2 February -
Cape Town Dubai (by plane)
It was finally
time to get my ass into gear and head for the Arabian Peninsula.
It was an uneventful flight to Doha where I had a connecting
flight to Dubai. I arrived in Dubai at the ungodly hour of 3h00.
Fortunately, there are some awesome people in the world and I
was collected at the airport by Anton and Andre, friends of Lois
living in Dubai. I was extremely grateful to them as Dubai is a
rather expensive place and if it were not for them I would have
had a rather pricey start to the UAE. We sat chatting until 5h00
before we finally decided to call it a day.
3 February -
We slept rather
late and we were slow to get going after our late night. Dubai
is no doubt the money capital of the world. I was in awe of what
money can buy!! Just about everything is the biggest in the
world, from shopping centers to aquariums! We took the water bus
in the marina and wandered around the famous Dubai Mall with its
golden souq and awesome aquarium. We walked along the downtown
area and had a late lunch watching the dancing fountains. I
thought the fountains were rather impressive against the
backdrop of the Burj Khalifa, currently the highest building in
the world. Then we went back home where we had popcorn and wine
while watching a 3D movie.
4 February -
Although we got up
a bit earlier than the previous day, it was still 11h30 before
we got out of the house because I had to first put my bicycle
back together again. First, we were off to the local bike shop
where I had to buy a few bits and bobs. Our next destination was
Souq Madinat Jumeirah where we had a canal side lunch at the
Noodle House with a view of the famous Burj Al Arab hotel.
Afterwards, we paid a visit to Elvira, a friend of Anton and
Andre, where we went to the top of her 83-storey building with
an amazing view over the city. Elvira ordered pizzas and we sat
chatting before returning home. I lived liked a member of the
5 February -
I decided to stay
one more day, so off we went to the Miracle Garden, a fantastic
flower garden. Afterwards, we took a drive to the world famous
Palm Island with its rather expensive accommodation. Expensive
or not it is not the place one wants to be when there is a
tsunami!!! By that time we were hungry again, so we went in
search of food which we found at Carluccio's. Wow, what
fantastic food that was!!!
Our next stop was
at the metro station where, to my surprise, we boarded a metro
which was driverless!! Our driverless train zooted us off to our
next destination - The Spice and Gold Souq. On our way home we
stopped at Carrefour to do some shopping as Anton planned to
make us a traditional Uzbek dish (plov). Did I mention that
Anton is from Uzbekistan?
Another day in the
fascinating city of Dubai
As always, the longer I stayed, the
more interesting it became.
-Dubai Al Rama - 100 km
It was rather good
to be back on the bike and I giggled as I set off down the
highway. I was extremely thankful to Anton and Andre, who gave
me a bed, fed me and carted me around all over Dubai. There are
just such amazing people in the world. I was warned about the
drivers in Dubai and was a bit worried about the traffic. Good
and wide highways and fast cars are not always the best place to
cycle. I was, however, surprised that the cars actually slowed
down and waved me across a busy highway! It must have been out
of sheer amazement to see a woman on a bicycle!!
I followed the
dead boring and mind numbing road to Abu Dhabi, a large 4-lane
highway. At least there were plenty of petrol stations along the
way and I did not pass one by. At each one, I had long
conversations with the locals, all enquiring where I was heading
and where I was from, followed by the inevitable photo shoot.
With me leaving Dubai late and with all the stopping and
chatting I did not get very far before the sun started dipping
towards the horizon. It is still winter and the sun goes down at
around 18h00. I pulled into Al Raga, found a very expensive room
and settled in for the night.
7 February - Al
Rama Abu Dhabi - 40 km
It was a short
ride into the big and busy city of Abu Dhabi. The ride was even
shorter than anticipated, as just before the city centre I
somehow found myself in the fast lane and could not get back
across the road to the right-hand lane. Eventually, the police
helped me across and then two friendly Samaritans stopped and
gave me a lift into town. Good thing too they were there, as the
police did not want to let me go and only once they saw that I
was in the car did they drive off. I went in search of a local
sim card as the GPS on my phone did not work without the sim
card and it was my only map. On my way back, I got myself a nice
shawarma and a few samosas for just a few Dirhams.
8 February -
Abu Dhabi Ramah rest area -125 km
I first stopped at
the imposing Grant Mosque for a photo and then got on the road
leading to Oman. I planned only to go halfway to the border but
could not find easy camping along the way. There was nothing
happening along the road and, once again, I was happy for the
service stations along the way to break the monotony. I stopped
at each and everyone for some water and snacks; not that I was
hungry but chewing on something while riding kept me busy. It
was after dark that I finally arrived at the Ramah rest area. I
was pleased that I had the light Andre gave me, and what a nice
light it was. It was a flashing solar light which came on in low
light, just the thing I needed.
9 & 10 February
- Ramah rest area Al Ain - 60 km
I headed straight
into the wind and, as always, there was nothing I could do about
it. I put my head down and put the bicycle in an easy gear and
soldiered on. There was truly nothing happening along the way,
even the service stations stopped having shops where I could buy
a snack or drink. Along the way, a local stopped and gave me a
small souvenir - how nice of him. Needless to say, I was happy
to reach the Al Ain oasis.
After booking into
a room, I took a walk to the nearby Al Ain Oasis with its
labyrinthine of cobbled streets. The entire area is walled and
inside the oasis is fitted with an ancient underground
irrigation system dating back thousands of years. There are
nearly 150,000 date palms within the walled area, making for a
cool and shady walk. I once again got myself a shawarma and
samosas from the cafeteria around the corner.
I also decided to
stay the following day as there were quite a few things to see.
First thing in the morning I visited the Palace Museum and then
went in search of the old fort. Al Jahili Fort was constructed
in 1891, both as a fort and a summer resident for Sheikh Zayed
the First. It was customary in those days for Abu Dhabi leaders
to escape the coastal humidity in summer for the dryer climate
of Al Ain. The fact that there was also an oasis with plenty of
water must have made it an easy choice.
My last visit was
a turn at the Carrefour supermarket for a few things, and as the
camel market was just behind the shopping centre I visited that
as well before returning to my very comfortable room. I could
not resist picking up a falafel and more samosas before turning