We’re back! It has been two weeks since returning from our week long trip to the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai, and then Abu Dhabi.  We had an amazing time.  I can’t wait to share with you all our experiences during the trip.  I’m anxious to spill it all in one post, but I’d like to keep the suspense going.  To start, here’s a little peak into our trip.

My husband and I took a 13-hour Etihad Airways flight from New York to Abu Dhabi with our four year old in tow.  Oh, and my sister-in-law (the husband’s sister) and her husband came, too! I was dreading this long flight with our daughter because this would be her first long, international flight. Although she was excited to visit the UAE, I doubt she knew how long it would take for us to arrive.  Thankfully, the flight wasn’t full so we ended up having a row to ourselves.  Mini me got to sprawl out, and get comfortable, and to my surprise, she slept the entire flight!
We landed in Abu Dhabi in the afternoon, and took the FREE Etihad shuttle into Dubai, which was about one and a half hours away from the airport. From the drop-off location in Dubai (Etihad Mall), we took a cab to our hotel, the JA Ocean View Hotel in the Jumeirah Beach section of Dubai.
We stayed on the 24th floor of the twenty-five-floor hotel for a total of two nights.   Our room had beautiful views of Jumeirah Beach and the Palm, which we could see through the floor-to-ceiling sliders that opened up to a balcony with a seating area.  One morning, we even enjoyed breakfast out there.
While in Dubai, we visited the Dubai Mall.  Our main intention for visiting the mall was to bring mini me to the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, but ask me how we spent nearly an entire day at the mall alone? I will save that for another post, but the mall is massive.  There’s every bit of everything to do there. Plus, there are 1,400 stores. I’m not even kidding. The Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world is also in the vicinity. We didn’t venture outside, but we did snap a few pictures in front of it.
iPhone Selfie: Burj Khalifa
On our last day in Dubai, we visited Old Dubai to venture into some of the souks.  We visited the gold souks, which, if you’re familiar with Jamaica Ave in New York and the Coliseum, this is what it reminded us all of.
After the gold souk, we drove to the spice souk, and picked up a few spices and teas to bring back home. And of course, during our stop there, mini me had to use the bathroom.  The bathrooms in Old Dubai are nothing like the ones at the hotel or mall. Needless to say, she held in whatever she had to do.  So on we went to the fragrance/perfume souks, which took forever to find. And in the heat (it was really hot and humid that day), it wasn’t fun. Eventually, we found what my sister-in-law was looking for, got our things, and went back to her hotel, the St. Regis.
After dropping off our things, we went out to walk the Corniche and to find a place to eat.  We spotted one of my favorite New York City restaurants, Asia de Cuba, but didn’t eat there.  Instead, we chose a nice little restaurant, Le Boulanger, with outdoor seating located at the end of the Corniche, and not too far from the Marina Mall. The food there was good and inexpensive. After we ate we walked to the Marina Mall because our daughter wanted to ride the Ferris wheel.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and boy was she upset! So upset she wanted to write the people a note. Sigh!
After that, we finally checked into our second hotel, the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri.  We spent the duration of our trip (four nights) in a studio apartment of the Al Jeer Residence that was equipped with a full kitchen.  This hotel was in the perfect location with it being close to the Corniche, the Yas Marina, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, and more. Plus, the hotel in itself was just out of this world.  It had a mini mall with restaurants, boutiques, and a supermarket. We’re definitely staying here on a return trip.
While in Abu Dhabi, our group went on a desert safari using Desert Rose Tourism. Our tour guide, Kamal was amazing! The desert safari included: dune bashing, a visit to a camel farm, more dune bashing, and a desert BBQ.  I will review the experience in a separate post.
We also visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque on our final full day there.
Overall, the trip was great!  Our only regret is not being able to do a lot more with the little time we had there.  Seven days, especially after deducting the time lost travelling to and from the UAE, isn’t enough. The eight-hour time difference doesn’t make it any better.  Just because we didn’t see everything during this trip, just means that we will have to make a return trip.
I’d definitely recommend visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both have their differences, and a lot to offer. Dubai is very city-like with a hint of South Beach Miami, except it is clean. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand is a lot more laid back.  Both Emirates have amazing architecture, and plenty to do and see, which is why we chose to split our trip to spend time in both places.
And yes, we did get the glitch fare, and no we did not see people we’d normally “…see riding on the ‘D’ train.”  The vastness of both areas made running into people we knew was almost impossible. Take my word for it, and see for yourself.