My heart sank. As I get older, I’m not able for intense heat any more, but you do acclimatise quickly. I wouldn’t recommend people with a heat intolerance to go there in July or August but the other ten months are perfect. We stayed in Downtown Dubai at the Vida. The first boutique hotel in Dubai, it’s a home from home. I checked in at three in the morning and found myself explaining my recently acquired eye infection to Denise the receptionist, lest she think a freak of nature had arrived to stay. I met her four days later and she remembered my name and enquired after my eye. Service indeed. The décor was tasteful and muted and the lovely pool area a welcome haven.
«Have a light lunch» they said «before you go dune bashing» and as usual I don’t understand the concept of light eating so off we went to La Serre, a fabulous bistro in Vida and proceeded to eat more than my body weight. Starters included grilled marinated prawns in garlic and rosemary and mains consisted of lamb cutlets with spices, whole sea bass in salt crust and grilled tiger prawns with Amarillo peppers. And then it was off dune bashing.
To the uninitiated dune bashing roughly translates as sitting in an air conditioned four by four and putting your life in the hands of a total stranger. In our case, it was Hussein from Desert Gate, who provide excursions into the desert. We lunged up massive dunes and careered down the other side. Hussein heard language he has never heard before but we had great fun. It was up bright and early the next day and off for a veritable feast of a breakfast at the Pavillion, a café owned by Vida and just down the road. This set us up for the day and our next port of call – the Dubai Aquarium.