And finally Dubai! After several failed attempts in previous years, I visit the UAE. I was curious to see this city that in a blink has gone from being a point in the middle of the desert to one of the most developed in the world along with the federal capital Abu Dhabi.
The sheiks have endeavored to put Dubai among the first of the class and have spent their petrodollars in putting this Persian Gulf city to the forefront of luxury, eccentricities, skyscrapers and a handful of Guinness records. Always in constant change, nowadays it is a tourist center for shopping, business and leisure in general with a mainly foreign population.
We started this getaway of little more than a week in the United Arab Emirates, specifically for 8 days. We visit Dubai to Abu Dhabi and the Musandam Peninsula (Oman), both on a one-day trip each. But in addition to the visit, there has also been a romantic getaway to the desert. A bit of everything!
We landed in Dubai at 3:00 am local time and passed a passport control that lasted one hour. Our journey by the rental car began at 4:27 in the morning from the Budget stand.
After fighting over the issue of the departure to Oman and other small setbacks, we got our brand new car. It arrived at our apartment in Palm Jumeirah a while later. After checking the magnitude of the road network in Dubai we plan the 21 km that separate the airport from our home for the next 6 days.
The apartment is too good and everything seems correct. It is huge and unbeatable with an ideal location to celebrate the beginning of Christmas. After infinite photos to send our friends with a wonderful Christmas tree, we enjoyed a great barbecue plan and an unbeatable cake. All the details are taken care of! We quickly kept our things and went to bed at 6:50h.
We get up at midmorning. Although we have slept little we feel well and are eager to see things. We do not suffer much from jet lag. It's a great day, so we explored our closest environment at Palm Jumeirah. In the morning, after having breakfast, we went to visit the Dubai City Walk. It is an area that has just been created because people missed an area of the city in which to walk and shop in the open air. People throng more in the afternoon. It is so well thought that in summer there are vaporized water falls from above to fight against the heat.
There I found a multi-storey shop with the best brands of clothes. I preferred not to look too much because it was all ideal but very expensive! In City Walk there are several charming restaurants, each one with a more chic decoration than the previous one. And finally the highlight is the fun and characteristic food trucks that cross with natural juices, waffles, etc.
We then visit the Atlantis hotel. Luxury is what characterizes it. In their halls we find boutiques, watches, etc. But one thing is above all, the sea. In the hotel there is an incredible aquarium. It is called the Lost Chambers. We enter the aquarium.
The magnificent aquarium is divided into different zones according to theme. There are 10 cameras with 65,000 marine animals. The decoration of each room or atmosphere is very elaborate. It looks like the decoration of any attraction in an Orlando park. The nice thing is a huge pond where we walk around the big sharks. Maybe the attraction is not according to its price of 100 aed per person.
Also in its enclosure has a water park called Aquaventure, with a huge pyramid in the center. We saw this water park from outside. It is the largest water park in the Middle East, with slides and almost vertical slides. The large pool is surrounded by sun loungers and palm trees.
There are slides that go up instead of going down as they push you with water. There is a tube that ends through an aquarium through its interior, and there are mechanical ramps to automatically climb the slides. With the exception of a slide, the rest is lowered with floats for either singles or doubles.
As it is time to eat, we approach the nearby Dubai Marina neighborhood. During the trip we saw the purest American style lively and dynamic beach bars, camels for children to be photographed and not so children. There is an Ibiza-style market but in small, several positions offering water sports.
We head to the food court inside the center and go out to the terrace. We ordered from a macro menu admiring those spectacular views.
After lunch, we take direction to the public Jumeirah beach. It is an excellent place to bathe while you contemplate the hotel Burj al Arab! The pity is that although it is hot (not much) we do not feel like getting in the water. We entered the Mall of the Emirates, the second largest in the Emirates and perhaps the world.
We kicked it, as we saw the Dubai ski from the outside and we bought supplies for the whole week. Food is a tad more expensive.
That night we hesitated between having dinner at a very fashionable and lively Italian in the financial district or at a restaurant in Dubai Marina that is like a control tower with several 360 degrees. Finally, we finish in the first but we keep the second for the next trip.
Today it is time to approach the highest building in the world. We had the reservation to go up at the top of Burj Khalifa made online a few days before. The difference in price with respect to the ticket offices is considerable. It does not go up to the top. The viewpoint is "only" at 442m, just over half its height. But the view is superb. It is quite an experience.
Although the entrance and parking are in the same mall in Dubai mall, we decided not to visit and leave it for a time of day without sunlight. Our new destination is old Dubai. We plan to see the neighborhood of Deira and Bur Dubai.
We tried to park in the Dubai museum but it was impossible because of the volume of vehicles. Everyone goes around to park in the narrow, uneven streets of the old city. We finally park and go quietly through the Creek, the museum, and the souks. The first thing we did was to cross the Creek in Abra.
The Creek is a sea inlet, or 10 km river, that separates the city in the two historic districts. We take the typical boats or open and cross the old district of Deira where we toured the souk of gold and spices. We crossed back to Bur Dubai and wandered through its streets in search of some decent place to eat before seeing the Dubai Museum.
When we thought we were not going to find anything that could satisfy the hunger we had (an hour already advanced because of the search for parking), we discovered right in front of the museum a pizzeria where we ate and everything was great. After lunch, I have an espresso coffee and a cigar. We then visit the Dubai Museum. It is a very graphic museum that tells the history of Dubai in one of the oldest historical sites of the place.
We go back to Dubai Mall and do window shopping (we do not buy anything in any store of any mall). It is the largest and most visited shopping center in the world, with some 1500 stores, and an impressive structure. I found it funny that inside the mall there were "taxis" to get around (some buggies). There is also an ice rink and an aquarium and Aquatic Zoo.
On the outside, there is the biggest fountain in the world, and every 30 minutes there is a show with water jets and music. We see the Dubai fountain show at 8 pm and at 8:30 pm we go home exhausted after a day where we have walked a lot and are completely tired.
The day is dedicated exclusively to reach the Musandam Peninsula in Oman and walk-in Dhow through the waters of the Strait of Hormuz.
Today we leave early at 9:30, for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its capital, of the same name and also the capital of the country. It is the second most populous city of the seven Emirates unified after Dubai. But is submerged in gigantic cultural projects that, together with realities such as the F1 circuit, the Ferrari park, and its status as the seat of government, make it a firm candidate to lead the country on equal terms to Dubai.
If you do not have a car like us you can hire a tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Our first objective is the Sheikh Zayed mosque because it closes for the visit to the public very early. It is only open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. It is a visit that you cannot miss. Indeed, you could go expressly to the country just to see it. There, the guide lent us an outfit to be able to enter!
To enter, women must be covered (long clothing and covered arms, as well as the head). We were dressed in short sleeves and a shirt, but in order to enter we put on a long dress over the top and a headscarf. We leave the shoes in the entrance. It is the largest mosque in the UAE, and the 3rd largest in the world. Inside, there are luxurious, marble, mosaics and has a huge chandelier as with precious stones.
Before we made a short stop in the Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan mosque, which has nothing to do with the magnitude of the previous one. We went to the center of the city and passed close to the F1 circuit and the new Ferrari theme park. We did not visit for a matter of time and tastes, although I have been told it's worth it.
We pass by the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel that holds the record for being the most expensive hotel ever built. As it was time for lunch we headed to the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and ate at their food court. There we went up to 160 meters high to have a coffee in the viewpoint of the shopping center.
Before returning to Dubai we toured the island of Saadiyat, the magnificent cultural project with the Louvre Museum, the Guggenheim, the Performing Art Center and the Zayed National Museum. We left at 6:20 and arrived in Dubai at 8:00 p.m.
We have chosen this day to go to the Dubai Ski, but early, at 9 o'clock, because we do not want to coincide with the supposed avalanche of people who gather on a holiday like Friday mid-morning.
And we guessed right because we practically skied the two hours we were there. After the magnificent experience at Dubai Ski, we went back to the apartment to pick up my uncles and get out to the hotel Burj al Arab! We had booked a Brunch, a buffet at the Burj al Arab with a fixed price. I tell you that the reservation is essential and that going to their restaurants is the only possible way to access the site and see the hotel unless you have one of its expensive rooms for the night.
The views are magnificent and the food exquisite. The next visit was the Emirates Towers. We left the car in an open field nearby because the parking is costly for an hour. We had become accustomed to parking for free in the city. We see in the distance the first skyscraper in Dubai, the Dubai World Trade Center.
We enter the Boulevard Jumeirah Emirates Towers, a shopping center that connects both towers. We return to the Dubai mall to see its ice rink, the Dubai Ice Ring, an Olympic size track inside a shopping center! We also visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the largest aquarium in suspension in the world with 10 million liters in its tank.
We went outside to see once more the spectacle of the fountains and the Burj Khalifa that presides over it. We see the curious Sculpture of Horse of Botero, that can happen to get unnoticed among all the mass of people.
But before we take a tour of the facilities of the Downtown Burj Khalifa, which is in the same square of the lake, and where you can sneak and visit the pools, sun loungers and contemplate a wonderful view of the skyscraper. We take again, for the umpteenth time on this trip, the Sheikh Zayed road, the main artery of the city, and that alone deserves a separate corner to talk about its layout.
We could not leave without going perfectly through our beloved palm Jumeirah, where our apartment was located. It is the first and most famous palm tree reclaimed from the sea with sand and the only one completely finished. In the growing exterior, towards the east, we find the Atlantis. We also have a very good view of the Burj Al Arab hotel. To end the day we spent the afternoon and part of the night in the Desert Safari.
We began our return from the Arabian peninsula.