United Arab Emirates

Country #48 - United Arab Emirates Day 2

The Penguins

I got a great night's sleep last night at Rove Hotel Trade Centre and really enjoyed the huge breakfast and tons of options for breakfast this morning! I had an omelette before heading out for another day in Dubai, UAE. My main stop for the day was the Mall of the Emirates because Dubai doesn’t need just one mega-mall, but two. I took the metro from my hotel all the way there and when I got there I walked around for a little bit before the main attraction - Ski Dubai!

Ski Dubai is the tourist of tourist attractions but I don’t care because it was amazing and everything in Dubai is touristy. It is basically an entire ski slope and other fun ski attractions inside of a mall. And it was incredible. I don’t like skiing so that’s not why I was there. My goal was to meet the Ski Dubai penguins! It was really expensive ($90) for my day at Ski Dubai but totally worth it, especially since I have spent very little on attractions this trip. The $90 got me in to meet the penguins, but it also allowed me to do all of the fun activities (besides skiing) inside Ski Dubai and I definitely took advantage of it!

I’ll start from the beginning, though. I waited in the penguin waiting area along with a family from Iran and two girls from China. We watched an adorable penguin instructional video before meeting the penguin trainer and then, of course, meeting the penguins. They were so cute and honestly just pretty hilarious! The first ones that we met were the Emperor penguins, the second largest type of penguin. They were very cute and they were the ones you could meet and pet. One of them was in training and it was adorable watching the penguin learn how to meet people. Their feathers felt like velvet and it was just an awesome experience. Also, the mom from Iran was hilariously afraid of them (in a funny way) and refused to touch them so they took a group picture with the mom like ten feet away - it was fantastic.

The second penguins that we met were the Gentoo penguins. They are smaller and much faster than the Emperor penguins. They were so fun to watch run around and they even played with baby toys! You couldn’t pet the Gentoo because they were so much more active but they were still cool to watch and learn about. I got pictures with all of the penguins and that is where Ski Dubai really makes their money. I spent $50 on two pictures - and it would have been $70 but the girl at the checkout counter felt so bad for me struggling to decide between the two that she let me use her employee discount which was so sweet and super helpful because I really could not decide.

After meeting the penguins I had an incredible rest of the day at Ski Dubai. I spent three more hours there! My favorite thing was the snow tubing - they would spin you around down a huge hill and it was so much fun (remember, I’m from Alabama where we have literally zero snow ever). I also really loved the zorb! A zorb is a giant, inflatable ball that you get inside and ride down the snow in. I have always wanted to zorb and it was so cool! I also had fun doing the Snow Bullet slide, the snow luge, and just riding the ski lift to see all of Ski Dubai. The last thing that I did was watch the penguins put on a little informational show which was, of course, adorable.

I had an amazing time at Ski Dubai, with my only complaint being the prices. After finishing my great day I headed just next door inside of Mall of the Emirates to Shake Shack. I know, very unoriginal, but I was starving (it was after 3:00pm) and I wanted their hot chocolate. I scarfed down my favorite fast food burger and then walked around the mall while drinking my hot chocolate. Afterwards, I took the metro to my next stop, the Dubai Marina. Going from below freezing to over one hundred degrees wasn’t the most enjoyable experience (it made my fingers hurt like crazy) but that’s Dubai for you!

The Dubai Marina was amazing to walk around and see the huge buildings and boats. Some of the buildings are really unique and I enjoyed just walking around the area. I ended up making my way to the Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites as this is the only place that you can get a good view of the infamous Palm Islands. I made it up to the restaurant and ordered just a Sprite to be able to watch the sunset over The Palm. It is a pretty incredible man-made thing to see a palm tree figure in the ocean and is incredibly expensive to stay (or live) there. I was really glad to be able to see it from above!

After a bit, I made my way back down and to the metro to head back to Rove Hotel Trade Centre. It was a full day filled with some of Dubai’s highlights and I really enjoyed every second of it. I’m sad to be leaving Dubai tomorrow but am so glad that I was finally able to visit this incredible (and very hot) city - I would love to come back and explore more of the United Arab Emirates some day!

48 countries down, 148 to go.

Read about my first day in the United Arab Emirates here.

To learn more about Rove Hotel Trade Centre click here.

Country #48 - United Arab Emirates Day 1

The Mall and Fountain

After a long few days of travel, I’m so excited to be heading to Dubai, United Arab Emirates today! Dubai has been near the top of my travel bucket list for a long time and I’m so excited to have two whole days to explore it. I had a pretty early flight out of Almaty, Kazakhstan and luckily the immigration line took a lot less time this time through. I arrived around 10:00am and immigration and customs in Dubai (DXB) were a breeze. I found the metro easily in my terminal and took it to my hotel, Rove Hotel Trade Centre.

The metro was a very interesting experience because the front two cars are reserved specifically for women and children. I’d never seen this before but it was honestly really nice mainly because we usually had much more space than the guys did! The metro was also really cool in that it runs without a person driving it. I arrived at my metro stop in no time and had a ten-minute walk to my hotel - no big deal, right? Nope. It was so hot. Like, we’re talking 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit. With my luggage and still in warm clothes - it was killer.

I arrived way too out of breath where I was greeted by Maria, Yolisa, and Bohdan. They were all so cool, about my age, and from all over the world! It was great talking to them about my trip for a while when I arrived and then Bohdan helped me with my bags. I cannot thank Rove Hotel Trade Centre enough for an incredible stay - it was absolutely perfect from start to finish in every way! My room was so nice and I loved the aesthetic of the entire hotel. I especially loved the room decor and the floor to ceiling window that looked out over the city! Once in my room, I fell asleep for about an hour and it was much needed to help me get through the day.

After my quick nap, I set out to explore Dubai! Today my goal was to visit Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, and Burj Khalifa. I started by taking the metro (in now cooler clothes) to Dubai Mall. The walkway from the metro to the mall itself was over fifteen minutes of an elevated air-conditioned walkway. It seemed like it was never going to end but I wasn’t going to complain thanks to the air conditioning. When I arrived at the mall I found a map and planned out my visit.

I wanted to see all of the main points in the mall (the atriums, waterfall, designer section, the aquarium, etc.) and it would be no easy feat. The walk throughout the whole mall took about two hours and was exhausting. One of the coolest spots was the Apple store (of course) which was the only shop with a huge terrace overlooking the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. It took me forever to find a place to eat (which seems ironic but it was just because I was tired and therefore unnecessarily picky) but I eventually found an Italian spot with a view of the indoor waterfall.

After eating a much needed full meal I found a really cool spot for dessert - Syrian ice cream! It was so uniquely made (basically it was rolled up and then they put the roll in a cone) and it was so tasty. Who knew! Afterwards, I walked along the designer row which was pretty empty compared to the rest of the mall but really beautiful (in terms of malls). I then made my way outside to see Dubai Fountain! The fountain was designed by the same guy who designed the one at the Bellagio in Vegas and supposedly the fountain is visible from space.

I was absolutely blown away by the first show! It was just so cool - I’ll add a video below to help show just how amazing it was. I loved it and watched multiple times over the next few hours - it got even better once it gets dark outside and the lighting started! It happened every fifteen to thirty minutes and each time it was synched to a different song. It was so cool to see and if you ever visit Dubai it should be at the top of your list!

After watching multiple times I headed back into the mall to make my way up Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world! I had already seen the building tons today as it is situated right outside of Dubai Mall and is a backdrop for Dubai Fountain (and it’s obviously hard to miss) but it was really cool to visit the inside. What amazed me most was probably how fast the elevator was (it took under a minute to get to the top) and how much you can see that Dubai really is in the middle of nowhere (surrounded by water and desert). I also enjoyed learning about how Burj Khalifa was built and how many countries (including many U.S. companies) worked together to make it possible. My absolute favorite part, though, was seeing the fountain show from above! It was so cool to see it from such a unique perspective, especially after having seen it on the ground first.

After visiting Burj Khalifa I was entirely exhausted. I made my way back to the metro and back to the hotel where I promptly crashed. I now know that it is entirely possible to walk over ten miles visiting a mall because that’s what I did today. Totally worth it, though - the mall was nice to see but Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa alone have already made my time in Dubai amazing!

48 countries down, 148 to go.

Read about my second day in the United Arab Emirates here.

To learn more about Rove Hotel Trade Centre click here.