. Right away, it was pretty noticeable that our driver did not take the same customer service training that our amazing staff at the Marriott had taken. This guy had nothing to say... " Which building is that?" I inquired....nothing..hmmm, " how many people live here in Dubai?" silence....maybe information isn't part of our tour.We rode in silence for about an hour to our desert location. Silence is hard for me,:) but I tried to play along with it, as I knew that my questions and inquires were not to be addressed, and looked forward to our ride in the desert. " Fasten your seat belts" our driver informed us...he talks! ha, okay maybe there's hope, the night is young. What our driver lacked in personality, he sure exceeded in his driving skills, he went up and down those sand dunes like we were on a real life Indiana Jones ride, and got up on two wheels various times almost tipping the jeep over getting screams and laughs from all of us ( mom, you would of not like this at all!) Our ride ended out in the middle of the desert, right before sunset and were we able to run up the dunes and get some great photos just as the sun was coming down.Now I wasn't expecting a real life Bedouin camp that was abandoned out in the desert discovered by the tour operators to be enjoyed by tourists as myself looking for a real life desert safari experience. But I wasn't expecting a man made, Vegas style set up with a fake plaster waterfall, a make shift bar, and a gift shop with ridiculous prices and hawkers coming around selling their goods if you were too lazy to leave your pillows at your Bedouin style table on rugs in the sand to come shop in their stores. The camel ride consisted of a 3 minute ride in a circle with camels that looked like they would make a run for it if no one was looking. Okay, maybe I'm a little spoiled after my genuine camel ride in the mountains of Egypt, but I do think all of this could of been a little more authentic. The food I have to say, was amazing. A buffet of Arabic food complete with hummus, salads,
. and lots of meat Kebabs, lamb, beef and chicken. There was a wonderful belly dancer to entertain us after dinner, who was way too good to be dancing in a place like this, but I'm sure that belly dancing jobs here are a dime a dozen, and you have to start somewhere!On our way back to the hotel, now our driver starts talking.." how was everything? you had a good time, yes? Everything good? " ahhh, here comes the closer. Its funny how the personality kicks up in the end when the show is over and its time to work on the extra tip. It was very hard for me to not leave him something. I am also very generous in showing my appercation for anyone in the service industry, I was in it for many years, I still am ( without the tips of course) but I don't feel that you should give something just to give it. It should be given when something extra is earned...and in this case, it was not. I have to think he wasn't too surprised when we quickly excited the jeep after we arrived in our hotel. I still don't know how long Dubai has been a major city. Thank goodness for Google.There wasn't alot of time to do everything that were was to do in Dubai, there was alot we wanted to see and do. Dubai is known for its elaborate shopping malls, I am not one to do much shopping on vacation,and even though I'm sure the malls were incredibly designed, it wasn't going to be one of our things to see, when we had such little time here. The number #2 must see here in Dubai was the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifa , and the tip we got was instead of joining the hundreds of tourists on the observation deck, make a reservation at Atmosphere restaurant and lounge on the 122nd floor and have time to sit and enjoy being up so high and its amazing views without the crowds and restriction of time. Our concierge made us a lounge reservation at 7:30 pm on our last night, since the cost of a visit to the lounge alone would be about as much as we could afford. A drink there would set you back about $20-$25 dollars
. The Burj Khalifa was a short cab ride from our hotel. The ride up to the 122nd floor took 45 seconds. You could feel your ears popping as you made the rapid climb. The atmosphere, at the Atmosphere ( that is actually the name of the lounge) was dark, and very sophisticated, but a little on the chill side , not the friendly service we received at our 5 star Marriott. We were barely greeted or acknowledged on our short, expensive visit. Maybe a place that doesn't need to try to get or keep your business since they are just popular enough because of who they are. An interesting concept, but one that will continue to keep thousands waiting just to see it, because it stands taller than the rest. I'm glad we went, marked it off the list, and learned once again, that the grandest things aren't always the best, but the ones that are the unexpected are the ones that you truly remember and never forget.
One of the best tours that is recommended here in Dubai is the Desert Safari adventure. It was #1 on the "must do", so of course we must do it! There are many companies offering the excursion, Emirates being the top rated on Trip Advisor, and of course the most expensive, so we decided to go with one that we could book directly and conveniently from our lovely hotel. We went with one that was less expensive, maybe they are all the same? Since our hotel is 5 star, than their tours must be 5 star as well...right? Well, that's what one would think.....Our safari driver picked Christine and I, and a lovely newlywed couple from Pakistan up promptly at 3:30 from our hotel, so we're off to a good start. We were taking our safari in a 4-wheel drive SUV that was equipped to 4 wheel over the sand dunes in the desert, not for the faint of heart ( like the tourists on our fishing adventure) because this was going to be like a roller coaster ride, and it was the way to get to our desert location for sunset, camel riding and a Bedouin dinner out under the stars