We made it to Dubai...Few comments about disembarking Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas...Final cruise bill...

The Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world which we'll visit soon.  Our cab driver showed us a video on his phone of the 40 second elevator ride to the observation deck on the 124th floor. 
Our final bill for this last cruise on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, a comprehensive 15 day cruise touring the Middle East, over and above the basic fare for a balcony cabin was $1284.95.  This included $300 for Internet while out to sea, $780 in excursions, $42 in cough medicine and sun screen, with the balance for Tom's cocktails.  Actually, we were under budget.

Waiting until the last passengers disembarked the ship, made way for a quick exit by us, leaving us to wait at the ship terminal air conditioned waiting area while we watched the outdoor cab line grow smaller and smaller (while departing passengers stood in the 97 degree sun). 

At the perfect moment, Tom lugged out two rolling carts outside, one at a time, while I, still sick, held up the rear.  No more than one minute after hitting the sunlight, a well dressed dapper Arab man, Umer approached us offering a cab ride in his new upscale SUV.  We couldn't say "yes" quickly enough.

Off we went on the 20 minute educational ride to our condo hotel which ended up at 40 minutes when we couldn't find a way to get to the front entrance to the property.  The cost for the cab was US $50 including a 30% tip we added.

We could see the entrance to our 91 story building, Elite Residence, but couldn't seem to get to it due to construction on all sides.
Road construction for a new high speed train system, blocked access to the building preventing Umer (who will officially be our Dubai cab driver) from depositing us and our luggage at the front entry.  Luckily, we had printed the email message from the property manager, enabling Umer to call to find out how we'd get in. 

A short time later we were inside the underground garage while our bags were loaded onto a cart by the property manager's assistant who brought the bags up to our suite.

Waiting in the lobby proved to be for only 20 minutes as our condo at Elite Residence was being cleaned for our early arrival.  The marble and granite lobby with its new contemporary furnishings was scattered with a number of well dressed staff members moving about attending to guests.  We felt relatively at ease even after the confusing arrival at the property.

It's now 6:00 pm Dubai time, a full 9 hours later than Minneapolis, 11 hours later than LA.  It hard to believe that we are almost half way around the world after leaving Minnesota nearly seven months ago.

Whizzing by in busy traffic, it was challenging to get good photos.  Our cab driver, Umer, offered us a 8 hour outing to take us to see many of Dubai's best attractions at a cost of $250 for both of us.  Guess we'll be taking him up on his offer!
The simple contemporary décor is suited to our needs with ample amenities, excellent air conditioning, great views, free WiFi and a reasonably stocked kitchen.  It's impeccable condition has nary a scratch, dent or fleck of dust. The veranda off our bedroom has a good view of the Dubai Marina although not as expansive as we'd hoped of Palm Island.  We'll have to walk around the corner for a better view which we hope to do very soon.

In many ways a regular hotel would have been easier, dining out for all meals, daily maid service, its own restaurants, coffee shops and services.  But for us, cooking our own meals is vital to staying on our budget as well as our goal of eating healthy homemade meal.  We had begun to long for some quiet time "at home" much needed after cruising for six weeks, less one night in Barcelona.

Normally, big cities don't appeal to us.  This city is unique with its opulence, its wealth, its excess, and its clean safe streets.
After getting a few items unpacked, emptying a wheeling duffel bag, we took off for the local grocery store.  And, much to our delight, the full service grocery is next door, a mere 300 foot walk!  We hadn't been in a "regular" grocery store in five months!!!

What a store it is!  I was in heaven, shopping the freshest organic vegetables, fresh caught local fish and shellfish, the biggest tiger shrimp I've ever laid eyes on.  Of course, there was no bacon, sausage or any pork related items.  We knew better than to ask. 

The prices were excellent!  We purchased enough food for three nights dinner and breakfasts for a week for US $45!  (We exchanged US money at the terminal for AED, taking a bit of a hit for the convenience).  At the grocery store we used a "no exchange fee" credit card, hoping to hang onto the cash for now.

Look at that cleaned calamari and those mussels!  Love these in a stir fry! Dinner is sounding better every minute with such fine fresh ingredients at the grocery store next to our building.
I'm still under the weather, not feeling up to making a big meal or, in going out to dine.  After wiping my nose no less than 100 times in the past few hours resulting in my Rudolph-like appearance along with constant sniffling leave me spent and exhausted, totally uninterested in going out.  There are dozens of restaurants within walking distance. 

Umer explained that walking at night in Dubai is totally safe plus a feast for the eyes with the lights "1000 times brighter than Las Vegas minus the gambling" as Tom explains after talking to a former sailor with whom we shared our table in Scottsdale last November.  I think he's correct.  Tonight we shall see!

In a few days, we'll purchased a number of these fresh seafood items to make a buttery seafood platter with steamed veggies and Caesar Salad (minus the croutons). 
Our first batch of laundry is spinning in the tiny front loading washer. But, there's no dryer, which we found more common than not, outside the US.  Thank goodness for the balcony!

No dryer? No problem!  This portable clothesline was in the broom closet. 
That works for us!  When this batch dries, we'll wash the rest of our
accumulated laundry from 15 days at sea.
Our goofy dinner is simple tonight; our long-missed low carb, sugar free coleslaw along with free range organic egg salad.  Easy.  Chilling at the moment, soon to be devoured.

Photos will be coming soon as we venture out to the sights of this amazing city, visiting its many attractions, all of which we'll share here over the next few weeks.


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