A magical 24 hours

The work week in Dubai is Sunday-Thursday, so today (Friday) was the start of the weekend. Late yesterday afternoon, I took a taxi to Dubai’s Public Beach, right smack in the heart of the city. It was very windy, with sand whipping everywhere, but the beach and sea were beautiful, and there were lots of little shells. (I love picking up little shells.)

2015-03-12 22.58.45

Then, on the recommendation of librarian Natasha Pollock, I walked a short distance from the beach to a restaurant called Bu Qtair. The opposite of fancy–it’s literally a trailer. No menu. You can have fish, or prawns, or both. Stand in line (with locals and tourists alike); choose your fish when you get to the window; pay by weight. Go outside and wait for your fish to be cooked. When it’s done, a runner calls your name and brings your fish plus a plate of lettuce and lemon quarters. Another runner brings your table. You read that correctly: From somewhere behind the trailer, he hauls out one of those white plastic patio style tables and a stool; you sit, and your fish gets plonked in front of you. A big serving of rice, a pile of flatbread, and a bowl of curry sauce are extra. 25 cents extra. Plastic utensils are available, but I watched the locals and did as they did: ate the freshly grilled piping hot fish with my hands.

2015-03-13 19.37.06Bu Qtair, al fresco seafood at its best.

 

20150312_183111

Pick your fish. I was told that the one I chose is called a ‘hamour.’ It’s coated with a dry rub and gets seared on a big round metal grill…

2015-03-13 19.35.41

…positively crackling crisp outside, tender inside.

After that feast, I walked a couple miles of the beach boardwalk to the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, where the ASD teachers were having their annual Habitat for Humanity fundraiser: a trivia bowl! It was a really fun evening, and I proudly contributed the correct answer ‘Stone Temple Pilots’ to one of the questions.

Only a few hours later, I was up before the sun. Natasha met me at the hotel, and a car picked us up at 5:15am to take us to Al Maha Resort for a day-trip package, their ‘Activities Adventure.’ This stunning resort is located within the grounds of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve about an hour outside the city. We arrived at 6:30, just in time for the beginning of the falcony demonstration. Three falcons and an eagle strutted their stuff for us, including this beauty:

20150313_065933

At the end of the demo, she patiently let each of the spectators get up close and personal:

20150313_072211

I did say ‘magical’, didn’t I….

Breakfast was next. While we ate, one of the locals dropped by:

20150313_095256

Gazelles (like this one) and oryxes are the two largest animals in the preserve.

Next we toured one of the stunning tent suites and then hit the pool area. Oryx, anyone?

2015-03-13 19.40.06

 

After lunch, we were taken on a wildlife drive, offroad through the dunes. We saw lots more gazelles and oryxes, including a herd with babies nursing!

2015-03-13 19.38.40

Our sharp-eyed guide also spotted a rare lizard, which we admired from afar. Back at the resort, we browsed the gift shop, and had tea and dessert in a deck area with stunning desert views. We drove out of the reserve at sunset, the end of a better-than-perfect day.

2015-03-13 19.28.43

Tomorrow: Taste of Dubai Food Festival!

Leave a Reply