Wednesday, April 24, 2019

November 28th: Goodbye, Dubai...Hello, Jordan!

The next morning, Mark and I woke up, finished packing...

...and said goodbye to this view and goodbye to Rupert. It would have been nice to stay longer, but we had more plans for our time off!

We had a bit of free time before our flight, so we went to The Farm for breakfast with Megan and Marcus. You wouldn't know this was in a desert country with this view!

It was nice to squeeze in a bit more time with them over breakfast. We eventually finished up, rode to the airport, and said goodbye to Megan and Marcus. It had been nice to see them again, and the next time we wind up visiting them, it will probably be in New Zealand!

Check in and security both went very smoothly, and we had time to hang out with some coffee before boarding our flight.

I had plenty of time to enjoy this view before we pushed back; there was a huuuuuge Indian tour group on our flight and everyone was sitting in the wrong seats. It took a while to get everyone sorted out, but we did eventually push back, taxi out, and take off.

Goodbye, Dubai...I'll see you again someday!

The food on the flight was pretty good; I think this was some kind of lamb stew. Not bad for a three-ish hour flight!

I spent most of the rest of the time checking out the scenery. I love deserts, and the Middle East certainly doesn't disappoint.

A little while later, we started our final descent into Amman. You could see the Dead Sea in the distance.

The scenery was incredible; we flew over miles and miles of small, light colored buildings.

I pulled up the front-facing camera as we came in to land, and managed to grab this picture just before we touched down. Honestly, 'touched' might be the wrong word; 'slammed' is more appropriate. It seemed like the pilot completely forgot about the part of landing where you level out to stop the descent, then flare to touch down gently. It was certainly an arrival (and honestly one of the worst airline landings I've ever had - it was BAD).

Customs, baggage claim, and sorting out our visas went pretty smoothly, then we went outside to find a taxi to take us to our hotel. The taxi ride was hilariously...interesting. We weren't five minutes out of the airport when our taxi driver pulled wildly over to the side of the road, where a man appeared from a building carrying a tray. Our taxi driver ordered coffee, then we sat there while the coffee was made. (He did ask us if we wanted any; when we both said 'no, thanks', he got us some water bottles instead.) When the coffee was eventually sorted out, we got back on the highway, where the driver promptly called what I'm guessing was a relative and got in a fairly heated discussion with them in Arabic, all while weaving over all the lanes of the road (and in a few spots, making his own lanes). We did eventually get to the hotel in one piece, but the ride there was certainly an adventure!

Our hotel was really nice, and the rooftop terrace looked out over the city. We wandered around, checking everything out, before heading downstairs for some dinner.

There was a restaurant with good reviews attached to our hotel, so we decided to give it a try. Those reviews were spot on...everything was delicious! This was only part of what we ate; at one point, the table seemed almost covered with dishes of amazing things. We stuffed ourselves and still had leftovers.

At the end of the meal, our waiter brought over this giant plate of fruit so we could each pick something as a dessert of sorts, which I thought was pretty cool. We eventually finished dinner and made our way back upstairs with our leftovers.

We wrapped up the night with some room service wine in the room. I spent some time sorting through pictures on my computer, and we watched a couple Italian game shows on TV before heading to bed. We had more fun things planned for the next day!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

November 27th: Pretty Beach and Pretty Mosque

After our late night out the night before, the next day had a sloooow start. It worked out well, though, because our first stop was...

...the Ritz Carlton. Time to soak up some sun on the beach!

I wasn't about to pass up the chance to get some more tasty juice; I always like how fresh it is.

We hung out in our comfy beach chairs for a little while...

...then went in the water for a bit. We had a great view of the ferris wheel and the dropzone.

After a bit Megan had to leave to take care of a couple things, so Marcus, Mark, and I moved up to a spot closer to the water (also with a sweet view).

We ordered lunch and hung out for a bit, eating our food and watching the jumpers drifting down at the dropzone.

This was the view looking back behind where we were sitting - not bad!

After hanging out on the beach for a while longer, we packed up and made our way back to the locker rooms. After picking a time to meet up outside, we split up and got to spend some time hanging out inside. I'm not sure how the guy's locker room was set up, but mine had nice showers, a plunge pool thing, a few sauna rooms, and some really neat warm lounge chair things. I spent a good bit of time hanging out on one of those before eventually grabbing a shower and meeting the guys outside.

We went back to the house, hung out for a bit, then hopped back in the car to head to our last stop of the day.

It was time to check out the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at night!

I remembered how pretty the mosque was when we visited during the day on our last trip...

...and it may have been even prettier at night.

We wandered all around the outside...

...then made our way inside, too.

We grabbed a couple more pictures...

...then said goodbye to the mosque and made our way back to the car.

We stopped at Tawa and had some tasty gluten-free food, then made our way back to Dubai...

...and wrapped up the evening with some wine and leftover pizza. It had been a nice low key (and very pretty) day!

Monday, April 15, 2019

November 26th: Flying and Cars and Food and Fun

The storms from the night before hung around into the morning, so when we woke up and looked outside...

...this is what we saw. It didn't exactly bode well for our plans for the day! The weather was forecast to improve as the day went on, so we had breakfast and coffee and hopped in the car anyway.

It was pretty cool to see some of the skyscrapers hidden in the clouds. While it didn't look the best at first, the weather did eventually improve enough so that...

...Megan and Marcus could make their first skydive! They were pretty excited.  :)

I spent several years working at a dropzone and already have a few tandem jumps under my belt, so I decided to put my money toward something a little different.

It's not often you get the chance to cruise around Dubai in a gyrocopter, after all!

It unfortunately didn't have dual controls, so I didn't get to do any flying, but I made sure to soak up as much as I could from the pilot about what flying a gyrocopter is really like. (Short answer: very fun.)

Frank, the pilot, is an expat, too; he's originally from Hungary. We chatted for a couple minutes while he fire up the engine and waited for the skydiving plane to load up and depart. Then, it was our turn.

It was pretty neat to not need a big runway to get in the air! This is looking back toward the dropzone and Dubai Marina. It's definitely one of the more scenic airports I've flown out of!

We turned out toward the water after we departed, and the views kept getting better and better.

We started out by flying around the Palm. It was incredible to see from the air.

This is Atlantis; it's a giant resort that sits on the very far end of the Palm.

After the Palm, we cruised past the Burj Al Arab.

We flew past a few of the beaches...

...and eventually wound up near Downtown before turning around to make our way back to the dropzone. You can just see the Burj Khalifa hiding behind the clouds.

There were huge open cutouts in the canopy, so the views were incredible.

Somewhere down in the maze of light brown buildings is where we'd had tea (and stuffed ourselves) the day before.

The view looking toward Dubai Marina. You can just make out the runway for the dropzone near the middle of the frame.

All too soon, we were on final...

...then back on the ground. It was such a cool experience, and a really fun way to see the city. Also, I may need to add a gyrocopter to my shopping list.

My ride came with video and pictures, too!

It's hard to beat a background like that!   :)

After I landed, I met up with the others. Megan and Marcus really liked their skydive; Megan liked it so much that she mentioned maybe going back for a second one sometime. We got all of our things, made a quick stop at their house to regroup, then headed over to...

...Lime Tree Cafe for lunch. I got a frittata and it was delicious.

After lunch, we did a little window shopping. I'm always impressed by how massive the supercars like these are.

I mean, I could probably fit one of these in my budget somehow. Right?   :)

We also went to Tomini to check out their selection; I somehow don't have any pictures from there. They specialize in classic cars, and their collection is incredible. One of the employees noticed that we seemed to really appreciate what they had, and asked us if we wanted to see their vault. Of course we did! He took us through a garage door and into another roomed stuffed with awesome cars, some stacked two high on racks. It was fantastic.

We eventually finished drooling on the cars, said thank you and goodbye, then went to a more 'normal' car dealership so Marcus could try to sell his car. Megan and Marcus weren't going to be in Dubai much longer; Marcus had accepted a new ATC job in New Zealand, so they needed to start prepping for their move. We all hung out at the dealership for a little while before leaving Marcus to handle the car stuff himself and grabbing an Uber back to the house.

A shower, some wine, and another Uber later...

...we were downtown at Basta, eating some delicious Italian food.

The view from our table was pretty sweet, too.

Mark had done a bit of research ahead of time, so after dinner, we went upstairs, passed through a door marked 'Private', and wound up at Poppy, a really neat speakeasy. We had almost the entire place to ourselves, and we hung out for a while, enjoying our tasty drinks.

After Poppy, we went over to Nippon Bottle Company for another drink, then crossed the lobby..

...and wound up at another bar with outdoor seating. Not a bad view!

We wrapped up the night with wine, some shisha, and a sweet view of the Burj Khalifa. It was 1am by the time we made it back to the house, and we all went straight to bed. It had been a very fun day!