Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Two Nights in Dubai


I awake dazed and bleary eyed. It is the early hours of the morning, I've had very little sleep thanks to a badly purchased neck pillow. Dubai is the first stop on a crazy two week trip that will take us on to Singapore and Bali! I have done little to no research on this city I have only ever seen in photos and honestly, I don't really know what to expect. We will be landing soon.

We arrived at a respectable 7am, groggy and jet lagged. Lucky for us, we were being collected by Ciarán's cousin who met us at arrivals with two very large, choc full of caffeine, coffees.


After freshening up at her apartment we head off to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheikh Zayad Mosque. It is exquisitely designed and just vast, I don't think I have seen a modern building with that much attention to detail for no other reason than to be beautiful before.

I would say it lacked a certain charm held by the mosques we saw in Morocco, but was no less impressive. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for an older, slightly beaten up building!




We grabbed lunch in Abu Dhabi and spent the afternoon catching up with Ciarán's cousin rather than rush off to see more. By the time we checked into our hotel, the jet lag was really beginning to kick in, and we ended up turning in early ready for a full day of sight seeing tomorrow.

We woke semi-bright and early, and head out for breakfast at a cafe called Brambles, it's instagrammably pink, and does an excellent breakfast, I highly recommended the breakfast tacos and the desert rose coffee! I am still dreaming about that coffee...


From here instead of getting a taxi like you're expected to, we hopped on the metro down through the city to catch a water taxi to the Marina. Being in the city itself was just bizarre. I felt like I had been dropped into a game of sim city, none of it felt real. This "movie set" feeling is definitely amplified by the fact that there isn't that many pedestrians out and about due to the heat. Everyone is comfortably tucked away somewhere with air conditioning. We were the only lunatics wandering around in 45 degrees.

We got a boat along the sea front to the Old Town. It was a great way to travel because you get to see the skyline from a really cool vantage point. It was hazy the whole time we were there so we unfortunately were denied a really crisp view, but it was lovely just the same.




If i'd thought being in Dubai couldn't feel any more bizarre, I would have been proven very wrong when we arrived in the Old Town. It is just the absolute polar opposite to everything you image Dubai to be. It is a winding, dusty, crumbly souk. Charming, but a far cry from the shiny new, sparkly skyscrapers you expect from Dubai. The gold market and spice market are the most popular. We didn't spend that much time there, but I did regret this later.



We had come to the old town to go to the Dubai Museum. We ended up at the Dubai Municipality Museum. Quite a different beast. We arrived and were taken into a room with maps all over the walls, the man put on a DVD and closed the door... Yes it felt as sinister as it sounds. When the DVD was over we were pointed in the direction of another room, also with lots of maps on the walls. That was it. Maps and a DVD. It didn't really live up to the expectations from all the reviews we had read. But at least it was free. It was only a little while later that I realised we were idiots and had gone to the wrong place. Turns out my colleague made the exact same mistake, so perhaps we weren't such idiots after all, maybe it's a common mistake? This is what I will continue to tell myself, and Ciarán will insist this was the museum he actually wanted to visit.

After hopping on the metro back to our hotel to freshen up, we made our way to the famous Dubai Mall for dinner and to see the big guy. The Burj Khalifa. What a mind boggling building. We watched the fountain show which was lovely, but honestly a little overshadowed as I couldn't stop staring at the behemoth skyscraper in front of me. Although from a distance the shape is very reminiscent of an evil Disney character's castle, and I found myself automatically feeling slightly full of dread when I looked at it... Just me then? This aside, it really is spectacular, and I am in awe of what they can do with the lights. The photo below is showing quite a modest light show.


The next day was a lot slower. We had our flight to Singapore that evening so we took it easy and spent the afternoon with Ciarán's cousin having tea and cake at Jumeirah Al Qasar, a beautiful hotel overlooking the Burj Al Arab. After we had a wander around Souk Madinat where we were introduced to Cinnabon for the first time. I know. We're a bit ashamed too.

The afternoon passed quicker than we hoped and soon we were picking up our luggage and saying our goodbyes at the airport. On to the next exciting city!




It was such a lovely trip and the perfect warm up to the rest of our holiday. In fact it was so uncomfortably warm it meant the heat and humidity in Singapore was a breezy relief! People keep asking what I thought of Dubai and if I liked it. The only answer I seemed able to give was, it's just bonkers. Then someone said to me that their feelings generally were that they didn't hate it, but they didn't love it either. That really is the best way to explain it. I had such a lovely time and I'm so glad we decided to visit, but it didn't steal my heart they way Hvar or Paris has.


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