Ah, the end of the road. At this point, after 3 months (something like 100 days) of travelling, I wouldn't exactly say that I missed home, but I was feeling relieved at the thought of standing still. Life goes on while you take a break and for me, that meant bills piling up, things needing to be sorted out and arrangements needing to be made. For most of our trip, we could happily cast all that aside but by now, I was itching to get back to base and tick through these tedious tasks.
Camel milk chocolate
Our final stop was one I was really looking forward to. Planting something like that at the end of your itinerary serves to counter the end-of-holiday-blues. It's a little present to get excited over right before home time.
Huge aquarium at Dubai Mall
Dubai appeals to me on so many levels. I've expressed before that I just love BIG cities and I mean, proper built-up cities that have a distinct city buzz. It might seem strange coming from a Brissie girl, since Brisbane is hardly a big city, but I consider Shanghai to be my second home and Shanghai is the epitome of big city.
Burj Khalifa at Night (couldn't get the whole building in one photo)
I love tall building. I love restaurants, shops, city lights, skylines and grandeur. Most of Europe was full of beautiful, classic, aged stone buildings with intricate details and romantic lines. I do appreciate that look but for me, it's modern architecture that takes my breath away. Like other people might go crazy over rare art or high end fashion labels, I have a thing for extraordinary building designs. It should be obvious what I was hoping to see in Dubai.
Art instalment at Dubai Mall
On first impressions, this city is truly built-up. I mean, there are tall buildings everywhere. It also feels new. We really only spent a couple of nights in Dubai and travelled from the airport to hotel to Dubai Mall to hotel and airport so I can't say I saw much of the place. What I did see gave me the impression that the buildings had sprouted up recently to accommodate visitors (which is essentially true). It was all new, shiny and clean.
Cocktails at our hotel bar
There were never any people on the streets, only inside the buildings. Part of this would be because we were there in summer and it was up to 50 degrees outside but also, one gets the feeling that most people in Dubai were either at the shopping centres or in their hotels.
Beach at Le Royal Meridian
Marc and I stayed at the Grosvenor House Hotel (one I recommend), which had a shuttle bus going to its sister resort, Le Royal Meridian, that had access to the beach. We had a fun little dip in the ocean; mind you the sand was piping hot and the water itself felt like a warm bath. Once the novelty wore off, we had a much more comfortable swim in the resort pools.
Dinner from Red Lobster, Dubai Mall
I can't comment much about local cuisine because we didn't try any. I wouldn't be able to tell you the first thing about authentic food in the UAE. We ate at our hotel a couple of times and also had a really nice dinner at the Dubai Mall (lobster at Red Lobster). There was food from all over the world at the shopping centre. We had some issues with cabbies including one who short changed us and zoomed off and another who had a meter that beat faster than normal. I advise you to be cautious of that if you travel to Dubai. There are some who love preying on tourists (all over the world, not just in Dubai).
Backpacks on and set for BNE
Our two nights blitzed by and soon it was time for the long flight back to Brisbane. There's no way to fully express how it feels to come home after 3 months abroad. Even now, wrapping up this post, I feel a bit emotional! It's been an absolute treat typing up these country summaries. Oddly enough, I think it was good for me that I left it so long because a year after the trip, it's been a nice way to revisit past memories and momentarily feel like I was at those places again.
Readers, there is nothing more worthwhile in the world than travel. I can't remember where I read this but whoever quipped "travel is the only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer" is so wise. Visiting places far from home and talking to the people, experiencing their way of life, tasting their food; it really opened my eyes. I've gained a great appreciation for things both in the places I visited, and in Brisbane that I used to take for granted.
We can't wait for our next trip! xo
In the meantime, I'll be back to Brisbane posts :)