Futuristic skyscrapers, warm blue seas and hot desert sands – I’ve arrived in Dubai!
With only three days to fit everything in I’ve had a whistle stop tour by my friend Taylor, who works for Emirates and has been living out here for the past year or so, making for the perfect tour guide! This is what I got up to in the first four days of my travels (If you notice the days are labelled wrong it’s because they correspond with my #143daysofjoy and day number 1 was my travel day). You could probably fit even more in, but for me it was a nice opportunity to rest up after a hectic few months of finishing my studies. Dubai really exceeded my expectations and I loved every minute.
Day 1 – Gatwick Airport
I said a teary eyed goodbye to my Mum and my Aunt, boarded my flight and my travels began!
Day 2 – Jamirah Beach
Even though it’s a surprisingly short flight (only 6 hours) I was still feeling pretty jet lagged. My head was bobbing the whole way on the metro and I couldn’t wait to sprawl out on the sand and relax.
After some delicious smoothies to revive us from one of the many cafes and restaurants that line the beach we headed straight into the water. It’s so warm you don’t hesitate to get in and everyone floats about, not too deep, as they admire the Dubai skyline. It wasn’t too busy but it was also kind of nice to have lots of people about, giving it a great atmosphere. It’s the perfect way to spend a hot afternoon.
We finished the evening at Pier 7 and if the other 6 restaurants are as good as The Scene I definitely recommend it. The tasty food was complimented by a view over the marina.
Day 3 – Burj Khalifa
I had my first experience of a Dubai mall (in fact THE Dubai Mall) and wow is it overwhelming! You could get lost for weeks in there! They had everything you could ever possibly want and there were so many English and American brands. If you’re serious about retail therapy this is the place to go.
The highlight of my day was going to the top of the Burj Khalifa though. It’s quite pricey but so worth it and go for the At The Top Sky Ticket, it will get you to the highest floor you can go to, 148, and make you feel like a VIP. For starters you’re ushered into a private waiting area, skipping all the queues and getting to taste some Arabic coffee (tastes nothing like coffee and smells like the water you drain from rice but tastes all right) and sticky dates. Once you’ve speeded to the top in around 22 seconds in the world’s third fastest elevator, the doors will open to reveal a plush lounge and a waiter offering fresh juice.
I wandered around the viewing area with my hands shaking slightly. It was just stunning! I felt so peaceful and so in awe, watching busy life happening 555 metres below me. I went up just as the sun was setting and it was beautiful.
The crowded floors below, 125 and 124, prove that it’s worth paying extra to go all the way to the top as it’s difficult to find a good spot and noisy. However, the views are still amazing and if you’re on a budget the view itself is not much different from the upper floor if you can put up with the crowds.
At the bottom I caught up with Taylor and we grabbed a pizza at Scoozies right next to the Fountain Show. I had seen it from the top of the tower but seeing it at ground level was so much better! They do a different show to a different song every 30 minutes from 6pm and I tell you, you’ve never seen water move like this before. After dinner we watched a Thriller performance and the jets of water were practically doing the full Michael Jackson routine. A spectacular way to end the evening.
Day 4 – Desert Safari
This was the part I had been most excited for and I was not disappointed. Despite the tour being a lot more commercialised than I imagined, it was still a brilliant night and a lot included for the price.
We were picked up from Taylor’s in the afternoon and driven out of the city. We had a quick pitt-stop to decrease the tyre pressure and then we were back on the road. After a while our driver pulled the land cruiser over and turned sharply through a gap in the fence, driving directly onto the sand. Now, before we hit the dunes our driver informed us there were bags in the car for motion sickness but I don’t think anyone took him too seriously. Five minutes later we were bouncing about and being thrown in all directions as the car dipped and bucked over the sand. We followed the tracks of the other vehicles, which crawled all over the dunes like scarab beetles.
The only thing that kept me from seeing my lunch for the second time that day was the orange glow cast across the horizon. We stopped for photos and I could have stayed there for hours.
There was more awaiting us though and by the time it was dark we pulled up to a semi-permanent camp in the desert. Cushions and rugs were scattered around a stage and there were yet more around the edge where you could get a henna tattoo, smoke some shisha, buy souvineers or get some refreshments. Just outside there were several grumpy camels waiting to give you a ride. This was the only part I found to be a little bit of a let down. When I found out there was camel riding I had imagined trekking over the sand dunes on the back of a camel, admiring the scenery, but what it turned out to be was a five minute walk in a small circle in the dark.
Dinner and a show was much more impressive however. We piled our plates with curry, vegetables and rice at the buffet and took our seats on the cushions. First on was an Egyptian dancer who span solidly for the whole of his performance, his brightly coloured skirt splaying out and making him look like a spinning top, without getting dizzy. The second performer was a belly dancer, whose shaking hips and girating belly had every man in the camp drooling!
When dinner was over it was time to head back and, thank God, our drive over the dunes was a lot shorter and les bumpy after our huge dinner.
Dubai has been incredible. These past few days have been a great taster into what Dubai has to offer and I will definitely be back for more, but for now, the adventure continues as I head to Sri Lanka.
The Adventure Begins – Dubai <check out the video to see even more of my travels!