Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Dubai Day Three - Part Two

We headed back into The Dubai Mall...



They had fancy-shmancy cars that I'll never remember the name of on display in the middle of the mall...







My mother-in-law and I feeling right at home at Cartier...





...this is obviously where we belong. 

Well, either there, or Tiffany & Co...


...because we're clearly elegant.

Sister wanted to join in on the voguing...
(yes, I'm turning "vogue" into a verb. Because it's my blog and I can)




( I believe we've now gifted Wikipedia with pictures for their definition of the word "posers" )


After we had our time pretending to be fancy, we made our way to a different entrance/exit and purchased tickets for the Hop-On Hop-Off Double Decker Bus Tour...



Hanging out while David and his dad sorted out the tour bus info.
You'll note Brother has King Kong balanced on his head =).









I've always wanted to ride on the top of a double-decker bus! 
I'm pretty sure I've wanted to ever since I was a kid, but I also believe the desire was heavily influenced by the episodes of "Friends" when they went to London. 




My cute Mother-in-law and I...

...love her so much!


Stairs! On a bus!! Heading up to the open-air top floor!!!
Yes I am easily excited!



When the six of us first climbed up to the top of the bus, we found two couples sitting in the very front of the bus. We took some seats behind them.
Then, before the bus took off, they got up and moved to seats downstairs.
We're not sure what made them move - they smiled as they did - but we sure loved getting to sit in the very front!







The bus tour was really interesting, and such a relaxing way to drive all around Dubai and see the sites...










There's a streetcar that goes through the downtown square...







 I've learned how much this kid loves history during our travels over the last two years.
 Here he is, intently listening to the tour guide speak into the earbuds as he takes in the view of what he's learning about...




The Burj Khalifa is just so stunning, I couldn't stop taking pictures of it...



Dubai is very beautiful. It seemed so clean, so organized, so well-thought out.
Even the freeway underpasses are ornate...




Throughout the tour, we heard about many different buildings and how proud Dubai is of it's state of the architecture...


It was such a lovely day to be on an open-air bus ride! Nice sunshine and a refreshing breeze...








We took "Happiness Street" for a few miles...















It was right about this point in the tour that I pulled a Classic Kendra accidentally dropped the lens cap to our camera down to the street. 
I felt all panicky, and we were at a red light, so I thought maybe I had time to run downstairs, to the front of the bus, and hop outside to grab it real fast?
I mean, this is the nicest camera we've ever owned, and I hated the idea of leaving the lens unprotected until we could purchase a replacement...but David was super chill about the whole thing, and all "don't worry about it, it'll be fine, we can just get another lens cap when we get back to Kuwait."
Right as he was calming me down and explaining this, we hear "do you need this?" come from the street. 
I look down and there is a woman holding up the lens cap!
"YES! I DO!" I yell way too loudly and way too excitedly.
She proceeds to give it a toss, and it lands up in a seat next to us.
I probably yelled "Thank you!! You're SO KIND!" fifty times before the light turned green and we drove away =).



As much as everything in Dubai seems new, the tour took us to some older areas with more history, which was full of cool things...like this old fort...






We toured the seaside area where the spice boats come in and lots of importing is done...










The Boy and KingKong were loving the tour...



The Girl and Forest enjoyed it as well...















We were on the bus for about an hour and a half, and still only did about 50% of the hop-on hop-off tour. It was intriguing to learn so much about Dubai's history and how it currently operates as well, and a great way to cover so much area.
It was fairly expensive, and we didn't take full advantage of the options that came with our ticket (there was a boat tour included as well!), but we felt like it was a good experience, and we were all pleasantly surprised with how much we enjoyed it.
We might have continued further on the tour, but it had been a long day already and we were more than ready to head back to the hotel. 

When we got back there, I was KICKED.
 I thought everyone was, but David (aka SuperDad) somehow had the energy to take the kids swimming...


...which left me with a hotel room all to myself...oh what to do?

Pineapple hard cider, new slippers my inlaws delivered from Zulily for me, and a People magazine that my mother-in-law brought me...


...these are a few of my favorite things =)

A perfect ending to Day Three in Dubai. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dubai Day Three - Part One

This day was so busy - and so fun! - that it's gonna require two posts to properly document it all.
And they're each still gonna be incredibly, ridiculously long  epic.
Because I want to post ALL THE PICTURES and because we all know "brief" is not a word ever used to describe my documenting. 
Sorry. 
Pictures are my Love Language =)

We were starting this day with an alarm, as we had tickets to go up in the Burj Khalifa for 9:30am. 
When the alarm went off, we all collectively groaned, but got up and started to get ready to head downstairs for breakfast.
Well, all of us except Sister, who got up and dressed and then crawled into our bed and promptly fell back to sleep...

After such a fun day the day prior, the struggle was real.

We ate a delicious breakfast, and then took a taxi to the TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. 

Driving through downtown Dubai...



We made it!
They had this statue of the building in the lobby...


We were feeling pretty lucky to be able to travel here and experience this!


...and even luckier that some grandparents could join...


As you enter the building, they have beautiful pictures and stories written along the walls, describing and showing you how it was made...



Getting ready to head up!


Inside the elevator...



The speed was incredible. Okay, really the whole thing was pretty impressive. The elevator had televisions and a narrator and everything. 
Fancy.
It took us approximately 45 seconds to go 124 floors. 
video

You can actually go all the way up to the 148th floor, but it costs a ton more ($34 a person vs $95 a person), and we figure the experience of the 124/125th floors would be good enough. 
And because we're kinda cheap that way.

They had these cool telescope/tv things where you could direct the viewer onto a landmark and then highlight it on the screen and it would tell you all about it...




There was an open-air deck on this floor, and it was very humid, which made the inside super muggy as well. Sister quickly stripped down to her tanktop =).
Luckily she was still willing to pose next to the view of downtown Dubai from 124 floors up...


...and try and get in her brother's way as he attempted to learn more about Dubai...































Gorgeous chandelier over the stairway from the 124th to the 125th floor... 



We weren't up there too long before Sister decided she was done. I'm not sure if it was the heights (she's not a big fan) or the humidity, or if she was just bored, but earlier in the day when she'd expressed anxiety about being up so high, I'd made a promise to her that if she'd at least try it, then I'd take her back down whenever she wanted...so I had to keep my word, and back down she and I went. 

As you exit, they have more pictures and info...



...and they bid you farewell in multiple languages...



Sister and I hung out in the lobby and played teeny Connect Four (thanks Sam!) and waited for the rest of our crew...


When we were all reunited, we walked through the Dubai Mall a bit...


We stopped in a few shops on our way to our next stop. My mother in law snapped this pic in this store...we could have spent hours looking around this one...


We walked and walked, and probably saw a 1/15th of the mall.
The Dubai Mall is the largest in the world. 
(Dubai apparently likes to be known for having the biggest of everything)

It was HUGE and I was fine with only seeing a small portion of it. 

I get overwhelmed in a Super Walmart. 



Next up: Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo!





Five happy people waiting in line for the aquarium...





Sister's face cracks me up here...




GIANT stingray...




Black-blotched ray...





















After we'd walked through the tunnel portion, we headed upstairs for another section of the Underwater Zoo...






We purchased the "Explorer Experience" which included the Submersible Simulator...


Which was only okay. 
You went inside a box that moved around as if it were diving and maneuvering under water, and one wall was a giant screen acting as a "window" showing you what deep down at the bottom of the sea looks like.  

Four semi-impressed people during the production...




Next up was the Glass Bottom Boat tour.

Safety first!















There were several packages you could purchase..swimming with sharks (um, nothankyou) and different diving options...


...but gliding across still waters indoors at a speed of .5 miles per hour with life jackets on was about as crazy as I was willing to get.
Because I get sea sick. 
And, as I mentioned before, I was on prescription cold meds and dizzy when I bent over to put on my shoes.
And also because I am old. 








We thought this spotted sting ray was pretty much the coolest creature in the water!



After we disembarked our boat, there was a little more aquarium to be seen...

"Pot-bellied Seahorses"
I love seahorses and totally used to want one for a pet when I was younger. 



I strongly dislike birds and feel owning one as a pet would be a form of torture...




So many different tanks to look at...




This was by far the coolest Aquarium/Underwater Zoo I'd ever visited. There was an entire upstairs area that had rope bridges connecting the exhibits...




These iridescent fish were amazing to see in person! The pictures don't quite capture how truly see-through they are... 











I was oddly fascinated with this Eastern Long-Neck Turtle. I could not stop watching it...






...it had a body like a regular turtle, but a super long neck that extended really far and moved around as if independent from it's body.



Every animal had a bio on a screen next to where it was, so you could read about it...




This was another animal I was fascinated by! It looked like a dinosaur!
(But, alas, it was apparently not a dinosaur, but instead a Mata Mata Turtle)




Two cuties in an underwater bubble =)...









Of all the creatures we saw that day, this one mesmerized me the most...









I mean, seriously!? How creative is our God?

I could have stood there and watched those guys swim around for the entire day. My kids were like "come ON momma! We want to see OTHER THINGS!" 

Luckily we were running a four-on-two adult-to-child ratio, so they could drag another grown up around while I stared googily-eyed at those creatures.


King Croc...


...King Croc and his wife, Queen Croc...


We learned that they were native to Queensland, Australia before being relocated to Dubai together. 
We also learned that they've been a couple for 20 years, which I found ridiculously adorable. 


Looking down from one of the rope bridges above...




Can you spot the chameleon? 






























Goofy girl =)...

















We learned that the Saltwater crocodile has the highest bite force of any animal known to man...




Such a fun and informative visit! We saw so many incredible animals that we'd never even heard of before, and learned tons.
We LOVED the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo!



The Grandparents purchased this souvenir book for the kids:


Inside are some funny pictures the staff took (I told you before, EVERYWHERE in Dubai seems to have a photographer on standby...) and really interesting information on the animals we saw that day...

















We've already looked through the book a bunch and had fun showing some friends the pictures inside...thanks Papa and Gaga =).

If you're traveling to Dubai, I highly recommend the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. I had heard a lot of great things about it, and it's one of the main reasons we booked the trip in the first place.
Honestly, we had been thinking we'd just skip over seeing Dubai - it seemed to be the "Vegas" of The Middle East, and we're not really Vegas people - but a good friend with kids similar ages to ours really encouraged us to go see all that Dubai had to offer, specifically naming this Underwater Zoo, and I'm glad I headed her advice =). 



We ate lunch at The Rainforest Cafe...


...which was really fun! If you've never been, the whole restaurant is a rainforest and every so often a "storm" comes and the animals come to life. 




A glimpse of one of the "storms"...

video


I'd told the kids earlier in the day that they could pick out one souvenir that day, either from the Aquarium or somewhere else. 
They both chose a new lovie (stuffed animal) from the Rainforest Cafe =).
Sister picked a dog which she named "Forest", a nod to his original home at Rainforest Cafe gift shop.
Brother selected a gorilla, which he named "King Kong", because, giant ape.


After lunch we made our way outside the mall to capture some outdoor shots in front of the Burj Khalifa.  
This is another incidence where the pictures just do not do it justice. 
This building is gargantuan. 
I was truly awe-struck standing there, staring alllllll the way up at it. 


We took a pic in Trailblazer gear, in hopes of getting the grandparents on "Wear In The World" :


I think their chances are pretty good!


Doesn't the building almost look like CGI???
(it's not, I promise. We were totally there.)


Another set of cuties...


(two cuties, and Forest =) )



We wanted a group shot in front of the Burj, but you can't really get six people AND a ginormous skyscraper in the same shot...


closer...




...and then David suggested a selfie...


...and pretty much nailed it! =)
(and Brother even managed to get King Kong in the shot ;) )

This outdoor area of the mall was so beautiful...







Sister asked for a picture with Forest here...


...it reminded me of when Brother asked for his picture in front of the Kuwait Towers...big kids asking for independent shots and posing for them proudly.


I love seeing David and his Dad share such a friendship... 


...it's such a blessing, and several times over the trip I found myself praying that our grown up children will enjoy our company in the years to come as well.

We enjoyed the surroundings a bit longer...


...and then made our to the next adventure of the day!