Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – April, 2012
The last leg of my trip was to Dubai but first I had two more days in New Delhi, one of which was not a Monday when all the museums are closed!!!  The flight from Paro to New Delhi took longer this time as we made a fuel stop so didn’t arrive to Shanti Home ( until 3:30 p.m.  I immediately took the metro to the Craft Museum which I have always wanted to visit but only had about an hour to see the wonderful old rugs, wood and bronze statues, jewelry, saris, wall hangings, etc. etc.  I will have to return another time…

Around the museum grounds are many old, well preserved thatched and wooden houses, craft shops and some West Bengalese musicians dancing and singing some traditional songs so all was not lost!!!  Took the metro to the City Center mall and had my last Indian dinner at Punjabi by Nature ( which was reputed to have excellent food.  I was not disappointed!!!  My chickpea dish, palek paneer, lentils and crisp tandoori roti were excellent.  Later, I had some time to enjoy my hotel which was absolutely charming – it felt like being in someone’s home.

Breakfast on the roof top was superb. Along with scrambled eggs and fruit were crisp Indian potato cakes with chutney.  The nearby metro took me to Connaught Place where I did a bit of shopping at the CCIC government store.  I bargained hard for a nomadic rug which they assured me would be delivered to my hotel later in the afternoon and so I trusted them….

Stopped at a FAB INDIA shop to look at their beautiful cotton blouses made in India and found a couple I liked; then took the metro to Hauz Klas village for another delicious rasa masala, a crisp semolina pancake filled with spicy potatoes, at Naivedyam before returning to the hotel where my rug was waiting for me at the front desk!!!  Packed my bags, took a taxi to the airport and caught the evening flight to Dubai.  Dinner on board was surprisingly delicious, i.e. vegetable curry, chapatti, lentils, rice and cake.  Arrived at 10 p.m. and the taxi easily found my hotel which was a very good choice ( being in the old part of town near the Dubai creek.

The rooms of the guesthouse surrounded a lovely courtyard where breakfast is served in the morning.  There were so many wonderful choices to savor, i.e. scrambled eggs, crisp potato pancakes, sautéed mushrooms, fresh fruits, pita bread, hummus, olives, dates, etc. as I relaxed outside and planned my day.  I walked down to the Dubai Creek and to the heritage village where I visited Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum’s house constructed in 1896 and restored in 1986.  It is one of the oldest residences in the city and a fine example of Islamic architecture.  I wandered along the creek and stopped by the diving village which had a great display of how pearl diving was done in the 1900’s which helped Dubai prosper.  Using the walkway under the freeway I made my way to the Gold Souk with it’s incredible array of elaborate jewelry and finally to the spice market – a wonder to be sure.

Many months ago I had reserved a table for tea in the Skyview Bar on the 27th floor at Burq al Arab ( so I took the metro and then a taxi to arrive on time.  The world’s most luxurious hotel, the burq soars to a height of 321 meters and was designed to resemble a bellowing sail.  It is impressive inside and out!!!

I was seated by the window much to my delight and spent about two hours enjoying my 7 course afternoon tea!!!  First came champagne with berries and cream followed by a small plate of beautifully arranged chicken with a tiny dollop of mashed potatoes.  Tea came next along with a selection of tea sandwiches, i.e. smoked salmon, roasted eggplant/mozzarella/tomato, etc. followed by a 4 – tier “ship” which looked exactly like the hotel filled with delights.  Top tier had clotted cream, whipped cream and jams, second tier was filled with plain and raisin scones, third tier contained crème brulee custards, Scottish shortbread fingers and ginger cakes and the bottom tier held a selection of chocolate filled cakes – everything was so fresh and delicious.  The grand finale was selection of house made truffles and more tea.  There was also lunch buffet or al la carte lunch option but the afternoon tea sounded the best to me and I was very happy with my choice.

I had also made a reservation to visit the Burq Khalifa, the tallest standing structure in the world but arrived a bit early so I watched the dancing fountains, where the waters dance to music, outside the nearby Dubai Mall.  I also wandered around the mall, one of many in Dubai, filled with every store imaginable selling everything you could ever want.  There were restaurants of every kind from every country serving anything you could possible imagine – a bit much actually.  Initially I had thought Dubai was one gigantic mall but staying in the old quarter completely changed my opinion.

At 7 p.m. I took two elevators to reach “At the Top”, the observation deck located on level 124 of Burq Khalifa.  The Burq stands over 828 meters high, has more than 160 stories and is the tallest building in the world.  The view is panoramic and especially spectacular at night when it is not quite dark.  You are not rushed to leave so can spend as much time as you like enjoying the experience.  Afterwards I watched one more dancing fountain performance and then returned to the old quarter for dinner.  I had some Singapore noodles at Bayt al Wakeel Restaurant, sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the creek and then walked back to my hotel.  That was quite a full day!!!

I had booked a day trip to Oman to see the fjords but the guide never appeared so I “regrouped” and went to Abu Dhabi instead.  We headed down the famous Sheikh Rashid road filled with all the incredible skyscrapers to the majestic white marble Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  More than 3,000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in its construction.  Began in 1996, its maximum capacity is 41,000 people, its overall structure is 22,412 squares meters and it is still under construction.  Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics and it is truly a masterpiece.  We drove by some incredible hotels, i.e. Emirates Palace and the Jumeirah Etihad Towers and stopped by the lovely corniche for a few pictures and then stopped by the very interesting heritage village museum which gave you a feel for how the Bedouins once must have lived.  On the way back, our driver let a few of us off at one of the malls nearby where I wandered around a bit before choosing an Egyptian lunch of flatbread filled with lamb.

In the afternoon I visited the Dubai Museum which was excellent.  It had life-size dioramas which presented the traditional way of life in the Emirates of Dubai, i.e. bustling souks filled with shops and craftsmen, scenes of marine life, i.e. pearl diving and a Bedouin tent filled with objects from the daily life of Bedouins.  Afterwards I wandered around the Al Bastakiya historic area with its old houses with great iron doors and narrow lanes down to the creek where the sailing boats were docked.  My hotel was in this area so I was able to get a good feel for the old Dubai which I really appreciated.

In the evening, I took the metro to the Wafi Mall in the heart of Dubai styled after ancient Egypt with its pillars and walls the color of light brown stone.  Raffles Dubai, a 5 star hotel designed in a pyramidal shape is also nearby as kind of a “landmark”.  I had a wonderful dinner at the Khan Murgan restaurant in the open roofed courtyard filled with colorful lanterns and Middle Eastern music.  The menu was Arabian with dishes from Egpyt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, etc. and I chose freshly grilled local fish, a Lebanese eggplant dish with pomegranates and Iranian and Egpytian flatbread.  Everything was delicious and the ambiance was delightful – a very nice “last night in Dubai” experience.

In the morning I walked along the Dubai Creek one last time before enjoying another delicious breakfast in the hotel courtyard.  Taxi to the airport and home….

No comments:

Post a Comment