Palm Island, The Lost City of Atlantis – and the latest, most fabulous hotel in Dubai –
As I boarded the new Emirates A380 super jumbo I could hardly contain my excitement, I was off to Dubai! The A380 is a new league of aircraft, and Emirates have taken it to a league of its own! I stretched my legs in economy as I read the in-flight menu, it was like dining in a fine restaurant. The new “ICE” entertainment system gave me 3 different camera angles as I watched our take-off, and with over 600 channels of on-demand movies, TV programmes and radio, before I knew it, the 6 hour flight was over and I was there – ready for the delights of Dubai!
My destination? The Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeirah. WOW! The Atlantis hotel is out of this world, built out at sea on an island, made to the shape of a palm tree – it’s grand and magnificent and is completely OTT! My room was in the East Tower, and coloured in shades of aqua, with a balcony that overlooked the pool and the city. The next morning, with eyes as big as saucers, I looked at the array of choices for breakfast in “Saffron”, the buffet restaurant. Shall I have Indian? Chinese? Or even dip into the chocolate fountain! A morning city tour was next on my agenda – and a visit to Burj Khalifa, one of the tallest buildings in the world, gazing up to the sky, I could hardly see the top. And then a trip to Karama, a market offering the best “designer” bags/accessories, bargains galore if you’re brave enough to barter!
Time to cool off in the afternoon at the new water park at Atlantis – Aquaventure. Amongst the water rides and slides is the famous “Leap of Faith” a vertical drop, and then a slide which takes you through a shark tunnel! Scream in fear or joy – there’s no going back once you take the “Leap of Faith!” The lazy river and rapids are fun for all the family and a great way to stay cool in the heat of the day.
Shopping malls in Dubai are for serious shopaholics! Like the Mall of Emirates, a mall famous for Ski Dubai. A ski centre with real slopes, chair lifts and minus 4 conditions. I watched through the glass, as real snow fell inside; and it was 42 degrees outside!
Of course Dubai is surrounded by desert, and I was going to try a dune safari! Just 45 minutes from the city and I was there – in the middle of the desert, surrounded by huge sweeping sand dunes. We deflated the tyres of our 4×4 and set off at speed, spinning and sliding down the dunes making sand waves and holding on for life! I have never been so excited and scared at the same time. And then I was in a fairytale, under the stars, in a traditional Arabic camp. Dinner was a Middle East feast, and afterwards there were camel rides, shisha pipes, and henna tattoos, plus music and dancers – all quite magical.
Dubai is fabulously modern and larger than life, but its history and traditions are not lost or forgotten – what a mixture! Heady and addictive and I know I will have to go back.