Well, here we are. My last post on Dubai, except the final breakdown tomorrow. Today I want to share with you all the various photos that I took that didn’t seem to fit with any other post so far. There are quite a few, so just sit back, relax and enjoy the show…
While Dubai is located firmly in the Middle East, it’s almost hard to tell. It’s one of the most modern cities I’ve ever been to and easily rivals New York City for skyscrapers. They shine and sparkle in the desert sun.
I mean, look at this view from Markus and Nevine’s balcony! It’s hard to tell due to the haze, but you can actually see all the way to the Burj Khalifa between the two buildings on the right.
But if you look hard enough, you can see some history. And by history, I mean older than 10 years. We visit the spice and gold souks in Old Dubai on the evening of our first day. Markus and Nevine drive us around, herd us onto a water taxi to sail across the river and suddenly I feel like I’m in Turkey or Morocco.
These lamps are everywhere in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It’s fun to see them pop up here, too.
I’m not sure what I expected in the Gold Souk…stacks of gold coins and bars, perhaps. But it’s mostly jewelry. I’ve never seen anything so lavish. Do people actually wear these things? What if someone came up and ripped it off you while you were out? Do you need a massage after from carrying the weight? I may never know.
This is considered the largest gold ring in the world, according to the plaque at the bottom from the Guinness Book of World Records. I think it’s bigger than me. It’s certainly not the kind of ring you wear on your finger.
Another thing Dubai is known for is its malls. They are quite possibly bigger than my home town. So many of the tourist attractions are located in them that they are hard to avoid. But they are interesting in their own right, too. Plus, in typical Dubai fashion, the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world, based on size. That alone means it’s worth checking out, right (or am I the only one who likes to to see anything that is the most somethingest in the world? Just me? Fine.)?
During our stay, the rink is being used for a concert I believe, so there is no ice. But you can still kind of tell what it is.
There’s also the Mall of the Emirates, where you can ski inside at Ski Dubai (that oddly shaped metal piece sticking up on the right). From what I can tell, it’s the swankiest of the malls based on the retailers I see.
Did you know Christmas is big in Dubai? It seems strange considering it’s an Islamic nation, but the malls are filled with decorations, and they even have a Christmas-specific store. I think they may go bigger for this holiday than we do at home!
I feel like “Irony” is appropriate.
The last mall we explore is the Ibn Battuta Mall. This is the kind of place you go to for the experience more than the shopping. It was modeled after the 6 of the places the Moroccan explorer Ibn Batutta visited – Andalusia, Tunisia, Persia, India, China and Egypt (as a fellow traveler, falling down that Wikipedia rabbit hole nearly caused me to miss posting this!). It’s really impressive!
We also spend a few days at the beach. The first is Umm Suqeim in the shadow of the Burj al Arab. Our plan is to take the metro from our hotel in Financial Center to Sharaf DG station, then bus down to the beach, saving us a lot of money. But when the bus arrives, the driver tells us we’re supposed to have bought tickets inside, then leaves. We end up taking a taxi instead of waiting around longer. So good tip – if you ever find yourself needing to take the bus in Dubai, the bus drivers don’t sell tickets, they must be purchased at a nearby kiosk. At least the taxi is cheaper from the metro station than if we had taken it from our hotel.
Umm Suqeim is popular with tourists and is pretty crowded (it’s free, so there’s that), plus the surf is really rough so I don’t spend much time in the water. We find a nice spot on the sand and do some reading and napping. It’s a great way to spend a day.
On our second beach day we visit, I can’t exactly remember the name, but I think it’s the Jumeriah Beach Residence, which is much quieter. There are still a lot of people, and at one point, a DJ starts playing music, but it has a calmer feel to it. The water is calmer as well.
This is a popular spot for skydivers as we’re right next to the Palm Jumeirah. It makes a lovely picture from above, and we enjoy watching them drift to the ground, over and over.
If you’re lucky, you might even see a camel wander by. This mixture of modern and historic and lazing on the beach is almost too much for my mind to handle.
The chairs with umbrella’s are not cheap to rent, but are worth it to have a place in the shade. The fee also includes a towel and showers after your done if you so desire. And they even serve you drinks (which you have to buy, of course) right at your chair! I could get used to this life.
After a couple hours of relaxing, we wander through the tourist area behind the beach. It’s full of shops and restaurants, including my new favorite place ever, Zaatar W. Zeit. It’s a Lebanese chain of fast food wrap/sandwich things that I could possibly eat every day of my life and die happy. We order a cheese one, a spicy chicken, a beef something and another chicken, as well as some Halloumi cheese. I, of course, eat all the olives.
Just looking at those photos makes me hungry!
If I ever make it back to Dubai, I’d love to have tea at the Burj al Arab. You aren’t even allowed inside this hotel unless you are staying there or have reservations at one of the restaurants, and it was just to expensive for this trip. But we got several pictures of the outside as we’re walking through Souk Madinat one evening.
As we’re flying home, I snap a shot out the window. I’m pretty sure this city goes on forever. It certainly seems never-ending.
And with that, we’ve come to the end of this journey. I hope I haven’t turned you off to this place by saying Dubai is weird. It’s an incredibly place to visit, but it’s both so different from anywhere I’ve ever been, and so much the same as many modern cities that it’s hard to really describe what it’s like to be here. It would be a great place to visit on a layover for a few days on your way to somewhere else. You certainly wouldn’t run out of things to do.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a final breakdown of this trip, from expenses to tips to anything else I can think of. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!