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Seven Places To Stay In Dubai (If You Stay In Dubai Seven Times)

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The city of Dubai is poised to become the millionaire playground of the 2010s, with its economy crafted to accommodate businesses and other tourism-specific developments. But Dubai could have all the ritziest clubs and hottest attractions the world over, and still no one would visit if its hotels were not the most decadent, over-the-top establishments imaginable. Luckily, Dubai has risen to the challenge.

Ski Dubai

If one has enough money to vacation in Dubai, it would only be natural to assume that said person can afford to jet off to the Alps for the weekend when the urge to ski comes up. But just in case this is too much of a trek, Ski Dubai has brought the mountains to the desert in the form of 3 football fields of indoor ski trails. Five different ski runs of varying difficulty provide options for everyone, along with tobogganing hills and a bobsled ride. If you get sick of riding the magic carpet shaped chairlifts, you can always head over to the Snow Park, which contains 32,000 feet of snow just for making snowmen or staging snowball fights. Ski Dubai is not a place to stay and so not quite right for this list, but the idea of skiing down to a window and looking out on blazing hot sand is too surreal to resist.

Madinat Jumeirah

Dubai2.jpgThe Madinat Jumeirah hotel is modeled after an ancient Arabic town, right down to the very last detail. The shopping center looks like the bazaar the title hero runs through in Aladdin, and quaint stone bridges crisscross from building to building over the resort's 2.3 miles of fake rivers that come complete with Arabian water taxis to chauffeur guests from their hotel rooms to whichever of the 45 restaurants and bars they choose. And for anyone concerned about office access all the way out there in the desert, fear not: you can bring your fellow desk warriors with you! The Madinat Conference Hall has a maximum capacity of 1,832 persons and has capabilities that would put those efficiency suites on the highway to shame.

BurjDubai.jpgBurj Dubai

One of several Dubai projects in the running for a record in the Guiness Book, the Burj Dubai aims to become the tallest skyscraper in the world. Its projected height is being kept a secret, but numbers being thrown around range anywhere from 2,297 to 2,684 feet tall "“ reaching more than 700 to 1,000 feet highest than the world's current tallest high-rise building, Taiwan's Taipei 101. The first 37 floors of this behemoth will become the Giorgio Armani Hotel, decorated by its namesake, and 56 of the world's fastest elevators will transport residents and guests to any of the four pools, the 15,000 square foot fitness complex, a cigar club, a library, and the world's highest publicly accessible observation deck. Sadly, if you're only just hearing about this now, you won't be able to become the proud owner of one of the 700 apartment suites being built "“ they sold out within 8 hours of becoming available. However, you could always throw down $15 million for your own private island in the shape of your favorite country"¦

The World

Dubai4.jpgRight off the coast of Dubai, 300 artificial islands are being constructed, clustered together to create the shapes of each of the seven continents. The islands, known as "The World," can only be accessed by boat or helicopter, and they range in price from $15 million to as much as $45. The islands are not only for personal use, however "“ the Ireland island is being transformed into an Irish themed resort, complete with a gym, Irish-style pub, spa, and a replica of the Giant's Causeway. If you do decide to snap up a little piece of Africa or Asia, you'll be rubbing elbows with the likes of Tommy Lee, proud owner of Greece, and Angelina Jolie, alleged proprietor of Ethiopia. As their website states, "The World can really revolve around you."

The Hydropolis

Hydropolis.jpgThe Hydropolis is under construction 60 feet below the surface of the Persian Gulf waters off the coast of Dubai, and it holds every imaginable amenity anyone could ever need. Estimates for how much it costs are anywhere between $500 and $600 million dollars, which probably does not include the rumored missile defense system budget. Two clear domes encompass a ballroom and a concert hall, but leaving your suite is not necessary to gaze out on the ocean floor, as all the rooms have clear glass surrounding the bedroom area. Underwater construction is a tall order, but the Hydropolis will not be outdone by other Dubai properties when it comes to amenities; I can't think of any other reason why one would include a cosmetic surgery clinic in plans for an underwater kingdom if the ultimate goal is not to be the most fabulous glitterati getaway in the world.

Burj Al Arab

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burjalarab2.jpgPerhaps the Burj Al Arab has been overshadowed recently by the enormous projects popping up all over Dubai, but we can't leave out a hotel whose 1,000 foot high helipad can be converted into a tennis court, recently used for a friendly match between Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. Every gold-colored surface in the iconic sail-shaped building is 24 karat, and there are a lot of them. A grand will get you the cheapest room for a night, complete with Hermes toiletries, pillow and bath menus, butler service, 24-hour private dining, a complete office setup, and a huge plasma television. And these are not your average ultra-elite suites "“ every guest room in the hotel extends over two floors, so those who want to party can carry on at the bar area downstairs while the children sleep. But if this doesn't seem quite up to par, there's always the Royal Suite, which goes for $28,000 a night and contains an elevator, a rotating four-poster bed, and a private cinema.

Dubailand

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But don't book your plane tickets just yet "“ the gem of Dubai, Dubailand, is still very much under construction, and although it will open in 2010, the resort won't be completely finished until 2018. The $20 billion dollar project will contain Dubai's second indoor ski resort, a water park, an observatory wheel larger than the London Eye, and several theme parks. Two spa resorts, a sport complex with four stadiums, a planetarium, and a Tiger Woods golf resort are under construction, as well as the Falcon City of Wonders, which will include replicas of various landmark structures from around the world, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal. Each of the 31 hotels under construction will have a different theme, like Camelot or Wild West, and the number of hotel rooms will amount to a grand total of 30,000. Dubailand will also contain the Mall of Arabia, on track to become the world's largest mall at 10 million square feet. And by the time construction is completed Dubailand will stretch for 107 square miles, twice the size of all the Disney parks put together. Follow the progress through this photo gallery.

So, have any of you ever been to Dubai? Where'd you stay? What'd you think?

Cassandra Galante is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

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entertainment
5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Netflix

Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

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