Dubai. A spectacular city that makes you want to go back again. And again. Like an oasis in a parched desert, Dubai towers over the Middle East region with its bigger than big structures and ever changing landscape.
The pace of development is furious, with every new construction being “World’s First” in some category or the other. While that could seem exhausting to some, it is also a time of excitement for travelers like me. I love to visit and re-visit places I’ve fallen in love with, and Dubai sits right on top of that list. There is so much happening here that you would always have something new and exciting to explore on your next trip.
|Ready to board|
While I have made a couple of family and business trips to this superlative city, this time it was an opportunity of a staycation at a gorgeous star property (read my blog about the hotel soon). So after checking out the property, what do you do for the rest of the day? You head out to explore the day and nightlife of this pulsating and vibrant city. Coming from India, we opted to carry some cash in Dirhams, the local currency of UAE as well as an international debit card. This dual medium afforded us the convenience of not carrying too much cash with ourselves yet keep some handy for impromptu or impulsive expenses. PS: make sure you activate the international transaction facility on your card at least 3-4 days before you leave. Same goes for your mobile service provider, in case you wish to activate an international roaming plan on your Indian SIM card.
Since I have already covered most of the popular tourist hotspots in and around Dubai in my earlier visits, I decided to cover some new places as well as catch up with friends over some unique restaurants.
Day 1 in Dubai
We all know the adage “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” and we kick-started our day with a humongous breakfast at a restaurant that treats its customers like nothing less than royalty. Famished as we were, after a late night flight into Dubai, we chose to have our breakfast at Shakespeare & Co. at Ibn Battuta Mall. Shakespeare & Co has 16 outlets throughout Dubai, which is a testimonial to its popularity and quality.
|Ibn Battuta Mall|
I ordered the American Breakfast [eggs any style, hash brown, mushrooms, grilled chicken sausage and beef bacon, white and brown toast with butter and preserves, choice of fresh orange or grapefruit juice and coffee or tea] which costed AED 64 while my friend opted for the English Breakfast [which had baked beans and roast potatoes instead of hash brown and mushrooms] for the same price. Requested to replace the beef bacon with baked beans and chose freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. I cannot imagine a scene better than friends catching up over a hearty meal and this was exactly that.
|American Breakfast at Shakespeare & Co.|
We settled our bill in cash since we were flush with it and it felt quite “rich” to dole out large denomination notes of a currency that commands a higher exchange rate than your country’s. 🙂
In the afternoon, we decided to head over to the Dubai Outlet Mall for some retail therapy and to indulge the child in us. A short metro ride and a long and uncomfortable bus journey and 90 minutes later, we were there. A singular, one-time ticket on the metro and on the bus, settled in cash.
The Dubai Outlet Mall is like Disneyland for the shopaholics with countless stores offering everything under the sun [well, not quite literally]. While there were umpteen outlets for branded shoes, which my friend went gaga over, I was drawn towards the Comicave outlet. Comicave is the world’s largest pop culture superstore involved in the retail and distribution of high-end collectibles, pop-culture merchandise, apparels, novelty items, and the likes. While the Harry Potter collection made me feel like a kid in a candy store, I ended up purchasing an Iron Man Body Knocker [MCU is my current hot favorite] for AED 69, paid in cash.
|Comicave at Dubai Outlet Mall|
|Hulk in Iron Man Suit|
Come evening and we made plans to catch up with an old friend, who suggested QD’s Bar & Grill at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. QD’s is the ultimate place to chill out whilst enjoying spectacular creek views. And the views are well complimented by some wonderful options in food and drinks as well as shisha. Settled down with a couple of beers and bar bites along with one of their most popular shisha flavor. Nothing relaxes you more than the company of good friends coupled with some delectable culinary options. The cool breeze blowing across the creek felt like a catharsis after a long and tiring day in the hot sun. QD’s isn’t cheap really, with our final tab standing at about AED 500. Counting notes, digging into our reserves to pay the cash – wasn’t our finest moment but hey, we settled the tab. 😃
|QD’s Bar & Grill at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club|
|Food and Drinks at QD’s|
|Gorgeous views of the Dubai Creek|
Day 2 in Dubai
After blowing most of our handheld cash the previous day, we realized that we would fall short in case of any emergency expenses so decided to switch to a digital mode of payment – our trusty international debit card. Not only does it provide the convenience of transacting in your home currency, it also results in a thinner wallet to tote around. 😀
Our first activity of the day was to check out the newly built Dubai Frame. It has been built and angled in such a way that when you drive into town from the airport, you see the old city framed within the Frame. It’s a mind-blowing concept to showcase the core of Dubai, the old city. The Dubai Frame is an architectural landmark in Zabeel Park, Dubai and has been described by The Guardian newspaper as “the biggest picture frame on the planet“. Booking the tickets for entry was a cinch. There are 30-min time slots for entry, which start at 9:00 AM and go all the way till 9:00 PM with 250 pax per slot. Choose number of pax on their website and use your card to check out the cart. Tickets range from AED 50 per adult to AED 20 for a child.
|I got framed at Dubai Frame|
|The old city|
|The new city|
|Framed against the sun|
It was an absolute sight to see the frame and even better to view the old and new cityscapes on both sides. And the ease with which we could get the booking done online using our international card, was like the cherry on top.
After the euphoric high [literally] of the Dubai Frame, we headed to Box Park in the Al Wasel road to try out some Azerbaijani cuisine at JAG Restaurant & Bar. A wonderful place with an open kitchen and friendly staff, the food is flavorsome yet light on the stomach. Bill roughly AED 260 for two, it was an easy settle using our card. You can read about my detailed experience of the restaurant here.
|JAG Restaurant and Bar at Box Park|
Even though I had already experienced the Dubai Fountains earlier from the waterfront; this time around, we decided to spring for the premium experience of seeing it up close and personal. The Dubai Fountain Boardwalk is a recently opened floating platoon that gets you right in the middle of the waterbody. Boardwalk tickets are available on Groupon in packages for 1, 2 and 4 at AED 15 per person. My advice is to book it online in advance so as to cut your waiting time for the show. Using our international debit card was as easy as a local card to book the tickets.
|Dubai Fountain Boardwalk|
Evening once again meant catching up with another dear friend and this time we chose Stables, a sports bar themed around all things horses and saddles. The bar has a warm and cozy feel, with paintings of stallions galloping across a beach and saddles placed on banisters, and that’s what makes this bar stand out from others in the area. Hidden in an alcove behind Sheikh Zayed Road, Stables isn’t a place you’d stumble upon however it’s a good place to enjoy a pint or two with friends over some live music. While a bucket of beers and couple of bar bites costed us roughly AED 300 for two, the memories we made were certainly priceless.
Having an international debit card certainly proved to be a boon in many ways, offering extreme convenience with security, giving you total peace of mind to transact online in a foreign country.
There is so much to see and so much to do in Dubai that no amount of time seem sufficient to experience the maximum-ness of this city. However if you are in the maximum city for a minimum amount of time, there are still some fun activities to do to make your trip all the more memorable.
This blog is a narrative of my experience at the event. These are my views that I have expressed in the blog. Others are most welcome to agree or disagree with the same.
The blog is not personally or commercially influenced. I have not lifted, copied or plagiarized it from any source either. However, I have done my due diligence via publicly available information on the internet.
All rights reserved.
Note: The header image is taken off of the internet and I do not claim any rights on it.