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Real Mom’s Travel; Egypt & Dubai

Real Mom’s Travel; Egypt & Dubai by Marcee Foster

One of Lalani’s good friends’ Marcee Foster and her husband Lance recently traveled to Egypt and Dubai with their son Nathanael for his Senior Trip.  Lalani and Marcee have been friends for years and often bounce trip ideas off of one another.  She and her husband Lance have traveled all over the world and really love to experience the countries they travel to in unique ways.  We have been so excited to read all about their trip and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we do…

Egypt & Dubai

To say we love to travel would be an understatement. There is so much about travel- the adventure, the unknown, immersing ourselves in different cultures, seeing every square inch of the world, and enjoying all of the unique experiences it has to offer… We especially find value (and more than just the fun and excitement) in traveling with our kids. It gives them a real world view and allows them to see outside of their own small bubble, awakening them to the possibilities and sometimes harsh realities that exist out there. So somewhere along the lines, we told our kids we’d take them anywhere they wanted their senior year- just the three of us. Our oldest, Nathanael, picked Dubai! Why?? Because that’s Nathanael. We couldn’t resist throwing Egypt into the mix first. This trip was everything we had imagined and so much more.

 

EGYPT

Day 1:

Tour: Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara, & Memphis
Sunset Camel Ride w/Dinner

Day 2:

Tour: Egyptian Museum, Coptic Cairo, Islamic Cairo, Market
Nile Dinner Cruise

What an epic two days (besides losing Nathanael’s phone on the camel ride 🙈). Seeing the pyramids and Sphinx have been a lifelong dream and it was surreal to be standing in front of, on top of, and inside of them. The camel ride at sunset was not to be missed. Although we rode through the ghetto to get to the desert and it was actually surprisingly uncomfortable, sitting out there above the city gazing at the pyramids was unbelievable. It was especially surreal as prayer time rolled around and the whole city below us lifted their voices to the heavens, the sounds of it carrying across the still desert. The people are so friendly and they keep asking us to tell all of our friends back home that it’s nothing like the media portrays it. They were right!

Tips:

Hire a guide! We looked on TripAdvisor and found quite a few that were highly rated. We had our own private van with a driver. Make sure to ask lots of questions when booking a guide- what exactly is included (some don’t include tickets to the sites!).
DON’T do the Nile dinner cruise. We thought you would be able to see Egypt from a different perspective and cruising down the Nile sounded iconic but it was pitch black and we were stuck on a cruise with terrible food and horrible entertainment.

 

DUBAI

Day 1:

Jabel Jais Zip Line (world’s longest zip line!)

We said goodbye to Egypt and headed to Dubai on a red eye, arriving early in Dubai at the world’s most beautiful airport. We rented a car and headed two hours away to the world’s longest zip line (which seemed a lot more like flying to me!). We spent this day driving, checking into a new hotel, and recovering.

Tip:

always plan a little recovery time into the schedule when you are doing a ton of activities and sight seeing.

Day 2:

Day Trip to Abu Dhabi
Church
Brunch @ Yas Viceroy
The Date Market
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

We attended one of our own churches (who knew there was an LDS presence in Dubai AND Friday is their Sabbath?), had the most incredible brunch I’ve ever seen overlooking a Formula 1 speedway (Friday brunches are apparently a big deal out there), had two scary droning incidents (Lance that is a policeman right there!), and went to a date market (I had NO idea there are so many varieties of dates!). But the thing that we will all remember the most was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We spent almost two hours there, taking a zillion pictures and trying to soak in every detail of this magnificent place. Anyone who knows either of these two guys of mine knows that two hours in a Mosque is saying something huge. It was just that breathtaking. I loved it so much that I didn’t even mind wearing the Jedi-looking cover they gave me and walking around barefoot.

Tip:

For the Grand Mosque, wear a long sleeved dress, high at the neck, and down to the floor in length. Also, bring a scarf to cover your head and wear socks. I wore a long dress just for this reason but it was short-sleeved and I put a sweater on over it to cover my arms. Apparently the minuscule holes in the knitting of the sweater material didn’t count as being covered and, despite all of my preparation and consideration of the appropriate attire, I still had to put on their loaner coverup. On top of it, I was wearing sandals and so I was left completely barefoot while my guys at least had their socks. It really wasn’t a big deal at all but if you can wear the right stuff, do it.

Day 3:

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding – Cultural Brunch
Dubai Mall – Ski Dubai
Burj Khalifa
Dubai Fountain

Hands down my favorite day. Nathanael found this Cultural Brunch on a list of things to do in Dubai. We got to eat a traditional Emirati meal sitting around on floor cushions with our Emirati host who talked to us about UAE traditions, culture, and the Islamic religion. They dressed us in some of their traditional wear- mine is what a married woman would wear in public for a more fancy attire. Mostly, the women wear all black in public. The face mask is to let other men know you’re already taken. You see countless men dressed like this every day- in the mall, on the beach, walking down the street…
Our host let us ask any questions we wanted- and they weren’t easy questions! We asked about women, marriage, their dress, political dynamics, different customs, etc. He was so funny and open and willing to answer anything anyone threw at him. We didn’t know much about Muslims and I now have such a profound respect for these devoted people. I left feeling that so much of fear is based on misunderstanding and the unknown and a small pocket of the extremists. My favorite things he said- “You can find all kinds of people in any group or religion or country- the good, bad, and in between.” And when asked why they sometimes wear the covers over their face he replied, “To keep the sand out of our face. We live in the desert. Oh, and to scare people on CNN.”

Snowboarding in Dubai! One of the big things Nathanael was dying to do was the indoor ski resort, located right inside of Dubai Mall. Lance and I were super excited to make that happen. So many hard belly laughs- me wiping out a little kid (I SWEAR it wasn’t my fault and somehow miraculously neither of us got hurt), Nathanael and I making fools of ourselves on the “experts only” tow rope (all the years I’ve boarded and I’ve never done a tow rope), and all kinds of alarms and whistles going off when we failed to lower our safety bar on the chair lift within two seconds of getting on 😳🙄😂 (obviously they’ve never ridden one of the chair lifts in the US that doesn’t even have a safety bar). But seriously SO fun!

Next we headed to the tallest building in all the world, the Burj Khalifa, standing at 2716.5 feet. She is the iconic symbol of Dubai and what got this whole thing started for Nathanael. He had to do a project on the Khalifa a couple of years ago for school and today we got to stand at the very top. We spent way too much time at the top taking way too many pictures that we will never use. Then we headed back down to watch the incredible Dubai Fountain show. I can say I am beyond impressed and truly in awe. Kudos, UAE!!! 🇦🇪

Tips:

Do the Cultural Brunch!
Bring gloves, good ski socks, and a beanie for skiing! They don’t rent these out and you  definitely need them. They keep it perfectly chilly in there to maintain good snow.
Spend the extra money to get the tickets to the very top of the Khalifa. Not only are their views breathtaking and so worth it, but you also get to skip the main line coming down. It looked like the people waiting for the elevators coming down would be there for hours. We waited five minutes.

Day 4:

Biking along the Dubai Canal
Bateaux Dubai Dinner Cruise
After such a big day, we needed a little down time. We slept in and then went on a bike ride along the Dubai Canal. There is tons of construction going on so it wasn’t easy to get bikes. Our concierge cautioned strongly against it. But we are not easily deterred and, after walking quite a ways through construction and busy roads not meant for pedestrians, we found a shop. Biking along the canal, which winds through downtown, was a really fun way to get yet another view of this spectacular city.

Tip:

Skip the dhow dinner cruises. We picked the very best, highest rated, most expensive dinner cruise and it was still just ok. Simply put- there isn’t much to see at night. We thought it would go through downtown but it was actually at the other end of the canal and you could only see the Burj Khalifa occasionally in the distance. Food was good but not worth the whole experience, at least to us.

Day 5:

Lunch at the Burj al Arab
Desert Safari
Dune bash
Camel ride
Sand boarding
Henna art
BBQ buffet dinner
Fire show

Our last day in Dubai! We slept in and then visited the only 7 star hotel in the world- the Burj al Arab for a delicious lunch. Apparently there is no such category as 7 star but in true Emirati style, they’ve announced their own category. It was absolutely stunning!
For the afternoon/evening, we did a Desert Safari- “dune bashing” in the desert (like taking our quads out to the dunes except you’re in a Toyota Land Cruiser) followed by the Arabian version of a luau. Nathanael and I both got henna tattoos (I had no idea she was going to do such extensive ones on both hands! 🙈 And I had to wait for like an hour before they were dry.) Dinner was accompanied with a fire show, belly dancer, and other entertainment.

Tips:

Book lunch at the Burj al Arab. It is very pricey but still the cheapest way to see inside this hotel that stands in a class of its own.
We have mixed reviews on the desert safari. It was definitely entertaining but it was a big tourist thing with a big crowd- not really our style. If you do it, it’s just like a Hawaiian luau, you only need to do it once.

We headed home the next day, exhausted but thrilled with our experiences and filled to the brim with excitement for all of the memories we created. Because again, that’s what traveling is all about for us, creating lasting memories with the people we love most in places we will never forget.

-marcee

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