Posted on 30th Oct 2012 by ian under Travel Tales | No Comments »

I’ve heard Dubai called ‘Disneyland in the desert’ – and I guess that’s accurate if you are taking about a man-made fantasy turned into reality. I did not know exactly what to expect but it more than met whatever those expectations may have been…

The airport itself is almost worth the visit (right)!  The city is clean, the traffic flows, the architecture is stunning, water features abound, it is a truly multicultural city and everyone, on the surface, seems happy.  The buffet breakfast at the hotel is a good example – we were in the middle of a desert and they had the freshest pineapple, melons and grapes.

On arrival, after a warm welcome from Jenny and Rachel at the Novotel and a shower, we took a cab to check out the Dubai Mall, the world’s tallest building, an array of chocolatiers, and the most spectacular water and sound show imaginable when the Dubai fountain danced (right), caressing us with a cool mist.

Then, on to the eclectic sights, sounds, smells, tastes and even touch sensations in the Souk Al Bahar area across the bridge.  Amazing colours, incense, spices, fabrics, coated almonds & honey peanuts. This is no third world souk but an amazing contrasting mall of posh markets, stalls and eateries.

The next morning we headed out to Jumeira Beach (right) and the Jumeira Mosque… all very nice, all very sandy, all very posh (even the bus stops are air-conditioned!) but the Dubai Mall had seduced us and we all wanted a bit more retail therapy – yes, even me…  more on Dubai shopping in another post but following the shopping we enjoyed a fabulous Lebanese lunch in Café Blanc, looking across at Souk Al Bahar, before heading across the bridge for Laura to get a tasteful henna tattoo.  That night, for dinner, we met up with a fellow MSer, Sheila, and her 16yo son, Nicolas, for dinner. Originally from Canada, they have lived in Dubai for 10 years. Quietly envious!