Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Private Abra Ride on the Creek
Yes, you can jump an abra (water taxi) across the creek for the equivalent of about 50p, and it's a wonderful experience. But a) it's all over too soon amd b) you have to cram your way onto the abra with the hoi polloi. All of this is negated by simply coughing up twenty quid (a bargain by Dubai standards) and then you get the boat all to yourself, for 90 minutes. Fabulous! As with so many cities, it's wonderful to see the place from the water, especially as the creek is really the heart of the city. Lots of 'traffic' large and small, including other abras, the newer and bigger water taxis, andthe occasional giant barge. Despite all of this there's very little swell and you chug along quite serenely. Well as serenely as you can be when there's a diesel engine roaring away next to you, but it's still wonderful.
I'm lucky enough to have unearthed a friend of a friend who is not only a horse whisperer (no, really) but who is also managing this fabulous place out in the desert. Don't be fooled by the link, in typical Dubai style the website hasn't been updated for some time. For those that have lived here for a while, it's the site of the Jumana desert show. Long story short - this was cancelled, and the animals who took part were left there for TWO YEARS to rot. Thankfully people stepped in and they're now restoring the ranch as a place for horse-riding and general visits. It's an amazing place, completely silent and tranquil, with tame camels, goats, donkeys (all of whom had starring roles in the production, bless!). And of course, there were some of the most gorgeous horses I've ever seen. A million thanks to Mark who showed us the most amazing hospitality for the morning.
My dad turning to me as we walked through, giddy as a goat, exclaiming quietly: "I don't know how you do it, but every year you think of something better and better for my birthday. Thank you darling," fair brought a tear to my eye.
Christmas Eve at 360
It's an age-old tradition that we see no need to stop - sun downers at one of the world's most amazing bars. No really, it's consistently voted as so, and with good reason! We had mused as to how they would top Santa's arrival last year - he whizzed by on a water ski. We shouldn't have worried. This year he soared through the sky over the sea on a motor-ised parasail thingy, James Bond style. LOVE Dubai!
Christmas Day at the Ritz
We started with Veuve at my apartment and quickly adopted the usual position on the lawn at the Ritz. It was definitely the best year ever, as they'd reduced the amount of people considerably (don't mention the roast potato shortage of 2009!) which meant it was much more relaxed and easy to get access to the food - and the free-flowing champers too, of course! Beautiful food, great music, ambience, a paddle in the sea in between courses, and great, great company. Popped the family in a taxi home when they revealed that they were absolutely leathered and carried on without them in the downtown bars. Who says drinking for 13 hours solid is difficult?!
Boxing Day and the Burj Khalifa
You may think that one trip up the world's tallestbuilding is enough, but you'd be wrong! I've now been up three times, and loved every minute of it all. My mum and A were both a barrel of nerves before we got into the disco lift (if you've been up, you'll know what I mean) but they both coped admirably when we got up there. I , meanwhile, nearly cartwheeled round the outdoor deck, gleefully sticking my hands and feet through the specially costructed gaps. Yes, this is me, who walked out crab-like and hunched over on my first visit just six months ago. Whether it's living on the 28th floor or just visits to the Burj itself, my fear of heights is cured. Brillsville!
So that's it. These were just the highlights I can think of right now. There were also the simple blissful venings spent eating cheese and drinking wine in front of Muppet Christmas carol, and the trips to the supermarket to buy mops and newspapers (!). It was over all too quickly and I don't know when I'll see the family again. Sigh. Another wonderful Christmas in the memory bank, and more to follow, I'm sure.