My first tick can now go on my 40 things before 40 list.
On 13th March 2014 we flew from Manchester to Dubai and spent the most amazing two weeks there with our friend.
We explored almost everything we had wanted to before we went and have a long list of things we want to do on our next visit. We are not normally people who would visit the same destination more than once but we will definitely go back to Dubai.
We went to Dubai Mall on our first day there. I will never be satisfied by a visit to Meadowhall again now I have been there! Inside they have an Aquarium part of which you can look at as you pass whilst wandering around.
It was full of rays, sharks and various other fish. The girls were amazed by the sight of it as were we. We visited the Dubai Mall three times during our trip (and didn’t cover all the mall!) and each time we would visit the tank and stand in front enthralled by what we saw.
Outside the Dubai Mall is the World’s Tallest Building – the Burj Khalifa. It was dark the first time we set foot outside the Mall and craned our necks to look up into the night sky to see how tall it actually is. It was quite a weird concept for me to be in awe of a building but it was totally mind baffling thinking how these people designed this structure knowing it would work, but then wondering about the builders brave enough to put those final pieces right at the top. We have many photos from various different views in and around the city of the Burj Khalifa. It wasn’t until our final day that we got to go up to Level 124 and be 452m up in the sky – above the clouds! And unfortunately on the day we did go it had been raining and cloud cover was thick. We still saw a hell of a lot and it just means that we have to go back and do it all over again on a sunny day!! My husband and eldest daughter went out on to the outside observation deck but I couldn’t do it and had palpitations at them being out there as there were gaps in the windows! Obviously no one could fall through but it turns my stomach even thinking about it now!
At the foot of the Burj Khalifa lies the Dubai Fountains. Starting at 6pm each day the fountains dance to music every half hour up until 11pm. The crowds that gather then disperse every half hour is quite incredible. The crowds here gave me quite a good insight into how busy the city actually was. We visited the fountains on all three occasions we visited the Dubai Mall, and on one occasion we went on the boat ride of the fountain lake ……you are out of the way as the fountains perform though so don’t get drenched!
Our first weekend in Dubai was out of this world thanks to our wonderful friend. We were lucky enough to be guests at the Atlantis The Palm hotel which is situated on The Palm which is manmade island. From the moment you walk in to reception you know things are just incredible. We arrived at 11.15am – check in wasn’t until 3pm but we were able to use the facilities at the hotel from 10am on check in day until 6pm on the day we check out so we wanted to make the most of our stay. There was absolutely no fuss and we were immediately given a room and allowed in it despite being almost 4 hours early!
We spent the afternoon at Aquaventure – the hotel’s waterpark which can be accessed by anyone for a fee but is free to hotel guests. There were plenty of sunbeds available and many areas of various different slides and pools. Dinner and breakfast were also included in our stay, so we ate at the Kaleidoscope restaurant then visited the other hotel attraction free to us as guests – The Lost Chambers Aquarium. Again they haven’t done things by halves and have a huge fish tank as well as lots of smaller ones with all the fish you could think of (including Nemo and Dory much to our eldest’s delight!)
Day 2 at Atlantis included our treat at Dolphin Bay. Due to the girls’ ages we weren’t allowed in the water with the dolphins so our experience was titled “Dolphin Photo Fun” We were stood at the edge of the pool and in turn we kneeled down to first kiss the dolphin, then dance with her. Unfortunately neither of the girls were overly keen at the dolphin popped out the water to greet us, but typically our eldest tells people how much she loved it! We got a photo each of us included.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Aquaventure and Damian and I both braved the Leap of Faith slide that is shown on most TV programmes and magazine pictures when the Atlantis is shown. You fall 9 storeys in a second! Now I hate being splashed in the swimming pool, so doing this was quite incredible for me but boy am I glad I did it!! Even though my eyes were kept firmly shut throughout I had the biggest smile on my face when I was getting out the pool!
So what else did we get up to?
Shopping, shopping and more shopping at various different malls – all of which make our shopping malls look like a dilapidated town centre. There is a huge mix of UK shops, US shops, European shops and more. There’s an enormous amount of jewellery shops. And the amount of dessert/ice cream/cake shops and cafes just blew my mind!
Knowing we were going to Dubai, for Christmas my husband bought my eldest daughter and I a Penguin experience at Ski Dubai. Ski Dubai is situated at the Mall of the Emirates and is a huge indoor “real snow” ski centre. For anyone who’s visited XScape here in UK – its like that, but better! We were given snow suits and snow boots and all children under 13 have to wear helmets whilst in the snow and ice. We first met Gentoo penguin which were told was called Lucifer. He had been taken there from Sea World, Orlando where he was called Devil. We weren’t able to touch this penguin as they don’t like it, but he waddled about a little and we had photos with him sitting next to us before we moved on to the next enclosure and met a King Penguin. We were able to touch this penguin and it felt rather odd. You can see the feathers but its almost the shiny, non-wet slimy kind of feel that a snake has. Thankfully Taylor was much happier about meeting and touching the penguins than she was the dolphin!
We visited the beach too. Our friend took us to a hotel beach where you can pay to use the facilities for the day. There are public, free beaches, but having the girls using the hotel beach meant we had easy access to drinks and also had the option of shade. It was a hot day and shade was a must. The girls had a great time building sandcastles and were in and out of the sea and swimming pool. The sea was the warmest I have ever been in and quite clear.
This is turning in to quite a long blurb about our stay so I’ll leave it there. We had the most amazing two weeks ever. Dubai really is an amazing city and I would recommend it to anyone. We’ve had a lot of people say to us that they know how amazing it is from photos, or they’ve been at the airport on a stopover, or they’ve been told……but these things do not do it justice. It is definitely a place that needs visiting to actually feel what it’s like. If you get chance to go – go. We will definitely be going back.
This trip wouldn’t haven’t been possible without our wonderful friend who was an amazing hostess and tour guide and her levels of kindness and patience (!) were astounding.
So that’s tick number one – Visit Dubai – DONE ✔️;