And now for something completely different.
Amazingly, last nights crash out saw Nick and I both sleeping completely through the night and waking naturally at 6:30am.
On checking in with one another, both of us were ridiculously exhausted last night, to the point where both of us were quite… blurry. Pushing thorough to adapt to the local timezone however was the right call as we woke up feeling pretty well this morning.
Once we were up, we made sure to pack carefully the things we would need for the morning’s outing. We were headed to the Atlantis Aquaventure waterpark. But first stop, breakfast.
We wondered down to a cafe earmarked by Nick called Foul W Hummus. Not too surprisingly, considering the name, this place specialises in ‘Foul’ (pronounced “ful“) a Middle-Eastern vegan breakfast dish of cooked fava beans flavoured with lemon juice, garlic and served with olive oil, chopped parsley & tomatoes.
Doing as the locals do, we ordered a serve of foul and a serve of hummus with beef and pinenuts to share. These came with an accompanying salad, pickled vegetables, olives and a plate of flat breads that we used to scoop up the foul and hummus.
It was a really delicious meal and cost less than $20 Australian dollars so we were pretty rapt.
By the time we exited the place, the heat had kicked up a notch so walking back to the hotel was a toasty affair. However, we knew we would have to get used to it as our plans involved being outside for the most part of the day.
The temperature was again set to hit 40 degrees celsius so we made sure we packed plenty of sunscreen and water.
Back at the hotel we were pretty much ready to head out so we grabbed our stuff, headed down to reception and got a taxi to the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark.
The waterpark is located on the outer-ring of the Palm Jumeirah and is part of the opulent Atlantis Hotel. Kim Kardashian apparently stayed there once. Her room was USD $23,000 per night. Just illustrating. That hotel isn’t meant for plebes like us.
The Waterpark is also somewhat of a departure from our normal holiday activities which generally involve lots of hiking and *ahem* more free activities. However, Nick is the definition of a water-baby. And especially here, in the desert heat, a day at a waterpark sounded quite appealing.
Just a note, we weren’t able to take pictures within the waterpark itself as we didn’t want to tote our phones around and have nowhere safe to stash them while we were on rides. The pictures of the waterpark and the Palm Jumeirah are promotional pictures taken from the internet.
One of the tricks is to show up early. Right when the park opens at 10am if you can. The crowds are thin, the lines are short and you can actually knock over quite a few attractions at the start of the day if you plan ahead. Its also not as hot and you can seek refuge and rest during the part of the day that’s getting too warm to be comfortable.
This is exactly what we did and it was a MUCH more pleasant experience than if we had shown up later in the day.
Their ticketing system was a pretty clever wristband based one which also controlled locker hire (if you opted in). As they were also pre-selling food at the door we knew eating at the park would be a ridiculous rort so we were glad we had opted to pack a few snack bars (which we had pilfered from the plane the day before – winning)!
One slight hiccough was that we decided to layer on some sunscreen before we headed into the park proper. We planned to leave most of our things in the locker we hired for the day. After a moment’s frantic search of the bag, we concluded we had left the sunscreen back in the hotel.
This ticked Nick off quite a bit as we both knew that buying anything from the park would be a ridiculous rip-off. However, neither of us was prepared to be ripped off to the tune of $50 AUD for a 50ml roll on of sunscreen. Grudgingly, we bought the sunscreen. But what makes this story even more maddening is that we then found our original tube of sunscreen in the bag. How both of us missed finding it is a mystery. Nick was pretty salty for a while but his irritation faded after a couple of adrenaline soaked rides.
The first rides we tackled were at the “Tower of Neptune” which were all inner tube based. Super amusingly, and happily for me, they had some “double-tubes” which were designed for couples. Nick and I snagged on of these and it really just made it super fun that we could do all the rides together.
Some of the rides were quite thrilling. Almost roller-coaster-esque in their execution. Basically, there would generally be a ramp that would take the inner tube (with us sitting in it) up to a drop point before we were plunged down a flume with crazy twists and turns. Sometimes Nick and I would walk the tube up a set of stairs even before queuing up for the drop point. Some of the outstanding ones had blackout sections where you couldn’t see at all where you were going until the ride spat you out.
One of the first we tried was called Shark Attack and at the end of the flume section, we were deposited into an acrylic, enclosed aquarium tunnel and could see sharks swimming in the water around us. Other tube rides had such names as Stinger, The Falls, The Plunge (very scary – lots of blackout sections), The Surge and The Storm.
We made sure to ride all the inner tube attractions we could find (including floating along the Lazy River which actually had a few rapids sections) before switching to some water slide type attractions. The most horrendous of which was called “The Leap of Faith” – a 60-foot almost-vertical drop from the top of the ‘Mayan Temple’. The body slide propels riders at a tremendous speed through another clear acrylic tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon. I’ll admit, I must have had my eyes closed for that last part as I don’t remember seeing the enclosed tunnel. It was a quick slide.
After this, we wondered to the second section of the park which was called the Tower of Poseidon which hosted two body slide attractions and two group tube attractions. These attractions were aimed at an older audience than the ones at the Tower of Neptune – there was a higher height requirement (I still made it…barely) and one of the rides even required a weight check before riders were allowed on.
The group tube attractions opened first so we gave those a go. We tried the Aquaconda first and we were in a tube with 4 strangers. The Aquaconda is currently the largest water-slide in the world which should give you an idea of how colossal it was. Dubai’s motto, if nothing else, is “go big or go home” it seems. As usual, I ended up plummeting through some of the ride backwards which added an extra thrill to the proceedings.
We then tried the other group tube ride which was called Zoomerango. This one was quite freakish as again, we were in a tube with 4 strangers and this ride ended with us flying up a vertical wall – a few seconds of weightlessness – and then flying back down the wall before exiting the ride.
After all this, I was feeling a bit beat and my feet were feeling a little scorched from walking on hot stone and tiles (no footwear allowed on the rides). I begged Nick to continue on without me for a while so I could take a breather.
Nick went and did the body slide attractions on his own, the first of which was called the Slitherine – marketed as a ‘race down the world’s first dual waterslide within a waterslide’. This one was a timed event so you could see who was faster, you or a friend, Apparently Nick didn’t win against the stranger he was paired with.
Nick then went on what was probably the scariest ride of all. Poseidon’s Revenge. This one involves you being put into a glass capsule. Very coffin-esque really. You then have to wait for the moment the floor falls out from beneath you and you plummet through the heart of the tower at speeds of 60 kilometres per hour. For this ride, you are also weighed beforehand and instructed to tuck in your rashie/bathers cause if you don’t you’re probably losing it pretty much.
Nick loved this one enough that he came down, collected me and made me do this one with him. I will say, it DID get the heart pumping.
This was the last ride we did and I do think it ended the day at the Aquaventure Park on a high note.
We caught a taxi back to the hotel to ostensibly change and head back out to the Burj Khalifa. However on returning to the hotel the heat, excitement and exhaustion caught up with us and we both ended up succumbing to a nap.
When we returned to the hotel, I was surprised that the room was unmade. I suggested that maybe this hotel didn’t have room service every day but Nick said that he doubted a 5-star hotel could get away with that. Never-the-less, I didn’t think much of it. Until we were awakened from our nap by the most annoying of sounds. A ringing phone. It was reception telling us that they wanted to service the room.
Nick asked if they could come and do it in an hour. They asked if we could be out of the room in a half hour. He and I were both a little grumpy about that (hey – we were woken up pretty rudely and they had all morning to service the room while we had been out. I had even had the “please make up my room” sign out). But gamely, decided to head out to the Mall of the Emirates and then on to the Burj Khalifa.
The Mall of the Emirates is the second largest mall in Dubai. While it had all the normal outlets you would expect to see in any large shopping complex, its stand-out attraction was their indoor snow field, Ski Dubai. A snowfield in the middle of the desert. Unreal.
We goggled that through the windows but didn’t feel any need to actually check it out. After this, we hit the metro station and went on to the Burj Khalifa station and the Dubai Mall – the actual biggest mall in Dubai.
As with the Mall of the Emirates, the Dubai Mall also had several weird attractions on offer. These being an indoor ice skating rink, an indoor waterfall and an aquarium.
We grabbed an early dinner at the food court from a place called Noon and Kebab – we shared a plate of Joojeh – grilled saffron marinated chicken with rice and raita. It seemed very similar to tandoori chicken and was excellent and filling.
We chased this with some cheeky ice-cream from Baskins and Robbins before heading out to check out the Water Fountain Show outside the Burj Khalifa. This was a sound and light show which involved hundreds of jets of water and light set to music. It was about a five minute show but it was quite wonderful to watch.
We had intended to visit the Burj Khalifa itself but the heat and the day had caught up to us. We returned to the hotel to turn in for the night – ready for our flight the next day.
Km’s walked: 20.2
Flights complete: 2/10
Tomorrow: On to Greece!