After arriving in Dubai six hours after we left Prague, we picked up our bags from the baggage terminal and hopped into a cab.
First thoughts on Dubai Airport: culture shock, a tad smelly, snail of a baggage pickup (we waited an hour for our bags) but warm. Both our faces were smashed up against the cab windows as we drove though Dubai to our hotel. Massive Las Vegas style skyscrapers and lights lined the freeway. We checked into our hotel and were upgraded to a two room suite with balcony. With one full day to see Dubai, we knew it’d be a busy day.
So, with one day, or perhaps a layover in Dubai – what do you do? First of all, Dubai is insanely spread out. We initially thought it was clustered together but soon realized there are multiple “downtowns” with insanely tall and wonky skyscrapers. It’s a spread out maze.
Our first stop was to the Dubai Mall to see Ski Dubai and grab breakfast. We hopped into a cab and 15 dirhams later we arrived. The mall is big, really big. Opulent dressed men and women entered designer shops toting shopping bags on both arms. The Ski Dubai resembles any mountain resort you’d visit at home. It included a lodge, few restaurants and ski hills.
We didn’t ski and made our way outside the mall. We didn’t come to Dubai to hang out at a shopping mall.
We hopped into our second cab and 30 dirhams later arrived at the Burj Al Arab public beach. The photogenic hotel rises above the beach while tourists and locals alike sun themselves and splash in the water. It was our first time feeling the heat from the sun and boy did it feel good. The beach is large enough to not feel totally smooched and the sand feels like that of Aruba. The view wasn’t bad either.
It’s a great beach if you coming from the airport, or are staying anywhere near the Burj Khalifa building or Dubai Mall area. From the edge of the beach you can see The Palm in the distance. We grabbed our third taxi and 50 dirhams or so later we arrived at Atlantis Resort at The Palm. No need to visit the Bahamas now – it looked identical.
There is a modern tram system that runs the length of the island from the mainland and offers birds eye views over the resort and homes on The Palm.
We boarded the tram to the mainland and took another taxi. If you haven’t noticed, you can’t get anywhere without a taxi. This city is not pedestrian friendly. Good thing the taxis are very cheap. An average taxi ride was about 20 dirhams, or $6.
It was only about 1pm by the time we arrived at the Harbor area, a downtown maze of skyscraper hotels south of The Palm. If you are ever in Dubai, visit here. The Harbor Walk as it’s called runs the length of the harbor with boats and water taxis aplenty. There are major restaurants along the harbor and bridges to cross to access the beach.
We headed to the beach to catch sunset and rest our tired feet. The beach area was lined by giant skyscraper hotels and an excellent shopping promenade. We plopped ourselves in the sand and watched people swim and play in the sand until the sun went down.
We hopped into a can and took the long ride back to our hotel to call it a night. The following day we were taking a bus to Abu Dhabi.
Things to note in Dubai: only hotels serve alcohol and it’s pricey. You shouldn’t hold hands or show affection in public. The locals are beyond nice. There is way more Westerners than we ever expected to see. You can wear shorts; tank tops and regular swim suits and not get in trouble. It’s sorta like Cabo San Lucas in climate. Everyone speaks English.