A ticket bungle had us on a 6 am departure coupled with a stay-over in Dubai. Rather than risk the roulette of taxis at the 3 am changeover, our strategy was to watch the tour (the stage where, for the first time, Froome's exploits really did make me wonder), then hail a chariot from thence. Better being early than late. We gained the airport at 2:15 only to discover that the terminal was closed and would not reopen till 3 am. That's privatisation for you. Lucky we had our down jackets. A steady trickle of jovial British Lions fans, fresh off a solid win, were equally bemused. A particularly diseased and expectorant fellow made us all blush, depositing a patch-work quilt of roadside markings that would give a roost of pigeons a run for their money. We hoped he would be well distanced in the lottery that is airplane seating as the doors finally opened. For all that, the plane sat on the tarmac for almost 2 hrs as cockpit computers were replaced.
After the excellent Django Unchained, an unsettled stomach, and a long-haul flight later we stepped off the plane and into the relentless desert-storm summer heat haze of Dubai. The buildings en route from the airport to the Hilton would have been even more impressive had we been able to see more than ghostly apparitions. Talk about a warehouse of high-rises! And I thought Tokyo was impressive (it is!). Some 300 obelisks (yes, 300) have sprung up over the last 20 years along the coastal strip with seemingly an equivalent number in production.....the Gold Coast being little more than a tacky pimple of what is possible. A large number of the towers are truly bombastic in a sci- fi futuristic metropolis kind of way, some even confirming that (a lot of) money can buy taste. I can see why Packer is so pissed off....he just wants to be at least the author of one such Sydney production as homage to his magnificence. Where will it end?
The relatively modest albeit plushly interiored Hilton, one of the original buildings and thus ancient history given its context, is perched on the edge of the Arabian Sea, which we were eager to sample. The hotel's private beach was gained by a brief stroll though resort palms and was peppered with lounges, umbrellas, and sweating waiters in unfathomably formal attire dispensing pineapples with straws sticking out of them....think of any Bond film but with less attractive people. Even getting to the water was an effort in this oven, and we eagerly anticipated a good dunking. How disappointed we were. Even the mudge and her Queensland sensibilities had never before experienced such body-temperature water, and "tears seven times salt" (there's some Hamlet for you). So we retreated to the equally cliched resort pool where solace was finally gained in the form of tall beers from within the pool itself. Finally, I was on holiday.
A much desired solid nights sleep confirmed the theory that such a stopover is indeed a good way to get to Europe, and substantially refreshed we hopped aboard flight number two for the contrast that Denmark would hopefully offer. But not before another wait on the tarmac, this time to repair a puncture of the 777 variety, complementing the trifecta of such indignities I had to deal with during last weeks commutes on the back of two weeks of heavy rain.