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!

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