Fifteen thousand kilometers later and four days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Should have stayed longer!
Dubai with all its excess is worth a visit, with the tallest building, fastest cars, largest mall, best hotel (supposedly 7*), widest this and biggest that, its a place that does not know what to do with its money. Lots of Irish have visited as part of a short stopover on their way to Australia. Some have made Dubai their home, enticed by tax free earnings and high salaries. Me? I just went with a mate for a few days pre-Christmas R & R.
Leaving early on a Friday morning and flying with Ethiad direct from Dublin to Abu Dhabi, we had opted to stay in Dubai. We thought it was a short ‘hop’ from one city to the other but not so. We landed about fifteen minutes late and between baggage collection (should have only brought carry on!!!!) and the very long delays and queuing at passport control, we missed our Ethiad luxury coach transfer to Dubai by forty five minutes. When I made enquiries as to when the next coach was going and if our tickets were still valid, I got a response with mixed fortunes.
“Yes Sir, of course you can use your tickets for the next coach.”
“Great, and what time is the next coach at?”
It was 10.15pm!
Being the intrepid travellers that we are, we opted for a taxi and to engage the services of one of the thousand taxi drivers in arrivals vying for our custom. Settling on a particularly friendly Indian chap, we headed for the car park. After a white knuckle one hour ride of 100 kilometres in our newly found friends Toyota Corolla, we arrived at the JA Ocean Hotel, The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence. Being a a back seat driver not to mention a nervous passenger, I was happy to get there, I can tell you.
Tired and relieved to have arrived, we checked in and made our way to our room were we dumped our bags. With new found energy after our seven and half hour flight, airport wranglings and high speed commute, we made our way out to get our first sampling of downtown Dubai. It was like a Friday night in any cosmopolitan city. Lots of lads driving flash cars, lots of ladies flashing lots of flesh (except for those in their burkas, of course!), the heat was pleasant and we did a little people watching whilst enjoying food at a local pizza restaurant. No beer though, no beer at all! We even spotted a few Emirati lads on what appeared to be a stag night, but all they seemed to do was drive their very expensive Mercedes four-by-four up and down the same road, hanging out of the vehicle windows whilst blaring Arabic music. No beer though, no beer at all! After eating, travel tiredness and time difference got the better of us and we retired for the evening, leaving the locals and tourists to sample the Dubai delights.
As breakfast was not included in our hotel stay, the next morning we went looking for coffee, strong Arabic coffee. We ended up in Starbucks! But with WiFi and armed with a map, we planned our route for the day. Dubai is more spread out than we imagined. We purchased a daily pass ticket for the Dubai Metro and stepped on and off the Red and Green line all day long. One of the highlights that I had planned to do/see was the Burj Khalifa, currently the worlds tallest building as I am a bit of a geek for architecture, so that was our first stop. It did not disappoint from the outside, so we decided to see about booking tickets to the viewing platform(s). As we queued, we noticed that you could book tickets online. That’s probably a great idea if you want to fork out 500 Dirhams (€125) each to go up to the top viewing platform to look out over the city. Being the shrewd and thrifty chaps that we are, we skulked away out of the queue and opted to go around to the ground entrance and pop in for a drink.
Unfortunately for us, I had shorts on and one glance from the four uniformed security guards told us our fate. In the most pleasant and polite way, we were denied entry to the tallest building in the world and all because of a pair of shorts…
So three things from this little ditty. Book your (expensive) tickets online before you go, opt for a ‘prime hour’ because you will see nothing at night obviously except for traffic trails. Also, if you fancy popping into the big Burj Khalifa for a jar and bragging rights, don’t wear shorts.
Next stop, The Dubai Mall because its the biggest in the world and the Mall of the Emirates because its got a full indoor ski resort, sealed behind thick glass with sub zero temperatures. Those Emirati think of everything! Suffice to say, these two shopping malls have everything in abundance and are a marvel to the commercialism of Dubai. Being blokes, we saw what we wanted and we left – empty handed I might add. That’s right, not one single purchase in either place. If I had been with The Travel Expert, I am pretty sure I would have left with a lighter wallet and a heavier credit card balance.
Cormac (Husband of The Travel Expert)
For some more about our adventures in Dubai, click HERE. Its all about our visit to Ferrari World.