When I wrote on my Facebook that "new posts are in progress" on 7th June 2016 I barley knew that it would take me that long to really post something new here. But, all in all, I'm back with plenty of information about my last holidays in Dubai. Although we spent there just two days I can say that we felt the atmosphere (and the heat) of the city. Thanks to Ramadan we could experience culture and customs better and get closer with locals.
My very first contact with United Arab Emirates was in Addis Ababa when I boarded one of Emirates Airlines' Boeing to fly to Dubai and with all honesty, thank you for having me on that flight. The crew was very international but with high level of personal culture and competence and the service was on very high level (they even had Baileys for economy class passengers). On that point I knew that decision to lengthen our layover was even more than right.
Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We stayed in City Premiere Hotel Apartments which I highy recomend for groups of people up to 6+1 child. It's located very close to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and between Old Town and Marina which means you can reach both directions within reasonable period of time. In addition, you can choose what kind of view would you like to have - to Burj Khalifa or Sheikh Zayed Road. The nearest underground station is 3 min walk and the closest supermarket is 1 min walk. We didn't opt for breakfast in the hotel due to high price and, as we'd read before online, not the best quality. Instead, we simply did grocery shopping for local specialities.
For those of you who are travelling on budget, there are plenty of cheap hostels in Deira and Bur Dubai - the oldest part of the city. And those who are looking for some alternatives to luxury hotels, check Airbnb for some apartments in Marina with great views.
View from our balcony
Despite the fact that there are only 2 lines of underground in Dubai it's easy to get to the most popular destinations. It is also connected with airport so you can save some money choosing it insted of taxi. You can buy one way or daily tickets but be careful with daily ticket because it's not valid after midnight! Tip for those who choose underground: be carefull for women zones at the begining and end of it, men should avoid crossing pink lines. Also station called Bur Juman where green and red lines are crossing each other is worth seeing. Huge lanterns which reminds of jellyfishes make great impression at night.
One great idea to move around the city is by taxi but not the usual way. We were offered a taxi for a whole day for once set price and we could travel as much as we wanted. It occured to be a great deal for us as we didn't have much time and in one day we could vist all of the most important places. We also had a great driver, Mr Umar thank you! He was from Pakistan but spoke English very fluently and was also our guide during that day. He gave us great tips about visiting some places and about behaviour during Ramadan.
View to Marina from monorail on Palm Island
Visiting Dubai during Ramandan has many benefits but it has one great drawback - no food available between sunrise and sunset. I don't wont to judge whether people are really strict about it privatelly or not but one thing you have to know: you are not allowed to eat in public during the day. I haven't seen any situation like that but we were told that you can even get fined. Some restaurants are open for tourists but you would stay behind closed door so nobody can see you eating - that's the thing. Even McDonald's was closed.
Local food itself was very delicious. I wish I could try all those fancy restaurants which you can spot on Instagram with homus, falafels and many more. Also fast food like Shawarma Kebab are worth trying as Arab people are masters in making them. What I would specially recomend you are dates! Those freshly dried, fleshy ones. Many of them are stuffed with different nuts and believe me those with almonds are one of the best thing in the world! The best deal is to buy them just in supermarket, the prices are lower. If you want to gift your friends or relatives with something more special, buy them a box of those - I'm sure they will enjoy it.
One thing you need to know about alcohol - you will get it only in few coctailbars in the city as consumption it is forbidden for muslims.
Aquarium in Dubai Mall
Moving to the sightseeing and attractions part I had to help myself with a guide (for those who speak polish I recomend this one) as I forgot the names after few months ... anyway, here is my list:
- Dubai Museum - If I were about to visit Dubai again for the first time this is the place I would start. The clostest merto station is called Saeedlya. Museum itself is located under the Al-Fahidi fort (built in 18th century) so getting familiar with the history and culture won't be a problem even during the warmest days. It's interactive and colorfull so if travel with childrens, you can bring them there and be sure they won't get bored. My dad who avoids museums as much as he can said it was the best one he had ever been to so what else can encourage you more to visit it? Entry fee: 3 AED - price includes both fort and museum.
- Textile Souk / Bur Dubai Old Souk - What woud be Arabic city without its markets? On this one you can get good quality cashmere and silk but please, be carefull with shopping. You can't get real silk for 10 AED but if you find something interesting try bargaining even if the price or quality is very high.
- Abra ferry on The Creek - You can't feel more local than on the boat surrounded just by locals. It lasts few minutes but I loved the experience - small boat, great views and friendly people. Costs? 1 AED per person. Of course there are also longer (and more expensive) cruises with lunch or dinner on the board - all you have to do to find one is to take a walk along the creek in the British Embassy direction and you will be offered with many of them
- Gold Souk - Are you about to buy a golden necklace or diamond ring? Don't worry, me neither. But a walk along shop expositions with those thousnds worth pieces of jewellery was unforgettable. I could never imagine those amounts of gold and diamonds, but they were real and well cared by qualified jewelers. For those who can afford buying diamonds - check prices in different shops to compare them and not get cheated.
- Zabeel Palace - If you haven't set up your #housegoals yet it's the best occassion to do it during a visit near the palace. You can't get any closer that th picture from below was taken but welth of Sheikh Mahammad can be spotted easily.
- Dubai Mall - Dubai is famous for its "the" - the biggest, the tallest, the most expensive. Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall in the world with Europen, Asian and American shops where you can spend hours. Inside it has also many attractions within the biggest aquarium I've ever seen - it's three floors high and shows more than 300 spieces. You can admire it for free from outside or buy an entry ticket to The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and have a walk through a tunnel inside. There is also ice ring, waterfall and rainforest cafe in the mall.
- Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world with the fastest elevator. It is so tall that you can watch sunset twice a day, once from the bottom and second time from the observation deck. View left me spechless, you can spot the edges of the city, you can see The World and in general almos whole city. The ticet is absolutely worth its price (200 AED) but remember to book it in advance online. TIP: choose evening hours, just before sunset, so you can admire views during the day and at night few miniutes later + sunset gratis!
- Sheikh Zayed Road - 7 trffic lanes on one side, 7 on another, surrouded by the tallest and the most modern buildings in the city. You can admire them from a taxi or from the underground - or I should call in 'overground', because that's how it's made.
- The Dubai Fountain - the biggest and the tallest synchronized fuountain in the world - "a dance show of water reaching up to 140 meters high, accompanied by syncing lights and music" (The Dubai Fountain). Under this link you can find show times - if its possible choose the one after sunset when the light plays main role. I don't know if it was just because Ramadan or it's usually like that but during our visit the show was preceded by super loud bang (should I write that I thought it was terrorists' attack?), then we heared music and lights appeared on Burj Khalifa and then the main fountain show started - for me "must see" while visiting Dubai
- Jumeirah Mosque - it's said to be on of the most beautiful buildings in Dubai. The mosque itself isn't big, but very unique. During Ramadan you cannot get into any mosque, only men who are praying are allowed.
- Madinat Jumeirah - complex of two hotels, shopping mall and more than 40 restaurants. Interior reminds of "One Thousand and One Nights" book, full of Arabic design even in the smallest pieces of decoration. All buildings are connected with water canal system and Burj Al Arab is just next to it.
- Burj Al Arab - the most luxurious and the only "7-star" hotel in the world, symbol of Dubai. We haven't been inside but for those who would like to see it - you have to have special permission or reservation to enter the building. You can admre it from the nearrest beaches, we chose Sunset Beach (very close and clean public beach). With my whole honesty, it was nice to see it but I think there are many more beautiful hotels around the world.
- Palm Island - the biggest island made by human in the world. Did I mention Dubai it THE best in "the ..." constructions? Some parts of the island are still under construction, some of them are happily inhabited (for example by Beckhams family). You can visit it by taxi or by monorail which is located over the ground so views are in my opinion better (we traveled one way by monorail and came back by taxi). Firstly you see nothing by the seashore, then you can spot Dubai Marina buildings, then you are surrounded by luxurious villas (some of them you can rent for few days) and at the end Atlantis hotel shows up - for this reason it's good to have a seat at the beggining of the monorail. You can buy tickets when you get there, single ticket is 15 return is 25 AED - you can pay only with cash and only with dirhams!
- Dubai Marina - last but not least, the biggest marina in the world. We saw it twice, at noon and at night and I cant decide which one it presented better. Luxury yachts down on the water surrounded by very tall buildings.
View to The World from Burj Khalifa
Now, when I look on this list I think we did a great job during those 2 days. They were very intensive but worth our sewat - and believe me, when it's + 45 C outside it's hard to walk even 50 meters.
Summing up, I consider that time as a great adventure and would love to repeat it. Maybe in January or February when it's not that boilg-hot and when you can enjoy food all day long. There are still places I would love to see and experiense like Mall of the Emirates with Ski Dubai, Al-Kuz art galleries, Wild Wadi Waterpark, Abu Dhabi Mosque (1h long drive from Dubai), camel races, Jeep ride in the destrt and Skydiving. Dubai took my heart by storm and I hope it will take yours as well.
View from Burj Khalifa
The biggest fountain it the world
Water-piepes in Madinat Jumeirah
Burj Al Arab from Sunset Beach
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