I'm off on holiday / leave / vacation (call it what you will) this week, so have been taking the chance to do a few more of the touristy things, and take the in-laws to see a few places before they head back to the UK on Friday night. It has certainly been an experience for them. Different people from work have still managed to call me almost every day. The place is falling apart without me. Well, canteen takings are down, that's for sure.
We spent the day at a beach resort the other day. It was in the Marina area, and we had to drive through a massive building site (even more of a building site than usual) to get there. The dust was really bad that day, as it was quite windy, and it was even worse around the Marina area, where they are building the massive, monolithic, and frankly ugly towers that make up the Jumeirah Beach Residence. All kinds of lorries, cement mixers and construction plant was whizzing around or parked in stupid places (with the obligatory hazard lights on). We got lost, or should I say misdirected by poor road signs, but eventually got there.
Once inside the hotel, we made our way to the private beach, paying a fee for the privilege, of course. But that's OK, becuase the beach in this place was a world away from the Jumeirah Beach Park. The litter was minimal, and there were free towels, plentiful sun loungers and parasols, and good catering facilities. Nearer the hotel itself there were swimming pools, and between the pools and the beach, there was a lush patch of grass, again covered in loungers. Near the end of the beach we moved to, there was a big play area for the little ones, and to one side, near the gentle, turquoise waves of the Gulf, there was a Water Sports booth, with kayaks and dinghys and giant inflatable bananas. The best thing about it was the lack of airborne dust. The beach was quite well sheltered from the elements (apart from the sun, which contrived to burn me, the swine).
So we lounged on loungers, paddled in the cool sea, and generally soaked up the whole holiday atmosphere. After an hour, I hinted heavily at my hunger levels, so we headed up to the outdoor restaurant by the grass area and had a reasonably good barbeque buffet lunch. I think we were on the menu as well, because the WIFE was bitten several times on her legs by something under the table. It must be said, the flies were annoying, and there seems to be increasing numbers of them.
After lunch, we moved to the pool area to let the KIDS have a good splash and play in the kiddie pool, until the GIRL decided she'd had enough, and filled her swimming nappy with something slightly less pleasant-smelling than a dead rat with B.O. We took that as our cue to leave, but had had a good few hours there in the sun. My red head and shoulders were testament to that.
Then on another evening, we went to the Marina promenade area, just as the sun was setting, and ate a pleasant, if slightly chilly al-fresco meal at an Italian restaurant. As darkness fell, we watched the towers around the Marina light up in their many different colours. Even the cranes light up round here, and we watched them as they beavered away on their 24/7 mission to finish Dubai.
After the meal we walked back towards the water feature on the walkway between the Main towers, and the BOY and GIRL took great delight in jumping in and out of the water jets in the pavement as they danced to their pre-set programmes. They got soaked, but had good fun. Luckily, the WIFE had come prepared with changes of clothing. The MIL chose to abstain from getting wet again. I took a seat at the nearby promenade cafe and ordered a shisha and watched the kids enjoying themselves. When they'd finished, we all sat down and the shisha was passed around. After a bit of spluttering and the odd comical expression, we headed home again.
Today, we decided to go for an Afternoon Tea at a nice hotel. We ended up at the Ritz Carlton, which is also in the Marina area. I got lost again, mainly due to bad signs again, but got there in the end. We had wanted to do the tea thing in the Burj Al Arab, but when we'd phoned them to enquire, they told us we weren't nearly posh enough. Or maybe it was because they were fully booked until the end of the month.
Either way, the Ritz Carlton did not disappoint in the slightest. Scones, cakes and sandwiches galore were brought to the table on tiered trays, and we polished them off with little moans and exclamations of pleasure. The food really was top notch. The surroundings were superb as well, with massive chandeliers hanging from a dark varnished wood ceiling, massive plush sofas and chairs to sit on, and a lady on the piano in the corner playing a mixture of inoffensive, instantly forgettable music. Through the windows we could see the Arabian Gulf, looking particularly clear today, with a few white-topped waves rushing in on the landward breeze.
Tomorrow we're going to go on a Big Bus ride, which is an open-topped bus that tours the city. I will definitely be putting on some sun-block tomorrow.