Dubai – a graceful gentleman
If someone told me last year at this time, Valentina will be travelling to Seychelles this year, and soon to the Maldives, I would laugh in their face and tell them it was a joke. I wouldn’t have believed it. Last year at this time, Vito was not even five months old, and long distant journeys seemed to me, to be miles away from reality. But as life is unpredictable, we had two great trips within a space of just six months.
The Seychelles I have already written about, so let’s do a little about Dubai and the Maldives! Maldives were my dream, literally. Here and there, I dreamed of the Maldives, with its long sandy beaches, palm trees, coconuts, water bungalows and wind in my hair. It all seemed so far off, unattainable, unreal until, recently. One rainy day when I was thinking about the Maldives, I remembered a dear friend from high school who worked for the Emirates Airline and lived in Dubai. Although we had not heard nor seen each other for so long, I decided to get in contact with her to ask about how the situation is in Dubai and to let her know my plans for visiting the Maldives. Without thinking she invited us to Dubai to stay with her and told us that if we were deciding to travel, she would help with the purchasing of our tickets. You guessed it! It didn’t take me long to think of a new plan. Tickets were bought at the speed of light, we picked up the so-called “multi city” flights, which basically looked like this: Zagreb – Dubai, with rest for 4 nights, Dubai – Male (Maldives); and return Male – Dubai with rest for 2 nights and finally Dubai – Zagreb. The plan was there, we would wonder about around Dubai and rest before the flight to the Maldives.
Tickets were purchased, the resort was booked, travel cancellation insurance also (geez you never know!). And then … shock … 4 days before departure, Vito got sick, a heavy cold with temperature. I kept trying to comfort myself by saying, it is going to be ok by Tuesday, but Monday was already here and tomorrow we were flying out! Vito was a bit better, there was no temperature but he still had a strong cough and a clogged nose. Chaos, we did not know if we were going on the trip or not and our flights were the following day! And this is not the first time that this has happened to us. Before heading to Thailand in 2013, Vlado fell while playing football and ended up having a shoulder operation. We managed to still get away. The year after in 2014 before our trip to Africa, Vlado hurt his ankle 7 days before our trip. We also managed to get away. So Vlado – No more football, NEVER! And now again, though Vlado did not hurt himself, Vito became ill. After consultation with the pediatrician, it was decided that we can travel. Lucky is, that we had travel cancellation insurance which I would recommend to everyone, just because of situations like these!
There was a little chaos around the packing, because we only had 4 hours before the flight, but we managed to cram everything in and here we are at the airport. The first stop, Dubai. Dubai has never been a destination that has attracted me, nor did I have any excessive need to visit it. But as the tickets were via Dubai and my dear friend Kristina lives there, we wanted to halve the travel time for Vito and see a little of Dubai. It was a good decision. Vito was a bit lively at this time, he did not quite sleep in the plane like previous times flown, maybe only half an hour. He just wanted to walk around the plane and make disorder. The cartoons saved us a little.
I was worried about his cold and the air pressure on the plane with take-off and landing. Fortunately, there were no problems. Our boy tolerated the flight great! And here we are, finally, Dubai! Kristina welcomed us at the airport and took us to her apartment, high rise buildings around us, glittering, luxurious at every step. It was late when we landed and as soon as we got to the apartment we ate and went to sleep. In Dubai we went without any plans in advance, I decided this because I did not know how a year-old would follow our pace, and we did not want to put extra stress on ourselves. We made a good decision, when you’re with a little baby, it’s best not to plan too much, which means less stress for the baby and for us parents.
In the morning we woke up fresh and rested, as at this time of the year (March) in Dubai it’s not so hot so you can go sightseeing unobstructed. For the first day in Dubai we walked the JBR (Jumbeirah Beach Residence), we thought we would do some swimming, but it came upon us that it would be quite complicated with regard to Vito and dressing and undressing. The walk itself is beautiful, it has a lot of content for kids and this is what I liked about Dubai. It really is “kids friendly”, everything is neat and clean and in every corner there is a park for kids.
We asked about the price of the deck chairs on the beach and the prices are as follows: a lounger (bed for 2 persons) about 1400 kn. Dubai is expensive, really expensive. For example, coffee and water at the JBR costs about 75 kn. We had lunch there, and the price for 3 people is about 600 kn with drinks included.
Next stop and the most interesting of us was the Dubai Mall. The Dubai Mall is a miracle, we went there exclusively for the aquarium and the fountain that dances. The aquarium amazed us, and Vito, who ran around yelling “ish” – fish. And the fish were like in a story, the sharks, the stingrays, were magical. I definitely recommend visiting the Dubai Mall! The fountains are also incredibly special, a real attraction. We did not have time to go shopping at the mall, but it has everything! A lot of various branded stores, which we did not really care about right then!
Dubai is interesting, especially if you are traveling with older children from 4 years onwards, for them there is so much to be impressed by, and I definitely plan to return when Vito is a little older. The only problem in Dubai is that you can hardly find an alcoholic drink. Not even beer as a remedy. But when you finally find the alcohol, in some places you are forbidden to enter with children.
All the major attractions in Dubai can be visited in 4 to 5 days, we also enjoyed the Dubai Marina at night. The tall, bright buildings give a special charm, where there are plenty of restaurants, the promenade is long enough, so Vito enjoyed running around. We went and visited the “Miracle Gardens”, these are gardens full of flowers, various cartoon characters in the shape of flowers and many other flower attractions. There we went by taxi, taxi is not so expensive but you have to watch out which taxis you choose. The more expensive taxis are the black Lexus, Tesla, etc. They can differ drastically from the price of a “normal” taxi. The Miracle Gardens is worth a visit, it’s nothing special, but when you think about it, it’s actually the coolest thing, that they succeeded in having in the middle of a desert such a garden. Afterwards, we visited the most famous attractions in Dubai such as Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa etc …
Dubai is a beautiful city, decorated, has enough enthusiasm and attraction, but it is quite expensive. For kids it’s ideal. And I certainly recommend it for a shorter stay or as a transition stop to the Maldives.
Maldives – a shining color
Ah … the Maldives, what do you say? Let’s go from the beginning. So, after a short but sweet vacation in Dubai we went to the Maldives. The flight from Dubai takes about 3.5 hours, which is ideal for Vito, so that we all were able to survive in peace. After we landed on Male, we had another smaller airplane (their local airline) which flys 20 minutes to the island of Maamigil, from where the speed boat drives us to our resort – Sun Island Resort. This was the resort we chose because it was the most affordable and the reviews were good. Finally, we arrived at the island after a day trip from Dubai. As soon as we walked to the island, although it was at slightly dusk, we immediately notice that everything around us is heavenly, literally. Upon arrival at the resort you will receive a juice and a cold towel to refresh yourself.
The Maldives are a paradise, literally, the paradise on earth that you look at on the cover of a magazine. I’ve craved over these pictures and thought it was so unreachable and unattainable, so I just dreamed of the day when I might go there. And here we are, and we also have little Vito with us. The resort where we stayed is called Sun Island Resort which is a four star hotel. The resort itself is solid in regards to its accommodation, and the setup is just WOW. The resort has bungalows on the beach, water bungalows, garden villas and so-called sunset villas. We took the “superior beach bungalow”, we arranged the accommodation directly with the hotel via email and we managed to get a good discount. The price of the All Inclusive Hotel was 3000 USD. We read a lot of reviews whether to take ALL inclusive or full board, quite debatable. Full board will cost you about $ 700-800 less, but the cost of drinks is quite expensive, beer 8 USD, cocktails 16-20 USD, coke 6 USD etc. The accommodation is not luxurious, it’s far from it, but it’s a real resort and you will experience in it the real Maldives. I always like to mention that for a real Maldives experience you should choose one of the resorts and avoid the local islands. The local islands can go much cheaper but it’s just not the same, at least not for me. And of course even though the resort in Maldives is more expensive, the experience is a lot bigger.
The Sun Island Resort is one of the largest resorts in the Maldives (but still is very small) then you can imagine how the other resorts are. You are able to rent bicycles and there are even 5 restaurants on the island. We took bicycles (5 USD for a day for one bike) and rode around the island every day. Every day we would swim in a different location, together with Vito, and we were not bored, not for one second. We hardly stayed in the bungalow during the day. We swam all around and Vito slept on the beach. Maldives are ideal for parents with small children, you can rest at least a little, there are no cars, traffic and there rules a special zen. At the main bar every evening there was all kinds of animation, we spent most of the evening at the main bar with its various events e.g. crab racing, beauty contest etc.,. and Vito danced or ran around. The resort offers a lot of excursions, which we could not attend to because Vito was too small. But Vlado did go one night to a night fishing excursion where the trip is free for guests who stay longer than 6 nights, offering this trip free of charge.
In the resort itself there are various excursions and the prices vary from 50-200 USD depending on what you want to do, also diving around the island is cool, we saw a lot of fish, sharks, stingrays etc., … every day at 18:30 is feeding time for the sharks and stingrays.
The resort is really reliable, the staff is OK and the food is great! It has everything to choose from, and I certainly recommend a minimum full board. The best time to visit Maldives is from November to May which is then their biggest season. We had wonderful weather in April, no rain and visibility was great. It would certainly be good to do some of the excursions that provide an unimaginable experience. We did plan to go on a boat trip that includes: diving with whale shark, diving with giant stingrays, turtles and dolphins. But we gave up on the idea because of Vito (another reason to come back).
What else to write about the Maldives? They certainly need to be visited at least once in a lifetime, and I think we will come back again someday. It’s best to check out how it was there for us by seein gour beautiful photos and videos in Dubai & the Maldives!