I’m just going to assume that you’ve never been to Dubai. Prior to my arrival 21 hours ago, I’d never met anyone who’s been to Dubai, I’d never been to Dubai myself, nor do I know anyone who has urgent plans of going to Dubai. Therefore I’m going to play the role of your friendly Dubai’an e-ambassador and offer a fresh pair of lenses with which to see the beautiful country of Dubai – or as we call it, the world’s most powerful race in the world’s most powerful place!
Let’s begin with most recent events, shall we? We’re back from the team presentation which took place at the foot of the world’s tallest building. Sorry Philadelphia City Hall, you no longer hold that distinction. And in truth, we were across a massive artificial pond and probably an additional 15 blocks of traffic from the actual base of the building, but when a building is that tall, you feel like you’re still at the foot of the structure when in fact you’re a country mile away. The city-living lifestyle became apparent when we were collectively bussed maybe two kilometers from the hotel, but it still took 45 minutes in evening, downtown Dubai city traffic to arrive. Amid the beauty of our surroundings, we were greeted with a lighted water fountain show and a balloon show featuring women dangling five stories in the air slowly girating like Cirque de Solei dancers hung from the cluster of balloons. Obviously.
And now for the rest of my experience in the past 7/8 of a 24 hour day: so far so good! In addition to good, this place is very… hmm, let’s go with accommodating. It’s obviously modern, stunningly friendly, and (at least to me) impressively Anglo. Which is to say, everyone speaks English and everyone is exceeding pleasant. Hospitality comes in spades as everyone asks how things are. Especially people in the hospitality business, which makes sense, like restaurants and cafés and such. May I help you, how are things, do you need anything else, etc? That’s cordial. And helpful when you want your water topped off or if you dropped your spoon on the floor, as opposed to waiting a half hour as is often the case in Europe.
I spent this afternoon at a cafe next to our hotel, in which you just might enter blindly and think you’re in an American Panera Bread… but friendlier. It, of course, wouldn’t be an iamtedking.com blog if I didn’t have a glamor shot of food, so here’s my salad. Also characteristic of Dubai, it’s safe to say this salad wouldn’t exist were it not for refrigeration and globalization. Those are very fresh mangos, suculent tomatoes, plump Atlantic shrimp, and creamy avocados. Delish! Although a polar bear in the North Pole is less impressed.
Continuing your tour, you’ll see that there are Starbucks everywhere, which as a caffeine seeking American makes me excited like a dog in heat. Plus Tim Horton’s (surely rousing Canadian ex-pats everywhere), Applebee’s, Pizza Hut, and a dozen other recognizable storefronts all within a stone’s throw of our our hotel. A high speed elevated train is squarely outside our hotel, but strangely you don’t walk the streets like a normal city nor ride a bike like commuters or fixie folks do in the city. You appear to take the train or cars everywhere.
My favorite astute observation thus far is the square donuts at Starbucks, which are novel and funny looking and make me want to play with Legos. But then you realize that shipping square donuts makes more sense than all the wasted room of a foolishly round donut. Now about those muffins…
This morning before we tore up the streets of Dubai I had to take a picture of my Italiano teammate Marco Marcato. He’s a new Cannondale recruit and I was highly entertained about him going out into 32C (…nearly 90F) desert as if he’s dressed like it’s a brisk early spring day! Stud.
A quick drive out of town to the Cycle Track, which offers 4km, 5km, and 8km loops. With a blowing wind, we averaged a speedy 35kph and therefore banged out a lot of laps in our two hour jaunt. We rode with a Brit and a Frenchman who live and work in Dubai, both of whom said that this hazy air quality is an unfortunate coincidence. The entire week before the sky has been a deep, natural blue with nary a grain of dust in the air; where upon our arrival brought this dank air. Reminds me a bit of this (…paragraph 3).
Travel was painless just impressively long as it took literally every waking hour of my day to make it, 6am to 3:30am. Bed to taxi to bus to plane to car to bed. I’ll never see you again February 3, 2014! The six-plus hour flight was excellent from the comfort of my exit row on a massive A380-800 – as if I need to remind you that at 6’2″ I have longer than average legs and my job relies on those shanks.
So there you have it folks. Dubai is beautiful! It is modern and friendly, as we’ve covered already. It reminds me of a superbly classy Las Vegas, which I mean in the most complimentary way possible to both cities!