Apr 8, 2012
|An Emirates Stopover
Emirates offer a good product in that they allow you to fly into one European city and out of another. To do the same on Qantas is considerably more expensive and we'd never been to Dubai. A stopover was definitely part of the anti jetlag plan.
We arrived in the early hours but another great Emirates product - 24 hours check in in some hotels- meant that we were in our hotel by about 7.30. The biggest hold up was the immigration - all run by arrogant Arabs (as opposed to Indians who seem to run just about everything else) who seemed to really drag their feet and kept us in queues for about an hour. Magnificent, opulent airport.
Dubai is safe, super clean and the newest city we've ever been in. How the safety and cleanliness is achieved is not obvious but we heard about police in mufti, big fines and jail terms. There were no crazies on the trains nor any great unwashed - perhaps they can't afford to live there or maybe they are put away somewhere?
Our hotel was a Movenpick (Swiss like the icecream) and really very nice but a fair way from everything so we became familiar with the train and, as usual, walked our feet off. The development is occurring down the coast and although you are never very far from it we didn't see a great deal of it. We'll remedy that on our return. The hotel had a lovely pool and was totally quiet at night - never heard a peep. The views were interesting - the local power station and desal plant!!
We didn't particularly want to shop but visiting the malls is a must anyway but a mall is a mall no matter how attractive they make them. And they try pretty hard with the huge aquarium, themed areas that reminded us of Las Vegas and plenty of marble,glitz and glamour. We were so interested to watch all the arab women in their ajayas with just their eyes showing, often very heavily made up eyes. Their black garb was often quite richly decorated with bling and some pretty high stilettos peeped out from underneath. Fancy handbags too. But there seemed to be more Indians than any other race. A very multi national place. Great people watching. We felt we were in the minority of tourist groups. With only a 6 hour plane trip away there were Germans, Brits and Russians everywhere.
We did shop at the Gold and Diamond park - great value buys to be had there! We bought frankincense at the spice market (the last time we bought that was in the late 70s when we visited Lech in Oman) and some saffron.There is just a small part of Old Dubai around their port that is called The Creek. There we saw colourful dhows that still provide transport for goods around the Emirates I think.
We did go out into the desert - only about half an hour out of the city! for a tour. We went in a four wheel drive with 4 others - sour Germans who didn't speak-and about 20 other Toyotas! We did some hair raising dune driving, watched a falconry display (good) and had dinner at a 'Bedouin camp' that they have set up. There were a couple of hundred people there but despite that it was quite good fun lying on the rugs, on the sand eating a reasonable meal and watching a wild woman belly dancing. I even had my hand hennaed - didn't realise how long it stayed there. It doesn't feel quite as appropriate now that I'm in Germany! It was beautiful in the evening, lying out there is such mild weather. Weather wise, it was hot sometimes but not unbearably and the heat is so dry you don't get all sweaty like in the tropics. Some days it was relatively mild. However we were mostly happy to be in the air conditioning!
Then we did the beach thing. Our hotel gave us access to the Oceana Beach Resort where we whiled away a few hours in the sea (surprisingly cool) at a fake beach with lovely white sand and in the very large infinity pool surprised as always by all the large European women in their bikinis. We enjoyed a cocktail and got a little burnt -forgot the sunscreen....
We only have another day in Dubai on our way home and it is already planned out and even then we won't have 'done it all'. We would like to see Abu Dhabi and visit north of Dubai too and would love to revisit Oman. So...a great place for a stopover but also a place worthy of a visit in itself.