When people (the web, newspapers …) talk about the power of viewing their goals, I have always been skeptical. For a couple of years I have decided to try. Can the simple fact of writing a list and putting it on black and white help the wishes and objectives become reality ?!
I can tell you that for many things it was just like that for me.
This year I managed to tick 6 dream destinations from the list I had drawn up in early January 2019 and Dubai was among them.
A city with an oriental charm but with the futurism of the future.
Born from a small fishing village, it quickly became a big metropolis thanks to “black gold”.
Dubai is the city that makes you believe in dreams, everything seems possible here. A ski slope in a shopping center, an artificial island or a building that will be 1km high (will be built on the occasion of EXPO 2020); are just some of the ideas that came out of the imagination to become solid reality.
I had the pleasure of exploring it thanks to the Dubai Tourist Board that made this trip possible and the crowning of my desire.
This is the city guide on a long weekend (4 full days). Flights from Rome take about 5 hours (there are many direct), which makes it possible to visit this city of the United Arab Emirates even in just over a weekend.
At the Seef Heritage Hotel
As a base for the first two nights we have chosen the Al Seef area, perfect for exploring the “oldest” area of the city and close to the Creek (the river that crosses Dubai).
Al Seef is a newly built neighborhood with an ancient spirit.
We were guests of the Al Seef Heritage Hotel, a popular hotel perfect for immersing yourself in the atmosphere of the Thousand and One Nights.
Al Fahidi: the city market.
First stop on waking up? The Al Fahidi area (“old” Dubai) to discover the souks of spices, gold and textiles.
To reach it (on foot from our hotel) we crossed the Creek on board a typical boat (Abra). The fare is 1 Dirham per passenger (around 20 euro cents).
The feeling of the hot sun on the skin in late November is truly wonderful. Temperatures range from 25 to 30 degrees and it is truly a perfect time of year to visit Dubai (in the summer it is too hot).
The dazzling gold of the souk opens my eyes, still half-closed by the alarm clock in another continent.
The smell of spices and incense pervades the air and mixes with the confused and magnificently disordered voices of the oriental markets.
Cultural lunch at The Sheikh Mohammed Center
For lunch we cross the Creek again and head for a typical house 200 years ago (a real record for a “new” city like Dubai).
Identifying the origins of the city is not easy, as everything is rather recent. Think that only 11% of the city’s population is indigenous.
A cultural lunch to discover the customs of the first inhabitants of Dubai was a truly wonderful experience.
We all sit on the ground and the meal (mostly based on rice and meat) is positioned in the center so that everyone with their hands can reach the food.
It was not only the food that acted as a glue, but all the stories shared with the diners.
We learned that despite the totally different ways of living, the language and traditions, the language of the heart is always the same.
On the way back to the hotel, to refresh ourselves before sunset, a stop is a must at the super instagrammable Arabian Tea House. The tradition of tea in Arab countries is a real must.
Sunset by the sea in La Mer
La Mer is one of the most recently built areas. In Dubai we move mainly by taxi (touristically speaking) and the distances are quite long, but we arrive in time to enjoy the golden hours by the sea.
The right place to spend the day on the beach or simply come and enjoy an aperitif at sunset.
For dinner we go back to the hotel and try one of its restaurants: Skafos.
Burj Khalifa: the tallest skyscraper in the world.
When I am in a new place I always look for a point of view from above that in a few seconds makes me understand immediately what surrounds me.
I have never been with my feet on the ground, but so high in my life. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world with its 829 meters high (it will be surpassed in 2020 by a new building under construction in Dubai).
What surprised me most was the possibility of going outside on a small terrace. Breathing the air and having the most beautiful view of Dubai before your eyes gives an incredible sense of freedom.
But the show does not end here. At the stroke of every half hour (from 18 to 23), right on the slopes of the skyscraper, it is a must to admire the show of the dancing fountains. We went the same evening, it really deserves!
Dubai Mall: shopping time and a visit to the underwater Zoo & Aquarium
I would say that the Dubai motto is: “Either things are made big or they are not made at all”; here we are in one of the largest shopping malls in the world which also houses an aquarium and zoo: Dubai Mall.
10 million tons of water in a giant crystal case where you can admire rays, manta rays, sharks and a real coral reef.
Iranian mosque in Dubai
We go back to the hotel to refresh ourselves, but just a stone’s throw away is the colorful Iranian mosque, so we decide to make an unscheduled jump. Dubai is a cauldron of cultures now, here you can pray to any religion without feeling judged. It is a city of the future where the melting pot is now a solid reality. Only rule? Respect for yourself and others.
Cooking Lesson: Arabic Mezze
If you are passionate about cooking, it is certainly an interesting activity to learn how to prepare tasty oriental dishes. Obviously then they will be your super tasty dinner. My favorite is certainly hummus (chickpea cream), but for the first time I tasted the eggplant sauce: babaganoush.
Relax at Nikki Beach – Dubai Marina
Who would have thought that the sea in Dubai is really beautiful ?! Moving towards Dubai Marina we found long white sand beaches and crystal clear sea. In general, the city is very open on a cultural level so you can swim in bikinis practically anywhere.
Nikki Beach is one of the Dubai Marina beach clubs where you can spend a summer day away from the memories of the European cold.
Afternoon tea at Palace Downtown
Part of the charm of Dubai is also the luxury that pervades the city. Just take a tour on Saturday morning and find Ferrari and Lamborghini around, or look up and admire the multitude of incredible hotels of the best chains in the world.
Manuela and I, my travel companion, felt like real Arabian princesses on the occasion of our afternoon tea at the Palace Downtown. A real ritual to accompany the most refined pastries and a super chic location.
Sunset at Burj Al Arab
There are moments that cannot be bought and for me this was one of those of infinite value despite the fact that it cost nothing. The sunset at Burj Al Arab is truly special. Wait along the sea shore for the sun to disappear and the moon to rise, while one of the first skyscrapers in Dubai is colored to greet the night.
Ps take a look also behind you, there is the beautiful mosque Grand Mosque.
The Pearls Show
2 hours to be transported to another dimension. The most amazing theater show I’ve ever seen. Waterfalls, fire, incredible dancers and much more.
Le Perle is an experience that alone becomes a great attraction for visiting the city.
Exploring JBR: flying cup and street art tour
JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residance) is definitely the weekend neighborhood. In Arab countries, the equivalent of “our” Sunday is Saturday. So the weekend starts on Thursday evening.
So on Saturday morning we found this area of the city super crowded. This is where there is the “central” beach and the many attractions of the promenade. Among these we tried one that I had never experienced: the flying cup. A sort of rotating disc that rises gently up to 40 meters. The particularity? Your feet are in a vacuum.
JBR is also worth a stroll to discover Dubai’s fantastic street art.
One of those places that have become famous thanks to social media and that you have probably already seen around the web. The reason? A multitude of flowers to create enchanted worlds complete with a real Emirates plane completely covered in white daisies.
Sunset at The Pointe
The exact point where you can admire the sunset with the background of Atlantis, the hotel built on an artificial island.
Dinner at the Masterchef restaurant
The first restaurant in the world to try the culinary experiences seen on TV. I have to admit I’ve never seen Masterchef, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were very lucky because we had the pleasure of having one of the last winners of Masterchef USA in the kitchen: Shaun O’Neale. Experience of 10 and praise!
Ps those tortellini are among the best ever eaten!
The incredible curiosity remains to find out what will happen in 2020 when Dubai will host EXPO. The city of possibilities continues to change its face and make people believe that the impossible becomes reality.
Dubai: guida della città in un weekend lungo.