It’s not easy planning a long holiday to one of those exotic places you see in glossy brochures. The next best option is a visit to an accessible destination – with just three conditions. It should be easy on the wallet, must be a foreign city (you need to carry your passport!), and big enough to be covered in half a week. Dubai fit the bill perfectly. And that’s where we decided to go! Enough has been said about glitzy Dubai, and our friends who live there assured us that the glittering metropolis has many unnoticed nooks and unexplored corners as well.
If you have only 72 hours in this desert nation and want to get a taste of both glam and grunge, here’s a ‘two weekends in one’ trick that might help.
We landed in Dubai mid-week – for us, that is. Wednesday is almost weekend for a culture that takes Thursday and Friday as its weekly off! On the first day, we headed to the older parts of the town, Bur Dubai and Deira – the heart of Dubai and home to many Indian and Pakistani immigrants. We were still slightly stiff from sitting, all cramped up, for three hours in economy airline seats, so walking seemed like a good idea.
Separated by the Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai and Deira fight to maintain their old-world charm and yet keep pace with modernity. A late afternoon walk along the Dubai Creek on the Bur Dubai side drove away all lingering weariness from the flight. Though you can walk along the entire length of the creek (that could take hours), we started from near the Metro stop closest to the Heritage Village. From Gubaiba station to the Heritage Village it took us half an hour – photo session time included.
On the Bur Dubai side, the creek is lined with restaurants that offer varied cuisines and flavoured tobacco shisha. If you want to explore further, hop on to a water taxi or ‘abra’ and cross over to Deira – home to Dubai’s oldest gold souk – a blinding and brilliant row of shops, and more shops for gold jewellery.
And then there is Deira’s famous spice souk which makes for an interesting tour or at least interesting photos. Al Bastakiya and Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing buildings in Dubai, are also worth a look.
Dinner at any of the creek-side restaurants is a great idea. And for the desert, we decided to wait for the next day.
No, that wasn’t a spelling error! A desert safari is a not-to-be-missed-experience. Book in advance with your tour operator or ask your hotel to make arrangements. Whatever you do, make sure you get your piece of desert.
The thrill of 4x4 vehicles roaring over the sand is exhilarating, along with dune bashing, and if you are a bit more adventurous, sandboarding.
Opt for the afternoon safari as opposed to a morning one. It will give you a relaxed morning and allow for a bit of shopping before heading out for more adventure. Also, the afternoon safari ends with dinner at a campsite in the desert with belly dancing and tanoura show.
TOP AND TOP NOTCH
So you’ve explored heritage and tasted adventure. How about keeping the last day for the high-fashion part of the city – Dubai Downtown?
Burj Khalifa, the 830-metre high architectural and engineering marvel, attracts tourists and residents in droves. Book early (even online) for a ride up to the observation deck on the 124th floor of the building. The view of the city below is enchanting. If you are there in the evening, you can watch the dancing waters of the Dubai Fountain from the top.
Since it is located adjacent to the Dubai Mall, a trip to Burj Khalifa will also bring you to the world’s largest mall. Shop or window shop, relax at a café or opt for a fine dining restaurant, laze in front of the aquarium or check out the installation art, the place has a lot to offer.
We kept the evening free to catch up on conversations with friends. And a late Friday night out of Dubai brought us to Delhi early Saturday – just in time for the weekend here.
|LOTS TO SEE HERE|
|1 Palm Jumeirah (right), the man-made islands off the coast of this desert city, are best viewed from the top. Take a helicopter ride or book a hot-air balloon or charter a plane. But if money is what keeps you grounded, then drive down.|
2 The Burj Al Arab is the only seven-star hotel in the world. You can argue for or against it, but we would suggest a dinner at any of the restaurants of this iconic sail-shaped luxury hotel.
3And yes, don’t miss the snow while in Dubai. Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort, is part of the Mall of the Emirates.
Photos: Getty Images, Thinkstock
From HT Brunch, March 16
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch