Friday 20th July 2012
Our flight into Dubai went smoothly, a nice meal and a couple of drinks relaxed us and on arrival we went quickly through passport control and collected our bags. All was quiet as it was the first day of Ramadan.
Entering the arrivals area there was no sign of our expected driver with a name card. We never organise transfers so it is just typical that the one time we have it hasn't worked! A search both inside and outside found noone from our hotel, so we were both now getting angry. At the Information Counter Rags asked if they would call the hotel and he then spoke to the Concierge. They told him the driver was there, and they would ring him. He appeared a few minutes later, reckoned the plane was early, Rags bit his tongue!
Lovely executive room in the Arabian Courtyard Hotel awaited us although some of the features of our booking such as the use of the Business Lounge had been removed as Ramadan had started today. Nice if they had advised us of that when we booked!
Even though it was 2300 there were people everywhere
Dubai Museum and fort
This was the view out of our dirty window
on the streets even though the temperature and humidity were stifling. Because of the late sunset the locals were still out breaking their fasts. We were both hungry and found a cafe which had some females as customers, the earlier ones we had seen only had males. This Indian cafe served a vegetarian thali, a plate with small dishes on it with various curries and breads. The food was delicious and as you ate, some-one would come around and replenish anything you had eaten until you asked them to stop. By this time we didn't care what the cost was but at the end couldn't believe it only totalled about A$12 for the two of us!
Saturday 21st July 2012
A brilliant breakfast was had in luxury surroundings (compared to anything else this trip) with attentive waiters: we chose a good one for the last few days of our journey.
As Judy is concerned about her students and the amount of marking of assignments she still needs to do, we have made today a catch up day and have delayed facing the 40+ C temperatures outside. Thanks to Dropbox Judy wwas able to check marked assessments
and Rags uploaded them for her. It was 1300 before Rags ventured out, looking for something to eat for lunch.
In fact, he bought some squid and a pizza, obtaned from the cafe attached to the hotel, back to the room. During Ramadan we are allowed to eat in our rooms but there is no food served in restaurants unless you count takeways. No problem, we ate in our room where we stayed for the rest of the afternoon.
Rags did question the fact that we only had internet access with the one computer and when he discussed this with someone with a little more influence, he was given a second set of vouchers for the other laptop. After all, we did upgrade to the Executive level so that we had access to the Business lounge and its benefits.
Just after 2000 the Ramadan fast ceases and shortly after we went to the alternative lounge for our complimentary drinks and eats. Guinness, we found wasn't on the free list, so Rags sent it back and had a G & T as an alternative. A minute or so after 2100 Rags tried to order his last drink to
Section of the old wall and watchtower
be told he was too late for the happy hour. This didn't go down well, so after a discussion with the manager he was able to get his drink!
Outside it wasn't as bad as last night, although we did hear that the temperature reached 55 degrees C today. Good day to stay indoors. We looked at a few of the shops that were open, Judy looking for something the Mother of the Bride could wear for her daughter's wedding. Nothing jumped out at her but she will keep her eyes open!
Dinner was at the Indian cafe we had dinner at last night and again we had a thali. A bit different to last night's but still delicious.
Sunday 22nd July 2012
Today we decided to get a 2 day pass for the Big Bus City Tour, where there is a set route and you can get on and off wherever you wish. This left just outside the hotel at 0945. The bus took us past the older section of Dubai where we saw the dhows with their cargoes by the river wharf, the Spice Market and Gold Souk and then
continued up the coast to the ultra modern coastal area with the Burj Al Arab, one of the few 7 star hotels in the world, one of the highlights.
The impression we got as we travelled up the coast was of uniformity as far as the sandstone colour was concerned, the buildings of 2-3 storeys being relatively similar, with mammoth multi-storey buildings springing out of the desert, each trying to outdo the others. There was definitely no doubt in our minds that this was a wealthy country.
The bus took us into one area named The Palm, as this was the shape of the section which jutted out into the bay. All the land is reclaimed and plots of land sold for around A$12m each. Little communities exist within each branch of the 'palm', with their own shops and schools underneath the buildings like little cities, the residents not needing to go outside at any time.
The global recession hit many developers and some just walked off incomplete projects or finished them in a shoddy fashion. We saw only a few examples of this including one in the Palm area where the pylons for a building could
Burj Al Arab
7 star hotel. We only looked!
be seen in a large excavation, now abandoned and a monorail line built over the top of it.
We hopped off the bus at the Mall of the Emirates, a huge shopping centre with a large aquarium in the centre and a ski slope and playground at one end and a large lake with nightly fountains at another. The shops were mainly the high end of retail shops, we were just interested in seeing them. Disappointingly, because it was Ramadan, no food outlets were open to serve food, only a few open to cater for takeaways. We walked into a very large supermarket on our way out and bought some food so that we could eat it on the bus between sights. No compromises for foreigners or those with different beliefs here. Perhaps we can learn something about that!
Our next stop was Dubai Mall, said to be the biggest in the world and set near the Burj Khalifa, once the tallest building in the world. Both most impressive. The shops were similar to the previous mall, however we did find a Sketchers shop and Judy left with a needed pair of walking shoes.
By the time
Atlantis on the Palm
The hotel on the new Palm development.
the bus returned us to the stop where we started this morning we had spent over 7 hours touring around, both of us now ready to put our feet up. Before Rags did so he had a discussion with the Assistant Manager regarding the problems we've had with their service. He took notes and promised to take them to a higher forum. It was a civil discussion and they parted with him agreeing Rags could have a Guinness!
Just after 2000 we went down to the Sherlock Bar, Rags ordered a Guinness and they said that couldn't be done. Rags insisted in the nicest possible way, Judy just shrank quietly into the corner. The bar manager went off to see the Assistant Manager and after about 30 minutes returned with a plate of eats and a Guinness. Rags had another one before we left, not because he wanted one particularly, just on principle.
Monday 23rd July 2012
We set off a little later this morning and just on time for the first of the Big Bus at 0950. This was much better than sitting in the heat as we did yesterday, the temperature
The recession had developers walk off. Railway now through the centre of this project.
already in the high 30s.
First place we got off the bus was at the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House. This house consists of what looks almost like a fort and overlooks the mouth of the creek Dubai sits on. This house is listed as a national monument and showcases the history and development of Dubai from 1896, when the building was also the seat of the local government. The Sheikh was the father of the architect of modern Dubai, and the grandfather of the present ruler.
Continuing on from here our next stop was the Wafi Shopping Mall where we walked around a deserted shopping centre. Locals must come out in the evening during Ramadan, they certainly weren't out taking advantage of the sales. Judy tried on some dresses she thought may look ok as mother of the bride but as we were on limited time before the next bus went, didn't decide.
A gold and diamond shop caught her attention and she was in love with an expensive, but pretty diamond and gold pendant. Here again, she walked out, wanting to see what was at the Gold Souk before committing herself.
The limited time
Display in supermarket.
in the centre was due to us wanting to catch the 1300 bus to get us to the river for a dhow cruise leaving at 1330. We made it with just minutes to spare, the boat taking us on an one hour cruise on Dubai Creek. We both enjoyed the scenery, varying between the old area of the gold and spice souks, the dhows getting loaded with all sorts of goods for delivery in the Persian Gulf and as far away as Sri Lanka, to the ultra-modern bank and commerce buildings with their large expanses of glass on the opposite bank.
The waiting bus took us to the next stop, near our hotel, where we ducked inside to cool off and get our breath. Out again, this time on the bus to the Gold Souk. Here, thousands of dollars worth of gold, silver and diamonds were on display but even though we looked inside many shops, Judy could not find anything that matched the piece she saw this morning. Rags relented and they hopped on the next Big Bus for the 4 stops back to Wafi Centre. Stops they certainly were, witht he one before Wafi being a 30minute
wait! So that we became the last bus for the day, therefore not having a bus to catch to take us back. This is one of the main things that we didn't like about the Big Bus Tour was that at each stop there appeared to be a waiting time extending from 5 minutes to 30minutes making them very much time wasters.
At Wafi we managed to find the Pure Gold shop and once the purchase was made we caught a taxi which only cost us the equivalent of A$4 to return to our hotel. If you knew where you wanted to go, taxis would be a much cheaper and time effective way to get around than the Dubai Big Bus. We thought that the Big Bus tour is ok if you don't know a city, but you need to buy a 2 day pass to get any real value out of it. A 1 day pass would have been useless in our case. We'd love to come back to Dubai, but in their winter, and when we do we would travel using taxis or the Metro. This would give you the best of both worlds in being able
Lolly shop in one of the malls
to see what is around you.
The evening was a bit of fun, Rags contacting the Duty Manager as yesterday's hadn't got back to him. He had to relate yesterday's discussion again, upon which he was asked what could the hotel do, for us to leave with a good impression. Dinner will be on the manager tomorrow night and Rags can take as long as he likes to have his Guinness!
The latter was more of making a point, but when we entered the bar later, the bar manager came to our table, asked for Judy's order then looked at Rags and said “The boss will have a Guinness?”. She told us that the manager had given instructions to "keep them happy". Rags had his Guinness and then settled in with G & Ts. Some food was specially prepared for us without us even asking!
A walk in the opposite direction from the hotel followed and on a whim, Rags had a haircut at a local barber. He walked out with one of the best cuts he has had, the barber being most fastidious, cutting and styling the sparse covering!
A little further on we found
The locals still call this the tallest building in the world
a beauty shop where Judy could have her nails done. Rags was not allowed inside so he returned to the hotel for about 40 minutes before returning. By now it was almost 2300 and shops were closing, lights were going out. Rags opened the door and called out for Judy, the girl informing him that she would be ready in 10 minutes. This stretched out to nearly 25, Rags standing outside in the still hot night. It was nearly midnight by the time we arrived back in our room.
Tuesday 24th July 2012
Time's running out, we only have one more night here before we fly home, the end of another wonderful trip. After breakfast we took ourselves to the Dubai Museum and Fort, not very difficult as it was over the other side of the road from the hotel.
It is located in the Al Fahidi Fort built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai.The museum was opened by the ruler of Dubai in 1971, with the aim of presenting the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai. It includes local antiquities as well as artifacts from African and
Asian countries that traded with Dubai. Al Fahidi Fort is square-shaped with towers occupying three of its corners. One tower is an original, dating back to 1787. It was built of coral rock and mortar. In the middle of a large courtyard stands a tall dhow with underground galleries beneath it. Two cannons guard the main gate to the fort on the eastern wall, adorned by flags of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
We found this museum very interesting, there being English translations, and showed how Dubai has progressed over the centuries. The last 50 years or so have been the most significant to modern Dubai due to the discovery of oil. Most of it was underground and the temperature was very agreeable so we spent most of two hours wandering through it.
Back to the comfort of our room, the heat outside relatively cool at only 38 degrees C, still too hot to wander about. Here we spent the first half of our afternoon on the laptops as Judy is trying to check and upload her second group of essays. But we were disturbed at about 1400 by Reception. They were about to start some noisy
Aircon bus shelter
These were all over the city to protect passengers from the heat
repairs next to our room and wanted us to move to an Executive Suite on another floor. It was a little inconvenient considering the problems we have had, but we took it in our stride, throwing all our parphenalia into a couple of shopping bags rather than trying to cram it into our two suitcases. That comes later!
We had a problem reconnecting but with the help of their IT person all was well. Whilst waiting for him we did take the opportunity to repack our bags (Yes, we did manage to fit it in!!) and prepare for tomorrow's early start. A 0630 breakfast is going to be a shock to the system!
We set off for a drink in the Sherlock Bar at 1930 only to be told that even though they were open they wouldn't serve drinks until 2000. So much for what Management told us! We think there is a lack of communication in this place. To fill in the time we went outside in the heat to a nearby shop where Judy had seen a pair of shoes she wanted. We think her realised we were returns and put the price up, we did
get a percentage off too easily and should have asked for more. We returned to the bar for a drink or two. Here we met a couple from Carnarvon, travelling to Perth on the same flight tomorrow.
We didn't stay long, having booked dinner in their restaurant as guests of the manager. Here we had a tasty Iranian/Indian buffet served in a beautifully decorated indian style room where a musician played music on a sitar after 9pm.
Alarms all set we headed off to bed, but as usual the night before a trip, Judy wriggled and squirmed, at one stage thinking the bed might be inhabited by bed bugs. Needless to say she didn't feel like getting up at 6am but we did so we could enjoy a light breakfast from the buffet before leaving.
Emirates are very efficient and apart from one queue at the airport we were through into the waiting area quite quickly. Judy made a few purchases of perfume and cosmetics and we noticed that it would have been cheaper to buy our alcohol here than in Perth, but we had no choice as we had preordered at Perth Duty Free.
Judy decided it wouldn't suit her so Rags didn't buy it!
12 hours later - home at last!
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