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A Yellow Boat Tour in Dubai

For a moment or two, as the boat sped up, I wondered if this had been a bad idea. The rigid, yellow, inflatable hull plowed through the water, throwing up spray on either side. The slightest wave and the bow would rise up alarmingly, only to fall again with a spine-jolting bang. (Disclosure: I paid…

Al Ayn UNESCO site: A day trip from Dubai

“We go to camel market?” Nishad asked, glancing over at me. I had, contrary to custom in Dubai, chosen to sit in the front seat of the taxi, explaining that I could see the scenery better from there. “No, thank you.” “Souk?” “No, not that either.” I had hired Nishad as a driver for the…

One Day in Dubai: Things to do!

Dubai is a land of superlatives: biggest, tallest, first. I would also add: oddest. Dubai is often compared to Las Vegas, and I agree: its sheer brashness and artificiality are very like Las Vegas. Like Vegas, it’s a big, shiny city plunked down in a desert. And although there aren’t any casinos – at least…

The Dubai Frame, in this picture, looks like it's just behind the palm trees, and only two or three stories high!

A visit to the Dubai Frame

The Dubai Frame was not what I expected. In the flurry of publicity when it opened recently, the media showed just what its name promised: a picture frame. That’s what I thought it was: a large picture frame, outsized, like everything in Dubai. It was two or three stories tall, I figured, perfect for taking…

Hacı Bayram mosque in Ankara, Turkey. The small section under the minaret is the mausoleum, and looks older than the rest. One Day in Ankara, Turkey.

One day in Ankara, Turkey

The last time I tried to visit Turkey was more than 30 years ago, and my attempt failed. I’ll tell that story at the end of this post. I will tell you, though, that I finally managed to get there recently when I flew to Ankara to lead a workshop. I tacked on one extra…

The California seal inlay at Hoover Dam

A Hoover Dam Tour and a Dam Tour Guide

“My name is Arcelia and I’ll be your dam tour guide.” This was our introduction to our tour of Hoover Dam. Arcelia milked the joke as much as she could – “this dam wall,” “these dam generators,” and so on – but somehow, it worked, earning a chuckle from the visitors every time. Her cheerful…

the Empire State Building: New York City on a budget

New York City on a Budget: Free or cheap things to do

A lot of sights and activities are expensive in New York City. Nevertheless, you can entertain yourself well on very little money if you know where to go. Here are some tips for seeing New York City on a budget. (Note: I thoroughly fact-checked and updated this post on January 25, 2018.) 1. Some general tips…

This huge figure of a pool player was originally painted to look like he wore a Hawaiian shirt.

The Neon Museum Las Vegas: Nostalgia in the desert

The Neon Museum Las Vegas isn’t like any museum I’ve visited before. It has more in common with a junkyard, albeit a very tidy junkyard. In other words, you won’t see precious items in display cases, and don’t expect the neon signs to be hung neatly on walls. Instead, the only way to see this…

"Drinking Man" figure at the Musee Mecanique penny arcade

Musee Mecanique and its Penny Arcade Machines

Space Invaders! Memories flooded back as I spotted the game. Pac-Man! Centipede! My visit to the Musée Mécanique and its collection of antique and vintage penny arcade machines struck a chord with me. Anyone who grew up in the 70s will remember these games, fondly or otherwise. I only played occasionally, quitting when I lost…

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