Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bright Lights, Big City

Well, I've been meaning to post this for a while.  We had a wonderful time on our trip to the Middle East.  I wanted to share a few pictures and videos of our travels.

Dubai was amazing to say the least.  I was there in 2004 and well, in 2011 I didn't even recognize it!  The amount of construction that has taken place is incredible.  We only had a couple of days there, so we tried to see as much as possible in that short time.  The first thing that struck me there is the amount of non-Emiratis in Dubai.  Foreigners make up the great majority of the population there.  It's an easy place to visit because they speak English everywhere you go.  I found it to be very westernized, yet you are still able to get a good taste of the Arabic culture. 
At the base of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, is the most gorgeous fountain.  A musical fountain show is played at time intervals in the evenings.  Think Bellagio in Vegas, but BIGGER.  I took this clip on my iPhone...

video

Another pretty amazing place is the Palm Jumeira.  Basically its a group of manmade islands in the shape of a palm tree.  Its HUGE.  We took a drive on the islands and it was really amazing. 
http://www.palmjumeirah.ae/
I took a clip of part of our drive with my iPhone.  We are still kicking ourselves for forgetting our good camera. 

video

I wouldn't mind living there!  The Palm is so much bigger than I expected.  Did you see Atlantis?  I had no idea that there was an Atlantis resort here.  It's gorgeous!
I haven't mentioned the shopping yet.  If you like malls, they have a few gigantic ones.  The two biggest are Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates.  Believe it or not, Mall of the Emirates is home to Ski Dubai an indoor ski resort.  Yup, I said indoor.  I also liked the fact that you could find a lot of American and European stores in one place.  Then there are the souqs.  Souq Al Bahar is quite nice if you are looking for something indoors.  The weather was pretty darn hot even though it was still only May.  Souq Al Bahar is next to the Burj Khalifa.  You can see the outside of it on the left side of the screen on my video of the fountain above.


We also checked out the outdoor spice souq in a different part of town.  This is more the traditional style souq.  We bought a bunch of spices like saffron and some arabian mixes.  I found some whole vanilla beans too.


I also wanted to take a peek at the textile souq, so we hopped on the water taxi and headed across the Dubai Creek to take a look.  That my 2 year old with her dad hanging onto her as tight as can be.  These water taxis are crowded and a tad rickety looking.



One thing you have to be able to do when you shop in the souq is bargain.  And bargain hard.  At the textile shop I chose a few blouses and added up in my head what I knew they were really worth.  The shopkeeper started out at 650 dirhams.  I told him I was willing to pay 200.  He looked at me like I was nuts.  So I told him I would shop around a little and be back.  He came down to 600.  I started to walk to the door.  He came down to 550.  I walked out the door.  OK he said, 350.  I stood firm at 200.  By the time I made it a few steps out the door I got my price :) 

There is really so much more to tell about the amazing city of Dubai.  If you ever have the chance, take a trip there, you will not be disappointed!