One day, lots of attractions, 25km of walking, plenty of wrong turns but more than enough good times. Here is what I managed to do, one day in Dubai.
We all start the day with good intentions and for those that don’t, please talk to someone. The plan was to get up early, find the bus stop, get a bus, find another and then make my way for a tour of Jurmeirah Mosque, all with a little time to spare. Sounds good huh? Well my day wasn’t off to a great start as straight away I’d started walking in the wrong direction thinking I knew where I was going – thinking and knowing are two different things.
When I realised this, I tried to check but My Maps wasn’t loading as I’d accidentally closed it. Nice start Rach. The time it would have taken me to find my way back to the hostel, load my maps, find out where I was supposed to go and get there, I would have missed the busses so opted for the dreaded taxi.
Top Tip: Sit in the front with a map up (my maps works as long as it’s loaded before you leave wifi) drivers actually go the shortest route when they know, that you know, they could be taking the long way round – also apparently known as a ‘short cut’. They hate it. It’s brilliant.
Nearby to where the taxi dropped me was a Starbucks and being the lovely westerner I am I headed over to it for some breakfast and a cup of tea…. And to steal internet.
Is that Rach with an A or an E?
The tour was at 10am, and you had to arrive at least 15 minutes before. As you passed through the entrance, there was a desk where you paid 20aed (about £4.50) and directed you towards some seats where there was a couple of tables set up with Arabic tea, dates and pastries. Due to having my breakfast already, I wasn’t hungry, I did try Arabic tea in Qatar and well, it wasn’t my cup of tea shall we say.
Latifa (Tracy) was wonderful, she was informative, clear and really interesting to listen to. It started with a little background then the process of washing before entering a mosque. Abayas and scarfs were available to women and thawbs for men if you weren’t quite appropriately dressed. We got to look around, the architecture and design was so detailed and beautiful. I didn’t really have many words for it, it was just so pretty.
The talk included the five pillars of Islam – what Muslims should follow, the dress for men and women, the pilgrimage to mecca – Hajj, as well as answering any questions that the group had.
I’d never been in a mosque and bar going to church on random Sundays because I was in Brownies – back then being a flag bearer was cool. I’ve not been involved in religion to any extent; it’s really interesting to listen to someone so passionate for education, especially as these days with the impression of Islam and of Muslims in the media around the world. #OpenDoorsOpenMinds
Next on the list of ‘To Do’ was henna, I’d had some on a ‘desert safari’ and with my time in the UAE nearly up, I’d have loved some more. I had pinned a few salons but as I was walking I couldn’t find any of them, all there seemed to be were lots of cosmetic surgery clinics. I wasn’t taking that as a hint.
I’d given up hope pretty swiftly but just kept walking, expecting to find something, not sure what but something. I walked all the way down to Jumeriah North Beach (not by the Burj Al Arab), it was a pretty hefty walk and unfortunately there was loads of construction boards up which is quite common in Dubai so it wasn’t the prettiest of places.
With my lack of enthusiasm for the beach at that moment, I did kind of an L shape and ended walking all the way to Dubai Mall/Burj Kalifa Metro Station which is still actually quite long walk from Dubai Mall and the Burj, don’t be fooled people! Alright, I’ll admit it; I got lost and walked until I found signs for a metro…..
Just to note, directions have never been my strong point – you’ll know this if you’ve read other posts, in fact saying ‘strong point’ insinuates that I could potentially have some sense of direction but no. If you include peoples directions, maps or (my personal favourite) satnavs; I can still get lost. It’s like on The Sims – you give them certain traits, well I was not given a sense of direction. If anyone knows where I can buy one, I’d greatly appreciate it and I’ll even buy you a pint in return.
At Dubai mall, I thought I could find a backpack I’d seen in a surf/skate chain store in a different mall. I couldn’t find the backpack and genuinely my heart was broken. I went to look at the waterfall to be all deep and meaningful, as I was in my teens and then I’d be on my way.
I unfortunately couldn’t find my ‘oh so pensive’ staring at the fountain photo.
Time was ticking and with a jam packed day, I grabbed a taxi over to The Butterfly Gardens. It looked pretty large and promising from the outside.
Ok, I know this looks pretty scary!
Before any of the domes there was a gallery of images made out of butterflies, “Hey, come pay to look at all these butterflies, oh by the way. THEY’RE DEAD! We made a face though.” Realistically I didn’t know what I was quite expecting I almost imagined big domes like the Eden project (not that I’ve actually been there), filled with butterflies at every turn. It wasn’t.
There were butterflies in there, though not as many as I anticipated, at times it felt like a Wheres Wally, a lot of them didn’t look in the best condition either with what looked like slightly damaged wings etc, it was a little sad to see.
Each section had two bead curtains that separated them and staff making sure butterflies weren’t stowing away. The sections were quite small and it didn’t take long for me to walk around them, they were in a loop, even taking it slow, walking in and out of the little paths it didn’t take long to do the whole thing, maybe it would have been better with someone to make jokes with? No wait; I’m hilarious/bad company. Aside from the butterflies there were a huge number of bizarre planters, all different random shapes, sizes and animals.
I saw a couple of rather large butterflies and one nearly stowed away on my backpack, I held it on my hand and it just stayed there. It was sooo cute! Ok, so maybe the Butterfly Gardens weren’t a complete disappointment.
Onward and upwards to The Miracle Gardens, only a short walk around the corner, with very similar frontage, you can get a combi ticket, I can’t remember (or find) the cost. The gardens captivated me far more as there was just path after path of different variations of flower displays. Arches, buildings, faces, the weird ostrich planters were everywhere!
Bill and Ben had made it overseas; there were even Minion flower pot men. I unfortunately get hayfever and it hadn’t quite thought about walking around loads of flowers, so I had the lovely situation of my eyes running and sneezing everywhere.
Being Captain Bright Spark, I’d accidentally changed the settings on my GoPro and didn’t realise, this means I don’t have any photos/videos of some of the more hilarious displays – seriously, one looked like is was a weird flower type thing giving birth to a woman, it might be best you don’t see it. Here’s a few that I did manage to take, I feel the one being sick is still a little bizarre.
Out of the two, I would definitely say that The Miracle Garden was better, maybe I just had lower expectations or had gotten too excited over The Butterfly Garden. If you get the chance to see both, go for it, they are right next to each other and don’t break the bank. If you’re on a bit of a budget and only going for one thing, The Miracle Gardens are a giggle and also incredibly beautiful.
A bus back into the city took me to The Mall Of The Emirates; there are dozens, people in the UAE know how to shop! I wandered around, the building was beautiful and also if I could find the backpack I wanted. I was not going to bloody give up that easily. Still couldn’t find it though. It was lost, lost forever. My heart still aching, my stomach joined in too and I needed to eat.
Ok so I will agree I didn’t ‘eat local – eat cheap’ but I had what was easy. I saw a sign for TGI Fridays, though I didn’t think about it being a different country!!! Firstly there was a grand look of confusion because I just wanted a table for 1. It’s not that they couldn’t understand, they just looked a bit bewildered at me as if. “Seriously? Do you have any friends?” I’m well-adjusted to eating alone due to work – not because I don’t have any friends.
As I’m waiting for a table I’m thinking more about the food than anything. Once seated all the things I really liked they didn’t have because the Jack Daniels sauce has, well Jack Daniels in which is alcohol – or the remnants and that’s not allowed. I honestly hadn’t thought about it – it was just food to me. Amongst a variety of other things the food was a bit pants, service crap and the highlight of the meal was that I was seated by a window looking at the ski slope. Not a happy bunny.
The beautiful dome in The Mall of the Emirates.
I still had energy left and some time on the clock I was deciding between the Burj Al Arab sunset (but I’d already been there before) so hopping on the metro, I made my way back to Dubai Mall, I went outside the station to have a smoke. I thought I knew the way, the first mistake, and that it was closer to the station than going all the way through the mall, second mistake. A lovely American man came up to me; he was looking for the Opera House to watch CATS and thought I looked like I knew the way, his mistake. The map made it look rather close and it seemed super close to the Burj, so I said sure! We kept walking, and walking, and walking. Stopping to ask for directions a couple of times, we finally made it. Parting ways I went in search, I found the Burj Khalifa and I found some fountains.
Unfortunately these were not the right fountains – my gopro has been playing up too so I have a lovely photo of the palm trees lit up. I wondered why it was super quiet and why there weren’t more people. I nearly gave up and then saw some colourful lights flicker from behind the the building. The fountains weren’t THAT cool… Mostly because they weren’t the right fountains.
I walked around to the mall, saw a sign on the map for the fountains and went to the right location. The display had just finished by the time I was making my way out to wait for them, I found what I thought was a relatively good position to watch from, I waited, was a ponce and too far too many selfies.
I’m claiming it was because I had finally found the right side of the Burj Khalifa… The fountain display was pretty cool however being a ponce I’d wanted to record it – I hadn’t pressed play. This was the point that I realised I hadn’t recorded the majority of The Butterfly/Miracle Gardens. Not going to deny it I was pretty upset and frustrated, I mean I looked like a loser talking to myself for nothing! Well it was more that I’d tried to go to them several times and never got there and it was the only time I’d be there again. It being the only time in the foreseeable future that I would see the mall fountain display again I decided to move to a better location and make sure I filmed it. How impressive does that sound. All I had to do was wait, I tried to experience it, filming badly, but still filming never-the-less. It was pretty.
The final part of my day was fighting the crowds back through the doors to the mall, a sea of people, pushing against each other. Me being the genuine Brit I am, I kind of patiently waited moving forward at an appropriate speed to the crowd. Leaving only the long walk from the mall to the metro and finally the walk from the metro back to the hostel.
I felt like I had managed to fill my day quite well, with a nice balance of culture, fun and just being out, my phone tracks my steps and I had walked 25.2km in one day – I still took taxis, busses and trains too! A very busy day.
Once in I dropped my bag and put the kettle on. As I was sipping my well earned cup of tea on the sofa all I could think was besides the wrong turns, long walks and sometimes pure confusion, I had such an amazing whirlwind of a day. I couldn’t do it everyday, but I enjoyed every moment of it.
Before you stand up and shout ‘Oi, you missed XYZ!’ Or ‘Hey, why didn’t you do this?’ Well, I wish I could have done more but due to getting vaguely lost and doing other activities, this was what I achieved in one day. I did do some of that ‘other stuff’ (sunset beaches, souqs etc) but not that Saturday. I’m only human.
Tip of The Trip: If you’re filming or taking photo’s check you’re doing it. No point not checking and coming back to sadness.