After long “travel drought” and lack of travel from September the time for our first trip came in January 2020. And not just any trip but all the way to the impressive and extravagant Dubai!
The idea of this destination came from our desire to go somewhere warm during the cold winter in Sofia. The decision came easy, we’ve never been there, and the city is not like anything we’ve ever seen before.
But the organisation was more complicated than usual, I had to keep an eye on the flights more seriously and finally found one at a normal price for 22-28 January with WizzAir. After I bought our tickets, WizzAir decided to cancel their flights to Dubai from April 2020 so we chose the perfect moment to go there. The search for hotel was also an interesting, because the distances in Dubai are enormous, big part of the hotels that have good location are luxurious and rather expensive.
Nevertheless, I found one that was close to our demands with normal prices and an ideal location – near a metro station, behind the Mall of Emirates and a huge supermarket. The apartment was nothing special, here it is, but if you don’t need luxury you may like it.
We planed really seriously what we wanted to visit and how to get there with public transport, because we didn’t want to rent a car this time. I’ll tell you about every detail in a while. Now, let the real trip begin…
Our flight was on 22 January at 12 AM and the most important thing to do at the airport was to buy some liquor from the duty-free shop. As you know, The United Arab Emirates are a Muslim country and despite some other, here you can’t buy alcohol in any shop. You can only drink in some bars and restaurants but on enormous price. We didn’t buy much but didn’t want to deny the idea of a little break after a long and tiring day. As a matter of fact, you can buy some from the duty-free at the Dubai airport but the prices are higher and we didn’t want to risk it.
The flight was fine, quite long – 5 hours and because of the situation in Iran and Iraq we flew over Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In this direction the deviation didn’t reflect on our time but things weren’t the same on the way back. But about this later…
The landing was impressive:
We passed through the whole mandatory bureaucracy without problem and it was time for two very important tasks – to buy SIM card for internet and transport passes.
The first one we bought from a Etisalat shop at the airport that works late and a very polite man helped us with their products and what to choose. We picked a card only for 3G internet, 1 GB and 5 hours at the Etisalat wi-fi network for 100 dirhams (1 dirham is about 0.25 euro). Here are all the options they offer so you can choose in advance.
Second, was the transport pass called NOL card with two options – gold and silver, most popular is the silver one. It costs 20 dirhams, 10 can be used immediately to travel and after that you can top it at every metro station. At the airport it can be bought from the shop right before you exit for the bus stop. Don’t worry, Al Makhtoum Airport is rather small and you won’t get lost or mistaken. Here’s the transport site to see the fares for the travel.
With the cards in our hand, children use it for free till 5 years old, we went for the bus stop. As I said, we didn’t rent a car and we used only the public transport. From the airport to the red line of the metro, which passes through all the big attractions in Dubai, you must take bus F55, the fare is 2 Dirhams. It’s mandatory to check the card when entering and exiting the vehicle, otherwise you can be charged more than needed. The stop is only one so you won’t be mistaken. Here is it’s schedule but keep in mind that google maps works really good in Dubai and you can use it also.
About half an hour later you’ll be at the Ibn Battuta bus station where you will see a quite impressive mall, a hotel and the metro station. As I already mentioned, we chose the hotel to be close to the metro to travel easy.
The metro is used with the NOL card again, validating each time. All the stations are new but keep in mind that, depending on the direction, the first or the last coach are for gold users only and you can’t stay there.
After few stops we reached Mall of Emirates, which is huge. Really huge 🙂
We had no strength to walk around and see it, it was almost 9 PM and we had to check in at our hotel. All the station are connected with a long tunnel, like at the airport, to important buildings or malls, apparently with the idea never to go outside in the summer.I suppose that for the same reasons there were almost no sidewalks in the downtown.
To reach our hotel we had to cross the mall and 5 minutes after we were there. The check-in was without problems, the apartment was clean and comfy, but we had no time to rest, we had to have dinner. As I already knew, in Dubai, almost every store, mall and fast food works till 10.30 PM and in their weekend, Friday and Saturday, till 12 PM.
We could barely move but dragged ourselves to the mall where the food
assortment was so big that we hard a time choosing. I shall give you some prices – for 25-35 Dirhams per person you can eat a pretty decent food. A duner, Indian, Chinese, Korean or almost anything you choose.
After this long and tiring day, thanks to the jet lag, we couldn’t fall asleep for a long time. This is the first time I feel it so strong, I couldn’t cope with it till the end of our vacation.
For this trip I had a strict plan, we had only a week and a lot of things to see. The distances were big and time consuming.
The next morning we had a quick breakfast at the apartment and quickly started our plan and our first goal – Burj Al Arab and the beach nearby.
I could see the area better at daylight as we went to the bus stop.
We took bus 81 till stop Maharba Masjid 2, crossed the road and after 5 minutes we were at a lovely sandy beach with brilliant blue waters. Unfortunately, there were a few constuction sites but we tried not to think about the cranes.
Beside the beach and the water I was really impressed by the life saviors’ warning. I’m used to the standard color flags but this was rather different:
There were beautiful sea shells and our son was busy with them for a long time. The beach is free as many others in Dubai. There’s no need to worry about what to wear, there were people in normal bathing suits as well as fully dressed some. There were no sun beds or umbrellas but there were public and clean restrooms.
Now, some words for Burj Al Arab – the distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is more than just a stunning hotel, it is a symbol of modern Dubai. Rising on a man-made island, 280 meters from the shores of the renowned Jumeirah beach and designed to resemble the graceful sail of an Arabian dhow, it soars to a height of 321 meters, dominating Dubai’s coastline. The all-suite hotel offers 201 luxury duplexes with stunning views of the ocean, private beach access, luxury leisure on a breathtaking terrace with pools and cabanas as well as 9 of the world’s best dining and entertainment venues.
The weather was really nice – around 27 degrees C but we were bored after few hours on the beach and went to see Madinat Jumeirah. There were almost no people on the streets and the few ones are curiously looked at. We love to walk and the distance took us less than half an hour. We saw the famous closed and acclimatised bus stops:
Also some benches but with a roof and fans:
Perched right by the Arabian Gulf and boasting its own private beach, Madinat Jumeirah is a true Arabian mini-city in Dubai. A destination within a destination, you’ll find three grand hotels, as well as a cluster of traditional summerhouses at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf and seven grand homes at Jumeirah Malakiya Villas. Plus, there’s more than 50 different restaurants, nightspots and lounges at your disposal across 40 hectares. Whatever your taste, there is something on site to satisfy your culinary cravings.
There is an entire river system that runs five kilometers in length, complete with its own fleet of traditional abra boats. You can take a tour around the whole property on one of the in-house abras and stop by the Madinat Jumeirah’s own souk on the way.
From spices and slippers to locally made jewelry, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah is an Arabian bazaar, full of incredible finds. Wander through the stands and stalls under ornate lanterns and carved wood, immersing yourself in the shopping culture of this traditional Middle Eastern marketplace.
We were tired already and went at the apartment to rest a little and gather strength for the most anticipated, at least by me, attraction – Burj Khalifa and the fountains.
We went there with the metro again where a glass tunnel was connecting the station with Dubai mall, that is right next to Burj Khalifa. Only one thing, the tunnel was long, we walked for about 20 minutes!
Before Burl Khalifa, some words about the Mall, although nothing can prepare you for it’s size and luxury.
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest destination for shopping, entertainment and leisure, located next to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Featuring over 1,200 retail stores, two major department stores and hundreds of food and beverage outlets, the mall covers more than 1 million sqm – equivalent to 200 football pitches.
The Dubai Mall is the ultimate family entertainment destination with The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, an Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink, children’s ‘edutainment’ concept Kidzania, a massive indoor cinema complex and The Village – with a retractable roof that opens during the winter months. I will be telling you about some of them in my other diaries.
We hurried to see Burj Khalifa but also the fountains I’ve heard so much about. Keep in mind that the Mall is full of people, there are a lot exits so look for the signs because you could be lost for hours.
And here it is:
I knew it was gorgeous but in real it was even more than expected! I stood in front and just couldn’t take my eyes of the tower for at least five minutes… I’ll tell you about it in my next travel diary when we went to its 125 floor!
But tonight we came to see also the fountains. The Dubai Fountain is recognised as the world’s largest musical fountain which attracts thousands of regular spectators. It is designed by the creators of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. The fountain is 900 ft. in length which is equivalent to two football fields and are estimated to be approximately AED 800M (218,000,000 USD).
The Dubai Fountain was officially opened in May 2009. Well-lit by 6,600 powerful lights, the Dubai Fountain has the ability to shoot water up to 500 feet, which is as high as a 50-storey building. It has the ability to spray 22,000 gallons of water in the air at any moment. It can create different patterns and combinations in the air, which is highly appreciated by the spectators.
The high-pressure water shooters installed inside the fountain make the water dance. The super shooters can shoot under more pressure up to 240 ft. in the air, and extreme shooters can shoot under the most pressure to 500 ft. in the air.
The whole experience is a must-see and together with the music it makes an attraction that words can’t describe. You just have to see it…
The working hours can be seen here, but mostly they are after 6 PM and then every half hour. Keep in mind, that an awful lot of people gather for every show, so find a place in advance. We saw them at least five times in different days and the music and choreography were never the same. For me, this was one of the most interesting and memorable attraction in Dubai.
If you like, you can rent a boat inside the fountain lake and see them from close distance. The price is 65 Dirhams, otherwise the fountains are free.
The best view is opposite of Burj Khalifa so you better stay there.
Besides the fountains, between two shows, you can see 3D mapping on Burj Khalifa. It was amazing…
This beauty marks the end of this diary but soon I’ll publish the next one and show how the world looks from the 125 floor 🙂
Stay tuned and don’t stop to travel!