Dubai is an extremely modern city, situated along the Persian Gulf. Having been funded with the country’s oil, it has seen a rapid rise and is known to have the tallest buildings, luxury shopping, man-made islands and a wide range of entertainment. As fun as Dubai is, it is also super expensive and comparable to the Scandinavian countries. Nevertheless, it is really worth visiting but more so as a luxury holiday rather than part of a budgeted trip.
I’m sure this needs no introduction as it is the tallest building in the world with a staggering height of 829.8m and has held this crown since 2008. The Burj encompasses a variety of buildings including the Armani Hotel, residential suites, observation decks, restaurants and some commercial offices.
There are a number of ways to go up the Burj; you can either go to the observation deck or go for high tea at the Armani Hotel. As it was Mike’s birthday we decided to go for the latter. The prices were relatively similar so why not go for the food option? For the high tea, you have the option to sit by the window (for an extra fee) or sit more centrally. We didn’t think it was worth paying extra but when we went it wasn’t busy either so we could take photos by the window without disturbing other people. The best view is actually from the toilets so don’t bother paying more! The food itself was good (but not the best) as you essentially are paying to just sit up there. It was a nice afternoon all round. There is a dress code; no trainers/t shirts/shorts for men and no flip flops for women. However, we did see some people dress casually so I’m not sure how strict they are with the code.
Next door to the Burj is the Dubai Mall which is the largest in the world based on total area. Aside from the shop and restaurants, there is also the Dubai Aquarium, VR park, cinema, and Kids World. We didn’t go inside the aquarium but on the ground floor, there is a huge viewing tank where you can see stingrays, sharks and all sorts of other marine life. The VR park was interesting (but we only walked around) as you needed to wear VR headsets to reenact different scenarios and Mike was wearing his glasses 🤓.
Inside the Mall there is also a section called ‘The Souk’ which represents a traditional marketplace. The shops aren’t traditional, but inside there is a giant dinosaur skeleton. She is 155 million years old, around 8 m tall and 25 m long and stems from the late Jurassic Period. She belonged to the Diplodocus longus variety so had a small head with a big body and very long tail. Very cool but so random!
Just outside the mall are the infamous fountains on the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. They run every day from 1 pm but more frequently in the evening after 6 pm. It is much better to see them at night when they are lit up. You can also go out on boats to view them much closer and to avoid the crowds. The show itself lasts for about 10 minutes and best of all, it’s free!
A popular area for tourists to stay and the affluent residents reside in Dubai Marina. It is surrounded by skyscrapers, restaurants, shops, beaches and luxury yachts. We walked around here a few times and grabbed some dinner. If we were to go back to Dubai, we probably would stay around here.
Pier 7 is located here and it is home to a number of restaurants including the British Chef Simon Rimmer. Here we had our first Roast Dinner in 6 months! It wasn’t the best, but since we haven’t had it in so long it was a much-welcomed treat!
There are 2 main waterparks in Dubai; Aquaventure and Wild Wadi Waterpark. We chose the former as it is located on the Palm Islands (artificial islands) and we wanted to visit there. It was a really good water park and on par with the Yas Island waterpark in Abu Dhabi.
The park isn’t the cheapest but we did get a discount as we booked our hotel with booking.com. Towels and lockers are also available for rent.
One of the selling points of this is one of the slides takes you through a tunnel into the Aquarium so you can see the sharks and fishes etc. This was nice to see as it was something different, but as a water ride, it wasn’t fun and had one of the biggest queues. There are a number of other water coasters where you sit on a dingy and they are quite fun. However, all the water coasters end in the lazy river/river rapids. This is quite annoying if you want to go back on another ride immediately as you have to wait until you can exit then walk back round. Also, the ground was horrendously hot. You need to wear flip flops/water shoes otherwise your little footises will burn!
One of the best rides at the park was the Zoomerango, where you on a huge dingy fit for 8 people and you go down/up a huge ramp. We went backwards so we couldn’t see what was going on and Mike turned a funny colour. Still, we went back on it again!
The leap of faith is also another good ride and it took us till the end of the day to go on it. It measures at a 60ft high and is almost vertical. Considering Mike doesn’t like heights and Wendy isn’t a great swimmer, why they chose to do this? Who knows! The worst part is waiting in the queue as people back out and (big) grown men scream. Also, if people were taking their time to go down or had some sort of reluctancy then people in line would start booing. It really wasn’t great for your morale! There was also the fear for Wendy that if she went down, Mike would back out. (It’s happened before…Tough Mudder!)
By the time Wendy and Mike got to the front, it was now or never…..They decided on now. Wendy got on first and then pushed herself down. You go so fast that you actually can’t see anything as water sprays your face the whole time! The slide goes through the shark tank but all she saw was water, water, and more water. As Wendy waited at the bottom of the pool…was the next person going to be Mike……..
YES…he decided to do it after all!
Both are very glad they did it and when you are on it really isn’t as bad as you think. It goes so quick that you don’t even have time to comprehend anything.
Wendy has a couple of friends who live in Dubai so they kindly booked us all into a boozy brunch with some of their friends. It is essentially a classy way to get drunk (with food). Sounds good to me. They booked us in at El Sur and the brunch ran for about 3 hours. The food was tapas style and they just kept bringing more and more. You can also order more of anything if something particular takes your fancy. The booze menu was also pretty good; beer, wine, prosecco, cocktails….whatever you want. They also had a competition to see who could down sangria the fastest using a Porron. A very fun way to enjoy day drinking!
Radisson Blu Silicon Oasis
As mentioned before Dubai is pretty pricey. Average hotels and apartments in the central locations were easily over £1,000 for a week, so we stayed quite far out of the city at Silicon Oasis which is around 20km from the downtown area. This was a much better option (financially) and it was super easy and cheap to get taxis. Even though our taxi rides cost about £20 each way, it was still much cheaper than staying in the centre.
The only downside of the accommodation was that the rooftop pools/gym were separate and you could not mix with the opposite sex.
Time for bed now as I have an early flight to catch….Argentina, here we come!