On day 3 we take the taxi towards Cove Beach and Sunset Beach. The first a tip read on the airplane, the second as one of us wants to go surfing and this is supposedly the place to be. The taxi driver doesn’t know any of them so thank god for Google map offline directions. We’re dropped off at Sunset Beach. So where is Cove Beach? Luckily we look behind the fence that seems to separate the two and it seems Cove Beach is a club for the local and tourist mas-tu-vues on the site of the 7 star Burj al Arab hotel. We take a peek however decide this is a bit too much for our liking.
We do have lunch at Jamie’s Italian and then head back to Sunset Beach. White sand, turquoise water, in the middle a drink- and snack bar, a path for disabled people (they seem to be very considerate across when it comes to facilities, which is great), toilets and the rest just sand and sea. So pretty ‘underdeveloped’ for Dubai standards but for the better. It does not always have to be over the top. No waves at all though. So no surfing. But the view on the Burj al Arab makes up for that!
After having enjoyed the evening sun, we take a taxi towards Dubai Mall, the biggest mall in the world. When in Dubai you just have to see it. It hosts amongst other things an ice rank, an arty farty in-house waterfall, cinemas, the world biggest aquarium and underwater zoo including multiple (real ;-)) sharks in the water, all the shops you’ve ever seen in your entire life including the ones you would not expect in UAE, Dubai. 1200 in total and they are still extending. 70 million visitors per year working up to 100 million when the extension is done. Basically, if you don’t have a shop in this mall, you don’t count. And outside the best view on the Burj Khalifa that rises as the world’s tallest Christmas tree in the dark sky and is integrated in the most amazing fountain light and music show you’ll have ever seen. Classy, not cheap. It’s pretty surreal. Also the mix of Arabic (men in white dress, women in black dress mostly only their eyes uncovered…with the most expensive purses hanging of their shoulders and shoes on their feet…come to think of it, that and the underwear underneath is we guess the only items they need to spend money on) and Western people. Very rich people, by the valet parked cars in the front ranging from Ferrari to Bentley to Rolls Royce, medium rich people, the ones that take black taxis going in and out, to ‘normal’ people, the ones taking a regular taxi going in and out or the metro or driving themselves and tourists, of course.
It’s pretty different than anything you’ve ever seen. And it seems to be normal around here. Las Vegas is nothing compared to this.
According to our taxi driver, only 20% of people in Dubai are locals. The other 80% are expats, taxi drivers from all over the world keeping the 10.000 taxis in Dubai on the road 24h per day, construction workers, housekeepers, hotel staff and many more that are the hands of Dubai.
A glass of wine in a restaurant costs about €15. Alcohol is not served across. So if you plan to take a cheap holiday that mainly consists of party and booze, go to Las Vegas 🙂
Dubai also has some wildlife on show: birds and more specifically, lots of flamingo’s. You can visit the wildlife sanctuary which apparently has 3 stations you can watch wildlife from. We only visited the first as it’s not clear at all there are 3. We didn’t really know we were at the right spot as it’s pretty deserted off the highway without too much signage. You can enter a sort of cabin from where you can watch birds and most prominently flamingo’s. Only when we were on our way back (by calling a taxi as there was no other way to get back to the real world) did we notice the two other spots which took you a bit deeper into the area than the first spot. Only the next day did we notice the pink route on the BigBus map. So, if you want to watch flamingo’s, buy a BigBus ticket and take the pink route 🙂
After our flamingo adventure, we head towards the Old Dubai, Creek side. We take a 1 Dirham traditional abras, a small wooden boat, to the other side of the creek, on the Gold and Spice souk side. Upon a tip of fellow travelers we have lunch at the Bayt Al Wakeel. Yummy local food, definitely worth to put on your to do list when in Dubai. When strolling in Old Dubai, definitely take some side streets as it’s there were you encounter most of the nice buildings, off the beaten track.
Dubai is big so traveling the entire week by taxi can become expensive. The metro is convenient but doesn’t take you to everything and distances are too long to walk in between in close to 40 degrees. So we decide to take the BigBus for 48 hours which takes you across on the red ‘city’ route, green ‘beach’ route or blue ‘marina’ route. And as mentioned above you also have the pink ‘flamingo’ route. This is how we get to the Grand Jumeirah Mosque. If you want to visit the Mosque inside, you need to be there at 10am in the morning which is the only time they allow visitors.
We also drive on the Palm Islands towards the Atlantis hotel and back. Quite amazing to drive there and see the vast amount of beach view apartment blocks, or houses with private beach, or houses with communal garden, or hotel resorts on the crescent. And the building is still ongoing. Next to the Atlantis hotel, which holds 1539 rooms, an even bigger and better hotel is being build. There must be so many wealthy people in this world to fill all this, unbelievable. And they are just starting with building the World Islands which is even bigger than the Palm Islands. This one however is for the real big and famous as you will only be able to get there by boat or helicopter and you can buy your own island. In front of the Marina they are also building a project called Blue Waters with even more housing and malls. As well as what must become the world’s biggest Ferris wheel. And we guess that won’t be the last of it.
Funny that when you walk the Jumeirah Beach promenade, you come across stalls where you can buy an apartment. We also came across a stall that sells 3 level houses on the water, with one of the levels underwater, the bedroom. They call it The Floating Seahorse.
All in all, we’ve been very pleasantly surprised by Dubai and especially the weather, great food and nice sites to enjoy the Dubai life have contributed to making it a great destination for a week of sun in between our Belgian/Dutch spring.