Travel and Adventure

Our 3 day layover in Dubai

On our way over to South Africa to visit family and introduce Léna to grandparents and cousins, we decided to take a 3 day break in Dubai. Firstly as it was Léna’s first flight and we weren’t sure how well it would go and secondly as a little honeymoon as Gavin and I still hadn’t had a break after the wedding due to the pregnancy.

Dubai probably wasn’t the best place to take a two month old baby in the blazing Arabian heat, however most places were air conditioned and she coped extremely well.

The flight from the UK to Dubai took just over 7 hours. I was dreading the flight with a newborn baby as I didn’t fancy being ‘those people’ with the noisy child, however it appears taking young babies on a flight is a breeze. She slept the entire journey and everybody was amazed how well behaved she was.

After landing at Dubai International airport, we grabbed our bags and headed for the Metro. We arrived on the Islamic New Year and the whole place was deserted. The Metro was so quiet and it was a nice easy journey on a clean, air conditioned train as we headed to the Dubai Internet City stop. Once at the station, we jumped into a taxi and drove to the hotel.

We stayed at the Atana hotel in Barsha Heights. The hotel was reasonably priced, clean and modern with good facilities. It was a great location and close by to the Palm, the Marina and the Mall of the Emirates.

After a long flight, Gavin decided to take a snooze whilst I arranged to go and meet an old housemate who was now living in Dubai who I hadn’t seen in a few years. Léna and I jumped into a taxi and went to meet her at her home in downtown Dubai. We went for some lunch in a restaurant overlooking the Dubai fountains and took a walk around the Dubai Mall. The mall had everything from shops, restaurants, cinemas an ice rink and an aquarium. It was so nice to catch up with an old friend and have every shop you could possibly want. After having nowhere to shop in the BVI anywhere is amazing, but this place is a shoppers paradise. After a couple of hours I headed home via the Souk. It was beautifully designed and the Arabic style architecture was so elegant. It was a maze of antique shops, carpet stores and you could find a huge array of handcrafted jewellery.  The whole place went quiet and all you could hear were the beautiful sounds of the ‘call to prayer’, when Léna decided to let rip and scream her little lungs out. Everybody glared at us both and I couldn’t wait to get out of there as fast as we could.

We arrived back at the hotel to meet Gavin and freshen up. That evening we went to meet another friend who I hadn’t seen for years. We met him at The Address, Montgomery Golf Course where we had dinner overlooking the green with the city in the distance. It was so hot even in the evenings that they had huge outdoor air conditioning units to keep you cool. It was a beautiful location with some great food.

The following morning Gavin, Léna and I headed to the marina and jumped on the ferry, her first ever boat ride. The ferry runs along the coastline from one end to the other where you can see all the sights such as the Palm Jumeirah, the Burj al Arab and the Burj Khalifa. Dubai is iconic for its skyscrapers and high rise buildings and it doesn’t look like they will be stopping anytime soon as there are construction sites all over the place building taller more impressive, innovative structures. We got dropped off at the Al Ghubaiba ferry terminal where we took a 5 minute walk to the metro station and caught the train back to our hotel. The Metro was a lot busier this time with crowds of people pushing to get through the doors, it was like being on the tube in London again, only a lot cleaner. In the Middle East we were very impressed with how hospitable they were to couples with young babies. We were treated like royalty wherever we went, whether it be the airport, shopping malls, tourist attractions or on the Metro. On the Metro they have a separate carriage for women and children only and the men need to stand behind a line at the other end of the carriage so the majority of women can find a seat.

That evening we decided to go to the hotel restaurant for dinner as we’d had a busy day and Léna was ready for an early night. After a day in the scorching sunshine we were wiped out and couldn’t wait for a good nights rest.

We woke early the next morning and went down to the hotel restaurant for the buffet breakfast. I had booked us an early morning viewing at the Burj Khalifa, so we gobbled down a mix of eggs, fruit and a blend of Arabic cuisines and headed for the Metro. The train takes you straight into the Dubai Mall where you access the entrance to the famous landmark. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world with a total height of 2,722 ft. We got in our own private elevator which took us up to level 124 at a speed of 10 m/s. You step out onto an outdoor observation deck overlooking the Dubai skyline where you can see for miles. You can then climb another floor to 125 levels up to get stunning 360 degree views of the city. If you want to pay a little more you can go up to level 148, however we didn’t think you could get a much better view and decided to stay where we were. Thankfully we had a perfectly clear day and we got to see the most fantastic views, including the unique new development ‘The World’. It was definitely worth a visit.

After the Burj Khalifa, we went for lunch in the mall below and had a walk around the fountains outside. Unfortunately due to timings we didn’t get to see the show, but we heard it was incredible.

We then jumped in a taxi and got taken to the Palm Jumeirah. I must admit I thought it was going to be a little more exclusive. The stem was filled with high rise apartment blocks and hotels and the palm itself had luxurious villas with limited space between them and I couldn’t believe how they were all pretty much built on top of each other. At the top of the palm is the famous resort of Atlantis. We had a wander around the hotel and then jumped on the monorail which took you on a tour around the island. It was a brief visit as we weren’t overly impressed with the area and headed back to the hotel.

We decided to take a dip in the hotel pool to cool off from our busy day and laze around in the late afternoon sun.

The morning after we woke early to catch a death defying taxi ride back to the airport. They drive so fast on the motorways and seem to be in a great rush to get anywhere.

Dubai is not what I expected. It is an extremely clean and modern city, but there is so much building work going on everywhere, it amazes me where all the people are coming from to fill all the offices and apartments. However, the people are polite and courteous and I love the way they dress in their traditional clothing, the men look so majestic in their white Thawbs. I’d definitely recommend visiting in the winter. We went in September and it was so incredibly hot, when you walked out of the hotel it felt like the air coming out of the back of an air conditioning unit hitting you in the face. If the power was to ever go out there, it would surely going in to meltdown.

I’d love to go back when Léna was a little older and we can enjoy the waterparks and the famous brunches I’ve heard so much about, however with a small baby it was far too hot and not as enjoyable as I thought it would be. Maybe one day we will get to experience another side to the city.

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