Ok now I realise this week on the blog has turned out to have a somewhat holiday heavy, time out of work theme. However with snow settling in some parts of the UK I guess we all need a little sunny escapism now and again. I personally love being cosy in the warm when it's cold outside but even I enjoy the thought of warmer climes every now and then so here's hoping this week has helped warm you up from the comfort of your computer whilst making plans for any future overseas trips that you have in mind!
So with that said, continuing on from Monday's travel post about our recent adventures in Sydney I thought it only right to complete the talk of our trip with a little summary of what we got up to in Dubai during our stopover on the way home.
When I say stopover I actually mean a considered break in the city for five days. Partly in order to break up the never-ending flight but mainly because we had never visited before and have some friends who live there whom we really wanted to catch up with. So after 14 hours on a plane from Sydney with blocked sinuses and a slightly over enthusiastic eight year old sat next to me who couldn't resist asking me questions every few minutes (sweet yes - but a bit tricky when you're struggling to breathe!) we finally touched down for a relaxing few days in this sandy city.
Dubai is an unusual place and I know some people who absolutely love it and others who aren't so sure. It can of course be incredibly and unbearably hot during the summer months but visiting in January provided just the right temperature for relaxing and sightseeing in equal measure and turned out, in our opinion, to be a really lovely time of the year to visit.
So here's a little run down of some of the activities that we got up to that we felt gave us a really good overview of the city.
On top of our list was to take a visit to the jewel in Dubai's crown, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Kalifa. This 828 metre skyscraper stands proud over the city, boasting over 160 floors, and really is a remarkable feat of construction.
Located in the Dubai Mall, one of the worlds largest shopping centres, it's worth combining the visit with a few hours shopping if that's your thing as you'll certainly have more than enough shops to choose from to suit every budget and taste.
There are two observation decks from which you can choose to visit - the first takes you to floor 125. The second takes you to the 148th floor and is known as the 'At The Top' experience. It is this one that we chose to do because, well if you're going to visit the tallest building in the world you might as well go up as high as you can don't you think?!
The views are truly remarkable, which I hope you can gather from the shots below. You are privy to a 360 view of the entire city and can get a true lay of the land around you. If you can then book to visit at around 5pm. This gives you the chance to see the view in daylight but to also watch the sunset and the city lights come on as the scenery around you slowly changes into evening.
In all you get 1 hour to take in the views at the top and are provided with drinks and nibbles as you do so. It's truly breathtaking and really well worth the trip all the way up!
If breathtaking aerial views of the city are what you're looking for then it's also worth considering a helicopter tour to take in even more of the landscape including a flight over the Palm Jumeirah and the World Islands.
The helicopter tour that we took, took off from the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm. We booked ours through a tour operator who offered transfers to and from The Anantara where we were staying. There are many operators offering similar packages but we used Alpha Tours to book pretty much everything that we did during our stay, mainly because they were booked for us by Trailfinders in the UK to provide our airport transfer and it just made sense to stick with them as their services seemed pretty much what we were looking for. Using an operator provided a pretty useful and seamless service which really helped given that we didn't have long and wanted to ensure we were able to smoothly fit in everything that we were hoping to do during our visit.
You can opt to take a 15 minute or a 25 minute tour in the helicopter. The 25 minute offering to take you further out over the islands as mentioned above and generally offering you much more comprehensive cover of the main areas of the city.
It's great fun. If you have a fear of flying like me then it might seem a bit terrifying and intimidating but they are so professional and the views are so amazing that it's well worth conquering your fear and getting stuck in!
Another great trip is the Desert Safari. Ok it's a little cheesy in parts, but still a great way to get out to the desert and get a taste for a different side of Dubai.
Most of the safaris include a little crazy dune bashing on route to a desert campsite where you will stop for an evening meal, shi-sha a bit of belly dancing and a slightly questionable camel ride - i.e five minutes around in a circle on a camel who is less than enthusiastic to be taking part. All great fun though and a nice way to meet other people staying locally to you, get some amazing photos and views of the desert at sunset and generally just have a fun time. Do remember to take some warmer layers though as it suddenly gets very, very cold out there in the evenings.
When it comes to dining in Dubai you really are completely and utterly spoiled for 5, 6 and 7 star choice! With an abundance of luxury hotels and restaurants to choose from you really can't go far wrong wherever you go. There is somewhere to suit pretty much everyone and their requirements.
One nice place that we stopped to meet our friends for some evening drinks and a nice spot of dinner was the Souk Madinat. This is a nice place to have a little browse around the souk style shopping mall, stop for a sunset drink in happy hour by the water and then pop to a nice restaurant for a spot of top food. It provided a lovely final night for us catching up with old friends during the final night of our stay.
So once again, there we have just a few enjoyable things that we feel are worth doing during a trip to this city. There are so many other amazing hotels, malls, restaurants and areas to visit that we couldn't possibly squeeze it all in and I haven't covered anywhere near all that you can do in this post. Yet I hope it has given you a little taste.
Culturally I suppose Dubai is not the first place that springs to mind, but if you're looking for a little winter sun in a place where you can certainly relax and get the best service possible then this is the place for you and I do think it is well worth a visit at least once if you can.
Have you been to Dubai? What are your top tips and favourite places to visit? Please don't hesitate to leave your suggestions in the comments below for future visitors!
So that concludes this weeks posts. I hope you've all had a wonderful week and are looking forward to the weekend. Have a great time whatever your plans are and hope to see you back here on Monday where we will delve back into the world of work and motivation and leave the holidaying behind us for a little while!