A cold night in Melbourne reminds us why we are lucky to be heading to the northern hemisphere for another adventure. Our A380 leaves a bit later than the scheduled 22:55 but we are soon fed supper and making our attempts to get comfortable and get some sleep. Karen’s neck pillow gives her a slight advantage but we both manage to sleep for about 5-6 hours out of the 14 we are in the air. We land just after 7:00. We make our way to a massive lift, head down and then take speedy airport train to the passport control desks. Our new smart scan passports see us quickly through. We collect our luggage quickly thanks to a very efficient system. As we exit the customs and baggage claim area we meet Karen’s cousin Tony who has kindly come out to collect us. We walk through a wall of heat to his car and head down the freeway to their apartment at Dubai Marina. There are now two ‘guard’ cats living with Inka and Tony, Sylvester and Urban. We sit around chatting for a while then had some tea and toast for our second breakfast. Later in the morning we go down to the local supermarket, Spinneys, for some lunch provisions, rolls, ham etc. During the afternoon we take a well needed nap as there is a six hour time difference. After we wake up again we watch the BBC news on TV and talk a bit more. Inka returns from her flight to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia late in the afternoon. We head out to a local Middle Eastern restaurant, Reem Bawardi, for dinner. It must still be in the 40s and it is quite humid as we walk to the restaurant which is on the marina. The ground floor is very smoky with sheesha pipe smoke so we head upstairs where it isn’t smoky. The food is nice and we chat. It’s strange to be eating dinner at 2:15 am! Well it is really 8:15 pm local time! On our return to Tony and Inka’s flat we chat for a short time and then head to bed for a good sleep.
On our last stay on Dubai we had seen the Palm Jumeirah, old Dubai, countless shopping malls, done some dune bashing, eaten in a traditional Bedouin camp and even taken high tea at the Burj al Arab – the famous sail hotel. As the weather is extremely oppressive in August we decided that we would duck for cover and visit a couple of the air conditioned malls. It was only a short walk to the train station. The access points all offer travelators to make things easier. A card system is used here too so we top up and head off the the Mall of the Emirates first. There’s only 535 shops, 97 restaurants, 2 luxury hotels and attractions here to see! The big department stores are well worth looking around and Carrefours is a massive store. 60 checkouts make it easier to relieve you of your money faster! A feature here is also Ski Dubai, a winter wonderland indoor ski resort. We have lunch at the adjoining Cheesecake Factory. A table away from the windows overlooking Ski Dubai is still not that warm although the cheesecake is quite decadent and we eat the appropriately named 30th Anniversary cheesecake after our main course. Next stop is the Dubai Mall which we also reach by the efficient train service and copious travelators. It is a shopping, dining, leisure and entertainment experience with over 1200 retail outlets! Features we check out include the aquarium with the largest viewing panel in the world and interior waterfalls. Just outside there is a promenade alongside the water fountains which sadly aren’t in operation. Fortunately we saw them last time. However the opportunity to view the Burj Kalifa is hard to resist even if we have to scoot along over the bridge seeking shade as we take a few photos in the 43 degree heat. On our way back in the train we see the Burj Al Arab through the sand haze. Transport costs for our day out at the malls comes to 10.50 dirham each. That’s about $6 total. Karen and I eat out at an Asian restaurant on the marina before taking another well earned sleep. We certainly walked a long way around those malls!