I had an excellent first day in Dubai! I took the overnight flight on Emirates from Edinburgh last night, and the first good thing that happened on this trip was on the plane. I was watching the Patriots vs Bills game on my phone in the airport before I boarded, but only got to see the first half, so figured I would have to catch the rest in Dubai after I landed. Well, the in-seat entertainment systems had six live TV channels, and one of them was called Sports24. I couldn’t believe my luck, but they were showing the Patriots game live, so I got to watch the rest of the game while I was flying! After the game finished I tried to get some sleep but can never manage to sleep on a plane, so I ended up watching the Bears vs Vikings, and then Saints vs Cowboys. What a perfect way to spend 7 hours on a flight!
I landed at 6:20am and the first sense of how spread out Dubai is came at the airport. It took me 22 minutes to walk from the plane until I was standing in line in immigration. That’s got to be the longest walk I’ve ever taken in an airport. Immigration went smoothly, my bag was already on the carousel when I got to baggage claim, and I walked right out. I stopped at Du to get a sim card for my time here. It cost 110 dirhams (£24) for 3.5gb of data and some minutes and texts. I then made my way up to the metro and got a silver metro card that I can just top up as I need it. I loaded it with 25 dirhams and jumped on the first metro that came.
The metro system is really easy here. As of now, there are only two lines, red and green. Red runs north-south, green runs east-west. My hotel is at one of the intersecting stations, so that should make it easy to get around. The metro ride was only about 20 minutes (and cost 11 dirhams (£2.50) because it crossed a couple of zones) to the BurJuman stop, and then it was a seven-minute walk to the Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai. I arrived at exactly 8am and knew that checking in at this point was cheeky, but I figured I could at least leave my bag there for the day. Much to my surprise, they had a room ready for me and let me check in right away! A huge shoutout to Viviana for getting me a Friends and Family rate here because I think this really helped me get even better service than I would have gotten on my own.
It was great to be able to go to the room, have a quick nap and then a shower before heading out. I set off at about 10am and went back to the metro station where I took the red line to the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa stop. This was about a 15-minute ride and cost 3 dirhams (£0.60). From the metro stop to the mall was another 15-minute walk, but luckily all inside an air-conditioned concourse. The mall was listed as one of the must-see things in Dubai, and I can see why. It is by far the biggest mall I’ve ever been in. It is over 500,000 square meters, which is 50,000 square meters larger than the Mall of America. It’s crazy big. I walked around for a couple of hours and looked for a place to have lunch. They have every kind of cuisine you can imagine here. Not so much local stuff, but every American/Canadian/British restaurant chain you can imagine. I ended up choosing The Cheesecake Factory because I can’t go to one of those in the UK, and they had a decent lunch deal going. I had a great Sticky Orange Chicken meal and then headed just across the hall to the Dubai Aquarium.
The aquarium was listed as another “must-see” and I was slightly disappointed. From inside the mall you can see the gigantic tank where they have all the fish/sharks/rays and whatever else. You pay to go to the aquarium just to walk in a tunnel that goes through the tank. It’s kinda cool, but ultimately you are seeing the same things that you can see from outside for free. The other thing that was included was the Underwater Zoo, up on the second floor.
I went up to the zoo and it was just that. A bunch of little tanks that seemed overloaded with fish, or jellyfish, or frogs, or sharks. There was even one tank where they encouraged you to wash your hands first and then you can pet baby bamboo sharks. I feel like this really can’t be good for the animals, so I wasn’t a big fan of that. I finished up in there a little sooner than I had expected and then the tiredness hit me. I got a message earlier in the day from a friend who happens to be in Dubai for the day, so we made a plan to meet for dinner at the mall. I contemplated waiting at the mall for a few hours, but the thought of lying down for about an hour was just too appealing so I made my way back to the hotel for a nap.
I managed to avoid the heat for most of the day, but walking between the metro and the hotel is brutal. My phone showed that the “feels-like” temperature when I was walking outside was 42*C (107*F). Just insane.
So after the nap, I headed back to the Dubai Mall and met up with Danny and we had a good catch-up and walked around for a bit trying to decide on a dinner place. We walked through the Souk Al Bahar, which is another shopping mall next to the Dubai Mall, but didn’t find anything appealing there. As we walked out we found that the Dubai Fountain was going, so stuck around for a couple of minutes to watch that. It is pretty impressive. There are a bunch of dancing fountains that go to music, and they light up the side of the Burj Khalifa to go along with it.
We found a place to eat right next to the fountain called Eat-Drink-Socialise where we got a couple of pizzas and enjoyed the air-conditioning while we caught up. It had been about 2.5 years since I’d seen Danny, so this was a very cool surprise. It turns out he actually lives in Muscat, Oman, so I’ll be seeing him again on Friday when I travel there. What a small world!
We walked around the mall a bit after dinner since Danny hadn’t had a chance to really see Dubai as he is just here for work. After about an hour of walking around I tired out and we headed for the metro station. I said bye-for-now to Danny and headed back to the hotel. I’m here now and struggling to write this because I’m so tired, so I’ll pick out the photos to upload tomorrow. I need some sleep!