Changes of plans and other diversions

Originally we had planned to come home directly from Paris, but Peter was asked to stop off in Dubai for work, and when they offered to put us up as well, it was an offer too good to refuse. A text to my work and an e-mail to Nicola’s school, and we managed to change our flights.

It was 3 degrees and pitch black when we headed out for the airport. Nicola couldn’t believe that we got on the train with the same three roller cases that we left Australia with. Expandable cases are a wonderful thing!

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It was 23 degrees, and pitch black again when we arrived at Abu Dhabi. We got a taxi to our hotel in Dubai, around a 45 minute drive. We had coincidentally arrived on the UAE’s national flag day, so there were lots of lights, banners and car decorations in the national colours of red, white, green and black.

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Of course, we had packed for a Paris winter, so first thing on the agenda in the morning was bathers shopping. Unfortunately, the area where our hotel was located is very high-end shopping, and we couldn’t find anything suitable for either of us. In the afternoon we went to the Dubai Mall, where we managed to pick up bathers and a few extras, and also checked out the incredible Burj Khalifa.

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Photos really can’t do the building justice. Everything is a bit over the top in the UAE, and there are clusters of skyscrapers in what might be described as the “suburbs” of Dubai. Our hotel was 27 floors high, and there were probably at least 30 buildings that tall or more within a half hour walk along the beach (think Gold Coast, but more squished together). Then there’s the Burj, which makes everything else look like Lego construction. Just unbelievable.

So the plans for our second (and final) day in Dubai were for beach and pool activities, but fate stepped in yet again… gastro hit around midnight: Nicola had it worst (and first), then me, and Peter got out of it fairly easily in comparison. Probably something we ate, but who knows? Just one of the hazards of travelling.

It was just as well Peter had already arranged a late checkout, as Nicola and I found it difficult enough to get our bags packed by 1 o’clock. Then we mainly sat by the pool until Peter came back to the hotel and we were picked up at 3. At least Nicola got to wear her new bathers and had a little dabble in the pool.

The other planned activity was a visit to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. As it is quite close to the airport, we wanted to make the effort to see it, as Peter had raved about it from a previous visit.

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It certainly lives up to its reputation: stunningly beautiful, amazing craftsmanship, even the multicoloured chandeliers that must be at least 5 metres in diameter couldn’t be described as “glitzy”, they look right at home in the huge space.

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Although we were a bit too exhausted to take it in properly, it was a lovely way to finish off our trip. Such beauty.

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Last fandango in Paris

How do you spend your last day of a holiday full of the culture, history, cuisine and sophistication of France?

At Euro Disney, of course!

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It was bitterly cold, and misty rain on and off, but we managed to have a blast anyway. Peter avoided most of the rides because of his back, but he is undisputed king of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. Nicola was nervous to go on Big Thunder Mountain, but as soon as it was finished, she was nagging to go again!

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Nicola decided against the Indiana Jones ride, but I took a deep breath and ventured on, and was rewarded with my first ever loop-the loop!

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Overall assessment: not as good as Anaheim, but fun. Enough indoor rides to get away from the weather if it’s a bad day. Food and souvenirs terrifyingly expensive. Not as many photo opportunities with the characters. But you gotta do it for the kids, right?

Best rides: Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and the classic Teacups.

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