The journey concludes...
Dubai Travel Blog› entry 13 of 17 › view all entries
Everyone slept in due to the late night resulting from the Sea View Hotel incidentâŚeven Samia was up late with an upset stomach. By the time we ate breakfast, showered and read the paper it was about 1PM before we pushed off. I gained consensus to visit
Mark & Samia wanted to take me to a restaurant in the historic section of Bur Dubai (the Bastakia Quarter) that is being restored. They had been leveling ancient abodes for parking lots and cheap housing to accommodate imported labor forces. The interesting follow-up to the historic section is that its revival is due to Prince Charles. He apparently visited
Unfortunately the diner was closed (Friday being like our Sunday).
After eating we wandered about the historic section, snapping pictures and enjoying the feel of and old civilization. I learned from Samia that they built two-story structures with narrow passageways in between to manufacture shade: an important commodity for villages in this climate! I had already read plenty about the wind towers <âwind towersâ were Dubaiâs ancient art of air conditioning, where the tower was constructed facing all four directions to capture the wind irrespective of where it was coming fromâŚyou could hang wet laundry in the tower so that the evaporation further cooled the air being channeled into your house!>, but what a treat to see so many!
We departed the delightfully quiet historic village (submerged in bustling downtown
Oh, excuse meâŚat the true end was a gift shop, where we discovered a stuffed camel that brays & snores, its entire body undulating, when you twist its left ear. Time to start accumulating presents and I scored this for my daughter (but Samia wanted one too!). Also picked up the requisite âtacky magnetâ <Kim & I like to buy those ridiculous refrigerator magnets as a memory of our travelsâŚactually a very fun keepsake that goes on our fridge and keeps memories alive!> with a camel and veiled woman in a desert setting.
From here we continued down Dubai Creek (towards the Gulf) and stopped at Sheikh Saeedâs palace (believe this was the grandfather of sheikh Maktoum, present sheik of Dubai and #2 official in UAE). Another masterpiece, with the photo collection being the true gem. Lots of pictures from the 1950âs & 60âs, revealing locust swarms (Mark has never experienced, or heard reference to, a locust swarm (I would be interested to learn if these occur any longer???) and day-to-day life. The palace itself was quite grand. Both Mark & Samia commented to me separately that the layout was âcomplexâ and I wish I knew enough about architecture to appreciate their identical remarks!
Then we started walking along the creek, a superb area and a true feeling of relaxation crept in.
We wandered into the free Heritage/Cultural Museum (albeit admissions are ridiculously cheapâŚonly $2 or $3 apiece to get into the
Finally, we sat along the creek with all the sippers & smokers for a drink (milkshake, cappuccino and Turkish coffee) while reveling in the din of a busy cultural area with ideal weather. I savored my final view of the
Then, once again, we struggled with the traffic to reach downtown Sharjah.
Got a little lost, although on a very scenic road, and decided to make an illegal u-turn at an upcoming traffic light to get corrected. Werenât we surprised when 11 of the 12 cars in front of us did the exact same thing! In the heart of downtown, dominated by towering apartment skyscrapers that recall the Bronx, we made the Blue Souk, which was brimming with activity at 7:30PM --- another lesson was that Friday was typically the only day off for the ex-pat laborers, so they do all of their shopping then.
After scoring the big-ticket item (I will not soon forget how ridiculously cheap everything is in the UAEâŚprobably helps that the Dhiram is fixed against the dollar --- so no big exchange losses like virtually every other foreign currency), it was a fun time of seeking out knick-knacks for Eric & Spencer. I also grabbed a t-shirtâŚfor the whopping sum of $3! Mark thought it was pretty cool, so I played last of the big-time spenders and got him one as well. Cool point is that we were both wearing our âRed Dirt Shirtsâ from Kauai (purely by coincidence) --- we pledged to Samia that we would only wear our
For our final meal, we drove to a nearby traditional Lebanese restaurant that Mark & Samia frequent about once a month, Al Shiraa Fiskey.
A waiter soon appeared and feted us with the now familiar salad fixings, and I savored my mint w/hummous one last time. Interesting footnote is that the waiter also deposited a box of tissues on our tableâŚand fortunately Mark was there to inform me this was their version of napkins!
Our calamari showed up quite promptlyâŚso freshâŚand the fuch was not long behind. The fish was laid out on a huge platter and our waiter expertly carved out numerous filets and served an initial portion. It was delicious. An Iraqi Mark works with stopped by to say hello as he escorted his family in for supper. Apparently this place is a hit with the college staff and they usually encounter an acquaintance here.
Then we headed home for the last time. I re-packed my bags and was ecstatic at the abundance of room (the goods I brought in to Dubai included five pounds of Kona coffee. Mark & Samia lived for several years in Hawaii and are hooked -- two pounds of soy protein, nine CDâs, two DVDâs, a baby blanket and two other baby giftsâŚtook up over half of my luggage!). The dollar value of my âreturnâ gifts far exceeded what came in, but it was a bargain in terms of cubic displacement. Mark focused on trying to burn a CD with his wealth of photos from our adventures, but had too much material. Samia finally turned in at 11PM (and after all, it would soon be their âMondayâ morning!).
On the way to