Goodbye-ee, Dubai-ee!!

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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
November 1st 2011
Published: June 26th 2017
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Our last full day in the Emirates started by travelling back to Dubai. We could have flown Etihad direct from Abu Dhabi to Manchester but Mrs H's research resulted in identifying that the flights were slightly dearer than other options, Feedback of the airline was not to our taste and she also had reservations about the aircraft configuration. As long as it has 2 wings and a couple of engines, that's configured enough for me!!

The option we chose was to fly Virgin from Dubai. The only drawback was that this was via Heathrow so it meant transferring to the Manchester-Heathrow shuttle with BMI. All the plus points, however, outweighed this minor inconvenience!

So, here we are in Abu Dhabi but need to travel the 145km or so to Dubai. There are always options. We could have taken the Emirates express. This was an option we considered until late last night when the concierge informed us that there is no timetable and it only leaves when it is full. As I have my 1 o'clock appointment, I couldn't take the risk.

Hiring a car was cheap enough. It is about £45 per day. However, from what we've seen of the driving, Roisin would need all her wits about her as well as know were we are going. We've seen more close shaves in Abu Dhabi and Dubai than a Gillette Razor Convention!!

The option we decided to take was the good old taxi. We had been told prior to arrival and also had this confirmed by the concierge that a taxi to Dubai should cost between 230-250 dirham. (about £40).

As our hotel was not on the main highway, we weren't convinced that the taxi would know where it is and could end up driving aimlessly around. We agreed to get the taxi to drop us off at the Metro station called Dubai Marina. This was on the main highway so couldn't be missed. Our hotel was only 400 metres from a metro station further up the line called Al Karama. As the metro stations are all suitcase friendly, we could take the train the rest of the way.

After we had been travelling for about 30 minutes, the taxi driver said something that I didn't quite understand. He repeated it and Roisin said: 'Oh! You need to stop to get petrol?' As my mum used to say to me and now I say to the taxi driver, ‘Why couldn't you have gone before you left??!' As we were queuing for petrol, the meter was still ticking over. I calculated that we spent 3 dirham waiting in line to take the petrol. As that was only about 60p, I let it go…this time!!!

We arrived at Dubai Marina after an hour or so. The meter only read 130 dirham (£22). We made our way in to the metro only to find the ticket office closed. After speaking to a nearby militia looking policeman, he informed me that all the metro is free today as it is Transport Day. Wow! Even better!! We were able to use our old travel cards that had expired some 2 days earlier.

As stated in a previous entry, the metro stations are spotlessly clean. Everything is well signposted and announcements are made every few minutes in Arabic and English. However, the platforms are not numbered so the announcement would say something like: ‘The train to Jebel Ali will leave from the Jebel Ali platform'. That's like saying: ‘The train at platform 1 will leave from platform 1.'

The Bavarian Executive suites were off Sheikh Zayed Road. I have seen lots of street names, buildings and parks with Zayed or bin Zayed in the name. Mystery now solved Khalifa bin Zayed or to give him his full title: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the current president of the United Arab Emirates. In fact, I only just realised the Burj Khalifa must have also been named after him. He is also the Emir of Abu Dhabi. He succeeded to both posts in 2004 replacing his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had died the day before. Sheikh Khalifa had effectively been acting president earlier, since his father was in ill health.

The accommodation was another roaring success. A massive living room with separate bedroom. 2 bathrooms and also a large kitchen area made up suite 1401. It's a pity we're only here for 1 night..

After freshening up, we headed down to the Burj Khalifa for my 1 o'clock. The ‘At the top' experience is accessed through the Dubai Mall.

The Mall itself is a masterpiece of construction with centre pieces ranging from sculptures of the famous Dali melting watches to a huge wall of cascading water with figurines diving. Apart from numerous designer shops such as Bloomingdales and Gucci, this place is also home to a multiplex cinema, an ice risk and a children's theme park called Kidzania.

The Burj Khalifa is 828 metres high making it 11 times higher than the Radio City Tower in Liverpool!! It doesn't say that in the brouchure but it should do. It has just about thrown the rule book out of one of its very high windows and has broken every record in it!!

Not being content with just being the tallest building in the world it is also the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It has the highest number of stories in the world at 160, the highest occupied floor in the world, the highest outdoor observation deck in the world on level 124, the elevator with the longest travel distance in the world and the tallest service elevator in the world.

A travelator took me through time, from the earliest days of Dubai to the present .The lift then took only about 45 seconds to ascend the 124 stories, that's about 10 metres per second

Whilst the view from the 124th floor observation platform was breathtaking looking DOWN at skyscrapers (for a change), peering out in to the distance was more problematic than I had expected. Due to the reflection of the sun and the dust and sand in the atmosphere, anything more than a few miles away had a foggy haze about it. I was hoping to get a decent view of the Jameirah Palm and the World, 2 famous man made structures stretching out in to the Arabian Gulf. Not this time, I'm afraid!

We spent a few hours in the Aquarium Zoo. This boasted the largest single pane glass observation aquarium in the world. Is there no limit to the world records that the Emirates hold? They will need to dedicate a whole chapter of the Guinness Book of Records to the UAE before long!!! The visit to the aquarium included a trip across the surface of the tank in a glass bottomed boat.

With this ticked off our list our final destination was to the Creek for a ride across in an Abra. I had accumulated quite a bit of papers and junk that I needed to dispose of to sort myself out. I asked one of the Metro assistants:

Where's your bin?'

He replied, ‘bin Ah-med, bin Wah-leed or bin Jal-zeer??'

I said slowly carefully inunciating my words, ‘No. bin rub-bish'. Showing him the screwed up paper.

He snatched the junk from me with a smile at what could have been through clenched teeth!! I will just never know.

Meanwhile it is official that Roisin doesn't know her ‘Bart Simpson catch phrases from her Dubai metro stations. She asked a (different) metro assistant the correct platform for Ai Karumba.

Where, madam?'

She walked over to the wall and pointed to the station on a map.

‘Oh you mean Al Karama! It's leaving from the Jebel Ali platform!!!

As it turned out, the metro station at Creek hadn't been built yet (although it showed it on the map). We had to alight at the previous station and catch a bus. As this appealed to neither of us, we took the next train back to our airconditioned executive suite (nice one Roisin, you came up trumps again!!)

My faux pas of the day was asking where the beer is at a nearby super market.

‘Sir, this is a strict Muslim country and it is illegal to serve alcohol of any sort in shops or supermarkets'.

‘Not even wine gums?!' I was about to say but Roisin dragged me away before I caused another international incident!!

Our final meal in the Emirates was in Pizza Hut. We would have made the effort to go native on the final day but everywhere seemed to be completely out of sheeps brains and goats eyeballs!!!

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3rd November 2011

Great reading mate and I can't wait for your next journey

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