With the help of a couple alarms we woke up Wednesday morning around 9:30. On the first floor there was an all you could eat continental breakfast which was included with our stay. Food is often the driving force that gets me out of bed in the mornings and the idea of a buffet had me quick to my feet.
Down stairs we were welcomed into a very fine dining area that was filled with food from all over the world. Some of the things being served I’ve never heard of before but I tried not to be biased. I filled my plate with a variety of goodies and headed back to our table. This first round of breakfast was my learning curve because I found I what I liked and what I didn’t like. Without a doubt my favorite food was crepes filled with nutella. Just writing this makes me wish I had a plate full of them in front of me. My plate was also filled with fruit, waffles, sausage, yogurt, hash browns, and several pieces of food that I was never able to determine what they were. Feeling full we went back up to the room to figure out where we’d begin our day.
From our hotel we could see the Burj al Arab, a building noted for its curved architecture. It’s actually located just off the coast on a manmade island. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is, but it’s nothing compared to where we’d go later in the day.
We took a taxi to the Burj al Arab and realized that in order to get inside you’d need a reservation. This wasn’t too much of a setback though because just next door to the hotel was the beautiful Jumairah Beach. We set our sights on spending the morning at the beach and walked the rest of the way.
This was my first time swimming in the Persian Gulf and it was the warmest water I’ve ever swam in, not counting pools or hot tubs that had been heated. I was also really impressed with the waves that were coming in. Just down the shoreline from us were a few guys surfing and it really made me wish I had a board with me. I think it the water may have been the saltiest I’ve ever swam in as well. We played around for a an hour or so before we decided to move on.
We were really sure where our next destination was to be but we knew we wanted to head in the direction of the Dubai Marina. When we got there we saw a sign that caught our eye. The Aquaventure Waterpark is located at Atlantis on Palm Island. It’s recognized as one of the greatest water parks in the world and has to be in one of the most spectacular settings imaginable.
Palm Island is exactly what it sounds like, an island in the shape of a palm tree. Just take that imagine and amplify it by the largest number that comes to mind! This manmade island was filled with hundreds of residences, hotels, restaurants, apartments, shopping malls, marinas, and even theme parks. Most notable is the Hotel Atlantis, a stunning hotel at the very top of the Palm Island which offers some of the greatest rooms available. They have a room located underground that has windows into the ocean! Imagine if your entire bedroom wall was like looking into a fish tank! Directly next door to Atlantis is Aquaventure where we’d spend the rest of the afternoon!
With over 42 acres of fun-filled attractions there’s truly something for everyone at this waterpark. There are private beaches, never-ending river rapids, the best of the best waterslides, and several aquariums located through the park. A slide named Shark Attack had you sliding through the dark tubes on your inner tube before spitting you out into a glass tube that ran right through the center of a shark tank.
My favorite rides were the Leap of Faith and Poseidon! Both of these slides could be found at the highest points in the park making them the fastest and most intimidating rides available. The Leap of Faith was an open faced slide that had you drop straight down into a tube that hurled your through a shark tank. You were going far too fast to even notice that you were headed through a tank but the ride was so much fun! Poseidon was a bit more intense. You had to step into a tube and stand on a plexiglass trapdoor. Once inside they closed the tube behind you and told you to cross your arms, cross your legs, and put your chin to your chest. The next thing you hear is an automated count down. 3……2….1.. the trapdoor opens and you plunge straight down. Everything happens so fast but you almost complete a full loop in the waterslide before being hurled towards the finish line. Earlier in the day before entering the waterpark Dan and I decided we were just going to bring one item in with us. That one thing was his Go-Pro. Each ride we went on was filmed from either a first person perspective or with an outstretched arm facing back towards our face. I’ll be sure to share these videos with you all once I’m home! I’m hoping to take a few snapshots of the footage for this blog.
For the next few hours we rode every slide available at the park! Because there were so many options there was hardly ever a line. I think the longest line we waited in had 10 people ahead of us. I give Aquaventure two very enthusiastic thumbs up!!
Feeling a bit hungry we left Palm Island for The Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world! If you thought the Mall of Emirates was big wait till you hear about this one! This mall has 22 cinema screens, 120 restaurants, and over 14,000 parking spaces. Inside you’ll find an aquarium with the world’s largest viewing panel at 33 meters wide by 8 meters high. You’ll also find an indoor theme park, and an Olympic sized ice skating rink.
The aquarium offered scuba diving and special viewing areas but we were hungry and ready to eat. As walked through the mall we passed by the viewing panel into the aquarium and it was certainly a site to see. There are over 33,000 animals living inside that tank!
Just next to the aquarium I spotted something oddly familiar. Inside a candy shop was a human sized Hershey Kiss! What the heck was a Hershey Kiss doing in the Dubai Mall? Everywhere I’ve traveled I’ve always been told by locals and fellow travelers how terrible our chocolate is compared to the rest of the world. I personally love chocolate no matter where it comes from but I never expected to see a little piece of home represented so far away. I know Hershey is well known but this was the first I’ve seen of them on my travels, and I had to get a picture with the kiss. This just goes to show that Dubai really does have EVERYTHING!
Before getting something to eat we decided to head to the back of the mall for one of it’s main attractions. The dancing fountains outside of The Burj Khalifa rank as one of the number one attractions in all of Dubai. These fountains are similar to the ones you’d find outside of the Bellagio in Vegas.. only bigger and better, and the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. Put those feats together and you have yourself a pretty spectacular show! In order to get a picture of the entire building I had to use the panoramic setting on my camera and take the photo from the ground up! I’ve never had to do that before haha. To make it even better the sun happened to be setting in the background to make for another stunning backdrop.
After our fountain show we went back inside the mall to find some food. This mall is so large that they have signs directing you where to go comparable to the signs you’d see in an airport directing you to your gates, or baggage claim. We followed the arrows to the foodcourt but must have been distracted by some of the amazing things we were passing by because we almost completed a full loop before realizing that the foodcourt had been in the center of our loop the whole time. Along our walk we saw an indoor waterfall, the indoor theme park, and the iceskating rink! When we came to a Cinnabon Dan immediately set his sights and made a B-line towards the deliciousness. He got one for me too but I waited till after I finished my dinner. I had a pepperoni pizza while Dan ate a pasta dish. Everyone knows that cinnabons taste their best when you eat them when they are warm so I decided to bring mine back over to their store to ask if they could reheat mine. I figured this would be a minor inconvenience for them. I was pretty shocked when they told me they only served them fresh and didn’t even have a microwave. Next thing I knew they were handing me a new one and asking me if I’d like extra cream. Oh how I love Dubai!
Now that we were both completely stuffed we made our way back through the mall and out to the taxi line. Our next stop was back to our plaza where we had set up a Skype date with our Dutch friends back in South Africa. We had a little bit of trouble with our connection but we eventually figured it out. It was great hearing from them and being able to tell them about our trip and to make things even better they were joined by Mawande, Riri, and Buscha. While online we gave them all a tour of our hotel and even showed them the pool on our roof. The whole time throughout our video chat I couldn’t help but hope that I’ll be able to keep in contact with them via video chats for the rest of their time in South Africa. That would be amazing to be able to check in and see how everyone is doing. It’s hard to say goodbye to the great friends you meet when your traveling but I’m usually confident that I’ll stay in touch with the ones I’m closest with. To say goodbye to the kids is a totally different level of difficulty. I truly don’t know if I’ll see them again and it’s much more difficult to keep in touch. Having the ability to stay connected for the next year sounds pretty awesome though! (Also, I forgot to mention before, but thanks so much for the card you slipped into my luggage. It was great hearing from you two and we took the liberty of filling out the card. We just tried to put ourselves in your position and complete the card based on how we think you view us. I’m so flattered. Haha)
After our video chat it was getting late and we wanted to make the most of our last day. We formulated a basic plan for the next day and went to bed… but not before using some awesome Wi-Fi.