it begins. All epic journeys start in sight of the pointy end of the plane, and while we were on the lower deck (cattle class) it was an Emirates a380 and we were in row two on the lower deck, from where you could see the steps up to the cockpit. Row one was home to three (!) infants, but we hardly heard a peep from them all flight.
With 14 hours to kill, on the way up watched four movies, of which my better half would hate at least three; Muppets reloaded -always good for a laugh, but Usher had the best line of the movie; 'How I live now - featuring the improbably named but eminently watchable Soairse Ronan in a post-apocalyptic Northern UK; Snowpiercer - a reasonably violent story about the remnants of humanity trapped on a a train endlessly circling the globe after (another) ice-age apocalypse under the control of a mad Ed Harris; and American Hustle - featuring Hunger Games' starlet Jennifer Lawrence in a very grown-up role (highly recommended).
Arrived in Dubai into 45 degree heat and a sandstorm which was apparently so unusual it even made
the local paper the next morning. Truly 'breathtaking' but not necessarily in a good way. We retreated to the hotel bar for a burger and beer (which, unfortunately, turned out to be Foster's. Will never understand the obsession overseas with this as 'the' quintessential Aussie beer when we have so much more to offer).
In bed by 8.30pm local time racking up the zzz's (yes, apostrophe crime Em but it just looks weird otherwise). Up early for breakkie - Coco Pops in Dubai and all is right with the world- before jumping the metro for the ride downtown. Trains every three minutes. More gleaming architecture, massively engineered and all built in a fraction of the time it took the NSW Govt to decide it needed a SmartCard and roll it out. And unlike to Opal Card debacle, we could buy our equivalent from a very helpful girl in a booth at the station speaking pitch-perfect English.
20 mins later we disembarked in sight of the world's tallest building, the Burj Kahlifa, and headed for the shopping centre at its base, the Dubai Mall. After traversing what seemed like the world's longest air conditioned elevated
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Yes, this is allegedly The Largest Viewing Panel on Earth. Impressive. Bigger than what I once thought was a 'big' aquarium in a Vegas casino. And we were pretty much the only ones there.
moving footway at about 1000m, we were duly delivered to a truly epic shopping centre home to what is claimed to be the world's largest single piece of aquarium glass (again, wow) and indoor underwater zoo. (But hey, Dubai is also home to the world's largest indoor downhill ski run, so anything goes.)
We briefly considered abandoning the rest of our journey upon discovering the mall is home to most of the stores we'd find in London, including Marks&Spencer, Debenhams, Fortnum and Mason, and - most importantly - Hamley's, the "World's Greatest Toy Store", founded in 1700-and-something. Why go all the way to London?
Paid a visit to BabyGAP (70% off) but was way too intimidated to go into Ralph Lauren Kids - reckon they'd figure we did not have a gold Amex within about 10 seconds and show us the door. And the mannequins in the store window were, well, creepy . Who dresses their kids like that?
Our visit included time craning our necks at the Burj (wow again). It..is..seriously..high. I know this to be true because we could not get the whole thing in one photo. Imagine Batman
Why go all the way to London? (because the one in London has five floors, from memory...)
and Robin trying their vertical building walking on that monster....
Topping off a return to what is probably the most impressive airport I've been through, built on another grand scale, was an upgrade to Business class for the 7 hour flight to London (okay...wow yet again). Previously SQ my top pick for J class opulence, but EK wins hands down. Once we'd worked out how to operate the in-seat massager, spread out across more real estate than available to most residents of a third world country, it was time to head to the in-flight stand-up bar for a chat with the Aussie steward serving the drinks (Craig from Fremantle) and a very nice dude from London.
Thankfully, the flight tracker demonstrated a large a very obvious detour around Iraq and more particularly the areas controlled by ISIS/ISIL. Unfortunately, this necessitated a diversion into Syria...not sure which is the lesser of two evils. Maybe ISIL can afford ground-to-air missiles, and the rebels in Syria not so much....
Having too much fun enjoying the seat and the company to launch into my plan to watch another four movies on this leg - have
Really big buildings start with seriously big holes....
to wait for the return journey. 'Night.
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