Saying goodbye was not easy. Dubai did gift me amazing five days. As if the city knew that this vacation was my birthday gift to me and worked towards making it perfect. My plane landed in Dubai half an hour early and my room was waiting for me in the hotel, though I was much before time. Needless to say, I dumped my luggage and headed out.
Like most tourists, Dubai Mall was my first stop. The huge mall, housing luxury brands, restaurants, the Souk (bazaar) with jewelry and perfume shops was dazzling and confusing. While the mall is ultra-modern, the Souk area captures the old-world charm of the Arabic bazaar. After having lunch in a Turkish restaurant and losing myself in the mall for a while I headed to the Miracle Garden. The world’s largest natural flower garden housing over fifty million flowers and two fifty million plants is a miracle indeed. The garden was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013 hence you will be greeted by heart-shaped promenades the moment you enter. My favourite was the Alladin palace though, beautifully shaped with plants and flowering trees. After loitering in the huge garden, buying mementos and taking as many pictures as possible I headed to Jumeirah beach.
I was already tired. I had an early start and I hardly slept the night before but there was no way I was calling it a day. So I hailed a cab for Jumeirah beach. Though I hadn’t pre-booked any local transport for Dubai, I realized that getting a cab was pretty easy. As my hotel, Holiday Inn Express, Safa Park, was very conveniently located the cab rides didn’t cost me much. Dubai Taxi turned out to be cheaper than app-based cabs.
Jumeirah beach is the upmarket area of Dubai. I was dazzled by the apartment buildings and the cars more than the beach. I stopped at a Danish bakery for a cup of coffee and then walked around watching the tall buildings being lit up as the sun was going down. Finally, I headed back to the hotel, and after a quick dinner in their Mexican restaurant threw myself in bed.
Day 2, my birthday, was meticulously planned. I went to Dubai Mall again, this time to Burj Khalifa first. I was probably one of the first visitors, guided to the lift by a handsome Arab usher who was showering me with compliments. I happily walked into the world’s fastest elevator to be greeted by a photographer the moment I stepped out. Thrilled as I was with all the compliments, I decided to get myself clicked and later realized that I needed to pay three hundred dirhams for the photographs, which I grudgingly did, while cursing the Arab usher who tricked me with his flattery.
Jokes aside, Burj Khalifa is definitely an experience. I gazed in wonder at Dubai from the top of the tower – the tall buildings dwarfed by the height of Burj, the beach area, the bay, and the canal all beautifully spread out. I leisurely enjoyed the view and headed from the top of the world to the underwater aquarium. For those who haven’t been to Dubai, both Burj Khalifa and the underwater aquarium are in the Dubai Mall. After spending an hour with colourful fishes to the mall I went again – I shopped, window shopped, stopped for lunch, and shopped again. I kept losing myself in the mall and finding myself thanks to the information desks spread across the mall.
I had booked a Marina Bay cruise dinner for the evening. I went to the hotel late afternoon to relax and get ready for the cruise. Once I reached the bay the manager of the yacht dinner let me jump the queue and choose the best table on the deck. Being a solo traveler has its perks, I guess. It was a luxury yacht with good food and wine, Tanoura dance, and the breathtaking view of a lit-up Dubai as we cruised along. After an unforgettable one and half hours, we were back at the bay.
Wishes kept pouring in as I was discovering Dubai. Phone calls, messages, and wishes on Facebook, just the way I like my birthday to be. I headed back to the hotel and ordered a drink to end the day!
The days that followed my birthday were as exciting, but more of that in my next post…