Feb 18, 2013

My First International Journey - Day 3

Day 3 was one of the most awaited day of the journey! It was the day when we were about to witness the history, from about 500m above ground. It was the day when we were about to be AT THE TOP, the highest observatory in the world, located on the 124th floor of The Burj Khalifa.

Day 3 began in a similar fashion as day 2 with breakfast at Kaleidoscope , hurrying to get into the tour bus in time and making sure not to miss it, the same briefing by the guide blah blah blah...

Cut to  -  Downtown.
We make our way through the beautiful locales of Downtown to Souk-Al-Bahar , the modern day Gold Souk in Dubai. It is adjacent to the Dubai mall, the world's largest mall. It was early morning and we could only do a partial window shopping that time, though no regrets about that! 

Some pictures from Souk-Al-Bahar:

Moving Ahead and past the musical fountain that fascinates it viewers every evening, we enter the world's biggest mall, The Dubai Mall. The claim of this mall is that it is the world's biggest in terms of the area of the mall, and boy! it is damn huuuuuuggggeeeee!!

We were given, just about 30 mins for a stroll around the mall as the line to get to 124th floor was tremendously long and there were multiple security checks on the way. Yes, one goes to the Burj Khalifa Observatory via the Dubai mall.

And all of us spread out in the Dubai mall for a stroll and I hardly finished a piece of area in that 30 minutes. What I found in those minutes are as follows:
*there is a full-fledged ice-hockey rink with spectator stands on 2 sides.
* a gigantic aquarium
*a waterfall so huge that extends from roof till the ground floor!
and there is much more to explore and I wonder will 24 hours be enough to do that.

Time to get into the line to reach ON THE TOP.

A scale model with all the facts about the structure written below

After all the Security checks and stuff, it is a long way to reach the elevator that takes us to the observatory. By long way I mean - another long line of people waiting to go there. The elevators are reserved for one purpose - take people from ground level to 124th floor and back. They are 2 in no.s and it takes just precisely 59 seconds to reach the 124th floor. There is an symphony being played from the start till the end with a countdown timer to display the time.

At the elevator entrance

The view from the observatory is really breath-taking! A panoramic view of the whole city of Dubai and beyond. Truly one of the finest tourist attraction and a must visit to all people visiting Dubai.

Some pictures from AT THE TOP:

A view so stunning, you just cant get enough of it with just 2 eyes! Mann kar raha tha ki neech hi naa aau.. But had to. :(

Good Bye Burj Khalifa  or should I say Alvida ?

Heading  back to the hotel. Never noticed that it was well past afternoon. Time surely flies :D
One thing in Dubai is the amount of sports cars on the streets. Like we see Maruti, Honda cars etc on Indian streets, Ferraris , Infiniti cars dominate streets of Dubai.

 Ferrari - A Common sight in Dubai.
Agar dekhne se peth na bhara ho to hamare liye hotel me khaana bhi arrange karwaya tha! 

Destination - Kaleidoscope , Atlantis the palm

The day's schedule is too cramped that , we did not get time to breathe easily.
After the lunch, we headed for a Heli tour where we witness the city Of Dubai , The gulf of Arabia and much more from air. Another first time experience for me .

Another wonderful journey over in just 30 minutes! Phew, need a break...
Thought of taking a break - well had to give that thought a break for sometime, as it was time to get ready and proceed to next destination.

Destination :- Burj - Al - Arab.

A Gala party arranged for the guests by the seaside overlooking the Burj - Al - Arab.
A warm welcome , a cool breeze around with soft music in the background - perfect start for an evening.

The gala party had many stunning performances to entertain the audience along with couple of interactive contests and quizzes with tons of prizes. The evening along the beach was a fun filled and a memorable one!... With this, it ends day 3 and we head back to the hotel.

The night was filled with mixed emotions as many had to depart back to their home countries and some were staying back for another day at the Palm.

It was time to bid farewell to the new friends and get some sleep so that on the last day, I was filled with energy.

My First International Journey - Day 2

It is Feb 14, 2013. Day 2 of the journey. A long day with many activities lined up.Enjoying nice breeze and oblique sun rays falling on the body is a good start to the day.Time to get ready and get set and head out.

There is a saying "Have breakfast like a KING!" . Well I did realise what it really meant at Kaleidoscope restaurant. Yes the same one where I had dinner last night. Once you enter and its a mela of food - from Indian to Italian to continental, you name it and it is there. neatly arranged in different sections with name boards which made easy to choose our food. 

I being a vegetarian chose some fruit juices, and some Indian dishes which I was fond of. Surprisingly that day I found Idli-Sambar in the offerings and what more, I just could not resist. 
Fruits, juices, savouries.. mmmmmmm too much for a small tummy. But I managed to fill my stomach and get on with the tour ahead.

After breakfast, another city tour was to be completed. A journey to the transport service through the glowing hallways was another experience to savour for a long time. The image on the left is the proof of how awesome the hallways are!

Well, it was a time to go on a tour around the city of Dubai and not around the hallways for now.

A journey through the DownTown again and it is a new view every time I see ..
Destination : Dubai Museum.

Usually museums at different places depict the local cultural heritage, its history etc. Dubai Museum was no different. Right from the entrance which was surrounded by a sea of sand. Once entered, first section is of the ancient boat types that the people in the olden days used while on a fishing expedition or for trade, the huts that they lived in all in one place.

The Huts

The Boat

The museum was a good learning experience which gave me a good knowledge of Dubai which even Wikipedia also would not provide.Starting from the start of civilization when people used to go fishing to earn a living, their lifestyles- then & now, the way people used to trade, their shops all in a very interactive and a fun way in which it is easily understood than reading about it. But one thing that was quite less - how the city of Dubai started to transform into a world favourite tourist destination. Though I have seen it on TV on the boom in Dubai tourism, it would have been awesome if it was also in the museum.

Next Stop : The Herbs market, Gold Souk.

Even if Dubai has 6-8 lanes roads, metros etc, they still have their old way of transport which they used since the beginning of trade here. I am speaking of the water taxi service. An open boat with seating facility and also space for goods. 

The water taxi.

A journey on a water taxi is a great experience as it is totally open without any barriers etc. It does make you a little afraid as it sways you back and forth while travelling but it is just super fun to be in it.

The next stop was the herbs and condiments market. I smelled the spices from quite a distance as they were too many varieties of spices some of which I have not even heard of!! All the spices in huge containers and sacks line-up along the road and along the path through the market. There were quite a few shops which offered memorabilia like the genie lamp, the Burj Khalifa model etc in different sizes, shapes and colours.

They say all that glitters is not gold. But at this place it is not true because this is the Gold Souk or The Dubai Premier Gold Market. About 100 metres in length, this market has only gold shops that spoil you with enormous no.of varieties to choose from. This place will make women go mad as it is said that half of the world's god is in this place. It may be true.. as there are tons of retailers and one notable thing is that the gold prices are uniform throughout the market and a board at the entrance notifies the current prices.

There is one shop which has made a gigantic ring which weighs about 59kg and has set a Guinness world record for being the biggest and the heaviest Gold ring ever made.
It was about lunch time and we headed to Nasimi Beach restaurant at Atlantis, The palm.

must be the ones who did all the cooking.

After a small gap post lunch, we headed over to the desert, on a safari. 
We were taken to the desert safari start point in a bus and Toyota Land Cruisers were waiting to take on a ride that we will never forget.

It was a windy day and as the cold wind blew , the sun was setting which indicated that it was time for some entertainment and we headed to a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert.

The Camp all lighted up , colourful and very vibrant atmosphere. The tents were set up for visitors for seating and gentle music was being played all along. Once all the people were in, the show begins.

At first, a few fire acts by trained professionals . It indeed was exhilarating to watch it and I had not seen a few of the acts back in India. Next was some fun activities for the visitors, the DJ plays the music and the dance floor was on FIRE!!!! From kids to senior citizens, age was no bar as everyone enjoyed the moment.It was followed by dance numbers by a group , colourful with lights and beat thumping music. 

The icing on the cake was when the show had reached its climax, the Belly dance. A Brazilian Belly Dancer was called on the floor to perform for us. This was the first LIVE belly dance performance I had been to. That was a superb and minddddd blowingggg performance. The performance lasted for about 30minutes and each minute was worth the watch. It was that moment when the announcer had told that this is it and the show is over, we had actually moved from our seats, until then our body still in one position and eyes glued onto the performers.Once it was over, there was a huge line to get a snap with the performers. It was 7PM local time when we had been to the camp and it was 11PM by the time we left from there, 4 hours of pure entertainment and fun filled moments to cherish. As we head back to the hotel, instead of having a view of the night sky, I was just rewinding those 4 hours and replaying them in my mind. Didn't notice that we had reached hotel till my thoughts were interrupted by the sudden braking of the bus.Time to go and sleep as the body needs some rest so that the next day I don't feel tired...

End of Day 2.

Day 1
Day 3

My First International Journey - Day 1

Dubai Airport (egg shaped structure)
We had landed in Dubai around 3PM local time and had been escorted throughout the airport  by a representative of the Marhaba services (I must say this is the fastest and best service to finish immigration and get out of the airport) . A chauffeur  driven vehicle was waiting for us when we had stepped out of the airport . From the airport,we headed to our Hotel - Atlantis, The Palm. The hotel is situated on the Crescent of the palm i.e. on the Crescent road on The Palm, Jumeirah, Dubai. The first 5-star experience for me. The journey to the hotel was another great sight-seeing opportunity and a lot of photo-snapping through the windows of the car. 

There is the Atlantis!
 BTW, a mono-rail link on the left that goes straight to Atlantis.

An Under-see Road tunnel en-route tunnel

Once we reached the hotel, and  what a view it was! A huge hotel with a giant opening in the middle of the structure, which was aerodynamic and added safety to the hotel. 

A brief welcome by the staff and we were in the hotel. As we entered, a giant Chihuly structure which had about 3000 hand blown glass pieces and standing about 4-5 storeys tall and had great colour combinations.It was 4PM local time when we had just checked in to the hotel. The room was on the 10th floor with a view of the Arabian gulf . The view from the balcony was a spectacle of a kind - clear blue sea till the horizon with nothing in between. 

The evening city tour was scheduled to depart in a few moments and we had to quickly get back to the lobby. Making our way through the massive hallways of the hotel is a tedious task but thanks to the personnel around and the sign boards, it was a lot easier. Once back at the lobby it was time to head to the bus.
From the hotel, we were first taken to Dubai Marina, the home of 200+ sky-scrapers. The most stunning architectural marvel - The infinity tower , with twists and turns was first of its kind.
It is amazing to find such building existing tall and strong and I just stared at the building for some time just enjoying each bit of the wonderful structure.

The Burj-al-Arab

After some time there and too much photo-snapping, we continued on our journey through the city and next stop was the Jumeirah beach. The beach was shared by two world famous hotels  - The Burj-Al-Arab and The Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The beach had very fine sand and it was quite cool even under the blazing sun , and that was a notable thing! A few tourists along the beach and at a distance from the beach, the uncompleted World Islands, a nice time spent at the beach.

The Jumeirah Beach hotel.

An interesting thing is that the Burj-al-Arab is shaped like a sail whereas the Jumeirah beach hotel is shaped like a Boat - both beautifully constructed and makes you keep looking at it and just indulge in the beauty of it.

The journey moves on to the palace of the Al-Maktoum family, the Ruling family of Dubai Emirate. The plush green lawns equipped with drip irrigation, the colourful flowers and too many peacocks on the road. The peacocks are given special status as they are the Royal favourites. We stopped there for some time to click some pictures of the peacocks and the surroundings and later off to another place.

The sun was setting and the lights in the DownTown  and the lights gave the city a glow that even the sun couldn't even provide. What a view through the city everywhere a shine different from another. 
Next Destination : Mall Of The Emirates.

The mall of the Emirates, one of the biggest malls in Dubai and the only mall in the world to have a Skii Zone in it. A 400m Skii zone in one end of the corner which gives visitors an experience of the snowy mountains amid the desert. When we had been there, a Chinese music group was playing in the mall. They gathered huge crowd around them as the music was soothing to the ears of the listeners.

From the Mall, it was time to head back to the pavilion i.e. the hotel. A yummy dinner at The Kaleidoscope restaurant and back to the room.( Was busy eating, didn't spend time clicking pics.). In the room it was a surprise with the TV welcoming me as I entered and with that it was Stumps, Day1. 

After a fun filled evening, a great dinner and time to hit the bed as the next day was going to be another day full of activities.

That ends DAY 1...