In 2012 I visited my Eugene OR friend, David Benafel, in Mali (photos can be found under "MORE...") His recent job has been in Tanzania, so I arranged to visit him and Tanzania in April 2016. A Seattle friend, Raphael Hadac, who has traveled with me in China, Japan and the California Sierras, joined me.
Yes, Emirates Air flies from Seattle to Dubai, twice a day, where another flight goes on to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania's main city.
The 14.5 hour flight, give or take a wind, goes along the northern coast of Greenland....the frozen landscape of snow and ice glows in the setting sun light.
Time to turn off the lights, turn on the stars, kick back and watch or listen or play games or just follow the flight on a world map. Or sleep. Only a couple illuminated reading lights attest to the fall off in the popularity of print media.
Morning light revealed the deserts of Turkmenistan, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, and, closer to Dubai, the urban infrastructure spreading across the sands.
The final approach is over multiple residential building blocks, and the circular Uptown Mirdif Center, one of a multitude of shopping malls in the Emirate.
A more well known development is Palm Jumeirah, the first of three reclaimed land developments which will add 320 miles of shoreline to Dubai. The project has been mired in controversy over the increased density, shaken by financial problems (which cashiered the proposed Trump Tower), and subject to issues of whether it is sinking or not.
Emirates Air Terminal Three is one of the largest terminals in the world...as must be its baggage claim area.
The Metro, with 47 miles of track, is the second largest (after Cairo) in the Arab world.
So naturally there are ticket vending machines, and "tap & go" multi-trip passes but also real people selling admission with credit/debit cards or good old fashion Arab Emirates Dirhams $.50 for one zone, or $1.50 for all five.
Many of the Metro's pedestrian walkways link to shopping malls, and they to hotels. It possible go in about an hour from hotel, to mall, to metro, to airport all in air-conditioned comfort.
Not all Muslim women wear head to toe black garments....
Leaving the AC and walking the city streets is required in order to see, and photograph, the exterior architecture. Not many people doing that.
There is more and more going up, and ....
...the tallest in the world, for now, is the Burj Khalifa - 2,722' to the tip. It has 154 floors, rising to 1,918'. It is not made to be accessed by walking....
Sidewalks often get short shrift, in favor of autos seeking hotel entries.
The path to the Burj was through the Dubai Mall's underground parking area, with pedestrians sharing the roadways.
Once there, it is like many world towers...buy your ticket, line up and wait, and eventually your elevator time arrives.
The highest observation area is on floor 145...a portion of which is well glassed in, but there are slits which allows one to feel the ambient air temperature. Sitting on the floor, up against the glass, taking pictures, or having ones taken, is the norm.
Meanwhile, outside, thousands of led's the building, and streams of water, playing along with the sound system music and throngs take photos and selfies.
A 24 hour stopover is way too short a visit. Ah, well. Emirates Air is happy to take one there again.
But it is time to pack up Duty Free purchases, and get to the gate for the flight to Tanzania.