Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

I think the first time I heard about Dubai was about ten years ago. One of seven emirate states of the UAE on the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the most populous by far - though the vast majority of the population are immigrants from other places in the world who've come to work.

Dubai is a city of excess in nearly every way. The wealth on display is unbelievable, jaw-dropping. We saw incredibly expensive cars, families with a nanny for each child, and new buildings and roads going up everywhere. There are huge construction cranes in nearly every direction you look, and everything seems designed to make you feel like you're surrounded by glamour and wealth. It's like Las Vegas without the vice.

And it has the (current) tallest building in the world: the Burj Khalifa.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is another city I hadn't been to in at least 15 years. We only had two nights here, once again, so it was a quick stay. Our hotel was conveniently located close to the train station, so we didn't have far to wheel our luggage.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Brussels, Belgium

I haven't been to Brussels for twenty years, and so it was a place I was really looking forward to seeing again. We took the train from Paris and arrived mid-afternoon, which gave us a chance to drop off our stuff at the hotel and head to the Grand Place, one of the most beautiful and iconic central squares in Europe.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Paris, France

Paris is one of those quintessential European destinations, a city not to be missed on the itinerary of a traveler to this part of the world. Despite that fact, it had been more than a decade since my last visit to Paris (though Doug has traveled there on business many times). It's an incredibly beautiful city -- perhaps the most beautiful in the world, and its reputation as the center of art, fashion, and cuisine is definitely deserved.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bordeaux, France

Doug has spent a lot of time in Bordeaux over the years on business, but it was a place I'd never been. One of his colleagues there offered to show us around during our visit, and so the four nights we spent there were absolutely fantastic. On the first night we arrived, we were invited to dinner at the home of Yann (Doug's colleague) and his wife Sophie. Sophie is a fantastic cook and prepared some classic dishes from the region for us, including duck liver, some incredible local wild mushrooms, and some cheese made by a friend of a friend. We enjoyed many bottles of wine and great conversation, and Carter was even brave enough to try both duck (which he loved) and scallops (which he didn't - but at least he tried).  Their hospitality that evening was only the beginning of a wonderful time in southern France.   

Friday, November 1, 2013

Barcelona, Spain

The first time we ever visited Barcelona was when Carter was a baby. We took a trans-Atlantic cruise and one of the stops was Barcelona. It was a rainy day, and we spent much of the 8 or so hours we were there sitting on a bus, looking through dirty, rain-streaked windows while Carter dozed in our arms. Two years later, we had another cruise that ended in Barcelona, and so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the city. We ended up really loving it, and so it was a place I wanted to visit again on this trip.