Lovely, easy flight from Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, to Dubai, after our mad dash to get to the airport with just enough time to board the plane. 6 hours, middle row of 4 seats between the 2 of us, great entertainment system. Greg watched Diana and a submarine movie, I watched Mama Mia … twice. Because, you know …. leaving Sweden, ABBA, Meryl. I’m tempted to watch it again on the flight from Dubai to ADL, but I should probably use the time more constructively and watch other movies instead, or sleep.
Our 2 days in Dubai have been great. We stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment at the Fortune Grand Apartment Hotel in Bur Dubai. Not far from the airport and close to a metro station. The apartment was bigger than our house, with more toilets but fewer books. We didn’t bother about using the kitchen, but the washing machine came in handy. We spent yesterday getting out and getting some sun. After 2 weeks of absolutely no sun, it was a bit of a shock to be out in such bright light … and all the cars, and people and urbanisation took some getting used to, although it was nice to walk on footpaths and not have to worry about slipping on ice.
We took the train to Dubai Mall, which is a huge, multi-storey shopping complex near Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. We wandered around there for several hours grazing – frozen custard (J) and chocolate thickshake (G) at the Shake Shack, giant pistachio macaron (J) and rhubarb tart (G) at Paul’s French patisserie and cafe (and then we went back there for lunch today, sitting in the non-smoking section of the balcony and it was fantastic), a Whoopie Pie from the Hummingbird Bakery and then a browse through Waitrose supermarket and some time sitting in the sun out by the fountain. We thought it ‘performed’ every 30 minutes, but it seemed to be switched off for maintenance while we were there. Greg was keen to see the beach, and the easiest way to get there is by taxi, but the queue for a cab at Dubai Mall was so long that we gave up on that idea and took another train to the Mall of the Emirates to find dinner, then headed back to the apartment for a good sleep.
Today we went out to try and find breakfast down by Dubai Creek, but things here don’t start early, so we gave up and decided to wait until we’d checked out of the hotel and then have lunch. We don’t fly out until 2am, so we asked the hotel to keep our bags and went off to do some more exploring. Friday is the first day of the weekend here, and the metro is closed until around 2pm, as we discovered when we couldn’t get into the station …. so we caught a cab back to Dubai Mall. After lunch at Paul’s, we caught a ‘LadyTaxi’ to Jumerah Beach. There are 2 state-run taxi companies, one of which features cabs driven by women …. for women (and a man if he is with a woman, but no solo men or groups of men). Our driver was a young Filipina who had been driving a cab for 2 weeks. Prior to that, she had worked as a maid. She has lived in Dubai for 2 years and hopes to save enough money so that she can go home. But the cost of living in Dubai is much, much higher than in the Philipines – she rents a bed space in an apartment here (not even a whole room!), and it costs as much as renting a whole house back home. She told us that fuel costs 70c per litre. She was really good to talk to, and the best cab driver we had here – the men are all wanna-be racing car drivers.
We sat on the public beach for a while, then went to the ‘private’ beach, entry fee $1.60 per person or $6.60 per car. Being the weekend, the place was packed with families having picnics, barbecues, swimming, playing, and a worrying number of kids running around with lethal-looking kebabs on skewers. There were lots of trees and grassy areas, but the actual beach and sand in the private part was pretty much the same as the public beach. We walked a few kms to the nearest train station and slowly made our way back to collect our bags and head to the airport. Greg got an airport lounge pass when he got his new Amex card, and we’re currently sitting in the Marhaba lounge, whiling away some time until 2am. It’s very nice – free Wifi, food, drinks and comfortable seats.
I’d come back here for a stopover anytime, it was an interesting place to visit, I’ve found more things here that I’d love to see and do, and it breaks up a long trip to or from home very nicely.