BEFORE SRI LANKA, LONDON+DUBAI IN 48 HRS

BEFORE SRI LANKA, LONDON+DUBAI IN 48 HRS

Our journey starts today, Saturday 17th September 2016, at Torino Caselle Airport. We land at London Stansted at around midday.

LONDON

After a few transports, we get to our hostel by 2pm, in a nice area close to Hyde Park. We got used to stay in guesthouses and hostels around Southeast Asia back in early 2016, which were usually very cheap but decent at the same time. Well, we are very disappointed with this hostel in London: one can accept the 24$ a bed cause it’s London right? But you’d expect at least cleanliness and a decorous room. Ours was a 9-bed dorm, 3×3 bunk beds, not more than 15 square meters, our sheets still dirty when we checked in… I can’t imagine how the 16 or 30 bed dorms looked like…
Big Ben, London

Big Ben, London

 

Westminster, London

Westminster, London

 

Anyway we leave the room as soon as we can to hit the usual popular spots and sights of the charming British capital. As always cool weather, 13°C, in Italy it was still 20°+! We walk from Westminster Bridge to Chinatown and Soho, passing by Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.
Piccadilly Circus, London

Piccadilly Circus, London

 

Chinatown, London

Chinatown, London

 

The following day we walk down all the beautiful parks, from Kensington Gardens to St James’s, a quick visit to the Science and Tate museums, and then it’s time to reach Heathrow Terminal 3, where our flight to Dubai will depart from at 10.30pm.
A Million Travels @ St. James's Park, London

A Million Travels @ St. James’s Park, London

 

St. Paul's Cathedral, London

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

DUBAI

After 7 hours we reach Arab United Emirates, it’s Monday morning, 8am, sunny, and a burning 42°C!

As soon as we leave the airport with the overground metro, we are thrown in a futuristic-like city. It develops mostly on a 20+ km long strip, along the sea. A huge 6 to 8 line highway is the arterial road that connects everything, faithfully sided by the metro.

Dubai Highway

Dubai Highway

All around bunches of skyscrapers. We rarely get to touch the external ground and feel the super hot air, that’s why it feels almost being on another planet, like there was zero gravity or non oxygen outside. One could spend entire days without having to go outside, as all the main facilities are connected through very cool air conditioned walks. The temperature excursion goes easily over 20 degrees between in and outside.

Our first stop is the Marina area. We feel melting the moment we exit the metro. We just resist 10 minutes to raise our heads to see the multitude of skyscrapers that face the bay covered with yachts, and then we run immediately back to the metro station. It’s weird, there’s very few people around, especially walking outside we met no more than 5 people, it almost looked like a ghost city, but then probably the sum of people living in there gets up to some thousands.

View of Marina from Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

View of Marina from Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

 

We take the tram+monorail and reach Palm Jumeirah, the famous artificial palm shaped peninsula. Watching at it from the monorail, it seems to be on a strange tour where you can see another world from your window, but just look at it, not be part of. We have very confused feelings, kind of a 1984 Orwell’s re-edition, a utopian-distopian world… Is this real or what???
View on Palm Jumeirah from the monorail, Dubai

View on Palm Jumeirah from the monorail, Dubai

 

Massive Atlantis Hotel at the top of Palm Jumeirah

Massive Atlantis Hotel at the top of Palm Jumeirah

 

Later our main goal of the day is to see the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Again, there’s an endless 2km overground air conditioned walk that guides you from the metro station straight to the Dubai Mall, right beside the Burj. The mall is created to fullfill everyman’s desire: restaurants, shops, a gigantic aquarium, cinemas, an ice rink, waterfalls, and whatever sounds crazy it’s in there. It remembers us of Bangkok’s theme malls, you could spend days inside them.
Waterfall Dubai Mall

Yes, that’s a waterfall inside Dubai Mall

After a couple of hours of wandering around, we are ready to fight the heat and go to see the Burj from its very feet. Well, it’s quite impressive, 828 meters of perfect architecture and style. The photos speak for themselves!

A Million Travels @ Burj Khalifa, Dubai

A Million Travels @ Burj Khalifa, Dubai

 

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Almost same height…

Due to lack of time and for budget reasons, we decide not to visit it [we heard it can last up to 2-3 hours to climb up and down if it’s crowded, it costs around 35$ to get to 450m (125th floor), and 90$ to get to 555m (145th floor), the highest you can go, unless you are a sheikh and you book a room at 160th floor!].

Burj Khalifa Sunset, Dubai

Amazing sunset, the Burj fades in the sky

 

We go to and from Dubai Souk (that is a false recreation for tourists) to get some fresh air, while we enjoy the breathtaking view and take some pictures. At about 5 pm we head back to the metro station, we want to experience some authentic Dubai, if possible.
We step off in Al Fahidi, and walking outside we finally see some humanity here, some real life going on. There’s the river with stalls and fishermen, the original Souk where everyday trades are made, many mosques, almost only Arab people, that’s how a United Arab Emirates city is meant to be!
Spices in old Dubai Bazaar

Spices in old Dubai Souk

Some similarities with Istanbul come to my mind, even more when we cross the Creek onboard of an Abra, the classic old wooden raft they have been using for centuries, in order to get to the other side of the old city. Cost: 1 Aed, 0,25$! (in the new town prices are western-like). The west side of the creek, Deira neighbourhood, is very busy and chaotic. It’s still hot but at least the sun has set. From the messy, coloured, perfumed and smelly streets we walk down in the underground metro, confused and tossed by a day full of contrasts and absurdity.

Abra boat, Dubai

Aboard the traditional Abra boat

 

Old Dubai

Old Dubai

At around 8 pm we reach back Dubai Airport, exhausted. It’s not over yet, we soon realize our plane to Sri Lanka is leaving from T2 that’s not here! After a few seconds of panic, we manage to get a taxi that quickly brings us a few km away. Luckily we got back to the airport in advance, our flight is not leaving before 11 pm.
This will be our second straight night sleeping on a plane, so not sleeping. It will be exhausting and kind of devastating, but this is part of our adventure and will be remembered as well in the future!
Sri Lanka here we come!
WHERE TO STAY:
HOW TO GET AROUND:
  • London Underground: get an Oyster Card to save on your journeys. Connected to Heathrow Airport;
  • Dubai overground metro: vital to move from the airport, to Dubai Marina, downtown. Fares from 3 AED;
  • Dubai tram+monorail: to reach Palm Jumeirah, 20 AED/1 way, 30 AED/return fare;
  • Abra traditional boat: to cross Dubai Creek, 1 AED only.
TRAVEL INSURANCE:
  • Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.

2 Comments

  1. April 13, 2018 / 9:56 am

    I miss Dubai just looking at your pictures! Missed the spices in the old market and it looks awesome!

    • amilliontravels
      Author
      April 13, 2018 / 12:53 pm

      Dubai was really something different! We’ve been less than 24 hours only, we really need to go back!

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