If you don’t know why I was only in Dubai for 24 hours, check out my earlier post explaining what prompted this adventure…
We arrived to Dubai on a 113 degree balmy day during Ramadan. Basically, for us as tourists, Ramadan meant that we needed to dress more conservatively than we usually would have to in Dubai during any other time of year (no shoulders or knees showing), and that we could not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public from sunset to sunrise. By the time we got to our hotel it was nearly 8pm, so we figured we would try to go out and find a place to have a nightcap. This wasn’t as easy as one might think given the religious holiday. Eventually, after we asked around, we found an Irish bar that was open, served alcohol and was filled with ex-pats now living in Dubai.
The next morning, we rose early so that we could get a full day of sightseeing in before heading to India. After walking around a bit and getting our bearings, we decided to take a boat ride to cool down.
The Dubai Creek runs through the city and there are many boats waiting for tourists to hop on for a ride. We chose one we liked, negotiated a price and off we went! Since it was so hot (and we couldn’t drink water outside because of Ramadan) the breeze felt great. After walking around the city, the heat (and lack of water) began to get to us so we headed to the world famous Dubai Mall for some window shopping (and air-conditioning).
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest mall housing over 1,200 stores as well as an aquarium and an ice rink. Near the mall, you can spot the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made structure at 2,722 feet tall.
After some window shopping and taking obligatory pictures in front of the Burj Khalifa, we headed to another “record holder”, the Burj a la Arab, a hotel that touts itself as the “most luxurious hotel in the world” and a “7 star hotel.” The hotel itself was not anything how I imagined it would be… I anticipated Ritz-Carlton-esque decor with chandeliers and gold leafing. I was surprised to find the decor to be almost garish in my opinion, resembling a fun house straight out of the 1980’s.
You’re unable to check out the hotel unless you eat a meal there, so we opted for the cheapest option and had afternoon tea at the hotel (that came with a hefty price tag of about $100.00 per person).
This said, it wasn’t your typical tea – it was eight courses of deliciousness with a spectacular view. You could even see Dubai’s man-made Palm Island (literally, in the shape of a palm tree) from the tea room.
Following our tea time, we had just enough time for a quick visit to the gold souk and spice souk before heading to the airport.
Quite honestly, 24 hours was enough for me to realize that Dubai and I just didn’t click. I’m typically one that travels for culture and beauty. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but personally, I don’t find beauty in tall skyscrapers and large shopping malls. Thus far, Dubai has been my least favorite travel destination. Granted, we didn’t visit Dubai during the best time for tourists since it was Ramadan, but I think if I were to head back to the UAE I would be more prone to plan a trip to Abu Dhabi over Dubai.
Have you been to Dubai? How did your experience differ from mine?