Desert Dreams and Sky-Height Schemes: A Dazzling Dubai Getaway

Discovering the Charm of Dubai: A Stopover Adventure

When we first planned our trip to London for a European tour, Dubai was never on our travel radar. However, our stopover in this city proved to be a delightful surprise and quickly became one of our favorite destinations. As we landed in Dubai, we were immediately captivated by its stunning beauty. It's hard to believe that this modern metropolis was once a desert, as it now boasts grand and sprawling structures.

Driving through Dubai, we couldn't help but be reminded of Singapore, as the roads seemed to weave in and out, guiding us through the city's various neighborhoods. The architectural wonders of Dubai are truly unique and a feast for the eyes. As aspiring architects, we found ourselves in awe of the innovative and creative designs that adorned the city skyline.

Contrary to popular belief, Dubai is an open and global city that has embraced a more modern way of living. Although there are still certain places where appropriate dress is required, overall, you can wear whatever you're comfortable in. Dubai's diverse population means it's important to be respectful and considerate of cultural norms during your visit.

“Adventure is allowing the unexpected to happen to you. Exploration is experiencing what you have not experienced before.”

Upon arrival, we checked into the Grand Excelsior Hotel Bur Dubai, a family-friendly hotel located in the heart of the city. The hotel offered comfortable rooms adorned with contemporary Arabic decor, and we enjoyed the convenience of amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a rooftop pool, and multiple dining options.

After taking some time to relax by the pool, we embarked on a guided tour the following day. Our private guide picked us up from the hotel, and we embarked on a whirlwind adventure across the city. Our tour included visits to iconic landmarks such as the Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai Diera Creek, Dubai Museum, Gold Souk, Al Bastakiya, Burj Al Arab, and Atlantis The Palm.

We began with a quick photo stop outside the Jumeirah Mosque, a stunning architectural masterpiece. As we continued along the tour, we made sure to capture memorable moments in front of the famous Burj Al Arab and Atlantis The Palm hotels. These landmarks truly showcased Dubai's commitment to unique and extravagant designs.

Passing Sheikh Mohammed's Palace, we couldn't help but wonder about the life within those walls. Our guide regaled us with stories about the ruling family, leaving us with a sense of curiosity and admiration.

Our tour also took us to the bustling Gold Souk, where we marveled at the variety and craftsmanship of the gold on display. Although we were overwhelmed with the selection, we couldn't resist a little bit of shopping and took the opportunity to haggle for some souvenirs.

To escape the chaos of the Gold Souk, we retreated to the peaceful and charming Al Bastakiya. Here, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the XVA Café, housed in a historic building that once belonged to a wealthy family. The café now serves as a unique establishment that combines art, culture, and culinary delights.

As the day drew to a close, we headed back to the Dubai Mall to witness the enchanting Dubai Fountain show. This captivating display of water, music, and lights is a must-see attraction. As the fountain danced to various melodies, we were mesmerized by its beauty and grandeur.

After all the sightseeing, a little dose of shopping at the gold souk was in order. Dubai is famous for its gold. For some reason, you can get gold at cheaper prices here. Even so, we didn’t really buy any gold here because we were overwhelmed with the selection.  A few vendors along the small side streets were selling abayas, plates, ceramics, souvenirs and more as well. Just a little tip though, make sure to haggle. Everyone haggles here, especially when it comes to purchasing gold. To unwind from all the chaos that greeted us at the gold souk, it’s only right to follow it up with Al Bastakiya. Part of our tour was lunch at the charming XVA Café which is one of the interesting establishments located in Bastakiya. It used to be a house owned by a super wealthy family but it’s now a café, hotel and gallery. Overall, it was a day well spent. In just a few hours, we learned so much about Dubai and it’s culture.

To end our day in Dubai, we ventured out into the city to capture the sparkling skyline at night. We marveled at the city's vibrant energy and admired the illuminated buildings before returning to our hotel, ready to continue our European adventure.

Our unexpected stopover in Dubai allowed us to experience the city's modernity, rich culture, and stunning architecture. It taught us that sometimes the most amazing travel experiences come from the places we least expect. Dubai will forever hold a special place in our hearts, reminding us of the beauty of exploration and open-mindedness.

Woke up the next day with a great breakfast and back to chill by the pool for a few hours, then back to the airport and onto London, England

For anyone planning to visit in the coming months, here are some things I've learned from our trip that you really ought to know.

There's life beyond the skyscrapers

Dubai has a rich history, and the UAE culture is fascinating if you scratch beneath all that gold. Weren’t expecting that, were you? Head to the souks that flank Dubai Creek, the original heart of the city, where traders from all over the Middle East come to flog their wares. Here you can haggle for turquoise trinkets from Iran, silver treasures from Oman, anddates from Saudi Arabia. There's even a spectacular souk dedicated to gold – worth a look, even if you're not buying.

The food is fantastic

One of the benefits of having such a huge expat population is a wealth of dinner choices: Dubai has an exciting food scene. And it’s not all about luxury restaurants, either – although there are plenty of those. In the Bur Dubai area, you can feast on Iranian, Filipino, Yemeni, Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, and even Afghan food. Frying Pan Food Adventures offers some fun foodie tours.

You don’t need a burkini

A bikini will suffice. While the UAE is a Muslim country, it’s not as conservative as you might expect. Dress as you would do in Europe: shorts and skirts are fine. There’s no need to cover your hair either.

But bring a Cover-up

The shopping malls are cold – it’s all that A/C. You’ll also need one if you plan to visit Jumeirah Mosque, on a (highly-recommended) guided tour.

The Palm is underwhelming

Town planners, take note: a palm is not a suitable shape for an island. The traffic! If you’re staying on one of the fronds, it’ll take you an extra half-hour to get to Dubai Marina or Downtown – aka Dubai’s fun bits.

Kissing is a no-no

Avoid smooching in public, as this will attract unwanted attention too. This includes nightclubs, hotels, the back of taxis and the beach. We’ve all heard the stories of couples being arrested for “having sex” in public places. A simple kiss in public can get you in just as much trouble.

Malls are actually quite fun

Ignore the people who sniff at Dubai’s epic malls. Sure, they’re not “culturally-enriching”, but they are great fun. Aquariums, ski slopes, ice rinks, cinemas… it’s easy to lose a day in one of these glittering temples of capitalism. Dubai Mall is the most epic, with a whole ‘district’ (district!) devoted to shoes.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for suggesting to read this article. Very useful and your photographs are stunning.


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