Day 20. 21 Hitting the slopes in… Dubai, United Arab Emirates

          We made it on the flight that took forever and arrived in Dubai.  I thought I’d look around and see if there was anything interesting to see.  If you look west you see the Persian Gulf, look north (with better eyes than mine) you see the Strait of Hormuz and maybe the coast of Iran, south is sand and east…one…big…building.

Up there

          That is the Burj Khalifa.  The tallest building on earth.  It reaches 2722 ft., I’ve been told.  I didn’t measure because TSA took my pocket tape measure.  I had to find a way to get up there.

Maybe I can take a helicopter to the top.

 

          At about a half mile up, it looks like I’m in some type of aircraft but no, this is a shot out of a window in the building.

Big View

          The nice lady helped me get just a little higher to see better.

          You can get in a line at the bottom and buy tickets to go to the 125th floor, or if you think you are clever you can get in the shorter line.  The shorter line costs about twice as much but gets you on a very long elevator ride to the 148th floor. 

You know you are in a different world when you are met at the elevator door by a uniformed attendant with a tray of sweets and a glass of fruit juice.  It gets narrow up this high so it doesn’t take long to walk around.  You can even go outside and take in the somewhat hazy view.  There are about fifteen floors above you here.

And 146 floors below.

          Closer to earth, I thought I would look for other attractions.  I’m here for a short time, what wonderful sights await me.  It is hot outside so I didn’t see any parks.  Not much in the area of natural green color plants at all.  You could sit on the beach.  Hot sand melts the plastic off me so that would be a “no”.  I like to visit historic…  That’s problematic too.  While the history of the region goes way back, Dubai really wasn’t much to look at before the 1990’s.  Since then there has been an explosion of growth resulting in some very stunning examples of modern architecture but not much in the way of historic.  So what do you do?  We went to the mall.  That is the air conditioned place to go and the people here make the most of it.  We visited two; the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates.  We barely got to scratch the surface.  The Dubai Mall alone has around 1,200 stores. 

 There is artwork.

          These aren’t swimmers and they aren’t guys leaving the Big Building taking the express way down, it is art, man.

There is the chandelier of all chandeliers.

Kind of that jelly fish effect.

You can go ice skating.

Or meet this guy.

          I think he is supposed to be a penguin but looks more like a duck to me.  There aren’t’ a whole lot of penguins here to complain about misrepresentation.

          Yes, the sign behind him is correct.  Here, in the desert on the shores of the Persian Gulf, you can go snow skiing.

Don’t bump your head on the ceiling when riding the ski lift. 

          Dubai is a pretty mind bending place.  A building so tall it looks like it has to be Hollywood special effects, snow in the mall, and a chalet of sorts, with a form of fireplace.

Or at least a video of a fireplace.  It is too hot here to even think of such a thing. 

          This is a place unlike anywhere we have been and before my mind explodes, it is old world customs meeting with modern technology in the desert.

I think I will get in a plane and head east again.

A New Adventure

We last left Bubba at the end of his trip down the Mother Road, Route 66.  The trip took him a lot longer than he expected and he had to include side trips to Tucson, Arizona and Havana, Cuba. 

           It seemed to make sense at the time.  Now he is in California, celebrating the end of “The Road”.

Not too far from the official “West End of 66” sign is the Santa Monica Pier.  It looks like there a few things to do over there.

SM Pier

This is the famous sign on the famous pier.  I’ve gone as far as I can on this coast.

CIMG3115

This was first built in 1909 or 1916 or maybe 1877.  It is in pretty good shape but you should still be careful.  It goes a long way out and falling off puts you smack into the Pacific Ocean.  But I am a world traveler. What could go wrong?

ocean view

Good thing I’m a strong swimmer. Or at least a strong floater.  I’m the guy on the right.

Bobbing heads

I swam and floated for days and days.  The land was always just a little too far.  Eventually I ended up in a harbor.  A ship was cruising by.  If I give it one good try, I can get on board.

Evening cruise

I made it!  Let’s see where this giant cruise ship will take me.

Da Dock

Ah, yes, back to the dock.  At least I am on land again.  I’m not sure what city this is.  I’ll take a walk up to those buildings.

Da City

I’ll ask at this place.

The Hand of Power

No luck.  My hand is too smooth and my head line is round and yellow.

There is a place I recognize.  I think I have seen one of these before.  This must be important since they tell you three times.  That should be a clue as to where I am.  I’ll just look at where these stores are located and it will narrow down the search.

The Mutha of all Starbucks

Places with a Starbucks.  I could be anywhere except Bukhara, Uzbekistan or Perho. Finland.  That narrows it down.  Any more clues around?

A market.  Lots of places have a market.  This isn’t any help.

Market

This is a pretty tall building.  In fact it looks like a needle sticking up into space.

Dirty Needle

Maybe if I go to the top and look around, I’ll be able to see where I am.

Scopin' Things Out

There is the city.  There is a dome type building that says “Safeco” on top.  I think there was a baseball team that lost a game to the magnificent Oakland A’s recently that played someplace called Safeco.  Having a team that is not as good as the A’s doesn’t narrow it down much.

A View to a City

Maybe these people can help.  They look…trustworthy?

U.S. Duo

Seaside, Safeco, Space needle, Starbucks, I must be in an “S” town.  Of course, I am in Sioux Falls… no wait, Seattle! That’s it! Seattle!

Sam Thumbs Up

California Here We Come! Finally!

The first part of Route 66, on the eastern end, runs through Chicago and the farmlands of the Midwest.  There are tiny towns that have survived the move of the highway because the farming community was so strong.  On the western end, there is plenty of dessert.  When the highway moved and sped up there was no reason for most of the communities to exist and they dried in the heat.  Now they are in the process of blowing away, so I would suggest a visit before they are gone.

We gassed up and headed out once more.  At this station we pumped a lot of dust.

No Gas

While there wasn’t much in the way of food, we did find something to eat at the next stop.  They will serve chicken any way you want as long as it is dead.

Ded Cluck

I wasn’t sure I was on the right road.  I thought I would ask for some help.  These people looked like they knew Route 66 but maybe, just maybe, they had been on this road a little too long.  Even longer than me.

Road Weary

I stopped to ask this guy for directions.  I complemented him on his suit and he replied, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

An Elvi

I wanted to head in the right direction, but he told me he has been wandering on this road for decades.  He was just waiting for his two friends, Marilyn, and James to come back so they could head out again.  He said he won’t let James drive because he wrecked his last car.

Bubba N Bubba

Passing through the city of Hackberry where the PDA was supposedly invented.  I had a feeling I was still on Route 66.  At least that’s what the signs suggested.  We fueled up on Coca Cola and continued.

Hackberry General

After some extensive desert driving, Rick said the cola was getting to him.  IT must have been too much caffeine because he stopped and took a short hike in the desert to spend some quiet time with a small bush.

Nature Boy

We wound our way up the road and into the foothills for our cross into California.

hellroad

            Yes, that is the road.  Those pale squiggly lines winding up and over.  Just ignore the lack of guardrails and the rusted out hulks of cars that went over and could not be recovered.

LeftTurnLeftTurnLeftTurn

We made it to the thriving metropolis of Oatman just in time for the afternoon commute.

This is a group of locals just hanging out.

Oatman Commute

Too many donkeys were hanging around eating anything they came upon.  Not a good situation for a little guy like me.  I thought I would hide out back here for a bit.

Hide Bubba, Hide

We had to get through traffic and keep pressing on.  California can’t be far, let’s head out and find the Golden State.

11-25 Donkey

We made it!  We were back in California and back into civilization…Needles, California.

City o Needles

 

Back on the fast pace, we thought we would celebrate by stopping for a quick bite at the Roadrunner Café.

Roadrunner

We just missed closing time… last century.  This was East Amboy.  The real life is in the main square of Amboy itself.

Boy o Amboy

After that, a whole lot more of the dry side of Route 66.

MT Station

MT Market

MT tank

MugWumps?

I’m not sure what a Mugwump is.

We made it as far as Barstow and thought we would stop for the night.  This place had the nickname “Hotel California”.  Something about their checkout policy.  A beautiful place with no one around.

Train Hotel

We checked in and went to our room.  We tried to go to our room.  Yes, it was room 316.

Missing room

Tomorrow, we head for Los Angles, and the end of our road in Santa Monica.  The California roads must be much better, they have all the new technology to make the driving easier and the right way clearer.

Which Line?

Does The Desert Ever End?

Bubba has been on this Route 66 thing for a long, long time.  He is getting near the end of the trip but can’t seem to find his way out of the desert.

I’m back out on the road and I’m going to make up some time by zooming through the next part of the trip.  I found the original road again and nothing is going to get in my way.

Unless, of course, the road runs out again.

Shutdown

I can stop and ask this guy.  He looks like he is related to one of the giants I saw earlier in the trip.

Little Giant

He gave me some good advice because we looked like twins.  His shirt is my skin color.

CIMG2814

He suggested a night in one of the local hotels before shoving off.

This one seems a little too posh.

Du Beau

This one looks a little better.

Du Monte

Ahhh!  Here is the place.  It has a great central location AND a good price.

Du Cheap

After a restful night next to the train tracks, I gassed up the car and hit the road.  Yes I am back on Route 66.

Old Gas Here

Long Road to Blogdom

There is no mistaking that fine, high quality cement roadway.

Back on the road, I came across this car.  It is a very rare, Datsun Roadster.

Red One

The Datsun Roadster is perhaps the finest two seat convertible of its day.  It is an unusual  day when you can see one of these cars.  You may be lucky enough, in your whole life, to see just one.

Two More

Four More

Datsun Nirvana

Well…, this has been a magical trip.

It is time to look for another room for the night.

This one comes with a bath.

Petticoat Malfunction Junction

This one looks too posh and pricey.

Hi Line Hi Life

Maybe I can find a cheaper room here.

Hotel Greybar

Maybe something without bars?

350 Hotel

Perfect!  Now I’ll check out the nightlife.

A Social Club.  That might be nice.  I saw many ladies going into the building.  I bet they are friendly.

Woo Woo

This guy in the band let me play drums with him and suggested a place around the corner.

Groucho?

As I arrived, a nice lady leaned out of the window and welcomed me.

Madam Happy

I had a feeling that maybe I shouldn’t go here.  Maybe there was a better way to go.

Maybe this wasn’t the right way to go at all.  I needed a sign from above.

Vegan Message

This is a scary sign to see on a one way street.

I decided to cross the bridge and hit the straight and narrow.

No Bridge Bridge

No Passing?

You can always find the straight and narrow highway on Route 66.

 

Music in Cuba

            Bubba is a fan of hardcore punk music.  He even sports a Mohawk of sorts on top of his head.  He thought he would have to have a rock and roll blackout in Cuba but found a replacement in the local style.

            Music is everywhere in Cuba.  When you live in a place with one television station (unless you know someone), and money is tight, then your entertainment choices are simpler.  I think everyone has a guitar, and drums are made of what you have at hand.  One of the best bands we saw had a set of bongos, a foot pedal activated cowbell and a cymbal.  I took a shot at playing the bongos myself.

            It was on the quiet side until I got some help.  It got a little jumpy then.

            Bands played everywhere and they all sell their homemade CDs .  One of the few approved items Americans can bring back is music so I stocked up.  Every time we ate, we had music and a smile from someone nearby.

            We found great music in the high end nightclubs like the famous Tropicana…

          To the stairs outside of an orchid sanctuary.

                        At night at the elegant Hotel Nacional …

 

 

 

                   To the daytime in a way overcrowded bar in Havana Viejo.

            And if there is music, there is dancing.

            If there is dancing, there must be a dancing school.  This was a ballet school where the students are picked for their ability, and appearance. 

 

As you can see, they all pretty much look the same.  With the rigorous selection comes a very dedicated group of students.  The next world famous Cuban ballerina is in this group somewhere.

          Maybe not the guy who tripped and fell on the floor.  I think he was there to meet the girls; he really wants to be a baseball player.

            Because Cuba has been somewhat isolated by being an island, by the U.S. embargo, and by being economically challenged, their music, like their food, architecture, and life in general, has not been tainted with the sameness that you find elsewhere.

            I’m Bubba.  I like Punk music. I have to admit though; I really enjoyed the music Cuba had to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubba Buys Gold in Firenze

     Bubba managed to recover from his ordeal on the Italian cliffs and we all decided we’d better move inland.  In Bubba’s words:

            I took the train from Riomaggiore to La Spezia and from there to Florence or Firenze or whatever they want to call it here.  I checked into a small hotel called the City Hotel or Hotel City, or, again, whatever they wanted to call it.  I think they were a little confused themselves.

     Behind the rough exterior was a fabulous lobby that looked like it belonged in an opulent villa.

     They gave me the room key on a big ring so I wouldn’t lose it.  The size of the key ring made a different problem for me, though.

     I left my key with the front desk and set off to see what the city had to offer.  I stopped by the famous Duomo.  I wanted a picture of the dome from the outside so I climbed up the wall of the Campanile and took some pictures from there.   It was a long, treacherous climb, clinging to the mortar between the great marble stones, but finally I made it to the top.

     Well, that wasn’t really the top so I kept going until I finally got my shot.  I was the first being to ever scale the wall.

     He is not the first one to go to the top.  Anyone can do it by using the long, narrow staircase inside the building.  Bubba didn’t make the first step and had to be assisted the rest of the way.

     There is an anti Bubba fence designed to keep small figures from leaping into the crowds below.  While the mesh may not have been fine enough, he kept his feet firmly planted on his base.

            On the way down I said , “Hi” to some friend heads of mine.

 

 

 

     Wouldn’t they look nice on tiny yellow plastic bodies?         

     They tell me there are a bunch of museums and churches around but I wanted to go shopping on the famous Ponte Vecchio, where all the jewelers are located.  I thought I deserved some bling.  The bridge is lined with shops that leave tourists open mouthed and open walleted.  You can see these poor guys outside every store.  Here is a picture of one of them.

I strutted right in and pulled out my credit card and asked the clerk to show me some gold!  He was nice enough to lay it out in the tray for me to examine closely.

            Even those small pieces proved to be a little too heavy for me to handle so I settled for a hat from one of the street stalls instead.  The man who sold it to me said it looks just right but I think it is a little too big.  What do you think?

Next, I will go to the city of Pisa.  The city fathers have asked me to stop by and try to fix a big tower there with a bad foundation.  I may drive my motorcycle; I hear the Harley Owners Group will be there.

Reminder

Bubba complained that he was hard to see in some of the pictures and wanted me to remind you that you can click on the picture to get a larger size.  So clicking on the rescue sign brings that up so you can read it and clicking on the view of the port where Bubba recuperated on the rocks shows you the two young ladies who restored him to good health.