Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

Discovering Dubai

On our way back from the UK, Tom and I decided to stop and visit Dubai. I had heard mixed reviews about the United Arab Emirates most famous city, so fancied checking it out for myself.

 

My first impression of the giant man made jungle was that it was unbelievably extravagant. Everything is the ‘biggest’, ‘tallest’ or ‘most luxurious’. It was really spread out and I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was different to what I thought it would be. When I say things are big, I am not exaggerating. The malls are ridiculous; you could get lost in them for days! One has an indoor snow park and another has a full aquarium and underwater zoo! (I wasn’t sure how I felt about that as I don’t believe animals should be kept in captivity like that, but it was very informative and I hope that they educate people from all over the world and ignite a passion to protect our wildlife.)

 

Getting around Dubai is super easy. The metros take you everywhere and are pretty cheap too. We opted to embrace our inner tourist and jump on one of those cringey red hop on hop off bus tours, as we only had two days to explore. It was a fun way of seeing everything on such a tight time frame. We briefly visited the Palm, where the famous Atlantis hotel is, Sheikh Zayed road, the Dubai Museum and Al Fahadi Fort. We also drove past some beautiful Mosques and were shown the Dubai Royal Palace by a friendly taxi driver.

Everyone I met in Dubai seemed very kind and happy to help. The locals all seemed very accepting of different backgrounds and beliefs. (Just make sure you respect the local customs.)

We absolutely loved the old town. We crossed the creek on this tiny raft and then caught a Dhow boat for a relaxing harbour cruise. The souks were an eye-opening experience. There’s a silk souk (where I was referred to as Shakira!), as well as Spice and Gold souk. The spices smelt amazing and I felt like I was in a scene from Aladdin at one point! The Gold was so shiny and each shop was as impressive as the last! I did go into a couple to have a look but was completely overwhelmed as I was clearly too poor to purchase anything! The old town felt very unique and we enjoyed the more traditional experience.

Dubai seems to have a slight identity crisis; as it has lots of influences from surrounding countries. You’ll struggle to find traditional UAE food, for example, but there are plenty of other cuisines to indulge your tastebuds in. This makes Dubai an extremely diverse and interesting city to travel to.

Before going to Dubai, all I wanted to do was visit ‘at the top’ of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, but when we got there I honestly almost died at the price… so we decided to admire the mega-structure from the ground instead! Dubai has an array of impressive skylines, dotted amongst orange sand.

We visited the Al Hadheerah open air restaurant, which was a lovely evening. We enjoyed beautiful food from all over the world, while sitting with a glass of wine and sheesha under the desert stars. ‘Cultural’ shows are not usually my cup of tea, but we watched performances from a hypnotising belly dancer and this dude who did this amazing spinny dance for so long! He made me feel dizzy just by watching him, it was madness! Then, to top off the show, a historic story from Dubai was re-enacted, with sheep, camels and horses. I don’t know if it was the wine or what, but I was rather entertained by the whole production!

As a whole, we had a lovely time in Dubai, but probably wouldn’t rush to go back as it’s slightly too indulgent and materialistic for us. However, it’s a wonderful destination in its own right and provides an exciting stopover in the Middle East.

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