We didn't really know what to expect from the place, even though we'd attended a lecture earlier in the week and seen slides of some of these amazing buildings which are appearing here. So opening the curtain this morning to find a kind of Emerald City in the mists on the horizon, we looked forward to getting into this amazing city to see what's what.
Arriving in port is always exciting and there was a buzz of anticipation during breakfast time. We'd booked an orientation tour and jumped on a coach with about 30 of our shipmates and set off with Samir, our guide, along what must be the fastest-changing roadside collection of skyscrapers in the world. All the superlatives were here - the fastest built skyscraper, the tallest, the most expensive, the highest number of cranes in the world, alongside banners advertising the sale of apartments in one or other "sold out in 1 hour"!
First stop was the Burj al Arab hotel - 7 stars and not for the likes of us. We simply stopped by the promenade and took photos. Onto a mosque and more photo opportunities - losing one of the bunch along the way. Seems as though this particular elderly gentleman has a habit of wandering off and "has history" - in spite of a lengthy search he was nowhere to be found and we left without him!
Next stop, the Dubai Museum - a really interesting collection of life size sets of shops and scenes from everyday life. Dimly lit, it gave a really good impression of how things were before the transformation into the 21st century city began and we thought it great.
Not everyone felt the same though: "Jim, Jim...it's dark in here, I can't see anything!! I don't like it..." Oh, for heaven's sake!
Final stop was the souks - the spice souk and then the gold souk. Once again, a few souls made unintentional bids for escape by not listening to instructions - I think this was the most tiresome aspect of the morning and once or twice, Mark had to do a little rounding up of little grey haired old ladies who then followed his every step to make sure they didn't get left behind again!
Did we buy? No gold jewellery, that's for sure. But we were pleased to grab a bag of cashews, a box of sandalwood incense, some sweet aniseeds and a pot of sweet curry masala. Oh, and 10g of saffron, too. We prefer the edible gold!
Next adventure - wadi bashing as we head out into the desert this afternoon in a 4WD. We're headed for a bedouin camp and fun is promised...