Saturday, December 3, 2016

October 31st and November 1st: Off to the Middle East!

Last year, one of our friends from work quit the FAA, packed up his things, and moved to Dubai to be an air traffic controller over there. Before he left, Marcus told us, "You guys should come visit!". Since Mark and I are probably the only ones that actually take people up on that when they say those magic words (and I've wanted to visit Dubai for years anyway)... the end of October we found ourselves back at Dulles, watching this monster pull up to the gate. It was time to take the A380 to the United Arab Emirates!

I always love flying on foreign long-haul carriers; the service is usually really nice and you get all sorts of goodies and food and drinks. We hadn't even taken off yet when they brought around toasty hot towels and little pouches with sleep masks, ear plugs, socks, and a toothbrush with toothpaste. Nice!

There were a few different in-flight cameras, so I pulled up the one on the top of the tail for takeoff. We used Runway 30.

A bunch of people at work knew we were on the flight (there aren't many A380s to Dubai that come through our airspace), and shortly after takeoff, one of the flight attendants stopped by our row. "Miss Sarah?" I nodded. "ATC passes along a special message to take good care of you!" Mark and I started laughing. They did take really good care of us; she stopped by a few more times through the flight to make sure we had everything we needed, and even gave us little boxes of chocolates that usually only go to Business Class.  :)

One of the things I love about the longer flights is the food. I had some kind of curry for lunch and it was really good. I had a tiny bottle of wine with lunch, then spent a couple hours trying to nap a bit. The flight was over twelve hours long, so there was certainly plenty of time to kill.

It didn't take long before we got far enough east that the sun started to set. There were all sorts of movies and shows on the entertainment system, so I watched Finding Dory, then a photography documentary, walked around the cabin a little bit, then had another small snack and some wine before trying to get some more sleep.

Quite a bit later, the sun was starting to come up and we started a slow descent into Dubai. This was somewhere over Iran. They brought around breakfast and coffee as we continued on.

A bit later, we were on short final for DXB. You can just make out some of the taller buildings (including the Burj Khalifa) in the distance. It was about 8am local time, which worked out to midnight on the East Coast.

Just before we touched down, There were so many A380s just sitting on the ramp!

We landed just fine. cleared customs, and grabbed our bags. Marcus was waiting for us once we got out of the terminal. It was really nice to see him! We'd be staying with him and his wife, Megan, for most of the trip, so he drove us back to their villa and pointed out some landmarks along the way.

Mark and I were both pretty beat, so Mark grabbed a short nap once we got settled in. I decided to power through and drank a bunch of coffee and caught up with Marcus and Megan for a bit. After a little while, it was time to get ready for our first fun thing of the trip...

...afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab! It's the big building that looks like a sail (I'll have pictures of the outside of it in a later post). It's also the only 7-star hotel. I think rooms start at $1200+ per night! This was inside the main atrium of the building. It was bananas.

We wandered around a bit, then made our way over to the lounge area for tea.

They brought us course after course of fancy little snacks, and everything was delicious (and beautiful). We each had our own teapots with warmers. and I inhaled everything they put in front of me. It was really neat and a really fun way to kick off the trip.

Potomac TRACON reunion! Me, Mark, Marcus, and Megan.

We eventually finished eating all the things, then drove back to their villa. I could barely keep my eyes open by this point, so I grabbed a short nap while everyone else hung out for a while. We wound up ordering dinner in and spent the rest of the night catching up over chicken kebabs and wine. It was a really nice start to the trip!

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