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Old 03-25-2013, 02:35 PM   #16
dolphingirl47
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After the performance we headed back inside. I had a couple of things left that I wanted to do. One of them was a visit to the "Gold Souk" at the Dubai Mall. I was a little worried that I had not seen this listed on any of the sign posts. This is where we got our new wedding rings for our vow renewal. I have always wanted a simple white gold Tanzanite ring to go with it and always imagined that I would go back to the same shop. Well, the shop was no longer there. In its place and the the shops either side of it is now a huge Cheesecake Factory. I do like the Cheesecake Factory, but I have to admit that this gave me a little stab in my heart. A lot of what used to be the Gold Souk has changed since our last visit, but that is actually a change for the better. When we bought our wedding rings in 2011, a lot of it felt like a ghost town with a lot of the shops empty and boarded up. Now every shop was occupied. Instead of becoming a typical tourist trap with "authentic wares" made in China, they kept it quite tasteful. There were still a good number of jewellery shops, but there are also shops selling traditional Arabic clothing, Arabic perfumes and incense and carpets. Graham found himself somewhere to sit and watched the world go by while I had a good look around. I did have a look around some of the jewellery shops. I did not see anything that I liked. A lot of the jewellery in the UAE is rather too flashy for my taste and this was most certainly the case for the rings I saw that evening. Once I had looked around long enough, I met up with Graham again.























There was one thing we still wanted to have a look at and that was the aquarium. Although you have to pay to go in the aquarium itself, which we did to our last visit to Dubai, there is also a huge viewing area that is accessible to the public. We spent quite a while standing there watching the fishes swim past. They have a huge stingray in there, which completely captivated me. Another thing animal that kept my attention was a huge eel that was swimming around the tank. I have seen eels before, but they have always stuck close to the rocks. So to see one swimming in amongst the other fish out in the open was somewhat unusual. After a while, we went up one level for a different perspective of the aquarium. There were nowhere near as many people there than on the ground floor.









After we spent another 30 minutes or so just watching the aquarium, we decided that it was time to eat. Neither of us was particularly hungry, but it seemed like a good idea to get something to eat. We headed to Macaroni Grill. We like this restaurant for the fantastic views over the aquarium and the food is pretty nice, too. This time we were seated in a different part of the restaurant. Graham still had an amazing view of the aquarium, but I was sitting with my back to it. We both went with something relatively light. Graham had Grilled King Salmon with Mediterranean Spices and Sun-dried Tomato Orzo and some water and I had Mom's Ricotta Meatballs & Spaghetti, which were Beef, Veal & Ricotta Meatballs with Romano, crushed Red Chile and Meat Sauce and a Raspberry Italian Cream Soda. Even though we had not been particularly hungry, we still enjoyed our dinner.





After dinner, I had a quick look at the second Lush shop and then we resumed the long hike back to the Metro station. On the way, we got a stunning view of a performance of the Dubai Fountain. When we got to the Metro station, our train was just pulling in. We were too far away from the Gold coach so got on the closest Silver coach and made our way through. Unfortunately there is the coach for women and children only between the Silver coaches and the Gold coach so at the next station, we got off and walked the last short stretch along the platform. I have never seen the Gold coach so full. We actually had to stand for the first 2 or 3 stops, but then the train started to empty out and we managed to get seats. When we arrived at the airport, we had a short wait for the shuttle, but soon we were back at the hotel. We had the best intentions to go for a swim, but we were both too tired. So we got ready for bed and went to sleep.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:58 PM   #17
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Old 03-26-2013, 02:43 PM   #18
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hi great report also just spent most of the day reading your hawaii report which was also amazing !!

your photos are so clear and good , what camera have you used
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Old 03-26-2013, 02:54 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by bex7583 View Post
hi great report also just spent most of the day reading your hawaii report which was also amazing !!

your photos are so clear and good , what camera have you used
I am glad that you are enjoying the reports.

The camera is just a Panasonic Lumix Underwater Camera so nothing special. I was quite impressed with it though.

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Old 03-26-2013, 05:12 PM   #20
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Great updates. That was a busy day!

You could be moving there? For work?
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:15 PM   #21
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Great updates. That was a busy day!

You could be moving there? For work?
Yes, that is the long-range plan. I work for a Dubai-based airline in the UK so a promotion to Dubai is always a distinct possibility. I actually was offered a job in Dubai at the end of 2010, but the circumstances were not right at the time so I ended up turning it down.

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Old 03-26-2013, 10:23 PM   #22
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Wow, the shopping looks amazing! I'm always a little surprised (and a little dismayed!) about the proliferation of American shopping and restaurants all over the world. Reminds of the time I found a Chi Chi's Mexican restaurant in Luxembourg City.

Jill in CO
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Old 03-27-2013, 04:58 PM   #23
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Wow, the shopping looks amazing! I'm always a little surprised (and a little dismayed!) about the proliferation of American shopping and restaurants all over the world. Reminds of the time I found a Chi Chi's Mexican restaurant in Luxembourg City.

Jill in CO
Shopping-wise you are going to find more UK than US shops in Dubai. As far as food is concerned, a lot of the American chains are there. The UAE actually has very little traditional food of its own. What we consider to be Middle Eastern food tends to come from Lebanon or Iran. For us it is actually a really nice treat to have all the major US restaurant chains in Dubai.

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Old 03-27-2013, 09:57 PM   #24
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Yes, that is the long-range plan. I work for a Dubai-based airline in the UK so a promotion to Dubai is always a distinct possibility. I actually was offered a job in Dubai at the end of 2010, but the circumstances were not right at the time so I ended up turning it down.

Corinna
That would be an amazing adventure.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:59 PM   #26
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You really had a busy day. I am loving the pictures. It's very interesting.
As we really only had two days, we had to make every second count.

Corinna
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:43 AM   #27
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Lovely pics!
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:44 AM   #28
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Day 3

We had set the alarm for 8:30 again, but this morning was a more leisurely proposition. We got up and got ready and then headed down to the Costa Coffee in the hotel lobby. Graham had an Americano and a Cinnamon Swirl and I had a Roasted Hazelnut Latte and the full-sized version of the Chocolate and Peanut Butter slice. After breakfast, Graham went to pay for the dry cleaning of his trousers. After the Mango Juice accident on the flight, we had dropped his trousers off to be cleaned the previous morning. While he sorted this out, I used the computers and printer in the lobby to do my online check in and print our staff travel receipts. Once we were both done, we headed back to the room. I had expected that Graham would have his trousers, but he had been advised that they would be delivered to the room. He was a little concerned that they had lost his trousers. He did not have to worry. Literally as soon as we were back in the room, there was a knock on the door and the trousers were delivered. We got ourselves organised for the day and headed back downstairs.

We had found out the previous morning that the hotel was running a shuttle to various tourist destinations at 10:00 every morning. The Atlantis was one of them. So we decided to make use of this. We had been told to be ready about 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time as the bus would leave at 10:00 prompt. So we went downstairs about 9:45 and sat on the chairs outside the hotel. It was another beautiful morning and we enjoyed the view over the airport. At one point, there was the airport shuttle and multiple taxis plus a mini bus from one of the local tour operators in front of the hotel, which caused utter chaos as there is not a lot of room there. Just before 10:00 our mini us turned up. Us and another couple got on and the driver asked where we wanted to go. At 10:00 prompt the doors were closed and we were on the move. I was just saying to Graham how impressed I was with this when the bus came to a stop again. We had gone about 20 yards. The driver then waited for multiple other people. The final person was on the bus at about 10:15 and we were finally on our way. We did not get very far though. We had just started to drive off when the driver asked the last person that had got on the bus where she was going. Her response was the Gold Souk. The Gold Souk is in one of the oldest parts of Dubai and nowhere near to where the bus was headed. She got quite nasty when the driver advised her of this. We dropped her at the Metro station at Emirates head quarters to make her own way to the Gold Souk.

With her dropped off, we were finally on our way. As soon as we joined the motorway, there were thick clouds of black smoke ahead of us. When we crossed one of the bridges, we saw that one of the dhows, which is a traditional Arabic cargo ship that operates between the Arabic peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and East Africa was on fire. Unfortunately I read in the paper the next day that the fire started on a Dhow loaded with oil while it was docked at a repair facility and jumped to two further dhows that were also docked. All three dhows were totally destroyed. This is a real tragedy. Not only is the number of traditional dhows going down anyway, but they also tend to be family businesses so whole families will have lost everything.

As we carried on our journey, what we got to see was a lot more positive and the focus changed from destruction to construction. There is still plenty of this going on. Buildings that we had seen in various stages of construction when we were in Dubai nearly two years ago had now been completed and new construction has begun. Development is no longer going at the explosive speed that I saw on my first visit in Dubai, but the city is definitely growing. It is now growing at a much more organic pace, which in the long-term surely must be better. I always suspected that Dubai would come out of the other end stronger and there are some encouraging signs that this is happening. For me the most visible sign that things are really looking up was the Palm Jumeirah. When we were last there, nothing at all was happening and there were rumours that the developer Nakheel was essentially bankrupt. On our last visit, the development concentrated on the area near the mainland where a number of high rise apartment buildings and a hotel were located and then the crescent, where the Atlantis is located. The rest was essentially a barren wasteland. I did not really expect that anything had changed, but it had. Virtually all the undeveloped land had something on it now. The seem to have moved away from high rise apartment buildings to individual houses. The good thing is that virtually all of them looked occupied. There are also a number of public buildings that have appeared and areas that do not have buildings on them have been landscape. The whole island looks like a different place. This has left me quite hopeful that Worlds of Discovery Dubai, which was supposed to be built on another Nakheel owned island, will be revisited at some point.

But I am getting ahead of myself. We dropped off the people for the Dubai Mall and while doing so, we got an amazing view over the Dubai skyline. We then carried on inland to the Mall of the Emirates to drop some more people off before heading towards the coast. I got some nice photos of the Burj Al Arab as we approached the coastal road. We had one more stop to make before we headed to the Atlantis. The stop was for Madinat Souk. Madinat Souk is part of the Madinat Jumeirah hotel complex. Madinat Jumeirah is my favourite hotel in Dubai. Up to now, I have not been lucky enough to stay there, but I was given the opportunity to tour it during my first visit in Dubai. Parts of the hotel are modelled after the traditional wind houses. The complex is huge and has extensive waterways with its own Abras. Madinat Souk is a bit of a tourist trap. It consists of various shops and stalls selling souvenirs and traditional handicrafts; multiple restaurants and a theater.

















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Old 04-02-2013, 11:50 AM   #29
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Once we had dropped the people for Madinat Souk off, we were on our way to the Atlantis. For some reason we were dropped off near the hotel entrance rather than the entrance to Aquaventure. This gave me a pretty good idea that one of the things I looked forward to the most may not happen. As soon as we got off the minibus, a security guard positively pounced on us and directed us towards Aquaventure. There was no pavement between the hotel and Aquaventure and the road that we were walking along was actually pretty busy. Still, we made it in one piece.





Before we went to Dubai I had been thinking about doing some kind of dolphin interaction while we were at the Atlantis. I had essentially talked myself out of it as I had a major expense every month so far this year. That morning I had spotted a little booklet with money off coupons for the Atlantis at the hotel reception. There was one offer that offered a free observer package, which included access to Aquaventure, with any purchase of a dolphin interaction. The price for the shallow water encounter is about the same as two day passes for Aquaventure so I was quite optimistic that I would get my dolphin interaction after all. Unfortunately they only had the more expensive dolphin swim available so I was out of luck. We go in the normal line for Aquaventure, which was surprisingly long. Sunday is a weekday in Dubai so I expected this to be reasonably quiet. However, the line seemed to be huge. Still, it was moving reasonably quickly and soon it was our turn.











We were told that part of the Rapids, which is really the reason why we go to the Atlantis, were closed. We still decided to go ahead. We paid for one locker and a towel and then we got changed. The part of the rapids where we normally start our journey was closed and in the process of being repainted so we had to walk a bit further. I put our towel on an empty lounger and then we found ourselves a twin inner tube and started our watery adventure. The area where we entered the water is near another favourite of ours. It is called the Torrent and is essentially a river with a wave machine at one end so that you are being pushed along by the recurrent waves. This is a bit of a thrill without being too intense and quite good fun. We did this three times in a row and then we decided to take to the Rapids.







Normally the Rapids are a different loop from the Torrent, but as Aquaventure prides itself on the fact that you really never have to leave your inner tube to get from one attraction to another, the Rapids and the Torrent are linked through a waterway. They managed to reroute the Rapids so that part of them flowed in the opposite direction and you could then complete the loop by going through the Torrent. The loop around the Rapids was significantly shorter, but they had added some additional rapids so we just went round a few more times and were happy enough. After we had gone round 5 or 6 times, we started to feel a little chilly. It was a bit overcast that day and there was also some wind coming in from the sea. So we decided to get out of the water to dry off a little. We got our towel, which had been moved, and decided to go for a walk.

While we were walking around, we came across something that we had not spotted on our previous visits. The slides go all from one central building, the Ziggurat, which has been modelled after a Mayan pyramid. Off to one side of the Ziggurat is an viewing window to the shark tank. Apart from sharks, they also have various stingrays and other fish in there. They also have a twist on the underwater tunnel. Rather than walking through, you slide through on an inner tube. So we were able to see all the various fish living in the tank and every now again, somebody came sliding past. I was utterly fascinated by this. I could have spent ages there, but because there was a roof over the area, we got chilly pretty quickly as we were still damp. Off to one side of the tank was a staircase that led to the top of the tank. They are offering three different programmes in the shark tank. Off on the far side of the tank was a platform that they use for a programme that allows people to feed the stingray. The other programmes are Seatrek where you get a special helmet which essentially allows you to walk at the bottom of the tank and snorkelling. While we were up there enjoying the sunshine, there were some people snorkelling in there. This was decidedly lower tech than at Epcot as people had traditional snorkelling gear, but I still really wanted to do this. This definitely has gone on the to do list for our next visit.

Once we had dried off, we moved on again. I suggested that we head over to Dolphin Bay. The walk from Aquaventure to Dolphin Bay is pretty nice with some nice views across the coastline. They also have a patio at Dolphin Bay where you can sit and watch the dolphins. Graham checked if I was quite sure about this and I was. So we walked over there. On the way, Graham spotted some interesting birds along the beach and in the palm trees. So we took a nice leisurely stroll. When we got to Dolphin Bay, we found ourselves a nice spot on the patio. They were just finishing off a shallow water interaction in the lagoon straight in front of us with some high energy behaviours like tail walks and back flips. So that was nice to watch. Once the interaction was over, the dolphins kept a low profile. I think they may actually have gone to one of the back pools. We stayed around for a little longer, but the dolphins did not reappear. So be decided to move on.







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Old 04-02-2013, 11:55 AM   #30
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When we headed for the exit, one of the golf carts that they use as shuttles between Aquaventure and Dolphin Bay was just pulling up so we decided to get a ride back. When we got to the shuttle stop at Aquaventure, we decided to carry on walking along the beach to see if there was access to the hotel this way. We got intercepted by another security guard pretty soon. He thought we were looking for the Lost Chambers aquarium for some reason and tried to give us directions to this from Aquaventure. I explained that I had read that they have a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly in their lobby and that I am a huge Dale Chihuly fan and that I had had hoped to see this. He told me that I would not be able to go to the lobby unless I was staying at the hotel. I was a little disappointed about this, but there was nothing that I can do about this. I have seen a tour advertised that includes High Tea at the Atlantis and this is how I found out about the sculpture in the first place so the next time I go to Dubai, I will try to book this.

We wandered back towards Aquaventure. Graham wanted to go round the Rapids and the Torrent once more in a single tube. I was a little reluctant and initially told him that I would for him. I was finally warm and dry again and the prospect of this changing was not tempting. However, as Graham started to float off, I changed my mind. I figured it would be a while for him to go round the loop and also I had my fill of the Rapids, I quite fancied doing the Torrent again. So I went to join him. Once we had done the loop once more, we headed towards the changing rooms. For some reason my locker would not open. They had changed from a system with wristbands with a RFID chip that worked as a ticket, opened and locked the lockers and could be used to pay for things around the park if you added cash to it to Tyvek wristbands with barcodes. In the morning it had opened and locked the locker quite happily, but suddenly it could no longer recognize the barcode. I had to find a member of staff who asked me to take off the wristband so that she could try to scan it herself. After she tried a few times, she went to get a supervisor with master key. About 10 minutes later, I finally had my stuff and could get changed. Once Graham got changed, I took some more photos around the entrance area.





















Once he was back, we walked towards the exit. Right by the exit they have a Cold Stone Creamery. We love their ice cream so that to stop there. Graham had to scoops of Strawberry Ice Cream and I had a scoop of Cake Batter Ice Cream and a scoop of Sweet Cream Ice Cream. I had totally forgotten that their tubs come with a waffle insert so that was a nice surprise. Once we had finished our ice cream, it was time to return to the mainland. The queue for the taxis was huge and there was also a shortage of actual taxis. Most of the cars that pulled up were town cars. Actual taxis in Dubai are government regulated and are considered a form of public transport. All taxis are ivory and have pink, red, green, yellow, orange or blue roofs depending on the company that operates them and a black and yellow taxi sign. Most taxis can be used by everybody, but the ones with the pink roofs are Lady's Taxis, have female drivers and can only be used by women and children. Town cars are not regulated and therefore more expensive. They have no visible markings and tend to be silver or black. We fell for this once and have managed to avoid town cars ever since. They do have a monorail, which connects the Aquaventure end of the Atlantis with a building on the mainland. So in the end we decided to take the monorail. We had to wait for a bit for the monorail to arrive, but that gave me the opportunity to take some more photos.



















We had taken the monorail back to the mainland once before and then ended up walking for a couple of hours in the dark to find a bus route. So I was delighted when I saw signs for taxis pretty much as soon as we got off the monorail. However, when we got to the area where the taxis were supposed to be, there was just more town cars. We left the building and headed towards the road. This is where things were different from last time. There is now a major road running right past this building which was still under construction the last time round. We just stood my the side of the road and did not have to wait long until an empty taxi came by. We flagged this down and we were on our way to the Mall of the Emirates.

The Mall of the Emirates is not as pretty as the Dubai Mall and is focusing more on upmarket shops. However, it has a few redeeming features. The Metro station there is the closest Metro station to the Atlantis. I has a Chili's restaurant and just across the corridor of this is Ski Dubai, which always makes for amusing watching. By the time we arrived to the Mall of the Emirates, we were ready for some dinner. All we had to eat all day was the cake for breakfast and the ice cream at the Atlantis. So as soon as we got there, we headed to Chili's. Graham had some Ice Tea and I had a proper Cherry Coke. If you order Ice Tea in Dubai, you always get a little glass of sugar syrup with it so that you can sweeten it to taste. We shared a
Triple Dipper Appetizer and chose Boneless Buffalo Wings, Southwestern Eggrolls and Texas Cheese Poppers as our three options. Graham then had the Flame-Grilled Ribeye with Garlic Toast, Loaded Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Veggies. I had a grilled Chicken Breast with Peppers and Mushrooms, Rice and a Red Pepper Sauce.



After dinner we walked across to Ski Dubai and watched what was happening there through the big picture windows. Then we headed towards the Metro station. I stopped by Bath and Body Works. I was hoping to get a body lotion. However, they did not have a travel size in the scents that I liked. As we were not checking any baggage, I was not able to get a full-size lotion. Again we did not have to wait long for a Metro once we got to the Metro station. The Metro was absolutely packed. An Emirati man got up and offered me his seat when he saw me standing. I really appreciated this as I was exhausted by this stage. Eventually Graham got a seat, too. When we got to the airport, we did not have to wait long for the shuttle again and the bottle of water we were given was very welcome. When we got back to the hotel, we hang up our swim stuff to try and then we got ready for bed.

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