Dubai. The one city in the world where you most frequently will hear the words “the world’s tallest/largest/most expensive” etc.
Dubai has never been a priority on my travel list, but given the choice either to hang out at the airport for 8 hours, or add an extra night to actually see a bit of Dubai, the choice was simple.
From Dubai International Airport we took the metro to Dubai Marina, and from there a taxi to our apartment at Marina Pinnacle (also known as Tiger building). Our room was quite large, with beds for four persons, so an easy pick for a larger group. The bathroom however, is shared with the two other rooms.
Waking up fairly early the next day, we had a quick stroll around the marina. The high-raised buildings were almost breathtaking, surrounding us all over. The thought of this being all dessert just a few years ago, felt unbelievable!
Since we only had one full day to explore, we decided to take the easy way out, meaning buying a ticket for the hop-on and off sightseeing bus. Although I usually like exploring on my own, I must admit that I have gone for this option quite a few times in other cities, and often find it is a great way to get around, and at the same time get a bit insight.
Walking around Dubai Marina we were looking for the starting point for the bus, without luck. Eventually, a person representing The Big Bus Company approached us. Apparently, most of the stops are not marked by signs, so make sure to hang on to your map if you are not planning to get back on again at the exact same spot you got off.
The inclusions in the ticket are many, other than the obvious tour around the city, there are two boat trips, a desert sunset tour, and a few other things. Obviously, it is not possible to do all in one day, but if you have time to do 48 hours, I believe you will get value for money.
The ticket we bought was valid for three different routes. Jumping on the blue route, we were taken around the Dubai Marina, continuing to the tip of Palm Jumeirah where the Atlantis aquarium is located. The aquarium is included in the 72 hour ticket, but as we did not have that, nor wanted to spend valuable time there, we just had a quick look around the hotel complex. Going back to town, we wanted to try the monorail. Riding high above ground, we got a good view of the development at this artificial island shaped as a palm.
However, I was still longing for a view of it seen from a higher point. Looking around, I figured that there was a chance that the Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites would probably have a restaurant/bar with a view. I was right. The Observatory is situated at the 52nd level, giving stunning views of the Palm Jumeirah. Did I mention how much I love views?….
Enjoying the view, an ice cold beer and some salty nuts, we took a break from it all.
But as time was short, we had to take advantage and get moving. A thing about the hop on/off buses is that they are effective once you are on, but not necessarily getting from one route to another. Or, as I mentioned earlier, to find the bus stops. My advice; try to plan upfront, and ask the staff to point out the wanted stop if you are not getting off/on at the same spot.
Ending up taking a taxi to the Souk Madinat, we had a very quick look around before getting to the transfer point for the blue and red line. Our next stop was Dubai Mall, even though shopping was not on the agenda. Our goal was Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (of course…), rising 828m above the city. One word; views. Our experience in another word; disappointment.
It seems tickets has to be booked upfront, so the only ones available was for the very top, simply called At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY at level 148. The price was 500(!) AED per person! That was a little bit over the top, even for a view-maniac like me. I would have settled for the view from level 125, but even that was expensive enough.
Rumor has it that instead of doing Burj Khalifa SKY, the Atmosphere Lounge has the same magnificent view. But, that too has to be booked in advance. In other words, the view from Dubai Marriott by the marina was what I had to settle for.
Admitting defeat, we jumped on the next bus heading for the old town. If I need to remind you (again), pushing salesmen an me; not a good match. Therefore, the visit at the souk was short.
One of the things I had been looking forward to the most after reading about it, was the old wooden abra’s crossing the Khor Dubai river. I instantly decided this was something I had to experience.
Another highlight was the dancing Dubai Fountain. Every day, every half hour from 18.00 to 23.00, the great fountains between Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa gets alive, dancing to different music coordinated by lights. A popular place for tourists and locals alike, and I certainly see why.
The anticipation builds up, what is in stall this time? Firstly, the lights start moving on the calm water. Then the music start. The water in the fountains rises. Accompanied with the lights, the jets of water move, as they are dancing with the rhythm of the music. Spectacular!
A friend of mine had tipped me that TGI Fridays at Dubai Mall was a great spot to watch the show. I usually stay clear of chain restaurants when travelling (or whenever), but the view got me tempted. Giving me no regret at all. Getting a table outside at the balcony surely does the trick!
We actually experienced three versions of the light show:
1. down at the ground floor, where most people stand around the lake. Great vibe, but being as short as I am, it was sometimes hard to see above the taller heads.
2. From TGI Fridays (or the other restaurants above). The more expensive version, as you have to buy something. It is lacking the feel of the tension, but giving great view.
3. Looking down at the show from Neos bar at the 63rd floor of the hotel The Address Downtown Dubai. I felt the drink in my hand did not make up for the lack of music and ambiance.
Bottom line; Choosing again, I would go for number two.
The Michael Jackson song has been haunting me for days already…
Experienced in January 2015.