Tl;DR: T’was lit. Scored a 8.5/10. Would visit again.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram @franklyfahmida or even just checking my site here on WordPress, you’ll have realised that I have, for the last month or so, been pretty MIA. That’s because I’ve been fairly busy with university work and I was also away for a little while, holidaying in Dubai.
You’ve probably gathered by now that I do rather love my travelling, and I have to say, this trip to the U.A.E is to date, my most favourite holiday. And I thought what better way to get back into this blogging thing, than to share with my followers my travel diary of Dubai (and Abu Dhabi).
So here it is – here’s me, taking Dubai, for about a week.
I can’t say I quite got off (the plane) on the right foot…literally. Your girl got food poisoning. In all fairness though, I made it to the apartment in one piece.
We arrived at 4 in the morning, spending the last portion of the night planning our activities for the next few days. Around 6am, we braved it and went for a dip in the swimming pool – bad idea! It was freezing.
The rest of the morning was spent running errands at the nearest mall (sorting out sim cards etc.) and it was here that I legitimately thought I was going to die. I was so tired (I’d been up for a good 48 hours), felt rather light headed and like I was going to puke.
Shopping cancelled, back to the apartment we went. What I can remember of the rest of the day is sleeping for a good 5 hours (niceee), wretching my guts out (not so nice) and then waking up.
The boys had spent the day shopping and we spent the night exploring JBR. It’s here that we came across ‘Smokey Beach’, an outdoor shisha lounge that was to be our second home for the rest of the week. For any of my readers who are planning a trip to Dubai, this place is a 10/10 and I’d highly recommend it.
Here’s Smokey Beach (courtesy of their Instagram page):
The next morning saw us all waking up rather early and getting ready to go to Abu Dhabi, which was about an hour’s drive away. We got there around 11.30am (which I’d say was pretty decent).
Our first stop was Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The boys had bought ‘habibi outfits’ (okay, that’s what I call it, but for reference, I mean thobes and the headpieces) the day before and the mosque gave out these rather pretty abayas for women to wear. (Unless you actually come in your own abaya, you will be made to wear one belonging to the mosque, just out of respect of the fact that you are visiting a place of worship).
We spent a good two hours here. I love architecture and mosques in general but this mosque was something else. It was so breathtakingly beautiful and I was in awe. We were also fortunate enough to be there in time for Dhuhr prayer, so we got to hear the athaan. I think it made each of us feel some type of way – personally, it made me feel serene.
Our next stop was the Emirates Palace, which is one of the best hotels in Abu Dhabi. This was more a glamorous pit-stop type thing. We had lunch and afternoon tea here – I tried camel for the first time. I mean, look at it for yourselves – it looks very mashallah (but alas, despite being adorned in flecks of 23 carat gold, it tasted very nauzubillah).
Bellies full, (well, somewhat) our last stop in Abu Dhabi was the Louvre. We were all rather looking forward to the Louvre, and with it only having opened a few months ago, in November 2017, we didn’t know a lot as to what would be on display.
There was quite a wide range of art but in all honesty, and coming from someone who frequents art galleries A LOT, the Louvre wasn’t that great and it didn’t really live up to our expectations. Don’t get me wrong, there were one of two pieces that elicited a “woahhh” response, but the vast majority of pieces were so-so.
Still, you can’t have it all, eh? And besides, the night (and our hookah pipes) still awaited us.
Fun (not so fun, actually) story about that night: once we got back to Dubai, we asked our cab driver to recommend a shisha lounge with good vibes. This guy took us on an expedition – we ended up a good 50 minutes away, at the most random setting ever. It almost felt as though I’d walked into an Arab wedding. There were live performances from singers and yeah, the vibe was wedding-esque. I think the others quite enjoyed it – for me though, it was rather bizarre. On the plus side, the shisha was pretty good.
The next afternoon, we checked into the Atlantis – fancy-schmancy resort galore. The main reason for this was, we’re big kids at heart and the resort had a waterpark that we wanted to go to.
We went for a swim, had dinner and then went to the aquarium which was inside the resort. That was pretty cool – I saw an albino crocodile and it looked lit. (I’m re-reading that last line and realising two things: (a) what a big kid I am and; (b) how so very easily impressed I get 😂).
That night, we returned to ‘Smokey Beach’ and knocked out pretty early (because we had a whole day of water-parking planned for the next morning).
Did someone say water-parking? I’m there! (There being Atlantis’ waterpark).
In the evening we went to ‘Smokey Beach’, AGAIN, but in our defence, this time they were having a firework display, so that was why we went.
We then went to Dubai Mall where there was going to be another light show and it was so impressive. The Burj Khalifa was lit up and there were multicoloured sprinklers going off – it was quite something.
We squeezed in a little bit of shopping before we went to Global Village, which is a bit like Winter Wonderland (if you multiply Winter Wonderland by a thousand, you’ve got Global Village). I loved it. It was very colourful and there was just so much to take in.
We went on the highest ride and I absolutely love theme rides and rides so I was very much having the time of my life aha.
I think it was on this day that we realised that we had been so busy doing our own thing that we’d got very little souvenir shopping done for family and friends back home. So we returned to Dubai Mall and also went to a few markets and spent the day doing some last minute shopping.
And we said farewell to Smokey Beach. It was tough, I’m not going to lie.
Took in the view one last time, hopped in a cab and went to the airport. Hopped on the plane, only to be seated next to a man who had terrible flatulence. It wasn’t a nice experience at all.
That night I’m pretty sure we all cried into our pillows, mourning the loss of Smokey Beach.
Dubai, I’ll be back for you…if only for Smokey Beach.