Shopping. Shopping. Shopping.
In case you were wondering what we did in Dubai for the last two days of our trip, see the previous paragraph. Oh, and we had drinks at the most luxurious hotel in the world, but I'll get to that in a second.
When something is done in Dubai, whether it is a building, a hotel, or a car purchase, it is done extravagantly and with an eye on the record books. Almost complete, the Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) is to be opened in the next month, becoming the tallest building in the world. I give it the EY Official Seal of Approval; the sleek edifice is massive and will house, in addition to the usually offices and luxury condos, the world's first Giorgio Armani Hotel.
Next door to the tower is easily the nicest shopping venue I've ever seen - Dubai Mall. An olympic size ice rink is hardly the main attraction in a place that must have the highest concentration of designer goods per meter squared than anywhere in the world. After months of Iraq-induced deprivation, a small bout of retail therapy was exactly what the doctor (and my credit card company) ordered.
We were less impressed with the more traditional Mall of the Emirates except for the fact that it is home to an indoor ski piste (Ski Dubai) that offers the opportunity to enjoy snow skiing in the desert year round.
Two days of sleeping and shopping, not to mention an amazing vacation on the whole, was appropriately capped off with drinks in the Skyview Restaurant on the 27th floor of the Burj al Arab Hotel. In case you missed the Travel Channel special where this dainty little creature on its own fake island was crowned 'Most Luxurious Hotel in the World,' the sail shaped Burj is the most luxurious hotel in the world. Oh, and they also offer the standard amenities of any quality hotel: a helicopter landing pad, a stunning view of the ridiculous "The World" islands, and an airport pickup via Rolls Royce. The hotel is also 7 stars. That's like telling someone to get a 140% on a test with no extra credit available.
In all honesty, there was a lot of style in the hotel; Lauren and I just aren't convinced that it was good style. Then again, I prefer hotels with fireplaces in the lobby, comfortable chairs and antique books placed on a wall full of shelves... so I may not be the best judge of absurd 7 star luxury.
In addition to offering a great night skyline view of illuminated Dubai, excellent drinks and even better people watching (we saw at least one Russian prostitute), the Skyview scintillated guest's visual palettes with seemingly incongruous (not to mention a bit dizzying) reds, blues, lines, circles and other indistinguishable patters.
The service was impeccable, the experience one-in-a-lifetime, and the $7k glass (not bottle) of Scotch hard to avoid, but somehow at the end of the day it is who you are with that matters most. New places are definitely fun, but it's not 'where' but 'who' that makes it special. In this regard I certainly lucked out. I couldn't have asked for a better traveling partner in crime than Lauren.
Here's to a great trip and whatever the next adventure may be!