Dubai

View of the sand dunes

Jet Set to Dubai – Part Two

Posted by | Dubai, Guest Spot, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

If you read my previous post about my last-minute excursion to Dubai, this is the continuation of the first piece. If not, you can read about it here. I’m going to attempt to convey just how amazing my trip was and what a once in a lifetime opportunity it really was for me!

Buddha Bar, DubaiAs I had stated previously, I flew last minute to Dubai to visit a close friend during Labor Day week, which was during Ramadan in 2010. Dubai was outrageously humid, hot, and dry, all at the same time, but I was met by incredible hospitality in the resort, the restaurants and everywhere else during my stay. The night life in Dubai was something else — although alcoholic beverages could be consumed after sundown during Ramadan, this limitation did not directly affect the cost of mixed drinks, unfortunately. The first bar I went to was called Buddha Bar, and was located at another hotel.

However, all of the resorts had their own shuttle services which were accustomed to bringing patrons to various hotel bars and restaurants, so getting around was simple. The Buddha Bar was beautifully decorated and had a very soft and glowing ambiance. We overheard conversations in various languages, with German standing out on more than one occasion. We attempted to enjoy a more outgoing bar scene the next night, and so we went somewhere that was located within an indoor shopping center that was close to our resort. This place had types of drink stamp cards, where it was cheaper to drink more (woe was me the next morning).

Sand Dune poseThe Buddha Bar had an incredible patio, although no one was allowed to bring their beverages, although someone did and then promptly spilled their drink on the floor and on my camera, but there was a security guard with a mop in a matter of seconds to clean it up. The only downside (for me) is smoking is still allowed in bars in Dubai, so upon returning to the hotel room, every article of clothing we were wearing smelled like and ashtray. Although that didn’t stop us — we returned to the same bar my last night in Dubai and had another splendid evening.

The various malls in Dubai were extremely large and luxuriously decorated, and I also enjoyed the dining (although deli food at the grocery store was the most authentic), but my most memorable experience by far was when we decided to go for a day-trip excursion into the desert. This was very low cost, about $40 per person, all inclusive, for the entire day, and included a sand dune ride in a Jeep with a trained driver, and a drive away into the desert where tents, including a Middle Eastern buffet and a woman trained in Henna tattooing, were set up for us.

We were one twosome of just a handful, and were able to enjoy all of the amenities with little interruption. I had Henna done up my right hand and forearm, and we enjoyed the homemade food that was served. There was also a man with a pet falcon on his arm, but the most exhilarating offering was to ride on the back of a camel. A camel! Until that moment I had never known the sheer size of these creatures, and I was hoisted up on one before I could even refuse. What amazing animals!

Me and the camelThe getup from the ground on the camel’s back was a bit rocky but I just had to seize the opportunity to be atop of such a rare creature (not that they gave me much of a choice!).

While I enjoy all of the photos I took during my trip to Dubai, but I truly cherish the ones I took with the camel. My stunted size only makes the camel look that much larger, but that was part of the majesty of these creatures; just how large they are.

I entered a far-away country with few expectations, merely to find myself enjoying things more than I would ever have expected, and having the opportunity to explore the diversity this world has to offer. I was pleased with what I learned and experienced as a result of hopping on a plane at the drop of a hat totally last-minute, and being open to all of the possibilities a last-minute trip had to offer. Here’s to more of the same!

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Private pool at Royal Meridien Resort

Jet Set to Dubai

Posted by | Dubai, Guest Spot, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

I have to admit, I had never entertained the idea of ever going to the Middle East in my lifetime. Considering the hostilities that have entrenched that part of the world for a while now, along with the unfortunate assumptions Americans have made as a result, many people absolutely miss what is one of the most culturally rich regions on the planet. I was the last to believe that I had been presented with a last-minute opportunity to board a plane in Denver that would take me into Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but I am glad I seized it.

Burj KhalifaI fortunately was very close with someone who had done some contract work overseas in Afghanistan, and he was relocated temporarily to Dubai during some work changes. He was supposing, as was I, that he would only be there for a week or two, at the very most. But upon realizing it was closing in on a month and he was still living at a resort in Dubai, the idea came about that I should go visit. And why not—I only had a few shifts to have covered at my job with the prospect, and the trip was promised to be cost-free for me (I know, lucky girl).

The most exciting part about this trip is that upon believing it would maybe be too risky job-wise to hop a plane last minute to Dubai, and then deciding it was not going to happen, I found myself nevertheless purchasing a ticket the next morning, with only twenty minutes for a shower and a quick pack in order to get to the airport on time. Talk about exhilarating!

While sitting on a plane for 20 hours isn’t exactly the highlight of a trip the only good news is I was so excited to be in the middle of this unplanned adventure that the flight passed by considerably faster than I had believed it would. Upon arriving into the airport, I made sure to be polite going through customs, and I made sure to purchase alcohol at the duty-free store. I was visiting during what was Labor Day week here in 2010 in the States, which happens to fall during the holy week of Ramadan for the Muslim countries. I knew we could enjoy some adult beverages within the comfort and confines of our hotel room, as well as by the pool at the resort, but other than that it was going to be a dry trip. When I arrived I was ready for my very much needed shower and overall decompression, as I was out of sorts after traveling so last-minute and with such a limited amount of time for preparation.

Firstly, I could not believe the humidity and heat that welcomed me into Dubai. Although my northern Colorado location now feels similar, being in the desert during what is considered to still be a summer month was nothing short of physically miserable. The good news was that every taxi/private car was heavily air-conditioned. The only time I had to be outside was to walk to and from one of these vehicles (whew!).

I found Dubai to be a magical city for many reasons, but the first and most prominent thing was the incredible hospitality and grandeur that accompanied my hotel stay. This was no normal hotel; my friend was staying at the Royal Meridien Resort, which is a five-star palace (just about). The mini bar was stocked daily, room service was available around the clock, as well as service by the pool, we had our own butler who greeted us every morning, asking what our plans were, and even if he could open the curtains for us.

Our room view of the entirety of The Royal Meridien ResortThe hospitality and customer service these people offer in Dubai rivals what we have here in America, and is a far cry from the daily news that would have you believe that the Middle East is some backwards, repressed section of the planet where people still live in caves and tents. Granted, this is Dubai, known for being one of the most opulent cities on the globe, but even so the people were the kindest, most courteous and helpful people I had ever come across. Our butler rang our room phone every night to know what our dinner plans were, and if he could make any suggestions. And did I mention the in-house dry cleaning that arrived sealed in a leather box? I know, amazing!

My place of stay was just the beginning of what I was to experience in this beautiful Middle Eastern country. To be continued…

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