Today was a busy day! I got up at 4:30am, quick shower, taxi from the hotel to the Dubai Mall (Fashion Avenue entrance) to get in the queue for the Burj Khalifa at sunrise. I got there around 5:20am and there were already at least 100 people in the queue, but once they started letting us in at 5:30am, it moved pretty quickly. It was just so strange that the entrance to this is inside the mall, which is, of course, closed at this time of day.
There’s a little bit of a walk to get to the elevators that bring you up to the 124th-floor observatory, but all along the way, there is information about the construction of the building. It was interesting enough to keep me from falling asleep, so that’s good.
The elevators were incredibly fast, which was kind of expected, and then the view from the top was…dark. It was completely dark when I got up there. It was before sunrise. There were already people fighting there way to the windows so they could get a view for when the sun finally started to show itself, and I get pretty annoyed at these kinds of things. I’m not going to push somebody out of the way so I can take a picture, but the number of people who are willing to push me out of the way is surprising. I ended up just walking around while the sun was coming up trying to get in for a photo here and there whenever I could, but it wasn’t easy. Especially with the number of girls who wanted to take up a whole window just so they’d have a nice Instagram shot.
Regardless, the view from up there was pretty spectacular so after enjoying the sunrise as much as I could, I was ready to have my breakfast. The package I bought was for sunrise and breakfast at the Burj Khalifa. I had a thought in my head of what it was going to be like, sitting at a little cafe table watching the sun come up and light up the whole city. Nope. It turns out the breakfast wasn’t on the 124th floor at all. In fact, it was down on the ground floor. And the breakfast was just a croissant and a bottle of juice. Not at all what I was hoping for. So I wouldn’t recommend people pay any extra for the “breakfast” portion of this, because it was a total waste.
The last and most surprising part of this event was getting out of there. It was about 7am and I was trying to get back to my hotel. Since it is Friday, the metro doesn’t start until 10am, so I had to get a taxi. I would have thought that they would have an exit right next to the Burj Khalifa so you could walk out and grab a taxi, but no. It was about a 15-minute walk through a deserted mall at 7am, with no signs to direct you where to go. This seemed like a real mistake not to make this easier for the guests.
I finally found a taxi and got back to my hotel. I packed up my stuff and headed to the airport for about 9am, again by taxi. My flight was on Salam Air which is a budget airline so it was out of terminal 2, which is not nearly as nice as terminal 1 which I arrived into. This felt like a budget airline terminal, but my flights to Muscat were really cheap so I can’t complain.
My flight to Oman was very fast and nice enough. I can’t complain for less than £100 return. I landed in Muscat, grabbed my bag, bought a simcard from the local operator, and ordered a taxi through the Otaxi app. I soon found out that Otaxi isn’t allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. They are allowed to drop you off, but not pick you up. So I ended up getting a call from my driver who told me to go up to Departures and he could pick me up there. It felt super dodgy, especially when the taxi drivers down at Arrivals were shouting at me saying what I was doing was illegal, but it was worth the gamble to save half the money on a taxi to my hotel.
It was about a half-hour drive to the Sheraton Oman which was absolutely beautiful, and I was allowed to check-in early, which was very nice. I only had time to take a quick shower before meeting Danny and his friend Juju downstairs. It worked out really well that today is the first day of their weekend here, so we could hang out for the rest of the day. Juju recommended a typical Omani restaurant (Bait al Luban) for us to go to and it was amazing! We had to take off our shoes and sit on pillows on the floor. They brought us some kind of local drink as an appetizer, and the service was great. The food was also phenomenal. I had some sort of pulled beef dish with rice, and it was so tasty!
After lunch, we took a walk through the Mutrah Souk. I never buy anything in these places but I find them interesting to look through. We came out the backside of the souk and went right up the Mutrah Fort. It is a rebuilt fort that looks over the city and harbor. The views were great and we timed it perfectly to be up there for sunset. It was great. Thanks very much to Juju for planning out our afternoon, it was wonderful.
After watching the sunset we got a taxi back over to the hotel and went for a few drinks at the Turbine and Tap in the Sheraton. With it being a Muslim country it’s not the easiest place to find bars, so hotels are always a good place to get a drink. We managed to time it perfectly with Happy Hour so at least drinks were a little cheaper than they would normally be, but still very expensive (£44 for 6 drinks, and that’s with 40% off).
I’m back up in the room now and had to call it quits with Danny. After that 4:30am wakeup this morning I am knackered and have to get some sleep. We’re going to adventure out tomorrow, so want to get a good night’s sleep tonight!