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Published: March 21st 2007
Burj al Arab
Stunning view so Dubai!
Jonathan, Jeff’s best friend who has lives in Dubai for just over a year now, and who is a Manager at the Emirates Towers called around 8am, and came up to the room. Jonathan is the Training Manager at this hotel. Jonathan has just come back from Egypt escorting a tour of Australians on his vacation to help out another old friend of Jeff’s who is a Travel agent and Tour escort. He had been awake since 4am as the group had an early transfer to the airport.
It was great to see him, and we went down to breakfast and caught up what we had all done since we last saw talked. The breakfast buffet was huge, and included camel products such as milk and cheese, as well as local dates.
Outside our hotel is the Sheik Zayed Road, which goes all the way to Abu Dhabi, 120km away in one of the other 7 Emirates. The road gets congested very early and is 6 lanes wide either side. The speed limit is 120k but they drive much faster than that 160k+.
Jonathan took us back to his Apartment, in a complex where
So much glitter
all of the employees of Jumeirah hotels live. It took ages to get to his complex as the roads had just been dug up. Jonathan said that is quite usual that you go to work come home and everything has changed.
Next we went to a Mall adjacent to his Complex, in which each area of the Mall is the theme of a country. Its called Ibn Battuta mall. No expense is spared when anything is built here. In one part of the Mall is a Starbucks positioned under an enormous Islamic tiled dome. It was stunning, but strangely out of place.
After leaving the Mall we went back to our hotel, as a mutual friend of Jeff and Jonathans was about to arrive to stay at the hotel. Barry Stevenson who conducted the tour to Egypt with Jonathan. Both have known Barry for over 20 years.
After lunch Jonathan took all of us to Abu Dhabi, a one and a half hour drive away. We are to have afternoon tea at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It was originally built for the ruling sheik, but he decided not to live there after all, and it was turned
Mall of the Emirates
The biggest Mall we have ever seen
into a hotel instead.
The Palace is magnificent; no words could describe the grandeur of it all. The grounds and public areas are the most lavish that we had ever seen. Acres and acres of marble, adorned with lavish artworks and furnishings, led us to the lounge where we sat down for afternoon tea. There was 5 of us, and we ordered traditional afternoon tea for 2, which included sandwiches, scones, crumpets and French pastries, topped off with gold-flecked truffles, (see pics). There was so much food we couldn’t possibly finish it, but we had fun trying. Jonathan and Barry told anecdotes about their travels with Jeffrey over the years, and we all fell about laughing, Jeffrey especially enjoyed catching up with them.
After walking through the hotel it was time to make our way back to Dubai. The highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is 12 lanes, and the speed the speed limit is 120k but people drive much faster, its very scary.
Back to Jonathan’s complex and Keith, Jonathans partner was there, and we made plans for dinner. We decided on a Moroccan restaurant at Madinat Jumeirah, a hotel complex owned by the same company
The continuing face of Dubai
Jonathan works for, again huge and magnificent. This hotel room rates here start around $1200 a night, but their occupancy levels are high, and they never have a problem filling the rooms here or really anywhere in Dubai.
The amount of people about was astounding. Mamma Mia had opened tonight for a 6-night run, and we had to park in a side street and walk. There is a souk at the resort so we walked through looking at all the stalls. For the both of us it was not like the real thing that we had experienced in Morocco, but it was much cleaner!
We had great meal, laughing and joking, and afterwards back to the hotel for a well-earned sleep.
Off to the Mall of the Emirates to have lunch, with a ski slope next to it, and quite a few people were using the facility, its huge! A huge slope, ski lifts, a chalet serving mulled wine, so Dubai! The mall has all the stores we know of and popular European stores as well. We had lunch at a French bread shop called ‘Paul’. Jeff and I saw this shop when
The dome above a Starbucks
we were in Paris in 2003.
After lunch we drove around with Jonathan and he took us to some of the newer suburbs of Dubai, popping up all over the city. It was mostly expats, and a few locals, but was an interesting look into every day life here. We later went to the traditional markets and were confronted by all the hawker inviting you into their shops, but it was all too much…talk about persistent! They are mostly Indians or Pakistanis; you just have to be strong and just keep saying No!
Back to the hotel for drinks showers and then back to Madinat Jumeirah complex. It was just the tow of us with Jonathan tonight. Jonathan knew his way around the labyrinth of alleyways and gardens, the size of it all is unbelievable. The resort is connected by a series of canals, so after drinks in a bar with the most stunning view over the Burj Al Arab (the Iconic hotel in Dubai shaped like a dhows sail) we caught a boat to get to our restaurant.
The meal was wonderful at a restaurant called MJ’s, (after Madinat Jumeirah). We all had fantastic steaks and
Al of Us
Paul, Jonathan, Barry, Jeff and Roy
seafood. A bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that we regularly enjoy in Sydney for around $22, was 950 dirham ($320) so we opted for the 155-dirham bottle from California, and was a great alternative.
We caught a cab back to the hotel afterwards, it was a Commodore made in Adelaide, but badged as a Chevrolet here in the UAE 70,000 are imported here each year. It was a long day, so we were happy to sink into the comfy bed and drift off.
Our last full day in Dubai, and we caught up on emails and blogging in the morning. At home, Louisa has not yet had her puppies, but I think she will soon.
We left the hotel for Madinat Jumeirah to meet up with the boys, and after walking through the souk we went to the Noodle House for lunch. The food was delicious and well served. Just chatting about nothing in particular, though the Labor Party win in the NSW election did come up but was of no great concern.
We left after lunch to go to the new Marina area and check the sights. Jonathan told us about
The fountain at Emirates Palace
some friends of his who had bought an apartment with exclusive water views, and next thing, developers reclaimed part of the marina and now they have a building in front of them…such is progress in Dubai.
Off then to the Ibn Battuta Mall, to see a different section of the mall. The first section was Chinese with a full size Junk on display. Next in the Indian sections was a life size Elephant and Maharajahs. You may think it is just a theme with a sprinkling of a theme, but this is full size all encompassing décor from floor to ceiling 2 football fields in size. We have said before that it makes the Gold Coast minute, even rivalling Las Vegas in grandeur on OTT value.
Tonight, Jonathan took us and Barry and his Sri Lankan friend Roy, to a Jumeirah Resort about an hours drive away in the desert for dinner. On the way we passed a future development mega resort, with cut out billboards in the shape each of the massive hotels that will be built with a theme.
We arrived at the Bab Al Shams resort, built in true Arabian Desert style. We made
The magnificent Afternoon Tea at Emirates Palace
our way to the restaurant about 500m from the hotel; we were immediately taken aback by the displays of fruits, vegetables and spices, similar to the displays seen at the Royal Easter Show. We were shown to our table right in front of the stage where a woman was singing songs in Arabic, but we could not hear ourselves think, so we asked to be moved somewhere quieter.
There was a buffet style Arabian menu, platters of kibeh, tabouli, hommous, shawarma, seafood meats and Arabic delicates. It was all absolutely delicious, and the shows were wonderful with singers, belly dancers and even a Whirling Dervish who was twirling and spinning, completely enthralling to watch, and during the act came to tables and twirled part of his outfit above his head at our table. I got a great photo.
All good things must come to and end, and it was time to go back to the hotel. Jonathan has driven us everywhere, we told him to drop us off near a cab rank near his home. It would be another hour before he got home, and it was almost midnight.
As with any holiday to a new place it
All of us at Abu Dhabi
The magnificent Afternoon Tea at Emirates Palace, a wonderful time
makes it all the easier to know a local. Jonathan and Keith have been so kind and generous to us both. We want to thank them for a fantastic few days, and hopefully we can repay the favour when they come back to Sydney in October.
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