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At the end of the rainbow you’ll probably find Dubai

In under 7 hours from Heathrow you can find yourself landing in the money rich Emirate of Dubai.

From the moment you arrive it is very apparent how much money has been thrown into Dubai for the tourist trade.  There is still quite a lot of building work going on and every month the skyline is changing slightly – I would imagine that just 10 years ago this place looked very different but the current building work does not detract from the overall cleanliness and splendour of this place.

The first taste of Dubai you are likely to experience (apart from the heat which hits you like a brick wall) is your hotel and there are certainly no shortages of hotels in Dubai and most of these are at least 5 star.

I was lucky enough to stay a week in the Ritz Carlton on Jumeirah Beach and this 5 star hotel certainly did not disappoint.  It is perfectly situated at the base of the Palm and near the Dubai Marina and The Walk (an area of restaurants and hotels). 

The Beach at the Ritz Carlton

I was expecting a high level of service from my first experience of a 5 star hotel but I was surprised when this level of service was also found in almost every restaurant and shop in Dubai – I found the whole experience to be extremely friendly and courteous.

From the beach you can see the Iconic Atlantis hotel in the distance and almost every hour you can see sky divers descend from the clear blue sky.

Think them, build them, twist them.

Although the skyline is not as Iconic as say New York, Dubai does have some interesting buildings (the one above certainly caught my eye).  You can definitely see the influences from other countries when looking at the buildings.

The Top of the World

Of course one building you will certainly come across in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the World).  You can see this monster from anywhere in Dubai and it’s definitely worth a visit although I was disappointed that the observation deck is only on the 124th floor yet it stands at over 200 floors.  At the base of this goliath you will find the Dubai Mall.  Now the Dubai Mall is a monster as well, with over 1200 stores, you will also find a huge indoor aquarium, an Olympic size ice rink, a Sega park, fountains, water falls and The Village with Dubai’s only retractable roof.

Take a dip in shark infested waters whilst shopping

Have a little skate whilst its 42 degrees outside

Chill with a coffee by the waterfall

Once you are shopped out and the feet are blistered one of the most popular activities to undertake is a 4×4 desert safari.  You’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken by 4×4 into the desert where you will be driven amongst the sand dunes (included in the safari is a visit to a camel farm, belly dancing, a desert BBQ under the stars etc).

Getting ready to burn rubber or should I say sand

Kicking up sand in the Hummer

Once back in the population most people will try to catch a glimpse of the worlds only 7 star hotel – The Burj Al Arab down on Jumeirah Beach.  The only way to actually enter this extravagant creation if you’re not a guest is to book a table for food (I believe the cheapest option is breakfast at about £45.00).  I found the best view is to enter the Madinat complex with its Souk and waterway system – this is a fantastic hotel complex with over 40 restaurants and if you pay for a water tour (not very expensive) then you will see the Burj Al Arab on your way round.

For those who want to slum it lol

If your lucky when your down by the beach you may even see a few camels amongst the white sand.

Overall I was impressed with the level of service that Dubai offers and the cleanliness.  There is still a lot of building work going on but it’s not drastic enough to ruin any photo ops.  They have strict laws in the Emirates but these are not as strict as you are led to believe and you can get away with most things in the more Westernised areas and hotels.  Alcohol is illegal in all public areas except for hotels and restaurants where it is widely available.  The weather is hot with it being 20 degrees on its coldest winter day and rising to 53 degrees in the middle of summer but there are great deals to be had if you can handle the heat as this is their off-season.

Plenty to see and do but now I have experienced Dubai I am not sure if I would return any when soon … there are just too many places I would love to visit before returning.

Its our time down here – Latino 777

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The Destination Wish List

Another rain filled day in the South of England and once again my mind has started to wander.  I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to a fair few places over the years but there are so many that I have yet to experience.

South Africa

So lets start with my most eager destination … Cape Town, S Africa.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to experience a cage dive with the Great White Sharks and Cape Town seems to be a great place to experience this.  With Seal Island, Gansbaai & False Bay in close proximity this city seems to be ideal.  I’ve done some research and Apex Predators would be my preferred company to go with.  Chris & Monique Fallows run this company which has been used for many TV documentaries and their knowledge & respect of Great White Sharks seems second to none.

If you fancy a dip in the ocean with the planets fiercest predator then check out www.apexpredators.com

If I survive the encounter with Jaws then an abseil down Table Mountain must surely be next on the list – the highest commercial abseil in the World … and what a view you must get as you lean back over the backdrop of Cape Town.

Greenland

Next on my list of destinations would be something a little different and that is Greenland.  Disko Bay and the llulisat Icefjord looks absolutley stunning with Icebergs and untouched scenery.  It would be great to dissapear from the rat race for a week and enter this land of serenity and ice.  The skies look amazing with no artificial light and would feel quite overwhelming to stand under the stars in this landscape.  Apparently the sun shines over 300 days of the year here!

Dubai

Although Dubai has exploded in the last 10 years into a multi billion dollar tourist destination and is no longer a real reflection of the Middle East I would still love to experience this Emirate simply because of its ‘over the top’ mentality and its craving to be THE place to visit.  The view from the Burj Khalifa must be out of this world (almost literally!) and I wouldn’t mind ordering an extremely small lunch at the Burj Al Arab just to experience 6 star dining or is it 7 stars? Maybe I’ll just order a Coke.

West Coast of America

I’ve travelled all up the Eastern Seaboard but never been across to the West coast as yet.  I would love to visit San Francisco with its streets and harbour and I’ve always wanted to visit the giant redwoods.  Alcatraz would also be very high on my list.  Las Vegas would be a fantastic experience and The Grand Canyon is a must (the camera would be hot that day).  Cannon Beach in Oregon would be a life time wish for me as this is the beach where the Goonies was filmed (one of my all time favourite movies).  I guess you would have to visit Los Angeles as well if you were doing a tour of the West Coast and the 17 mile drive would be a pretty stretch of road to drive.

The Maldives

 If I ever get married (and thats a big ‘IF’) then I can’t think of a better honeymoon destination that the Maldives.  Exotic, remote, serene and beautiful with crystal clear waters and great food but as this is set aside for the honeymoon we’ll move swiftly on …

The Norwegian Fjords

I’ve never really been attracted to the cruise ship experience but if I was to holiday on a ship then the Norwegian Fjords would be where I would like to cruise.  From the greenlands of the South to the snow capped mountains of the North you would see such a diverse side to this Scandinavian country.

Kenya & Tanzania

Kenya would be my ultimate destination for a Safari – camping out under the stars, slumming it with the African game … Awesome and Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro which is just shouting out for me to attempt to climb (I have commenced training).

Well I guess until I win the lottery I will only write about most of these places but I hope some of them will get experienced … and to those of you who have already had the pleasure of these destinations I am green with envy.

Latino777 – Its our time down here