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UK Wandering & Aegean - Black Seas Cruise - Part 5Author: Phillip F. (More Trip Reviews by Phillip F.)
Date of Trip: July 2010
We are on the home run. Dubai is our last city before returning home. The forecast for the next 2 days is 42° Celsius and that's in the shade. After getting our map from the Concierge desk we head out of the hotel which is 100 metres from the Union station of the new Metro railway in Dubai. The blast of heat as the hotel doors open hit us like a furnace. We stride quickly to the Metro where the temperature drops with each step we take inside the entrance. After a quick lesson from the ticket seller on how to use this transport system we take the escalator down to the platform where the next train will take us to The Mall of the Emirates. This is a gigantic shopping mall that has the indoor snow ski run and park within it, including ski lift chairs. The mall is linked to the Metro via an air conditioned tunnel and of course the complete metro system is air conditioned so it is quite enjoyable travelling and shopping this way (so far!). The metro trains are fully automated and have no drivers. They run on a regular timetable and each station is sealed from the tracks by automatic doors that only open when the train is stationary and correctly positioned with its doors in line with the station's doors. The carriages have 'ladies only' sections, which some may consider sexist however it allows women to seat themselves comfortably without competing with the men. The main 'red' line travels fairly parallel with coastline and the artery road: Sheikh Zayed. From the train you get a great view of the amazing array of architectural structures, from single storey dwellings to mega multi storey hotels and office blocks -- including the Burj Khalifa (a modern day Tower of Babel). After many hours spent at the Mall of the Emirates, we get back on the Metro and head for the Dubai Mall (what else in this heat). Unfortunately and despite the station being named after this Mall, there is no linking air conditioned tunnel. There is however a feeder bus just a little way outside the entrance to the station. We exit the station and head for the waiting bus. The driver opens the door (shut to hot air out) and we alight and scan our train ticket. The machine blinks red!. We have to go back to the station to load up the bus fare. (Ticket seller omitted to give us this information). As we turn back toward the station we see the Burj Khalifa (BK) -- all 2717 feet of it, which makes it the tallest man-made structure ever built. We can see the Mall within walking distance to the left and the BK is to the right of that and also within walking distance. We decide, despite the heat, to walk first to the BK and see if we can go up it and then we will walk to the Mall. Bad idea!. By the time we get to the BK (now we know about mirages and how close they seem to be) we are 5 kilos lighter through fluid loss. Then as we are heading toward what appears to be an entrance via the Armani Hotel, we are cut off the pass by a couple of security guards wanting to know if we are guests. Of course we are, but when they want to see our room key we confess our true intention and they politely tell us that we will need to enter the building via the tunnel after the ticket box access in the Dubai Mall. We retreat and head for the Mall (another mirage) to the left of the BK. Whilst Mall of the Emirates claims it has more shops, the Dubai Mall and its 1200 shops seemed to go on forever. Maybe it was the size of the 2 storey 'walk underwater' aquarium which had such massive glass walls it looked like the world's biggest fish tank, or the Galleries Lafayette department store that boasted being the biggest in Dubai, that gave it the sense of infinity. Anyhow, time was getting on and we did not want to miss the view from the BK before sunset so after a quick scout around at some of the stores we started toward the ticket box for the BK. The activity around the ticket counter (not a box) was substantial and when approaching it we saw a large sign that had 'sold out' written next to 1/2 hourly time slots up until about 10.30 pm. Since we were not interested in seeing a whole bunch of lights at a distance at a cost of 200 Dirhams we canned that idea and went in search of a good local restaurant. Wafi Gourmet sounded like a good middle eastern name and we sat at a table overlooking a water feature that had a Fountain Show to music every half hour. A slightly better view could be had outside but it was still close to 40°C and most tables were in the smoking section -- not your cigarette type smoking but the Shisha type (flavoured water pipes or similar).
Today we met with our friends who are living in Dubai. We see the sights: Atlantis, The Palms, Jumeira Beach, the Burj Al Arab (sail hotel), Al Karan (genuine fake labels) and lots more. We eat like locals at hidden gem eateries and watch the world go by from the 29th floor of a (low) high rise. It's early to bed to rise early for our flight home.
As I write this final chapter August 3 is tomorrow. Of course, if we do not hear our alarm clock in the morning, there will be another chapter to be read!
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