Saturday, March 10, 2012

6th Posting - Petra and the Dead Sea (optional extension)

After the main Dubai trip, Ruth, LaVerne, Mary Beth, Andrew and I went to Jordan to visit Petra and the Dead Sea. What a great time we had! Petra is always wonderfully overwhelming, and our Dead Sea Resort was the perfect spot to finish our trip in style for one night.

We all walked to two miles down into Petra, including the mile-long Siq - a narrow, deep slot canyon and the only entrance into the mysterious valley.

Andew navigates the Siq

Mary Beth enjoys the stroll down.

The first glimpse of the Treasury through the rocks of the Siq

The Petra Treasury in full splendor!

The myriad of openings in the rocks make for good picture frames!

There is no shortage of opportunities for camel rides, donkey rides, and carriage rides!

The Theater, framed by the cave openings across the canyon

Ruth, Andrew and I made the long, hard trek up the mountain to the Monastery.
This is the beginning of the two-hour uphill climb, which includes 800 steps.

But we made it and it was worth it. The Monastery is a stunning piece of architecture!

The Monastery

The view down over the rugged countryside from the Monastery

View from the 'End of the World'
The mountains in the distance are in Israel. The valley between is below sea level.

Dozens of buildings carved from the red rock

As we drove from Petra to the Dea Sea, the landscapes were wild and breathtaking.

Our first view of the Dead Sea in the distance, taken exactly at Sea Level.
The Dead Sea is over 1200 feet below Sea Level.

Our lovely 5-star Holiday Inn Resort on the Dead Sea

LaVerne and Ruth test the waters.

Some of our beautiful pools at the Resort

Sunset at the Dead Sea

Monday, March 5, 2012

5th Posting - Back in Dubai

Our two days back in Dubai were certainly the grand culmination of an exciting tour. Some went snow skiing at Ski Dubai, four went on a helicopter road over the area, and all of us went to the magnificent Burj al Arab for High Tea and finished off the day Sunday with a desert safari and Bedouin Dinner! Then on Monday we all made the ascent of the world's highest building, on the world's fastest elevator (3 floors per second!), to the world's highest observation platform (on the 124th floor). The Burj Khalifa is more than a half mile high!! It dwarfs the other skyscrapers in Dubai and is even 50% taller than the next tallest building in the world!

Gloria models her new gown.

Ski Dubai, inside the Mall of the Emirates

Andrew loves the skiing!

Don, Pat, Jim & Donna go for a helicopter ride.

Up they go.

The Burj al Arab

Fountains in the lobby of the Burj al Arab

Shots of the interior of the Burj al Arab

Reflections of the lobby columns in the grand piano - can you see it?

Jean, LaVerne, Andrew, Ruth, Mary Beth, and Gaylene have high tea in the atrium of the Burj al Arab.

High Tea entertainers


Group Photo in the lobby of the Burj al Arab

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

And then off to our desert safari, with a first stop at a camel farm.

Beautiful dunes and landscapes

Blowing sand over the dunes

Our desert safari was in perfect comfort in our modern safari vehicles!

Tearing across the dunes!

Gaylene and Ruth go flying off a high dune.

Sunset over the dunes

Gaylene gets henna painting on her hand in our Bedouin Camp

Donna and Babs try to stay on the camel!

Andrew and John try out the Arab water pipes.

The evening concludes with belly dancing in the Bedouin Camp.

But then Pat gets carried in her wheelchair by four Arab men across the sand to her jeep!

Monday, our last day, was picture perfect with temps in the 70's and good visibility.
We started off with a photo stop at the Sultan's Palace.

Peacock on the grounds of the Sultan's Palace

And then the HIGHlight of our trip, literally!! We took the elevators up to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa for a very far-reaching view.

The skyscrapers north of the tower look small from the BK!

Mere 30-story buildings look like dwarfs.

In the far distance with full zoom I managed to get a shot of the Queen Elizabeth 2 and our ship, the RCCL Brilliance of the Seas. QE2 aficionados will be happy to know they have begun work on her and in fact they had a big New Year's Eve ball on board the ship. Her permanent home will be on the Palm Jumeirah.

Looking straight down from the Burj Khalifa. Note the fountain infrastructure for the evening displays. 

The Burj al Arab in the distance

Proof that I was up there!

Out in the water is the 'World' development of islands. Work is not progressing on it at the moment.

We had to leave the ship by 4:30 so we spent the evening at the Dubai Mall, at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. The mall is stunning with over 1000 shops and many attractions, like a 3-story waterfall, an giant aquarium, an under-water zoo(!), the largest indoor gold souk, and the beautiful lake out back featuring the musical fountain displays each evening. Here Ruth, Babs, and LaVerne enjoy a choo choo ride through the mall!

The beautiful Dubai Mall Waterfall with the silver Pearl Divers

Sunset over the 'lake' behind the Dubai Mall

Fountain shows were every half hour, beginning at 6 p.m.

The water reaches heights of 500 feet!

Dubai Mall from across the water.

The top of the Burj Khalifa tower. It is 180 stories high!

The 7:30 fountains. How appropriate that the fountains were done to the music of 
"Time to Say Good-bye!!" Absolutely exquisite.

One of the delightful buildings in the Dubai Mall / Burj Khalifa complex

And the streets near the mall are lit up prettier than Beverly Hills!