Wednesday, March 14
Festival City, 18:45
Yesterday involved a lot of walking in a lot of heat and so we happily got up late for breakfast this morning. We ate slowly and agreed we would do very little today.
The very little started with the pool, where I started on the other copy of Men’s Health provided by the hotel for poolside entertainment. Both editions stem from 2008 but the wisdom they dispense proves timeless.
After this we bought toothpaste from Gift Village before settling down to decide what to do with the day. Armed with dubious knowledge from my reading of Time Out and What’s On, I suggested that we get the metro to Creek, one end of the green line, and allegedly by the sea and therefore (by hypothesis) full of beach cafés and things to do.
After some persuasion Irma agreed.
We had to buy two-zone tickets and Irma claimed the woman selling tickets looked astonished that we would want to go there – and not in a good way. A certain amount of discreet eye rolling occurred apparently.
Just after Union the metro came out of the tunnel and began crossing the city on a raised track. We agreed the view made the journey worth doing, and so we had achieved doing nothing much in a reasonably interesting way.
When we got to the end of the line, and came out of Creek station, Irma chortled in delight at the complete lack of anything to see, hear or do. She took photos to post to Naa on WhatsApp: captioned “Owen organises an outing”. We could see a covered path and what looked like a semi-derelict industrial area, with a couple of half-built wooden boats, and some abandoned machinery. We knew the sea lay at the end of the path and so we decided to walk along it and see what we could see.
“It is at least the most silent place I have ever been in Dubai”, said Irma as we walked through nothingness. “What can we see here?” she asked, as we saw a solitary building a couple of hundred metres in front of us.
We found ourselves inside a small ferry terminal so we asked where the ferry went. We learned that the ferry went to Festival City Island, home of a mall (of course), and that it left in two minutes time. To get on we had to buy a Silver Card, a Dubai equivalent of an Oyster card. We bought two cards and leapt on the ferry just as it prepared to leave. Our afternoon had taken a turn for the unexpected.
We spent ten minutes travelling on a boat that seated twenty two to Festival City island where we disembarked and wandered around. The mall bore no resemblance to the others we had seen. This seemed to have remained from some bygone age. The words “quaint” and “genteel” came to mind.
We started in Robinsons, a faux British department store that reminded me of Derry & Toms as I knew it in the late 60s, at the tailend of its glory days, when it still had the roof garden. The entire mall felt spacious and unhurried and, although not empty, it felt very roomy.
We spent an hour or so wandering. Irma found an unfeasibly large Marks & Spencer where she bought some clothes. I looked in a big Borders and still found no books I wanted.
On the way out we notice what looks like a pond equipped for water displays. We ask and a man tells us that one will start in ten minutes. We decide to wait and a security man points out a good place to watch. It starts, and we both move between the roles of spectator and photographer. The security man promised a three minute show, but it seems much longer to me.
We will take the ferry back and then get the metro home. Since we get on at the terminus we will get good seats and watch calmly as the remains of the rush hour fill up the carriage, stop by stop.
The buffet offer does not operate on Thursday to Saturday, and so we will enter the hotel for our final hotel buffet of the week. The waiters will greet us as regulars and the buffet will not disappoint.
We will avoid watching television and get to sleep early; earlier than we would in Helsinki, in fact.