Saturday, 29 October 2016

Travel Diaries: Dubai


Travel is one of my favourite things to do.  I've been fortunate enough to have visited some amazing places and seen some amazing things.  I've decided to start a new series on my blog documenting my travels; where I've been, what I've seen and what I found to be the best experiences and things to do in each place.  Starting with one of my favourite places I've visited - Dubai.

Where I stayed

{Rooftop view at Auris Plaza, Al Barsha}

We stayed at the Auris Plaza in the Al Barsha region.  I have to say, the hotel was a little out of the way (we stayed there to be close to a friend) however the hotel is within 2 minute walking distance of the Mall of the Emirates (more on that later in this post) and there was a supermarket just down the street which was definitely convenient for snacks and water etc.

The hotel itself was clean and modern, with a rooftop pool, bar and jacuzzi with views of the city.  The rooftop wasn't the biggest space but was well appointed and the hotel also had a spa, which unfortunately we didn't have time to visit.  Food was served downstairs just off the lobby (we had breakfast there most days) and there was enough choice to have something different every day.

Our experience of the hotel and staff was overall great, and after opting to take an earlier flight on arrival to the airport, we were very early for our check-in.  The reception staff were very accommodating and after making us comfortable with drinks in the lobby, they got a room ready for us within an hour.  The room itself was very clean and modern with a sizeable bathroom.  




{Selfies in the hotel room & at the rooftop pool}

Etiquette 


Etiquette, dress code and being sensitive to religion in Dubai were things I was concerned about before we left.  Having researched, the little information I did find was that it is disrespectful to have bare shoulders and knees in public (hotels/beach bars/restaurants/private hotel beaches were fine).   For example at the malls I would wear things that covered both if it was possible.

Physical contact with your significant other in public is also frowned upon so definitely keep the PDA on the down low if you want to be respectful!


Things to do

Brunch



{Yalumba Brunch @ Le Meridien}

Attending a brunch is an absolute must if you visit Dubai and there are no end of options to choose from.  We opted for the Yalumba Restaurant Brunch at Le Meridien near Dubai airport (a 20 minute taxi ride from our hotel).  The brunch did not disappoint with endless buffet food and drink options, an outside barbecue and food made to order.  Get ready to indulge!

The Malls

Dubai Mall



The scale of Dubai mall is nothing short of amazing.  As the world's largest mall it has an unbelievable 1,200 shops!  Certainly set aside half a day to wander around and take in the place, however you could easily spend a day (or two) here!  There's so much to see with an indoor aquarium, luxury and 'high street' shopping areas, ice rink, a cinema and the Vogue Cafe - you definitely won't be short of ways to spend your time!  We may have got lost a few times....

The Mall of the Emirates



As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Mall of the Emirates was conveniently located within walking distance of our hotel.  It's definitely on a much smaller scale than Dubai mall with 630 shops, cafe's and restaurants.  It's also home to Dubai's indoor ski experience.

The Burj Khalifa


The Burj Khalifa as you may already know, is the tallest structure in the world.  The above photos were taken at the visitor entrance to the Burj (accessed via the inside of Dubai Mall) and the entrance just outside the building looking up.  

We scaled the building (on the inside!) to reach the observation deck on the 124th Floor.  The views of the city were staggering and well worth the wait - it definitely gets busy so be sure to book tickets in advance.


The Dubai Fountains


We viewed the famous Dubai fountains from the balcony of the Armani Restaurant inside the Burj Khalifa.  Set to music, the fountains were a true spectacle with a similar feel to those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The Armani Restaurant 

             



















We dined in the Armani/Mediterraneo restaurant located inside the Burj Khalifa (one of many restaurants the hotel has).  The interior was as opulent as you'd imagine and the food and cocktails were of the high quality you'd expect.  Definitely worth a visit and as I said - a great place to view the fountains!

Burj Al Arab

We unfortunately didn't get to see the Burj Al Arab up-close but it is visible from many parts of the city including the Souk at Madinat Jumeriah (more below).  The landmark is the emblem of the city and a great sight.


Dubai Marina



The Souk at Madinat Jumeriah

With it's stunning architecture and beautiful stalls/shops the Souk was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.  It really was inspiring and gave me a real feeling of appreciation for Dubai's culture and beauty.  This place is high on my list as being worth a visit - day or night.



Dubai Desert


{Quad biking in the Dubai desert}

We booked a Jeep Safari during our stay (ask at your hotel reception) which included an optional camel ride (I didn't partake for ethical reasons) and quad biking through the desert.  There are a few moments in my life when I look around and think 'wow' and quad biking through the desert was definitely a wow moment and one I will never forget.  The organisers and our guide were very helpful and friendly - a lot of people who work in Dubai have to stay outside of the city because of the extortionate cost of living; our guide was originally from Pakistan but living in shared accommodation an hour outside the city.  

 

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and it was helpful if you are traveling or thinking of traveling to Dubai! There are so many things to see and do in Dubai and I have no doubt I'll be visiting again to try them out!  I have lots more Travel Diaries posts to come including San Francisco, L.A. & Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Rome, New York and Florida!  Where's your favourite place to travel?

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