Sunday, February 14, 2016

Welcome to Dubai!

Hello from Dubai! Dubai, Dubai, Dubai. I’ve wanted to come here for years and now, after a long nearly 24 hours of travel, I made it!!

On Friday afternoon I took an Uber from my apartment and head towards the airport, while taking a call for work, to hop first on a 8 hour flight to Amsterdam.

Where I then hung around for 6 hours before I then hopped on another 6 hour flight to Dubai.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I made these travel arrangements but I assume that this is the best that I could find for travel arrangements. A redeye flight that leaves at 5:30 p.m. is less than ideal as I barely slept a wink on the first 8 hour flight that had me arriving in Amsterdam at 8:00 a.m. to then hang around for hours. It was technically the middle of the night when I made it to Amsterdam and I was so tired I actually slept in an airport for the first time ever. I found a small couch I could lay out on, spooned myself around my luggage, and took a couple hours to rest before then wandering around the airport, getting something to eat, getting a massage, and reading to pass the time.

Despite the fact I could walk around, stretch and move, I could not wait until I was able to get on my connecting flight from Amsterdam to Dubai. Even though it is cramped, being on the plane allows you to stow your belongings, relax, and know that you are being carted at rapid speed to your end destination. While wandering the Amsterdam airport… you’re just trapped!

I watched the move Burnt on the first flight. I watched Jurassic World on the second flight. I laughed out loud when the little boy said “Can we stay with you!?” and his Aunt said “I am not leaving your side fro as long as I live.” And he replied, “No, not with you – with him! Definitely, with him.”

I drank cheap wine. I ate airplane food.

And then I arrived in Dubai!

I made it into my hotel at about 1:30 a.m. and got to bed at 2:00 a.m. in a cozy little room in Festival City of Dubai, which is SUPER close to the airport.  It was dark when I arrived so I had no idea where I was in relation to the Dubai I have seen pictures of, but when I woke up in the morning I saw out the window the skyline (through some fog) of the city.

Since on average, I sleep about 6 hours a night, I wanted to keep about the same schedule so I set my alarm for 8:30 a.m.  When my alarm went off, I felt a bit groggy so ended up sleeping another 30 minutes before forcing myself up.  I know pretty well how to beat jet lag at this point with all the traveling that I do and maintaining a normal schedule is key.  I got up, got dressed, and headed to the hotel gym to check it out for a run.

After trying to figure out the treadmill (fun fact: you use the back of your fingernail to touch the buttons rather than the pad of your fingertip) I ran for about an hour, for a 10K run.

While running, I had a beautiful view of the skyline and the hotel pool and also noticed a small boardwalk that was down by the river.  I wondered if I could be running down there and decided to check it out later.  Also, I was tempted to run further and try to go for another 5K but I felt sufficiently tired and knew I wasn't probably properly rested or hydrated so decided to call it a day at 6 miles.

After showering and cleaning up, I decided to just walk around everywhere to see more of where I was staying.  The area around the hotel is very industrial and not too much is around here.  I did check out the board walk and did a walk that ended up being 1.5 miles so was able to check that out a bit.

My work stuff started Sunday evening, as the work week in Dubai is actually Sunday through Thursday with Friday and Saturday being their weekend. My local colleagues all had a full day of work and then came over to the hotel, where all the international people had been staying.  Without giving too much detail, the meetings I attended when I was in Miami, are the same set of meetings that I am attending here.  However, the meetings in Miami were for our North America and South America region, and the meeting here is for the Middle East and Africa region.  So there are people who have traveled from all over to attend these sessions.  As everyone started to arrive, it's been wonderful as I've been able to catch up with a lot of old friends, including the team that hosted me when I went to Nigeria last year and some friends of friends.

As you may have guessed from the amount that I travel, I love learning about other cultures.  These events are always fun for me because it is such a massive amount of new cultures all condensed into one place with the colleagues I get to interact with as well as the actual place I am in.  

Last night's dinner consisted of Lebanese meats, rice, lots of interesting pistachio-ed desserts, and all sorts of delicious food.  I have been enamored with the little beauty that I have been spotting everywhere and the look of the Arabic writing throughout the walls.  Some things have confused me at points or just take me a minute to do a double take - like in the elevators, I have to look to the left of the elevator to swipe my card, as in most Western elevators it would be to the right.  It is cool to see coworkers intermingling with the Saudi men dressed in full thobes chatting with others in regular suits.  Everything feels beautiful and interesting to me to have so many cultures in one place.

Last night after dinner I headed to bed at a reasonable hour.  I felt a bit cocky as if I had beaten the jet lag that should have been headed my way.  I fell right asleep.

And then woke up.

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and could not go to sleep.  It was awful.  I felt exhausted, I felt tired, but I just couldn't get my body to shut down.  I just lay there. Often feeling really cozy and comfortable.  But I just couldn't sleep.  Damn you jet lag!

Back and forth I went in my head, trying to decide if I should stay in bed and try to just keep sleeping until 7am or so.  Or if I should just call it quits and give up and get up.  At about 5:30 a.m. I just called it quits and I got out of bed and threw on some clothes and decided to go for a run.  I went back out to the path that I had walked about yesterday that is a 1.5 miles out and back and ran that 3 times.  I felt clear headed and great as I ran, and now as I sit here and type I can feel the heaviness of lack of sleep and body disorientation wave over me.

But, at least I got to see a beautiful sunrise!  Here are the before and after pictures from my morning run.

I am doing well getting in good exercise so far with 6 miles on Sunday and 4.5 today. We shall see if I can keep it up!

As I wrap this up, I head down for breakfast, as most of you are heading to bed.  The fog is rolling through the city and right now I see the top of the Burj Khalifa, pocking through from across the river and by the city skyline.  I am excited for the rest of the week to explore Dubai and hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day!


  1. Sounds excellent so far! Don't forget to take pictures of food!!! And I'm waiting on that email too with your recommendations on where I should go! I was looking at flights to Iceland for March... I'm a little torn if I am missing out on something bigger/better/less freezing cold, lol. SO PROUD of you for getting in your work outs already though!