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desertLongest, widest, biggest, best. No – this isn’t an ad for RedTube (don’t even pretend you don’t know what that is). This is Dubai in a nutshell – an ever-changing city smack dab in the middle of the desert that loves its oil almost as much as it loves its superlatives.

There is a lot you can say about Dubai. I stayed at the JW Marriott Marquis, the tallest hotel in the world. I went to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which is adjacent to the biggest mall in the world, The Dubai Mall. There is also something like the world’s biggest aquarium, the world’s widest structure, the world’s longest unmanned metro line…The list of Dubai’s superlatives is a superlative in itself.

For me, however, the best thing you can do in Dubai is to take a break from the frenzy and the glitz and get outside of the city for something truly unique.

“Dune bashing” is a great way to see a side of the world that you truly cannot get anywhere else, and I am told it is a way that the local youth like to spend their time. Several companies offer dune bashing tours, where you are taken out in jeeps with professionals who literally cruise the sand dunes. The topsy-turvy feeling gets old kind of quickly (at least, it did for me what with motion sickness and the fact that I’m not really one for thrills and spills), but the moments when you get out of the jeep for a photo op will leave you with that, “oh my god I’m in Dubai” feeling. Rolling tan dunes span as far as the eye can see, until you happen upon local bedouin communities. It’s quiet. It’s empty. It’s that little thrill we all need when trying something new.

Check out Desert Safari Dubai, which offers late afternoon dune bashing tours, followed by a bedouin-style dinner out in the middle of the desert. The dinners include entertainment, barbecued meats, salads, shisha smoking and yes, there is a cash bar.

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Hello from Dubai! After a 12-hour flight (and one of the best airplane experiences I’ve ever had), I am finally in the United Arab Emirates. Instead of regaling you with tales of the journey, which would undoubtedly be told with a haughty tone, I’ll just let my pictures speak for themselves.

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The journey began at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the Emirates Lounge with a breakfast of Greek yogurt, an egg white omelet and a “detox juice” made of carrot, apple and ginger.

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Settled into Business Class aboard the Emirates’ A380 plane. A380 planes are double deckers, with Business and First Class on the top level and Economy on the bottom.

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Before takeoff, Business and First Class passengers are given a welcome drink and a Bvlgari amenity kit. Champagne! Bvlgari! It’s the life.

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Emirates caters to my shameless Friends obsession. After takeoff, scroll through the expansive media library. There are enough hours of entertainment to take you around the world…twice.

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After your main meal (and a good nap) head to the back of the plane where the Business Class bar serves up a selection of canapes…

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…and drinks!

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Twelve hours later arrive in Dubai refreshed and ready to take on this futuristic, Jetson-esque hub of the world! Dubai, here I come!

Photo courtesy of Lonely Planet

Welcome to 2012, friends! Happy to see you here. Did you get all of those deliciously sin-filled activities done by midnight on December 31? Are you feeling baptized and reborn in the promising glow of a new start (which will fade by February, I’m sure)? I certainly hope so.

We are going to start off 2012 with a very vague post. I like to keep it vague because that just leaves room for a world of possibility. (Or I just don’t have anything specific to write about.) Anyway, Lonely Planet, once again, shared this awesome post about the top 10 things to do in 2012. Take a look! It’s early enough in the year that we can make grand statements about all the exotic places we are going to travel. Shh….just go with it.

Get ready for tomorrow when we will host the first Name that Skyline! contest of the year.

Do you like to drink? I know I do. From high society sips to suds and swill, alcohol is just a very real part of my life (and the lives of everyone I know. Relax, Mom).

I’ve done my fair share of barhopping but now it’s time to see which ones made the cut in Lonely Planet‘s top 100 bars of the world. You can cast your vote and see the rankings change, but personally I like seeing how many of these I have been to. The grand total? Just one, but it frankly I thought I would have visited none. (Apotheke Bar, NYC)

Okay, now it’s your turn! Take a look at the list and share how many you have been to!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope it is booze-filled and gluttonous!

I know I typically wow you all with the hot new scene, but you may be shocked to know that I am often sorely out of the loop. Fortunately I have a circle of people whom I can easily contact for the latest scoop on dining, technology, local news and yes, sometimes travel.

Over the summer I met a good friend for dinner at  an adorable French bistro in Long Island City (another tale for another time) and she told me all about Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list and book unique spaces around the world either online or from their iPhone. (She is very tech-savvy.) Seriously this site has everything from castles to sailboats to apartments. It’s a great way for people to showcase their spectacular spaces and have visitors come rent them out to see how the other half lives.

So far Airbnb exists in over 16,000 cities in over 186 countries with over 2 million nights already booked. It’s like sleepover social networking.

How to book:
1. Find your space using the search page to find a property. Enter dates you need and browse availability.
2. Book it by entering your credit card information (it’s a secure site) and within 24 hours the host will accept your request. (Note: Hosts can also choose to deny if you do not seem stand-up.) After confirmation the exact address will be distributed.
3. Travel. Get your itinerary details and enjoy!

How to host:
1. Create an Airbnb profile and list your space with photos, price and availability. Listing is free!
2. Answer guest questions using the onsite messaging system. You can feel free to accept or decline requests.
3. Host your guest! You will be paid 24 hours after they check in.

Are your tastes more of the silver spoon variety? Fear not. I’ve just received word that Airbnb now has an “In the Lap of Luxury Collection.” Travelers can use the site to now access some of the world’s most in-demand accommodations (think a ski lodge in Squaw Valley, a private island in Fiji, or yacht cruising in Miami).

Get clicking friends. If you like to travel and mingle, this is right up your alley, and the friends I have who have used this service say it is truly memorable.

Part of my job includes uploading special travel deals onto my company’s website. (Thrilling, I know, but somebody has to do it.) Normally the deals I come across include a complimentary hotel night after a paid three-night stay, or spa vouchers, or a free bottle of champagne upon arrival.

But today I was filing a deal for luxury tour-operator, Tahiti Legends, which was offering a 13-day trip to Tahiti. It included round-trip airfare, luxury accommodations, a three-night cruise, private dinners on the beach, and a whole lot of other stuff that I could never afford. How much did this “deal” cost?…

…$170,000 per couple!

No, you did not read that wrong, and no I did not put a comma in where I should have put a period. It is truly $170,000 per couple. Would we say that’s a deal? Shockingly, for some people, yes it is.

This got me thinking about the most expensive vacations in the world. A quick search on Google and I came up with this:

Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi Offers $1 Million Valentine’s Holiday.

$1 million! So what does this package include?

The package, which was available from February 11, 2010, includes first class roundtrip on Etihad Airways from any international destination; seven nights in a Palace Suite at Emirates Palace, a chauffeur-driven Maybach trips during the stay; daily spa treatments in the Anantara Spa; and private jet trips to Iran, Jordan and Bahrain.

Now that is a vacation….if you can swing it. And I’m not judging. I’m just strongly considering a change in profession.