Emirati Excellence Again

As my daughter said when we arrived back in Dubai, “it’s nice to be home!”

India was such a change from our normal life that Dubai felt like coming home especially since we stayed at the same hotel, Dubai Marriott Harbour.  Our room is on the 40th floor (of 52) this time so we have an more expansive view from our balcony….and the room is even bigger than our last one (3 beds, 4.5 baths)!  Wouldn’t you know the kids picked to sleep in the queen bed together!  We chose to stay in the same location for two main reasons: having laundry in the room and the best service we’ve had in a while!

The weather has been warmer than we anticipated (no one was complaining) so we went to the Jumeirah Beach (while somebody had to work…sorry Cory) on our first day back in Dubai.  The kids have radar eyes for a park so we enjoyed the playground before the beach.  It was a sunny, relaxing day and much needed for everyone after we had hit the touristing hard in India.

We had one last morning of culture touring the Jumeirah Mosque.  The kids’ favorite part was trying the Arabic tea, donuts, pancakes (with cream cheese) and dates.  They got restless at the mosque so we got our wiggles out at the pool afterward.  Our main goal of the day though was being prepared for dinner with friends so everyone took good afternoon naps.  We met two of Cory’s colleagues and their families at Sammach where we sat on the patio viewing the Dubai Fountain water show and Burj Khalifa light show.  You can never see this too many times!  It was a lovely evening of sweet hospitality and delightful conversation with co-workers that Cory has enjoyed working with for years…and now we all got to know them and their wonderful families!

On Cory’s last day at work, I decided we needed a non-culture day so off to Legoland Dubai we went!  We parked right up front as the park was all but empty.  We didn’t stand in line for anything!  We have found very small crowds all over Dubai which was unexpected due to it being their busy season but I love it!  The only part that I did not like were the height restrictions on rides.  I’m all for safety and unfortunately, my daughter met the age requirement but missed the height requirement by five centimeters to ride anything by herself.  We looked for rides we could all do together.  Bea’s favorite was driving her own Lego car and boat.  My favorite part was walking through “mini land” aka real buildings and scenes all made out of Legos; here are a few examples of what we saw…Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai (with skiers inside the building), Dubai Fountain (with it’s own water show), Dubai Museum, etc.  They also had India’s Taj Mahal, Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque, Egyptian pyramids and many other famous skyscrapers.  Amazing to see and read how many legos and hours it took to build them all!  Before leaving, we went inside the “factory” to see how Legos are made; I love a factory tour of any kind!

Wednesday morning we woke up to Cory being on vacation with us!  We try to plan downtime for the whole family while on our trips and this one had a little sprinkled throughout our month away.  We visited the Gold Souk this morning to find some gifts before our big event of the day.  You may have already seen it on Instagram… Dubai Camel Racing at Al Marmoom.  It was a free activity where we watched the camels race from every angle.  We viewed the paddock and the start of the races from an elevated cross bridge, the eight kilometer race from our vehicle driving beside the camels and the finish line from the grand stands.  At the finish line, the owners and their teams gather their camels as there are no jockeys riding the camels.  Also, they served food at the race track and it was free too.  This event was a highlight of our time in Dubai!

Thursday starts the last leg of our journey as we drive north to the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert in Ras Al Khaimah.  It has been really fun seeing camels on the side of the road!  We jumped into the resort activities with a camel caravan for our family of four.  Bea rode with her daddy on Jafron or better known as “the singer”; I’ve never heard a camel talk quite so much!  It was a beautiful view of the desert just before sunset as we rode through the sand dunes.  The kids also found more animals in the barn…bunnies, Shetland ponies, horses and a couple of resort cats.  They’re getting their animal fix until we can get back home to our dog and cat.  The resort also has bikes to ride and even one with training wheels for Bea.  Riding bikes around the property was a huge hit while we were there as well as a daily swim in the private pool we had at our villa!

On Friday, Bea celebrated (we’ve never done this before) her half-birthday and she was so excited!  The celebration began during breakfast at Kaheela when the staff brought her a chocolate muffin with a candle to blow out while singing happy birthday to her.  She was too cute telling everyone about her half-birthday.  Why not, right!  The fun didn’t end in the morning; she was celebrated all day including at the evening’s bbq.  I’ll tell more about this shortly.

The kids requested we take them to “Kids Camp” (aka Ritz Kids) so we obliged.  I bet they needed a little time away to just play like I need ‘me’ time too.  While they played, Cory and I enjoyed an early Valentine’s treat with a Rainforest walk and a massage at the spa.  The rainforest walk was so different than any other spa experience I’ve had as you went through different stations of showers and steam rooms.  It was quite invigorating even though I expected putting ice on my arms and legs to be colder than it was.  We biked to collect the kids before going to the big pool.  It was a beautifully warm day so a perfect day for the pool!  Tonight, we enjoyed a BBQ with a full buffet of delicious Middle Eastern cuisine and a belly dancer for entertainment.  To top the evening off, the staff including the belly dancer sang happy birthday to Bea again bringing a yummy chocolate dessert with a candle in it.  She was definitely living her best life today!

Bea and Teddy waked us Saturday morning to see two Arabian oryx from our back patio!  We all sat on the patio couch together and watched them graze…so cool!  Today’s activity was to see more nature…Jebel Jais Mountains to be exact.  We had a driver take us up the mountain and set up a picnic for us to enjoy while we soaked in the mountains, houses built into the mountains, goats and a few people zip lining on the world’s longest zip line at 2.8 kilometers.  Our picnic was an expansive spread of hummus, chicken swarma, pita bread, tabooleh, all sorts of mezzeh, champagne and more.  This was a perfect activity on our last full day as reminisced about our trip and told our favorites things from each stop.  It was a magical time for our family!

Upon arriving back to the Ritz Carlton, we were upgraded to a tent villa.  The first villa was lovely but we were super excited to experience the tent villa too.  The kids immediately jumped into the pool; I think they’ve been in the pool each day we’ve been in Ras Al Khaimah.  Tonight, Cory had planned for us to go to the star gazing experience and it was way better than I expected.  We learned history and stories of the sky which Bea was able to regurgitate stories about the constellations later on at dinner.  It’s always interesting to know what they soaked in.  We also looked at Mars, galaxies, and constellations through a very high tech telescope.  Luckily the kids had naps in the car on the way home from the mountain so we could have a late dinner at Farmhouse.  I’m so glad we didn’t miss this as the combination of the delicious meat and amazing service couldn’t be beat!

One more day of adventuring and it began in the barn.  They groomed ponies then rode horses.  The dynamic of my kids is so interesting as they challenge and encourage each other in different ways.  When it comes to animals, Teddy takes the lead.  Bea was nervous at first; she derives some of her bravery from him!  I love watching this!  After some Kids Camp time and swimming, we packed in one more adventure before heading to the airport.  We went to the falcon show where we learned falcons are the fastest animals of all, about the art of falconry and how people, especially the Bedouin, used them for hunting.  The Bedouin “borrowed” the falcons on their migration south but released them before summer to fly back north as it’s too hot in the UAE for them.  Such an interesting concept!

All packed up and on our way to the airport, we stopped for supper.  Zahra Al Quds deserves a shout out as I would say it was the best tabuli, garlic sauce and mixed grill plate we had!  Who knew I loved Palestinian food so much!

Then back to reality (well after 36 hours of travel), the comforts of home, our family and friends and our pets!  It is always with such mixed emotions upon returning home.  What a joy to have the blessing of both a safe, warm, well taken care of (thanks Will!!!) home and the chance to go see the world!  Thanks again, Cory for letting us “Go With Daddy!”

Jumeirah Mosque
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Legoland Dubai
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Camel racing
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Pool at our Tent Villa
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Falcon Show
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