Diverse Dubai in three days

Diverse Dubai in three days

After two months of being home it was already time to go on another major trip! This time the main destination is China, which you can read all about in my ‘Ready for China’ post, but before heading to China we decided to make a pitstop in Dubai for a few days. We had to have a layover there anyways, so way not get off the airport and explore Dubai for a few days before heading on, right?

After flying for 6 hours on the biggest plane I’d ever been on in my life, we arrived in the beautiful Dubai. We immediately found ourselves in a super extravagant arrivals hall, with a few men in Djellabas and women in Burqas. Just what I expected Dubai to look like. We took a taxi to our Airbnb, which was located right on the Sheik Zhayed Road. I knew this was the main street, but I had not expected it to be a 12 lane-wide freeway running through the middle of the city. Anyways, our airbnb was lovely, it was on the 15th floor of a small skyscraper (small for Dubai standards, in the Netherlands it will probably be one of the tallest), with a view of the ocean. After a quick run to the 24-hour supermarket downstairs we went straight to bed because it was already 2AM and we had a city to explore the next day!

On our first full day in Dubai we wanted to take the metro to the old town. Unfortunately, after arriving at the metro station we found out that, for the first time in it’s history, the metro was out of service that day. So we walked all the way back across the 12 lane freeway (don’t worry they have made super fancy, completely covered, pedestrian bridges for this, including the moving walkways you usually find at airports) to wait for the replacement bus. In the end we decided it would be easier to just take a taxi. Once we found a taxi we were told all the shops in the old town would be closed around lunchtime, so we changed our plans completely and went to the Dubai mall. Men oh men, I’ve seen quite a few malls in my life, but never one as big and as extravagant as this one. I can’t even describe what it was like, I mean there is a complete aquarium in the middle and that is only one of the many attractions in this mall. You can honestly walk around there for days and still not have seen every part. Of course, the outside area is also really impressive, because as soon as you walk out you are greeted by the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world! After walking around inside and outside the mall and the nearby souk and paradise hotel for a few hours we decided to go somewhere else to end the day. We took a taxi to the beach close to the Burj Al Arab, another one of Dubai’s iconic buildings. I’d seen so many pictures of this building, so it was kind of surreal seeing it in real life. We watched the sunset on the beach and then walked around the shops and restaurant area in front of this hotel. I absolutely love how they have made sure the building lights up to match the colours of the sunset, it was just magical and a perfect way to end day 1 in Dubai.

The next day we had a little earlier start, because we’d booked tickets to go up the Burj Khalifa. I mean, you can’t be that close to the tallest building in the world and not go up! Luckily, the metro was working again, so we bought an all day unlimited transport pass and hopped on. When we got in we were shocked to find only men in our cabin. We later discovered they actually have a separate cabin for women and children only, men will get fined if they are in this cabin. Women are allowed to ride in the men’s cabin, but nobody really does. There is actually a line on the ground separating the women’s cabin from the other cabins, which makes for a weird situation if the women’s cabin is almost empty and all the men are crammed together on the other side of the line. Anyways, back to the Burj Khalifa. The view was, of course, amazing and I took so many pictures, just like everybody else ;p. It’s definitely something I can check of my bucket list. Only unfortunate thing is that I won’t be able to say I’ve visited the highest building in the world for long, because they are already building an even higher one.

Another thing to check off my bucket list is a visiting the Palm Island. This is an artificial island they made in front of the coast. They wanted to create as much beach front building sights as they could, so they made it in the shape of a palm tree. We took a monorail tram from the root to the tip of the island, where we found a Cold Stone Creamery (my favourite ice-cream store in the world), much to my delight. After enjoying our ice-cream with a view of the ocean, we went on to the area called Dubai Marina where we walked around and enjoyed the sunset on what they call ‘The Beach’, basically a promenade next to the beach where a lot of people come to work out or go for a stroll. It was so cool to see that there is literally people form every nationality walking around here. There’s women completely covered by their burqas with only a small opening for their eyes, walking next to girls in bikinis and everybody seemed completely fine with it. I just love that!

We ended the day on a very spectacular note, by watching the amazing water and light show at the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa. There is a fountain show that’s performed multiple times each night, every day of the year. However, we were lucky enough to also catch the Burj Khalifa laser and light show. This show was made for New years but they decided to keep showing it once a night on some days of the week until the 31st of March. I’m so happy I’d found out about this (I guess spending way too much time on Instagram paid off) and we were able to see it. I’m honestly still in shock and I have no idea how they do it, but it was spectacular.

On day 3 we decided to take it a little easier, as we’d walked more than 16km the previous day. Everything in Dubai is much further apart than it seems on a map. It’s just all so big and for example even to get from the Dubai mall metro stop to the actual Dubai Mall you already have to walk 20 min. We were told beforehand that nobody in Dubai really walks and now I get why. Also there just aren’t any outside footpaths in the downtown area, because in summer it’s just way too hot. Something that was still on our to do list, was visit the old town, since we didn’t end up doing that on day 1. So, we hopped on the metro (which actually goes overground) and first went to Fahidi historical neighbourhood and then took an abra across the river to the neighbourhood called Deira. Honestly, this is just a completely different world, it’s really different from the downtown and Dubai Marina area. For me it kind of felt like we were in Morocco. It’s a maze of all little streets and alleys, with little shops selling things like spices and kitchenware. Of course there are also some touristy parts were all the salesman where trying to sell us their scarfs and other souvenirs. I never like it when I’m constantly approached by salesmen and this was the worst I’ve ever seen it. They kept calling ‘Shakira, shakira …’ and some of them even threw there scarfs over my shoulder or arm. Anyways, once we walked past the touristy parts into the streets where the real locals were coming to buy stuff, we were completely left alone and it was an amazing experience to see this other side of the city.

On our last evening in Dubai we went back to the Dubai Marina to watch the sunset at ‘The Beach’ again. It was lovely to just sit on a bench watching the sunset and all the people walking past. Then we decided to take the ferry, we didn’t really have a clue where it was going, but we just thought the ride would be fun. This ended up being a great decision, because we ended up near the Dubai Marina Mall (I know it’s confusing, but this is not the same as the Dubai Mall we went too earlier). This is now probably my favourite place in all of Dubai. It sort off felt like a mixture of Monaco and Manhattan, with big yachts with skyscrapers in the background. There was just a really awesome vibe and we ended up having dinner on a terrace overlooking it all. It felt like that special moment you always hope for on your last night, but then we realised it’s definitely not our last night yet. Even though our time in Dubai is up, this is only just the beginning of our trip. Now let’s go to China!

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