EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2012:

My day began around 11:00am as I made my way to the Indianapolis airport.
My Delta Airlines flight to New York JFK left Indianpolis at 1:20.
I arrived at JFK around 3:00 and made my way over to terminal 4.
I entered the comfortable Emirates lounge at around 4:00.
I had about seven hours to kill here as my flight to Dubai didn't depart until 11:00.
I wrote an email to family and friends.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 8, 2012
Happy Easter everyone!

I am sitting in the Emirates lounge at New York's JFK airport waiting for my flight to Dubai. It is going to be a long wait. I got here at 3:00 and the flight doesn't leave until 11:00 this evening. Got a nice view of Manhattan on the flight over from Indy. We flew directly over the Empire State Building. It is a 12 hour flight to Dubai tonight. This will be my first time on the relatively new A380. The largest commercial airplane. Below is a picture I took of the plane I will be flying on.

I am going to be spending four nights in Dubai on my way to Africa. I will write more when I see something other than an airport.

Happy Easter,

Tim

I spent most of my time watching the air traffic at the busy JFK Airport.
You get a nice view of the airport from the Emirates Lounge.
At 7:00 I ate dinner at the lounge's buffet.
Finally at 10:15 we started boarding the Emirates A380-800.
The first and business class passengers were able to board the aircraft directly from the lounge.
The upper deck of the Emirates A380 is all first or business class.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Plane traffic at New York's JFK Airport The Emirates A380-800 I flew on to Dubai Business class cabin of Emirates flight #202 to Dubai

This was my first time on the A380 which is currently the largest commercial airliner.
My seat was 25A in business class. It is a window seat in the next to the last row.
I found the seat comfortable, it fully reclined into a bed.
The seat was very private, no one sitting next to you. Ample storage areas.
The seat had it's own mini bar, power outlet and a very large TV screen.
The ICE entertainment system had a wide selection of movies, TV shows, music and games.
I liked watching the airplane's tail camera during takeoff and landing.
My only complaint would be that the seat could have been a bit wider.
We were airborne shortly before 11:30. Flying time to Dubai was 11 hours and 55 minutes.
I skipped dinner on the plane since I had already eaten dinner in the lounge.
I watched TV for a short while but quickly fell asleep.




The video below is forty minutes long and covers my entire 25-hour journey to Dubai.



MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2012:

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES


United Arab Emirates flag


United Arab Emirates map

It was easy sleeping on the A380, it is a very quiet aircraft.
I woke up as we were flying over Austria.
They served breakfast as we were flying over Iraq.
Shortly after breakfast we started our descent into Dubai over the Persian Gulf.
Monday was a very short day as the sun was now setting.
We landed at 7:10PM local time. The Dubai airport is very large and modern.
Customs and baggage collection were quick and easy.
My driver from the hotel was waiting for me as I cleared customs.

It was about a fifteen minute drive to the Address Hotel, Downtown Dubai.
My room had a very large balcony overlooking Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountains.

Burj Khalifa at night

The video below is four minutes long of the Address Hotel Downtown Dubai.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 9, 2012
Hello Everyone,

It took a LONG time to get here but I have finally arrived. Got to the airport in Indy around 11 Sunday morning and didn't touch down here in Dubai until just after 7:00 Monday night. Left New York a few minutes early and were in the air just after 11:00pm. I enjoyed my first flight on the A380 very much. A very quiet airplane. Below is a picture of the plane a few minutes before they moved it to the gate. The wing span on this thing is incredible.

My seat was the last window seat on the upper deck on the left side of the aircraft. We walked right onto the plane from the Emirates Lounge. The picture below was taken from my seat in business class.

The way the seats are angled it is very private. No one sitting next to you. Lots of leg room and the seat reclines into a completely flat bed. Very comfortable and with the quietness of the plane it was very easy to sleep. Which is what I did from shortly after takeoff. They had a very nice dinner buffet at the Emirates lounge so I passed on the dinner they were serving shortly after takeoff and went to sleep. I slept pretty well. I woke up a couple times when the plane went through some turbulence. I woke up about 8 hours into the flight as we were flying over Austria and heading for Hungary. They served breakfast as we were flying over Iraq. We flew very near Baghdad but it was completely clouded over and I couldn't see anything. About an hour later the sun set and we landed here in Dubai just after 7:00, about 40 minutes early.

The Dubai Airport is very modern and new. Customs were quick and painless. And my chauffeur was there waiting for me even though we were really early. Took about 15 minutes to get to the hotel. I'm staying just a few feet in front of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. 163 floors. Below is a picture of it from my hotel room balcony.

There are fountains in front of it like Bellagio's in Las Vegas, only more of them.

That's it for today. Got here too late to do anything other that get settled. Will write more later.

Tim



TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2012:

On Tuesday morning I walked through the Dubai Mall over to Burj Khalifa.
To be in Dubai and not go up the world's tallest building wouldn't seem right.
A fact that has not escaped the unscrupulous owners of Burj Khalifa.
They have two sets of prices to visit the "At the Top" observation deck.
Advance tickets sales and immediate access. The advance tickets are much cheaper but
you have to lock in a specific date and time and usually aren't available within a few days.
Not wanting to lock in a time when the weather was bad, I didn't purchase ahead.
The price of this flexibility is OUTRAGEOUS! My cost was $115US for an elevator ride.
On your way out they will also be glad to sell you a souvenir photo for only $80.
Being on vacation I put the cost out of my head and enjoyed my visit.
It wasn't until I got back home and went over my credit card receipts that I felt ripped-off.
The first photo below is Burj Khalifa as seen from my hotel.
The second photo is from the top of Burj Khalifa of my hotel, the Address Downtown Dubai.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Burj Khalifa View from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa

The road going between the tall buildings in the first picture is Sheikh Zayed Road.
The middle photo is looking out toward the Burj Al Arab hotel which you can see faintly.
The photo on the right is of the Dubai Mall which is said to be the world's largest.
View from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa View from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa The Dubai Mall from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa

On Tuesday afternoon I took a sea plane flight around Dubai.
It was a 40 minute flight providing views of Dubai's most iconic landmarks.
We circled the Burj Al Arab Hotel for spectacular views.
Sea plane in Dubai Creek Burj Al Arab Hotel Burj Al Arab Hotel

We flew past the Atlantis located at the tip of Palm Jumeirah.
The only way to truly appreciate Palm Jumeirah is from the air.
Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago created using land reclamation. It is one of three islands
called the Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira) which extend into the Persian Gulf.
The Palm Jumeirah is the smallest and the original of three Palm Islands.
Atlantis The Palm The Palm Jumeirah The Palm Jumeirah

We also flew over the World Islands.
The World Islands is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map.
We got a nice view of Burj Khalifa and the Dubai skyline at the end of the flight.
The Palm Jumeirah The World Islands The Dubai skyline

The video below is twenty minutes long of my sea plane flight over Dubai.

On Tuesday evening I snapped a couple pictures of the fountain shows from my hotel balcony.
The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa

The video below is 26 minutes long of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountains.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 10, 2012
Hello everyone,

It was a warm and sunny day here in Dubai today. Got up to around 92 today. I don't think I would want to visit in the middle of summer. I started my day with breakfast at the hotel and after that I walked over to Burj Khalifa. My hotel is connected to the Dubai Mall, the largest in the world. Burj Khalifa is connected to the mall as well so I just walked through the mall to get there. For what they are charging to go to the top of the building, it should be paid for in no time. It was 425 Emirati Dirhams, which converts to $115. The observation deck is on the 124th floor. The picture below is from the observation deck. The tall building in the center is my hotel, that is the Dubai Mall on the left.

In the picture below you can see some of the many skyscrapers in the city. That is also the Persian Gulf in the upper left corner.

In the picture below you can see the Dubai fountains all the way to the bottom, behind the fountains is old town, which are all new apartment buildings.

This afternoon I took a sea plane flight around Dubai. The driver they sent to pick me up spoke very little English, and didn't seem to know where we were going. But we did get there on time. We took off from Dubai creek, next to the golf course. The first place we flew over were the World Islands which is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map about two miles off the coast of Dubai. That would be Africa in the center. I only saw one island that was inhabited so far.

Next we flew around the Burj Al Arab. The world's most luxurious hotel. Guests can arrive by helicopter landing on the helipad on the roof. Rooms come complete with your own personal butler.

Next we flew around Palm Jumeirah. Unlike the World Islands, these man-made islands are complete. There are four pictures below of Palm Jumeirah from various angles. That's Atlantis on the Palm out at the tip of the islands, seen up close in picture two.




On the way back we flew by the World Islands again. The view below is from the top looking back on the Dubai skyline.

Below is Burj Khalfia from the seaplane shortly before landing.

I was going to watch some of the fountain shows tonight but decided to put that off until tomorrow since I have to get up at 4am for what I am doing tomorrow. The final picture of the day is one of the fountain shows just after sunset from my balcony at the hotel.

More tomorrow,

Tim

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2012:

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

I left the hotel around 4:30AM on Wednesday morning.
I traveled about 60 miles southeast of Dubai into the desert.
It was here that we prepared the hot air balloon for launch.
Shortly before dawn we climbed into the basket and took flight in the balloon.
Hot air balloon being inflated before dawn in the Arabian desert Moon over Arabian desert just before dawn Small community near launch site in Arabian desert from hot air balloon

We took off from a desert oasis located north of Al Ain.
It is a remote area that is truly in the heart of the desert.
We flew over a small desert community.
There were clouds on the horizon so we had to wait a few extra minutes to see the sunrise.
Mosque near our launch site from hot air balloon Sunrise over Arabian desert from hot air balloon Farms in the Arabian desert from hot air balloon

Our pilot was from Hungary.
Be sure to watch the video below to hear his commentary.
Hot air balloon over Arabian desert Our group aloft in the hot air balloon Flying over farms just before landing in hot air balloon

Just before landing we flew over several farms.
We spotted several animals during our descent including some camels.
As we touched down the basket inverted and we were dragged along the desert floor.
This was my second hot air balloon flight. It was a lot of fun.
Camels from hot air balloon Our group in the inverted basket just after landing Our hot air balloon pilot from Hungary

The video below is 25 minutes long of my hot air balloon flight over the Arabian Desert.

I got back to the hotel after the hot air balloon flight at about 9:30.
So I still had most of the day to explore Dubai.
I used the Dubai Hop-on, Hop-off bus to get around the city.
Below is the Dubai Creek, a natural arm of seawater that runs through the center of the city.
Dubai Creek Dubai Creek Dubai Creek

On the left below is the area near Dubai's Gold Souk.
Middle picture is one of the largest sacred structures in Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque, a dominant city landmark.
The picture on the right is the Jumeirah Beach Hotel & Burj Al Arab Hotel.
Area near Dubai Gold Souk Jumeirah Mosque Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel & Burj Al Arab Hotel

We drove through Palm Jumeirah that I flew over the day before.
All the pictures below were taken from Palm Jumeirah.
Burj Al Arab Hotel and the Dubai skyline Atlantis the Palm Skyscrapers along the Dubai Marina

The video below is 29 minutes long of my drive around the city of Dubai.

I spent Wednesday evening enjoying several of the performanes of the Dubai Fountain.
The Dubai Fountain

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 11, 2012
Hello folks,

Like I told you yesterday I had to wake up shortly before 4:00 this morning. At that time I traveled about 100 kilometers outside Dubai into the Arabian desert. There was a nice almost full moon in the sky.

You may have already guessed why I was out in the middle of no where at this ungodly hour. If not, the picture below will give you a clue.

Yes, that is the air in the balloon being warmed just prior to take off. The picture below is the desert just after take off as the sun was starting to rise.

This wasn't nearly as scenic as my previous balloon flight in Utah, but it was a fun and unique experience. The picture below was sun rise. We had to wait a little longer to see it due to clouds on the horizon.

The flight lasted about an hour. We landed on the other side of the farming area seen in the picture below.

We spotted some camels shortly before landing.

The landing was interesting. The basket tips on its side and we drag along the desert floor while lying on our backs. Below is a picture of us just after landing. We had to crawl out of it in the position that is show in the picture.

Below is a picture of our Hungarian pilot.

Got back to the hotel around 8:30. I had breakfast and then headed out for the day. I snapped the picture below as I was leaving the hotel. It's the Burj Khalifa during the day this time.

Dubai is an immaculately clean city with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. About 90% of this city appears to be brand new. One of the prettiest parts of the city is Dubai Creek. You can take cruises down the creek in old Dhows.

Jumeriah Mosque is said to be the most photographed mosque in all of Dubai. So as not to ruin the statistic, I snapped a photo. It's prettier at night when it's drowned in flood lights.

I saw Palm Jumeirah from the ground today. It was much more majestic from the air. The picture below was taken from the Palm looking out toward the Burj Al Arab Hotel. You can also see the Dubai skyline in the background.

Below is Atlantis out on the tip of the Palm.

And looking the other direction form the tip of the Palm is the Persian Gulf.

They don't do anything in a small way here in Dubai. The area of skyscrapers you see below will be twice the size of Hong Kong when they are done building all that is planned for here. That spiral building going up on the right is an 80 story hotel with views of Palm Jumeirah.

It gets pretty warm here during the heat of the day. I was glad to be back home in the nice cool mall after exploring the city all day. Below is the main entrance to the mall.

The mall is pretty impressive inside. Below is the Waterfall atrium. One of many atriums inside. There is also a large Aquarium, ice skating rink, two huge hotels, cinemas and hundreds of stores and restaurants.

I finished off the day by watching some of the fountain shows. The one below was taken at sunset.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Dubai. I don't have any plans for tomorrow so I can sleep in.

Tim

THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2012:

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Thursday wasn't a very nice day. High winds stirred up quite a dust storm.
I spent the day around the hotel and in the Dubai Mall.
Main entrance to Dubai Mall The Dubai Mall

As you can see in the pictures below it was pretty ugly outside, lots of dust in the air.
Below are a couple of dusty views of Burj Khalifa.
I watch a couple more fountain shows Thursday night.
Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world The Dubai Fountain

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 12, 2012
A very short report for today. I spent my last day in Dubai pretty close to the hotel. It wasn't a very nice day here. Very strong winds stirred up quite a dust storm. I can hardly see the buildings right next door. I was also concerned how I would react to the malaria meds that I had to start taking today. Some people have some awful reactions to them. It's been about 12 hours and so far I haven't noticed any problems. I spent some time in the mall today.

You can see in the picture below how dismal the day looked here today. This is one of the fountains shows.

It's off to the airport in the morning. I have an eight hour flight to Johannesburg. I will be joining up with a tour in Africa, so today was my last day of freedom of doing what I want when I want. Will send more reports from Africa.

Tim

I returned to Dubai in 2015. Click HERE for the details.


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