Down by the creek #FryingPan style #MyDubai
I have been looking forward to this tour since Arva first posted about it. I had booked my tour to follow the exhausting week at Gitex because I needed the diversion (not necessarily the walk - if you've been to Gitex you know what I'm talking about). So imagine my disappointment when Arva said she had no one else booked in on that Saturday and I had to be moved. I love her too much and knew it would be worth the wait so I said yes to the change. After all, I want her to be successful and love her to bits. I'm glad about the change. There is something decadent about playing hookie when everyone else is working (it was a Thursday).
As always, her planning and attention to details is thorough and immaculate. She is a woman that makes and keeps her promises. She sends out details that you would have to be a complete retard not to be able to follow. This tour was more about old Dubai and not just about food per se which made it different from her other tours. It also had Spingo (don't Google it - there are interesting results but nothing to do with what this was about)... but more on that later.
I skipped the fish market tour because I had been there before with Arva and joined the tour at Al Rigga just before the breakfast break which I knew was going to be at the recently launched Creekside Cafe. Its a beautiful space in the most amazing location right on Dubai Creek. If you plan to go there, don't drive, take the metro or a cab. I loved the photos (from Wilfred Thesiger's collection apparently) on the wall to the furniture. It fitted the area and the food is the right amount of fusion with traditional like the red velvet legeimat that we finished with or the Beith Tamat with chami-yoghurt. We arrived at the cafe after a meander through the textile souq and a wander around the Hindu temple through alleyways that were miniscule and packed because it was the Diwali weekend. Forgotten the charm of those places.
After packing in the calories (no idea what those are or care), we hopped on an abra and travelled back to the other side armed with earpieces for instructions so that we would not miss all the spice mentions because we were to embark on a game of Spingo (spice + bingo). All of us were given cards that had names of spices instead of numbers and we had to tick these names off as we heard them. I won. It was a wonderful way to get to know the spices and learn their herbal properties and see and smell them. I got a copy of Arva's spice booklet (ask her the next time you're on her tour) so that I would have them when I next go to the spice souk. I might get a few more as Christmas presents - I know who would appreciate them.
We finished off at the not-yet-open coffee museum in the Bastakiya area or Al Fahidi area as it is now know. You should check out the tours of the area by Sheikh Mohammed's Centre for Cultural Understanding if you want to know more. We ended with lunch at Arva's favourite kebab place that she has sworn me to secrecy and I would rather stay friends with her. It is an unassuming place with NO mod cons (None whatsoever except AC) and some very very delicious and well made kebabs and roti.
This tour was more about Dubai's soul rather than the food and it made a delightful change. It was marvellous meeting new people - there was one more resident and showing her a Dubai with heart. Next time you have visitors, don't take them just to the desert or the mall, show them the heart of Dubai. It is still beautiful and vibrant.