Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Desert safari and gym life in Dubai

My day on Friday in Dubai, which is technically their Saturday, started with the most awesome trip to the gym!  I know it seems silly to be excited about, but I have grown to absolutely love going to the gym in Atlanta and especially love all my gym buddies and friends I have made there.  It really helps to build a community at the place that you work out, and makes the process so much more enjoyable.

The evening before we had been hanging out with some of my friend's friends - whom he had met at his gym.  He mentioned going in the morning and I jumped on the chance, and we head over early for a 9:00 a.m. spin class which they call "RPM" there.

The gym was super hip, with loud fun music blasting, graffiti style art all over the walls, and tons of posters and fliers advertising events and activities and motivation for members of the "tribe" at the gym location.  I immediately fell in love and the RPM class was super sweaty and amazing as it looked out over the Dubai Marina.  I found the trainer who led the class on Instagram and she had posted these images from before the class started.  I would love loved to take a picture to show you the view I was looking at while spinning, but I didn't want to be "that girl" and was already getting teased by my friends about my tendency to Instagram and Snapchat and take too many pictures in general!

I was so impressed at the class, the gym, and the fact that everyone there at 9:00 a.m. on a weekend day was young, fit, attractive, and working hard.  My gym in Atlanta at 9:00 a.m. on the weekend isn't filled with young people, I'll tell you that much!  I was in awe and loved that I got to experience the gym life in Dubai.

Especiallllyyyy when breakfast is included afterwards!

We showered and changed and head over to Le Pain Quotidien (a favorite location of my friend who I was staying with) for breakfast which overlooked the Dubai Marina, which was gorgeous and filled with fancy looking yachts that I wanted to ride around on!

I resisted the urge to commandeer a boat and instead settled on some coffee, scrambled eggs, toast and avocado.  You can't go wrong with that combination.

The afternoon on Friday was completely highlighted by the Desert Safari that I went out with an American friend of mine who is living in Dubai and a colleague of mine who had also traveled over for these meetings and decided to stay extra and explore.  I had been looking forward to it all week, and even before I even arrived to Dubai.  I'd heard wonderful things about it and had these visions of being out in the dunes in the middle of the desert that I was anxious to fulfill my daydreams of.

Before heading out there though, we went to Madinat Jumeirah again actually, to sit down and have a meal outside overlooking the Burj Al Arab.  I was excited to go back since I hadn't had the chance to eat at any of the restaurants and because I did love the view!  We had a delicious meal of some Lebanese dishes as well as some Arabic dishes and all shared the various plates, which is my favorite way to eat!

But on to the desert safari...

It. Was. So. Fun.

I was looking forward to this all week and it really lived up to my expectations! The camel ride wasn't exactly what I was thinking, but I had so much fun being out in the desert.

We were picked up at my friend's apartment at 3:45 and went into a white 4-wheel jeep that already had three others inside.  Our little group head out into the middle of the desert and the first stop was a place where you could ride 4-wheelers around, which my friends and I opted not to do, but we did buy a nice head scarf.

Also, I should mention, that I was a little concerned that buying these head scarf things was cultural appropriation or insensitive to the people who wear these patterned scarves as part of their religion.  However, our driver was wearing one just to protect from the sand blowing in his face and hair so I figure that it was okay. We also avoided the traditional colors.  Anyways... back to the blog...

Our driver then let some of the air out of the tires and took us out "dune bashing" which consisted of driving all over the desert dunes in a fashion that made me scream out loud multiple times.  It was so crazy and I was so scared the car was going to tip over.  He would drive up these steep peaks that you couldn't see over, on the side of the dunes where we would skid down sideways, down some of the steepest sand dunes imaginable, and just make all over crazy turns and dips.  He would drive so close to other people and cars, and with no lanes or roads it made me nervous every time!

However, it was a good and fun scared. You just sort of had to trust he knew what he was doing and embrace it.  It was amazing!  At one point we got stuck in the sand and he needed to put more air in the tires to get us out, which we took as an opportunity to take pictures of the dunes at sunset.  It was such a fun experience.

Following the dune bashing, we went to a camp where we had a dinner, some drinks, went on a camel ride, and got to view a belly dancing and fire dancing and weird skirt dancing show.  All made up such a perfect day.

(This is one of my favorite pictures ever... the expressions on our face are amazing.)

This is a very photo heavy post but I wanted to be able to capture it all!  The evening was so fun and just a total adventure.  We laughed so much and screamed and enjoyed an amazingly beautiful sunset over flowing sand dunes that were unlike anything that I have seen before.

During my uncles wedding weekend in Provincetown, we went on a dune tour of the dunes on the cape but this was completely different.  Just the orangey color of the sand was totally gorgeous and very different from anything I see at home.

When we got back out into civilization and I was dropped back at my friends who I was staying with (as a local, he chose to pass on the safari tour experience.)  Him and his friends were about to head out to the DIFC area that we had been at the night before, so I did a quick turnaround from my safari outfit into a dress and jumped in the car to head to a new place that had just opened in Dubai called Indie.

My friend who I was staying with is from Lebanon, as are all of his friends who I met and were hanging out with over the weekend.  The new bar/restaurant we went to was in its first week of being open and was originally a Beirut based establishment that opened up in Dubai, so they were anxious to check it out and support the hometown owners.  It was an incredibly hip, chic place, that just like the gym in the morning, was FILLED with young, attractive, cool looking people.  When I asked my friends about all of this, they mentioned that Dubai is a young city in general.  Young people come there for work and there aren't a lot of young kids or older people there, which makes sense. And then for this particular bar, or even the bars or restaurants we had been at the day before, the explanation I received for why they were so cool was because they serve cocktails and not beer.

At first I was protested, but then it seemed to make sense.  My friend asked me, "Could you imagine everyone here drinking beer?" and I said no, I couldn't.  Beer apparently makes for a more casual atmosphere and cocktails are fancier.  I guess there are probably cool hip places like this in cities throughout the U.S. (Atlanta included) but I probably just don't ever go to them since I go to more casual bars.  Anyways, I was impressed.

Final point about the DIFC area in Dubai and then I will move on...

The restaurants are all a floor above ground level and build within the tall buildings around it.  I am honestly struggling to figure out a way to describe it but anyways, here are a few poor pictures below.  What I want to point out that I thought was cool is that these columns with wood paneling, actually are air conditioners.  This area has outdoor air conditioning, just to keep the temperatures bearable to walk around in the summer months when it gets super hot in Dubai.  Crazy!

We didn't stay out too late as everyone in our crowd was pretty tired. And hey, you guys know that i love a night that ends around midnight.  I have no need to be out later than that most days!!

To continue to make this the longest blogged about trip every, I am going to cut it off here.  I will write about my last day tomorrow.  Hope you're enjoying the pictures and stories so far!


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