So after a real fuck it moment, we decided to book tickets to fly to Dubai. A friend from Disney now works for Emirates as an air hostess and is currently living in Dubai so we thought we’d take advantage of a free place to crash and a local guide. It was the first time both of us had flown with Emirates and the first trip outside of Europe for Jack! The fli dought was very calm and we even benefited from no one sitting next to us in our line of 3 which made it a much more comfortable journey and both of us had an opportunity for a nap.
Sarah met us at the airport when we landed and we headed to her apartment by the Financial Centre. Just one stop away from the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and the largest mall in the world. After a quick freshen up, we headed for dinner to Serafina, an Italian restaurant by the mall so that we could watch the water fountain display. We jumped on the metro which is quick and easy to use and functions on a card very much like an oyster. One stop later we were met by the longest walkway through to the mall which just seemed never-ending and even with the electric walkways it took about 10 minutes to get to the mall itself.
As we’d eaten so much food on the plane, we opted for lighter options with bruschetta never failing me. We’d underestimated even at 9 pm how hot it was going to be and with all of us in jeans, we quickly started to melt. The food was really nice and we had a great view across the base of the Burj to watch the water fountains display which happens between 7:30-11:30 every half an hour.
After dinner, we headed into the air conditioning of the largest mall in the world. It was the most bizarre mix of things, complete with an indoor aquarium where there was a whole wall of sharks and stingrays visible from inside the mall.
As Sarah works for Emirates, she gets lots of free passes into numerous hotels to use their pool/private sections of beaches along with money off their food and drinks. We jumped in a taxi, which is really cheap, and went to Fairmont Hotel on the palm. Picking a spot under the shade of the palm trees, we spent the morning relaxing and avoiding the 40-degree heat. They were doing a lot of building work which meant that the normal view across the beach from the pool was obstructed, so we had to actually walk along the beach in order to see it. I know, it’s a hard life! The size of some of the yachts in view was insane and the view across the palm was pretty impressive.
The hotel itself was beautiful and attracts a large amount of rich clientele who park their supercars out the front of the hotel.
We ordered some discounted lunch and cocktails and then headed back to Sarah’s for our Desert Safari pickup.
Reza, our tour guide from Eagle Tours picked us up from Sarah’s apartment at 2:30 pm. He gave us a really informative tour on our way out into the desert, including stopping by Sheikh Mohammed’s Palace. Well, front gate anyway.
The first stop on our tour was the quad bikes where we had a quick spin on the back of a quad bike. The guys driving were seasoned pros who knew exactly how fast they could push the bikes across the sand dunes which made for a hilarious ride.
Also by the quad bikes were a row of shops where you could buy traditional dress or scarves and also some belly dancing sashes. We then jumped back into the car and if you can imagine what being on a roller coaster is like but in a car form, that’s what this was like. Sand flying everywhere, driving at crazy speeds up to the peak of the dune, just to race back down the other side. The car itself had roll bars inside it and the adrenaline was definitely pumping. For some of the girls in our car, their adrenaline pumped a little too fast and we had to pull over for two of them to be sick. We took this opportunity to have a wander across the dunes and take some amazing photos. You couldn’t see anything for miles!
If you want to get a real idea of how a desert safari works, click here for a link to the Instagram page.
Reza also carries a small surfboard around and we all had a go surfing down the dune. It was a hilarious experience and I never once didn’t feel safe with Reza’s driving in what could have been a really dangerous situation and I would highly recommend getting in touch with him if you fancy a Desert Safari!
Our final stop was dinner and dancing, where we were taken to a camp with cushions on the floor and low tables. In the middle was a stage where we were treated to belly dancing and tanoura dancing which is an Egyptian folk dance typically done with a weighted skirt. The dancer spins in circles for the whole of the song, lifting parts of the skirt or performing with a scarf or other props. It was incredible to watch!
Within the camp, there are lots of add-ons you can pay extra for such as holding a falcon and getting shisha and it was very much put on for the tourists. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed ourselves and the BBQ and mix of food were fine and soft drinks were free. Jack and Sarah also took advantage of the cheapest beer we found all week! We were amazed to find out that Dubai doesn’t really have its own traditional food, it’s more of a mix between Lebanese and Indian, with everything else thrown in.
For breakfast, Sarah had been recommended an incredible restaurant called Eggspectation (do you see what they did there?) who make the largest portions of breakfast you will ever see in your life! We had a pancake party with smoothies and even Jack, who I very very rarely ever see leave food on his plate, left food on his plate!
Queue picture of really beautiful staircase of horses graffiti.
We rolled down to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai on Jumeirah Beach where again, Sarah got us in on the cheap to admire the beach, which I took no photos of! We decided to hire two paddleboards and I forced a rather nervous Sarah into a life jacket and told her to sit on the front and that I’d do my best to not ditch her into the sea! I managed to keep that promise, even with her singing Disney songs and pretending to be Pocahontas on the front of my board. She then got a bit confident and wanted to have a go herself where she promptly threw herself off the board. Jack, on the other hand, had obviously left his paddle boarding skills in Lake Bled in Slovenia and couldn’t for the life of his stand up. I obviously was awesome!
Sarah’s life isn’t all fun and posh hotels, she does actually have to work and this afternoon she headed off on a turnaround to Egypt while we headed for lunch and to the Souk. Lunch was at Le Pain Quotidien just around the corner from Sarah’s apartment where we both opted from open sandwiches.
In slightly more respectable clothing than I had worn for the rest of the 40-degree holiday, we jumped onto the metro and headed into the old town to the souk! I don’t have many photos due to the glaring lights and the fact that apparently, my camera doesn’t like lights!
First up was the gold souk where salesmen were desperate to drag you into shops and sell you their goods, I’ve haven’t been so hassled to buy something since the markets in China. It was an experience and something that Jack hates, he likes to browse uninterrupted and when someone tries to talk to him he instantly either speeds up or walks on which cracked me up. The gold in the shop windows was insane and with 300 stores to chose from it accounts for 25% of the worldwide gold trade. At any one time, there’s an estimated 10 tons of gold.
We then walked through the spice Souk which is funnily enough, full of spices, into the Old Souk. Within the Old Souk, you could buy slightly more touristy souvenirs and some more authentic pieces. We did a full lap of the market, with men laying scarfs over my shoulder, trying to hand us items to hold and being continually hassled before choosing what we wanted to barter for. Our favourite person to barter with was a young guy who just continually said; ‘I’ll give you good price!’ But then wouldn’t tell us what the price was. We left very happy with our purchases which included the standard fridge magnet for Jack’s mum and Auntie, an Aladdin style mini lamp and 4 painting prints of Dubai which I fell in love with. That was our hardest barter as the guy originally wanted £200 for them!
Jack and I always like to explore the less touristy places and were drawn in by the harbour where all the deliveries come in for the Souk and where little passenger ferries transport people across the river. We walked the long way around back to the metro looking at Old Dubai which doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of the skyscrapers in the centre.
For dinner, we headed to Sky Lounge 43 which is, funnily enough, on the 43rd floor! It’s a bar and restaurant which is a roof terrace looking over the main road of the city. With its LED menus and amazing views we were quite mesmerised sitting and watching the equivalent on the M25. It showed us how tall some of the buildings really are along the road and I would highly recommend the view. It was also literally over the road from Sarah’s apartment so an easy walk home after one too many Bellini’s!
The following morning we headed round the Le Pain Quotidien again for breakfast – you might find that this place features a couple of other times in our trip as the food was lovely and it was just too convenient. We chose to sit outside and enjoy the shade even though I hadn’t caked myself in suncream yet.
Sarah had recommended that we go for High Tea at the Burj Khalifa, which is in the restaurant At.mosphere, rather than just go to the viewing point. This allowed us to sit and enjoy the view for 3 hours, rather than an allocated slot. Featured within this was a bottle of sparkling wine, berries and cream with gold leaf to start, finger sandwiches, the main meal followed by a selection of cakes and sweets. We also had a menu of soft drinks and smoothies to choose from. The food was amazing and our waiter was incredibly attentive; our glasses rarely made it to half full. We had a full view from across the city and even at level 122, there were another 40 floors above us. Every other building across the city appeared to be under construction and you could really see the size of the mall from that height!
When Sarah had booked the table for us, she had suspiciously run away from us while making the booking. After the pudding, we found out why as the waiter brought out another cake with Congratulations written on it. It may be 5 months after we got engaged but apparently, that still deserves a celebration. I had eaten far too much food, so we asked the waiter if we could box up our various puddings so we could take them with us. In order to do so, we both had to sign a 2-page waiver form agreeing that we couldn’t sue them if we got food poising after not storing the products properly. We rolled to the lifts and into a cab at the front and went back to Sarah’s apartment to sit in a food-induced coma to wait for her to arrive back from her flight.
Next step, dinner. We literally ate like Kings and Queens today. We headed to Ruth’s Chris Steak House inside The Address Hotel where we were joined by one of Sarah’s cabin crew friends. Obviously, we all ordered steak; three petite’s and one standard for Jack which arrived and was literally the size of my head. Alongside our entire cow, we shared a number of the sides from the menu all of which were amazing.
We then headed across the marina to Cargo inside Pier 7 where it was Ladies’ Night! This meant the three of us girls got three free drinks and Jack had to pay. The bar itself looked out over part of the marina which was pretty cool and we chilled, chatted and enjoyed our free drinks!
For breakfast/early lunch, we headed back round to Le Pain Quotidien obviously! Jack ordered the mixed breakfast, and Sarah and I had the chicken pasta and then bread and hummus to share.
We jumped on the metro and headed to the airport to pick up our hire car. After managing to secure a deal online for £20 for 24 hours we thought it would just make it so much easier than using public transport to get to Abu-Dhabi to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It was one of the places that Sarah still hadn’t managed to visit since moving to Dubai. We had chosen to leave it quite late in the day to avoid both the sun and the rest of the tourists, we also wanted to see the Mosque in both the daylight and at night as it was meant to be beautiful.
When visiting both men and women have to dress conservatively and Sarah and I were given an abaya robe to wear as well. The building itself was absolutely stunning and inside was so beautifully decorated that I will just leave you with the pictures to speak for itself.
As the sun started to set, we then heard the call to prayer and lots of Muslims then went into the Mosque to pray. It was amazing to witness outside such a beautiful building.
We jumped back in the car and drove to Casa de Tapas where we ordered a full range of tapas and took no photos as we were all too hungry!
We were amazed at how much we had managed to fit into our relatively short trip to Dubai and after returning our rental car we headed to the terminal to board out flight. On the way back we weren’t so lucky to get a free third seat, but we were too tired to care! We both want to shout out a massive thank you to Sarah for being our host and tour guide for our stay.
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