About this time last week, a few friends and I started planning a trip to Dubai. Two of us needed to leave the country this past weekend to renew our visas. It was a bit last minute considering the weekend here is Thursday/ Friday, but here we are. Things fell together mostly well, and come Wednesday night we were off on our way to Dubai.
The trip to the Omani-Emerati border is two and half hours of nothing mixed with slight blips of houses and strip malls as we made our way through small towns. Just before the border we stopped at a mall in Sohar, and as road trip rules dictate, I had McDonald’s for the first time in ages. For those of you that are wondering, it was not the same as the US.
Through the mountains, the road weaves back and forth across the border, running through what seems to be a million different checkpoints. It was night when we first made it, so we couldn't see much through the windows. Driving back, though, I realized how interesting the landscape is. Dubai is an extremely new city, and it's still growing. Unlike cities from the US that I have been to, there is no real suburban sprawl. It just kind of appears.It sprouts from the desert without much exaggeration.
A few minutes from the city.
We didn’t stay in Dubai the first night, but instead we got a hotel in Sharjah, a neighboring emirate. It was the next day that we finally made our way into the city.
We met our other friends in Dubai mall, which is HUGE. I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s crazy. It’s the world’s largest mall with over 1,200 stores and covers an area of over five million square feet and six floors. It includes a GIANT aquarium, a water fall, and sits right next to the Bourj Khalifeh which is the tallest building in the world.
The Bourj Khalifeh is a funny thing. Like the mall, I can’t emphasize how big it is. It’s incredibly tall. Looking at the skyline, you can see it miles before seeing the other buildings. The other buildings aren't short, but the Bourj Khalifeh reaches at least twice the height of the other buildings there.
Picture thanks to www.trekearth.com. My pictures weren't
quite up to par.
Every building is a little unique. There's different architecture, different colors, different lights (each trying to impress with mini light shows). To be cliche, Dubai towers are like snowflakes with the exception of those in Jumeira, a really well-off part of Dubai constructed for foreigners (or that’s what it seemed).
There’s so much that we didn’t see. We didn’t make it to the souks or the giant water parks that attract thousands. We did go to two of the well-known beaches in Dubai, which were beautiful. Lincoln Park was a high point. Simply driving around the city was wonderful, though.
Thursday night was an absolute headache. At the recommendation of another friend, we had delayed booking a hotel and consequently spent half the night looking for an open room. We drove across all of Dubai and the surrounding emirates. It was not the smartest decision I've ever made and I certainly will be more timely in the future. It provides a fun story, but a long drive, and a bucket-load of luck. I’m pretty sure we got one of the very last hotels in Dubai in a hotel far outside the city.
Getting back to Oman was a breeze, and now once again I am legal. All things are good. Altogether, a very successful trip.