She has been obsessed with palm trees and turquoise water for as long as I can remember. Her best friend had been to Dubai and she was desperate to see the place. We had glimpsed it through the large glass panes of the airport windows on the brief stop-over on the first leg of our outward journey. Seeing the skyline in the distance, I thought how we would be there in a few weeks’ time, with a whole load of yet-to-be-had experiences now under our belts. Now here we were, the time had come. We were back.
We arrived at 5.30am after the big schlep through the skies from Auckland to Dubai, feeling a tad worse for wear. It was still dark when we reached the hotel down by the Creek area of the city (the old beating heart of this now changed-beyond-recognition Emirate). Faced with the prospect of not being able to get into our rooms for some hours yet, we were persuaded to buy access to the Executive Suite so we could have breakfast and hang out for a while. We even managed a quick dip in the rooftop pool with its magnificent vista of the cityscape stretching onto the horizon.
We eventually cleared our heels of the large main road choked with cars and started to lose ourselves in the hubbub and maze of small streets and squares of the Old Town. I was keen to show everyone the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk, if nothing else. After the odd consultation of the map we eventually stumbled across the long arcade of shop fronts glittering with everything gold, with a few bits of silver, platinum and diamonds thrown in. Gold is not my colour, so N was untroubled by unreasonable demands, yet my eyes did alight on the most exquisite platinum necklace with a gentle cascade of single diamonds in a string, like falling raindrops. Sigh...
And so we sat down gratefully on a bench and watched the world go by as we rested our jet-lagged limbs. There were locals and couples holding hands and families of various nationalities. Jaunty flags were strewn between pillars and warm air caressed our skin bringing with it hints of musty exotic scents from the alleys of the spice souk nearby. This is my favourite spot in any souk, and I will happily spend hours wandering around filling my nostrils, taking photographs and then deciding which taste or smell to bring home in my suitcase. My mind fills with images of me relaxing in candlelit baths while sandalwood, frankincense, myrrh, rose and cinnamon turn my High Peak bathroom into an exotic spa....Of course what actually happens is that you lug all this stuff home in your already overweight suitcase and it languishes at the bottom of the cupboard because you never actually have time to indulge once home, and those same exotic scents now seem rather silly as you watch the rain lash against the windows and see the sheep huddled against the dry stone walls. Still, it's good to dream and that's what holidays are all about, aren't they?