The big Northeast Blackout of 2003 happened while I was spending a summer as a nanny on Long Island in New York. If you recall, this was a pretty big deal and after the fact, lots of people back in Oregon wanted to hear my account of the event that affected some 55 million people.
The truth is though, even though it was a big deal and it affected a big area, it sort of seemed just like every other blackout I’ve ever experienced; I was still just one person, experiencing it from one person’s perspective. The stoplight down the street turned into a four-way stop sign, we played board games by candlelight instead of watching a movie and we ate up all the popsicles in the freezer before they melted away.
That’s the thing about stuff that looks amazing in aerial shots – the awesomeness doesn’t necessarily translate when looked at from the street. (Except for here of course.) Why I bring this up is because while Dubai was pretty amazing, the big-money, sky’s-the-limit feats that make the city a modern marvel weren’t necessarily my favorite things about the city. It might not shock you to learn that we, in fact, did not experience Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands from the sky like Flo Rida did in this video. For us, on the streets, it looked like just that… streets.
So while Palm island may have been kind of eh, we did like Burj Khalifa. Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is another of Dubai’s man-made marvels; it’s one that everyone can experience in a really cool way, even if they aren’t rich or famous. I didn’t actually do any price checking but I suspect that buying an ‘At the Top‘ ticket to the observation deck was significantly less expensive than hiring someone to take us skydiving over the city. It’s not only impressive from the 124th floor, but also from every other angle as well.
Standing at 2,722 ft. (that’s over half a mile!), the building is sometimes described as a vertical city because it contains offices, residences, hotels… you name it. For any of you who want lots of details about the building, the financial set-backs it encountered and even a breakdown of its floor plans, you can find that here. For the rest of you, here’s some highlights:
Burj Khalifa’s records (according to Wikipedia)
- Tallest structure ever built: 829.8 m (2,722 ft)
- Building with most floors: 163
- Building with world’s highest occupied floor
- World’s longest travel distance elevators: 504 m (1,654 ft)
- World’s highest nightclub: 144th floor
- World’s highest restaurant: 122nd floor at 442 m (1,450 ft)
- World’s second highest swimming pool: 76th floor
If you ask me, that’s a whole lot of bragging rights, the most well-known, of course, being the height. Here’s a picture of Andy standing next to a chart that illustrates that fact pretty well.
So maybe I didn’t get to witness the biggest blackout in U.S. history from space – but I was still there for it. And maybe I didn’t get to sky dive into Dubai à la Flo Rida – but I still got to be there and see these modern marvels in my own way. And besides, if you look back at that video, Flo Rida looks down right terrified in that plane before he jumps – something I never felt once during my trip.
I’ll leave you with the fine print details if you happen to be planning a trip to Dubai. Also, scroll down for more pictures!
When: Open daily (as far as I can tell)
Where: Here’s a map. The entrance is on the Lower Ground Level of the Dubai Mall. The closest metro station is Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.
Who: Anyone and everyone.
Cost: The prices are adults (13+): 125 AED ($34 USD); kids (3-12): 95 AED ($26 USD); and infants are free. Make sure to buy your tickets online in advance or you risk paying the 400 AED ($108 USD) for immediate entry tickets.
Why: Because if you’re in Dubai you just kinda have to. Also, it’s really cool both in bragging rights and in awesome views.
Other good things to know: When you buy a ticket you are buying a ticket for a specific date and time. Don’t be late or you might miss your window. Once you get to the observation deck you can stay as long as you like (unless they’re closing obviously) but the website notes that an average visit is about an hour.