They say there is a fine line between reality and fantasy. That fine line is Dubai. Situated on the Persian Gulf coast this city is made up of wonder, gold and delight. It's smoking hot, yes even in winter, as it is surrounded by desert and in summer can reach 50 degrees Celsius easily.
I'm lucky enough to go visit as my brother flies for Emirates (proud little sister). When you land in this city the airport in itself is over whelming. Called the gateway to the world this airport handles over 60 million passengers a year, connecting flights to all over the world. Just the baggage claim area looks like you have stepped into a top notch Vegas hotel with its sky-high ceilings and perfect white floors. Exiting the building you are reminded of how grateful you are for the invention that is air conditioner.
I stayed in business bay when I visited my brother who was excited to show me his lifestyle in Dubai. It's a place unlike any place I have ever visited. As we drove around I could not help but tilt my head up at the unique skyscrapers that make up Dubai. You really feel like you have stepped into the future as some of the designs don't even look as if they should be standing. From round buildings to buildings that look like jenga blocks, this city seems to be an architect's playground for their imagination and there is money to back it. The driving is crazy and the cars are all huge name brands. Ferraris scatter the streets as if they were red mnm's. It’s quite something to behold.
Of course as with any of my trips there was one thing on my mind, food.
My brother was geared for this and planned a few exciting experiences for my short stay in Dubai. I must confess in my head I was picturing authentic Arab cuisine out in the desert, all the time. However I soon realised with Dubai there is a catch, if you want to go out in the desert you have to go in winter, summer is hotter than a habanero and you will simply find it impossible to breath. That being said, every indoor space in Dubai is beautifully air-conditioned.
Dubai has built a tourist utopia; the city is made up of restaurants and experiences from all over the world. if it's the best it's in Dubai. The cuisine is exotic and exciting and you will find every nationality there you can imagine. They import chefs and chains from over the world that are the best at what they do.
The one place I always visit is one of my favourites, jones the grocer. This is where I get my truffle oil from and where I discovered truffle oil and Parmesan French fries. They are simply mouth watering and embody all that is right with a flavour combination. Served with a burger big enough to share it is my one meal I must have every visit!
I did manage to get to the fish markets and the old souks, which I felt, were more authentic in what was on offer. The fish markets where bustling with people everywhere. Fresh fish readily available and caught that day. It is a wonder why people would rather go to a store. Next door to the fish market was the fruit and veg market with everything available that you could think of. The people are loud and busy and you have to watch your step. You don't want to get in the way of a fruit seller making a deal!
The old souks are something else. With people shouting deals at you every step you take I suggest you get geared up and ready to bargain. They sell gold, handbags, shoes and everything in between. Knock offs are dime a dozen but I must admit, some of them were rather dazzling. The Arabian woman covered in their burkas shop around in groups chatting away. You can't photograph them as it is against their religion but I did manage to get some great portraits of the men.
After the souks we went to experience the marina. The lights are dazzling and you are reminded of the quieter more scenic side of Dubai. Over looking the water and enjoying an ice-cold beer we decided to get some paella. A real win when you are looking over the ocean with your loved ones and friends at sunset.
Lets get to the Nitti gritty of Dubai. You want to go there to shop!!! It is mecca and there isn't a brand name you can think of that you will not find in the mall. Equipped with its own aquarium the Dubai mall, which is the largest shopping centers in the world, is something to behold. Girls get your running shoes on; this is not a job for uncomfortable shoes. It has over 1200 shops from electronics to Gucci and Prada. It also houses some fantastic restaurants that boast the best international cuisines and views over the world’s largest dancing water fountains. Dubai is truly built from the best by the best.
I’m no authority and it's no rule - here it is, a list of the places I went to and loved.