Dubai 2013

I’ve been to Dubai a large number of times now, it always tends to give it away when your family here say “Welcome Back”. I do have both family and friends who have lived in the region for over thirteen years and have seen the place change drastically over the year.

This particular visit was for my birthday so we flew Emirates from Heathrow. Friendly staff, some beyond the call of duty. Great entertainment system. Wi-fi! And food that tasted like it actually came out of an oven and not regurgitated from someone or something…. lovely food!

On Previous trips, as we’ve been a larger group we’ve sampled many of the vacation villas available in the region – which were all of impeccable standards. Our favourite located on the Palm Jumeirah.
This time, we stayed at the Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, going out towards Jebel Ali.Conveniently located next to the Ibn Battuta Mall. On reflection I probably would have picked somewhere a bit more centralised but we got a great price.

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At 7pm and still 33 degrees. The daytime does prove to be a challenge at this time of the year, but you can get some really good bargains for holidays at this time of the year just limit the time you spend directly in the sun if you can.

The hotel was Arabian themed with 11 restaurants, really good meeting facilities and a rooftop swimming pool and gym. We managed to sample both. Our room was lovely with a beautiful bathroom complete with screen.

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Dubai is somewhere you have access to everything and so I do stress you can enjoy food on whatever budget you want to. You can eat at KFC every day, travel to Old Dubai and eat authentically, or eat at 5 star restaurants, or meet in the middle and enjoy all those eateries from America that you can find at the various malls. Taxis are really cheap and the Metro is fantastic and also cheap – so get involved.

On our first day, we got up early ( which seems to come incredibly easy when you’re on holiday) and tucked into breakfast.

We left soon after and took a taxi to Dubai Outlet Mall in Al Ain, this was far, we might as well have been going to the airport. 100 Dhms later we arrived at this rather small (by Dubai standards) mall. It was actually really empty and the shops weren’t too impressive, as for this “half price mondays” thing we’d read about, I think that was a complete myth…. I however purchased 2 sandals at the bargain bottom price of 50dhms and a case for my iPad by Charles and Keith ( which can also hold my laptop) . Didn’t really warrant the 200dhm round trip though.

When we got back to the hotel we decided we’d take the complimentary shuttle bus to Oceana Beach Club on the Palm which the hotel has a relationship with, it was at this point I realised I no longer had my sunglasses.

I told Concierge, who told Security and the lovely Prakesh went above and beyond and I’ve now named him Columbo! He took out his little notebook, took down the details of the time I came in,what taxi we came in, what the glasses looked like etc. He also made me stand in front of the camera so the cctv guys could see what I look like.. he sent us off to Oceana and said to check in with him when we got back…

The Palm Jumeirah is roughly 15 / 20 mins from the hotel and is part of the apartments at the beginning of the man made island which is the Palm. The club was gorgeous, equipped with infinity pool, beach and service from your lounger… we spent a couple of hours here.

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On return to the hotel, I was told they checked the cctv, found the taxi’s licence plate, saw i didn’t have the glasses in my hand, called the taxi company, got in direct contact with the driver, and got him to drop the glasses back, at NO CHARGE! … to say I was chuffed was an understatement, however a great example of some absolutely fantastic quality service.It really was above and beyond what I expected and I was incredibly grateful despite!

That evening we went to dinner at a restaurant called West 14th, which is a steakhouse actually on Oceana Beach club, very good food and a good recommendation from my cousin who lives here..

The next Day, We did the 4 minute walk to Ibn Battuta Metro station, my one gripe, this is probably the only mall station that is not linked to the actual mall, we therefore had to walk in the heat, thankfully it’s a short walk!

We purchased our Gold Class All Day Pass for 30dhms and took the train to Burjuman. Gold Class is a separate carriage for those who want some extra luxury.. naturally!And is the first carriage on each train. The second is for women and children only…The remainder for every one else which is important information to know when you first embark on a Metro journey.

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The Journey was pleasant and most importantly air conditioned. Once at the station we took a taxi to Bur Dubai Water taxi station. We jumped on the abra taxi, which is only 1Dhm ( which you hand to the man on the boat) and took it over to Deira to Old Dubai which is where the souks are. These souks were spices and textiles mostly and if you go here, get prepared to get your haggle on and be hassled to some degree!

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I picked up some arabic spices, some chocolates and fridge magnets, I then headed to the pashmina shop… this guy in here, refused to tell me the price of one scarf… This will happen.

Me: ” Young Man – How much is one of the scarves?”
Matey; ” I’ll give you good price madam”
Me: ” You didn’t answer my question, which country are you from?”
Matey: ” Which country you like madam…?”
Okay, I could see how this was going to go, after he pulled down the 30th pashmina for me to look at, I then said, “stop! Right, I like 4 and 4 only, now how much?! ”
Matey: “1200dhms”
Me: “How much?! Nah nope, no way! but thank you! ”
Matey: ” Okay give me 1000dhms”
Me: “Noooo, Definitely no. I didn’t even bring that sort of money to the market”
Fast forward 20 mins…
Matey: ” Okay 200dhms, come on maam you are killing my profit”
Me: ” No it’s okay, see I understand, I want you to make profit, I just can’t afford it, so I’m going to leave it.
Matey: ” Okay -* types in 180 in the calculator”
Me: * types in 165 in the calculator”
Matey: “Deal”
LMAO… What an experience, but I’ve got to tell you after all of that, I was out of energy, so back on the abra, to the taxi to the metro we went back toward Jebel Ali, getting off at Mall of the Emirates this time.

This is the shopping mall known as the one with the ski slope.. Lol ( SkiDubai) – See it to believe it. but most importantly iHOP… Yes Choc Chip pancakes, had me a very happy lady!

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That night we were supposed to go out to some clubs for ladies night, but decided to go to Maroc Bar and Lounge in our hotel, it turned out to be a good choice. We got our free champagne, some quality shisha and some gorgeous outdoor surroundings. To give you some further information. Tuesdays known as Ladies Night is in effect at most nightclubs and bars throughout Dubai. Most Venues will either give you a few drinks stamps or will offer a free drinks policy on some drinks for the entire evening. Some people therefore visit a few places for the night.

The next day we took the Metro to Dubai Mall ( the world’s largest mall). It has an aquarium, underwater zoo and an indoor theme park ( as you do) and ice rink. So we spent the afternoon in the Aquarium and then the cheesecake factory for their amazing selections of cheesecakes.

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Dubai Mall is also the way in which you get to Burj Khalifa ( the world’s tallest building) make sure you pre – book these tickets online as their 125Dhms, but if you pay when you arrive it’s a whopping 400Dhms!Try and get the sunset slot, but be prepared that this slot is the first to sell out. We went through some airport style security and into this lift that looked like a Justin Timberlake video with lights… and ventured up to the 124th floor…

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Naturally at that moment, some prince decided to walk through with his aides and get fast tracked, I did speak to one of the aides, I was clearly feeling brave, but not brave enough to take a picture, I wasn’t prepared to risk Jail! But we did have a shared vision…

The view was pretty stunning, it’s probably the first time you’re reminded you are indeed in the middle of the desert, other than being on the dunes on a safari trip. Although the website says it takes an hour and a half, I’m not sure it does! I found we were in and out quite quickly, despite some queuing.

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Once we were out, we went for a coffee and a visit to Sega’s indoor theme park and was crazy enough to go on a ride called SpinGear.. someone remind me never to do that again, i hate rides that spin yet clearly omitted the fact spin was in the title.

Then out onto the Fountain Lake outside, this was 65Dhms, again booked in advance on line, you jump onto the abra taxi and wander out for quite a peaceful 20 mins.. you then watch the fountain show which are fountains that dance to whatever music is playing, It was a nice way to finish the day off but I’d like to see it at night.We did the very long walk internally back to the metro and jumped on to internet city to go and have a home cooked meal at my cousins house, which was lovely.

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A friend of mine, Masterstepz has been deejaying in Dubai for a few years and DJ / Hosts a night called Fresh @ Sublime Lounge which is in the Ibis Hotel World Trade Centre, downtown. It was a really good night out with some good music.

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The Next Day was my birthday so I’d say the most important day of the week! We took a taxi over to the Palm to the Atlantis Hotel, to the Saffron Restaurant. We had a table booked for brunch ( over 21’s only!) at 12:30pm. Friday brunches are very popular and happen across Dubai every Friday. Our one was 435Dhms. We booked online by email in advance. I’d argue that this is probably one of the best brunches in Dubai so I would suggest it’s a must try. We had Non – stop champagne and as much food as you can handle. Also including, Pimms, Jaegar bombs,Vodka Shots, Frozen Daquiri’s with Vodka and some watermelon and pineapple thingies with alcohol in it… all pretty much on tap.

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The DJ started the music off nicely and people came in looking lovely, lets just say at 3:30pm, there was slightly different view! Loll reminiscent to a karaoke stag / hen do. A very fun day.
From here we headed onto a complimentary bus and went to N’Dulge, Dubai’s 1st daytime club ( 4 – 8pm) and partied the night away…( well Day)

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On previous trips we have done the Sand Dunes combined with a Camel Ride and Bedouin Dinner – Also driving cars on the Dunes – A must try if you come. Arabian Adventures is probably one of the most reputable companies to use for this.

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