Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dubai Christmas Festival

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Even though this was a first-year event, since it was organized by the same people that have been putting on the Taste of Dubai for many years I expected it to be well-planned, easy to navigate with a  good variety of vendors.  Not so much.

TBG had heard that there was little to *no* parking around this venue, so we drove to the Mall of the Emirates and grabbed a cab to the location – walked through renowned luxury 5 star Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Hotel situated next to amazing Ski Dubai 

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Their ladies’ room was staffed by a woman that flushed the toilet and re-pointed the toilet paper for the next person,  pumped the soap dispenser, and unrolled your fresh linen towel for your wet hands.  The sinks were the kind that had water flowing over a flat stone.  I swear I could have lived there…. Really!

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There was some initial confusion over exactly where and how one would queue to gain entrance, but I attributed that to it being the first day of a multi-day event. 

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We’d bought tickets online, but they weren’t accepted at the gate, we needed to exchange them for actual tickets.  Two lines later, we were finally on the way!

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Inside was everything from local grocery stores to culinary schools and the Knorr Soup people – fabulous opportunity to taste a ton of goodies and collect information and samples of many products and companies.  Here’s a photo of some of the booty we brought home, and remember, TBG doesn’t take freebies, unless they’re golf-related…..lol….. oh, and missing from this photo are the bananas and pineapple (cause I ate the pineapple!)

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Entertainment was about the same as one would expect from a small-town festival, inflatable bouncy things, a small train-like ride for very young children, a small carnival type booth where children threw something for prizes, and there was a tree lighting ceremonial countdown, a very loud DJ, groups of school-children singing in the most adorable off-key manner, and proud parents video-taping their every note…..  Disappointing was the actual tree-lighting countdown – no real lead-up no excitement building, no gathering of the dispersed crowd, it was more of a “we’ll be lighting the tree in 5-4-3-2-1!”  And it was done.

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Supposedly Crate ‘n Barrel had some interesting seminars that I’d read about – holiday decorating, package embellishment and wrapping….. oddly the people staffing their site either didn’t know about them, or didn’t care to learn or flat out lied to me about them, I’m not sure which….. I was surely looking forward to it, and just didn’t get the opportunity to attend.  Sad, Crate ‘n Barrel, really sad.

Other attractions were cooking demonstrations and seminars, decorating, gift wrapping, and hand made gifts.  There were also some poorly-located arts and crafts vendors, a lot of buy/sell items,  some vintage rhinestones (my weakness),  jewels and linens that were really fine and some things I’d never heard of and was not certain how to ask about them…..lol.

Overall, it was a good time – just not very “Christmassy” flavored, you know?  And coming from a promoter that has been handling Taste of Dubai for 13 years – perhaps they just didn’t have the focus this year, you know??

We DID spot Santa, though, and that’s always a good thing!  Here’s a photo of TBG with him….

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Ha!  Gotcha.  OK, here’s a photo of TBG with the *real* Santa……

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We left the venue, hailed a cab, headed back to the Mall of the Emirates and grabbed a truly fine burger at the Shake Shack, looked through the Entertainer books we’d bought, Image

 then home to relax and admire the tree I’d decorated earlier. 

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Create your own individual holiday memories, folks – make ‘em where you can!

Moving Mirrors

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OK, so, it may not be a big deal to some people, but to me?  This is freekin brilliant!  When you park here in Dubai, (it’s a big city, population 2 million, with another million arriving daily to work/shop according to Arabian Business.com), most times the parking spaces are a big tight.   Add to that people that have less than mad parking skills, and you have a challenging situation when it comes to parking.  Solution?

They just fold right back!

They just fold right back!

Mirrors that automatically retract.  Cool as all get out, I swear – as if by magic, the mirrors pull back to lay flat against the car door, leaving you  that extra 6″  – 10″ to get your door open and exit the vehicle without dinging the car door next to you.  Plus, you can walk between cars without doing the “door mirror limbo” to get through.  Brilliant!!

Kinda looks like it's got its ears pinned back, you know?

Kinda looks like it’s got its ears pinned back, you know?

 

Drainage Ditches save Driving Time

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Sure Honey, this is a sanctioned U-Turn spot…. NOT.

Let’s just drive through this place, OK?  Doesn’t matter that it’s not a freekin ROAD.  This is a dang drainage ditch, I swear.

Little bit of background information for you….. the roads here are AWESOME.  Really well-constructed, smooth, banked, nicely done.  And the road department has taken a big potential accident-causer, the dreaded “left turn crossing traffic” out of the equation here as much as possible.  Honestly, I see why.  There are no common courtesies here, no respect for other drivers, it’s just pretty much a free-for-all.  And if there were left turns crossing traffic allowed, they would.  Whenever they want.  Whenever they’re ready.  Without waiting for traffic to clear.

So to alleviate this need to make these sort of murky decisions (“Do I pull out in front of all three lanes of traffic, or should I wait till it clears?”)  road designers use two things to control traffic, round-a-bouts and u-turns.  Generally, they’re helpful.  Unless of course, there’s not one where you want/need one.  Here starts this particular adventure.

Apparently, on whatever particular road we were on, if you go and do the official U-Turn thing to get going the opposite direction on this particular highway, it’s about 6-8 miles, then the U-Turn, then 6-8 ,miles back.  Most people here are so totally not gonna do that – no patience…. And TBG said he’d been seeing them making this odd u-turn deal, but he never did it.  Till this day, with me.  Joy.

Yeah, this guy changed his mind.  So he stopped, backed up, turned around, and is now trying to decide what to do.  Not uncommon.

Yeah, this guy changed his mind. So he stopped, backed up, turned around, and is now trying to decide what to do. Not uncommon.

So, we bump completely off the highway to the right, and follow this line of cars down the hill…. almost like a US exit ramp.  Except there is no road.  It is sand.  Ahead, the cars are turning to the left, headed under the highway.

I kept saying “Honey, this is a drainage ditch, we are about to drive through a culvert under the 5-lane highway above.”   Cars in front of us had to pull their mirrors in so that they didn’t scrape the sides of the culvert thing.   Image

At least there’s no water in it from the recent rains.  And it’s dark.   And tunnel-y and creepy.  And there are probably spiders in here.   OK, we’re finally under it……. There’s a patch of sunlight above, and I feel my panic start to lessen.Image

Till I realized that we’re only halfway through this short-cut.  Then we drive under the next 5 lanes….. Image

then, down and up the ditch, Image

up a gravel road, Image

around the fenceline that’s seen better days,

then bump up about 8” of asphalt, wait for traffic to “clear”…. And I say that with quotations because Dubai traffic never ever never ever clears….. the goal here is toImage find a vehicle you can intimidate into moving over.  Preferably something smaller than you.  In the words of one of my favorite “Michaelisms”…. “Raw tonnage rules the road”- this so applies here!

And bam – we’re on our way.  Now, let’s break this down…… even if it’s about 12 miles outta our way, and that would have taken us not very long since everyone here drives about a hundred miles an hour….. it would have taken us about 15 minutes to make the u-turn.  But nooooo…… we drove through the drainage ditch, saving at LEAST four minutes off that time.  So driving in the drainage ditches really *does* save time!
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*sigh*…… just another tiny little joy of life/traffic in Dubai!

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“Honey, there’s white stuff all over the back yard – is it possible it’s snowed for Christmas???”

“Baby!  I think it may have snowed for Christmas!  There’s little white things all over the back yard – and it was incredibly foggy this morning, do you *think* it could have snowed for my first Christmas in Dubai???” – me

“Well, I suppose anything’s possible you know.  But more likely it’s fertilizer spread by the guy that came with the house.”  – him

“Honey, there’s…