After last year’s Africa trip, we decided that we wanted to return to do something different.  Instead of another safari trip, we wanted to go see the Mountain Gorillas.  We decided to tacked on a Tanzanian safari to our Mountain Gorilla trip since I wasn’t planning to fly all the way to Africa for just a 4-day trip.  Since we had such a positive experience with Sanctuary Retreats last year, we opted to go with them again this year.  They took care of all the travels within Africa, and we were responsible for the international flights.

We had a few options to fly into Entebbe, Uganda – via Amsterdam, Dubai, or Istanbul.  Since we wanted to make the most out of our trip, instead of just flying through a city, we wanted to do a one-day layover to check out the connecting city.  Our first choice was Istanbul, but given the recent hostility toward Americans and Chinese, we opted to go through Dubai (Amsterdam is just another European city, and we’re kind of over European cities at this point in our lives).

So the plan was to fly into Dubai Sunday night, spend Monday touring the city and fly out to Entebbe Monday night.  Unfortunately, one month prior to our trip we were informed that our Monday night flight was cancelled, and had to move up our departure from Dubai to Monday morning.  Which meant we only had a few hours in Dubai.  Luckily, the hotel we were staying at was relatively close to Burj Khalifa and we managed to walk around Dubai mall and see Burj Khalifa in a couple of hours.

It’s relatively easy to get from the airport to city center.  Just hop on the metro and you’re there in 20 minutes.  The metro also gave you a glimpse of what the city looks like at night.  After checking in and dropping off our packs, we took the metro for one stop to get to the Dubai Mall.  There were a few things we had wanted to check out…

The giant aquarium within the mall…a little disappointing, as I thought it was going to be much bigger/grander.


The waterfall mural…interesting.


And of course Burj Khalifa itself…hard to appreciate how tall it is in this photo.


We had wanted to eat some good Middle Eastern food, but we were fed like pigs on Emirates and ended up not having anything except for Syrian ice cream at Arabesq.


The ice cream covered with pistachio was actually quite good and refreshing.


I would have loved to check out the rest of the city, but maybe next time if a connecting flight brings us through Dubai, as I would not specifically take a trip there to spend my precious vacation days.  My impression is that it’s such a built up artificial modern city with an expat majority (people from South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europeans) that, on the surface, doesn’t offer unique interests.  On the other hand, I suspect Istanbul would be more interesting to explore with its old architecture and uniquely Turkish culture.

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