Day 2 – Dubai
Our second say in Dubai started again with an amazing breakfast. Since I started studying international hospitality business, I am perceiving the entire hotel experience totally different. When I see young employees working for breakfast, I have an immediate flashback to my internship in Japan. It is insane how I can relate to them and actually know how hard they work .
For this day, we decided to visit the Old quarter of Dubai. I know, when hearing Dubai, you are usually thinking of tall buildings, shopping malls and luxury hotels. But there is not only the modern city of Dubai, but also the more traditional Arabic part. I am not sure how much of “Old Dubai” is actually old, traditional and historical. I heard that some parts were just artificially build to reconstruct the “old” vibe. Whatever! We both really wanted to see what Dubai has to offer and experience the more traditional Arabic culture.
We took the subway to Al Ras station, if I remember correctly. The journey took us around one hour. When we arrived we felt immediately the completely different atmosphere. We were wondering if we still are in Dubai. The buildings were all flat, the surroundings kind of “desert” like and the people extremely obtrusive. To be honest, we didn’t feel very comfortable at first.
Old Dubai is well known and popular for the different markets, which they call Gold Souk, Spice Souk and so on. They basically sell everything a tourist is looking for. Arabic spices and sweets, silk scarfs, tableware, very cute souvenirs and obviously gold. Especially the shops selling spices were so interesting and looked absolutely stunning. All the different colours of herbs, dried fruit, flowers and spices were amazing and often new to us. However, when wondering through the streets every time passing a shop someone tried convincing us to buy his product. It was really annoying, but also quite funny. I am not sure why everyone started calling me Shakira. Is that supposed to be Arabic for Lady? I have no idea. And then, suddenly people were starting to speak German to us. “So günstig wie bei Aldi Süd”; “Luege ma mol” and “Schauen kostet nix” were the top sentences we heard. It was ridiculous and shocking at once. I guess German tourists are quite common in this area.
After a while we found some less crowded corners, where we were able to actually look around, buy some souvenirs and take some pictures. When we made it through the small alleys, we came to the Dubai Creek, a small river which makes it way through Dubai City. In order to continue exploring Old Dubai you have to cross the river. And that was actually a really cool experience. Only for 1 AED we could hop on a traditional small boat and cross Dubai Creek. Our driver was insane. He slightly misjudged the space when arriving at the other side. Oh Lord! That caused a heart attack. We bumped into the stone wall and I almost fell across my seating neighbour. It was so funny.
When we arrived safely on the other side of old Dubai we walked through another market, which was less crowded and had way less annoying salesman. However, we just made our way immediately to a small restaurant where we could relax, drink and eat a snack. I really wanted to visit this one specific little restaurant. I discovered in online and had to see it in real life. Obviously, we weren’t the only once having this idea. The place was completely occupied and busy. However, we decided to wait like everyone else for a while. And I have to say, the 20 minutes waiting time was totally worth the experience.
The Arabian Tea House looked stunning inside and outside. It almost reminded us of being in Greece with the white and blue furniture, the plants and flowers hanging from the ceiling. It was an incredible atmosphere. Never have I ever seen so many employees working at the same time in one small restaurant. But I wouldn’t have changed anything. They all seemed to really enjoy working together. We ordered some refreshing drinks and some Arabian snacks. We had to order hummus, which came with home-made flat bread and some falafel with a yoghurt dip. I chose the recommended mint lemonade to drink. All together was just so delicious and fresh.
Afterwards we decided to stay in this area, called Al-Seef. In my opinion, that was the most beautiful part of old Dubai. I really enjoyed just walking through the small alleys, discovering mosques, museums and cafes. The best was, that there weren’t a lot of people at all. We had the whole beauty for us. At the end we even saw some camels, which was definitely the highlight for my mum. But I have to admit, especially the baby was really cute.
And that was basically it for today. We walked to the next subway station and headed back to our hotel. We decided to grab some dinner from one of the stalls nearby our hotel and eat them casually in our room. It was a really nice day with so many different impressions and experiences that I didn’t expect from Dubai.