For the past week, I’ve been on vacation halfway around the globe. Have you heard of Dubai?

It’s located in the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a fascinating place to visit. I was there with my husband and a large group of friends who were touring together with guides and a few friends who visit annually. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for over a year as it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In regards to that, international travel is interesting right now, to say the least. Masks are required on the airlines and at the airport as well as at various tourist locations, public spaces and indoors at resorts.

We flew over on British Airways last Sunday and our combined travel time was almost 24 hours from the time we left our home in Tyler until we arrived at the Atlantis Palm Resort in Dubai.

We were able to get a little bit of sleep on the plane, but not enough to keep us awake all night when we checked in at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning in Dubai, for reference Dubai is 10 hours ahead of us in the Central Time Zone. We flew from DFW to London Heathrow overnight on Sunday night and arrived in London at their local time of 9 a.m.

That flight was about nine hours, so we did get some sleep. We had a three hour layover in London, which was just enough time to get off the plane, go through security again, grab a cup of coffee and board our next flight to Dubai.

This flight was about seven hours long, and we watched movies on the back of the headrest in front of us. Thankfully, we had many new releases and old favorites to choose from. It was mandatory to keep our masks on during flight, unless we were eating or drinking, which we did regularly. On international flights, beer, wine and liquor are complimentary.

My husband and I enjoyed a couple of plastic cups of cabernet sauvignon with airplane meals, and at one point I had a Bloody Mary, it helped to relax us and sleep on the long flights. The food was surprisingly pretty good, or maybe I was just hungry, but I ate it all.

Basically, all day Monday we were in flight or at an airport. It was a very long day, but totally worth the experience that was coming. After checking in late Monday night, or technically, Tuesday morning, we crashed in our hotel room and managed to get pretty good sleep.

We awoke in time to dine at the amazing breakfast buffet, where we saw a wide array of travelers from around the world. Some were dressed to the dines, and others were dressed in shorts and t-shirts like us. We were seated next to a young family on the first day with two little girls dressed in adorable cotton dresses with chanel slides for shoes. I don’t know if they were genuine, or genuine fakes, but I was shocked to see three year olds wearing chanel.

Still a bit jet-lagged and overwhelmed with the crowd of people at breakfast, we took our time getting ready to visit the waterpark. Aquaventure is located at the Atlantis Palm Resort, and it’s the world’s largest waterpark. In some ways it reminded me of Schlitterbahn in Central Texas. It had loads of tube rides and a great river that wrapped around the entire park, allowing you to float to different pools, exit and get on different tube chutes and slides. If you’ve ever ridden around “the falls” at Schlitterbahn, you’ll have an idea of the experience of the river rapids at Aquaventure.

We were able to float all the way around the park in about 45 minutes, without having to leave our tubes. It was both relaxing and exciting with slides every five minutes or so around the river.

After spending the afternoon splashing around at the waterpark with our group, we cleaned up and visited one of the many fabulous restaurants located in the Palm. Due to a large conference at the resort, and November being Culinary Month, reservations were hard to come at Nobu and a few others.

Luckily, we managed to slip into the Italian restaurant, Ronda Locatelli. It’s Italian-Style trattoria dining from renowned chef, Giorgio Locatelli. When traveling and dining, I always look for the chef’s specialities on the menu and order one.

This time, I enjoyed linguini pasta with local seafood and a tomato based sauce. It was incredibly delicious and fresh! My husband and I each ordered a drink and we skipped desert, because we had enjoyed so much of the wonderful fresh bread before our meal.

After dinner, we walked around the resort inside and out. We walked around the pools and down by the beach, and we enjoyed watching the fish in the Atlantis aquarium near our elevators. Finally, we found our way downstairs into a restaurant with views of the aquarium for one more cocktail before bed.

More on Day 2 and my visit to the Antique Museum, Diamond Market and Spice and Gold Markets coming tomorrow!

A Look Inside Mandee Montana's Dubai Experience at the Atlantis Palm Day 1

Mandee Montana traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on vacation. She traveled for nearly 24 hours to get there, enjoying airplane food, drinks and entertainment, while also getting a little sleep. She stayed at the Atlantis Palm Resort and experienced the Aquaventure Waterpark, fine dining and aquarium at the resort.

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