Monday, June 2, 2014

Day 12: Tour Comes to a Close

We were expected to check out of the Golden Tulip Al Barsha by 11 AM. Due to how late we all stayed up the previous night due to the "Last Night of Tour" festivities, it was a struggle for people to stay awake. However, we were all able to check out and load our luggage on the bus for our last day in Dubai. 

The Club poses outside of the Burj al Arab, the most expensive hotel in the world!
Since our flight wasn't until 8:30 PM, we decided to take a bus tour of Dubai for the majority of the day. We visited a multitude of places, such as the Burj al Arab, dubbed "The world's only 7 star Hotel"; the palace of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, called the Zabeel; and the Souk Madinat, a famous shop where many people bought souvenirs.
The Souk Madinat.
The Club poses outside of the Zabeel.
After a brief stop for lunch, we stopped at the Consulate of the United States of America in Dubai, where we met Robert Waller, the American Consul General of Dubai. After a brief chat with Mr. Waller about what the Consulate does, we had an impromptu concert. We performed four of our more American songs: “Blue Skies,” “Shenandoah,” “Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,” and, of course, our national anthem. The Consulate was a very great space to sing in, as the acoustics allowed for a lot of reverberation. Hearing the ringing chords of these four songs sent chills down many people’s spines. It was a truly memorable performance.
The United States Consulate.
Local artwork in the Consulate - each one represents one of the seven emirates in the UAE.
Charlie McClelland (C'15) poses with a badge. 
Our badges to get into the Consulate. 

After leaving the Consulate, we headed to Dubai International Airport and boarded our flight to Doha. We had a four-hour layover in Doha, so people split up to explore the recently opened Hamad International Airport in Doha. In addition to having a spectacular food court, the airport also had a "computer lab," a play area for children, multiple stores, and, strangely enough, an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex! 
Only 16 more hours until we're stateside!
Who knew dinosaurs weren't extinct?

After saying a few goodbyes - a couple Clubbers weren't joining us on our flight back to Philadelphia - we boarded the plane. After another 12-hour flight, we finally landed in Philadelphia this morning. After claiming our bags, the 2013-2014 University of Pennsylvania Glee Club finally said goodbye to each other. 
We're home! Only one more baggage claim to go!
We'd now like to take the time to thank some people who made this trip - and this blog! - possible: 

-Joseph Ooi (E/W'15), for making this tour possible
-Kyle Andrews (E'09), for helping us get a stellar flight package from Qatar Airways 
-Jackson Foster (E'14), Zach Costa (E'14), Stephanie Garace (C'15), Charlie McClelland (C'15), Arjun Shankar (E'17), and Matthew Howard (E'17) for providing photographs for this Tour Blog
-Kristen Stevens for the awesome Tour Shirt design
-Salman Al-Ansari and Navin Valrani for sponsoring parts of the tour in Doha and Dubai, respectively

Thanks a ton for reading this tour blog! It really means a lot to us. 

To our graduating seniors: you will be sorely missed. Thanks for as many as four years of outstanding service to this great group that we can all call a part of our family. 

To the Clubbers returning next year: we'll see you in August! 

That's all folks! Have a great summer!

The Penn Glee Club

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 11: The Penn Glee Club Explores Dubai

Our day began with a great treat: we were invited to spend the morning in Atlantis The Palm Dubai, one of the swankiest hotels in town. As it turns out, the wife of the president of Atlantis The Palm Dubai, Cathy Leibman, had attended our concert at the American School of Dubai. She was so impressed that she invited us all to go to the hotel - for free! 

We arrived at the hotel and were immediately whisked away to a delicious breakfast buffet. We were also given passes to get into the main attraction of the hotel - the water park - for free! After singing a toast to Cathy, we headed to the water park for the day. 

The Penn Glee Club poses in front of an aquarium that was inside the hotel. 
The water park was filled with many awesome attractions. Some of the more impressive slides were the "Leap of Faith," which was a nine-story slide that was a nearly vertical drop; the "Shark Attack," which sent you through a shark-infested tank (obviously, we were in no danger!); and the "Poseidon's Revenge," which puts you in a capsule before the floor falls out beneath you, hurtling you through a tube at roughly 40 miles per hour! 

After returning to our hotel, we changed into our Ties & Tails and headed to the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building - it's nearly 2,800 feet tall! We traveled up to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa and saw breathtaking views of Dubai. We also took tons of pictures, especially because we were in our Ties & Tails - after all, it's not every day you can say that you went to the world's tallest building in classy evening wear! We also got to see the famous water show outside the Burj Khalifa. 
The Glee Club poses outside the Burj Khalifa. 

Don't look down! 

The view from the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa. 

The famous water show.
We then headed to the Capital Club, one of the more exclusive places in Dubai. We were invited by Navin Valrani, CEO of the Engineering Services Cluster of the Al Shirawi Group. Mr. Valrani was essentially the reason we had so many awesome experiences in Dubai. We were invited to the Capital Club to perform a private concert for Mr. Valrani and some of his closest friends. We then were fed a delicious dinner and mingled with the guests, telling them all about who we are and what we do. It was a great last gig of tour. 

After returning to our hotel, we had our annual "Last Night of Tour" festivities. We began the festivities at 11 PM and, in typical fashion, did not finish until roughly 5:30 AM. It was a very emotional night - tears were shed, memories were made, and the Club grew stronger as a result. We then headed back to our rooms for bed. 

We only have one day of Tour left and, while we're sad about having to finish up this splendid tour, we're also looking forward to coming home.

We'll see you soon, Philadelphia!

The Penn Glee Club