Three days is a very *short* time to be in Dubai, but that is all my busy attorney friend Jessica Wood had to spare (she is one of the best attorneys I know and in high demand) – I am thrilled that she was willing to actually take a vacation (GASP!) and come halfway around the world to see me.
I think we had an almost perfect plan for her short three day visit, so I thought I would share it for others who might have a limited time here. Follow it exactly – or merely draw inspiration, but know that this is a particularly busy schedule (this friend has lots of energy – you may want a more laid back time abroad).
Jessica’s flight arrives in the middle of the night (as do most flights, since it’s cooler at night and the planes need less fuel). She sleeps (but not for long!) and we are up and out for the day. On this day we:
- Fuel up with coffee (yes, there are plenty of Starbucks here! But also plenty of Arabic coffee, which is a strong coffee with cardamom and sometimes saffron). We start with a little architectural tour, with special note of The Opus, a building designed by Zaha Hadid (the most famous female architect in the world, now deceased).
- This day was NEW DUBAI day. We drove to The Palm (the largest man made archipelago (series of islands) in the world, walked on the seawall and admired the Burj Al Arab (from the east crescent) and the yachts.
- Then lunch at Riva Beach Club on the trunk of the Palm (a private beach club, but there are lots of places to eat on the Palm – I suggest either The Atlantis or The Fairmont, or any of the restaurants at Vista La Mer).
- On to the Marina – through Marina Mall and its sparkling dome to the Marina Walk with more gigantic yachts and great views. We walked from the Marina to Jumeirah Beach Residences (#wowjbr) to see the progress of the Dubai Eye and people watch along the Walk.
- Then to The Address at the Marina where we had drinks at Shades – a poolside restaurant with amazing views of the Marina and an infinity edge pool (I also recommend, particularly at night, Marina Social, which also has a drop dead view).
- Then to the crazy Miracle Garden – a huge flower garden in the middle of the desert, with an Emirates Airliner covered in flowers (along with zillions of other things all covered in flowers).
- Nighttime was back downtown (where we live) to see the Burj Khalifa light show and the Dubai Fountains
I am a HUGE fan of the Louvre Abu Dhabi – it has some great masterpieces and the building itself is a work of art. So I take just about every guest there. I know that they are visiting Dubai, but it seems to me this is part of what Dubai has to offer – proximity to the Louvre. So off we go, but first:
- Sunrise at the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world). We get there at 6am to watch the sunrise; an amazing sight. Admission includes breakfast after.
- Then, yes, off to Abu Dhabi, but more coffee first at LAST EXIT. An amazing and crazy place that you simply must visit on your way to (and from) Dubai. It is on both sides of Sheikh Zayed Road – going away from Dubai the theme is apocalyptic (a Mad Max, end of world theme) and coming back into Dubai the theme is 50s diner. It is so playful, fun, and best of all it breaks up the drive (which is about an hour and fifteen minutes each way).
- The Louvre Abu Dhabi – one of my favorite places in the world. For more, please see my many blog posts extolling its many virtues.
- Lunch at the Louvre. The café there has good food and you can sit outside overlooking the water if you wish. I especially recommend their salads.
- Then on to Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is indescribably beautiful and a must see. Admission is free, and even when there are scores of people there it is a very calming and beautiful experience. Do not miss the inside, where you will find the world’s largest hand loomed carpeting and some very interesting chandeliers.
- Last Exit again on the way home! Ice cream from a truck in a field of beanbags. The perfect respite to face traffic on the way home.
- Dinner at Al Hamadieh, which is a favorite restaurant for my husband Jimmy and me. It is right on the Boulevard downtown (near where we live) and I personally think it has the best hummus in the world. Excellent, attentive service.
This was OLD DUBAI day – time to visit the “old’ part of town.
- First, the Metro, which is the world’s longest driverless metro. It is spotless. If you ride in an end car, it is like your own tour bus with an elevated view along Sheikh Zayed Road (the Gold Car is on one end, and that’s what we rode. The gold tickets are about twice as much as the regular, but worth it especially during rush hours).
- We get off at Al Ras Station and walk to the Gold Souk, where there is (you guessed it) tons of gold and jewelry shops and where the world’s largest gold ring is to be found.
- Then through the Spice Souk. Jessica was a quick study – here is the deal. At the souks, many vendors will put on the heavy selling techniques and try to get you to stop; but they are all friendly and there is nothing to fear. The key is to just keep walking unless you are interested, and if so stop and let them explain their wares. Bargaining is expected so do not be afraid to ask for a better price than is offered in the beginning. “La, shukrun” means “no thank you” – a helpful phrase in the marketplace.
- A ride on the dhows over the Dubai Creek was next on the agenda. They only cost one dirham for one way and are another must have experience when you come to Dubai. They will ask if you want one way or round trip – by round trip they mean a tour of the Creek which is 120 dirhams for an hour. So do the one way thing unless you want a longer tour at a higher price. Have a one dirham coin ready – they do not make change.
- Then one of my very favorite things to do in all of Dubai – the Center for Cultural Understanding. This is an amazing place and if you do nothing else in Dubai, come here! They serve a traditional Emirati meal and answer any and all questions you may have about Dubai, about being Muslim, about the differences in our cultures – almost anything is fair game. I take every guest here and learn something new every time I go.
- Then a metro ride back to downtown and tour of Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world. It is a spectacle in and of itself. I show Jessica the Dubai Creek Harbour Tower model (soon to be the world’s largest freestanding structure, designed by Calatrava), the Dubai dinosaur bones (authentic, brought here from Wyoming!), the life sized camel statues, the huge Aquarium, the merry go round, the ice rink, and yes, the world’s largest candy store.
Jessica left on the evening of the third day, so we wound down at Shakespeare and Company (my favorite place for Moroccan Tea (green tea and mint) and for salads and desserts) before she had to head off.
A perfect three days!