Before each city we’re given a tour book. It gives the details of where we’re staying, emergency numbers, places to see and local customs. We received the book a couple of days before we left for Dubai and we were told of a hotel change. We could see that this was a definite downgrade from the hotel we were previously staying at, but I felt that with so much to do in Dubai and the fact that we would be there for eight nights with nine shows and one tech rehearsal over the course of six days, the hotel didn’t matter that much. That was until I saw the hotel. From the lobby I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed quite nice. By no means luxurious, but nice. We’re there for a job, not a holiday (although some may think from this blog that it’s a holiday :)). Upon checking in I was told that they didn’t have a bed for Eliana, only a crib. Since when could a seven year old sleep in a crib? I informed the tour manager and he asked that we go to the room while they work on a solution. The halls were dingy and smelt of smoke. We opened the door to the room and it was absolutely disgusting. It wreaked of mold and smoke. It was beyond dirty. I didn’t want to touch anything. We came immediately back down to the lobby, where there were other cast members with similar and worse complaints. I can’t even write what one cast member found in their room, but I’ll leave it to your imagination given the type of hotel I’m describing. The cast members share rooms and these rooms were not large enough for them to share. I was ready to find us another hotel. Of course, spending my money on another hotel would be insane, since we were meant to be staying somewhere appropriate to be able to work, but with kids, the last thing I wanted was them in this enviroment. I was asked to wait to see if they could fix this. I do understand that Dubai is expensive, but on my hotel search I found a lot of inexpensive, good hotels. The solution they came up with for the entire company was to give everyone individual rooms and they would be checked for cleanliness. We were fine with that. We certainly were not where I would have ever chosen for us to stay, even if I was really budget shopping, but at least now we all had beds and it was clean. This entire process took four hours and I needed to get the kids out for some enjoyment after that ordeal. I took them to the Dubai Mall for dinner.
After dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in the Mall we went outside to the Dancing Fountain. WOW! It was really a spectacular sight to see. We watched from the side. It was very crowded, but we found a nice spot. We saw the gondolas going round the fountain and wanted to take a ride. I went to ask how much it was, expecting it to be really expensive and not take it. It wasn’t expensive at all, so we took the ride and watched the fountain show again from the water. It was definitely another highlight of our time on this leg of the tour.
For the evening we had booked a visit to spend time with penguins at Ski Dubai, located in the Emirates Mall. Christina, Gingy, from the cast was joining us. It was Christina’s dream to see and touch penguins and when she had asked if we would like to join her we jumped on the chance. I knew we would all love the experience, but to go with Christina, who was so emotional, made it even more special. I think the tears in her eyes when she touched them will be a lasting memory for me. First, they have you change into ski clothing. It’s absolutely freezing in there. Then you visit two penguins. The second you’re allowed to touch and take photos with. The trainers give a short talk about the penguins. That was science accomplished for the day.
The next few days were grueling. Nine shows in five days, That’s a lot of hours in the theater and it was really tough to keep the kids focused and amused for that long, especially when the schooling seemed not to be working too well. I colored Eliana’s hair and she colored mine, as you do. Those last few days seem like a blur now.
Our final evening, between shows, we went to dinner with a few members of the cast. It was the most beautiful night with a perfect sunset. A beautiful end to Dubai and the Middle Eastern leg of our tour.