We haven’t had a family holiday outside of New Zealand for a long time so we thought a three day stopover in Dubai on the way back to the UK would be ideal. You can fly to Dubai direct from Auckland and I’d have to say the 17 hour flight didn’t seem a lot worse than the 12 hour stints you usually fly when travelling to the other side of the world.
Dubai surprised me, the contrast between the old and new, the lavish and the even more lavish wasn’t what I was expecting. The locals know how to impress a visitor with towers of glass and steel that include the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the Dubai Mall the largest mall in the world and some man made islands with beaches and views to rival any beach holiday destination although the jewel in the crown is what mother nature provides just a few miles from the centre of the city
Our arrival was bright and early but an early check-in, a shower and the prospect of exploring a new city seemed to mitigate the usual tiredness from a long flight and timeszone change. We stayed at the Rove Downtown which was very close to the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain, and the six year old in the party was interested in having a look at the Aquarium in the mall so that was our first stop. The two storey glass tank with sharks, rays, groper and multiple other species kept her entertained for quite a while. The mall itself was massive with pretty much every luxury brand on the planet being sold there. After an couple of hours of wandering around we headed outside to get a look at the Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa. Jet-lag reared it’s ugly head late in the afternoon so it was back to the hotel for a rest and a swim in the pool before heading back for the evening show at the fountain.
The water and light show at the Dubai Fountain is worth turning up for. It’s on at six pm every evening and the city skyline provides the backdrop to the best fountain I’ve ever seen, with spouts of water reaching 275 metres (900 feet) in the air. Once again the little person was most impressed. The big event at the fountain is the New Years fireworks display which they were advertising on what must be the worlds largest billboard.
Day two was time to play tourist. A hop-on hop-off bus is usually a good way to get to see a place in a relatively quick time and it’s a great way to explore the main attractions. Unfortunately a late start and an early pick-up for our desert tour meant we didn’t get much exploring done but we did get to see a fair amount of Dubai city. The old souk and the dinosaur park are on the list for our next visit.
The 4X4 tour and dinner in the desert was the highlight of our trip as far as I’m concerned and the fun had by all the family made it all that more special. I could sit and take photos of desert sunsets for a very long time, the changing colour and light was much more spectacular than I had antcipated. We thought the 4X4 drive into the desert may have to be slightly more sedate than normal because of the youngster in the vehicle but she was egging the driver to go faster the whole time. The tour included a falcon hunting display, the falcon flew so fast I struggled to get any picture of the bird let alone one worth publishing, camel riding, this was fun although the camel getting up and down can test your riding skills, sand boarding, Mackenzie was into this, and dinner consisting of local dishes.
Travelling with a child changes things a little so day three was water park day. We went to Aquaventure Waterpark out on The Palm Jumeirah and while we had a good time I think we may have spent close to four hours queueing for tickets or taxis. Mackenzie loved it so it was all worth it. The beach on the inner edge of the outer ring of the Palm was very nice and I was content to hang out there. Warm water and white sands are always a good recipe for relaxation. The end of the day was spent eating excellent food out of a caravan looking out over the Persian Gulf and watching the sun go down.
I’m sure we’ll stop in Dubai again as we have only skimmed the surface of what there is to do there. It was a great way to spend time with the family prior to our return to a British winter.