18 - 19 June. Goodbye Dubai! ........Australia: "I'm BACK!"

A very easy journey through customs and all the relevant gates ...some duty free shopping....then as I sat in seat 36A, Louise White sat next to me! We had met as we sat together in the 'waiting to board' area! 3 1/2 hrs into the journey we hadn't stopped chatting and both wondered whether we could keep it up for the entire 13 1/2 hour flight!!? Louise, a teacher from Hobart was going home from spending family time in Milan then in Cinque Terre! As we touched down in Melbourne both of us decided that it was an enjoyable and the quickest 13+ hr journey either of us had undertaken! Thanks for your company Louise!
As I collected my bags I gave Gem her wake up call.....for which she was very thankful!!! (she had had a very social Friday night!!!) SOOOOOO GOOD to hug My Girl again :-) She took me to see her new home...so nice, classy, yet welcoming and homely.....then down Ballarat Road.....messaged Mum as we were passing The Marsh.....and finally we were together again....Excitement, hugs and kisses from everyone....Mum, Evie, Laura, Katie, Gem.....
I knew I really was back home!

17 June. Exploring by Metro @ night - Emirates Towers - Dubai Marina - Dubai Mall -

My tired body ruled and made me sleep until midday so I took myself down to the hotel's restaurant and stored up some energy by sampling every dish in the buffet. The Lebanese dishes were tasty....hommus, baba ghanoush, tabouli, pita bread, crudites....lentil soup....salads, ham, cheeses....then the cooked dishes: fish, chicken, rice, vegetables...all in keeping with their cuisine......and swished down with lots of water.
I avoided the heat of the day and set off at 18:00.

I quickly explore the Creek near my hotel, watched the men busily loading the Dhows......

.......then walked to the Metro. Arriving at the Union Station 20 minutes later, I couldn't believe that I had stood in the same area 2 days ago, disoriented, thinking that I was kms away from my hotel and in fact, it was my closest station! Not to worry, I had certainly seen much more of the local activities during my scenic routes than other tourists!

Where was I going? I didn't really know but there were lots of choices as I had read so much about the 'places to be and to go'. It was my last night and my silver metro card had plenty of credit so I could get on and off the trains often.  
First focus was The Marina at the end of the line....but as we pulled into Emirates Towers station I impulsively alighted.....a long walk and several questions later, I got outside to be dwarfed by skyscapers of all amazing architectural shapes. The Towers were too far away to walk to but....they looked impressive against the night sky. Back on the train....gently herded into the Women and children's cabin away from the men. The city rushed by and I happily identified major landmarks. At The Marina I took a taxi to The Marriott Hotel and went up to 52nd floor. The views across The Palms and the Jumeriah area were visually stunning and very informative. Thanks to Stewart and Lynne, from the ghost walking tour in London, for giving me the locals' info on where to go! Metro back to Burj Dubai station, near Dubai Mall where I decided to finish my night by watching the dancing fountain.....appropriate I thought to finish where I started!!! The ice skating rink had been set up with a huge screen and bean bags in its centre, on which to show and watch the World Cup. The Gold Souk was a contrast from that in Old Dubai....no hagglers...airconditioning...freedom to actually browse their wares....peaceful but nowhere near as exciting!

I was loving capturing the night lights and hype of activity so late at night. I meandered my way along the glittering streets, stopping to take pics....when Will and Stewart stopped me as they returned from the Metro, and informed me that the last train had left @ 22:15 and it was nearly 23:00!!!.....
Oh Well...! Back to the Mall....Information desk...free shuttle bus leaves 00:15 to Deira....Thank heavens as it would have been an expensive taxi trip home!
Deposited at the hotel closest to Pearl Continental....I could see its structure and as I was near Union Station, I knew it was about a 20min walk home.....I didn't account for the busy main road having an impassable fence running along its entire center median strip....I couldn't cross the road unless I walked 15mins along this road, used the overpass, then walked 15 mins back to where I needed to be.....I had NO choice but to do just that!.....wearily I arrived in my room, spent ages paying for my accomodation, skyped GT, packed my bags, arranged a wake up call @ 6:30, then fell into a deep sleep for 3 whole hours before my call rudely interrupted my dreams! My interrupted night had resulted in a complimentary breakfast and airport transfer ....both for which I was very grateful!

16 June. City Tour - Gold & Spice Souks - Nightlife in the Old Town

I had planned to do the Hop on, Hop off bus tour but having realised that the heat was too intense for this type of activity.....even though Dubai has airconditioned bus stops!!!....I went on a guided City tour instead. Good decision Fran!
Front seat in the Landcruiser- airconditioning - 2 other interesting, friendly couples and an informative driver.....
This is how my adventure unfolded:
1.  Dubai Marina...
A newly wed couple from Portugal, on their honeymoon joined the tour. Manny and Fi, two great Aussies had come on board earlier.

2.  Jumeirah Palm Island:
Considered the 8th Wonder of The World, Palm Island, is the first of 4 similar, man made extravagant constructions in Dubai! It is a neatly shaped palm complete with fronds accomodating opulent, luxurious appartments. As this development is free land, non-UAE nationals can buy a bit of Dubai!...amongst those are Donald Trump and David Beckham

3.  Atlantis on The Palm:
 Palm Island's flagship resort with its prime position at the very tip of the tree!

4.  Burj Al Arab:
An architectural icon, is the world's only 7 star  hotel. Overnight tariff = 6,000 ($A1900) - 50,000 AED ($A15,700) ...There are no standard rooms. Their Seafood restaurant is positioned appropriately...under the sealevel looking out into the marine life! Access to viewing this hotel was at the entrance to Wild Wadi - Water World....the perfect place to spend a day at this time of year!
Fran.......It said STOP!!

5.  Green Art Gallery
We were told we had 30 mins in the Art Gallery.. we left our wallets in the car thinking there would be no need for them....This Gallery is one of Dubai's oldest and sells exclusive Arabian goods...clothing, art, rugs, exquisite jewellery...representing Arabic culture... We were relieved not to have our wallets as each one of us had our own personal guide, detirmined to sell us something!

6.  Jumeirah Beach and Jumeirah Beach Front
An attractive inviting open, or free beach but far too hot to stay there too long!

A 2 km strip of Jumeirah beach front houses the Royal families and alongside this stretch is the most expensive Real Estate (only rental, not free land) in the world.... This line was used a lot in our tour and defines the New Dubai's approach to life = Biggest and Best!....

7.  Dubai Mall:
Still the largest shopping mall in the world...covering 4 million square feet and 7 floors of parking space! with this we were concerned about not being able to find our car after a day of shopping because when you park you can't tell which level it is!....Their solution =  As you park you collect a ticket identifying the level, section and even the row you have parked in...almost like a GPS ticket! Another helpful inclusion is a light above every parking space: Red = unoccupied, Green = occupied! Makes looking for a park very easy...Aussie shoppers would be happy!

Having been here as a stranded traveller and watched the dancing fountain....I marvelled at how different I felt this time! I have had so many adventures...developed a lot more travel skills....been on many scenic routes discovering the unexpected... met so many wonderful people....accumulated unforgetable memories.....and here I was, back at The Mall, completing the unexpected circle....and still loving it all!

8.  Burj Dubai:
...still the tallest freestanding structure in the world

9.  Sheik Palace
 Residence of the King of Dubai who recently purchased a gold plated Rolls Royce......
Along the drive into the palace, even the peacocks were taking a siesta!

10.Crown Prince Palace
Residence of the Crown Prince. On the grand roundabout indicating the start of the driveway to the palace, there stands atleast a dozen or more large chalice like ornaments, each one entirely gold plated... not one has grafitti or has been scratched!

11.World Trade Centre
Politically significant!

12.Dubai Creek
Up and down its water came the commerce that would make the city rich....Trade, tourism, water traffic of all shapes, sizes and purpose....necessary...yet romantic!

13.Al Fahidi Fort (Dubai Museum)

14.Bur Dubai - Deira (Old Dubai)
Around the mouth of the Creek mushroomed Dubai's earliest settlements:
Deira, the sub-districts lying immediately north of the Creek. It was here that some of the first barasti (mud and palm frond) settlements sptouted, that Dubai began its career as a trading centre. It encompasses: old rahter than new. East vs West; past vs future and labourer vs Lord!
Bur Dubai,  the name given to the mishmash of districts along the southern side of the Creek. Comprising Dubai's oldest area it has some of the city's historical highlights including the Dubai Museum. The paramedics travel on motorbike as Bur Dubai's streets are narrow, cobbled, one way and extremely busy with both trade and general living.
Farewells to my new found friends... maybe we will cross paths some where else in the world.... as I was delivered back to my hotel in time for a short siesta before I caught a taxi to the Gold Souk.

Arriving I discovered a very different scenario from that of my midday visit!!! An energetic, frantic hive of business and activity.....drew me in and I quickly learned how to shrug off willing, urgent sellers and to bargain fervently until I was prepared to pay an agreed price.....

I found a beautiful gold elephant....perfect pressie for H.....followed the buyer into his store to learn that even my bargaining powers were not enough to afford the tiny little ornament.....$A 2,700....Yes it was 24C gold plated with pure gold tipped trunk, feet and back rug.....Sorry H....I fund one that wasn't quite so expensive!

Fun while it lasted, but the heat and Spice Souk smells were overwhelming....and my legs were nearly falling off. I caught an abra, the traditional water taxi, enjoyed the brief night cruise and romantic atmosphere along busy Creek to settle myself into a creekside cafe.

Mesmerised by the water traffic, I eventually dragged myself away from the hype of activity and caught a taxi to my hotel!
I have decided that I prefer the Old Dubai over the New Dubai!