Before I embarked on my trip to Dubai last September I had a series of goals and sightseeing missions I wanted to accomplish before the holiday was over. I was aware that most people head there on short breaks that range from three to five days as many use Dubai as a stepping stone for getting to other popular beach holiday destinations in the Indian Ocean (namely Mauritius, the Seychelles, Maldives, and so on). For this reason I had initially told myself that five days in the most famous of all emirates would more than suffice for seeing all I wanted to and for enjoying some time off on the beach as well.
The plan, in a nutshell, was to make as much as possible of the time I had in order to do as much as humanly possible. I have to say that before getting there I naively thought it more than easy to see everything and do everything I wanted to and still have time left over for basking on the beach and relaxing. I did devote a whole day to sun-bathing and beach frolicking but it got on the way of doing other things I would have liked to. So, the reality was slightly different from the plan but still as enjoyable and eye-opening.
I would be flying with Emirates and arriving into Dubai Airport (DXB) on a Tuesday at 7 a.m. and my departure would be the following Sunday at 3.45 p.m. which gave me roughly five and half days, although you really couldn't do much with half a Sunday when you had a plane to catch, stuff to be packed away and the hotel check-out to be done. Still, we managed to use a bit of the morning to take our toddler to the playground at the sister hotel next door, but again this wasn't planned in our original itinerary; we had left some spaces open to change as we didn't know what would me more feasible to do at one time or another.
To lay it down in sizeable, biteable chunks the itinerary planned was as followed:
- Day 1 — Unpacking at the Hilton Al Barsha hotel and discovering the Mall of the Emirates next door. In the afternoon perhaps visit the Burj Al Arab and surrounding area with a walk along the Jumeirah promenade.
- Day 2 — Climbing to the top of Burj Khalifa, visiting the Dubai Aquarium and seeing the Dubai Fountains in the evening.
- Day 3 — Taking the Metro towards Old Dubai, crossing the Dubai Creek in a traditional abra, visiting the Dubai Museum, the Deira Souk, the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk.
- Day 4 — Checking in at the Westin Mina Seyahi in the morning, do a mixture of sunbathing by the pool and hitting the beach in the afternoon. A day dedicated to sheer leisure and relaxation. Maybe hit a trendy bar in the downtown area after dusk for a cocktail with a view.
- Day 5 — Visiting the nearby Jumeirah Beach - The Walk, squeezing in more pool and beach time in the afternoon and heading towards Atlantis, The Palm in the evening to dine at the spectacular Ossiano underwater restaurant.
- Day 6 — Last day of packing in the morning after breakfast and catching the onward flight to London.
The itinerary was of course, as I was saying earlier, not set in stone, as depending on how the day went, how tired we were and what he had managed to see on the day, we would be able to see what extra activity we could fit in or not, whether some things had to be left out entirely or whether they could be moved to the next day.
Our holiday would be divided into two parts with the first three days staying at the Doubletree Hilton Al Barsha and the last two nights at the Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina in Jumeirah Beach.
Each hotel was chosen purposefully to serve our different interests and better accommodate our itinerary. As a first base, the Doubletree Hilton Al Barsha offered a great location from which to explore as the Mall of the Emirates next door was linked to the Dubai Metro, offering quick and easy access to the downtown area as well as Old Dubai. The Westin Mina Seyahi on the other hand was idyllically located right on the beach, very close to The Palm and a short distance from the iconic Burj Al Arab. How both hotels worked to help our plans come together will be discussed in a post to follow.
One thing we hadn't accounted for was the heat at that time of year (last week of September) and how it would make some activities more challenging than previously thought (especially with a little one in tow). But more on this and the other challenges we encountered on a later post.
To see whether I managed to do it all, find out about my limitations, the things that held me back at times and the other aspects that helped render my endeavours successful; don't miss my next blog post. Because my experiences in Dubai were many and varied I will be writing about them in a collection of posts addressing each adventure or topic individually to make for easier, more digestible reading and tackling each discovery, hotel experience or attraction at a time. See you in the next Dubai adventure!