Dubai – The City that Rose from the Golden Deserts

Dubai is known to be an expensive affair hence I decided to start the trip on a luxurious note with Emirates Airways (well, there goes half a month of my salary, well almost). The reason being the last international flight I took was an Indigo, moreover this was not a budget trip by any means.

Here is where I dedicate a couple of lines to the flight experience we had. Starting from the welcome to the food to the comfortable seating, there was nothing to complain about. But what was the cherry on the cake was undoubtedly the individual entertainment units; replete with a motion-sense touch screen and a detachable gaming console, the Emirates in-flight application will leave you spoilt for choice.

Moving on, there were two of us starting from Bangalore – reaching first. The Chennai couple reaching thereafter, followed by the newly married couple from Delhi. We reached and rushed to the hotel to catch up on some sleep before the already planned hectic evening. Our booking stood confirmed at The Gevora – the tallest hotel in the world. As we approached the gigantic hotel in our airport taxi, the feeling that my dream trip to Dubai has finally started was sinking in.

Being a hotelier myself, I don’t generally trash hotels/restaurants unless ofcourse they screw up really bad.  It started when we reached the hotel and asked to check-in; we had requested for an early check-in. They had no clue about it and refused to give us a room before the actual check-in time which was 4 hours later. Tallest or not, please don’t stay here, when in Dubai. After much contemplation, we decided to grab a bite, we Googled to find Wendy’s at walking distance and headed there to have our first meal. After indulging in some awesome fries, onion rings and chicken, topped up with the ice cream that was home made – we headed back to the hotel. Our friends were already there. The well-fed us now headed to the reception and asked to speak to the Duty Manager. We finally managed to get 2 rooms out of 3 and crashed to the much of our delight.

One of us has a friend staying in Dubai and she arranged for a private yacht ride for us at Marina Bay in the evening. We woke up fresh, got dressed and headed there. This yacht (which we stocked up with food and alcohol) had two decks- the upper deck ofcourse is where we chose to sit. There is sometimes a certain comfort in isolation, the first 20 minutes of the ride through the serene waters was an absolute treat both to the eyes and the heart. Everything around us was perfectly picturesque and it almost felt like I was a part of one of those scenically directed videos. The wind on our faces ensured we were more intoxicated than we should have been when the two hour tour came to an end.

 

We quickly had something to eat and then headed to Mr. Miyagi’s- one of the sought after clubs in Dubai. Unlike most nightclubs in India, the music at this place was unimaginably good, the good crowd was not hurting us either. We danced away to the tunes of the DJ until we realized what a hectic next day we had planned. With the pledge that we would do some in-room drinking once we got back, we headed back to the hotel. Upon reaching, as predicted – we all crashed.

We had booked with an agency for the rest of the trip, so our itinerary hereon was planned. The first thing on our schedule the next day was Dune Bashing. There was a fierce storm the evening before because of which the sand tracks were missing, the driver told us the experience would have been much better otherwise. We however thoroughly enjoyed the Dune Bashing experience, that with Arab songs playing in the background (thanks to our driver, I know a lot of incredible Arabic songs – which he kept playing through the course of our shenanigans in Dubai). He was quite a photographer as well, he took us in the middle of the dessert and clicked away happily as we posed.

 

We went back to the hotel after as we were covered in sand and quickly changed to be taken to Dubai Mall- I was eagerly waiting for this. After grabbing a quick breakfast at the famed Cafe Nero, we headed to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and this was by far the best experience we had. One of the largest aquariums in the world and having the world’s largest suspended aquarium, this makes for a perfect family/tourist spot. The 48 meter walk through the 10 million liter Aquarium Tank/Tunnel is mesmerizing, inhabiting more than 140 aquatic species. Consider yourself lucky if you catch the shark feeding encounter – where trained personnel feed fish to this rather dangerous man-eating mammal. One level above is the Underwater Zoo which houses the amazing creatures inhabiting in the waters of the world. Divided into three ecological Zones –  Rainforest, Rocky Shore and Living Ocean, you can see aquatic creatures like Otters, Piranhas, Humbolt Penguins, Seahorses, African Dwarf Crocodiles – to name a few, in 40 individual aquatic displays. One can even opt for adventure activities like shark diving, cage snorkeling and scuba diving here.

Next on the itinerary was Burj Khalifa for a breathtaking view of the man -made wonder that Dubai truly is. We went straight up to the 125th floor of the building, the experience is pretty dramatic. The skyline you see from up there is something that should not be missed when you are in Dubai. Its expensive but its absolutely worth every penny!

 

We went back to The Dubai Mall Promenade and grabbed some dinner and lemonade while watching the light show and fountain show, respectively. After this, we went back to Dubai Mall and grabbed some mini pancakes from Holland Mini Pancakes and called it a day. The thing about Dubai Mall is that the brands are pretty much the same, but with 50 times more of varied options. Of course its Dubai Mall, so you also bump into stores which are not in India like Lush, Pottery Barn and several other international brands.

It was 9 am and I washed, ate, dressed myself and was ready before anyone else and waited at the lobby- why you ask? We were going to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi and this officially was the high point of this trip to U.A.E. The drive to my dreamy destination was long yet beautiful. We stopped on the way to take a quick look at the Jumeirah Mosque which was quite an instagrammable spot. After clicking about fifty photos, we headed to the long awaited experience. We reached Yas Mall and I grabbed a cup of the most delicious coffee at Paul’s- needed all my energy for the next couple of hours!

Ferrari World was nothing like I had imagined! We entered and first grabbed a map each, divided into 2 groups as per interest zones and headed for Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest roller coaster ride. With a speed of 0 to 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds and lasting under 2 mins, this is by far the most mind blowing adventure park experience I have had in my life. During my time inside this branded theme park, I took the ride at least 5 times; I kid you not – it’s that awesome. The other memorable ride I abused is Flying Aces – the world’s highest roller coaster loop inspired by the legendary ‘ace of aces’ aviator, Count Baracca – this ride hit speeds of up to 120km/h. Third favourite of mine was Turbo Track – a back-to-back roller coaster ride with a vertical climb towards the sky followed by an epic zero-gravity fall. It looks extremely scary when you see other people experiencing it but the ride is as much fun, if not more. Among the other things that you can try out at Ferrari World are fun, less exhilarating rides, several 4D animation rides and many options of virtual ride games. Galleria Ferrari – with its spectacular design and collection display of Ferrari Cars is a must see for a car enthusiast. All this, and the day was almost over and we had plans so it was unfortunately time to leave. I literally cried as I left this amazing place, as my friends carried me out, otherwise I would have ran back inside.

It was 8 pm and we were tired AF but had one more thing to cover for the day. Next, our driver took us to Global Village – a multi-cultural amusement park. Among the world’s largest tourism, leisure, shopping and entertainment project, Global Village is the region’s first cultural, entertainment, family and shopping destination. There are several rides, live shows, a fair amount of shopping options and lots to eat. We managed only taking a toy train ride and grabbing a bite just enough to fill our tummies. I frankly didn’t think too much of this place, might be because all I could see in my head was the hotel bed.

Then came the last day at Dubai- we took it easy and started the day a bit late. The plan was to go to the local market where you get cheap gold apparently but I skipped that. I directly met the rest of them at Jumeirah Beach – the beach bum in me cried out of joy as I saw what was the most crowded yet well maintained white sand beach I have ever been to. This beach, located on the coast of the Persian Gulf – is a tourist/popular attraction complete with a line of restaurants you could choose to dine at. We chose an Arabian restaurant and savored our last meal in Dubai.

We had just enough time to swing by Dubai Mall before we could get back to the hotel and head to the airport. One thing you should know is that the coffee at Dubai is bae, it is every coffee lover’s paradise. We did some last minute binge eating and with a take-away coffee in my hand, we headed to the airport. Dubai airport is crazy and this was my second experience; the first one was witnessing the Changi airport in Singapore. I went insane shopping at the airport – perfumes mostly as that’s my weak spot.

The flight back from Dubai to Bangalore was rather depressing as the most extraordinary trip of my life came to an end. Not only is Dubai one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, now, it has my heart too. There is a lot more to explore in Dubai and for that I shall be back here soon!

I hope you liked my blog as much as I did reliving each moment as I wrote each line. Please leave your comments below and let me know what you think.

Taken by the #TravelBug in Singapore.

I had traveled a lot with my parents when I was little; it’s a pity that I don’t recall most of it. My recent trip to Singapore is one of those places I always intended to visit to add to my international travels. It also happens to be the place where the #TravelBug bit me, long last and much needed! Thereafter, my first travelogue which encapsulates the 4 days well spent in Singapore.

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She(esha) is the BOSS! Well, most of the time.

Located in the tinsel town of Namma Ooru- Koramangala, this place is definitely worth a visit. Most of you might think I am going to write good things about this place because it’s a friend’s brainchild. The truth is, what makes this place unique is the amount of hard work and heart that has gone into conceptualizing it. And what’s even more amazing is that the love and warmth reflects on the food and the service standards.

Continue reading “She(esha) is the BOSS! Well, most of the time.”