Dubai Travel Blog› entry 8 of 17 › view all entries
After waking I joined Mark downstairs for breakfast. I have been accepted by one of their two cats now, and JJ sat contentedly upon my lap for most of my cereal consumption.
Soon we departed on foot to witness the
After introducing me to his assistant, we embarked on a foot tour of his campus accomplishments.
The neatest part was when he showed me his daycare facility, which included gates he designed that were W.C. Escher inspired and replete with surreptitious lizards! Although I was enchanted to see Mark’s work, at the same time I was disenchanted to witness how frequently he got nagged by his cell phone.
After the campus tour, we stumped back to the homestead for a little while to wait for Samia’s classes to conclude. She returned about 1PM and we loaded up her visiting nephew’s (Shahwali) stuff and headed for downtown
The amusing story here is that I was wearing my prescription sunglasses during the drive. Mark had asked me to carry his glasses and some other stuff in my backpack before we left the apartment.
Shared the silly dilemma with Samia & Shahwali as I substituted proper glasses, but of course not with Mark…he was off in a corner on his cell phone!
Next we deposited Shahwali at the airport. Extended my hand for the farewell but got a big hug, which was cool….
First stop was the Spice Souk. Samia had told me what a bargain fresh saffron is in
So, we abandoned Samia with instructions to buy five one-ounce packages of saffron (her recommendation since one ounce is about the most you could reasonably use in one year…and a year is its freshness duration).
Time for the gold. We strode through a bunch of marketplaces before reaching the Gold Souk, and then to the store Samia frequents (her aunt apparently purchases great quantities there). Some tidbits my hosts offered:
(1) pricing is based purely on the weight, with no mark-up for craftsmanship (mind-boggling)
(2) this is real 24K gold à I learned that
(3) finally, they stressed you can only appreciate your purchase after you have left. The Gold Souk is nothing but walls and walls of the stuff and really does overwhelm you --- your particular item doesn’t look so special when you are viewing it in a room of pure gold!
Another thing Samia told me was not to be hasty, we could always return. Fortunately / unfortunately I was captivated by the splendor of the event --- the vast quantity of gold, its unfamiliar color, the crowds of like-minded shoppers and the interaction between Samia & the shopkeeper. Samia modeled many necklaces and earrings, and I was focused upon selecting a set that complemented the bracelet I had already picked out.
Opulence describes the balance of the evening. We headed to Jumeirah <Jumeirah is where all of the posh resorts are, like the Burj Al Arab, the “Wadi World” waterpark and the site where the massive off-shore “Palms” are being built, which is a man made island supposed to house vacation residences & resorts…and is visible from space its so enormous…unfortunately Mark informs me its sinking, delaying further efforts at the moment!> and stopped at the Royal Mirage for a drink before dinner.
We also had an exceptional view of the Burj…a magnificent sight in its own right (Mark exclaimed that he would prefer staying somewhere like the Royal Mirage so you could pay less to stay in Jumeirah and have the splendid view of the Burj as a bonus!)
But none of the many restaurants on site could seat us, so we reserved seats at an Italian place they enjoy and got back in the car. Then Mark dialed up a Pakistani buddy who knew the maitre de at the Wharf…a restaurant at the next-door resort, the Mina A’Salaam.
I was awestruck by the architecture of this resort…still under construction. It was traditional, with many wind towers and left a very authentic Arab culture feeling. I for one would prefer to stay at a place that reinforces local culture rather than creates some high-tech grandiosity. We met Omar, who immediately seated us and was impeccable from every perspective…just what you would expect from a world-class resort. The meals were similarly superb and we all opted for evening specials, Samia ordered the crab, and Mark & I scored the red snapper. It was a mellow evening accentuated by the gently breaking waves of the