Friday, Dec 30 — Dubai
I land in Sharjah International Airport and when I get off the plane, I have to ask if I have landed in India, as 95% of the folks do look like they are of the South Asian decent. Upeon closer look, I realize many could be from Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. But it is nice to be around a bunch of folks from such a colorful and vibrant culture and it brings back fond memories of my time in India. After some back and forth, I realize Uber does indeed service Sharjah, but I just have to figure out if I am going to be picked up in the Arrivals, as one chap said, or the Departures, as several others confirmed. Luckily the walk between the two sections of the airport is not too far, with Sharjah airport being quite tiny. (I compare it to Burbank airport in Southern California.) Eventually I learn that Ubers go to neigher place, but in fact pick up in the parking lot beyond the Arrivals terminal. There is nice shade spot to wait while the driver approaches.
I make it to the Citymax Hotel Business Bay, and check into room 801. The view is of the side area and the busy freeway behind. There is a wondeful pool in the adjacent building, a massive, glimering pool, and I make a note to try and access it at one point. Sadly, the pool is righ next to the busy freeway, so no matter how much tranquility one tries to find in such a beautiful pool, the vibe will always be drowned out by the constant buzz and hiss and occasional high rev sounds from the traffic.
Zara and I have a nice hello, and we get ready and head to the Jameira Palm for dinner at a nice at Al Safadi Restaurant The Pointe مطعم الصفدي Lebanese restaurant called . At one point, jetlag hits hard, but I fight it an carry on.
Saturday, Dec 31 — Dubai
Breakfast at Mist Restaurant on the Corniche. We ordered shakshuka, lentil soup, black tea and orange joice. Our waitress was from Kampala, Uganda and was quite pleasant to chat with her about Africa.
For New Year’s eve, we head over to Nargus and Ehsan’s place and have a dinner of aush (reshteh), chicken, tahdig rice and saffron rice with tart barberries. We watch the view of Dubai and the Burj Khalifa fireworks on 27th-floor balcony of the Danube Bayz Tower; the views, company and festivities are superb.
Sunday, Jan 1 — Dubai
Breakfast at Andar Cafe. We take a Careem bike ride from Business Bay to Jumeirah Beach. It is wonderful.
Monday, Jan 2 — Dubai
We check out of our room 801 at the Citymax Hotel Business Bay, but check again to a different room, this time to room 1110, a left-side corner room facing the Burj Khalifa. It is a bit less noisy, but there is still a construction site where working start pounding stones at 6:30am every morning. Still, in the evening, the views are nice, and the window opens slightly. The view is of the Empower station, which looks quite industrial with its 8 massive chimneys and 2 massive cylindar containers. I make a note to walk over and investigate further.
Tuesday, Jan 3 — Dubai
Walk from the Dubai frame, through the Al Karama neighborhood, then through Al Hamriya, and then westward into Al Souk Al Kabir. I continue into the Al Fahidi historica area, walking along the Dubai Creek shore along several cafes with touts at each one asking me to eat. I find the Grand Souq - Bur Dubai, and shop around for spices and other bronzewares. I hop on the boat from Bur Dubai to Diera Old Souk and pay 1 dirham for passage. In Diera, I continue through the maze of shops, finding the perfue souk and then the gold souk, which has recieved a nice facelife since the last tie I was there (like much of Dubai.) The walk in total is around 10 miles.
Wednesday, Jan 4 — Dubai
Dinner on the Palm
Thursday, Jan 5 — Dubai
Today I take an Uber out to the Umm al Quwain muesuem. I then walk around the dusty village and meet several Pakistani and Afghan folks. I hail a taxi on the side of the road to Ajman, where I grab lunch in a local Emirati restaurant, where I order harees, a dish of boiled, cracked, or coarsely-ground wheat, mixed with meat and seasoniings. I also have freshly made flat bread with sligh cheese and honey. I then head to the Ajman museum where I visit for around an hour. The exhbits are in rooms around the fort, and seem a bit hidden. But are great
Friday, Jan 6 — Dubai
A chill day. Research in the morning; visit to Dubai mall in the afternoon with a visit to the Address Hotel and a walk around the fountain to the Palace Hotel. I had arabic/Saudi coffee in both places and tried out some parfume shops for leather and oud tobacco. No bikes left at the Carreem bike stands, so we just chill around.
Saturday, Jan 7 — Dubai
We head over to the local Al Khawaneej neighborhood, to the pleasant One Coffee House where we meet Zara’s friend, Alia, an Emriati with a job in the arts. We have a nice coffee. It begins to rain quite fully. We drive to a take out place and order several paratha with cheese. I grab an Uber from the corner Emarat gas station and head to Sharjah, where I begin my tour at the Blue Souk. It is still raining heavily, and the Blue Souk has many spots where the rain in dripping inside. I head over to the Souq Al Jubail, a modern souk with stall after stall and row after row of fresh prodcue, seafood and meat. There are some cafeterias in the back and on the first floor, Al Jubail 1441, a nice seafood restaurant where I have a fish. The also give me an excellent olive tapenade, and at this exact moment, I realized I need to learn this recipe and serve it to all my family and friends at every future gathering! The vies across the harbor are great, and there are some massive palatial goverment buildings, witha mega yacht parked in front of one. After lunch, the rain stops, and I head over to the Sharjay Fort, which is closed from the rain. I then head to the Sharjay Heritage Museum, also closed. I wander through a maze of shops and puddles ot the corniche and take a wander along the water. I think of Zara and know that she must have wandered down this same corniche, many times, a decade ago. I head back across the street, where the modern art musuem is closed. I find another souk of shops and shop around a bit. I try some saffron oil, some leather, and some tabacco oud parfumes. I wander into a shop where some Yemenis are selling daggers and Arabian coffee pots. I want to by several items here, but resist. I walk of to the The Chedi Al Bait hotel, and am mesmorized by the beautiful courtyards and ambiance. I make a note to stay here at some point in the future. I hail a taxi and head back to Business Bay, Dubai.
Sunday, Jan 8 — Kuwait
We check out of room 1110 at the Citymax Business Bay hotel and walk over the Bayz Tower and take the freight elevator up to the 27th floor. We have a nice ghormeh sabzi lunch made by Nargus, and then we take a swim.
Wednesday, Jan 11 — Dubai
We arrive back to Dubai, view DXB airport. We taxi over to the Hyde Hotel Dubai with a Ugandan taxi driver. The hotel lobby smells wonderful. We check into room 1211. The door to the room is in a sleek, dark brown wood pattern. The room has a wonderful terrace with a full view of the Burj Khalifa and southern view along the Dubai Creek to the high rises in the distance along Sheik Zayed road. The view is stunning and I am so happy we shelled out for this room!
Thursday, Jan 12 — Dubai
We have a nice breakfast at the hotel. After some research in the room, I grab a Careem bike, via the Careem bike app ride, and head south along Safa Park. I take an elevator up and bike over Tolerance Bridge and down the spiral on the other side and into down to Al Wasl villa neighborhood. In this area, it is mostly Emirati living in villas on land that is given to them upon marriage by the government. I change bikes at the Candadian University of Dubai. There is nice outdoor mall there called City Walk. I make a note to check it later. From there I bike to La Mer, which is a nice beach-side area of outdoor game booths for kids and cafe pavillions. Much of the area is still under construction or not yet rented. It will be very nice here in a year. I continue on to Jumeira Mosque and take some nice photos. The mosque is only open to the public twice a day, earlier, so I wander around and continue on to the Etihad Museum. The museum looks closed, but I still try, and in fact it is open. I spend an hour walking around looking at the historic items from the creation of the UAE including a visit to the round building and room where the paers were signed to form the UAE> Sheik Zayed road. From the museum, I bike passed the harbor and a compound where all the workers stay. There is a small restaurant serving South Asia food; it looks very good and I would eat there if I didn’t have the bike. I keep pedaling until I end up in the Al Fahid neighborhood, where I dock my bike and wander around the
Friday, Jan 13 — Dubai
Saturday, Jan 14 — Dubai
Sunday, Jan 15 — Dubai
Dinner on the Palm