A Study in Contrasts

May 3, 2012by Brenda Pierce

Wow, this has been one full trip! I am sitting here trying to remember what we did yesterday and am at a loss. I think the heat is getting to me. I know we ended the day with a desert safari, which was a blast! We had the best driver and the ride through the dunes was crazy. We also stopped to watch a falconry demonstration, watched the sunset, then continued on to the desert camp where we had a great dinner, excellent conversation, watched a belly dancer, and enjoyed shisha under the stars. It was really a good evening. The falconer also came by the camp with 3 of his birds so we had an opportunity to talk one on one with him and learn even more about what he does, the birds, and the tradition of falconry. I got to hold two of the birds!

This morning we went back to the desert to the Al Maha desert resort and spa. If you want to really get away from it all and have a luxury vacation where you do nothing but relax and enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings, then Al Maha is the place. It is located about an hour and a hald drive from Dubai on a nature preserve. You can enjoy the spa, activities like riding, archery, etc. Each room is actually a private bungalow with its own infinity pool overlooking the desert. The oryx and gazelles roam freely through the area, and you are likely to see one by your pool or grazing on the grasses by your front door!

After visiting the resort, we returned to the city to visit the other extreme in Dubai accommodation – the Burj Al Arab. Where Al Maha is quiet and peaceful, the Burj is bustling with people and activity. The Al Maha is designed to blend in with its desert surroundings and the Burj is designed to stand out. The Burj has an excellent view of the city, the ocean, the Palm and The World, and the rooms make a bold statement with bright jewel tones and gold chrome. Understated is not a term used in conjunction with the Burj.

I got to see the Ski Dubai indoor ski hill at the Mall of the Emirates. Its really an interesting operation. For the price of a lift ticket in the US, you can get a 2 hour pass that includes  the lifts and your equipment. Then you can ski down the 400m long slope on the man-made snow. There is a poma lift and a chair lift. The mall itself is HUGE! And much like the malls at home. Lots of designer names and common brands you see in American malls. The people are a mix from everywhere in the world, and all are taking part in the national sport of Dubai – shopping.

There is a lot to do in Dubai and the surrounding emirates, and with Emirates Air you can stop over for a few days on your way to other destinations. From Seattle you can fly to Dubai, visit for a few days, then continue on to Jordan, for example, for a week or so, making a really great vacation! Just sayin’…..

Ok, off to Oman tomorrow bright and early (ugh). More from Muscat tomorrow!

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