Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Arabian days and nights in April

A few years ago I had no interest in visiting Dubai. Everything I had heard about it sounded a bit too ostentatious and fake .. a Las Vegas style oasis in the desert (without the gambling of course) with access to every conceivable thing on the planet. It's amazing how wrong one can be and goes to prove that you have to see for yourself! Yes, granted you can do almost anything there including snow skiing (indoors of course). It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it is so much more than that for me. I've heard that some people assume because it's a relatively new city that it's an unreal lifestyle, but life here is like any other city in the world and it seems to work quite nicely.

Every time I visit I learn more about it and like it even more. It is a vibrant city with good roads, a metro and a new tram system making everything easily accessible. Cabs are relatively cheap too. 

As a woman, you can safely travel to Dubai alone. If you have any doubts, read this link from Lonely Planet .. it should put your mind at ease. It's also a popular destination for families with children because it's safe and there's plenty to do as many hotels have kids clubs - just be aware that high summer will be too hot! There are a multitude of places to eat so there's something for everyone.

I spent 5 full days here this time and stayed at an apartment in the Marina with stunning views from the 33rd floor. There is a mosque nearby and 5 times a day you can hear the call to prayer. It's a surprisingly beautiful sound filling the air above the din of traffic and the hum of the city. It's a reminder of where you are.

A few minutes walk away from the Marina is JBR - Jumeirah Beach Residence. It's a busy area with shops and restaurants with many overlooking the beach. There's so much on offer so check the link for an up to date itinerary.
Food market in City Walk

I've been to Dubai a few times so did not feel the need to visit the big shopping malls again, but instead went to the new Dubai City Walk. It's a new development with shops, restaurants, a cinema, kids activities and entertainment and near to the also new Box Park. It's a little different in appearance to the Box Park that we know in London. This one is spread out in separate units along the main road and includes a cinema (shown left) - it reminded me a little of Los Angeles.

The temperature can be quite high at this time of year. Most days were over 35C and one day at 39C so my friends and I decided to do a little boat trip around the Marina. The boats were air conditioned and it was a lovely way to pass an hour or so outdoors with great views of the surrounding buildings and moorings. There are so many different options though and I'll leave you with Trip Advisor's recommendations so you can get an idea of what's on offer.

For views of the city day or night, the most popular place is the Burj Khalifa which I had the pleasure of going to on my first visit to Dubai. There are also a few roof top bars to see the cityscape. One such place I went to this time was 40 Kong on the 40th floor of the H Hotel. They serve delicious food and cocktails in a stylish outdoor setting with cool sounds from a resident DJ.

Another great restaurant find was Tom & Serg where we went for a late breakfast on Saturday. There is often a queue but we were lucky to get a table straight away. The place has an industrial feel with the bustle indicative of a successful business. The food was amazing and the coffee outstanding. I had Turkish eggs - poached free range eggs, almond dukkha butter, smoked chilli flakes, confit peppers, cherry tomatoes, sumac yoghurt and toasted sour dough bread. Simply yummy!! If I lived here I know it would become a favourite haunt. 

Artwork by Ben Eine

Something else I noticed on my trip this time - the addition of street art appearing by notable artists. If you love art as I do it's great to see these murals popping up in various locations around Dubai.

I'm already looking forward to my next trip. There's so much more to discover and experience. If you're travelling to the far east or Australia it's well worth a stopover for a couple of days to break up your journey and grab a little taste of the Middle East.

Other foodie places we liked -

Catch 22 - Seafood and burgers - The Beach Mall, JBR

Eggspectation - Breakfast, lunch and dinner - The Beach, JBR

Al Hamidieh - Middle Eastern - Dubai Marina

QD's - bbq, pizza, shisha - Dubai Creek (views of downtown including Burj Khalifa)

Serendipity - Dubai City Walk (a favourite in New York City)

All photos of my travels, work and play are on Instagram @holidayqueenuk 

HQ flew with British Airways

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