The first time I traveled to Dubai, UAE was in October of 2015. Kyle had flown Emirates several times at that point for his research in the Middle East. I’m guessing travel was slowing down in October, but whatever the reason, Emirates emailed Kyle with an offer we had to take them up on.
Kyle had already been to Dubai, of course, and could not stop talking about the Burj Khalifa. Honestly, I was going for the warm weather and the beach because by October it was certainly no longer pool season in DC. Seeing the tallest building in the world was definitely not high on my priority list.
In Dubai, only hotels are allowed to serve alcohol. Most hotels allow anyone to come into the bars though, you don’t have to be staying there. Some establishments are associated with and very close to their affiliated hotel but not actually inside the hotel, which allows them to have beach access.
We were allowed to check into our hotel early, grabbed our swimsuits and headed to Barasti Beach. Like I said, beach time was the priority! When the sun started to go down, we changed clothes and headed to The Dubai Mall via Metro. The Dubai Metro is very nice, as I’m sure you can imagine, Dubai would accept nothing less than a lovely metro. Roughly half a million steps up from the DC Metro (is that thing even still running??).
We walked around for a while – it is massive – and looked at the fountains and aquariums inside the mall that you’ve probably seen in any advertisement for Dubai.
Then, we headed outside to see the Burj Khalifa. And WOW. I immediately retracted my indifference to seeing it. Honestly, there really is no description that can do this amazing site justice. I only have vertical photos because there’s no way I was getting that in the frame of a horizontal one.
And it’s not just the building itself. The fountains surrounding the building have shows every half hour. Restaurant patios provide fantastic views of the fountain shows, which are seriously impressive. Given that we were there in October, they had one fountain show set to the music of Thriller. I totally loved it and have about 15 videos from the 5-10 minute show.
Remember when I said we were allowed to check into our hotel early? This ended up creating a bit of an issue the next day. When we checked in, we discovered that our room had no windows. Mostly likely, they don’t usually give guests these rooms, but because we were early, that’s all they had available.
We didn’t really care as we never plan to spend much time in our hotel rooms any time we travel anyway. But, we discovered how much of difference it made the next day. We completely overslept and wasted so much of our day! Between the lack of sunlight and our jet lag, once we hit snooze on the alarm one too many times, we were lost to sleep for several more hours.
When we did finally wake up, we pulled on swim suits as fast as we could, ate the granola bars I brought with us, brushed our teeth, and grabbed a cab to the Dubai public beach.
The entirety of Dubai is completely man made. The upside to this is that the beaches are really nice, as the sand was hand picked and brought in specifically for use as a beach. We pretty much had the entire thing to ourselves. There were a handful of other people there but we had our pick of where we wanted to go.
The skyscrapers + Burj Khalifa (you really can’t group it in with “skyscrapers”) is really not very far behind the beach. Yet, on the day we were there, the humidity was so high that it hung like fog over the city. We were completely unable to see any of the skyscrapers at all. Helicopters would fly above us and disappear into the thick cloud just a second later.
We though that perhaps is was smog or some kind of actual fog, but we were told by multiple people that it was the direct result of the humidity. And it was humid. But I didn’t mind the change since DC was much, much cooler.
We also went to the Souk in a slightly older part of Dubai. We picked up some bedtime tea, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in preparation for fall and Christmas time. The Dubai Souk is similar to the Muscat Souk. Not super old, but not super touristy either, as most tourists in Dubai stick to the malls. The Souk was really nice to walk through, so I highly recommend you stop by.
After dinner that night, we headed back to Barasti for their Octoberfest celebration. It was extremely crowded and really fun! We always stop by Barasti every time we’re in Dubai.
We decided to go on a desert safari while were in Dubai as well. This began with dune bashing way out in the desert. After about 30-45 minutes of that, they dropped us off at a little compound. On the way in were pictures with falcons and camel rides. Inside there were henna artists, booths to dress up in traditional clothing for pictures, and shows. The shows were of several traditional dances, including a fire show. They served dinner and we found our way back to our drivers and were back off to the hotel.
We managed to get really luck with our driver because he really liked dune bashing. So that part was pretty fun. We noticed some of the other drivers weren’t being nearly as . . . daring as ours was, so we were appreciative of that. But. As for the rest of the experience, we could have done without it. Maybe if you have young kids, they would really like it but we just weren’t overly impressed.
The last time we were there was only for a long layover and we didn’t make it to the Burj Khalifa, so that’s high on the list for the next trip, which will be in December. Kyle decided that he wants to celebrate his birthday early and attend the Rugby 7s tournament there. After that we’ll be returning in March with Kyle’s parents!