It is possible to forget, for a very long time, to do the tourist stuff where you live. It possible to become so blasé in fact, about the stuff going on around you that it’s not until you come to leave that your find yourself with a very long list. I never did get to brewery at Plzen, for example.
So I was rather pleased to discover, somewhat unexpectedly, that I had two days leave to use before the end of March. A UAE long weekend stay-cation was on the cards.
We had four days to spend and quickly picked an activity for each day.
Dubai is just down the road. From where live at the very edge Abu Dhabi it’s really not much more than an hour to get in to downtown Dubai. I had been, back in January, with M for a 12 hour eat, drink, sleep (a little), run a 10k whistle stop tour but hadn’t really seen very much. Thus, day one of the holiday was spent on the Dubai tourist trail. We started with a beach walk next to the Burj Al-Arab, took in malls with ski slopes, malls with shark tanks, various other bits and pieces ending for fruit juice and kebab at Dubai creek at sunset.
We were back in Dubai the next day for Taste festival. A park nestled beneath some enormous skyscrapers is taken over for the weekend. There are tents with cookery schools, tent based extensions of many of Dubai’s best restaurants, a well stocked beer tent and a stage for live music. Add a little sunshine, stir vigorously and you have the recipe for a very nice day out.
The third day of our little break was spent closer to home. Just down the coastline from where we live are the Eastern Mangroves and we’d booked a mangrove safari via kayak. Paddling around the in shallow water in the sunshine was jolly pleasant – once we established who was supposed to be steering – and there is a surprising amount of wildlife to see. Tree climbing crabs definitely being the highlight. We live next to the water and our apartment complex even has kayak storage – there is more kayaking in my future I hope.
For the final day of our UAE mini break we’d booked a desert safari. There are, I’m sure, many types of desert safari but the most common incarnation is the tourist oriented taster day for a collection of typical activities. It was exactly what we were looking for and a great first foray into the desert. We were bused out to a desert camp and offered Arabic coffee and dates while a somber Emirati gentleman allowed us to take turns acting as a perch for his falcon. Next up was dune bashing where our sombre Emirati friend suddenly transformed into lunatic in charge of a Land Cruiser dancing and whooping in the driving seat he took us and down dues, often sideways in plumes of sand on a wild ride – more fun than any roller coaster I’ve ever been on. After that we enjoyed the more stately camel and horse rides before sitting on carpets at low tables for a delicious barbecue dinner. After dinner we got to see the falcon in action before watching the sun set over the dunes and finally relaxing with a sweet tea around the campfire.
The desert, it seems, is not just a baking hot, featureless sandpit.
There are some photos in the gallery.