We used Dubai as a stopover before heading to London to start our European Tour. The truth is Dubai has never been anywhere near our travel radar, which is why we had no idea what to expect. So it’s a bit ironic (in a good way) that we come home declaring it as one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited so far.
Dubai is a beautiful city. At a glance, it’s quite easy to forget that this place is actually a desert that has been reclaimed and built over, with structures that are as grand and sprawling as any of the sheikh’s palaces. The main city is extremely modern, but there are still areas where one can appreciate the “old Dubai”. Driving around feels a little like you’re driving in circles. Actually it reminds me a little of Singapore in that sense because it’s almost as if you take a few spins on different roads in the same area to get from one place to another. It’s really interesting to just watch the city pass by the car window as the place is a treasure trove for aspiring architects because you can’t help but marvel at how unique the buildings here are.
A lot of people seem to have the misconception that when you visit Dubai, the gals have to be all covered up in head to toe black like a traditional Hindi woman. But since Dubai is an open and global city, they have embraced the more modern way of living. Roughly speaking you can wear anything you want, but of course, there are still some places that will require you to dress appropriately, but I mean, isn’t it just normal to dress properly anyway? Dubai has quite the diverse population, so it’s important to be respectful as well as conscious of how we behave while going around this lovely city. The law is quite strict so it’s quite safe here, so at least in that aspect you can breathe a little easier right?
Off the plane we got delivered to Grand Excelsior Hotel Bur Dubai. This family-friendly Dubai hotel is located in Bur Dubai, within 1 mi (2 km) of Textile Souk, BurJuman Mall, and Dubai Museum. Grand Mosque and The Dubai Heritage Village are also within 2 mi (3 km). This hotel is also 8 km from The Dubai Mall and 7 km from the Dubai Spice Souk. Featuring free Wi-Fi, the airy rooms with contemporary Arabic decor also came with flat-screen TVs, minibar, and tea and coffee making facilities. There were 5 bars and restaurants including a refined international restaurant and a laid-back bar. There’s was also a gym and a rooftop pool, plus a steam room, a sauna and a business centre. After arrive late afternoon we dropped the bags and headed for the pool to chill and nap. We weren't that tired and enjoyed dinner in one of the restaurants. We are still working on Australian time.
The next day we booked a tour which started at 9am, with our private guide picking us up from our hotel. We were scheduled to check out quite a number of places like the Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai Diera Creek, Dubai Museum, Gold Souq, Al Bastakiya, Burj Al Arab, Atlantis The Palm and many more.
Our first stop was a quick photo outside the much-photographed mosque of Dubai, Jumeirah Mosque. But if you have a lot of time, you may choose to take the tour around the mosque. It usually takes about one and half to two hours. Our next stop was another photo opportunity along Jumeirah beach,with the famous 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, as the backdrop. It’s one of Dubai’s most distinctive landmarks with its signature Arabian dhow sail shaped exterior visible from almost everywhere in the city. No trip to Dubai can ever be complete without taking a photo with it. Another stop was the famous hotel at Jumeirah Atlantis, The Palm. As its name suggests, the hotel was designed with the theme of the myth of Atlantis. We wish we were able to take a better photo of its exterior. Next up was a quick stop in front of Sheikh Mohammed’s (Ruler of Dubai) Palace. How we wish tourists are allowed to take a peek inside. We were so curious how it looks like because our guide told us so many stories about the ruling family.
After all the sightseeing, a little dose of shopping at the gold souk was in order. Dubai is famous for its gold. For some reason, you can get gold at cheaper prices here. Even so, we didn’t really buy any gold here because we were overwhelmed with the selection. A few vendors along the small side streets were selling abayas, plates, ceramics, souvenirs and more as well. Just a little tip though, make sure to haggle. Everyone haggles here, especially when it comes to purchasing gold. To unwind from all the chaos that greeted us at the gold souk, it’s only right to follow it up with Al Bastakiya. Part of our tour was lunch at the charming XVA Café which is one of the interesting establishments located in Bastakiya. It used to be a house owned by a super wealthy family but it’s now a café, hotel and gallery. Overall, it was a day well spent. In just a few hours, we learned so much about Dubai and it’s culture.
Late afternoon we headed back to the Dubai Mall for a captivating water, music and light spectacle. One of Dubai’s most compelling tourist attractions, The Dubai Fountain delights thousands of visitors every day. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain, in Downtown Dubai. At over 900 ft in length – equivalent to over two football pitches – The Dubai Fountain is situated on the 30-acre Burj Lake and performs to a selection of different melodies. We watched the 6pm show and headed around Dubai for some night shots.
Woke up the next day with a great breakfast and back to chill by the pool for a few hours, then back to the airport and onto London, England