Dubai skyline by taxi.
We loved Dubai! What had started as a quick 2-night stopover in Abu Dhabi shifted to Dubai when we learnt about the complimentary Etihad shuttle that would take us directly from our flight. And it didn't take long to discover that we could have happily stayed a full week or more.
Even the trauma of losing my camera's memory card on our second night didn't sway the appeal, as devastating as that was and still is. Dubai was exactly what we were all needing. Shiny, modern, exciting and fun. We had been so immersed in ancient ruins and the street-worn reality that is Rome and it had somehow only amplified our own tiredness. This was like a shot of pure energy.
We "hung out at the mall" (that would be Dubai Mall aka. The World's Largest Mall) and cricked our necks admiring the Burj Khalifa (yes, that would be the World's Tallest Building. I instagrammed it here - well, the top of it at least) and frolicked in the Persian Gulf at Jumeirah Beach Park.
T went to a film (he had been waiting to see August: Osage County ever since missing the play in Sydney last year) and I took the boys to Sega Republic (indoor theme park) and Goal (indoor soccer). The soccer was super-cool; a new game starts every 15 minutes, they have an on-field referee and an electronic score board and anyone can play (for a fee) so you just turn up and you're on!
We definitely plan to go back. Hug wants to go out into the desert next time. And me....? I might just need to bring along a little shopping money ;)
p.s. We stayed at the Premier Inn Silicon Oasis (the boys had really enjoyed the Premier Inn at Gatwick). It's not close to the centre but the price was certainly right and they have their own city shuttle service.