Well, if day 1 is anything to go by, we are going to come home very satisfied, totally exhausted, and several kilos lighter! It’s been a great day, if rather long.
The flight was tolerable, as 17 hour flights go. The entertainment system was pretty groovy, with personal screens, and literally hundreds of movies, TV shows and music on demand, and (the best thing) a USB port to charge your MP3 player. I watched “Letters to Juliet” (pretty silly story but very nice scenery), and Keith watched “Robin Hood” (the Russell Crowe version) and “Mao’s Last Dancer”. But mostly I just plugged in my iPhone and listed to my playlist & slept. We both took a sleeping tablet, and were convinced it hadn’t had any effect at all, until we realised we had missed breakfast entirely.
We were picked up at the airport in Dubai by a car from our hotel (the first time I’ve been met by a chauffeur with my name on a sign – made me feel very important!). We checked in but the room wasn’t quite ready (it was only 8am) so we went to the dining room for a wonderful buffet breakfast. We hadn’t eaten since dinner on the plane just after leaving Sydney so bread and water would have tasted good, but we made short work of the buffet, and sat and planned our day.
We thought we’d start in old Dubai, and get a feel for the city before the rapid expansion in the past 40 years or so. There is a Metro stop right outside the hotel, so we headed into town. We learned two things about Dubai today. It is big. Seriously big. And it is not designed for pedestrians. The metro is very shiny & new, spotlessly clean and very efficient, but it still took about 30 minutes to get to our destination. Then once on foot, there are wide expressways everywhere that make crossing the road a hair-raising experience. It was just a block from the Metro station to Dubai Creek – but it seemed to take forever to get there.
When faced with a fork in the road, and a decision to be made, you’d think you had a 50/50 chance of getting it right, even if you were just guessing. But despite having several maps, and Keith (the worlds best map-reader) we managed to make the wrong choice every single time, and ended up walking miles out of our way by the end of the day.
Dubai creek is actually a large river on which Dubai was founded. It is the oldest part of Dubai and very much feels like a traditional Arabic city. We visited several souks (markets) which were fun. Textiles, Perfume, Gold, Spices – we weren’t really looking to buy anything but it was fun to look, take photographs, and avoid the spruikers. To get to the market we caught a waterbus, and then an Abra – a traditional small wooden boat (more like a floating crate) – that takes people from one side of the creek to another for the princely sum of one dirham (27 cents). By the time we reached the Dubai Museum we were hot, tired and ready for a nap. But we had been highly recommended to go there so we dutifully headed in. The museum is housed in an early fort, and there were a few exhibitions of weapons, jewellery and musical instruments, and a quite interesting house made of palm fronds, as they apparently lived for centuries in these parts. We were a little underwhelmed and were about to leave when we saw a a few people entering doorway & followed. Down a spiral ramp underground we encountered an amazing recreation of old Dubai, with panoramas, videos, & displays. It was wonderful, and we were so enthralled we forgot how tired our legs were feeling.
By the time we finished at the museum, we were well & truly ready for a long sit. We headed back to the Metro (after another long walk) and went to the Dubai Mall, once of Dubai’s famous (enormous) shopping malls. Our plan was to find a seat at an outdoor restaurant, eat a slow dinner, and watch the spectacular Dubai fountain. In fact that is what we did, but only after several wrong turns (on foot) and a famous-last-words moment – “we don’t need the shuttle bus, it is just over there” – and a circuitous route through the mall (including an enormous aquarium in the middle of the shopping centre). The fountain is a lot like the one at Bellagio in Las Vegas, if you have seen that one – it is amazing what they can do with water & music. In the end dinner was lovely. Keith had red curry lamb shanks and I had a gourmet salmon pizza, and a mango, papaya, cucumber & lime smoothie. Exactly what the doctor ordered.
NB Have uploaded these photos but they have no captions – still working on those!
Photo count: 733
Modes of transport:6 (this one is for you Joel)
Fatigue Factor: Extreme