What an amazing place... we spent all day wondering when I could come back...
Today there were 12 of us for our action packed day in Dubai ... and it was... we had an absolutely wonderful guide Shehnaaz ( pronounce Chanel like the perfume ). She has such enthusiasm and passion for her country and she certainly had the strength to keep us all under control. Which was a good thing otherwise we would never have had done so much.
I had found Shehnaaz from a blog I read from the 2008 Pacific Princess World Cruise and sent my email early enough to ensure that I had booked her.... Which was just as well as she was called by the company Princess use to run one of their tours.... Shehnaaz and I had been emailing over a long period of time, and meeting each other for the first time was like meeting a long lost relative. She had been fabulous to deal with and she even was going to look after us in Abu Dhabi. When Abu Dhabi was cancelled she was going to take us there from Dubai... but in the end our very late arrival put an end to that....
2012er’s I strongly recommend her for a tour.... whether it be a few of you or a group like ours please contact her for details you will not be sorry..... Shehnaaz’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Tell her Joanne sent you ...
Our day in Dubai was so hot but you learn just to cope with it as you don’t want to miss a thing.... I am sure Shehnaaz hardly drew breathe as she gave us so much information about Dubai, Islam, the culture, the people and anything else we wanted to know..... She did warn us that we would have a pop quiz at the end of the trip... and we did !!! Just like afternoon trivia except every player wins a prize...
The easiest way to do this would be just to talk about each place we visited... otherwise this blog entry will go for pages... and if I could up load all my photo’s I would as it is hard to pick which ones to leave out.
One of the myriad of beautiful mosques in Dubai. It was a hive of activity here as they were getting ready for a busy day as it Friday today a religious day in Islam. She walked us around and explain all the different traditions and why they do them.
Beverly Hills of Dubai
We took a drive through the Beverly Hills area of Dubai... where lots of beautiful homes can be found, many with water frontages.... it is good to be Emirati as the government gives you a House (These properties are now worth millions), they pay your medical bills and educate your children.... no matter where they want to finish their Tertiary Education.... and if you are studying a profession which is in demand they will even pay you a wage.
But as an expat you certainly pay through the nose for everything. We had to laugh when she said that you pay more for water than you do for petrol here.
In this area we visited the Miraaj Islamic Art Centre where we saw the most beautiful Islamic handicrafts and paintings...... if only we had more money as the marble inlays, carpets and textiles were exquisite.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
What a beautiful place to visit. We took a stroll around the property to get the some of the best vantage points for the Burj Al Arab..... The Souk was in another wonderful resort area which gives you a touch of Venice... Villas all around canals which you get to and from by Abra ( small gondola type boat)..... Though I would have to say Shehnaaz struggled to keep us girls out of the shops within the complex.... She would shoo us to move on and we were convinced that the boys had offered her double tips if she could keep us away from the shops.
Palm Jumeirah (Jumeirah means paradise)
The 8th wonder of the world.... took a total of 3 days to sell out. I am sure you have all heard and seen this phenomenon on TV before . Basically from the sky it looks like a palm tree in the sea. The trunk is the main road that runs up and down the middle and the prongs are the stretches of land that the apartments and villa’s are built on.
At the very tip on the Palm is the Hotel Atlantis... a replica and sister hotel to the one you find in the Bahamas’s ... Here we hopped out and took a stroll within the complex. Whilst here we took the opportunity to take a look at the Aquarium, which is very similar to the one at the Dubai Mall.
You may notice I have added a picture of a very straight tall palm tree.... this is actually a mobile phone tower in disguise.
Mall of the Emirates
Another brief stop to check out Ski Dubai.... This was built by a wealthy Emirati business man because when his daughter was visiting Japan she fell in love with snow, and like all fathers wanting to fulfil their daughters whims, he built her a ski slope in the desert. Here you ski, snow board or even Zorb your way down the slopes.......... it looked like Xmas in June.
Lunch in Bastikiya
For lunch we opted to eat at a small restaurant for a bit of a traditional taste... The restaurant is owned by a friend of Shehnaaz and the food was lovely... The restaurant has a lovely courtyard with wicker tables and chairs but it was just too hot to sit outside.... instead we squeezed inside in the cool of air conditioning... Garry and I shared in what we would call a chicken wrap along with a grilled haloumi salad. What they seem to have a lot of in Dubai are these drinks that basically look like smoothies.... Flavoured Juices blended with crushed ice.... I had the house special which was lemon with mint...... Thinking it would be Lemon with a hint of mint.... it tasted more like Mint with a hint of lemon.... very refreshing but very overpowering as well.
After lunch we drove around the corner just as the museum opened... This was an excellent museum which was an old fort built around a well...... I guess water was a very valuable back then. Once inside it is like stepping back in time going back and seeing how the Bedouins used to live... There is a small house/hut that you walk into where you get an understanding of the heat they endured... you get a chance to experience how these wind towers worked. They were built to serve as environmentally friendly air conditioners. Then as you move underground you move through the life-like displays. You see the traders, the children at school, sitting around campfires and building ships.... I am not a museum fan but this was one visit I was glad we made.
Dubai Creek and the Abra
We were then taken down to the creek were we boarded an Abra to cross the creek. These small boats have a bench down the middle where we all sat and took in the sights. There are larger boats that cruise the creek which will serve dinner or lunch with a little bit of entertainment on the side. They are called dhows.
Spice and Gold Souk
Once on the other side we walked into the spice souk. Shehnaaz took us into one of the shops and told us about the different spices that are available. In there they gave us to try a sweet that was an almond inside a dried date and chocolate coated....Yum.....I bought some to take home.... we also tried some almond nougat which I now regret not buying.
You knew you were in a souk now as the hawkers were out in full force. “Rolex, handbags... follow me” Shehnaaz warned us be careful when you follow them as you may end up quite a few blocks away.
She left us to wander around the gold souk, so much gold, so much jewellery....... so many influences in styles. But it was soooooo hot, in this particular place i could feel the sweat dripping down my body and Garry’s shirt looked like you could wring it out.
Finally we were on our way back to the Dubai Mall..... the thought of being in air conditioned comfort was very appealing.
Shehnaaz had prebooked our Burj Khalifa tickets for 5.30 pm. This was a bonus as by pre booking the cost was 100dir each ($25) , bought on the day the cost was 400dir ($100). The Burj is the tallest building in the world and the viewing deck at level 124 is not at the top. Once you move along the lower levels you enter the lift that takes less than 60 seconds to get you up there... The lift is an experience on its own, as you travel the lights go out and lights run up and down the walls in time with the music... like being in a disco complete with mirrored ceiling.
We were so proud of our mate Arnold as he overcame his fear and heights ( even though he tried to give his ticket away ) and ascended the tower with us...
Once at the top you have a 360 deg view of the city.... the sandy haze did limit the visibility but it was amazing to look down at those buildings that look so tall at ground level only to look like play models from up top.
Back down again and another view of the Dancing waters ... by day light this time.... it doesn’t matter how many times you watch it through the night as each one has a different theme..... They will dance to Arabian, African and Classical music. For the young ones a bit of Michael Jackson is included....
This was now our time to say good bye to Shehnaaz for those of us who had decided to stay in town. It was a fantastic day and this tour went from about 9 am to 7pm .....But alas some of us had bigger intentions than our feet had and it was not long before we were hailing at taxi to take us back to port...
A Quick dinner and a long swim in the pool was about all we could manage.... it was to be a midnight sail away but the only way we were going to experience it was in the comfort of our bed with the TV on bridge cam....
Well done Shehnaaz!!
Garry’s world cruise Bread Roll Count so far - 69
Joanne’s Lobster count – 5