I know that a lot of you are anxiously waiting for the next post about my #CruiselikeaNorwegian cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, and promise, I AM working on it! But these days seem to bring a lot of “Lasts” and changes with them (like hotels I used to stay at for years and familiar destinations that are being discontinued), so I thought it would be more than adequate to post a rightful farewell to these joyful moments that I have stayed in those places.
Like Dubai. It was actually luck that brought me there a last time before services from my home base Munich would be discontinued starting April 4, 2016 for an unknown period of time. I won the rotation from my reserve pattern that we do every third month or so, and the best: I got to fly into Dubai as a passenger!
This privilege occurs once in a while, as I was only needed on the return flight due to a larger type of aircraft operating. So how could I complain about enjoying the wonderful Business Class Restaurant service of my co-workers and spending a night (the last time for probably quite some time) in one of my favourite Winter destinations?
So after our arrival in the early morning and a little nap in my hotel bed (the flight was so short that I had a hard time finishing my Star Wars movie and the ice-cold bubbly on the side 😉 ), I decided to close the chapter on Dubai for now with a walking tour through the old part of town, Deira.
These days, most people only think of some of the crazy attractions that Dubai has to offer when talking about the city. Like the two Palms, the World, Burj Khalifa, Burj al Arab, the Malls or going skiing underneath the desert sun. I am not saying that these glitz sights do not impress me at all, yet there is more to Dubai than just the glamorous facade. There is the old part of town. The home of the merchants and traders. The historic centre from where Dubai´s fairytale rise began.
So while I spent most of my layovers at the luscious pool area of the previous crew hotel Grand Hyatt Dubai during the last few years (come on, it was always only for around 22 hours altogether), this time I wanted to return to the place that I went to during my first layover in Dubai around 15 years ago.
The Al Ras district in Deira.
With the Dubai Creek right next to it, Al Ras takes you back in time. While the glittering highrises of new Dubai shimmer in the distance, Al Ras is comparably dusty and a little rundown and so different from the polished surface that Dubai presents itself in nowadays.
Hard working merchants load their Dhows still by hand to ship their goods to the world while a few kilometres away, Gucci bags are carried to the latest catwalk fashion trends in the air-conditioned luxury shopping malls. Even though Al Ras has become more and more touristy with Dubai´s international rise in Tourism, you may still smell the ancient times in the air.
Instead of using the high-tech metro, the locals cross over the Creek by the traditional wooden boats called Abra. For only 1 Dirham per Person, the 10 minutes ride on the river is like traveling between the old and the new. Wander the narrow alleys and back streets of the Gold Souk and soak up the colors and odors of oriental seasonings in the ancient walls of the Spice Souk.
This is where I bought my first bracelet and my first condiments from an original Arabian bazaar. It feels like yesterday as I wandered the dusty sidewalks with my co-worker Anja (name changed). Ok, the prices have increased, there were much more visitors wandering around than 15 years ago and some of the shop owners really tried to rip me off, but in the end, the area has obtained the same traditional and conventional way of life that makes Al Ras so unique and a bucketlist item whenever you visit Dubai.
So the hours passed on this misty and sandy day. We ferried across to Bur Dubai, took a walk through the Souk and finally relished on some delicious Indian samosas in the shadow of the Iranian Grand Mosque, sitting on coloured plastic chairs and benevolently studied by curious locals passing by.
It was already dark when we returned to the hotel. Since the flight back left early in the morning, it was time to give those aching feet the rest that they deserved. A feeling of light sorrow creeped upon me when I checked out the next morning and stayed with me as we were walking down the hallways of the glitz airport terminal to the plane.
But as the plane lifted off the runway I began to smile. Because in the airline industry, discontinuation of routes have many times meant reactivation at a later time. Dubai, we will meet again sometimes. I am sure!