Life in Dubai is surreal. In fact, surreal doesn’t even really touch on it. In this bizarre city the unusual and unexpected quickly become normal, everyday things. Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s are common place, so much so that Jake barely points them out anymore. It’s more unusual here not to have a pair of Louboutin’s or a Mont Blanc watch than it is to be seen proudly flaunting them. Everyone on Facebook is constantly talking about Kylie Jenner’s lips, but when you see ten pairs of those collagen bad boys every day, it’s hard to join the hype.
There may come a day that I talk to you about the constant internal turmoil I feel about living in, and contributing to, such an economical monstrosity of a city, and how all I really want is to walk barefoot in dewy morning grass and feel a Yorkshire breeze on my face, but in the words of Aragorn – it is not this day. So instead, lets focus on the good things. Let me tell you what I love about my life in this crazy place.
First and foremost, there’s the personal stuff. I finally get to live with my husband. After three months of living apart when we first got married, we now have our own little place with a balcony overlooking the lake and some well-earned, much appreciated peace and quiet…well, until Jake turns on the Playstation that is (probably his favourite thing about Dubai.) And I have a nice big kitchen so I can cook to my hearts content! We also have our little rescue dog Pika, who keeps us on our toes and out in the sun.
Speaking of sun, let’s take a moment to talk about the weather. It has undeniably been getting hotter and hotter since we got here four months ago. Yesterday was a 45* scorcher. However, no matter how hot it gets, you can’t say ‘Oooo, it’s hot today’ without getting the inevitable, superior response of ‘Oh you have no idea, just you wait, you won’t be able to cope in the summer!’ coupled, always, with a patronising laugh. Now, this may well be fair enough – we haven’t yet been here for a summer and maybe it will knock our socks off, so at first this was intriguing. As you know Jake and I have done the living abroad deal before, and we had some incredibly sweaty summers, especially in Mataranka, but apparently this heat will be so strong, it will literally bring us to our knees! Anyway, it’s not intriguing anymore, it’s just plain annoying. We get it, it’s going to be hot, we might all die…bring it on.
Anyway, this brings me nicely to my next point – what can always be relied on to cool you down when it’s super hot? Ice cream of course …and with that, please welcome my favourite spot in Dubai!
Succharia is about a 5 minute walk from our apartment and serves up the most mouth-watering, intensely delicious, irresistibly creamy, organic ice cream you will ever taste. It’s only a small place with a few tables inside or out for you to sit at and devour your little scoops of heaven, but my God! It’s literally mind blowing. Their hazelnut ice cream is my taste buds new favourite thing.
I really need to tell you about brunch, Dubai’s most treasured institution. When I first arrived here and people were constantly saying ‘Let’s do brunch!’ I was a bit nonplussed ‘erm…well, I’ve just had breakfast and I don’t think I’ll be hungry before lunch so, erm…’ but alas, what a fool I was! What a silly, uninformed fool.
Brunch in Dubai is an all you can eat, all you can drink extravaganza. Usually in the afternoon for about four hours and basically every restaurant has one. The price/quality/drink restrictions vary, but for a really decent brunch you’re looking at £100+ per person. I’ve only been to three, but within it that there is one very clear winner. Mina A’Salam brunch at the Madinat is a freaking delight. For a start, the Madinat itself is absolutely beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the glitz and glam aspects of Dubai, I get all nervous when I’m somewhere like that ‘Take me to a Yorkshire pub where I can wear my wellies please!’ but, that said, I love the Madinat. It’s made up of three separate hotels, connected by waterways that you can float around on in little abras. And the brunch is insane. Set between three restaurants, where you can literally just wander around and take as much food as you like, with an outside terrace with live cooking stations, cocktail stations, beer stations…all the best kinds of stations! There’s also a turtle sanctuary…what more could you actually want from a Friday afternoon?
Another place I love to eat, but for entirely different reasons, is La Cantina, our local. It’s not our local in the same way that the Smiths Arms back home is my local and I would go for a three quid pint and a bag of nuts, but it’s the Dubai equivalent. For a start they don’t serve alcohol there, but that’s OK, it’s got that comfortable, homely, familiar vibe that’s all you really need from your local! Plus, it’s cheap and cheerful, the staff are always smiling, the food is no frills but always tasty, it’s two minutes from the apartment, and you can take your dog along. It’s a no brainer.
OK, OK, I know i said this was a blog about the things I love in Dubai and it has basically just been about food (don’t act so surprised) but I really have to mention one more – Leopold’s of London. Leopold’s is down on the beach, the coffee is out of this world and the food is pretty damn scrummy too. It’s a bit of a trek for us so we haven’t been frequenting it quite so much now the summer is kicking in, but if you’re in the area you really have to drop in. Even I, in my caffeine intolerant glory, cant resist the coffee in this place.
Oh I lied! There’s another one too…I don’t know how I even forgot about this one. Ravi Restaurant! Ravi’s is in an area called Satwa, which is entirely not ‘Dubai like’ and that is probably why I love it so much. Ravi’s is a Pakistani restaurant worth seeking out, and visiting again and again. It’s a bit off the beaten track – well, for tourists anyway, so you can’t just jump off the metro to the front door, you’ll have to do a bit of exploring. You’ll sit on plastic chairs on the pavement, with a wobbly metal table in front of you, you’ll drink from polystyrene cups and order more food than you can eat, but pay less than anywhere else. The staff are great! No matter how much you order, they won’t write it down and when it turns up they won’t tell you what it is but you won’t worry about whether it’s what you asked for when you taste it because everything is delicious. So dig right in, eat with your hands, order more bread, mop up the sauce, lick your fingers and say ‘aaahhh’.
OK, that’s it, my list is done. Of course there are many other things that make life here good – the beer, the constant vitamin D feed, the huge mix of people from all over the world, the community feel of everyone being an expat, the beach, the desert, the palm trees, the birds…the list could keep going, for a little while at least, but for now I’ll leave you with that. I’m trying to push myself to be more productive at the moment, and getting back into a flow with this blog is top of that list! Watch this space. For now, have some photos.