Day three of Eurotrip2011 started with a whirlwind tour of some key tourist sites in Dubai courtesy of the Uncle of my beloved. We were whisked to the Marina, the Atlantis and around the Palm Jumeirah where we were once again wowed by the size and gloss of the city (even if we were starting to suspect that it was all a bit of a facade to make up for a lack of authenticity and soul).
We were then taken to the Ibn Battuta Mall, which is split into six themed courts, each representing a different Middle Eastern/Asian country. Rich, vibrant colours adorned the walls of this interior design triumph. What I was most excited about at the Ibn Battuta was the hypermarket (naturally, in Dubai a supermarket just will not suffice), where one could procure over eight varieties of magoes, freshly ground spices from deep buckets, plasma televisions and inflatable pools - a one stop shop. Literally!
Once home we were treated to a delicious home-cooked lunch, followed by a Turkish coffee and were soon collected by our "desert safari" driver. My beloved, his cousin and I, along with a French family were driven to the edge of the desert, where the tyres of our 4WD were deflated and the fun was set to commence.
Our driver was seriously impressive, controlling the car with ostensible ease as it slid around and over the dunes, at times balancing precariously.
This video probably does not do the gut wrenching nature of the drive justice. May I suggest jumping up and down while viewing to maximise authenticity!
After roughly 45 minutes of stomach-twisting dune bashing we reached "base camp", where we watched the sun set while enjoying an apple flavoured shisha. I seized the opportunity to have a quick henna design painted onto my hand - a week-long reminder of our time in Dubai.
Astonishingly, the outdoor buffet dinner, consisting predominantly of Middle Eastern fare, was quite tasty. Moreover, the evening's entertainment (the requisite belly dancer and a twirling male dancer) was fantastic (and I only had two beers - I promise!). A great evening was certainly had by all and I have to say that the tour was excellent value for money. Fortunately for all passengers, the drive home was sans dunes!