Dubai Airport: A Mini-Destination

May 25, 2012

When Emirates Airlines started flying direct out of Seattle to Dubai, I decided it was time to try the airline I had heard so much about. It was a personal trip back home to Cape Town to visit family and, although it’s not the fastest way from Point A to Point B, I wanted to try a new route and a new airline. This patricular routing left me with 8 hours and 50 minutes between my two flights at Dubai Airport. Oh sure, I love people-watching at airports – who doesn’t? Time spent at an airport offers a glimpse into a seemingly endless number of stories and lives. But I’ll admit that I wasn’t looking forward to THAT much time to kill... As it turns out, Dubai Airport is itself a mini-destination. 

Emirates now flies in and out of Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3 and on first impression, it is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Dubai – new, modern, and gleaming. This state-of-the-art terminal feels spacious and bright, and offers the anticipated variety of restaurants and duty-free shopping options. However, it was the unexpected amenities that turned a dreaded layover into a pleasant, ‘Where did the time go?’ experience. Here are a few personal stand-outs for me:

  • Free wifi is accessible throughout the terminal, so be sure to keep your smart phone or iPad handy.
  • There are comfortable loungers lined up at each end of the terminal; these chairs allow you to lay back with your feet up, and perhaps even take a nap.
  • There is a hotel inside the terminal that you can rent for just the number of hours you need the room – just be sure to book early and in advance, as it was full when I inquired.
  • I was able to fit a work-out in between my two long-haul flights; for US$21 you can work out at the small but well-equipped airport gym, plus shower and change.
  • There is a full spa that offers a wide range of treatments and massages, as well as a day-pass for access to the sauna and heated swimming pool.
  • The restaurants on the main floor of the terminal are your typical fast food or café style eateries, but if you are looking for something a little more refined, look up!  Take the elevators up to find the quieter places with fine dining menu options. On one end there is great little tapas bar and The Hub which offers a full bar. On the other end of the terminal is The Seafood Bar, which offers great sushi, and the Courtyard Café offers Arabic cuisine.

If you have extra time, I highly recommend taking a walk to Terminal 1 for a complete change in pace and scenery. It is an older terminal and a fun little excursion because of the vast differences to Terminal 3. The old terminal’s layout and feel definitely depicts a different era in Dubai - massive indoor palm trees in the atrium, intricate yellow-gold light fixtures, and faux desert sand printed carpeting. It’s smaller and therefore has much more of a hustle-bustle vibe and the shops are completely different – rather than designer duty-free retail stores, it has a market atmosphere with just about everything imaginable on sale from toiletries to Tang. The passage-way that connects the two terminals has a great collection of photographs and information depicting Dubai’s history from a pearling outpost to crude oil giant.

So the next time you're trying to sort through the maze of air routing options available for your next adventure, don’t worry about a long connection at Dubai Airport. It’s the perfect mini-destination between flights.

First-Ever ZegrahmLIVE!

May 22, 2012

In early May, we hosted our first-ever ZegrahmLIVE event. Zegrahm president Jon Nicholson, and expedition advisor Curtis Fox, participated in our 2011 India & the Maldives with Sri Lanka & the Lakshadweeps expedition. With Jon having traveled on 12 previous Zegrahm journeys, and this being Curtis' first adventure, it was great to listen to the two of them trade stories.

In case you missed it, check out the link below; find out what their highlights were, and what you can look forward to most on our 2012 India & the Maldives adventure departing December 1, 2012.

ZegrahmLIVE!

 

 

Crossing the Equator

May 16, 2012

The most amazing experience we had on this trip was watching King Neptune (aka you-know-who) ominously wield his trident over the heads of cringing pollywogs who had never before crossed the equator. To make them kiss a cold, dead fish in the hands of his horrid henchman was cruelty beyond immagination. All this under the watchful eye of a splended mermaid serving punch.

Trip: Western Pacific Odyssey
First Name: Donna and Don
 

On Location: Taroudant, Morocco

May 7, 2012

Written by Rich Pagen

After crossing a large agricultural valley just west of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, the defensive castle-like walls of the city of Taroudant came into view. This small, fortified market city was formerly an important outpost on the caravan route to and from the Sahara, and as we passed through one of the gates into the heart of the city, it felt as if we were traveling back through time.

We roamed on foot through the narrow alleyways, sharing the limited space with a constant flow of countless bicycles and small motorbikes. Intricate tile work adorned the walls of a small shop that produced oil and perfume from the seeds of the area’s emblematic Aragan tree. At the local souk, colorful slipper-like Moroccan shoes dominated the goods in some stalls, while others were fronted with huge piles of olives, each a slightly different shade of green or purple.

Sidewalk cafes lined the central square, where crowds of locals gathered around to watch a charismatic snake charmer, and to listen to a number of performing musicians. Donkeys pulled carts past school children on bicycles, while the city’s signature olive-green Mercedes Benz taxis constantly pulled up to and away from the curb.  

Because few foreign travelers visit Taroudant, it has truly retained its feel as a traditional hub for commerce and people in southern Morocco.

Expedition Reading Recommendations

May 3, 2012

We asked Zegrahm leaders (and bona fide bookworms) Kevin Clement, Shirley Campbell, and Lynne Greig to give us a few of the books they would recommend reading in advance of a few of our upcoming journeys; here are their picks.

CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF SUMATRA – Kevin Clement

The Malay Archipelago, Alfred Russell Wallace: A classic in the genres of biological investigation, travel adventure, and the history of science, simultaneously.

Krakatoa: the Day the Earth Exploded, Simon Winchester: The great British travel author provides a very complete story of the events surrounding, preceding, and following the famous eruption.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, YAP & PALAU – Kevin Clement

Where the Spirits Dwell, Tobias Schneebaum: Fascinating exploration of perhaps the strangest surviving culture on earth, by a man who knew it intimately.

Throwim Way Leg, Tim Flannery: Intriguing and amusing, a modern classic by an author who is equal parts expert zoologist and engaging raconteur.

The Ghost Mountain Boys, James Campbell: The grueling, almost-forgotten WWII campaign to wrest New Guinea from the grip of Japanese forces makes a compelling story.

BEST OF THE RUSSIAN FAR EAST – Kevin Clement

The Cruise of the Corwin, John Muir: Perhaps the greatest conservationist and among the greatest writers America has produced, cruising in the Bering Sea and along the Siberian coast.

Tent Life in Siberia, George Kennan: Kennan’s mission to survey a route for a trans-Pacific transcontinental telegraph route becomes a grippingly strange tale of adventure.

INDIA & THE MALDIVES – Shirley Campbell

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India, William Dalrymple: Romantic and tragic tale of a passionate love affair that crossed and transcended all the cultural, religious, and political boundaries of its time.

Maldives (Cultures of the World), Roseline Ngcheong-Lum: Easy and accessible information about various cultures

THE KIMBERLEY – Shirley Campbell

DreamKeepers: A Spirit-Journey into Aboriginal Australia, Harvey Arden: A great combination of travel and story-telling.

TRACING THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA – Lynne Greig

French Lessons in Africa, Peter Biddlecombe: Explains the whole area we visit and how the French have influenced it; it's funny and informative at the same time.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah: Very poignant because we actually visit an amputee school and watch a soccer game on the trip.

Roots, Alex Haley: We visit the village of the main character in the book; you can get the video series also.

BAY OF BENGAL & THE ANDAMAN SEA – Lynne Greig & Shirley Campbell

Shantaram: A Novel, Gregory David Roberts: Everyone LOVES this book.

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure, Sarah Macdonald: Very informative as far as seeing the country from a foreigner’s point of view, plus funny as can be.

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry: One of my favorites from an Indian author.

A Traveller's History of South East Asia, Nicholas White: Concise introduction to the histories of the modern states of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and East Timor, providing an essential guide for both tourists and the general reader