Dubai – Through my Lens

Impromptu trips. Something I’m best known for.

This was my 7th trip this year. Dubai happened when two girls, crazy about traveling, were desperately looking for holiday options so that we could end what had been an amazing year, with a bang.

We’d been researching about a lot of places. From Rishikesh to Kerala. However, considering it was the end of the year, we wanted to party like crazy too. That’s when my dad came up with this suggestion. With the help of Dpauls Tours & Travels, we were able to quickly arrange the visa, flights and accommodation, within a matter of 3 days.

So Himadri (I like to call her my travel partner) and I share common interests when it comes to travelling. So when it came to deciding the itinerary, we knew exactly what we wanted. No touristy stuff. We were content to explore the place like the natives do. Shopping definitely was NOT on the list.

The Dubai Journal

Here I am now, trying to do a photo feature to explain what Dubai looks like from my point of view.

On the flight to Dubai, I’d highly recommend taking the window seat. The descent towards the Dubai airport gives you a glimpse of of the different kinds of terrains that the UAE is home to. Beautiful beaches turn to barren rocky mountainous regions and then comes the vastness of the desert with tiny green specks of shrubs visible all over. This opens up to the beautiful city with its beautiful skyscrapers.

A trip to Dubai would have been incomplete without visiting the Burj Khalifa. Considered as the tallest building in the world, this majestic building is home to a lot of celebrities, the Armani hotels and a lot of corporate offices. The 124th,125th & 148th floor of the tower are viewing decks and are open to the public. The best and cheapest way to book your slots would be through their official website where tickets are available for 125AED. Even though the prime hours to visit are during afternoon to sunset, my personal preference for pretty lights led us to visit the Burj at 10PM. Daytime views help you understand what the city was and what it has become over the years; but the views at night make you want to stand and stare at the beautiful colors in silence. There aren’t any other words to describe it.

Walking around the Dubai Mall in the wee hours of the night is extremely different from what you might experience during the business hours. The streets lit with fairy lights, the soft sound of ripples in the water gives the place an unusual calm.

Himadri & I decided to take up a half day city tour from DPauls on our second day here. The tour included a visit to the Dubai Museum (which we decided to skip), the periphery of Zabeel Palace; Jumeirah Beach – a gorgeous white sand beach which is great for swimming, kayaking and surfing and also gives you a great view of the Burj Al Arab, standing tall on its own island; The Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk & lastly the Marina Bay Boardwalk.

The Palm Jumeirah boardwalk is right across the road from the Atlantis hotel. Lined with ice cream vans across the pavement, this place lets you sit and enjoy the view of the gorgeous view of the Persian Gulf. You could even climb over the fence and relax on the rocks lining the boardwalk.

Our last stop, the Marina Boardwalk ensures that you get to see the port and admire the amazing modern architecture the city is known for. Each skyscraper is different from the other. My personal favorite was the Cayan Tower, a luxury apartment building with a striking helical shape, turning 90 degrees over the course of its height. Each floor is identical in plan, but is set 1.2 degrees clockwise from the floor below, giving the tower a distinctive form by way of an innovative, efficient, repeatable structure.

Dune bashing is a must do if you’re heading to Dubai. This can be easily arranged through any tour operator or your hotel itself. The adrenaline rush of speeding cars and sand dunes ensure that you’re in for a super bumpy ride. The belly dancing show however, is not something I’d recommend. Super crowded and average food.

The Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi boasts of three roller coasters including Formula Rosso – the fastest one in the world. Himadri, who loves rides decided to go on all three. I, being the sissy here, preferred watching from the observation decks. The Flying Aces roller coaster would have given me a heart attack for sure. Definitely not sitting on any of them.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque literally took my breath away. Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty and calm of this place. The mosque was constructed using marble, ceramics, crystals etc. The golden inlay work and beautiful carvings one the dome interiors are worth noticing. This is also the only mosque which allows women to enter. There is however, a certain dress code to be followed. No revealing or tight fitted clothing is allowed which is why Himadri and I decided to wear Abayas provided to us by our tour operator. We ended up having a blast ofcourse. It’s great to try out the attires of various cultures.

IMG World is known to be one of the biggest theme parks in the world. The rides are categorized under various themes such as The Lost World, Cartoon Network World, Marvel World etc. My love for the old cartoon network classics led me to IMG and to say that I wasn’t disappointed would be an understatement. Revisiting my childhood seems like a better statement. And of course I did not leave without souvenirs.  Collecting memorabilia from theme parks is an old habit that refuses to die.

Jumeirah Beach Residence is known for its amazing open cafes and street food vendors. The beach next to it is a great place to hang out in the evenings. Two cafes to try are Shake Shack and Catch 22. Shake shack has the best beef burgers I’ve ever had till date and Catch 22 has out of this world kebab sticks with varieties ranging from salmon, scallops to classic chick and pork.

If you’re lucky enough, you might even catch fireworks over the Burj Al Arab like we did. With a show so grand, I can only imagine what New Year’s eve would be like here.

Traditionally in the Eastern World, it was a customary practice of nobility to gift ittar to their guests at the time of departure. The ittars are traditionally given in ornate bottles called ittardans. A little something I decided to gift myself before leaving the UAE. It’s scent will linger on for a while.

Dubai’s nightlife has a lot to offer. Some places I’d definitely recommend are-

  1. Barasti – For some amazing live music on weekdays and crazy beach parties on weekends
  2. Rodeo Drive & Stables – Think two levels of karaoke, beer pong, bull rides and amazing dance music
  3. Lock, Stock & Barrel – Great lounge, rock bands and great food

The trip to Dubai could not have ended on a better note. This place, it’s vibes and the memories. Special thanks to Kevin who was a sweetheart and took us all around the city and made us feel at home.

This one goes out to old friends and new – We’ll meet again.

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Nandini Bajaj is a 25 year old Human Resource professional who loves travelling at any opportunity she gets. She firmly believes in the saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". During her trips, she loves to live and engage with the locals and tries to understand their culture. Though not overly fond of writing, she chooses to share her experiences through the pictures she clicks, trying to portray how the world looks from her point of view.

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