One day, Dubai

12/12/2015 01:25:00 pm

I never thought I'd find myself on a hop-on hop-off bus, being of the belief that the people who frequent such modes are the same people who enjoy cruises. But, alone for a day in Dubai, there were a few things I wanted to see, and without transport it was going to be difficult. I've heard cruises aren't actually that bad anyway...

I started out early, which, considering I'd been awake since 3am (jet lag) was really not a problem. 

I jumped on the hotel shuttle to the metro stop at EGHQ, heading for Deira City Centre. I've noticed that when you buy a metro ticket, the cashier doesn't quite seem to believe that you know where you're going or how to count the zones. Both times when I've gone to the counter and requested 'a 1 zone return, please,' the nice man has paused, asked me which station I'm going to, and then on confirmation, nodded sagely and agreed to sell me the ticket. 

Arriving at Deira City Centre at about 8.15am, I had to ask 3 security guards how to find the bus ticket counter. Even the small malls are huge. At the ticket counter, I flashed my Emirates boarding pass, which got me a 15% discount (thank you Internet) and on buying my ticket asked where to wait for the bus. Much like the train ticket man, the ticket lady didn't trust me to wait outside, perhaps in case I got on the wrong bus? 'Oh ma'am, please wait inside, I will come and get you when the bus is here.' 

So I loitered for a little while until the bus arrived, and then was the only person on it (it picked up after the first stop). The bus didn't leave Deira until 9am and I passed the time watching a flock of about 40 hot air balloons take flight, off in the distance. 

My goal was to get to the Grand Mosque by 9.45 so that I could take the public tour. Inshallah, we'd make it in time, said the driver...

Sadly it wasn't to be, traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road living up to expectation, moving at a speed similar to that of an ant crawling through cold honey. 

I elected to stay on the bus and try my luck at Kite Surfer's Beach instead. 

No kites were being surfed, but it was a lovely temperature out, so rather than backtrack to the bus, I decided keep going along the boardwalk to the Burj Al Arab.

For all they say that Dubai isn't a walking city, I wandered along from Kite Surfer's Beach on to Jumeirah Beach through Umm Suqeim (I think? Jumeirah and Jumeirah Beach don't seem to completely match up on the map), and it was surprisingly peaceful and walker-friendly. 

Except for when I nearly got hit by a car, but I was on the road at that point and the driver wasn't indicating, so I think we all learned a valuable lesson. 

Apparently the flags form the shape of the UAE, but this was not apparent from the ground.
Also surprising was the running track alongside the boardwalk, which had a fully sprung surface. I would have run on that thing, had I any skill for running, but it was very nice to walk on too. 

Rules for the beach, and rules for the boardwalk. 
I rejoined the bus at Wild Wadi Waterpark because the sun started to get a bit hot and I started feeling anxious about getting lost (yes, yes, even though I was walking in a straight line). From there we headed to the Palm Jumeirah, and I started feeling ever slightly more uncomfortable about the impact of all of this construction and reclamation, and air conditioning.

Jumeirah Beach Fishing Harbour. Or at least, a marina near the harbour. I popped through a security boom to take this photo, and thought it prudent not to hang about...
It's hard to get used to, and I noticed that even with all that glass and metal and the beating sun, there doesn't appear to be any solar infrastructure. What a wasted opportunity.  

Atlantis. Hmmmn. Apparently it's just full to bursting with Russian tourists. 
After all that glitz, I decided to switch to the Old Dubai route, taking a water taxi across the creek to the souqs of Deira.

So much rebar. Dubai must consume the global supply of rebar.
I think it's time to work on my resting bitch face, which I thought was pretty well refined already, because it started out with a proposition from the ticket seller. Although, when he repeatedly asked 'how can I connect with you?' I got my first opportunity to truthfully use the line 'I don't think my husband would like that.' Seemed to do the trick!

On the abra. I wonder what happens if they crash into each other?
On the other side of the creek, I wandered into the spice souk, which I had really been looking forward to. There were so many things I wanted to photograph, piles of dried rose petals and figs, but unfortunately the moment I set foot in those twisting, dark alleys, I was constantly harassed  by men invading my personal space, trailing me very closely whilst imploring, "come to my shop, Gucci bag, Louis Vuitton, mulberry. Omega, Rolex", over and over. I avoided eye contact, and utilised my vacant-eyed hand-flick, but it was decidedly unpleasant. They wouldn't leave me alone, and I wanted out. I moved as fast as I could without looking like I was moving fast, but then found myself in the gold souk and its tangled alleyways. Rob has his uses, and navigation is one of the highest on the list. 

Dhows, precariously loaded, ready to traverse the Arabian Sea.
When I made my way back to the creek, my heart rate was high, and having been out and about for almost 7 hours, I was pretty much done. I was quite close to Al Ras metro station, but that would have meant going back through the souk. Nope. I hightailed back to Deira and the metro, retracing my morning trip.

Al Rostamani Maze Tower, Al Yacoub Tower, Capricorn Tower, Up Tower. So many towers.

Next time I think I'll try the manufactured Souk Madinat. It's inside a 5-star hotel, so whilst the souk might not be the real deal, I'm sure the handbags are. 

Would I repeat the bus experience? Well.... My ticket was valid until 7pm the next day...but I decided to lie on a pool lounger instead. 

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