September Travels: Dubai

A while back I’d told my husband that I wanted to do a sunshine/beach trip. Most of our travels end up being city breaks and a lot of hiking/exploration. So, I started researching places to go for a week-long trip. At the top of the list was Sardinia. Gorgeous landscape, clear blue water…basically ideal. But as I looked into it more, I realised that we’re the type to get bored and not want to lay by the pool/beach day after day. We’re also massive foodies and I knew that we’d want great food, no matter where we went.

As we discussed Sardinia a bit more, it started feeling like it wasn’t the place for us. Then, out of the blue, I suggested Taiwan. He looked at me and said…”Ok”. Don’t ask me how this came about, because I have no earthly idea. I think I was thinking “food” and we love Chinese / Taiwanese food…so why not go to Taiwan. It then turned into Taiwan + Hong Kong (both countries that our parents grew up in) and instead of 1 week, we made it a 2 week trip. We then booked our flights and the cheapest flights ended up being on Emirates with a layover in Dubai. I’ve always wanted to go to Dubai, but mainly for the sake of curiosity whereas Joe has had no interest. With a layover in Dubai it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend a couple days there (at no extra cost with the flight) to get it out of my system. I think the convincing factor for him was that we’d spend a day at the Atlantis Resort Water Park – Aquaventure. A bit of background…at the ripe age of 28, I introduced Joe to waterparks. He’d never been (despite living in California) and has loved them ever since. Living in the UK means not very hot summers, so we actually haven’t been since we moved to London.

So what started out as a week-long trip to Sardinia, turned into a Dubai / Taiwan / Hong Kong trip. The Dubai leg has been completed so I thought I’d share some photos from our time there. We are currently still in Taiwan having waited out the typhoon that headed this way.

We stayed in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area, which thankfully was quite accessible by metro / tram. I can’t say the same for all of Dubai though because we tried to take the metro to as many places as possible but because of their locations and the lack of walkability of most areas of Dubai, getting around was a bit of a challenge. We’d been told that taking the taxi everywhere is normal, but we liked the flexibility of not having to queue. The times we used the metro was great. They’re spacious, air conditioned (VERY important) and clean.

The view from our hotel was of part of the Palm and the water.

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We also visited the Dubai Mall and grabbed a snack in their massive food court.

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They had a dunkin’ donuts and Texas Chicken which was pretty much Church’s Chicken (same logo and everything!)

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We then went to the Dubai Aquarium. I LOVE aquariums so this was kind of a no brainer. It’s not huge, but it is interesting. We took our time walking through it and the absolute highlight was getting there in time to see the otters being fed. I am fascinated by otters because they’re really smart (and cute!). At seaworld and the other aquariums I’d been to, I hadn’t ever seen them interact with a trainer as much as we did here. Because of how many pictures I took, it’ll need to be a separate post… 🙂

I think the thing we most looked forward to, was the food. We wondered how their restaurants and buffets compare to places like Vegas. We first went to Asado which is an Argentinian steak house. We ordered their variety meat grill which was huge. Their speciality is slow cooked baby goat. The meat was really good, but we found that some of the steaks were overcooked. The sirloin was perfectly cooked (by our medium-rare standards) but by the time we got to the tenderloin, it was almost at medium-well. We mentioned it to our waiter, and he promptly had another one brought out. Sidenote: the service we experienced in Dubai was AMAZING.

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On the way back to the metro, we walked past Burj Khalifa. It is really pretty at night!

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We also went to Aquaventure, which was really fun. Joe took video of the rides on his gopro here. We’d originally considered staying at the Atlantis hotel, but I’m really glad we didn’t because it would have made getting into different parts of Dubai a lot longer.

The next night we wanted to explore the Madinat Jumeirah area so we asked our hotel for a restaurant recommendation. They suggested and Italian place called Segreto which was a fabulous suggestion. My seafood soup and cannelloni was probably the best I’ve ever had.

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The next day we went to the Bur Dubai area to visit the Textile Souk. I actually didn’t have much luck with fabric here – I ended up only buying 1 piece of fabric. I don’t do well with extreme temperatures and it was really hot. Also, the men from the different souks would call out to us, follow us around trying to get us to come into their store etc. I know this is normal, but with the heat and not having much luck with fabric, it didn’t put me in a very good mood. I don’t know why, but when they bring my ethnicity into it, it really annoys me. Yelling “Ni Hao! Ni Hao!” at me is not going to make me want to talk to you. Or we would get “Konichiwa!” We took a water taxi over to the gold souk and then headed to dinner, which made the whole day much better.

My one fabric purchase.

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On the water taxi

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Dinner was at Yalumba‘s Tuesday night seafood buffet. Note, this is at the La Meridian near the airport, so quite far from where we were staying. We had such a hard time getting there from the airport metro stop, that we ended up taking a 5-minute taxi ride there. Joe found a way to walk back (thankfully) because the taxi driver wasn’t happy he had to get out of the queue to take us less than 1 km. If you’re in Dubai on a Tuesday night, and you love seafood, then you must go to Yalumba. The seafood was SO fresh, and there was a lot of it. They had the cold seafood, as well as hot cooked dishes with fish, crab etc. Joe’s favourite were the small dishes of whole scallops.

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Perfect Travel Companion: The Flapjack

One of my top priorities when I travel is “what should I bring/buy to snack on?” As someone who gets hangry (hungry-angry) it’s important for me, and my travel companions’ happiness, that I am well fed. That why on road trips or long train journeys, I come well prepared with every snack possible. Gummy bears, crisps (chips), cookies etc. Something salty, and something sweet to cater for all tastes. They’re usually store bought snacks but on a trip to Europe with friends last year, I decided to make something home made. We were going to be hiking Cinque Terre and spending a lot of time travelling. I sometimes make my own muesli (toasted granola) and had seen recipes for flapjacks. I decided it’d be a good snack as its simplest is made of oats, sugar and butter. It’s a great base starting point. I used this recipe from bbcgoodfood as my base. These flapjacks have been lifesavers, particularly on our Cinque Terre trip where we had train strikes that made our journey HOURS longer than it was supposed to be, and sustained us on our full day hike.

Base ingredients:

250g Porridge Oats – I use the large porridge oats, not the ones used for instant porridge or even microwaveable porridge. I use jumbo rolled oats.
125g Butter
125g Brown Sugar – I use dark muscovado because it adds really great flavour, and isn’t as refined as normal brown sugar
2-3 tbsps Golden Syrup (depends how gooey you want it) – could substitute agave which has a lower GI
*From here, including the method instructions, is where I deviate

Deb’s additions:
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp (or more) of flaxseed – great for fibre and good fats!
You can add any of these in together, or separately – it’s entirely up to you!
Pumpkin seeds
Nuts (I will use crushed cashews or pistachios, but anything will work)
Dried fruit or berries
Chocolate chips

Method

-Weigh out oats and put into mixing bowl
-Melt butter – once melted, add in the brown sugar and mix it around so that any lumps are dissolved or made smaller
-Mix the butter/sugar mixture, spices such as nutmug, cinnamon, vanilla essence and flaxseed into the oats
-Add in the golden syrup and mix

**Here is where you can split the oats mixture and make part of it plain, and another part with nuts, seeds, chocolate etc.
**The original recipe says to use a baking tin but I’ve had good results with filling muffin tins 1/3 to 1/2 way up and you don’t have to worry about cutting them! Nice for if you’re creating more than 1 kind of flapjack.

-Mix in the “extras” and fill either your baking tin or muffin tins
-Bake at 180 Celsius or ~ 350 Farenheit for 20 minutes
-Note: It may require less time if using muffin tins – more like 15 minutes
-Remove from oven when they are golden
If you use dark brown muscovado, the flapjacks will look more brown than golden

I made these flapjacks for our most recent trip to Croatia. I used the baking tray method this time.
I made these flapjacks for our most recent trip to Croatia. I used the baking tray method this time.
Side shot of the flapjacks. I used pistachios and chocolate chips in this version...loads of them :)
Side shot of the flapjacks. I used pistachios and chocolate chips in this version…loads of them 🙂