Last month my best friend Lucy came to stay for a little getaway in the sunshine, and we made sure to make the most of her time here in Dubai.

Having already visited before, there were plenty of things she’d done already, but still many more to tick off the list!

Hatta Kayak

From Dubai it’s just under a 2 hour drive to Hatta, the mountainous region in the Hajar Mountains. If you’re driving make sure to avoid the route that takes you via Oman – otherwise you’ll accidentally end up at the border like we did and add an extra hour onto your journey, oops!

Once you arrive you can easily follow the signs to Hatta Kayak, which takes place in the dam.

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The morning after I landed from Hong Kong it was straight back to the airport….this time to pick up Mum! She’d flown out overnight to visit for a couple of days. As it was around 7am we went to my apartment for a cup of tea and a quick snooze. As it happened Dad’s flight got changed and he ended up having a layover in Dubai! So we popped over to his hotel to admire the views from his room on the 40th floor, and most importantly get some sun at the pool.

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We ended up staying most of the afternoon just lounging by the pool, relaxing and swimming. 

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After a while Mum and I walked back to my apartment to get ready for a trip to the Dubai mall. Dad stayed at his hotel to get some work done and arranged to meet us later for dinner. Mum was in search of a ball dress for my little brother’s high school graduation ball, and after browsing many shops and trying on quite a lot of dresses, we finally found one!

Dad came over and I cooked dinner and we had a very lovely evening!

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The next morning we decided to go and get some more sun, this time on the beach. My airline gives us free access to lots of hotel pools and beaches, however when we arrived at the Westin (our first choice) it was apparently a public holiday so no free entrance! Luckily there’s another hotel just down the road which we can use, so we headed on over there.

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After roasting in the sun and swimming alongside plenty of jellyfish in the sea we had a quick dip in the pool before heading back to mine to get ready for a surprise treat that I had planned!

Mum still had no idea where we were going and we soon pulled up to the beautiful Palace Downtown Hotel for….. Afternoon Tea!

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Lovely views from the huge windows inside the Al Bayt lounge, where afternoon tea is served.

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After choosing which type of tea we’d like, our waitress brought over two towering stands full of exquisite sandwiches, cakes and pastries, and most importantly, scones with jam and cream!

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We slowly made our way through it all, only leaving a couple of scones to take home with us.

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Once we’d finished, we had a stroll around the grounds of the hotel and admired the towering Burj Khalifa.

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Anyone for shisha?

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We then crossed over the bridge at Souk al Bahar for another walk around the mall. We may or may not have stopped at Laduree for some macarons to eat later…. 🙂

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We decided to go to the cinema as almost all of the films are in English. (Mum and Dad live in Austria so almost all of the films they see at the cinema are in German).

Even though we were still stuffed from the afternoon tea we sat outside for some dinner overlooking the fountains and the Burj. We managed to watch 4 separate lots of the fountains, each with a different song!

On Mum’s last morning we woke up early and headed down to the marina.

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I had originally planned on a walk around the Marina Walk, however for some reason a lot of it was boarded up or had scaffolding covering it. So we found a cafe serving breakfast and sat down in the shade. Even at 10am it was over 35 degrees! Summer has most definitely arrived in Dubai!

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The cafe we chose was located right next to the Dhow boat station (along with lots and lots of expensive yachts!) and we decided spontaneously to go for a boat tour. We ended up being the only passengers on there! 

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The trip took us along the marina, one side of The Palm, down JBR and back to the marina.

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The girl working on the boat insisted on taking lots of pictures of us 😀

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At one point we sailed right past the SkyDive Dubai runway and we saw lots of parachuters floating down.

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Before we knew it it was time to get back to mine, have a quick dip in the pool and for Mum to pack her bags.

We made it to the airport just in time for her flight and she got the last seat!

Thanks for coming Mum! 🙂

 

P.s. If you want more regular day to day updates of what’s going on in my life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rachelwwilson!

It’s been way too long since I managed to post anything on here, but I have a very good excuse…my friends Maria, Simone and Georg from home came to visit! They stayed for a week and we had an awesome time!

I went to pick them up from the airport on the Wednesday evening and then took them to the hotel which was just across the road opposite my apartment. A few hours later I had to go to work, so I left them with lots of information about where to go and what to do in the 2 days that I would be away. I flew to Kuala Lumpur (seems like I am there this whole month!) and then on Friday evening I was back.

They had been to Al Mamzar beach on both days as it is only a few minutes drive from where I live, and they all managed to get slightly (very) sunburnt! We started off the Saturday by going to the Dubai Mall for a look around, and the girls had big plans to shop as well!

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We had lunch at a nice Italian restaurant overlooking the water, however we didn’t realise that the fountain show doesn’t start til 6pm! After watching the Burj Khalifa’s windows being cleaned by about 50 men dangling from long ropes, we headed back inside to do some hardcore shopping. In the evening after we had all spent too much money (thanks 20% discount at Sephora!) we went outside to watch the fountain show, which was lovely as always! (However, it is very difficult to take a good picture!)

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After we had finished we all got a taxi back to the mine to drop things off. As we were driving home a huge sandstorm started up! I’ve never seen anything like it, I think it has only rained once since I moved here. The automatic doors to my apartment building wouldn’t even open! We had to cross the road to get to the hotel and just as we walked outside it started pouring with rain and then thunder and lightening started as well! Luckily we didn’t have far to go, but our plans to go out that evening were very much cancelled!

The next day we decided to go to the spice and gold souks. We were going to get a water taxi across the creek which I have heard only costs 1 Dirham, but the weather turned against us and it started to pour with rain again! So we got the taxi driver to drop us off just outside the spice souk, and luckily the rain had just stopped. We had a wander round and the girls bought a few different spices to take home. I bought some vanilla pods for baking as they were so cheap! 
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We had a look around the gold souks imagining what we would buy if we were rich Arab women, haha.

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We then headed over to the Pyramids at Wafi for some lunch at a delicious Italian (where I happen to get 40% off – thanks Face Card!) before our plans for the afternoon/evening – a desert safari!

The driver came and picked us up outside the hotel in the afternoon, and we drove about 50 minutes through Sharjah to the desert somewhere – I did ask him where it was but I can’t remember now! We stopped at a little place outside the desert to let some air out of the tyres, ready to go dune bashing.

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Driving over the sand dunes at a ridiculous speed is probably one of the scariest things ever, and at one point even the driver was making fun of our screams! He stopped just before sunset (which coincidentally was probably the first time there wasn’t an amazing red and pink sky because of all the rain) for us to do some sand-boarding!

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After all falling over numerous times, we carried on the drive through the dunes and made a stop at a camel farm! We couldn’t get very close but managed to get a few pictures.

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 Our next stop was to the dinner area, which was a load of tents and buildings (well, more like little shacks really) in the middle of the desert. We got to ride camels, very exciting!

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The last part of the evening was inside the tent area. We got to try on the traditional Arab dress (not sure it suits me!) and then had dinner and watched some dancing.

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Once we got back home, we stayed up until midnight, because it was Maria’s birthday the next day! We would have had some champagne, but unfortunately it’s not very easy to buy alcohol in Dubai, and I forgot to bring any back from Duty Free. The next morning we decided to get up early and go to the Burj Al Arab.

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We had a lovely walk along the beach and took lots of the obligatory tourist pictures. If only we had been able to just go into the Burj for a few drinks!
We then decided to go and have a look around the Marina. It was my first time going to the Walk as well, and it was really beautiful! Lots of boats and cafes along the waterfront. As we were walking along we spotted one with a breakfast board outside, and decided to have some brunch! Us girls all ordered some pancakes (so good!) and Georg got eggs with all the side dishes. After devouring our food and getting baked in the sun, we walked along the Marina Walk admiring the view. 

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The plan for the rest of the day was to sunbathe and get as brown as possible, until it was time to get ready for Maria’s birthday dinner! We went to an amazing steak restaurant on The Palm called West 14th. Amazing views out on to the Marina and the food was incredible! After we headed to the Crowne Plaza for a few more birthday drinks, where we met up with my friend Bruno and had a great evening! 

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The next day Georg and Simone got up early to sunbathe, whilst Maria and I slept the morning away. I had a flight at 2 am the next morning, so I had to get a few hours rest in the afternoon. Their flight was leaving at 1am as well, so they decided to go back to the Dubai Mall for a couple more hours of shopping. 

All in all we had an amazing week, thank you so much Maria, Simone and Georg for coming to visit me!