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Leaving Afghanistan is an emotional experience. It is such a unique place. And, by definition, the visitor is worn out , a little dirty and especially a few days before Christmas, homesick. Westerners were leaving in droves so all the systems were pressed to the hilt. Safi Airways did a surprisingly great job. You have to decide to go through Frankfurt or Dubai. I chose Dubai and it was a great decision. Flights were canceled all over Europe due to snow and Dubai is one of the most interesting places I have been.
I paid for airport transfers as part of my deal at Le Royal Meridien. It is about a 25 minute drive so I figured the extra dollars were a break even. I had no idea that my airport shuttle would be in a showroom quality brand new BMW with driver and hostess who immediately handed me clean cold wet white hand towels. I wouldn't have been surprised if a plate of sushi had followed. Coming in at night I got a sense of the skyline(s) of Dubai. The hotel was great; on the beach, a bunch of pools and the best service I have encountered.
|The View from My Room of the Most Luxurious Hotel |
My Friend's Yacht Happened to Be in the Harbor
Side note on fancy places. Dubai is home to the hotel reputed to be the most luxurious in the world. Since I am not getting any younger and don't anticipate being a regular visitor, I figured, "Perche no"? The answer to that question was cheapest room = $6,000. per night. I demurred. Saving over $5700 a night and receiving more luxury than I could imagine worked for me. Coming directly from Kabul, Lower Satva (at Doe Bay Resort and Retreat) would have seemed like a Four Seasons.
|Looks like a Mirage|
The Dubai story is all about the architecture. The entire city appears to have been built within the last decade and a half and money doesn't seem to have been a limiting factor. And, notwithstanding the financial problems facing the Sheikdom, there were more tower cranes (by my estimate, nearly one hundred) than I have ever seen. We thought we (in Seattle) got carried away with development during the boom, but this eclipses our excesses by a longshot.
I was lucky to have lived in New York in the late 70's and to have eaten a few meals at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center, then the tallest building(s) in the world. Since that is now a lifetime experience, I have always felt lucky to have experienced it.