Before we left Australia, a well-travelled person opined that one visit to Dubai would be more than enough. One sleep away from flying out of Dubai for home, I am a little surprised to discover that I hold a different opinion.
It might come down to a difference of appetite.
This city is very hot; its physical appearance is dominated by way-over-the-top skyscrapers – sky-piercers in some cases – built in the last 20 years for business or hotel purposes; its population mix is from a recipe for the ultimate cultural melting pot; the dress code is bewildering for the likes of us; the traffic system, once a masterpiece of planning, is being overwhelmed by population bloom and tourism, now Dubai’s largest industry; and when you show your face in the famous gold souk, it is promptly and continuously confronted with samples of fine cloth or a beseeching man of Indian sub-continental origin offering you best price for any one of a thousand items of jewellery on display in his small but enticingly air-conditioned shop!
Not everyone’s cup of tea and on some counts – the heat for starters – definitely not mine. However, we have enjoyed the few things we have seen and done, enough to imagine that we would stop over here if we fly with Emirates again. And that is quite likely!
Our hotel, the Marco Polo, is ageing and located in a pre-boom neighbourhood but it is clean, the beds are very comfortable and the standard of service is very high. After checking in at 7am, we had four hours of deep, replenishing sleep. Then we were ready to explore Dubai.
Over the next 36 hours we took an excellent 4-hour guided sightseeing tour, including a visit to the spice souk where we bought 25g of high quality saffron; enjoyed two delicious meals at the Chinese restaurant in the hotel; bought a gold necklace and some silk scarves at the gold souk; and went on a leisurely dhow dinner cruise.
Here are some photos from our tour: