Visit to Lucy in Dubai: Exploring the Desert and Driving the Dunes

Gardening Matters Travels with Allie.

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://travelswithallie.blog/2022/11/27/gardening-matters/
  1. Gardening Matters
  2. Pruning
  3. Birthdays, Medicals and Cyprus Life
  4. Transitioning to Autumn
  5. Medical Check-ups and Quiz

Soooo……. after a bare 7 days back in the UK, barely time enough to get the washing done, we found ourselves in an early morning cab on the way to Heathrow for a flight to Dubai. This was a pretty last minute trip, gifted to us by our daughter, Lucy. Lucy has lived in Dubai for nearly 3 years now and expects to relocate back to the UK in the summer or latest early autumn, maybe even sooner. She was keen that we had a last visit to her here and especially that Bob would get the chance to visit Expo 2020 which ends on March 31st. And we were keen too, let’s be fair. We have to be in Cyprus by April 3rd, but this trip comes as a stop on the way there. Our younger daughter, Daisy, is also joining us in Dubai so it will be a proper “Boler, Family of 4” holiday.

We managed to get Gulf Air tickets to Dubai which involve a 1 hour stop in Bahrain but are much cheaper than Emirates direct, and much cheaper and better than BA. They fly a super modern fleet of Dreamliners even on the short haul, one hour flight between Bahrain and Dubai.

It was the first time we’ve flown out of the UK since all the restrictions were relaxed in many countries. We had no tests to complete at all, just had to show our vaccination certificate. On the way back, we won’t even have to fill in the passenger locator form. Weirdly, it made me feel a bit anxious. Not out of any sort of covid fear, but just a slight anxiety that I had somehow forgotten something… surely it couldn’t be this easy to travel?! But it was……. we had to wear masks on the plane but surely even that is going to be short lived now.

The London to Bahrain leg was completely sold out – the F1 race is on this weekend – but it was much quieter on the second leg. Both flights were on time, we were fed well, no half sandwiches or small portions on Gulf Air. Blimey, there was even a bread roll with the meal and cheese and crackers. Take that, BA!!!! There is a new airport in Bahrain, all shining white and chrome. Very nice. I even managed to lavish myself in a liberal spraying of Roja Aoud as I passed duty free – a mere snip at £596 a bottle. I didn’t hold back!!!!!

I had an embarrassing incident on the London-Bahrain leg. I was just too tired to read, so I watched some films. I watched The Conjuring, which is a horror film based on the “true” story of an American couple who specialised in “de-demonising” houses. Anyway, – and bear in mind the cabin lights were off for sleep time – at one point something surprising and horrific happened in the film and I let out a huge shriek!!!!! It must have been really loud because everyone in the vicinity, looked around in horror to see what was going on…… I grovelled and apologised……

If Lucy noticed how great I smelled on landing, she didn’t comment but there were big hugs all round and it was great to see her lovely face. It was a 40 minute drive back to her apartment in Dubai Marina – past all the amazing architecture of modern Dubai. We noted that the Museum of the Modern World is now open so we should try and visit while we are here. Lots planned for the next two weeks but also so serious relaxation time too.

So…. we began today with a very late breakfast/early lunch at a place I’ve been to before and really enjoyed, NightJar https://nightjar.coffee/ It’s in very cool arts area of Dubai, an old industrial estate, now turned into artists workshops, galleries, classic car restorations……. It was packed out, there was a dj playing, but we managed a table and had great coffee, poached eggs, homemade fish fingers. Lucy had a sort of omelette chimichanga.

Suitably refreshed, we set off to the Sharjah desert – the next Emirate north of Dubai. We stopped in a service station and met up with three other 4 x 4s crewed by some of Lucy’s friends, 2 of them very, very experienced desert driving instructors. Lucy has done months of lessons but these two guys were superb. We set off for an afternoon of dune bashing and exploration. I went with the convoy leader, Bob rode with Lu. We drove deep into the desert with flattened tyres and then crested along dunes, up and down them, some impossibly steep….. it was thrilling stuff. I was very proud to hear the instructor I was with being so impressed by Lucy’s driving in the car behind….. “boy, that girl can drive” he said on several occasions.

We stopped on top of one enormous dune towards the end and enjoyed hot ginger chai and some fabulous chicken indian wraps….. I am trying to lose weight, I promise. Then some final full throttle ascents and an all out speed drive along a dirt road, and we returned to the main road. Along the way we’d seen herds of camels, a camel farm, other desert camps and drivers….. a brilliant afternoon that passed by in a flash. I’ve always been fascinated by the desert. I love the way the light plays on the dunes and the valleys, always changing. And I love the way you find animals and plant life out there in such a seemingly inhospitable place.

Got home and showered off a thin layer of sand that had penetrated everywhere……. a very good first day….