Friday, April 25, 2014

top ten dubai

our first night in dubai

Dubai has built quite the reputation for being ridiculously over-the-top. While it definitely lives up to that hype, I would completely disagree with the idea that there is nothing more to Dubai than glitz and glam. It's actually a very diverse city that is a melting pot of several different Middle Eastern cultures.

Dubai is not just one destination, it's multiple destinations all in the same place. The beaches of a resort town, the religiousness of Islam, the flashiness of Vegas, the wealth of New York, the shopping of Palm Springs, the desert of the Middle East, the vastness of Los Angeles, the skyscrapers of Tokyo, the humbleness of migrant workers. It's flashy and new, yet strict and reserved. It's home of the haves, but also the have nots. It's the land of gold ATMs and people sharing beds in 8-hour shifts. It's one contradiction after another, and I was fascinated by the endlessly competing interests. Under the shiny facade, there is always more to the story.

Can I hop on my travel soapbox for just a minute? I work in sustainable tourism development so we talk a lot about connecting visitors with authentic travel experiences. If you travel without ever leaving the confines of the "touristy" part of a destination, you are missing the most rewarding part of travel. If I had visited Dubai and never left the resort areas, my impression of the city would be vastly different than it is.

One easy way Jon and I branch out is by eating in off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods. This is a win-win. The best food in a destination is usually hiding far from the touristy areas and this way you can get a real flavor (no pun intended) of the city. Eat where the locals eat and you'll probably get a great meal and a more authentic, local experience.

Rant over.

Without further adieu, and to finally wrap up this trip several weeks later, I present my top ten of Dubai:

10. Pakistani tea at Ravi - sometimes the humblest things are the best
9. Platinum Movie Theater
8. (tie) Bu Qtair - fish in a non-descript trailer is the best fish
8. (tie) Arabian tea house - how many of these can be about food?
7. Burj Khalifa
6. Dancing waters (aka Dubai Fountains)
5. Spice souk
4. Brunch. I'm still full. 
3. Desert Safari - dunes, camels & falcons, oh my!
2. Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi - totally worth the awkward van ride. 
1. Food tour - because we really love food. 
And not ranked (because you don't rank people), but definitely the highlight of the trip - spending time with a old friends and making new friends!


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