Living the High Life in Dubai

Monday, September 18, 2017

Last night was rough. I found myself wide awake at 2 am staring at the cieling, so I gave up and read a book until about 6:30 am when I headed down to the gym. Our hotel gym seems to also double as the Equinox of Dubai. I fumbled around fake working out for about twenty minutes until I noticed a spin class was starting, so I joined in on that and actually earned my breakfast buffet for a change. After we all hit the gym we headed down to our usual buffet. I smuggled a few bottles of sparking water out in my bag for vodka sodas later today. Zero shame. After breakfast we headed down to the pool at the Al Naseer hotel, which is another hotel in our resort complex. We have access to four different pools and the entire stretch of beach at the Jumeirah Madinat complex. Or as we like to call it, Middle East Disneyland. We spent a few hours by the pool until we were sufficiently overheated in the sweaty armpit of the universe that is Dubai in September. We headed back up to the room for some drinks before our next outing.

Everyone drinks before they go to the mall, right? Oh, the Dubai Mall. How to describe you? For all the talk it garners, I had some high expectations for the Dubai Mall. I was picturing an architecturally stunning building with oversized high-end stores sprinkled with impressive art installations around every corner. Spoiler alert – its just a fucking mall. A giant, anxiety-inducing, douche-bag filled square box of a mall with every store you could possibly imagine. Ok, so there are some cool fountains outside that light up at night – but nothing I can’t see fifteen hours closer to home at the Bellagio. Yes, there is an aquarium in the mall, but since I’m not eight years old that doesn’t really do it for me. I don’t need to travel sixteen hours to shop in a fucking H&M. I didn’t think there was a way for me to possibly hate shopping more – but Dubai, you have done it. We basically used the mall as exercised as we power walked through. I think the only store we actually stopped in was a giant candy store, and that was just because they were giving away free samples. Steph’s friend had recommended a restaurant in the mall so we stopped there and got some hummus in an attempt to kill time before our reservation at Atmosphere lounge in the Burj Khalifa. The moral of the story here is; skip the Dubai mall and do your shopping at home. Or on Amazon, like a normal person.

There are a few ways for lowly tourists like us to get to a high floor of the Burj Khalifa. The most popular way is to wait in line with a shit ton of other clueless tourists and ride up to the “at the top” observation deck. Or, for about $20 more, you can make a reservation at the Atmosphere lounge in the Armani hotel a few floors below the observation deck and use your money towards the minimum spend for a table. Decisions, decisions. I could have my personal space violated in an enclosed glass box by a Chinese tour group following around a guide holding a stick with a stuffed panda on it, or I could get drunk in the highest bar in the world. If anyone needs to claim they’ve had a drink in the superlatives of bars, it’s this bitch. So up we went, 123 floors, to the Atmosphere lounge where I had a window table booked for the 5:30 pm slot – perfect to see the view of Dubai during the day, the sunset, and the view at night. Overall, the Armani hotel is pretentious and sterile. My gynecologist’s office is more inviting than this place. I couldn’t even wear flip flops. My ability to be dressed comfortably is usually the standard by which I measure drinking establishments. Hence my VIP card at the Poop Deck in Hermosa. The lounge looked like a 1970s James Bond movie. Plush velvet, expensive drinks, and waiters on standby to rush over as soon as you blink in their general direction. I’ll be damned if I didn’t think it was fucking rad. We ordered $20 cocktails and a few appetizers and enjoyed pretending like we were rich for a few hours. Upon our way downstairs, we attempted to walk to the windows on the third floor to see the Dubai mall fountain show, but were told a security guard that we weren’t allowed to look out the window. I shit you not. Come for the cool bar with a great view, but leave because they are pretentious pricks in the Armani hotel.

The plan was to go back to the mall to a restaurant with a view of the fountain show after the lounge, but I was down for the count after my 2 am wake up time. That, and the thought of going back to that mall strikes fear into my heart. So we hopped in a cab and headed back to Middle East Disneyland. I think we were in bed by about 9:30 pm. Sorry for not partying.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Today I woke up and had a leisurely morning in the hotel room. Steph worked out, Jorgie drank coffee, I watched TV. Then we did something terrible. We cheated on our breakfast buffet. Blatantly and in the light of day. We took an abra boat to the other side of Middle East Disneyland to the Al Qsar hotel breakfast buffet. In true cheating fashion, it ended up being a lot of work for a sub par experience. I was pretty disappointed in this buffet, until I found a cronut on my way out. All is well that ends well. Now that we had adequately stuffed our faces, it was naturally time to go to the water park.

Did you honestly think Middle East Disneyland could be complete without its own water park? The Wild Wadi waterpark is located in our hotel complex and is free to everyone staying at the hotel. I’m not talking about a kids club with a jungle gym in the middle of some fountains here (although they have that too). This is an actual fucking waterpark right on the beach, adjacent to our hotel, with a view of the Burj Al Arab from the slide towers. It opens at 10 am, so we naturally arrived at 9:55 am. When they opened there were about ten people total in the entire water park, and three of them were us. Which was great, because the fewer people that question why three 30-something year old women are running around a waterpark in Dubai, the better. We tackled the group rides first – the ones we could all go on together. Our second ride required exactly four passengers, because the weight had to be evenly distributed on the raft or you’ll flip over. When will this blatant discrimination of threesomes stop?! It might as well say “couples only”. At this point, getting a fourth person on one of our annual trips would be way too much work, since we would all have veto power and the three of us just don’t like very many people. I had a half a mind to tell them to take their even numbered water slide and shove it, but Jorgie noticed that there was a male lifeguard at the top on our last ride and was confident that we could make him our fourth wheel. So we hiked up and played dumb and pouted when they told us about the four person rule. Sure enough, the lifeguard offered to round out our foursome, so if you are wondering who the middle eastern man with a whistle around his neck in our pictures is, now you know. We hit up every single ride in the park in about an hour and a half and made our exit just as all the families started arriving.

We then headed down to the beach and snagged some chairs under a giant umbrella. We spent the next few hours laying in the shade while cute cabana boys brought us lunch. It is damn near impossible to lay in the sun in Dubai this time of year because of the heat, even the shade is a chore. But ME Disneyland does a good job of trying to keep you cool with men walking around to all the pool and beach chairs handing out watermelon slices and popsicles. Today we even got a visit from the schfitzer man – a guy who walks around with what is basically a turbo powered water gun strapped to his back and sprays down the guests upon request. How did this hotel know that a man who’s sole purpose is to spraying me with water while I tan is Rory’s entourage job opening numero uno as soon as I win the lottery? It’s like they are reading my mind.

Once the sun poisoning set in we moved our little party back up to the room to get ready for the grand finale of our Dubai trip – BOAT TIME! We packed up our booze and headed out in a cab to a marina to meet our private boat. Our taxi driver got a little lost on the way, but I my nautical sixth sense told me we were headed in the wrong direction. Once we taught our driver how to use GPS we were at our boat in no time. It was obviously necessary for me to book a 15 person yacht for the three of us. Boats are absurdly cheap to rent in Dubai for some reason. If I ever come back, I’m just going to rent one every damn day and pretend I’m Beyonce. Our captain looked slightly confused when only three of us got on and told him we were ready to go, but that is a look we are used to. The first mate put our booze on ice and we headed out to the coast guard boat to get clearance to leave the Marina. I have zero clue what pirate laws govern the Dubai waterways, all I know is that our passports were given to a guy in army fatigues with gold teeth along with a wad of cash. Gold Teeth then boarded our boat, gave each of us the once over, and searched the vessel like we were hiding Elian Gonzalez in the berth. Jorgie was, once again, certain that this situation would end with us being sold into sex slavery, but I assured her that we were far too old to be worth anything more than ransom. A few minutes later we were released by the powers that be and cruising by the Burj Al Arab headed for the palm islands of Dubai.

We had the boat for three hours, which was plenty of time to cruise through the Marina area of Dubai and around the Palm Islands, where the Atlantis hotel is. Waters were a bit rough at first but calmed once we made it to the safety of the islands. As we cruised through the Marina district we passed numerous other yachts packed with Asian tourists. I think they assumed that three white girls popping bottles of champagne on a private yacht meant that we were famous because they would blatantly take pictures of us as we passed them. This is the closest I’ll ever come to paparazzi, so I ate it up. The girls wouldn’t let me flash them. Or moon them. I supposed I should thank them for holding me back because I doubtpublic nudity is highly regarded in Dubai. Now I know what the Kardashians feels like – life in the public eye is just so hard. We basically spent three hours boozing on the front of our yacht while we motored through skyscraper lined canals blasting country music throughout the Persian Gulf. It was the perfect adieu to the city of gold. After our three hour tour we were sufficiently drunk. If I’m being honest, we were downright shit faced. If you aren’t drunk every time you step off a boat, you need to seriously re-evaluate your priorities. No one at the marina was too keen on calling a taxi for three drunk American chicks, so we hoofed it out to the main road and flagged down a taxi back to our resort.

At this point, I still had every intention of partying tonight. We quickly showered and tried to lock it up for a night out on the town. By town, I obviously mean the various bars within the confines of our resort complex. Some people had recommended a few clubs in downtown Dubai to check out, but I’m not crazy about the word “club” any more than I am about the word “downtown”. We headed downstairs to Bahri Bar where we met Steph’s friend from home and his wife, who now live in Dubai. Yes, this is the same friend who recommended Zero Gravity Beach Hell and yes, we gave him shit about it. It was ladies night at the bar, which meant three free glasses of champagne for anyone with two X chromosomes. Three very unecessary, yet much appreciated glasses of champagne for the gals! Now it’s about 10pm and I’ve been drunk for over six hours with nothing to eat, so mama needs to be fed. Jorgie and I headed over in one of the Disneyland boats to a tapas restaurant at our resort where we proceeded to order half the menu (free half board = three courses per person at any restaurant at the resort). Steph joined us a few minutes later after her friends had left for their early work morning the next day. By midnight it had become glaringly obvious that we were not making it to another bar. So we took our drunk asses home to dream about our arrival in the Maldives tomorrow. Dubai, it’s been real. Real hot.


Gold Tastes on a Curry Budget

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today we managed to get a full night of decent sleep. The girls went to the gym in the morning while I blogged and then we all headed down to the enormous breakfast buffet. I am forcing myself to stick to only one plate today. The food situation here has gotten out of hand quickly. Today we met who we assume to be the manager of the breakfast buffet – an adorable British boy who looks like he is about 24 years old at best. Who needs gelato at breakfast when you already have eye candy? Oh god, I just realized I’m the creepy older lady hitting on the much younger help. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

After breakfast we hopped in a cab down to the Diera area of Dubai, which is the historical commercial center. Now overshadowed by all the new development, it basically represents what Dubai used to be like back before they lead the race for the world’s tallest buildings and biggest malls. The plan for the morning is to hit up the gold souk and the spice souk and then take an abra boat ride across the creek. As usual, our taxi driver drove like a fucking maniac and we feared for our lives the entire way. It’s par for the course in Dubai. You get a nut bag driver fifty percent of the time, every time. The drive took about half an hour, because everything in Dubai is farther than you think and takes twice as long as it should. Driving here would be complete nightmare. Our surly driver dropped us off outside of the gold souk and we were immediately bombarded by men asking us to come look at their fake handbags. If you have a vagina in the gold souk, it is assumed that you care about nothing but designer handbags, colorful pagminas and engagement rings.

The three of us were picturing more a traditional souk – similar to the one in Marrakech with vendors in little stalls selling various trinkets and wares, good-natured and ready to make a deal. My inner Fatima CousCous was ready to haggle. The gold souk in Dubai resembles more of an alley made up of small jewelry stores with aggressive prices – Basically in Santee Alley, with a serious attitude problem. Jorgie found a ring she liked in one of the windows so we went in to see what kind of deal we could make. The guy gave us an opening price of about USD $600, at which point we realized we were in way over our heads. I could haggle the shit out of this guy and still not get to place anyone would be comfortable with. 24 kt gold and precious gems demand a high price that we just aren’t interested in paying.

The intense heat and thick humidity only further exacerbated our cheapness and annoyance. It was at this point that I realized why the souk is open until 10 pm – no one in their right minds comes to this money pit in daylight. I guess we missed the memo. I was thinking more about beating the crowds than the heat. With jewelry shopping out of the question it become apparent that we would be making a swift exit. But first, Steph and I were determined to have our Sex and the City moment in the souk. It’s a girl thing, just roll with it. The next young man that came over to us asking us if we like Gucci and Prada handbags was the lucky winner. We told him we would take a look and followed in down an alley, up a decrepit stairwell, to an unassuming brown door where he registered a secret knock of some sort. At this point Jorgie was convinced that it was finally happening – we were selling her into white girl slavery. There is a point in every trip where she fears for her life and thinks we are being taken, but she follows Steph and I down the rabbit hole like a good friend anyway. We had zero interest in buying fake designer bags, we were purely in it for the experience. What the fuck would I do with a fake Prada bag anyway, wear it around in Sharkeez in some matching lulu lemons while I take Jell-O shots and play flip cup on Thursday nights? It’s a good thing I wasn’t a serious shopper, because these were the worst fucking fake bags I have ever seen. I could do a better job with some pleather and a bedazzler. The guy then offered to show us fake watches or sunglasses, but based on the bag selection I surmised that I was better off waiting on my next Target run. Besides, our Sex and the City moment had passed. We left the creepy room and headed back to the souk where Jorgie was finally able to unclench and breathe a sigh of relief.

Knock twice if you have rich white girls

Next stop was the spice souk. It was even shittier than the gold souk. None of the Arabic authenticity we had imagined. Our faces were sweating down our necks and we were desperate to make a quick purchase and get back to some air conditioning. A nice man with a spice shop invited us in to give us a run down on his product and we obliged. He offered to mix some specialty curry. We asked the price and he quoted us in grams, assuring us it was super cheap. So he mixed us up three huge batches of house curry that we will never be able to get through, along with some other spices. The main problem here was our complete lack of knowledge about the metric system. What American knows how much a fucking gram is? Apparently they are extremely small. So we ended up with a small fortune of spices that we then had to argue the price down on. It was clear we had let our heat exhaustion and souk induced anxiety get the better of us. We settled on a price that I’m still sure was about 50% too high and quickly got the fuck out of the Dubai souks. It was the kind of thing you have to do and see once. However if I ever find myself in Dubai again, I’ll stick to the resorts and leave the souk shopping to the metric savvy Europeans. By the way, all my friends are getting homemade curry powder as presents Steph is already planning a curry themed Christmas party. And Jorgie’s boyfriend better be ready to taste test her all new curry Pinterest recipes. We apologize in advance.

The next part of the plan was to take an abra boat along the creek. Abra boats were the main mode of transportation for Dubai workers back in the day. We walked over to the boat station and one of the attendants gave us an overview of the route options. He informed us that the typical ride up and back down the creek takes about 45 minutes. We all would have thrown someone overboard if we had to be subjected to the stagnant Dubai heat and humidity for forty-five more minutes. I then asked the guy if we could just take the five minute commuter express journey that goes straight across the creek. He was clearly disappointed. This prick then attempted to over-charge us 20 dirhams a person. Luckily Steph’s friend had already informed us this should only cost 1 dirham so we called bullshit and boarded the boat. Five minutes later we docked at the other side of the creek, fully confident that we got an efficient yet completely adequate abra boat experience. We hopped in a cab, made whimpering sounds as the air conditioning hit our skin, and headed back to the hotel. Thus concludes the “authentic Dubai” experience. We came, we saw, we curried

We cooled down in our hotel for a bit and then hit the pool bar for a quick lunch before heading out for our dune buggy desert tour. Every tourist in Dubai does basically the same obligatory desert tour.  There are tons of different companies, but the program is generally identical.  I had the typical tour booked until Steph’s Aunt Sharon saved us from from tourism basicness and told us we had to do a dune buggy tour. Sharon is also a blog fan, so shout out to her! We heeded her advice and booked a dune buggy tour instead.  We were picked up and driven about an hour out of Dubai into the desert where we were thrilled to discover that we were the only people who booked this particular tour tonight. Private tour for three with no losers to slow us down. Perfect. Just to be clear, I didn’t drive. Driving and vacationing are mutually exclusive in my book because I hate driving and I’m horrible at it. I sat shot gun in Jorgie’s buggy and took selfies. The first half hour was a little slow for our tastes. I think the guy was giving us the Meek Female Special. When we stopped for a break I informed him it was time to speed it up. This isn’t our first four-wheeling experience on sand dunes. We know what we paid for and we came to kick a little ass. Again, by “we” I am referring to Steph and Jorgie. They gave us driving break at the foot of rocky hill in the middle of the desert. I think they thought we would enjoy the shade. Fuck shade, I want some cute pictures. So I made everyone drive up to a sand dune instead and then directed a photo shoot. The guides took pictures of us with their own phones “for the website”. One can only hope that is where those pics end up. But if some dude in a burka wants to get his rocks off to a pic of three sweaty American chicks covered in sand, no skin off my back. Our tour guide took note of our corrections and we jammed it on the way back. I was secretly hoping Jorgie would flip us, but she is far too responsible. And now we know why I’m not allowed to drive.

We then made our way to the desert camp for the cookie-cutter “desert BBQ” portion of the evening with all the other tourist basics. There were various activities on offer, like camel riding, sand boarding, and wearing traditional Arabic outfits. I wanted to play dress up, but I think the employees couldn’t handle the innate racism of the DIY burka booth because no one was ever working it. Fair. Everyone sat on rugs and pillows around a stage and feasted on a big buffet while we watched a very bizarre display of traditional Arabic dance. I’m gonna have to take their word for it on this one. The first dancer came out in a colorful multi-layered outfit with a giant skirt and danced around with a bunch of hats. But things really spiced up when they turned out the camp lights and revealed his entire outfit was covered in rave lights. Is there an Arabic burner tent at burning man that they poached this guy from? Just wait, it gets better. He removes his skirt and, as he is twirling, wraps it into a fake baby and pretends to hold a baby while the soundtrack plays crying baby noises in the background. What. The. Actual. Fuck? The second act was a belly dancer who made way too much eye contact as she moved around the stage. She slightly redeemed herself by aggressively shimmying her tits in front the old European men for a sold three minutes as they drooled. The grand finale was when at the very end when they announced “ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for stargazing!” We lay back on our pills as they turned out all the lights in camp and we looked up to see about three stars and jumbo jet flying overhead. Magical.

We drove back through the sand dunes in our SUV to reach the highway. The dumb shit in the car in front of hike the brakes like a pussy at right at the top of a hill, causing us to slam the breaks and get stuck in the sand. Our driver, a very nice Indian man who’s name I couldn’t understand but we just called MacGyver let the air out of the tires and got us out. We then had to take a “shortcut” through the desert to get to a gas station to fill them back up, which basically meant a drive through desert back roads with about 100 other identical looking SUVs. We ended up parked outside a “Saeed Khalfan Grocery” store on some dark back road across the street from a UAE army base in the middle of the desert in the dark. Super. Needless to say Jorgie was not thrilled with my second attempt to get her kidnapped today. Luckily we were joined by about five other SUVs full of tourists who had run into the same car-in-sand issue, so I wasn’t terribly concerned. We got home around 10 pm and passed the fuck out.

The late night desert hot spot

All in all, today was a fun attempt at getting a little authenticity into our trip. But let me give you a travel tip. If you want an authentic souk and desert experience, to go Morocco – shop the Marrakech souk and sleep in a Bedouin camp in the Sahara Desert, because it totally kicks Dubai’s ass at that shit. If you want to chill at a swanky resort and shop beautiful air-conditioned malls, Dubai is the place for you. And yes, that was blatant travel bragging. You guys should really be used to it by now.

All Dubai Pool Parties are Not Created Equal

Saturday, September 16, 2017

If you’re wondering where Friday went, take it up with the travel gods. After getting some decent sleep on our 16 hour flight to Dubai, I was up bright and early at 4 am. Jorgie and I were down in the gym by 6 am, mainly because we had nothing better to do. We then headed down to breakfast bright and early where we pretty much had our run of the place. The breakfast buffet is so big that the waiter took us on a little tour when we told him it was our first morning at the hotel. As he passed by the gelato station (yes, a fucking ice cream shop in the middle of the buffet) he said “…and this is for the children”. Chocolate ice cream at breakfast should be reward for good behavior and I have yet to see any children here exhibit that. I managed to skip breakfast dessert day one, but I doubt day two will be as successful. After an aggressive amount of food before 9 am, we headed out to the private stretch of beach commanded by our resort complex, which sits right at the base of the Burj al Arab. It’s pretty fucking epic. The waters of the Persian Gulf here are as flat ass glass and feel like luke-warm bath water. We could have easily lazed the day away here, but we figure we’ll have plenty of time for that on the second leg of our journey in the Maldives. Our plan for today – party at a beach club. We would have gladly stayed put if we knew what an epic FAIL we were in for.

Let me preface this by telling you that the only way I got through the three hours spent at Zero Gravity Beach Hell…I mean Beach Club…was by reminding myself that it will make for a great blog. The things I do to entertain you ass holes. Our original plan was to go to a different beach club, but a friend of Steph’s recommended that we go to Zero Gravity instead, so despite my better judgement I switched plans. In Dubai, the weekends are Friday and Saturday, so today was basically the U.S. equivalent of a Sunday funday party, and included all you can eat and all you can drink for five hours for about fifty bucks. Sounds awesome, right? Yeah, that’s what we thought too. Remember what they say about things that sound too good to be true? We showed up shortly after noon, when the open bar started, and there was already a line of people out the door. Our first hint should have been that you can’t actually see the beach club from the entrance. Had we been able to catch a glimpse of the scene before handing over our money, we would have ran far and ran fast. The beach club itself is nice – big pool, tons of day beds (not that we had one since they cost thousands of dollars) and lots of space to chill and move around. On any other day it probably would have been perfectly adequate. The scene today looked very similar to a Vegas pool party – if the Excalibur had a pool party and you were somehow unlucky enough to be a part of it. The desperation in the air was palpable.  If you are a girl with any combination of : cheap hair extensions, double fake eyelashes, and a collection of Kylie Jenner lip kits, this is the place for you. If you are a guy with multiple tribal tattoos and a penchant for really easy girls, make yourself right at home. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging. I’m just trying to paint you all an accurate picture. Ten years ago, I probably would have been crowned queen of this little Dubai frat party by the sea. However, in my 30s, it took me about four seconds to realize that we were in way over our heads. Our visions of lounging by a pool sipping champagne surrounded by beautiful people quickly vanished. Those dreams were instead replaced by chugging flavored vodka sodas in a piss filled pool surrounded by millennials dry humping each other after thirty seconds of exchanging pleasantries.

I’m gonna go ahead and read your mind and just answer your questions before you ask. Why were we in the pool, you ask? Because there was no where left to sit that didn’t cost about $1000. And I’d rather slit my wrists then give this place more of my hard earned money. Why were we drinking flavored vodka, you ask? Because they only had flavored fucking vodka. Strawberry or blueberry Stoli, to be exact. Unless you are a 19 year old girl screaming “whooooo shots!” in your dorm room, there is zero reason to have flavored vodka. No exceptions. The second we walked in I knew our only hope for a marginally good time was to get drunk. Like, completely bombed. So we ordered three vodka sodas and, to our horror, wound up with strawberry vodka. On the second drink we requested unflavored vodka, at which point the bartender dropped the bomb that there was none. The only thing worse than strawberry vodka is blueberry vodka. Which we wound up with on drink #3. Trust me. Don’t do the blueberry. Ever. I felt like Veruca Salt with a drinking problem.  Eventually the bartender finally gave in and started pouring us doubles, either because he felt bad for us or because he was sick of seeing us. I’ll take it either way.

The only thing that got us through our few hours at Zero Gravity was the people watching. There was the chick with the most aggressive version of a high wasted bikini I have ever seen. It basically looked like someone had just given her a major wedgie at all times – and from both sides. The only camel toe I want to see is on my desert tour tomorrow, thank you very much. There was a girl in the pool that we just referred to as “drunk girl”. If I had to guess I would say she was mid brown-out when we first saw her latch on to a group of guys and try to make out with each one as they passed her off from one dude to the next.  I could tell she was trying to be in her twenties but her awful skin gave away the fact that she was trying to bat way below her age bracket. I can’t tell you which guy actually ended up making out with her. Not because I don’t remember, but because there was more than one. There were also the awkward old people way past their prime that had no business being at that party. No, I’m not talking about us, although I’ll admit we probably fall into that same category. There were even OLDER people. I’m talking about women so old they would need a Space Needle filled with Botox to pass for forty. The rest of the crowd consisted mostly of young and skanky Euros just trying to get drunk and laid.  I know its hard to buy alcohol in Dubai, so I’m thinking the younger crowd must just really take advantage of anything with the words “open bar”.  We spent about two and a half hours there before we decided to throw in the towel and let the kids have their fun in a judgement free environment.  We took our old asses home and almost cried with joy upon return to our fancy hotel.  This will teach me to ever forgo a Nikki Beach again.  Not all pool parties are created equal, my friends, especially in Dubai.

The hotel security guard stopped us to question if we were actually staying in the hotel.  We told him our room number and he looked up our names on his list. He demanded to speak with Mr. Rory Boston, and was completely baffled when I tried to explain that I am Mr. Rory Boston. This is way more fun in Spanish speaking countries when I can refer to myself as “Senor Boston” in a funny Mexican accent. I went to reach for my drivers license to prove my identity and gender when I realized I left my fucking license at Zero Gravity Beach Hell. I had to put it down as a deposit for a locker. I was so excited to get the hell out of there, I left without getting it back. Fuck me. So back Steph and I went in a for a quick round trip all the way back to that fresh slice of Arabian hell. I contemplated just leaving it there, but the only thing more frightening than that beach party is the California DMV.

We spent the rest of the afternoon napping in air conditioned heaven. Two and a half hours of open bar apparently makes for three sleepy old ladies. We contemplated sleeping straight through the night, but we had dinner reservations at a highly rated Indian Restaurant in a neighboring hotel. We pulled ourselves together and caught a little golf cart over to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. They have a glass elevator that looks like something Willy Wonka would install in studio 54, so the craziest part of our night was riding it up and down. Our meal was awesome. And then we went to bed.

Tomorrow, we are kicking it old school Dubai with the souks and a desert dune buggy safari.

Party of Three in the U.A.E.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It’s September! You all know what that means – after wedding season comes friendmoon season. That’s right folks, your favorite bougie bean-counting threesome are off on another adventure. This time we have taken the art of the friendmoon to a whole new wannabe-honeymoon level with a trip to Dubai and the Maldives. The judgement people cast over our vacation destination choices never ceases to amaze me, so let’s just get all the questioning out of the way now. I know what you’re thinking – Rory in a strict Muslim country CANNOT end well – don’t they cut out your tongue for saying the f word? Chill people. It’s 2017. The odds of me losing an appendage for being my natural, obnoxious self are pretty slim in an international metropolis such as Dubai. The city plays hosts to business and leisure travelers and expats from around the globe on an epic scale. And yes they allow people to drink. Not their own citizens, mind you, but those of us going to whatever their version of hell is can self inebriate as we please. However I will be on somewhat good behavior, because lets be honest, should something go awry there is no way Trump is negotiating with the Middle East to extradite a democratic Jew. In case you haven’t figured it out, this blog will probably be rife with political and cultural inappropriateness. You were warned.

After five nights in Dubai we’ll move on to the Maldives for the second leg of our journey. Many people have pointed out to me that the Maldives is a honeymoon destination. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not going on a honeymoon any time in the near future. Couple that with my lack of patience for getting what I want, and here I am on a sixteen hour flight a week away from crashing the shit out of that honeymooners paradise. Besides, I’m not sure you married people really want to start dividing up the world into places you are allowed to travel and places singles are allowed to travel. You’ll be left with a lot of boring destinations while I party my international ass off. I’ll tell you the real reason that the Maldives is primarily a honeymoon destination – because it’s so damn expensive that most people can’t justify it for any other purpose. Luckily for me, I use my hard earned money however I see fit. And I see fit to use it drinking champagne for breakfast in an over-water bungalow beside my private plunge pool overlooking the Indian Ocean.

I won’t waste too much time introducing the crew for this trip. You all know Steph and Jorgie pretty well by now. This is our ninth consecutive year of international September travel. That obviously means we are really going to have to blow it out in 2018 for our tenth anniversary trip. Suggestions are welcomed. The girls are pretty excited about this vacation – mainly because it’s the bouggiest trip we have ever taken. The older we get, the more expensive our tastes become. It’s really becoming a problem. Steph is particularly excited that she gets to pack an actual rolling suitcase instead of a backpack. We even had to pack real shoes other than flip flops and runners, which is a whole new world for me. There are some bars and nightclubs in Dubai with strict dress codes that only allow women wearing heels in. Those places can go fuck themselves. I don’t even wear heels to work where I make the money to pay for this vacation. I also made the girls pack a ring that can be used on their left hand as a fake wedding ring. I read online that it can be useful to appear married in Dubai, especially in the souks, where single women garner more attention and therefore harassment. As if we single ladies don’t have it hard enough. That’s fine, I’ll wear a fake wedding ring to earn your fake respect while I cut your profit margins in half with my haggling skills. All while my fake husband is playing a round of golf in 110 degree heat.

Okay, you thought you were actually going to be reading a travel blog. Here goes it. We headed to the airport mid-afternoon to catch our dreaded 16 hour flight to Dubai. This is my longest single flight leg ever, so I’ve doubled my usual allotment of in-flight Xanax in my carry-on, just to be safe. I could probably get an actual horse to sleep comfortably in a coach seat on this flight if I needed to. Check-in and security at Tom Bradley was a breeze. The most difficult part of our pre-flight journey was finding the extra-large smart water bottles in the airport. What am I going to do with a regular sized water bottle over the course of 16 hours? I never trust a flight attendant to keep me adequately hydrated on a flight. We are flying Emirates, which I’m excited about, despite being in coach. As the boarding process started I bid adieu to Steph and Jorgie who were on the other side of the plane. We yelled “see ya tomorrow!” as we moved into our separate boarding groups. This was by far one of the most efficient aircraft boarding systems I have ever seen. You are split up into groups based on your location on the plane – the back boards first, a novel idea, I know. I’ve seen southwest flights take longer to board plane 1/5 of the size.

I almost had a heart attack when I checked-in online the day before and realized I had a window seat. Can you imagine having to ask sleeping strangers to move every time you want to pee for sixteen fucking hours? That is literally my version of hell. My bladder has even more anxiety than I do in situations like that. Luckily I was able to snag one of the last isle seats. And what a seat it was! Not only am I right next to bathrooms, so I can see when they are vacant and not bother waiting in line, there is even a drinking water dispenser right next to my row! Who needs first class when you have easy access to bathrooms and all the clean water you can drink? Let’s do this, Emirates.

I breathed a sigh of relief as my seat mates arrived. They were a young couple, spoke english, engaged in a short bit of conversation but had no interest in being my best friends. Score. One thing to note: the girl who was in the window seat didn’t pee. Not once. The entire sixteen hour flight. Is that even healthy? It got to the point where I was making eye contact with her and smiling so that she would feel comfortable asking me to move if she needed to get up and pee. She probably thought I was hitting on her. Her boyfriend probably thought he was about to join the mile high ménage a trios club. Sorry people, I have no interest in you beyond the relative comfort of your bladders on this flight. I watched a few movies and then took my little cocktail of sleeping pills. I managed to actually catch some zzzz. Granted, I didn’t exactly get my R.E.M. on since I’m basically sitting in a coffin, but it was more than I expected. Other positives to note for Emirates: excellent blankets, they don’t attempt to cryogenically freeze you during the flight, and they don’t cut you off on wine. However, there was one glaring negative that I do feel it necessary to point out. Our food options were chicken or fish. Fish. On a fucking plane. In an enclosed space from which you cannot escape the stench. As soon as they rolled out that fucking fish cart my row mates and I all started gagging in disgust. The three of us made a pact that no one in our row was allowed to get the fish. I’m not kidding you – girlfriend legit dropped the hammered and told her boyfriend and I no fish allowed. She is direct and doesn’t need to pee – she’s is basically an upgraded version of me.

You didn’t think I was going to finish a story about a sixteen hour flight without discussing the ill-behaved children, did you? There may as well have been an McDonalds play place in the middle of coach class. It was a shit show. I woke from my Xanax-induced haze several times to insane levels of screaming. I didn’t bother taking my sleeping mask off, but my spidey senses tell me these children were even running up and down the isles of the plane. Apparently drugging your children with codeine cough medicine before a flight went out of style in the early 90’s. Ah, the good old days.

Dubai airport baggage claim

We landed in Dubai and breezed through immigration, at which point we entered the baggage claim that puts all others to shame. It looked like we landed in the middle of a Vegas hotel. We grabbed our bags, hit duty free to stock up our room with the obligatory champagne-wine-vodka trio that every friendmoon needs to flourish and hopped in a cab to our hotel. We are staying at the Mina a Salam in the Jumeirah Madinat complex. The resort complex consists of four hotels all connected by waterways with cute little abra boats (think Venice canals) that shuttle you around. There are about 20 restaurants, four pools, a huge private beach and even a “souk”, which is basically just a middle eastern themed Mall. If they had “Middle East Land” at Disneyland, it would be this resort. It’s fucking heaven. Oh, and did I mention this all looks out directly onto the Burj al Arab? We even have a view from our room.  I’ll get a pic tomorrow.

We checked in and were showed to our room, where our TV welcomed us with a “Welcome Mr. Rory Boston” background banner. I can only hope the hotel was expecting Mr. Boston to be a Sheik checking in with his two wives.  I’m sure three white girls entering the lobby in lulu lemons was a big disappointment.   We had about an hour before our 10 pm dinner reservations. Naturally after a long flight we all wanted to shower. Just kidding, we made drinks instead and just put on some deodorant. We headed down to the lobby and caught a boat to Segreto, an Italian restaurant in our complex.  Our boat driver took pity on our attempt at a selfie and snapped a few pics for us.  I think it is just universally knows by captains of any size boat that they must double as photographers.  As it should be. We have half board included in our room rate, which means we get buffet breakfast and a three-course lunch or dinner each day and our choice of the many restaurants in our complex, as well as a few other Jumeirah owned hotels. I scored the half board upgrade for free on expedia, which is why I sprang for the ocean-view room. After our fancy meal and a bottle of wine, we were down for the count, so we headed back up to the room for bed. I swear, I’m going to drag the girls out to a bar with me at night at some point on this trip. But I think I’ll let them shower first.

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