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Trip Report Venice - a sort of trip report

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Well, we’ve arrived. About thirty hours, door to door, the initial door being in Melbourne, the ultimate door being at 2878A, Calle Lunga San Barnaba, Dorsoduro, Venice. I suppose one ought not complain – it took Marco Polo about 15 years for his round trip, so one must be grateful for the jet engine. Emirates is good – good service, on time, and our bags made it. I like the way they announce the multi lingual nature of their crew. “Good morning, I’m purser so–and-so. Our crew speaks Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Italian, Urdu, English, Spanish, Greek, a decent broken Icelandic, and Sonya in First Class has just completed her MA(Hon), majoring in Sanskrit. We do hope you have a pleasant flight.” Melbourne to Dubai with five hours on the ground in the United Arab Emirates.

I think that there are two groups of people on the earth, people who like Dubai, and people who don’t much care for Dubai. I regret to say that I fall in the second group. Maybe it was being stuck, marooned, in Dubai for a week a few years ago, waiting for a visa to come through for Libya – a place that I liked even less.

Dubai airport seems to be in the business of redefining the concept of huge. Gates numbered from low digits through to about 320, with more to come. That’s a lot of gates, transit time from the single digit gates to the 300’s about 30 minutes on foot, but it is well organised and signed. I think the airport is a continuation of the Sigmund Freud inspired architecture that is evident in Dubai. “Who says size does not matter.” World’s tallest building, world’s biggest indoor ski slope, and world’s biggest artificial residential bunch of islands. I’m waiting for the announcement of the world’s biggest 18 hole fully grassed indoor golf course, design by Tiger Woods if he can find the time, structure by Frank Lloyd Wright, who did some nice structures on the prairies, so the dry and heat of Dubai would suit his style, if he were not deceased.

Dubai is a something of a contradiction, quite remarkable buildings, yet the fish market is an open-air affair, with enough ice on hand to make maybe half a dozen martinis at a stretch. Mercantile enterprises with names like Pan-Arabian Traders, who have cornered the local market for strange combinations like say, fan belts and plastic sandals, or saucepan lids and lube oil. Trading dhows in the creek, laden with motor bikes, drums of fuel, air conditioners, goats and plasma TVs. The spice souk standing in sleepy contrast to the frenetic construction activity, bags of frankincense, saffron, cinnamon, and other spices that I’ve never identified.

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