Hot! Hot! Hot!…108F, 42.2C… Hardly suitable for a long trek!…A year ago..Security guard with something in his back pocket…

This bloom appeared to be a future flower. Upon close inspection Tom determined it wasn’t a flower but a leaf growing to maturity.

Yesterday,  another trip to the ATM was necessary to gather enough cash to pay the four person staff of Dar Aicha the second half of the tips as we prepare to leave in two days. With local ATMs kicking out a maximum of MAD 2000, US $245.11 per customer more than one trip was required. We had MAD 2000 on hand from a trip a few days ago.

As we prepare to leave we make a special effort to ensure that we don’t have leftover dirhams making careful calculations important. We had yet to pay for five dinners prepared by Madame Zahra, including today and tomorrow, bottled water, tips and transportation to the airport.

To accommodate all of these expenses, we needed a total of MAD 5300, US $649.54, leaving us enough for tips for the porters at the Marrakech Airport.

This area was to my left as we dined at Le Jardin. The open courtyard with many birds flying about required we sit at a table with an umbrella to avoid getting bird poop on us or in our food.

Of course, with the crowded souks we’ve always planned to have dinner and get cash on the same outing, although the restaurants and ATMs are not located in the same vicinity. This was especially the case yesterday when we were well aware of the hot weather.

Adding the fact that I continue to wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants and socks, venturing outdoors in hot weather can be challenging. We decided to head out at 4:00 pm when I was suddenly feeling a need to eat when we hadn’t had a morsel since dinner the previous night.

The tasteful displays in Le Jardin are appealing.

As we walked outdoors, the heat gripped us. It felt as if we walked into an oven.Thoughts flashed through my mind of the day we spent in Abu Dhabi a year ago this month while I was dreadfully ill and we’d visited the White Mosque. 

Entering the mosque required us to don appropriate clothing; for me, a heavy silky black abaya and for Tom a cool white thobe. The long walk that day from the parking lot to the mosque was the most scorching experience of either of our lives.

Yesterday’s walk was much further than the walk in Abu Dhabi but the temperature matched that day’s unbearable heat. It was 108F, 42.2C! With low humidity in the desert, the heat was slightly more bearable than humid heat would have been at such temperatures.

Another pretty self display in Le Jardin, where we’ve dined on many occasions while in Marrakech.
Had we been able to stay within the confines of the souks, the long walk wouldn’t have been as unbearable.  But, the closed ATM was still not working leaving us with no option but to walk toward the entrance of the Medina where the other ATM was located, part of which requires a fairly long distance walking in the direct sunlight.

I don’t recall ever going for an hour long round trip walk, much of which was in the sun, wearing heavy fully covering clothing when it was 108F, 42.2C. I’m sure some of you may have done so when it was necessary under certain conditions. I commend you. Tom was wearing shorts and a lightweight cotton short sleeve shirt.  It was brutal.

A shelf was lined with various olives, a popular food item in Morocco.

Once we arrive near the further ATM, Tom left me sitting across the road on a short stone wall under a bit of shade. During the five minutes he was gone, a vendor pestered me nonstop trying to entice me into buying a straw hat. Saying “no” didn’t send him on his way. Not wanting to be rude I ignored him. 

Tom returned, shooing him away as we commenced the long walk ahead of us to the restaurant. We trudged along. Upon entering Le Jardin for our final visit, there was no server or hostess in sight.We needed water and we needed it fast. There is no AC in any of the restaurants in the souk and although not as hot as in the sun, it was very warm.

The heat in this sunny area of the Medina was a scorcher and has been so for the past few days as summer approaches.

Finally, we spotted a server who scrambled to quickly bring our large bottle of “still” water. We both ordered filet Mignon this time specifying that I wanted the “monsieur’s” size, not the women’s usual “petite” size. Plus, we explained that each time we’d ordered steaks in their restaurant they were overcooked. 

This time, we also stressed to the broken-English-speaking server that my steak was to be bloody rare and Tom’s pink at medium rare. We were thrilled when our mutually large steaks arrived 10 minutes later, cooked to perfection.

We can’t imagine that tourists would visit during the peak of summer, due to the heat.

With our bellies full, we felt more prepared to tackle the return walk which based on our current location, only required a short distance directly in the heat of the sun. Returning by 6:30 pm, we were happy to be back in the riad in the salon sitting next to the fan with an icy mug of iced tea at our side.

A short time later, my two sisters and niece together for a visit, called on Skype. Much to my delight, Skype was finally able to connect with a stronger signal for a fabulous chat. The signal was poor the previous night making it impossible to speak to my son and his family for more than a few minutes when they repeatedly tried calling to wish me Happy Mother’s Day.

This is the peculiar small door at Le Jardin. We had to not only duck our heads when entering or exiting but also step over a raised threshold. When exiting its imperative to check for speeding motorbikes and bicycles.

Two days and counting until we leave Morocco. Most of my clothing is folded on the bed in my “dressing room” ready to be placed into the Space Bags after our last load of laundry is completed.  

Tomorrow, we’ll post our total expenses for the two and a half months that we’ve spent in Marrakech, Morocco.  Stop back for the tally!

Photo from one year ago, May 13, 2013:

Not our photo. Tomorrow we’ll share our amazing photos of Petra, the Lost City in Aqaba, Jordan. A person standing in the doorway of the Monastery at Petra, Jordan, shows the enormity of the ancient building’s entrance. Carved into the sandstone hill by the Nabataeans in the second century A.D., this towering structure, called El-Deir, may have been used as a church or monastery by later societies, but likely began as a temple. We did not post a story that day since we were attending classes on the history of the Lost City.

Packing and prep day…

Tomorrow morning at 6:15 am, our property manager in Dubai will take us to the airport for our 8:15 am flight on Emirates Airline. Being sick, these past few weeks, we stayed in bed until 7:00 or 7:30 each day trying to get a little more rest.

Getting up at 5:00 am tomorrow is the cause of my angst. Sure, I’ll set the alarm on my phone to awaken me so I can get a head start before I awaken Tom. By tonight, we’ll be completely packed except for the clothing we’ll wear tomorrow to fly away.

Checking our baggage restriction online for the zillionth time, we’re allowed a total of 66 pounds per person of checked baggage plus one carry on and laptop bag. With one large suitcase, one rolling carry on and one laptop bag, we’ll be as trim as possible. 

We’re expecting that we’ll have to pay overweight fees which we’ll know later today when we weigh everything prior to printing our boarding passes.  If we pay online there is a 30% discount, not at the airport. 

Today, I’ll probably ditch my handbag using the laptop bag as a handbag. I’ve been practicing not carrying a purse for the past few months and I think I can manage. It’s odd to give up carrying a handbag after doing so for the past 50 years, but then again, we gave up having a home after a lifetime. So what’s the big deal without a purse? None, I guess.

Our food supply will be depleted as planned after dinner tonight, leaving little to toss. With no time for breakfast in the morning, we’re bringing some nuts to munch on.  If no food is available on the flight, we’ll be fine.  Tomorrow night, we’ll have dinner in our hotel as we did on our last layover.

Dubai has left us with mixed feelings, more due to being sick while here than anything. For the first time since we left Minnesota seven months ago, Tom admitted to feeling trapped while here, with no way to walk around with the road construction around our building, my being sick and no other restaurants within walking distance.  Had we rented a car from the onset, we’d have been frustrated, unable to use it anyway.

If you’re a “city person” Dubai is the ultimate city to visit. A rental car is a must with easy, fast moving freeways and signs also in English. Hotels are expensive, most starting at $225 a night for a basic room, upwards to the moon from there.

Dining out for dinner is pricey, from the menus we’ve seen online but breakfast or lunch can be had for under US $60 without cocktails. Groceries are a steal, at least 30% less than in the US for most foods, making it sensible if on a budget, to get a place to stay with cooking facilities. 

Servers and support staff are friendly, anxious to help. The general population appears mostly under 50, keeping to themselves, from what we can see, but are courteous and polite. We haven’t seen anyone older than us since we arrived. Most likely Dubai is not known as a retirement city with few facilities available for seniors, although facilities are available for disabled individuals.

As mentioned in an earlier post, it appears seniors are cared for by their adult children in their homes, not in assisted living or senior centers.

Would we come back? With so much world left to see, I doubt we’ll return to any city/country we’ve already visited unless it’s a port of call on a future cruise. 

Would we recommend Dubai to other travelers? Absolutely! It’s an interesting, safe, meticulous, well-planned metropolis filled with lovely people, great hotels and restaurants. There’s a plethora of profound sights to see.  Its rich history offers museums, libraries, art and historical centers. One would never be bored with adequate transportation and money to spend.  Also, Abu Dhabi is a must, ideally splitting one’s time between the two amazing cities.

Pausing while writing this, we started doing some packing.  In the process, our little vacuum used to suck the Space Bags died.  Died.  Gone. Now what?  My stuff is sucked.  Tom’s is not.  Hopefully, we can figure a way to fit everything into the luggage without sucking.  Tomorrow, when we arrive in Barcelona, we’ll have the cab driver take us to a Home Depot equivalent to purchase a new one, we hope.  Oh, good grief. 

We’ll be back after we’re situated onboard the Norwegian Spirit, hopefully in 48 hours.  Stay tune

Part 2. Off to Abu Dhabi then Dubai…Photos and video of the world’s fastest roller coaster….

Wow! Wow! Wow!  Tom took this photo from the 124th floor observation deck of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa with a total 163 stories. For more photos Tom took at the top,  see toward the end of today’s post.

Yesterday, we received a comment from an anonymous reader with a story about the dangerous Coronavirus spreading from the Middle East.  Last night, we saw the same story on CNN about this virus spreading to a French traveler who had visited Dubai, UAE, which proved to be fatal. 

With dozens of cases throughout the Middle East and, considering the places we’ve visited, I was concerned.  Tom, was less worried than I.

After taking my 4th dose of Z-Pak, I’d expected to turn the corner.  It had been 16 days since the illness began. What would happen if this continued until next Tuesday when we board the ship for the Mediterranean cruise and we wouldn’t be allowed on the ship, although we’re no longer contagious?  Oh, dear.

I had an idea in my desperation to improve; put a large pot of boiling water on the stove leaving it on all day at a slow boil.  Perhaps the moisture in the air would lessen the sinus infection. 

Second idea;  follow the guidelines espoused by Dr. Bruce Fife, of the benefits of Oil Pulling, using coconut oil twice a day as a mouthwash for a full 20 minutes, swishing and gargling and then spitting it out.  Coconut oil, which we have with us, is a powerful antibacterial. 

Starting these two modalities or merely coincidence, I started to improve late afternoon. I’m much better today.  Whether it was the Z-Pak finally kicking in, the coconut oil, the boiling water putting moisture in the air,  just “time,” or a placebo effect, I don’t care the reason.  It’s only the result that brings us much relief.  Tom, struggling with the sinus issue to lesser of a degree is also feeling better.

So now, we can rest one more day with a plan to begin tomorrow to sift through our stuff, one more time, to further lighten our load in order to avoid extra baggage fees when we fly away on Monday from Dubai to Barcelona.  It will be done!

Now to Part 2 of our day trip to see some sights in Abu Dhabi and Dubai…

After leaving the mosque on Monday, Umer was anxious to show us other favorite tourist attractions.  In my weakened conditioned, I reminded him that walking was difficult for me in the heat and if we’d be getting out of the car, it must be to air conditioning with places to sit.  This limited us to a degree.

Most intentionally crooked skyscraper in the world in Abu Dhabi, Capital Gate, built at a full 18 degree angle. Oh.

With this in mind, he drove to a popular destination, Abu Dhabi’s world famous seven star hotel, the Emirates Palace Hotel, an extraordinary architecturally interesting hotel filled with Arabic works of art, its own marina and heliport and the finest of amenities. Again, we were enthralled by its creative design, tasteful amenities, massive structure and opulence.

One of the entrances to the Emirates Palace Hotel.
Looking up, as we stood in the main foyer of the Emirates Palace Hotel.
The main foyer.
Happy to sit in the air conditioned comfort of the Emirates Palace Hotel.
Looks like a cash machine.  Nope!  Its a gold machine.  Put in a credit card and out pops a chunk of gold at your choosing.
This is a full view of the Emirates Palace Hotel depicted on an enormous wall.  Its actually a handmade tapestry!  The detail in person was breathtaking.
We stepped out on the veranda for a better view of the ocean front.
One of two open staircases at one end of the hotel, with its handmade carpeting and stained glass railings was worth a shot.
As we drove away from the Emirates Palace Hotel, took this photo of one of the fountains.
A small portion of the Abu Dhabi skyline as we drove away.
The attention to detail is at every turn.  Notice the shaping of these trees along the boulevard.
From every angle the views are amazing.
Umer drove us past the Sheikh’s new home currently under construction.  This photo is only a small portion of the massive estate.
World’s largest roller coaster is located in Ferrari World, the Formula Rossa. Here’s the link to watch the seven minute video.  No, we had no interest in riding this so we just breezed by.

By the time we returned to Dubai it was after 1:00 PM, anxious to get to the Burj Khalifa so Tom could ride to the observation deck on the 124th floor.

Tom taking photos at the 124the floor of Burj Khalifa.

More views…

This is the highest view from any structure on earth.

Breathtaking!  He loved seeing it firsthand.  Wish I could have joined him but these photos are quite gratifying.

Miles of views.
Tom took this photo of the portion of the Burj Khalifa remaining 39 floors all above the 124th floor observation tower.
The freeway system is evident in this and the photo below, indicative of Dubai’s efficient systems.
Unreal views.  Great job, Tom!
Although these look as if they are black and white photos, it was taken in color.  From the distance, everything appeared in monotones.
A peek of grass and water shows the colors seen from above.
A photo of a photo on New Year’s Eve as fireworks were being shot from various floors of the Burj Khalifa.  Now that would be fun to see in person!
Winding down our day, he drove out to Palm island to see the gorgeous properties.
Our final stop on Palm island, the renowned Atlantis, The Palm Hotel & Resort that doesn’t allow tourists to visit except dining or as a booked guest.

Finally, returning to our condo after a gratifying day, although cut short in part by my illness, we were so happy to have gone to see some of the highlights of this amazing country and two of its extraordinary cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capitol city. 

Although we’ve seen but a small portion of what these great cities have to offer, we’re grateful for the experiences we’ve added to our repertoire of fine places to visit, as we continue on our worldwide journey.