Ahh where to begin! Can you tell I love travel diary posts? I must admit they are quite tedious to write but once I start to recap my travel memories, the words just keep coming. Enough said! Time to start gushing about my Emirati experience…
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) could possibly be the most visited country in the Middle East – with several tourists taking trips to see iconic structures or at the very least lay in the scorching heat while taking in breathtaking views from the beach. When deciding on a travel destination in September, I knew I wanted something interesting, as I had already been wander lusting and itching for activity.
People travel for different reasons but I travel to gather experiences and stories. I may not be your typical holidaymaker – I like to think I’m more of an adventurer. There’s always something new to learn or try and that’s what makes seeking adventure so fulfilling. I wanted to experience a good mix of activity and tradition – and Abu Dhabi came to mind! Abu Dhabi is one of the emirates in the UAE. It may not be one of the first places you think of when choosing a holiday destination but keep reading… my travel diary might make you feel different.
In part 1 & 2 of my travel diary, I share my experiences and a few things you MUST do when in the U.A.E. Enjoy!
A 7-hour flight and an airport shuttle later, I was at the Abu Dhabi airport. I had spent the entire day travelling and was so exhausted. The humid weather was not encouraging; with the heat slapping me in the face as I walked out of the airport – it was 38 degrees of static air, at midnight! It was the kind of heat that could make you cry or wish you could run out of your body – I’m NOT exaggerating! Although, once I settled in, it was easier to live with the heat.
Exploring the City of Dubai
Fast forward to several hours later, I left Abu Dhabi to explore the very modern city of Dubai. One of the emirates and the city with probably the most tourists in the UAE, Dubai is about an hour 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi by road. It was interesting making the journey and sight-seeing at the same time.
After settling in and resting for a couple of hours, it was time to explore the city in its entirety. First up was a tour around some parts of the city, which kicked off at the Dubai Museum.
The museum was bustling with excited tourists taking photos everywhere. The heat was quite intense, so I hurriedly snapped a few photos and made my way inside the building – it had everything from a recreation of The Surq in the 1950s to the history behind the traditional sport of Falconry. My stay at the museum was short as I, and the rest of the folks in my tour group had other places to visit.
Our tour guide took us through different places in the city, pointing out important buildings along the way. We explored several spots including the Dubai Zoo and eventually ended up at Jumeirah beach.
From the beach, I could see the famous Burj Al Arab hotel, which has got about 3 floors underwater. Even though I wasn’t completely dressed for the beach I just had to take off my slippers and feel the waves on my feet – it was so relaxing! I spotted an Ice Cream truck and thought it would be a good idea to have some vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, my ice cream started to melt before I could get a decent photo.
After lazing around the beach for a while, we resumed touring the city and as you can tell I couldn’t stop snapping away. I love that Dubai is such a modern city with almost futuristic landscapes – It’s so beautiful to capture!
My day of exploring the city ended with a visit to the Dubai Mall to eat and of course, go crazy on the fashion avenue.
When I had had enough (not really, the day was almost over) I took the Dubai Metro back to my hotel. Taking the train in a city kind of localizes you. So if you’re in Dubai you should try taking the train, at least to places in the city you’re familiar with – if you’re wondering if it’s safe, it is!
I hopped on the train to Jebel Ali and got down at the Mall of Emirates station, which was a walking distance from my hotel.
Desert Safari, Dubai
You can’t go to Dubai without experiencing the ‘infamous’ sand dunes! I say infamous because those sand dunes left my head and tummy spinning. I, and the rest of the tourists in my group rode on large heaps of sand as we made our way to the desert. I’m not sure I can fully describe how scary but yet amazing this experience was. With every climb, it felt like the car was about to tumble. I don’t do well with bumpy rides, so I felt sick at some point.
I couldn’t get enough photos during the ride; I was too busy yelling and sighing but at the same time I loved it so much.
After about 20 minutes of screaming and tossing from side to side, our driver eventually made a stop at what seemed like the middle of the desert. While others got down from the car, I sat still trying to regain my balance and find my sunglasses.
I got out of the car and was immediately thrown off balance again by the wind and sand! All I could ask myself was “why on earth didn’t you cover your hair or entire body?” It was too late – the desert sand was in my hair, eyes, and mouth! Yes, clearly I wouldn’t last a day in the desert. We hit the dunes again, this time I held on tighter as the sand dunes threw us from side to side. When our driver felt like he had ‘tortured’ us enough, he made another stop – this time, mountains made of sand surrounded us and the most beautiful sunset appeared. I felt like I was being rewarded for all that sand dune bashing we had just done.
Our final stop was at the Desert Rangers Square – where we were treated to food and entertainment. I wanted to experience the ancient sport of Falconry so I paid a few dirhams to play with the falcon, placing it on my hand and head. I can finally tick falconry and riding a Camel off my bucket list – Unfortunately photos of me riding the camel didn’t turn out great but nevertheless I was glad I did it.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
My journey to ‘the top’ started with these words:
“The word impossible is not in the leaders’ dictionaries. No matter how big the challenges, strong faith, determination and resolve will overcome them.” – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest standing free structure with about 120 floors and an elevator speed of 838 metres, making it the fastest elevator in the world. It takes visionaries and thinkers to conceive such ideas and create them – I was so inspired watching the milestones of the Burj Khalifa.
Staring at the photos of all the visionaries who came together to build this puts a fire in you and makes you want to work towards your dream even more – truly, nothing is impossible!
Views at the top were breathtaking and unreal. It was amazing to see how well thought out the construction of Dubai was and the fact that it was done in such a short period of time blew my mind. I get excited when I see great architecture and landscapes, so this was particularly exciting for me. If you’re looking to be inspired, the Burj Khalifa is definitely a must visit when in the U.A.E!
End of Part 1
I had so many amazing experiences in Dubai, but I really cannot share them all. Look out for part 2 of my U.A.E travel diary where I share my experiences in Abu Dhabi (my actual holiday destination).