Homeward bound… but first, Dubai. To break up our long flight home and to see somewhere new (because we haven’t already been to enough new places this trip), we thought we’d stop in at the empire that is Dubai.
Despite travelling through European summer, I still wasn’t prepared for the 40 degree heat that blasted us as soon as we stepped off the plane. Thankfully everywhere is really well air-conditioned, so we just had to make sure we didn’t spend too long outside at any one time.
We started our day by catching a metro under the river to Old Dubai. We discovered souks galore: from gold and spices to textiles and utensils, there was something for everyone. Although our patience was tested at times (by vendors insisting that we visit inside their shops for the best price), it was mostly a lot of fun wandering through the narrow streets, crammed with goods ready for bartering.
Eventually the heat got the better of us and we took a quick pit stop back at our hotel for a cheeky dip. Once our body temperatures had cooled somewhat, we headed out on the air-conditioned bus to Jameirah Beach. It was a much longer trip than anticipated, but it was cool temperatures and views, so we were happy.
Understandably there is currently huge growth in Dubai, but the construction sites were excessive and ultimately made the area quite unpleasant. The beach was very exposed: no shade anywhere, which was a far cry from the umbrellas and deck chairs we’d become used to seeing. We weren’t there to swim however, but I have to admit our pool was far more enticing.
We spent our evening at the Dubai Mall. This place is beyond insane. It was an absolute hive of activity, no matter which of the gazillion floors you were on. Not only is there the usual shops, restaurants and cinema, there is also an aquarium and an ice skating rink. We could barely orientate ourselves before we were lost again!
Thanks to the TimeOut magazine we’d picked up at the airport, we were spoilt for choice when it came to dinner. We ended up at Vietnamese Foodies, an up and coming trendy restaurant located near the base of the Burj Khalifa. Not only did we have some epic views of this gobsmackingly tall tower, we literally enjoyed some of the best food of our entire trip on our last night. Go us! We ate like absolute kings and it most certainly did not break our budgets.
Watching the lights show is an absolute must when in Dubai. It is the biggest water show in the world and runs every half hour in the evenings at Dubai Mall. No spot is a bad spot to watch, so we actually moved ourselves away from the crowds and watched the show with the mall in the background. It was great!
Our time in Dubai was short, but very sweet. The city is an impressive contrast between old and derelict and explosive displays of money. Everything about the inner city felt eccentric. The smog was pretty intense: we knew that the city sprawled far further than the eye could see and the temperature was somewhat stifling: we probably would have melted with another day.
Excitement levels are high and tiredness is forgotten, because now… New Zealand, here we come!