I just spent a week in Dubai and before going my mind wound around a thousand things - Arabs beheading people in the region, my weeks in Delhi and how it was there, language barriers - and a lot of other expectations.
and what I found was an urban, modern city with good mass transportation, normal driving with lots of traffic on mostly usual sized streets and a lot of people who spoke at least some, and most who spoke english well. and friendliness towards me, a obvious westerner - and a lot of westerners there - in fact, not that many Arabs as the Emirate is mostly populated with workers from other countries, mostly the Philippines and the Indian Subcontinent.
So I was surprised at what I found - have you been someplace where you expected something - and found something completely different?
We'll be back right after order has been restored here in the Omni Center.
That the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, I will no more believe than that the accidental jumbling of the alphabet would fall into a most ingenious treatise of philosophy - Swift
Dubai is a beautiful city. Very westernized and very modern. I've probably spent a month total there between various port visits while I was in the Navy. Lots of shopping, lots of Irish and Brits out at night time, since they run the banking and telecom industries pretty exclusively. Did you make it to the Irish Village? That's where we ended up most nights.
ANYWAY, back to the question, I think the most surprising place I visited was Rome. All that history, and artifacts, and anybody can just walk up at touch it, walk through it. The Colosseum was the most surprising to me, simply because it was overrun by feral cats.
I went to visit my mother in the Salt Lake City area, and I was honestly surprised with how nice people were.
One evening, my mom and her best friend were settling in for the night, so I decided to go for a long walk. Having seen a Dunkin Donuts during our days' travels (and having found that there was one really close by courtesy of my phone's GPS) I decided to walk to it and check it out. We don't have Dunkin Donuts in Canada, after all.
So, I get there, and order a coffee with an espresso shot. Total comes to three bucks, so I find three dollars in Canadian change (a two dollar and a one dollar coin) in my pocket. I decide to have some fun: I hand them to the counter person, asking if they accepted it. After looking them over, and asking what in the world they were, I told them I was on vacation from Alberta, and I wanted to try their coffee. Within a few minutes, the clerk and I were talking like we were lifelong friends. When his girlfriend came in (it was shift change when I visited) he introduced me as his new Canadian friend - we spent about half an hour to an hour just shooting the breeze outside the shop.
That's the kind of people that I found in Salt Lake City...not just at a coffee shop in suburbs, but all over the place. I love that town.
#1 - Since we had met online (Compuserve chat, for you old timers), I told her to go online, and I proposed to her there. Of course, we were were already living together, but she still thought it was cool.