Today’s primary adventure was a guided tour around Old Dubai to get a lesson in traditional Emirati life. We again used ‘Get Your Guide’ and met Mahmoud early afternoon for our walking tour through the Al Fahidi Historic Neighborhood and some of the other key sites.
We had a good experience on public transportation yesterday so we took it again today to the meeting point for the tour. It’s an elevated train so we passed by some very cool high rise architecture on the way including our old friend the Burj Khalifa. We grabbed a quick bite to eat (Indian food) and were off to meet our guide.
Until the late 1800’s, the residents of Dubai were Bedouin living in tents. We got to see an example of this lifestyle, a couple camels which were so critical to a nomadic existence and some falcons which historically were used to hunt food.
We then got to tour a number of houses in the Historical neighborhood which dates from the 1930s. Most of them have been turned in to museums or set up to show what life was like when the neighborhood was active. We visited a coin museum and a model house with each room set up as it would have been. We went to a coffee house and tried Emirati coffee, tea and dates.
Compared to the 14th century temples we were visiting in Thailand – Old Dubai is not very old. But it’s certainly a world away from the glass and steel that surrounds it in New Dubai.
After we finished with the Al Fahidi Neighborhood it was off to our favorite activities- local markets and street food! We did some shopping at the old market which was interesting but seemed pretty touristy.
We stopped for fresh squeezed juice and samboosa – similar to an Indian samosa. They were delicious. The kids loved the minced chicken ones, the potato ones were a little spicy.
While on a break, we heard the late afternoon call to prayer as the boat taxis kept the creek busy with traffic.
After purchasing a few souvenirs we caught our own boat across the river headed for the spice souk (market). It was wonderful and made us wish we were going straight home so we could have stocked up. We learned how to tell high quality saffron from counterfeit (high quality floats and turns water yellow, counterfeit sinks and turns water red). The kids got to try some traditional scarves and camel milk chocolate. Some of the chocolate came back with us as well as some fragrant mango herbal tea that smelled just heavenly.
Our last stop was the world famous Dubai Gold Souk. It’s one of the largest gold markets in the Middle East (the world?) with over 350 shops selling all manner of gold jewelry. It’s traditional the men buy gold jewelry for the women, so the kids picked out something they thought Dad should get for Mom. That one in the middle looks nice.
We decided to sneak in one more fun activity at the end of the day. The kids have been begging to do an escape room for months and it’s been intense since there is one 50 feet from the entrance to our hotel. So we did one tonight called ‘Stolen’ where we had to search through an apartment for our stolen cell phone. We found clues, solved puzzles, took a few helpful hints and in the end escaped the room with time to spare. Yay us! It was a really fun thing to do as a family and everyone contributed to getting it figured out.