Travel Story to Dubai - 7 Days Stopover in the UAE

And finally Dubai! After several failed attempts in previous years, I visit the UAE. I was curious to see this city that in a blink has gone from being a point in the middle of the desert to one of the most developed in the world along with the federal capital Abu Dhabi.

The sheiks have endeavored to put Dubai among the first of the class and have spent their petrodollars in putting this Persian Gulf city to the forefront of luxury, eccentricities, skyscrapers and a handful of Guinness records. Always in constant change, nowadays it is a tourist center for shopping, business and leisure in general with a mainly foreign population.

We started this getaway of little more than a week in the United Arab Emirates, specifically for 8 days. We visit Dubai to Abu Dhabi and the Musandam Peninsula (Oman), both on a one-day trip each. But in addition to the visit, there has also been a romantic getaway to the desert. A bit of everything!

Day 1

We landed in Dubai at 3:00 am local time and passed a passport control that lasted one hour. Our journey by the rental car began at 4:27 in the morning from the Budget stand.

After fighting over the issue of the departure to Oman and other small setbacks, we got our brand new car. It arrived at our apartment in Palm Jumeirah a while later. After checking the magnitude of the road network in Dubai we plan the 21 km that separate the airport from our home for the next 6 days.

The apartment is too good and everything seems correct. It is huge and unbeatable with an ideal location to celebrate the beginning of Christmas. After infinite photos to send our friends with a wonderful Christmas tree, we enjoyed a great barbecue plan and an unbeatable cake. All the details are taken care of! We quickly kept our things and went to bed at 6:50h.

Day 2

We get up at midmorning. Although we have slept little we feel well and are eager to see things. We do not suffer much from jet lag. It's a great day, so we explored our closest environment at Palm Jumeirah. In the morning, after having breakfast, we went to visit the Dubai City Walk. It is an area that has just been created because people missed an area of the city in which to walk and shop in the open air. People throng more in the afternoon. It is so well thought that in summer there are vaporized water falls from above to fight against the heat.

There I found a multi-storey shop with the best brands of clothes. I preferred not to look too much because it was all ideal but very expensive! In City Walk there are several charming restaurants, each one with a more chic decoration than the previous one. And finally the highlight is the fun and characteristic food trucks that cross with natural juices, waffles, etc.

We then visit the Atlantis hotel. Luxury is what characterizes it. In their halls we find boutiques, watches, etc. But one thing is above all, the sea. In the hotel there is an incredible aquarium. It is called the Lost Chambers. We enter the aquarium.

The magnificent aquarium is divided into different zones according to theme. There are 10 cameras with 65,000 marine animals. The decoration of each room or atmosphere is very elaborate. It looks like the decoration of any attraction in an Orlando park. The nice thing is a huge pond where we walk around the big sharks. Maybe the attraction is not according to its price of 100 aed per person.

Also in its enclosure has a water park called Aquaventure, with a huge pyramid in the center. We saw this water park from outside. It is the largest water park in the Middle East, with slides and almost vertical slides. The large pool is surrounded by sun loungers and palm trees.

There are slides that go up instead of going down as they push you with water. There is a tube that ends through an aquarium through its interior, and there are mechanical ramps to automatically climb the slides. With the exception of a slide, the rest is lowered with floats for either singles or doubles.

As it is time to eat, we approach the nearby Dubai Marina neighborhood. During the trip we saw the purest American style lively and dynamic beach bars, camels for children to be photographed and not so children. There is an Ibiza-style market but in small, several positions offering water sports.

We head to the food court inside the center and go out to the terrace. We ordered from a macro menu admiring those spectacular views.

After lunch, we take direction to the public Jumeirah beach. It is an excellent place to bathe while you contemplate the hotel Burj al Arab! The pity is that although it is hot (not much) we do not feel like getting in the water. We entered the Mall of the Emirates, the second largest in the Emirates and perhaps the world.

We kicked it, as we saw the Dubai ski from the outside and we bought supplies for the whole week. Food is a tad more expensive.

That night we hesitated between having dinner at a very fashionable and lively Italian in the financial district or at a restaurant in Dubai Marina that is like a control tower with several 360 degrees. Finally, we finish in the first but we keep the second for the next trip.

Day 3

Today it is time to approach the highest building in the world. We had the reservation to go up at the top of Burj Khalifa made online a few days before. The difference in price with respect to the ticket offices is considerable. It does not go up to the top. The viewpoint is "only" at 442m, just over half its height. But the view is superb. It is quite an experience.

Although the entrance and parking are in the same mall in Dubai mall, we decided not to visit and leave it for a time of day without sunlight. Our new destination is old Dubai. We plan to see the neighborhood of Deira and Bur Dubai.

We tried to park in the Dubai museum but it was impossible because of the volume of vehicles. Everyone goes around to park in the narrow, uneven streets of the old city. We finally park and go quietly through the Creek, the museum, and the souks. The first thing we did was to cross the Creek in Abra.

The Creek is a sea inlet, or 10 km river, that separates the city in the two historic districts. We take the typical boats or open and cross the old district of Deira where we toured the souk of gold and spices. We crossed back to Bur Dubai and wandered through its streets in search of some decent place to eat before seeing the Dubai Museum.

When we thought we were not going to find anything that could satisfy the hunger we had (an hour already advanced because of the search for parking), we discovered right in front of the museum a pizzeria where we ate and everything was great. After lunch, I have an espresso coffee and a cigar. We then visit the Dubai Museum. It is a very graphic museum that tells the history of Dubai in one of the oldest historical sites of the place.

We go back to Dubai Mall and do window shopping (we do not buy anything in any store of any mall). It is the largest and most visited shopping center in the world, with some 1500 stores, and an impressive structure. I found it funny that inside the mall there were "taxis" to get around (some buggies). There is also an ice rink and an aquarium and Aquatic Zoo.

On the outside, there is the biggest fountain in the world, and every 30 minutes there is a show with water jets and music. We see the Dubai fountain show at 8 pm and at 8:30 pm we go home exhausted after a day where we have walked a lot and are completely tired.

Day 4

The day is dedicated exclusively to reach the Musandam Peninsula in Oman and walk-in Dhow through the waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

Day 5

Today we leave early at 9:30, for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its capital, of the same name and also the capital of the country. It is the second most populous city of the seven Emirates unified after Dubai. But is submerged in gigantic cultural projects that, together with realities such as the F1 circuit, the Ferrari park, and its status as the seat of government, make it a firm candidate to lead the country on equal terms to Dubai.

If you do not have a car like us you can hire a tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Our first objective is the Sheikh Zayed mosque because it closes for the visit to the public very early. It is only open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. It is a visit that you cannot miss. Indeed, you could go expressly to the country just to see it. There, the guide lent us an outfit to be able to enter!

To enter, women must be covered (long clothing and covered arms, as well as the head). We were dressed in short sleeves and a shirt, but in order to enter we put on a long dress over the top and a headscarf. We leave the shoes in the entrance. It is the largest mosque in the UAE, and the 3rd largest in the world. Inside, there are luxurious, marble, mosaics and has a huge chandelier as with precious stones.

Before we made a short stop in the Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan mosque, which has nothing to do with the magnitude of the previous one. We went to the center of the city and passed close to the F1 circuit and the new Ferrari theme park. We did not visit for a matter of time and tastes, although I have been told it's worth it.

We pass by the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel that holds the record for being the most expensive hotel ever built. As it was time for lunch we headed to the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and ate at their food court. There we went up to 160 meters high to have a coffee in the viewpoint of the shopping center.

Before returning to Dubai we toured the island of Saadiyat, the magnificent cultural project with the Louvre Museum, the Guggenheim, the Performing Art Center and the Zayed National Museum. We left at 6:20 and arrived in Dubai at 8:00 p.m.

Day 6

We have chosen this day to go to the Dubai Ski, but early, at 9 o'clock, because we do not want to coincide with the supposed avalanche of people who gather on a holiday like Friday mid-morning.

And we guessed right because we practically skied the two hours we were there. After the magnificent experience at Dubai Ski, we went back to the apartment to pick up my uncles and get out to the hotel Burj al Arab! We had booked a Brunch, a buffet at the Burj al Arab with a fixed price. I tell you that the reservation is essential and that going to their restaurants is the only possible way to access the site and see the hotel unless you have one of its expensive rooms for the night.

The views are magnificent and the food exquisite. The next visit was the Emirates Towers. We left the car in an open field nearby because the parking is costly for an hour. We had become accustomed to parking for free in the city. We see in the distance the first skyscraper in Dubai, the Dubai World Trade Center.

We enter the Boulevard Jumeirah Emirates Towers, a shopping center that connects both towers. We return to the Dubai mall to see its ice rink, the Dubai Ice Ring, an Olympic size track inside a shopping center! We also visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the largest aquarium in suspension in the world with 10 million liters in its tank.

We went outside to see once more the spectacle of the fountains and the Burj Khalifa that presides over it. We see the curious Sculpture of Horse of Botero, that can happen to get unnoticed among all the mass of people.

But before we take a tour of the facilities of the Downtown Burj Khalifa, which is in the same square of the lake, and where you can sneak and visit the pools, sun loungers and contemplate a wonderful view of the skyscraper. We take again, for the umpteenth time on this trip, the Sheikh Zayed road, the main artery of the city, and that alone deserves a separate corner to talk about its layout.

Day 7

We could not leave without going perfectly through our beloved palm Jumeirah, where our apartment was located. It is the first and most famous palm tree reclaimed from the sea with sand and the only one completely finished. In the growing exterior, towards the east, we find the Atlantis. We also have a very good view of the Burj Al Arab hotel. To end the day we spent the afternoon and part of the night in the Desert Safari.

Day 8

We began our return from the Arabian peninsula.

Travel to St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

It is St. Patrick's Day and I am in Ireland. I thought why do not I take this opportunity to visit Ireland in March and then celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Dublin? With this fact, I find flights with good prices considering the period. While for the accommodation I have no problem since I would stay at Athlone. It is a town located practically in the middle of the island and hosting Sean's bar, the oldest pub of Ireland.

On March 17, the day of Saint Patrick the alarm rings early in the morning because we have to reach Dublin by bus and the journey takes more than an hour. We arrive in the capital and it seems to be at the center of the world. It is incredible how many people already crowd the main streets of the city. It seems to be in a green tide between scarves and caps colored with the colors of the Irish flag.

It is warm and sunny and the streets are full of life. People laugh, chat and eat ice cream, while others sit comfortably in the sun and enjoy the atmosphere. A lady wearing a Victorian costume and a lace parasol glides past me on meter-long stilts, while a juggler on a unicycle astounds a group of children. A comedian dressed as an orderly with crooked teeth and huge glasses admonishes me.

I swoon lost in thought in an infectious melody to myself while violating his rules just invented. Luckily a girl with a sign "Free Hugs" comes over at that moment. I rush to the comfort in her arms and must grin involuntarily. The good mood on this day is really contagious.

For a weekend, the city center of Cork turns into a huge festival in honor of the Irish national saint. There are concerts and street performances, fairs, and stalls offering freshly prepared food. Live music is celebrated in the pubs and on a stage in the center of the city, a dance group performs traditional Ceili and invites the spectators to dine.

Patrick's Day Ireland wallpaper images travel

You can not miss the clover, one of the symbols of the country, present almost everywhere. The next few days will, therefore, be dedicated to Leprechaun, gold pots, rainbows, clovers and Blarney Stone. Even if morning, the first thing we do is throw ourselves into the pub that we find as soon as we get off the bus. Obviously, we order a pint of Guinness as we could not do otherwise.

The main event of the day, in addition to that of pub crawls, is the parade that is held with nearly 3,000 performers and about 50,000 spectators. The center full of masks and allegorical wagons. All around me, people are teeming with green-and-white-orange wigs, clover-shaped sunglasses, or huge Leprechaun hats. It is nothing but increases the festive atmosphere and the desire to enjoy that day that everyone would like it never to end.

Mythical creatures like fairies and phoenixes pass by, followed by famous football players, musicians, researchers, ancient deities, and icons. "When I was a kid, the St. Patrick's Day parades were very quiet. Today, they are much more colorful, says a spectator next to me about the Chinese dragons, trapeze artists, fire breathers and African drummers.

However, I am not only impressed by how colorful and cheerful the parade is, but also by the cultural diversity that is expressed here. Almost every foreign community in Cork, who identify with Ireland and with their countries of origin is represented with their own group on the move. I had no idea how international Cork really is, and now I feel a bit more comfortable here.

An Irish acquaintance meets me on the way to the city. He holds the event for Paddywhackery. It is a celebration of overdone Irish cliches and prefers to use the beautiful weather for a walk around the nearby lake. "Until a few decades ago it was a very quiet and religious day in Ireland. People wore a shamrock, but nothing more, "he recalls. Indeed, celebrations date back to the middle ages on St. Patrick's death on March 17.

But the tradition of the parades spilled over from the United States only a few decades ago. Irish immigrants have been using the festival since the late eighteenth century to celebrate their identity and strengthen links with their country of origin. So today the biggest St. Patrick's Day parade takes place in New York City.

In addition to the usual landmarks and monuments such as the Coliseum in Rome, the London Eye, the Great Wall, Niagara Falls and the Empire State Building, which have been glowing green for years, this year are the One World Trade Center in New York, the Antwerp Town Hall, the Gwangandaegyo Bridge in South Korea, and even the statue of a rhino in the Nairobi National Park in Kenya.

Despite being immense, walking through O'Connell Street, the main street of the Irish capital and one of the largest in Europe, is a difficult task. It is a meeting point for people around Dublin. Then we take the opportunity to capture those moments that we will never forget. We look at the people around us. There are smiles printed on the face (first effects of beer) and glasses at the top. They are always ready to toast even with the first unknown that passes just for the fact that he too is celebrating St. Patrick's Day right there.

In Kilkenny, we celebrated with the inhabitants and an impressive marching band from Colorado the Tradfest, where the Celtic roots are celebrated. Irish bands tore off the audience with their great rhythms, which they elicited from their traditional musical instruments to enthusiastic storms. Also, it sometimes itched in our legs to beat the beat or even better to join in the spontaneous group dance.

To the sounds of flutes, tin whistles, the Irish banjo and other old instruments, we walked through the castle park and the historic town on the banks of the River Nore. We watched as children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents were introduced to the art of Irish dance, but also saw experts mastering this form of dance perfectly.

In bright sunshine, we celebrated with the Irish the beginning of St. Patrick's Day Weekend. Our St Patrick's Day in Ireland started in bright sunshine. The day, beer flows away like the rivers and it does it too quickly and you really would like the time never to pass. And then in the evening, we find ourselves again by bus to return to Athlone.

The streets of Dublin begin to empty and people return home, or who knows where. But they do it slowly because at the end there is always time and desire for a last pint of Guinness. It is not last since every excuse is good to get into the next pub. Once in the bus, I am exhausted but am really happy for sharing that day with my friends and with a lot of people I met there. Maybe I will not see them again in my life but that, just having spent together St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, will ensure that I will never forget those moments.

Trip to Playa del Carmen in the paradise of Riviera Maya

We have the last 24 hours in Mexico. For starters, Mexico is an excellent destination for the honeymoon. Our flight was the next day in the morning from Cancun. So we decided to spend the last night, which we had not reserved in advance in Playa del Carmen. This city is one of the most touristy in the Riviera Maya, but it is only an hour from the Cancun airport by bus.

We booked a room at the hotel by phone, a four star that had very good reviews on Tripadvisor and they give us the double room without breakfast for 850 pesos after haggling a bit. Early in the morning, we headed to the Mayan ruins of Coba. We climb the dizzying Nohoch Mui pyramid which at 42m height is the highest in the Yucatan peninsula. It is one of the few pyramids to which one can ascend. The views from above are spectacular.

It is a great mystery the similarity of the constructions of Coba with those of Tikal in Guatemala hundreds of km away and not with the nearby ones like Chichen Itza. They say it was probably due to a marriage agreement between both cities. From here we went to Tulum.

We got up not too soon and went for a leisurely stroll along the beach of our hotel in Tulum, which is just past the Xel-ha water park towards Cancún. It is a protected area where turtles spawn. A virgin cove of white sand full of palm trees and turquoise blue water. It was a little sunny, but the wind blew so much that it dragged the water and the sand at the same time, causing the glasses to fill with grit in a matter of seconds.

We left Tulum and time had not given us a truce. Maybe if we had more sun and less wind, we would not have stayed with that bittersweet feeling. I found Tulum expensive. It is too posh for my taste, although perhaps that says more about me than anything else. I feel more comfortable in a cabin lost in the middle of the jungle than in an eco-chic hotel on the beachfront. In Cancun, you will find more the gringo environment (boring).

As usual, those last days for breakfast I decided to give myself a small treat and ordered pancakes with banana, which seemed to fit well. After a while, a bus arrived and we got going. On the road between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, we only see the entrances to the hotel complexes that flood this entire area of ​the Caribbean.

As many people told us that the beaches of Playa del Carmen were nicer than those of Cancun and that the atmosphere was more relaxed, we went directly there. The first place we visited was El Gran Cenote, which is on the way. The water is super clear but super cold and super refreshing (the heat is like that of Panama in the middle of summer).

In little more than an hour we reached Playa del Carmen. The bus station is on the 5th Avenue, the nerve center of this city that 15 years ago did not exist. When we got off the bus, a breath of hot air stunned us. We were finally waiting for a sunny day in the Riviera Maya. We dragged our suitcases to our hotel. Certainly, seeing the situation on the map, we imagined that it would be closer, but it took us about 20 minutes to arrive.

Upon arriving there, the hotel surprised us very pleasantly. It was not in the most touristic part of Playa del Carmen, but it could be reached perfectly. The room was very nice, and the hotel had a pool and access to a private beach club that we did not even have. We put on the swimsuits and we took a bath before going to eat. And yes, it was reconfirmed. I'm a pool man because the truth is that it was very good there.

After freshening up, we asked the receptionist if he could indicate where there was a supermarket and a restaurant nearby. He asked us what kind of food we wanted. We told him "authentic" Mexican. he recommended a couple of places in front of a large hypermarket two blocks away.

One of the things that I love most about traveling is to enter a hypermarket and see what foods and other things they have. For example, in this case, I found a very curious offer. They gave us a Tabasco pot when we bought horchata. I also discovered that in Mexico cactus is eaten as a vegetable, also called nopales and that there is a great variety of spicy chips.

Right in front of the hypermarket is the taqueria-brasería El fogón, which is so "Mexican" that it transported us to our first days of travel. We ordered some Hawaiian tacos that had pork, sweet ham, cheese, pineapple and a sauce (I would say mayonnaise) and they were delicious. There we saw a group of Americans and mostly people from the area.

If I had to name something negative about the place, it was almost suicidal to eat in a brasserie with the heat it made. Then we return to the hotel to rest and refresh in the pool and savor the last hours of the trip. What a little desire to return on the plane we had booked!

Playa del Carmen travel wallpaper images

I remember that we were walking along Fifth Avenue, almost empty. Although by then Playa del Carmen was no longer a secret and its popularity had grown enormously, the streets were incredibly quiet. The large accumulations of people were reserved for the high season of the year. Some important developments were already on the famous avenue and announced progress, but nothing that stole his essence or at least that with which I knew that destiny. For me, it was in a perfect state.

Playa was the ideal destination for those who wanted to flee (like us) from Cancun, their party, and their spring breakers. It was a destination for another type of people, younger, more alternative, more European according to the words of one of its inhabitants. The Americans found it boring and the absence of "All Inclusive" resorts kept them away.

Another place we visited was Chichen Itza, which by the way is a little bit like 4 hours away. When we arrived at Chichen Itza we bought the package that includes the entrance plus the food and an entrance to the cenote of Ikkil which is one of the most famous in Mexico.

Around late-afternoon we came back went for a walk around Playa del Carmen. The city is very touristy and there are restaurants of all kinds, clubs with house music in full swing whatever the time of day. There are lots of souvenir shops with prices in dollars and tens or hundreds of Americans with British brunettes.

Even so, the city did not displease me. There are also restaurants for all kinds of pockets and night shows of all kinds, to which the Israeli girl recommended us to go and to which we never went. I think it was wise to spend our last night in Mexico there.