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2.25.2016

Dubai: An Alcohol Free Week, Camels Wearing Nappies & A Personality Disorder (in the nicest sense)

A trip to Dubai has been on the cards for years. We first talked about it back in 2010 but decided to wait until construction work on the palm had been completed. Except we didn't realise there are two palms and one of them isn't anywhere near ready (more on that later). Anyway, being a democratic family we took a vote as to where to go February half term. Hot or cold (aka beach or skiing)? Unanimously hot won. West or East? East won so we settled on Dubai figuring a visit was well over due. And how good is this for a Marie Kondo rolled suit case (the sons, it's nothing new, he's been doing it for years).




As usual we used Travelbag to plan our trip. Give them a budget and they come up with a suitable package. We were presented with 3 options; Sofitel The Palm, Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach  or Roda Amwaj Suites Hotel. I think we'd already decided that we wanted to be over on Jumeirah Beach where there are many, many restaurants to chose from. The Roda Amwaj seemed much more appealing than the Sofitel as it offers serviced apartments. Which means a washing machine and a huge American fridge and space (lots of space as it happens) to spread out. A no brainer really. I think having had an apartment in Spain for the last 10 years, I'm used to bringing home clean laundry. Got this thing about stinky clothes touching the insides of the suitcases. I mean, it's a real obsession of mine.

Stock photos as I didn't take any but they're exactly the same...



Two bedrooms, two bathrooms (plus a guest loo), large kitchen, utility, living room and dining area plus the biggest hallway I've ever seen. 




And a view to die for. 

(nb. not stock photo, I took this myself!!). 



We travelled with Emirates. Downstairs not up - husband said no, it's just a short get away, we don't need the 5 star treatment. To be fair cattle class is really rather ok with Emirates (beats Squeezy Jet and Ryan Scare). But I'm not sure I could do a long long-haul. 

My first impression of Dubai was the traffic. Oh Lordy, how many cars? Seven lanes on the main road from the airport to the resort. I mean, we're talking Los Angeles territory here. My second impression was how spread out everything is. I thought the palm and Jumeirah Beach would have been much closer. Ooh and before I start another paragraph, I have a third thought. Dubai is SO CLEAN. Everywhere. Hubby had a new pair of trainers although he would like to point out that these were not bought specifically for the holiday (chav springs to mind). The soles were absolutely spotless after 3 days of wearing them. Honestly, you could eat your dinner off the shopping mall floor. I even saw a guy on the beach cleaning in-between each piece of wood of every bench. It took him hours. And then he came back and did it all again the next day. Oh and even the two camels wear nappies so that they don't poo on the beach. 

Camels and skyscrapers, not something you see everyday. I swear the buildings are made of cardboard, a scene straight out of Universal Studios.



The downside to staying over at Jumeirah Beach is that it's a public one. So no beach service. Not that there'd be a Mojitos at the click of a finger (oh the alcohol ban was tough). I've got to say, it did play on my mind....the public beach AND the alcohol drought. But actually, the beach was great in a modern sense. Cosmopolitan restaurants, decent sun loungers (£38 per day for 2), kids facilities including a mini water park, inflatable adventure area in the sea, football and tennis areas), beautiful people walking the walk and waiter service from a couple of the bars. Oh and not forgetting those smokey places - sheesha dens. Life was good. Well goodish. It got busier and busier over the course of the week, so much so that I feared we wouldn't get sun loungers on our last day. Sardines. Tin. sprang to mind. Hmmmmmm. And you can forget the pool (unless it's a roof top one), the buildings are so high that they're in the shade most of the day.

Of course we had to visit the Burj Khalifa. We hopped on the Metro. So cheap, so easy and so clean. Sorry, couldn't resist taking a photo of the carpet. And yes, those are sores on my left toes (high sandals, lots of walking from the night before). 



Hey, there's even a Gold class carriage with wide leather seats. Mind you, jump on the first carriage and hog the front window, you'll get amazing views of the landscape. All going swimmingly well until we got off at Dubai Mall (as instructed). And then the hike. It's a long way to walk especially if you have little ones. There are travelators but you'll need to wear comfy shoes. Eventually arrive at the mall and either the 4 of us are totally thick or there are absolutely no signs whatsoever. We were directed through the mall to a book shop - it would give Foyles a run for it's money. It's huge. We walked and walked and walked and eventually popped out the other side to the entrance of the Burj Khalifa. 



I think we paid about £85 each for a trip up to the highest viewing deck on the 148th floor. Ushered in to a beautifully decorated waiting area at the bottom, we were fed dates and that funny tea (I guess it's our equivalent to wine and crisps) and then whisked passed the waiting crowds who were going up to Level 125. You know those fast passes in Disney, well this is one of those. 77 seconds later (and popping ears) we were up there. The whole floor is sumptuously decorated as you'd expect; white leather, shiny floors, fresh flowers, macaroons (oh those macaroons) and cold drinks. 


Amazing views and we were fortunate to see it in daylight and sunset. This was no coincidence, we planned it (booking a 5pm slot - which wouldn't work in the middle of July of course as sunset is much later!). There are viewing areas inside and out. Surprisingly it isn't at all windy up there and we were also invited down to Level 125 which still has amazing views. 



I'm not great with heights and I'm not going to lie, I felt a bit wobbly sitting here. It's not a case of husband looking at me adoringly, more that he was laughing at my vertigo.


But the views were incredible! I mean, they have to be don't they...it's the tallest building in the world!





Oh and if you do venture that way, you need to visit the Dubai fountain - quite a spectacle, particularly at night (shows are every half an hour - no cost for a ring side view!!). 




The kids also wanted to go over to the Atlantis Palm waterpark. We'd toyed with the idea of staying there but the Atlantis is kind of a bit special to us as we got married in the one in the Bahamas and I didn't want those memories tarnished in case it didn't come up to scratch. As it turned out, I'm kind of glad, the whole basement of the hotel is open to waterpark guests too. It was to say the least busy! Nah! Not for me. 

Being over at Jumeirah Beach, I was wondering if we'd missed out on the more traditional 'hotel' holiday. Now when I part with my money, I want the travel agent to sell me the dream. This is the dream (my photo so yes, I confirm this is the dream).



Lovely yes? Except no. This is what they don't show you. A direct view from the Atlantis!




I don't want to be laid by the pool or on the beach looking over to a building site. Even the Burj Al Arab (the ultra swanky 6 star hotel) had not so desirable views across the water. I'm sure once all the building work is complete, it will be wonderful but I kind of want that now. Don't get me wrong, we had an amazing time but I think my face was 



Errrr.... surprised! Anyway, the waterpark was rated as pretty good by the 3 kids. Sorry 2 kids and Dad. I pitched up on the beach looking at the building site all day. I think it cost about £50 each and then you can add on some sort of a meal deal plus entrance to the aquarium which is as good as the one in the Bahamas. 

We ate out at various restaurants near where we were staying, traditional cuisine, Italian, Indian, burgers and it was all excellent. If you enjoy a glass or two of wine, you would probably be better booking in at one of the many hotel restaurants as they serve alcohol. I made do with non-alcoholic Mojitos and pretended. 

A delicious Lebanese beef in tomatoes dish. 




And we sat outside for dinner each night which was totally unexpected (February can be chilly in the evening) but it was pleasant with a light jacket. Daytime temperatures were around 25 degrees (pretty much perfect for me). Rain was forecast - it never came (thank you God). 

Everyone speaks English, very good English so there are no language barriers. Even information boards and leaflets are translated. And surprisingly it doesn't seem to be a compulsive tipping culture. Yes you leave tips in restaurants and for cab drivers etc, in fact pretty much as it is in the UK. You can't move in the Caribbean without someone expecting a tip.

Dress wise, it did my head in trying to work out what to take beforehand. In the end, I settled for jumpsuits and dresses in the evening and dresses during the day. All covered the tops of my arms but were maybe a tad over the knee. It seems that a certain amount of tolerance is offered to visitors. Ashleigh wore a pair of denim cut offs for a photo shoot for Wrap (see previous post here). She couldn't wait to change quickly into something more appropriate even though we were in the beach vicinity. 

It's as expensive as you want it to be. Our restaurant bills seemed cheap in comparison to Marbella but then there's was no alcohol added on. Certainly there's enough choice to adapt to your own budget.  

Dubai is a place of mixed personalities, dare I say, a little bit schizophrenic.  It thinks it's Hong Kong, with it's sky scrapers and junker boats on the marina (well worth an evening visit by the way). It takes on the persona of the Caribbean on the many sandy (slightly gritty) beaches. But maybe it's Orlando with it's many miles of shiny shopping malls and water parks. Or those cardboard cut out buildings reaching high into the sky, a bit Universal Studios. A little bit Las Vegas too with the dancing waters of the Dubai Fountain. Whatever. It certainly has personality. And the people. Well everyone seems to rub along very nicely. Many different nationalities living and holidaying in harmony. It all feels very safe. 

And something I pondered (and marvelled) about all week.. what on earth do those Arabs use to keep their white kanduras so pristine. Am assuming it isn't Daz. A complete mystery to me. 



So what do I think about Dubai? We had a fabulous time, it was more than I ever imagined it would be. A kind of 'city' break by the sea. But but but, I think my heart still lies in the Caribbean. Sun lounger, uninterrupted views of blue seas, a never ending supply of cocktails, a good old book and not an exposed girder in sight. Now that's paradise! 

Pop over to Instagram for more photos.



Hope you enjoyed my Dubai round up. Sadly it seems a long time ago now, it's so bloody cold this week!

Back soon.





2 comments on "Dubai: An Alcohol Free Week, Camels Wearing Nappies & A Personality Disorder (in the nicest sense)"
  1. We stayed in a serviced apartment in Dubai - it was on the 35th floor so great views once I got used to the quesy feeling in my tummy! It was on the marina so lots of places to eat out etc.

    You are right about the traffic - we flew to Dubai, got a taxi to Abu Dhabi for 5 days (friends wedding) then got a taxi back to Dubai. All that seemed easy enough but we decided to get a taxi from the marina to the Dubai Mall. Holy moly the cars everywhere! I think I shut my eyes a lot of the time. Loads of people in our neck of the woods have been moving to Dubai in recent years but it's just not for me. A visit was nice, not sure I'd rush back.

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  2. Nice blog and beautiful photos from your dubai trip,truly in love with this post,i think your trip
    experience
    was nice.we have been making plan for a family trip to dubai,and your post is very helpful to me.

    ReplyDelete