Dubai: Deira, Expo 2020, and the Burj Khalifa

Dubai! After my first visit I might have said I’d never come back. Here I am again only four years later. An incentive to make it happen this year was certainly the Expo. I have been curious about these world fairs my whole life and had read good reviews of this one.

I stayed in the Dubai Marina area four years earlier. This time Ferda and I based ourselves in the fun lively Deira neighborhood. We were in an area of twisty alleys full of traders buying and selling mostly textiles and clothes it appeared. Every evening Nigerians were out boxing and packing goods to ship off to their own country. According to one Nigerian trader we spoke with the goods from Dubai are cheaper and better quality than what’s available in Nigeria. He said they ship stuff to Ghana as well but mostly Nigeria.

IMG_20220323_173656 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Louvre

How did Ferda and I end up in Abu Dhabi anyway? The idea started because I flew through Dubai on the way back from Sri Lanka. A number of people had chastised me for traveling in the UAE and not visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I figured I could just extend my stay in Dubai a few days and see a couple things that I missed my first time in the country. Well, flight ticket fares being what they are it was actually cheaper to come to the UAE from Turkey rather than extend a stopover. That seems hard to believe — it must have had something to do with the bicycle — but I kind of remember that it cost less to fly from Colombo to Istanbul than Colombo to Dubai.

Anyway, here we are. We left gritty, dusty Cairo in the morning and were walking around sparkling, green Abu Dhabi in the afternoon.

IMG_20220321_143105 by bryandkeith on flickr

From our downtown hotel it was a short walk to the corniche

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The Necropolis at Giza

After snorkeling in Makadi Bay, the plan was to fly from Hurghada to Abu Dhabi. As I recall now, I guess there weren’t direct flights — most itineraries went through Cairo. Rather than fly, I figured, why not take the bus to Giza and visit Egypt’s most famous site?

IMG_20220320_101202_5 by bryandkeith on flickr

I had visited the Giza pyramids on my only other visit to Egypt 24 years ago. It was a foggy November day, and we practically tripped over the corner of the pyramids before we could see them. The poor weather and the constant harassment from camel ride touts made it a very disappointing day of sightseeing. For this visit I had low expectations. I’m glad I went back.

It was after dark by the time we got to our hotel in Giza (after spending perhaps three hours in Cairo’s traffic). Our room wasn’t ready so the man took us up to the rooftop balcony to wait.

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Snorkeling Makadi Bay

Most tourists who come to Makadi Bay stay in all-inclusive hotels, sit by the pool all day drinking watered-down beer, and overindulge in huge mediocre buffets. Egypt is more expensive than Turkey for lower quality — generally a poor value for money. So why bother with Makadi Bay? The snorkeling!

20220317_114859A by bryandkeith on flickr
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A couple days in Hurghada

It was after 2am when Ferda and I arrived at our pre-booked accommodation in Hurghada on flights from Antalya via İstanbul. Nothing really looks good after traveling all day (~11 hours) and arriving in the middle of the night, but Ferda and I really enjoyed our short stay with Adam at his Bob Marley Homestay. He made us yummy breakfasts every day — at about 11am the first day (we really managed to sleep in) and much earlier the following morning so we’d be well fed before our snorkeling excursion. We also ate dinner with Adam two nights.

No one has anything nice to say about Hurghada, but I’m glad we had a couple days there. It was cold and windy when we got off the plane and ended up being cold and windy our entire 11 days in Egypt. Blowing sand was a problem at times.

We walked around dusty Hurghada a bit, stopping at the Coptic Church near our hotel.

IMG_20220310_141257 by bryandkeith on flickr
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