The day finally arrived after over a year of planning. Our bags were packed, mine slightly more full than Max’s of course.
My Mum and Dad packed the car with us and took us to the airport to catch an evening flight. We planned to stop on the way for some food but disappointingly London traffic had other plans for us and the 22 mile journey to a pub in Surrey took 2.5 hours so we pushed on to the airport as it was now too late to stop. Once we had checked in our bags, we decided to grab supper and luckily La Brasserie at the Sofitel squeezed us in! The food, wine and service were outstanding, I couldn’t recommend it more. Next time we have an early flight from Gatwick North Terminal, I will definitely be booking a room.
By the time we had eaten, it was less than an hour until take off so we left Mum and Dad to finish and made our way to security. As soon as we left the hotel area I noticed a funny smell and smoke. We looked over the side of the bridge between the restaurant and the terminal and noticed marshals in fluorescent jackets guiding people out of the car park in a hurry. Then I heard the alarm and distant noise of sirens. This is not what you want to see or hear, especially at an airport! We didn’t have time to stop and ask questions. The beauty of social media is that within minutes people had reported the incident on twitter, pictures and videos included, and we learnt that a car had exploded in the car park!
Photo courtesy of Twitter!
Anyway, after this drama, we quickly boarded the plane and made our way to Dubai. I haven’t flown long haul with Emirates so I was super excited by the plane, especially the twinkly lights in the ceiling. I thought they were very snazzy! I snoozed a bit and got stuck into the onboard entertainment and free food! Happy times. Oh and the company was just the best too. *** sleeping beauty ***
We arrived in the Dubai airport and I immediately noticed it was on another scale to any other airport I have been to. Over the next few days I realised Dubai is like another world, a kind of new, plastic, Disneyland world where daily life revolves around doing business, eating, shopping and partying, all of which are as expensive, if not more expensive than London.
Construction in the last 10 years has rocketed at a speed that is hard to comprehend. The city is littered with skyscrapers and construction sites. It’s hard to imagine that 10 years ago, a high proportion of what is now business parks, shopping malls and new living complexes was just desert. Now envisage what it will be like by 2020!
One of the crazy things I have been told about is the planned development of the worlds first Bugatti inspired Villas. These villas include a glass panelled room where your baby will sleep and be admired by your guests. If you are in the market for buying such a property, click here for more information!
We were keen to visit the usual sights, especially The Palm but once you’re there, it’s so much bigger than you expect that you don’t realise you’re on it! The ‘branches’ are all private villas and at the end is The Atlantis Hotel, with a big highway running up the ‘trunk’. On the way off the Palm, we stopped that The Fairmont Hotel to check out the beach. I do enjoy walking into a plush hotel with high ceilings, pristine decoration and excellent staff, it’s immediately relaxing.
We strolled out to the beach which, disappointingly but not surprisingly, was so unnatural with sand that looked as though someone had gone over it with one of those things you use on a clay tennis court to get rid of the footprints and ball marks. However, the sea was very clean and the view was urban but beautiful. I couldn’t believe how hot the sea was, kind of like bath water. Not sure if that is a good thing or not really.
We visited the Dubai Mall and the Emirates Mall, both of which make Westfield look tiny, but have every shop you can imagine, from Zara and Topshop to Sandro and De Beers. With this and the lack of locals, you could easily have been in any major city in the world. The waterfall in Dubai Mall is certainly very impressive, its a piece of art.
The Souk Madinat Jumeirah is (supposed to be) a more authentic looking shopping venue but to be honest, it feels and looks like its been constructed by a kid playing with a new Lego set. I actually preferred the larger clean lined, ‘all white and bright’ type malls. One reason to visit would be to see the canal which runs around the Souk with a view of the Burj Al Arab, the 7* Hotel in Dubai.
On the first night of the weekend, which is a Thursday night in Dubai, we went out to a rooftop bar at the Oberoi Hotel, called Iris. The set up was chic and sophisticated with low sofas and pouffs and lots of bar stools around high tables. The food was excellent and reasonably priced for the quality and the music was cool which was a bonus.
** Not my image, phone ran out of battery. No change there **
Max and I agreed we probably wouldn’t choose Dubai for a holiday but if you’re passing through on a long haul flight and want to break up the journey, you can easily stay for 3 nights and see all that you want to see. The heat was bearable 90% of the time, but I definitely wouldn’t want to go any earlier. I think from Nov – March, during the Dubai winter, would be the best time to visit. We were slightly limited by what we could do because of the heat, which is such an odd concept. It’s the other way round in the UK! I certainly felt in my comfort zone there, I can understand why people move to Dubai as it seems as though it would be a fairly simple transition from any other big city, just with a few more rules about getting naked or touching in public. The whole city is exceptionally clean and if you’re into that very urban, new, over-the-top, lavish look, with easy access to cool bars, clubs and the sea, Dubai may be right up your street!
A huge thanks to our amazing hosts Marc, Sabrina and little Lorenzo! We were so lucky to get an insight from an ex-pat perspective and your local knowledge meant we learnt and saw so much in the short time we had there.