Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Journaling our Ethiopia Trip - Day 2

We landed in Dubai and staggered off the plane after such a long flight. The airport was bustling and super busy so it was rather disorienting considering we were also exhausted.

We arrived early afternoon, but there was not a flight out to Ethiopia until morning so the airline gave us a hotel room for the night(we knew all this at the time of booking). We picked up the vouchers for the hotel when we checked in for our flight from the U.S. We were not to collect our checked bags in Dubai, they'd be loaded onto our flight for Ethiopia, so we just needed to catch the shuttle to our hotel with our carry-on bags.

We followed the crowd to a line but then an official sort of person spoke to us in a language we didn't understand. Yep, definitely not in Texas anymore! From his gestures we managed to figure out we were to keep walking to a different line. That line turned out to be very short and was where we showed our passports and got our temporary visas. There was no charge for the visa. From there we found the spot to wait for the shuttle and once it got there we stepped outside into the extreme dry heat. Just like an oven!

We got to the hotel, checked in, got more free vouchers for lunch, dinner, snack and breakfast! We walked into our room and saw two twin beds and very small couch. At first we though the four of us were going to be very cozy sleeping, but then we realized that we actually had two keys to two different rooms! We had the room next door, too, also with two twin beds. So we split up guys and girls.

We ate a quick lunch in the hotel restaurant. Not the best food, a buffet with a combination of Indian and Ethiopia foods (imagine an Arab Golden Corral!) although they did have a pasta option. Breakfast was really the only meal I'd recommend in that restaurant -- man were we glad to see some croissants and cereal!

We exchanged some money in the hotel lobby and headed back to the rooms for a nap before attempting to do any sightseeing.

We crashed for a couple hours and had the hardest time waking the kids, but we worried if we didn't get up for a little while we'd all be awake at 2am! We easily got a cab from the hotel and headed into downtown to what I believe is the largest mall in the world, right next to the tallest building in the world.

The cab ride was about 20 minutes, perfect for taking in some views of the city! We didn't have much energy for the mall and covered probably less than 1/20th of it, but we did go outside to a plaza area between the mall and the tallest building where they have a water fountain show set to music. The show was kinda cool, but we've seen the one in Vegas it was likely copied after and Vegas wins, however the views of the tall Burj Khalifa building were spectacular!
At the mall we saw an indoor aquarium and tons of great stores but we didn't feel up to shopping and besides the crowds were making me a bit nervous, mostly because we had our kids with us. Even though Dubai is a very modern city, I felt much more comfortable out and about with my kids in Ethiopia than in Dubai, not entirely sure why. So we went to the cab line where literally hundreds of cabs were ready waiting! We had a small adventure getting back to the hotel as it turned out there were two hotels in town with the same name and the driver took us to the wrong one first, but we eventually made it to the right one, had a quick dinner, showered and went to bed!

I drew the worse end of the deal bunking with my daughter. My husband and son slept soundly all night. I slept soundly for a few hours before I was awakened by my 5 year old sitting up in bed complaining that she could not sleep! Granted we were on a very different time zone than what we were used to, but need I remind you the girl only slept 6 minutes of the 15 hour flight over? Wouldn't you think she'd be tired enough to sleep no matter what time her body thought it was? I attempted to answer her question over and over, "But, how? How do you fall asleep when you can't?" Me: "You just lay there and close your eyes and be really still."

Finally I broke down and let her play the iPad (at 3am!) for a few minutes after she promised to really, really try to go to sleep afterward! I think we finally both fell asleep about 1 hour before my husband knocked on the door with our wake-up call!

It didn't take much for me to rally, though, we were really and truly ETHIOPIA-BOUND!

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