Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cruising into 2012

What better way to spend the first (uncharacteristically damp, grey and humid) day of the New Year than by indulging in some movie nonsense on the pretext of revisiting locations from the old one? Thus it was that I spent more than two hours twitching and wriggling nervously in my seat as I watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol work through its ridiculous story, told with every tool of movie trickery in the box. Steve Jobs (RIP) would have been thrilled to see the casual and ubiquitous use of iPads and iPhones to track and identify villains as well as a host of other useful spy-themed apps. The most thrilling part though appealed to a much more basic and age-old human instinct: fear of heights.

Which of course took Tom to Dubai, home of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, at 828m and 160 storeys, to do a Spidey up the outside with a dodgy gripper glove and then a Canyon Swing back down again and in through the window. As you do. The views down that extraordinary shiny silver building were dizzyingly spectacular, the surrounding buildings, the vast fountain complex and the ground itself so incredibly far away. I wish I had had the time to go up to the Observation Deck, but you have to book or pay some huge sum, and I was, as usual, on a tight schedule; but I did get to see it from the bottom, which was amazing enough - although very hard to fit into a viewfinder.

The movie started in Budapest, which I was interested to see as I'll be going there in May; then from Dubai went to Mumbai - where I haven't been, does Delhi count? - and finished up in Seattle, on the waterfront where we had a nose around, were most impressed by the Aquarium, and took a ferry from across to Bainbridge Island, which looked lovely but again we had no time to look around (aren't you glad you're not a travel writer, hogtied by the tyranny of the itinerary?). There was even a glimpse of San Francisco, where a chunk got taken off the top of the Transamerica Pyramid by an at-the-last-second aborted nuclear missile. So, pretty much been there - but done all that? Thankfully, not.

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