Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Kids,

So far this year I think we’ve done a great job and prioritizing travel and taking advantage of our opportunity on this side of the world.  One area that I still see for improvement is the use of long weekends to travel within India and / or close to Mumbai. Next year.

The last long weekend of the school year we decided to limit the travel duration and head to Dubai, a place that was recommended by all of our friends.  We stayed 4 days / 5 nights, and without much pre-planning managed to have an amazing trip.  See for yourself.

Day 1 – April 27th: Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Room Service, and Exhausted Kiddos

We landed around 9:00 pm, local time, and were very happily surprised that the hotel upgraded us to the three bedroom suite on the 42nd floor.  We originally booked a 2 bedroom suite because the price wasn’t that much different, but this was a great surprise.  Once we arrived at the hotel the the first we saw were two Aston Martins, an Audi, a Ferrari, and a Maserati parked in valet. (I think I was the only one impressed.)

The extra room allowed us the luxury of putting Madelyn in her own room to make sure that everyone got a good nights sleep.  In our travels this year we learned that it was usually Madelyn behind the long late night conversations…about philosophy or physics I’m sure.

When we woke up the next morning we grabbed breakfast at the hotel restaurant, which was amazing, and proceeded to find the Dubai RTA Tram stop.  The map showed the location only 4 blocks from the hotel and it turned out to be very easy to find.  After purchasing some RTA cards we jumped on the tram, transfered to the RTA Train and were at the Dubai Mall in around an hour.

The mall was HUGE!  See for yourself at the website: Here. We didn’t have many plans for the day, just wondering around and trying to find the Burj Khalifa.  Luckily Johnathon and I have a good sense of direction, otherwise I’m sure you’d all still be there.

When we got to the At the Top ticket counter the line was long enough that we started talking about making the visit during our next trip.  Fortunately we still lived in a time where to many people forgot about online ticket ordering.  So, I went on my phone, purchased tickets from the website, and picked them up from Will Call in about 15 minutes.  When I got back from Will Call I found the boys chasing Madelyn back and fourth along a section of escalator wall.  We don’t do well with lines…

The tickets had to be purchased for a specific time so we decided to get lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.  Thank you David and Katie. Lunch was great, but expensive.  We soon learned this would be the theme of the entire weekend, which i guess the expensive cars should have tipped us off to. Dubai is an expensive city.

When it was time to go back to the Burj Khalifa we progressed through the lines pretty well, and I think we even cut the line when an At the Top employee pulled us out of the line to go straight to the front.  I’m not entirely sure if it was because we had kids or she could read us from a mile away that you three wouldn’t last the entire length of the line…..either way, Thanks Kids!

It was truly amazing to me that just 10 years ago the skyline of Dubai was much different with way more desert.  While there it felt like you couldn’t look in any direction and not see a tower crane building the next apartment building, office high rise or mall.  The view from the 125th floor was amazing, and your mom and I also found the construction storyboard every interesting. The storyboard was located in the lower level as you left the elevator.

With a full day of walking, trams, train, and more walking we headed back to the hotel and decided to order in room service.  It turned out to be amazing.

Day 2 – April 28th: Lego Land and Motion Gate Dubai

If you ever take an emirates flight you will not miss the advertisements for Lego Land and Motion Gate Dubai.  Mainly because they take over your monitor and play the audio over the cabin speakers.  So we decided to check it out.

The parks were located right next to each other, but farther south than the RTA could take us, so we had to go by Taxi.  The concierge had a Taxi ready to go at 9:30am and we headed south.  The drive took about 30 minutes, and covered ground that looked much more like what you’d expect in the middle east…sand.  About 15 minutes down the highway the buildings started stretching out and sand took over the landscape. Overall the cost of the taxi was very reasonable, which was a pleasant surprise among the other hefty prices.  I couldn’t help bu think of how Papa would have handled the trip.

The overall felling of the two parks were basically Disney Land, which we saw in July of the prior year.  The weather was good, but very hot…desert.  One key difference between Disney Land and the Dubai Parks was their shade management capabilities.  Orlando was scorching last year in July too, and at the time we found no shade to help us out.  The Dubai Parks built shade into their design.  We often walked from one attraction or building to another on passing in and out of the direct sunlight.  Take notes Disney.

We basically had the entire park to ourselves, which gave you three plenty of ride options, and freedom to run.  The rides had typical waiting lines stalls similar in size and length to Disney Land but with no one there we had our pick of the place.  It was awesome.

At Lego Land we walked through the dome that housed dozens of Lego Models of building and monuments from all of the world.  It was interesting to read the plaques of all the models to see how many pieces they had and how long they took to build.  The Dubai Airport Model had 500,000 Lego bricks and took two Master Builders three months to complete.  Yeah, Master Builders are a real thing.

From there we road the roller coasters, a real one that Johnathon absolutely loved, drove cars and boats, went down water rapids, and put out fires in fire engines.  Towards the end of our visit to Lego Land, while Johnathon, Christopher, and mom were fighting fires I caught Madelyn having a conversation with one of the Lego people about her size.  It was ADORABLE.  Photo below.  Great times.

The Motion Gate park was AMAZING, but mostly because it was inside and air conditioned.  The building was a collaboration of DreamWorks animations and had 4 themed areas for How to Train a Dragon, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar.  Compared to Lego Land we didn’t spend that much time in Motion gate, riding a few rides before we were ready to head out.

With a long, hot, and very successful day we ended our trip with frozen yogurt from a store front between the two parks.

Day 3 – April 29th: Aquaventure Water Park

Another advertisement that you’ll see on any Emirates flight is the amazing Atlantis The Palm Hotel that sits at the end of the Palm Jumeira.  We looked into this hotel briefly, but quickly looked for other accommodations due to a very high price tag per night.

One great amenity that the hotel has is an attached water park, so we decided to pay the daily fee and check it out.  The place was amazing!  I’d venture a guess that we only saw 25% of the park while we were there, primarily because we stayed close to the kids pools.

The kids area was amazing with a large kids pool for toddlers and a three story playground in a nearby pool for the bigger kids.  You boys bounced back and fourth between the two, and did a great job of letting us know where you were.

Outside of the kids area we found that Johnathon was tall enough to do some of the slides, as long as he was accompanied by an adult.  Luckily rides are right up my alley.  We probably spent 3 hours going down and back up the pyramid slides next to the kids area.  It was great, and I really enjoyed watching Johnathon get to experience them for the first time.

One feature that I’m still on the fence about, was that all the slides in that area put you out into the a ‘Lazy’ White Water Rapids loop.  Most of the loop was slow and steady, but they had conveyor belts that lifted tubs up to a higher elevation so that you could go down at least four ‘rapids’.  It was great, but it was very unfortunate when it came to getting back to the slides you just went down to get your sandals.  And the heat made the concrete unbearable for more than 15 seconds.  At the end of the 3 hours I had to call mercy because my feet were done.  Aqua socks next time.

One last thing that I want to mention is Madelyn’s first Rapids Experience.  She was amazing.  We wanted to go do a ride as a family, and given the slide requirements, the only one available was the Lazy River Rapids.  The park provided tubes for toddlers that had a bottom in them so they could sit and hold on, as long as they wore a life jacket.  The first time down I was a little nervous and held her really tightly all the way down the rapid.  Luckily, at the bottom she was smiling from ear to ear and gave me a high five after each run.

After the water park we headed into the Atlantis hotel to walk through the Aquarium, which was part of our ticket package.  You all did great given that you’d been swimming for 6 hours, and the shenanigans were hilarious.  I even managed to get some on camera.

Finally we found a burger joint at the hotel, grabbed ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, and headed for the taxi line.  The line was long and challenged our patients, but we made it back to the hotel safe and sound.

Day 4 – April 30th: Mall of Emirates

For our last day in Dubai we had nothing planned.  We decided to go put our eyes on this indoor ski slope that we’d heard so much about.

We had plenty of money left on our RTA cards, poor estimating on my part, so we headed out after breakfast.  The malls in Dubai were way above my pay grade with Tiffany and Harry Winston stores in every location.  They looked so expensive we didn’t even go inside.  We did however get some greats books from Borders Bookstore though…#nerds

After grabbing some lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, can you tell we were looking for home cuisine, we headed back to the hotel for a stroll along the Dubai Harbor Walk.  It had been a long weekend and we were all about on empty so we didn’t last long, but it was beautiful.  I took a picture of the only boat in the harbor that we could probably afford, but given your ages you didn’t get the joke.  Some amazing yachts in that harbor, $$.

With every trip traveling get easier, and the 3 hour flight from Mumbai to Dubai felt like a refreshing break from the typical 8-12 hrs of travel we faced on prior trips this year.

You three are growing up so fast. Just watching you navigate foreign countries, currencies, customs, and feel comfortable in places with languages you don’t know makes us so proud.

Love,

Mom & Dad

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