Here’s the final part of the UAE travel diary series.
We woke up pretty late on day nine and before setting off, I looked out the window to discover this beautiful sight:
The car park.
But seriously, isn’t this a sight for sore eyes?
Because we’d arrived so late the night before and it was pitch black outside, we had absolutely no idea that the view would be so beautiful! After precariously dangling both my phone and my camera out the window to take a few pics (living on the edge), we decided to get some breakfast across the road at Cafe Barbera. (We’d missed the breakfast buffet as we’d woke up too late!)
Don’t you just love palm tree lined streets?
Think we must have stared at the options for a few short hours before placing our order.
Love that they have coffee bean decorated tables!
Olive pizzas, a little too bready and FAR too many olives (coming from a bit of an olive fan girl) but a good tomato sauce so all was forgiven.
Can’t remember what these little mini cakes were called, they were nice, but nothing special.
And finally, the Ferrero Rocher cake. Bit disappointing once again. Looked great but I just found the whole thing too sweet.
You can see Mr Man in the pic there with his Karak tea / chai. I think it’s authentic to South Asia as I have memories of this stuff from childhood trips to India, he tried it and loved it. Me? Not so much. Anyway, it’s a milky tea brewed with cardamom (yuck), cinnamon and cloves.
The view from the cafe, whilst nice, didn’t really compare to that from our room:
^Pretending to be creative.
We hopped in a taxi (which, notably, are much cheaper outside of Dubai) and asked to be dropped off at the abandoned coastal town of Jazirat Al Hamra, which translates to ‘the red island.’ This is a town / small city that was abandoned in the late 60s by three indigenous tribes of pearl divers and fishermen. There are a few varying opinions on why they suddenly upped and left.
There’s something like 300 houses and multiple mosques that you can basically just wander around in and explore. They’re mostly completely empty and they’re all open / unlocked. Not sure if the previous residents took every last item or if opportunistic individuals have acquired anything of value. I found it so interesting that in many cases the walls and ceilings were made of coral and palm tree wood.
Some of the derelict buildings have started to crumble, everything is covered in a layer of dust and sand and there are some overgrown shrubs / trees but overall, the warm, dry atmosphere means that it’s more or less perfectly preserved. It really shows you how simple life was before the oil boom. Some people say it’s haunted and there are plenty of stories of strange happenings, especially after midnight. I’ll admit that it was a little eerie bring surrounded by deserted, crumbling buildings and because we didn’t see a single person, but we didn’t experience anything weird…
It was pretty hot in the afternoon sun, and, we stupidly forgot to grab a bottle of water so only really lasted a couple of hours before cutting our visit short. I recommend wearing trainers or some kind of closed shoes rather than sandals, despite the heat, as there are shards of glass and rubble everywhere.
Information about the town is a little scarce, it would have been really cool to have had a tour guide who walked us through and told us a few stories about the past. But I guess in a way, it was nice to just explore freely. At the time of our visit, I hadn’t seen this map, but it might be a good way to plan your walk. For us, it was a little bit of a maze with narrow alley ways and various random twists and turns. Our strategy was to start at the furthest end and start zigzagging our way back to the main road.
Anyway, on to the pics.
^ We found our way into this one, a little sad to see a place that would have been bustling with life and people so empty and worn down.
^ wudhu area, for cleansing one’s self before prayer.
Stairs to the minaret for the call to prayer
^ the drawings on the wall were so cute, but again, was a little weird seeing a place that would have been filled with life so desolate.
Shrubs and trees:
There’s something beautiful about nature reclaiming the place.
Streets and alleyways:
In some cases there were huge expanses of land between buildings and in others little alleyways in which only one car could fit:
Homes and randoms:
A little well:
^ surprised no one nicked the aircon!
There were a few buildings which were off limits:
Can you see the lizards on the walls below?
Some houses had electricity…
Coral bricks were everywhere, very resourceful:
There’s something profoundly sad about this for me. The telephone cables coming to an end:
^ Not sure if that’s graffiti or otherwise.
As we made a beeline for the main road, we stopped to grab some water, before hopping in another taxi and heading towards the Banyan Tree Al Wadi Resort for sunset and dinner. It is located pretty much in the middle of nowhere in the desert.
We headed on over to the Moon Bar, a rooftop tapas restaurant and bar, and got settled in. They’ve created a really relaxed atmosphere complimented by sofas and low set tables, overlooking reddy orange sand dunes.
Not sure why there were so many watch tower style buildings in the desert.
We quickly placed our order – diet coke for Mr Man which arrived in a jug and a pomegranate Shirley Temple for me. Really good drink, lemony, fruity and refreshing. I loved that they also generously added a fair few fresh pomegranate seeds.
First up – the olives marinated in garlic and parsley and served up alongside a mix of nuts. Lovely to nibble on with our drinks until the real food showed up.
The rest took quite a long time to arrive. It did seem like they were short on staff, other customers were also being held up. But we weren’t in anything of a rush so patiently waited. It was definitely worth the wait.
These chicken wings were so, so great. Crispy, fried chicken, tossed in a flavoursome lemony, spicy sauce with a hint of sweetness with a few herbs. Perfectly balanced and an absolute delight to scoff down. It came with some romesco sauce which I didn’t think was necessary.
In fact, I ended up dipping the vegetable fritters (a medley of fresh veg, battered and fried) into the delicious red pepper and almond concoction instead. Really enjoyable and frankly a lot better than I was expecting.
We also ordered som burrata cheese. This has a mozzarella shell and the interior is a mix of mozzarella and cream. It gives it a rich, soft consistency and it’s deeeeelicious. It came served up with pesto and salad leaves. Personally, I think if they had swapped the salad with some fresh tomatoes it would have been a better flavour combination.
Before long, the moon came out to play.
At this point, we ordered some more drinks and a shisha. We spent the next hour or so chilling and chatting. At one point I was sprawled out horizontally on the sofas just staring up at the sky. I’d love to say there was a blanket of stars above us, but, in reality, there were only a few scattered around. Even still, they do remind you how insignificant your life really is, ha.(No pics because it was way to dark and I don’t really know anything about night photography.)
We ordered a cheesecake to share between the pair of us. We received a well presented, baked, vanilla cheesecake, topped with fresh fruit, berry compote and a sprinkle of icing sugar. The biscuit base was a little soggy but the cheesecake itself was really good. I absolutely adore berries so this fulfilled my idea of a great dessert.
And with that, we called it a night. I absolutely love the lighting and interior design, minimal but still decorative.
We headed back to the hotel and grabbed a guava smoothie and a bottle of water from a little shop called Farghaly Fruits nearby. Yum.
The next morning, we got up bright and early and grabbed some breakfast at the hotel. I completely forgot to take pics, there was a reasonable spread though, everything you’d expect. Nothing stood out per se though. A bit of a foggy morning so the view wasn’t as breathtaking as the day before.
We made our way back to the coach station with good timing (in fact, the coach was leaving as we arrived but the driver was nice enough to wait for us.)
A few hours (and a small nap) later, we arrived back in Dubai. We headed on over to Dubai Mall to catch a film.
But first, a pit stop at “the chocolate bar,” for a hazelnut hot chocolate to share.
I think Mr Man’s left hand pretty much sums this drink up. I think we were both disappointed at the fact they used a powdered mix, with a name like “the chocolate bar,” our expectations were high. One of these days I’m gonna put up a real hot chocolate recipe. With actual chocolate. And cream. Bear with me.
I love these chandeliers.
A quick stop at segaworld before proceeding on to Reel Cinemas, which our friend had recommended. Don’t get me wrong, I was very hesitant to go to a cinema on holiday. I just thought why bother, we have cinemas in London, I don’t want to do / experience the same things I have at home, you know? But he convinced us we had to check out the platinum suites.
We purchased a couple of tickets for The Intern and headed on into the lounge. Naturally, platinum suites have their very own entrance.
As we sat down, we were presented with a menu.
I opted for the chicken parmesan (chicken breast, coated in flour and pan fried, topped with a tomato sauce and lots of cheese) while Mr Man obviously went for the mini burgers (sliders with grilled chicken, a bit lacking in flavour and a little overdone). They were served within the first 15mins of the film. Both were average. No pics as it was way too dark, and I didn’t want to be ‘that girl’ with my camera flash.
We also ordered a couple of drinks – diet cola for me and a mojito for Mr Man. In all honesty, the drinks were so large that we could have ordered one and shared, and still probably have had some to spare. The major issue here (#FirstWorldProblems), as we discussed after the film, revolved around the lack of bendy straws, making it a chore to sit up and properly sip our drinks.
The seats themselves were perfect. You sink right in and have the option of reclining back so you’re practically lying horizonally while watching the film. They provided us with cushions and blankets making it even mroe luxiourious.
There’s also a little button available which you can press for assistance.
Basically, after that, there’s no going back. A normal trip to the cinema just won’t be the same. Although, next time, I also probably wouldn’t bother with a full on meal. I’d probably settle on some snacks instead.
The total bill came up to something like £70, which although pricey, is how much you’d probably pay for a typical cinema + dinner date, so not too bad I reckon.
Next stop, Madinat Jumeirah, I think they’ve tried to recreate parts of Deira and the Creek here, (they even had extortionate abra rides, they actually aren’t too expensive but they are in comparison to the real thing) which I’ve covered in an older post. If I’m honest, I didn’t like it. I felt like it was a ripped off theme and I prefer the authentic experience over the pretty, romanticised version, and boy it was pricey.
^These reminded me of Istanbul.
^ Cute colourful shisha pipes.
^ little bottles of colourful sand in which you can have your name inscribed. I think the cheapest place I’ve seen this is in Dubai Mall. Make sure you haggle.
We settled on the Bahri Bar for dinner and sunset. After initially being sat at a table with ants crawling all over, we were moved to a sofa facing on one side, the Atlantis and the other facing the Burj Al Arab.
Mr Man went for something called Berry Nutty. A delicious medley of strawberries, raspberries, almond and hazelnut cream. I had serious drink envy!
I went for a cool Kahlua, bit like an iced mocha – espresso, chocolate, vanilla and cream. Yum!
I also ordered some sparkling water, which Mr man (knowing that he dislikes it), sampled, complained about and then proceeded to drink anyway:
The view was pretty great
Before long, our food showed up:
Dinky little bottles of sauce!
Chicken, beef and lamb sliders for Mr Man:
Cute, bit too bready and only the ras-al-hanout lamb one is worth trying. Also, where is the cheese at?! No burger is complete without it!
I went for the haddock goujons with a round of fries. The former was nice and crispy but the fish was overdone. Think I polished off most of the latter but again, underwhelming.
I think I would describe the food as: over priced average nibbles. The sunset view made up for it though.
Burj Al Arab by day:
And by night:
We headed on out and found a taxi:
Our final stop was a rooftop restaurant/ shisha spot / bar, called Shades.
It’s a really nice place to hang out in the evenings, with a wonderful view of the marina and an infinity pool too.
We ordered a shisha and simply kicked back for a few hours before heading back to the flat, and packing up before heading out to find a taxi to the airport.
Definitely missing this view!
And, following our well established Dubai departure tradition (third time), we decided to grab a McD’s for the road. Always a good idea.
Bye Dubai, until next time.