Monday, April 29, 2013

Dubai {day 3}

Weekends in Dubai are Friday and Saturday, though their Friday (our Saturday) is actually more like our Sunday (confused yet?). Friday is the Muslim day of prayer, so most places are generally closed, brunch is very popular, and it's a pretty low-key day. Which at this point in our trip was exactly what we needed. Amy knows what huge foodies Bo and I are, so when originally planning our trip she strongly suggested that we be in Dubai on a Friday - specifically for the all you can eat and drink brunch at Traiteur. Their brunch goes from 12:30 - 4pm, so it was well worth the price since we ate enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with unlimited alcohol to boot. It was literally our only meal of the day and it was absolutely fantastic.

The restaurant is right on the Dubai Creek, and overlooks a gorgeous marina with a terrific view of the downtown Dubai skyline. Being at the marina reminded us of our hometown back in Florida. So pretty!

After brunch, we went a little further up the Dubai Creek and walked around the shipping docks. Supposedly, because of the economic restrictions on Iran, people can buy western goods in Dubai and then send them to Iran which is just a short boat ride away. Pretty crazy and we couldn't believe how much stuff there was - on a weekend afternoon!

Then we headed over to McGettigans to meet up with some of Amy & John's friends. Live music, good beer, and lots more talking :) We loved hearing their stories about how they ended up in Dubai and what their experience has been like.

love seeing Coke cans in other languages!

Tired and full after a long day of eating and drinking, we actually went home early that night. Had to rest up for the last day of our trip, which was action-packed. Thank you, Amy & John for yet another amazing day in Dubai!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dubai {desert safari}

After our amazing flight to Dubai on Emirates, we were really looking forward to our desert safari which is also run by the same company. We typically avoid these kinds of group tourist excursions but we are SO glad we did it. This was one of our favorite things we did in Dubai, and I have to say that Emirates downright rocks our world. We made our reservation online a few weeks in advance, and all we had to do was show up at a nearby hotel to meet our driver. We shared an SUV with another couple, and he drove us out to the desert for the rest of the day!

One thing that really surprised us was the temperature. Amy had warned us it gets a little cool in the desert, and I was glad I brought a sweater, especially later that night. We also thought the sand would be scorching hot like it is on the Florida beaches, but it was really nice - very soft and comfortable to walk on, so we went barefoot the whole time.

There were probably two or three hundred people on the safari, and we couldn't believe how well organized everything was. Our first stop was to see a falcon show, which was a lot more interesting than we were expecting. We all sat on the ground under a few large tents to watch the show - we were front and center so we had great seats.

This guy told us all about the history and significance of the falcon, as they are extremely fast, have terrific vision, and the bedouins used to train them to hunt for food. I generally don't like birds but I found it pretty fascinating.

He used a treat at the end of his rope to tease the falcon, who would fly away and then come swooping in to try and get it. This went on for a couple minutes - it was really impressive.

Finally, he let the falcon have the treat.

After the show, we all loaded up into our cars, and went dune bashing for the next hour or so. Bo and I loved it, but apparently not everyone got that memo when they signed up - there were quite a few cars who had to pull over for sick passengers. Thankfully everyone in our car was fine, and we were some of the first people at the next stop, to watch the sunset over the dunes. It was like being in a real live post card.

Once the sun was down, we got back in the car and moved on to our final destination, the camp. Amy gave us the awesome advice to head straight to the bar and grab a table. Everyone else got distracted by the other events and activities, so we were the first ones at the bar (we were also the last ones at the bar later that night) and we got prime choice of where to spend our evening. Once we claimed our spot, we roamed around to check it all out while everyone else waited in line for our delicious buffet dinner. We were very strategic with our time and it certainly paid off!

custom sand art

I was really excited to ride a camel, and by the time we got over to that station we were some of the only people there. Most people did their camel ride first, while we were making friends with the bartenders ;)

As with all other Islamic countries we've previously visited, we continued our tradition of smoking a hookah, or as they call it, shisha. I always get questions about it, but don't worry it's nothing crazy - just flavored tobacco ;)

During dinner there was a belly dancing performer, and our prime seats were key for this show. She was absolutely fantastic. Didn't hurt that she was gorgeous - we were mesmerized!

When dinner was over, they turned off all the lights until it was pitch black and we all laid on the ground to gaze at the stars. We don't see too many stars here in Atlanta, and it was incredible how clear the sky was out in the desert at night.

And I couldn't leave without getting a henna tattoo! I thought it turned out really well, and it only took about 10 minutes. It goes on like a puffy paint so you don't even feel it, and once it dries it flakes off and turns a dark orange-brown color. I made it all the way back to the car walking through the sand without messing it up, and as soon as we got in the car Bo threw his shoes in - right on my tattooed foot! I was SO mad that he had ruined it, but in all honesty once it dried you couldn't even tell that it was just barely smudged :)  It was supposed to last around two weeks, but mine stayed on for over three weeks - even with daily scrubbing, two pedicures and playing sand volleyball when we got back home. It was fun having it for a little while, but is definitely the only kind of tattoo I will ever be getting.

For anyone planning on going to Dubai, I would highly recommend this excursion. I had a feeling it was going to be amazing since Amy, my sister, and my coworker had all done it before and practically insisted that we go - and it still blew away all of our expectations.

We got home pretty late that night, but their Thursdays are like our Fridays (their weekend is Friday and Saturday), so we stayed up for a while to recap our day over a few glasses of wine and more puppy snuggles with Harley (love him!)

Bo took this one on his phone, so please forgive Harley's iphone laser eyes :/

Between the aquariums earlier in the day and our safari adventure, day two was amazing!! Definitely loved Dubai even more than we had hoped.