Thursday, 22 May 2014

Three nights in Dubai (UAE)

A few weeks ago me and the Boy were in Dubai. Dubai is one of those places that hasn’t made it to the “must have” list (that is reserved for the likes of South America, New York and Japan) but it is somewhere I was curious to go to, simply because I know so many people I know have gone there!

So we decided that, seeing as we were flying with Emirates, we would stop by there on the way home from our honeymoon in South Africa.

The flights time from Johannesburg to Dubai is just over 8 hours, so with our night flight, we landed in Dubai at 5.30am. Luckily the hotel had organised a transfer for us and the hotel was only 25 minutes drive away (and yes I did sleep the whole way) so we had a quick check in and helped ourselves to the amazing buffet breakfast.

Having not slept, a nap was definitely in order but we never actually managed to get ourselves back out of bed until midday! We had already booked cocktails for 5pm at the Burj Kalifa, so spent the interim wandering around the Dubai Mall which is kind of attached to the Burj Kalifa. Although we didn’t really see that much of it, as it is absolutely huuuge – the world’s largest in fact! It even has an aquarium in it (albeit a small one). 

watching the rays being fed at the mall

The Burj Kalifa is the tallest building in the world, so if you are going to Dubai, it is definitely worth a visit. You can opt to go to the 124th floor to the observation deck but we scrapped that in favour of going a few floors lower (to floor 122) and indulging in some cocktails at their At.Mosphere bar. You are still 442m up, so this is still the highest restaurant in the world.

The Burj can't even see the top of it here!
looking 122 floors down onto the famous fountains

There is a minimum spend each (I can’t remember exactly) but the observatory deck is about £20, so in my opinion, opt for the cocktail option – spend twice the amount on cocktails but actually enjoy the ambiance!

enjoying my fabulous cocktial 

Besides, the cocktails were absolutely gorgeous, with some really weird creations! My favourite was the Sunshine Raggae with fresh mint, mango, passion fruit yoghurt, Malibu and dark rum!  If you are going, book online in advance to avoid not managing to get a slot! (There are various sittings throughout the day).

Left- Sunshine Reggae 

By the time we had finished three cocktails each it was time to grab a quick bite to eat, before heading back to the hotel, not before watching the famous “fountain” show. To be explained as “a water fountain display” makes it sound a bit naff, but it is actually better than that!

the water shoots up as high as 150 meters! 

Day two for us was skiing in the morning and high afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab – polar opposite activities if there ever was any!

And yes I did mean skiing! The other main mall in Dubai, the Emirates Mall has a 400m ski run in it! It’s not that big but big enough for a couple hours fun. Cooled to -3*c this was actually the coldest I have ever skied in!!!

Getting back to our hotel, I had less than 50 minutes for a complete change around, going from ski chic to getting dressed up for afternoon tea – after all, we were going to the only 7* hotel in the world!!!

The Sky Bar 

Arriving at the Burj al Arab, you are greeted with glitz and gold. There are various sittings but we opted for the High Afternoon Tea at the Sky Bar (the top floor of the Burj al Arab) at 4pm.

Not realising this was a seven course sitting, we started with a light tart, then a mini plate of beef, then we over done it on the sandwich round! There really was no need to consume 10 mini sandwiches like the Boy did (we were clearly not being posh and instead “getting our monies worth”, because afterwards you’ll be treated to a gorgeous selection of little pretty cakes and pastries!

bubbly to start! And I was given a rose! 

these cakes were so delicate -
I crushed them all when trying to pick them up!
Perhaps I shouldn't have used my fingers! 

Our last day was our chance to chill out, although the Boy insisted that we do the Wild Wadi waterpark. At the cost of £50 to get in, in all honesty I would have happily skipped it during my time in Dubai but if you are going to go, I would recommend going for the whole day to get your monies worth. Having said that though, we stayed for two hours and done all the rides, but you could do them all again.

For our last night of the honeymoon, we topped off our spectacular, once in a lifetime, romantic trip with…an all you can eat buffet!

Yep, we took a trip to Spice Island (located in the Crowne Plaza hotel – be careful, there are three, so don’t go to the wrong Crowne Plaza like we did). Actually I am doing it an injustice as it was a pretty decent buffet, not like a Jimmy’s (I vomited in the plant pot outside the one in Wimbledon the last time I ate there). With cuisines to suit every palate, a large selection of desserts and an all you can drink option too, this was a good buffet!

Our plan was to have a late dinner, a few drinks and wait up until the early hours, as we had pre-booked a hot air balloon ride for sunrise – the pick up was 4am! Although we ate soooo much we feel asleep!

The lack of sleep was worth it though. Going on a hot balloon ride has always been on the bucket list and for those of you that read about the woeful experience that was the bungee jump in South Africa, you’ll know I am petrified of heights. But being in a hot air balloon wasn’t like that at all. I guess because there is no fear of falling. It’s insanely calm and still and you really don’t feel that you are 4,000km in the air!!!

sunrise in the desert
We stayed at the Le Meridian Mina Seyahi hotel which was perfect! Quite a lot of the hotels did look nice and appealing but were in the middle of the city so lacked a view and privacy I feel. This 5* one was located on the beach, and boasted a gym, water sports, private beach, infinity pool, tennis courts and amazing food. Oh and one of those pool side bars that is actually in the pool (I do love those!).

The hotel 

My verdict…
Dubai was a great way to round off our epic trip, mainly because of all the fantastic experiences we enjoyed, most of them one offs. However, three days in Dubai is fine though, I am not sure I would appreciate a week there. 

If you like your culture, the you’ll probably find Dubai too man-made and manufactured for your liking – I am used to wandering around aimlessly in cities, enjoying the view, taking my time and eating my round the cafes. But you can’t really do that in Dubai – first off it gets too hot most of the year, second there is a huge motorway running through the middle of it and thirdly most of the main attractions are centred in the malls and hotels, not quaint side streets you might find in European capitals for example.

If you are after a more relaxed and lazy holiday – good food, guaranteed heat, friendly service – then this is a good place to go for a few days, especially if you are looking to chill in your hotel, as they are lovely and very reasonably priced for what you get.  I would definitely recommend doing the things we did, although be warned, it is bloody expensive but great experiences. 

X x X 

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