A Couple of Days in Dubai

DubaiOriginal Post: April 17, 2015

Day 3: It was my pleasure to introduce my mom to the world of Jazz at Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha. With the opportunity to listen to great Jazz artists, we had a New Orleans style meal as we enjoyed the music. I thought I’d give shrimp & grits a try. I’m not really sure why I wanted to try shrimp & grits in the desert since I’ve already had the best shrimp & grits in South Carolina. In all honesty, it was one of the worst dishes I have had at a restaurant. I believe here in Doha, they think sauce is the thing to do. There was so much sauce, and I’m not even sure why there was sauce. The grits tasted like water. It was a hot mess! If a chef served this dish on Chopped, they would certainly get chopped.  However, I enjoyed my entree, the salmon (yeah, not really New Orleans). It’s a good thing I was going for the music and not necessarily the food. Oh, and our meal came with a bottle of wine. It was pretty bad wine. All that matters though is that mom enjoyed her food and she enjoyed the music. Afterward, we had an opportunity to visit the Roof Top Lounge at the St. Regis. It’s a nice hang if you want to just chill outside and enjoy house music.

Day 4 we left for Dubai. We arrived at our hotel very late so sleep was in order. We stayed at a new Sheraton Hotel. It was nice and the value was good. The following day was full of fun activities. We took a speedboat tour on Yellow Boat Tours and got some amazing views of key structures. I really miss being on boats so I really enjoyed it. We met a couple of old retired guys from Hotlanta. I really didn’t know middle-aged white men with cowboy hats called it Hotlanta. That tickled me.  Anyway, one was a real estate developer, the other an architect. So it was fun to hear their perspectives on the Dubai skyline, the Atlantis, and the Burj Al Arab.

From the Yellow Boat tour, we took a taxi to the Atlantis Resort to have brunch at the Saffron restaurant. As before, it was a great experience. I had a little more room to try some stuff this time around. I enjoyed the pan-seared duck breast, lamb chops, carrots au gratin (de-lish!), BBQ Salmon, braised beef ribs, and of course the usual lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab legs, and sushi. Yeah, I had all that! And man was it good!

Next on the list was the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It’s an incredible structure from the outside, but folks, I was not impressed. Perhaps my irritation with finding the entrance to the building contributed to my great sense of being underwhelmed. The taxi dropped us off at the Dubai Mall and the driver tells us to ask how to get to the Burj Khalifa. So we did. We asked 2 or 3 people and were sent outside. The walk over to the building was about 10 minutes. We get there and the building is still about 10 minutes away but you can’t get to the building because it’s gated off. So we keep walking, thinking the entrance was just right around the way. After another 20 minutes of walking around the building we come to what looked like the front of the building. At this point I knew my mom was tired and it was hot outside. When the security guard told me the entrance was inside the mall, I could have cried. Lol. We took a taxi back around the corner to the mall (because walking 30 minutes back around the building wasn’t an option…and we were already late for our scheduled time). The fiasco didn’t end there. We got to the elevator and the LG level is down…except the elevator doesn’t go down. Irritation!

Anyway, we finally made it to the entrance of the Burj Khalifa: At the Top. They ushered us into this fancy lounge filled with white leather couches along the walls. They offered Arabic coffee and sweets. We received a brief orientation to the journey to the 148th floor and off we went. We paid the absurd amount of money to go to the 148th floor as opposed to just going to the 125th floor. With this package, we didn’t have to wait in any lines. When we arrived to the 148th floor, 3 elevators later, we were greeted with snacks and beverages. The lounge space was nice and the outdoor observation deck (yes, 148 floors up) was cool. However, the overall experience was underwhelming. The layout didn’t make it conducive to being an observation deck. They have tables and chairs lining the windows so it was difficult to get to the windows for pictures. If you were lucky enough to catch someone leaving a seat you could hurry to the window for photos. Also, there is a terrible reflection from the glass when trying to take pictures. When you don’t have a fancy camera, the reflection is a problem. To top it all off, it was a hazy day so the view wasn’t clear. So after all the hustle and bustle, I was disappointed. I felt bad for the poor people who stood in line to go the 125th floor…that floor was truly just an observation deck and not worth the money or the wait. I can’t say that I would recommend this tourist attraction. I guess I can at least say that I’ve done it.

We were planning to go to the Dubai Mall the next day but since we were already there, we decided to just stay. This mall is ridiculous. It’s massive. The store selection is incredible. They have just about any store you can think of, from the most common to the super high end. And it was packed! It was nice to be amongst familiar brands and we did mosey on into a few stores. Neither of us planned to do any real shopping so it was more of a window-shopping experience. It’s a site worth seeing but you may need 2 days to get through this mall.

Finally, the next day we visited the Jumeirah Mosque. I think this was the highlight of our Dubai trip. The mosque offers a daily education talk. We made it to the site and bought tickets. We had the option to buy a scarf or wear one they provided. The women covered their heads and the men’s knees were covered (they were given thobes if their shorts were not knee length). We were taken to the mosque where we sat and listened to a volunteer tell us about the 5 pillars of Islam and the history of the mosque. We also saw a demonstration of the daily prayer. It was such an enlightening experience. The presenter was great and her story made the experience richer. She was from the UK and has lived in Dubai for 24 years. She converted to Islam 15 years ago. So it was fascinating to hear her speak.

From there, we went back to the hotel for lunch. We ate at the Feast. It’s an upscale buffet. This was a good dining experience and I had great egg drop soup with chicken and great cappuccino. We had an engaging waiter who made our experience even better.

We had about 8 hours to kill and since we’d already gone to the mall, we decided to head back to Doha early. What I learned about that experience is that with Fly Dubai, they won’t let you make changes to your tickets when the flight is less than 24 hours away. So we took a Qatar Airways flight from a different terminal…we had to take a taxi to the next terminal, which was actually about a 10-15 minute ride. I thought that was totally weird. They also don’t have individual airline ticket counters. There are third party ticket counters and you have to pay them a fee. It was a learning experience but it was well worth the few dollars to come home early.

Now mom has another stamp on her passport and I’m sure she had a good time.

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