From Toronto to Dubai, my first trip overseas was to the United Arab Emirates. I no longer consider this vacation a trip, as it was much more an experience. From the moment I landed, it hit me that, here I was, in a foreign land.
Throughout my years, I have only traveled with my family to different parts of the states, or the Caribbean. I have done two trips to Vegas, which were great, but never truly had an experience where I had to navigate and find myself around my destination. The UAE however was quite different. From the moment we landed, it was chaos. The car rental company which I booked with was not at the airport like it was mentioned on the site. I must commend them, that as soon as I called, they apologized and sent someone to pick me up. The traffic getting back to the car rental company was a mess. What should have been a 5 minute drive, turned into 40 minutes, as roads were closed, and everyone was pushing their way to get ahead. This made me quite nervous as I would have to be driving in this, and did not want to get the car damaged at all. Upon receiving the car, and making it to a restaurant for dinner (which was an amazing start to the trip), we got to the hotel, and checked-in, and crashed for the night, as we had a long day ahead.
Waking up the Friday morning, I was quite anxious, as that was the day that this whole trip had been planned around. It was my chance to finally skydive over the Palm Island. I have always wanted to skydive, and about 3 years ago I saw a video where Tyrese Gibson and Will Smith went to Dubai for Tyrese’s birthday, and one of the things they did was jump, from Skydive Dubai. Upon watching that video, I knew that it was something I needed to add to my bucket list. Upon arrival to the location, we were told that everything was cancelled that day due to windy and cloudy weather. Man, was I disappointed. Luckily, we had some free time on Sunday, and were able to reschedule for then.
Since we left Skydive Dubai early, I decided we would drive to the Dubai Outlet Mall, and check it out. It was in the middle of nowhere, and was not that great. Quite disappointed, we left shortly after arriving and decided to stop in at the Mall of Emirates on our way back. After the mall we were on our way to Abu Dhabi for lunch, sightseeing, and to spend the night. My main reason of wanting to visit Abu Dhabi was definitely to see some of the filming locations of Furious 7, as well as seeing the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We had originally planned to do a day in Abu Dhabi, and come back by evening, but because I got a great deal on a room at the Etihad Towers, we decided to make a night of it. It was a great experience to see them up close, as well as being able to enter and walk around Emirates Palace.
After spending the evening and night in Abu Dhabi, it was time to return to our hotel in Dubai as we would be getting ready for our Overnight Desert Safari. Upon returning to the hotel, we had about 2 hours before the tour company came to pick us up. We went up to the room and returned all our clothes, and kept just a backpack of what we would need for the night. We then headed down to the hotel lobby, and ordered tea and coffee, while killing time until the tour guide arrived.
After quite an experience sleeping overnight in the desert, we were back at the hotel. The anticipation was growing as the weather was much better than Friday, and it finally looked like we would be able to skydive! We had about an hour to spend before we needed to leave, so we visited the McDonald’s across from our hotel. McDonald’s in Dubai… excellent! The meat tasted much better, as well as the food was cheaper than what we pay in Canada. I wanted to try a few of the different items, but forced myself not to get stuffed, as I didn’t think it was wise to have a full stomach, before skydiving. After eating we headed to the drop zone as we thought if we got there early, we would be first to jump… and boy, were we wrong.
After what I consider one of the best experiences of my life, it was time to head over to the Burj Al Arab for the evening. Now this was a big deal, which deserves its own post for, as this wasn’t just staying in a hotel… this was staying in “The Most Luxurious Hotel in The World”. The lead-up to this was a crazy one, as the debate whether to spend the money and do it for a night, or skip out. After much deliberation back home, it was decided that we would stay at least one night, and spend the whole time in the hotel, to get the full experience. I am quite happy we did, because it was truly memorable. And, although I initially thought it would be a once in a lifetime thing, I can definitely see myself returning to spend a night or two.
“I don’t want to leave!” That’s all I was thinking, having to check-out of the Burj Al Arab. What an experience it was. Yea I know, I’ve been saying experience a lot for this trip, but that’s exactly what it was… an experience! Leaving the Burj Al Arab was horrible. Not in a bad way, but it meant no more luxury and we were back to our standard hotel room. From the Burj Al Arab we went straight to the Mall of Emirates, where we would park our car for the day, and take the metro towards the Souk. Although we could have driven there, I wanted to at least experience riding the metro once. Before we headed out, we were going to have lunch at the mall. Originally we had decided on Asha’s which is Asha Bhosle’s signature restaurant, but the menu itself didn’t seem the greatest, so we went to P.F. Changs instead. This was a restaurant I have always wanted to try since I heard Swoozie rave about it years ago in his YouTube vids. They did have one in Toronto, but it had closed a little while back, and I never had the chance to go. I was really glad we decided to try it there because the food was delicious. I really wish that they never closed the Toronto one, because I would definitely go again. After lunch, we headed to the terminal to board the metro. I can safely say that the terminals are 100x better, and cleaner than the ones back in Toronto. The train itself was quite clean, quick, and easy to navigate. Originally, getting on to the metro I was hoping to be upfront to get a great view of the city going by, but it was already crowded, and I didn’t think it was worth it to push, and squeeze my way closer. So I just remained by the door, and still had a decent view. The ride wasn’t too long, and before I knew it, we were ready to get off and switch trains. We got on the second train, and it was only 1 stop before we reached. We got out and were a little confused on where to head, but were easily assisted by a security guard. He told us the easiest way to walk across to the docks, where we would get on an Abra (small boat), and cross the river for the Souks.
After we finished what was a long, and tiring day, it was time to head back to the hotel and get some rest for our final day in Dubai. Waking up the next morning, we had The Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, and dinner at Amal, inside the Armani Hotel to look forward to. Quite an eventful and fun day planned for our last. To be honest, the entire trip was eventful right from the beginning, but we were definitely saving some of Dubai’s highlights until the end. The next morning we made sure to wake up early to enjoy much of the day as possible. We had our last breakfast in Dubai at the breakfast buffet in our hotel, and then headed off to the mall. Getting to the mall was pretty quick surprisingly, as we had planned to leave early to accommodate for traffic. After parking and reaching the entrance for At The Top at The Burj Khalifa we had quite some time to kill, so we roamed around for a little, and waited in the food court until 10:30. We noticed that people just kept going in, so we decided to line up a little earlier than our scheduled time, and luckily they allowed us in. Up we went!
The highest view I have ever had (inside of a building) was just at The Burj Khalifa and it was amazing! I’ve been to the CN Tower in Toronto and we stood on the glass floor looking down, but it was nothing like this. To put it in perspective, the CN Tower’s total height is 1,815 feet, while the floor we were on, looking out at The Burj Khalifa was 1,820 feet. It was a great experience! After we got back out, and into the mall we went exploration for the rest of the day, which included another stop, in-between, at The Burj Khalifa for dinner.
After a long an exhausting day, we returned to our hotels for the last time. We got back, and started packing our suitcases and bags as we’d have to be up quite early to return to the car rental, and make it to the airport for check-in. Shortly afterwards we fell asleep, only to be abruptly woken the next morning. As I said, we had an early flight, so when I started to feel light coming into the room, I jumped out of bed in a panic, thinking I slept through my alarm and we were late. Surprisingly, since we hadn’t been waking up this early, we didn’t realize that the sun comes out so soon. I was quite relieved to know that we were ahead of time, and it made for a much easier time getting ready. We went and returned the car to the rental place, and then they dropped us to the airport. After checking in our luggage, we had quite some time to kill, so we spent it having breakfast in McDonald’s and roaming the Duty Free, before heading to our gate. Sometimes people like the end of trips, because they start missing home, but this was definitely not the case for me. I was having way too much fun in Dubai and was quite disappointed that we had to finally leave. As we boarded the plane, the sun was out shining, and I could already feel vacation withdrawals kicking in. This trip had definitely been one that I will forever remember, and certainly has me wanting to visit again in the future.