Friday, January 23, 2015

The Flight to Abu Dhabi, 13 Hours of Fun

So in case you are one of the three people I haven't bragged about this to yet, my network of travel blog spies uncovered a fantastic airfare of $250 from Chicago to Abu Dhabi on the airline Etihad. And I was like, "where's my suitcase?" The answer was: "in my hand". I read about the fare while waiting in the airport in Antigua and Barbuda on Christmas Day. It's been an interesting few weeks, that's for sure.

I flew from Tulsa to Houston then Chicago on United. The counter guy in Tulsa was laughing at me for my awesome travel route. Something along the lines of "wave to us when you're flying back over Tulsa on the way to Chicago". You mean you can tell jokes and put little stickers on luggage? Impressive.

I got my first little taste of my new reality when I noticed a lady praying prostrate on the floor by the payphones in the airport.

Even the bag check slip was really nice.

Everyone on the plane was super nice. I was sitting next to a Pakistani guy who's family is in Chicago but he's teaching microbiology in Saudi Arabia (that old story). Behind me was an Indian national who is going to school in Chicago and was headed to India to visit family. I was one of like 5 white people on a massive plane. I've been asked what brings me to United Arab Emirates (UAE) like 5 times already and they love my "I don't know, just messing around" answer. It makes me feel sort of like a rich guy who just wanted to see a camel and then go home. One guy called me out though: "you just got that cheap fare didn't you?" Bubble burst.

I had my first little "not in Kansas anymore" moment when the flight began with a recorded travel prayer. I wish they had translated that. I'm sticking to my preflight prayer of "no whammies, no whammies, no whammies".

The food was solid, and booze didn't cost extra. For dinner I had the lamb casserole with red pepper, lentils and polenta. I couldn't quite place polenta while eating it but it's really just a bit firmer version of grits.

Go faster damn you! I watched about three movies, played an entire old school shooter video game, and read a few chapters of The Hobbit. This is definitely the longest flight I've been on until next week. The way back is listed as 15hrs. Staying here to avoid that is a distinct possibility.

Well the airport in Abu Dhabi didn't disappoint me. Golden Ferraris was about was I was expecting.

Well I'm sure Abu Dhabi is lovely but I'm opting to spend most of my trip in Dubai because it seems to have more going on. I popped out of the airport and hopped on a free Etihad bus to Dubai which was another hourish trip. There was a nice but socially a bit awkward girl on the bus who has been teaching English in UAE for 3 years. She summed it up with "the pay is good but the kids are bad".

All the street signs seem to be bilingual which is merciful. When I mentioned this to my new awkward friend she chimed in that Emirati citizens are a minority in UAE (they are only 16.6% of the population.)

There are two kinds of countries: those with meters in their cabs and those without. Good on you, UAE.

Grand Midwest Hotel Apartments - Bur Dubai has decently nice rooms, but they are friggin huge. 

The hotel even had an adapter for me to deal with this little situation. Not planning ahead is fun!

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