got up this morning and headed to jumeirah mosque. its the only mosque in UAE that allows non-muslims to enter, although i did have to cover my head. awesome pictures to come, i promise. the mosque works in conjunction with a group called sheikh mohammed center for cultural understanding to offer tours and Q&A for dumb tourists like me. it was fantastic - it wasn’t a sales pitch for converting to islam, and our guide was super approachable. FYI, she wears wide leg jeans under her abaya, and if she’s in a rush, just wears her PJs under that thing to work.
after that i headed to lime tree cafe, which is somewhere i’ve read about in numerous guide books, so figured it must be good. upon arrival, i noted 4 ferraris parked in the front, all lined up. luckily, the place wasn’t as pretentious as its patrons’ vehicles. it was quite fantastic. if ever in dubai, do not miss lime tree. between the tgi friday’s and the illinois medical center on jumeirah beach road. i wish i were kidding.
next, i found about a solid 3/4 mile of walkable street in dubai! although it was 95 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, i had to take advantage of this. it was a welcoming neighborhood, lots of shops, and i’m really tired of going to and fro in a cab. the downside of this walkable area: divided road. so, all the shops i saw on the other side of the street were inaccessible unless i wanted to walk 1/2 mile back to cross the street. lame! not lame: AIR CONDITIONED BUS STOPS. whenever i got hot, i’d stop in one of these suckers. it was like a fridge inside. take note, chicago!
stopped at a european style mall called mercato. i wasn’t sure what “european style mall” meant in the guide books. turns out, its another epcot-ish mall. i kind of feel like i don’t really need to go to europe now. dubai europe is probably better anyway, right?
after chilling out a bit i had a fantastic cab ride to umm al suqeim beach. my drive was pakistani (coming to find out many long time residents are…) and was fantastic. when he found i was visiting, he gave me his phone number and said to call him if i needed anything: a ride, advice on where to go, where to eat, anything at all.
i hate the beach, but today, i loved the beach. the sun was heading down, so it wasn’t disturbingly hot and i couldn’t feel the cancer growing in my skin. but the view - oh, the view. a panorma, picture it: a mosque to the left, then a big touristy hotel, then in the distance the skyscrapers of internet/media city and the marina, then burj al arab, then WAY off in the distance the outline of a palace, then (wait for it….) a sailboat, and the setting sun. added bonus: one of the mosque calls to prayer is just before sunset, so that was the background noise. are you kidding me?
from there, off to taste of dubai. i have a new celebrity chef crush, so rick bayless and tom douglas better watch out. suzanne husseini is working her way to my #1 favorite chef. i’ll share more later, but she confirmed my suspicion: there are no emirati restaurants here. luckily, her cooking demo (complete with samples) was authentic emirati food - rice with dates, pomegranate, citrus, cilantro, and tons of seasonings, fish - it was one of the finest things i’ve ever tasted. overall, taste of dubai was awesome. the weather was fabulous (if you went at night) the restaurants were great, and it wasn’t very crowded. i never was past 3rd in line.
last but not least: the evening ended with one more example of UAE awesomeness. so when i bought my ticket for taste of dubai they asked for a phone number. i don’t have my dubai number memorized, so i got out a card i’ve been carrying in my wallet with the number on it and gave it to the guy so he could put it into their system. on my way out (about 3.5 hrs later) i’m just about to exit and someone yells for me at the ticket counter. i walk over, and its the guy i bought my ticket from and he goes “you left this card with me, i thought you might want it back”. seriously? stuff like that really happens? not where i live, but apparently it does here…