Somewhere in the crazy days of my youth, I got it stuck in my head that I have to ride a camel in Dubai. (I blame Disney for getting me hooked on Aladdin.) The idea stayed on my bucket list for several years and finally became a reality last year. The bucket list experience of traveling to the United Arab Emirates far out lived my expectations. My vacation included visits to Dubai’s noteworthy attractions and a desert safari. With only a few days on the ground, our group made every hour count.
I love beautiful flowers, and had to visit Dubai’s Miracle Garden during our stay. To get to Dubailand from our hotel, we took an Uber, train, and taxi coming back. By the time we arrived, the sun was going down and we had limited time to see the park. We first headed to the umbrella park, which is one of the most Instagrammed places in the world. We spent the rest of our time relaxing in an Arabian cabana and marveling at the giant peacock, heart, and even Eiffel Tower flower displays.
Dubai Mall & the Burj Khalifa
Known as the largest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall is open nearly all night. Instead of eating at a nice restaurant, we tried local fast food. I ate a German kebab and laughed at the sight of Texas Chicken, a rebrand of the stateside chain Church’s. The mall was crowded with visitors from all over the world, and outside stood the famous Burj Khalifa. After the Burj Khalifa light show, we headed home to rest up for our next day.
When it comes to local architecture, Dubai is a constant contrast of old and new. Right next to multi-million dollar skyscrapers stood historic Arabian structures. Our group decided to tour Old Dubai on our second day of travel and started with breakfast at Arabian tea house. I ate halloumi, a fried cheese appetizer, and learned about traditional Arabian tea.
After breakfast, we passed by several small shops that reminded us of the nearby spice markets. To get to the souks, we had to cross Al Khor, the creek that runs through the water-rich city. Crossing to the other side was an adventure in itself—there was no modern ferry system; only abras, small water-taxis that date back to the 1700s. After our water adventure, we took in the smells and sights of the many souks. The market smelled rich and fragrant with raw vanilla, cumin, turmeric, and other spices on display.
On our last day we rented a car and headed to the capital city of Abu Dhabi. On the drive there, we listened to the radio and enjoyed hearing our favorite pop songs and BBC radio. After an hour and a half on the road, we saw the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Emirates Palace, a hotel built to mirror the grandeur of the Presidential Palace.
Traveling to Dubai was a dream experience I can’t wait to have again!
What city would you love to travel to this year?
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