After waking up in our super king size bed and rolling twice to get out, I threw back the curtains and stepped out onto the sunny balcony. The call to prayer was permeating the air…which I love… it instantly reminds you that you’re in a completely different world. It’s nice to imagine that at that moment in time, lots of people all have the same purpose and the city becomes a hive of single-minded activity as they filter into their local mosques, and set out their prayer mats.
Thinking he might as well make use of the kitchen, Martin rustled up breakfast in bed.
Full of coffee, scrambled eggs, avocado and toast, we took the futuristic metro through the skyscrapers, past the Burj Khalifa, down to the old town to check out Dubai’s Souks.
My parents joke that I’ve always had to have a bottle of water with me wherever I go…which also means that I get teased about visiting every bathroom when I’m out and about. Well, it totally works in my favour as I discovered this little gem while searching for suitable plumbing…
Apparently, back in the day, people would visit their ruler in a tent like this, bring gifts and ask for what they wanted.
The Barjeel Heritage Guest House is very traditional. Each room is unique & done up in Arabian style. We met a great chap who works there and has previously lectured on Arabian culture and history at Oxford University in England. Needless to say, he loves to talk about it. A Barjeel is a Persian wind tower used to cool enclosed spaces in the extreme desert heat. This Barjeel is one of only a few wind towers left in Dubai.
I love the locks on the guest rooms too. No key cards here!
It’s also right next door to Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum’s house below (bit of a mouthful). He ruled Dubai until 1958 and is the current Sheikh’s grandpappy.
After an impromptu tour, history lesson & some directions, we walked along the waterfront to find an Abra to take us across the river to the Gold & Spice Souks.
It took about 5 minutes to get across and was only 1 dirham (about £0.20)! Well worth getting off the metro one stop early to do this.
The Gold Souk at Deira… what can I say…
That aside… put your sunglasses back on or face retina damage from all the bling. There’s a few streets of shops full of precious metal & big shiny rocks. If you’re planning a robbery – this would be the place to do it…except that if they catch you, they’ll chop off your hands.
There are boards advertising today’s gold price so you don’t get ripped off and remember to haggle!
The Spice Souk isn’t very big and has apparently gotten smaller in recent years, but there are some fantastic shops radiating heavy, exotic scents and bursting with colour. You can also pick up other local goodies like beaded, camel leather slippers, and scarves.
The shopkeepers play a little game asking you to guess what all of the spices are… We were horrendous! Can you spot these? Dried lemon, black lemon, dried garlic, frankincense, dried roses, saffron, chamomile, cinnamon, star anise, indigo, turmeric & cardamom.
With the sun going down, we headed back to the hotel and ended up in Bar 44. It’s on the 44th floor of Grosvenor House with amazing views. One side looks over the ocean out to the Palm & Atlantis, and the other, the marina’s twinkling skyline.
After a few too many Moscow Mules and helping myself to roses from the huge vases, there wasn’t really anywhere else open so we did what all sensible people would… went back to our suite and ordered vino from room service!