Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding & portrait photographer serving DC, VA & Worldwide. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!

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Day One in Dubai

February 8, 2019

My family and I have flown Emirates while traveling to India for quite a couple of years now almost with an hour or two of a layover in Dubai. We’re pretty used to running across the airport from one terminal to another to catch the next leg of our flight but this was the first time we actually decided to stop in Dubai for two days and see the city!


Getting there wasn’t too bad with a straight 12 hour flight on Emirates on which we got served plenty of food and I even got to enjoy a glass of white! I attempted to sleep the entire flight as to avoid being jet lagged! Landing in Dubai was interesting because amid stretches of sand dunes as far as I could see, was this bustling city with super tall skyscrapers that you could note from the plane! We got to Dubai about 8 AM local time and by the time we checked into our hotel, changed and ventured back out it was about 10.

On our first day we made a trip out to Miracle Gardens which my mom really loved. It’s a small park filled with huge statues from Mickey Mouse to a giant palace to a larger than life Emirates jet plane ALL completely covered in flowers. A tiny speck of pink, yellow, green and white among the sandy desert area of surrounding the outskirts of Dubai. The entire place was COVERED with flowers! We had Turkish coffee and then headed back near where we were staying in the Al Bursha area (about 30 minutes outside Downtown) for lunch. We grabbed chicken wraps for lunch at a Turkish place in Emirates Mall. I wish I could remember the name because the wraps were SO GOOD! While we were there, we saw the indoor skiing place and had a cappucino larger than my head from Costa Coffee which is apparently a famous coffee shop chain in London. If you’re already sensing a theme, coffee was a staple throughout our time in Dubai trying to fight off the jet lag.

We then set out for what’s called a “desert Safari” which is not to be confused with an actual safari involving animals hahaha. We were driven about an hour outside the city out to the Yemen border where you could start to really see the desert with orangeish red sand dunes stretching for miles and miles. We got to ride an ATV along the sand dunes for about half an hour which was SUPER fun!! At one point I got off of the ATV to stick my foot in the sand which was SO SO SOFT!! I’d never really been in a desert like this before but I loved it! Despite being fairly warm out there was a cooler wind that kept the sand pretty cool!

Our driver then took us through the desert driving for about half an hour in the caravan zig zagging left and right crashing over the dunes. Revving up hills and flying down the valleys in the dunes and it was both fun and frightening at the same time because it felt like our car would tip over at any point. We were clutching onto the sides of the car for dear life. At one point our driver did get stuck trying to climb up a hill and had to carefully reverse back down it.

At the end of the night we were taken to mini village and got to eat food and watch a couple of shows including skirt spinning, belly dancing and a fire breather. There were also camel rides there so very “touristy” but it was fun to watch the performances and get to be out in the desert and try some new food!

Day Two will be up on the blog next week but until then, here’s some photos from Day One! All of these were taken on an iPhone so bear with the quality!


If you enjoyed this post, you should binge read other travel posts!

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  1. Caity

    February 8th, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    These pictures look GORGEOUS! Can’t wait to read the rest of your recap!

  2. Manali Sontakke

    February 10th, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    EEP thanks Caity, day two was even MORE packed so can’t wait to share that as well!

  3. Hannah Smith

    February 8th, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    SO PRETTY Manali!!

  4. Manali Sontakke

    February 10th, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks so much Hannah!!

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