Do you get stuck in the loop of routine? Work/school run, supermarket, kids activities, maybe a fitness class, and home. Wake up the next day and repeat. This is a common pattern that I think most of us fall into. It can be so draining without realizing it. And then the moment you break routine and make a change of pace, you feel completely rejuvenated. This is usually followed by the comment "Why don't we do things like this more often?" These activities are not usually grand in scale. More often, they are small breaks from our typical routine that deliver a big impact in terms of excitement and novelty.
Tribe Vibe has decided to break our daily routine at least once a month. We are going to spice things up by uncovering something interesting we have been meaning to check out but had previously not made the time to do. This month it was my turn to pick and I chose to visit the Central or Blue Souk in Sharjah (I had never been and Nicole and Carmen had not been in over a decade). The Blue Souk has been on my list as a place to see for four years now but I guess I have just been too busy. For four straight years. (I hope you detect the sarcasm.) My main excuse can be expressed in two simple words - SHARJAH TRAFFIC. That is enough to scare the bravest away. But rest assured, after visiting myself, I can almost guarantee, the traffic is not that bad (at least at 8am.)
Carmen, Nicole , and I headed out after dropping the kids off at school. With all the organizing and arranging of schedules, the thing we forgot to do was check the time it opened. We left Mirdif area at 8am and the Souk didn't open until 9:30am. We were not sure if we would be able to fill our time there waiting for it to open. As it turned out, our excess of time turned out to be such a blessing. It was a beautiful sunny day and because of the early hour, the building was deserted. This gave us the freedom to casually roam in and out of the building, look in all the shop windows, and take photos on a whim without having to dodge any shoppers. When does this ever happen? It turned out to be the perfect time to go.
The souk consists of two large buildings connected by bridge walkways. There is a very obvious reason why it is known as the Blue Souk. Can you put your finger on it? You guessed it-all the extensive blue tile work on the exterior of the building. There is also a beautiful fountain on display at the entrance.
Islamic geometric design is something that I have fallen in love with since moving to the Middle East. I could spend hours looking at it. The Blue Souk has so many examples of repetitive pattern work. I was in my happy place.
I will admit, I did no research before going and therefore the Souk was not what I was expecting at all. I was picturing it to be more like the Old Souk in Dubai - outdoor based. The Blue Souk is nothing like that. It is more like a shopping centre. This left me feeling a bit disappointed but on the upside there was A/C which makes everything a little more tolerable in the summer months in the UAE. The entrance was impressive with the pièce de résistance being a spectacular geometric cut-out design filtering light into beautiful patterns everywhere. Fabulous!
As for the shopping, well, it was typical of a souk. Lots of gold, abaya and kandora shops, rugs, scarves, sports shops, toy shops, souvenir shops...you name it. Always an adventure looking for tressures.
But the most fun we had was picking out watches for each other at a very exclusive shop. Switzerland, you better step up your game because there is a new watch maker in town ;-)
If you get a little hungry there is a small selection of snacks you can pick from but keep your expectations in check. If you are seeking cotton candy, a slushie, and a gumball to satisfy your hunger, then you are on track.
All in all, we spent about three hours at the souk and left feeling like we had been on a mini vacation. It is so good to force yourself out of the routine and take the opportunity to see things in your city that you keeping putting off. How many times have we left a place saying "I wish I had done that." Take the opportunity now while you can!