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Published: December 12th 2014
After the Rock Tour we needed to get back down to Adelaide. Given that the last day of the Tour ended with a group dinner, which was brilliant and included much lubrication it was a relief to find several of the tour group at the airport already on the wine/beer. It was lovely to spend another hour or so with such a fine bunch of young people.
Back in Adelaide we were booked into The Crown Plaza Hotel. Bit of a change from a swag bag. The hotel was nice and central so we were able to get around the city centre quite easily, but most of the rest of that day was spent recovering from the week of dawn choruses from Caragh.
Our last day in Australia was planned to perfection- a Barossa Valley Wine Tour. This involved sitting in a bus, being driven around the local countryside, including the Barossa Valley and calling in on 4 winerys. Tough call I know, but we took one for the team. It was a lovely day, we passed over the actual Jacobs Creek, and by the Wolf Blass winery (who sold out a few years ago).
Each winery presented
a range of wines to savour. They didn't fill the glasses (thank goodness), but you did get enough to get a good feel for the wine. White first, followed by Rose, then Cab Sav, then Shiraz, in some a Dessert wine too and even a Tawney wine. 26 samples altogether (Carol kept the tasting notes so that we could try and become wine bores) and very nice it was too. I've realised that I could never be a wine critic, it was all very nice! Probably a good job that we were flying in the evening, it subdued the urge to buy a few bottles ( that ranged from 25 to 100$ per bottle). After the last winery Ashley, the driver, had the job of returning a bus full of sleeping tourists back to Adelaide.
Once sorted we got out to the airport. We were pleased to be travelling on Emirates on both of the return legs, such a great company, then on top of that they surprised us with an upgrade on the Adelaide to Dubai flight. That meant the long overnight stage 13 or so hours would be spent in Business Class. A vey pleasant experience it
was too: extending seat/bed; a telly almost as big as the one we have at home; lovely presented food; more nice wine and champagne. So we slept lots, watched films (I managed 3) and arrived in Dubai at 5.15 am reasonably well rested.
On this trip we decided to at least see a bit of Dubai, rather than just passing through the airport. So, we got bags and headed into the city. It surprised me when we got to the city centre and the taxi just kept going. When researching the place I hadn't realised just how big and spread out it is. Our hotel had appeared to be very close to the centre, but on the ground it was a few km out, well connected though by metro, bus and highway so once over the initial surprise it didn't matter at all. When we got to The Golden Tulip they took us a bit by surprise by telling us we couldn't check in until 2.00pm and at that point it was Before 7.00am. Annoying, since I had emailed them about early check in back in September and they had said that it would be possible. Next they said it would be possible, but it would cost an extra 1/2 day rate. We moaned, said we should have been told that back in September. Any way, in the end they kept us waiting until 8.00am by which time a new member of staff was on duty. Very nicely she gave us an upgraded room, with kitchen, two bathrooms, bedroom and lounge, all for the original price.
After a shower and a short rest we headed out to mooch around the city. A metro station was about 5 minutes walk away, from they we were connected, you could get to anywhere in the city. Our plan was to use the city hop on / hop off bus tour to get us round for the day. It worked a treat. We got to see the city centre, the Palm area, the heritage area and the outlying hubs like the media and IT areas and we did so accompanied by a earphone delivered commentary. What a fascinating place it was, growing out of the desert in a very short space of time. Lots of building going on still, with much infrastructural work being brought into focus by Dubai hosting a global trade showcase exhibition in 2020. The various Malls were nothing short of spectacular. For many local and expat people this must be a great place to be. No tax, no VAT, plenty of work opportunities. At the end of the day we headed to Dubai Mall. We could barely scratch the surface of what was there, hundreds of shops, eateries, an aquarium bang in the centre of it and as a finale for us, a light and sound show around the central fountains.
A great ending to what has been an amazing 10 weeks. We've fitted in so much that we will need the blogs and Carol's journal to make sense of it all.
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