I have to be completely honest insofar as for a variety of silly reasons Dubai never popped up on our wanderlust lists. If it wasn't for several transits on our way to New Zealand, my European history adoring self wouldn't have found my interest piqued, and my America adoring husband may not have considered it, preferring a Los Angeles visit instead.
This was dumb.
We didn't really have many expectations, and apart from a touch of research on Pinterest (and a few Twitter recommendations - check out My Custard Pie and FoodieDiaries who are veritable fountains of knowledge) we entered the country hoping to have a drink in the worlds tallest building, pop out to the desert dunes and skip over to nearby Abu Dhabi for a night to catch up with friends and family living expat life. Anything else was a bonus.
All I knew from friends (and my dentist of all people - I am paying that man far too much) is that Dubai has emerged as a hotspot for luxury, shopping and decadence, so as a bonus 5-day stop on the way home from our New Zealand Christmas this year, we thought it would be an interesting way to ease ourselves over jetlag and enjoy a last touch of sunshine before returning to London rain.
We stayed in a nice hotel close-ish to the airport, enjoyed a touch of the suite life, managed a few laps in the pool and explored as much as we could fit in.
We wandered through the enormous Dubai Mall - so big it has two waterfalls, discovered a few secrets and a lot of history on a private tour, enjoyed an evening in the desert, became entranced by dancing fountains, pottered through the souks and managed to get the only cab driver in the United Emirates to miss the world's tallest building.
But those are stories for another telling...
I feel like we've 'done' Dubai now, though I would love to spend a little more time in Abu Dhabi (an overnight trip wasn't enough), pop into Doha and would love to visit Oman - I hear that it's like Narnia. One thing is clear about Dubai is that money runs this city - but with a playful side that intrigued me.