10 days that felt like 3 weeks – proving again that the act of “living in the moment” while travelling is so very good for you. I am physically tired, but mentally recharged and stimulated after so very many impressions.
It was always going to be interesting, combining Dubai, Kiev and Chernobyl. The reply to colleagues’ “so where are you going on holiday?” had them stumped… But the fantastic airfare on Ukraine International Airlines was too good to resist!
Dubai is not a city I would necessarily visit, certainly not twice, if not for the close friends I have there – the soul friend I say. And such a personal connection to a city gives you a whole new perspective.
While most of our clients and colleagues would fly in to the huge airport, take a transfer to an all-inclusive hotel for a week or two and then head back, I got to see another few sides to the place.
It is not only all Glitz & Glam – although that is definitely the most visible part, and the facet of the city that many of us are exposed to through the expat community.
The movie about Dubai “City of Life” gives a great insight into the 3 distinct strat of society in this ever-growing metropolis.
On my last visit we already spent time in The Creek – the original area of Dubai with dhows, markets and not-quite-so-fancy eateries. This time we drove through Jumeirah – the area where many Emirati and locals live in low-rise buildings near the ocean.
We drove through the endless desert and under numerous electricity pylons to Dubai Outlet Mall – which I found was not much cheaper than the glitzy ones – certainly not uniformly, anyway.
We also visited The Atlantis Hotel on the Palms – the hotel is quite OTT and very impressive, but not where I would like to stay, I think. The Palms is much much bigger than I expected!! With tunnels for the roads as well – wow!
When I landed at 03h00 in the morning the temperature was 31 degrees C (up a little from the 5 degrees in Munich when I left…) combined with quite a high humidity. It was fascinating to wake up 3 days later though and the humidity had disappeared – just like that 🙂
Where did we eat?
Shades at the Address hotel in Marina – great location, good food and an excellent view on the high-rises of Marina that make them look so sexy at night.
Toshi for divine sushi…
An all-you-can-eat brunch on the Friday, as is typical of the ex-pat community in Dubai (I forget which hotel in Jumeirah Madinat it was…).
MORE Café at Mall of the Emirates was great for lunch
And an oasis in the desert: The Farm at Al Barari. What a gorgeous garden! (and what funky iPad menus!!)
We also took a trip out to Abu Dhabi for the day. Was good to see another Emirate, and a slightly smaller and currently seemingly less ostentatious city, despite what you are about to read.
Our first stop here was the Emirates Palace Hotel. It really looks like a palace on a small hill between city and the sea. It is a grand building with lots of beautiful detail inside, space, luxury and, of course, gold.
This is where you can even eat that gold. Yes: eat. We treated ourselves to cupcakes with gold leaf decoration. Totally delicious red velvet or apple & cinnamon cupcakes, for example. Washed down with a cappuccino dusted with gold… umh… dust. What an experience 🙂
After that we drove to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which impressed all 4 of us tremendously.
It is the largest mosque in the Emirates, and one of the largest in the Middle East – 10’000 people inside and another 30’000 in the grounds.
The pure white building with it’s arches and minarets gleamed in the sunshine. Inside beautiful stained glass windows and thick carpet underfoot took our breath away. We all wore the hijab or thobe, which added to the whole experience in a positive way – the staff at the mosque were impressed that we wanted to wear it even though our western clothes were sufficient.
I realised when I was there how much I miss the call to prayer, now that I live in Germany. While it does sound different to that in South Africa, I found it soothing and comforting to hear. The energy inside the building was so positive, that I really enjoyed spending time there, definitely one of the highlights on this trip.
Dubai can be beautiful 🙂