We arrived at the smaller Dubai World City airport and caught the T55 bus to Ibn Battuta metro station (40 mins, Dhiram €1.5 but depending on the time of day they only run 1 or 2 an hour) after topping up a transport card at the airport (free with a small returnable deposit). Then we took a long journey on the red line past the Burj Khalifa, and over Dubai Creek to Union and just had a 5 min walk through the thick heat to the hotel. The Lankmark Grand Deira hotel was excellent for the price we paid (€32 online in advance but €46 from the hotel on the day). The room was an ample size, with a king-sized bed and a swimming pool on the roof. We watched Brazil beat Chile on penalties in reception and headed upstairs after a busy day.
Next day we decided to go sightseeing so we caught the metro to FGB station, and tried to walk to the Burj Al-Arab hotel (the world’s only 7-star hotel). It was nice seeing the bags they put around the dates on the palm trees but the scorching head was too much for us, even using hats and umbrellas. Luckily we spied a McDonald’s and stopped there for lunch before flagging down a taxi the rest of the way (€2). The security on the gate to the artificial island stopped us for not having a reservation (and for not dressing smart enough). We paused to take photos, shortly followed by everyone else at Wild Wadi waterpark and then strolled to the vast Jumeirah Beach hotel next door, where we were able to wander round a bit. We then took a bus (from an air-conditioned bus stop) to Jumeirah centre and got a taxi (€2) to the Palm monorail (€6 rtn). We had amazing views as it took us high down the middle of the Palm to the iconic Atlantis Palm hotel at the end. There we strolled around the shopping centre. It was interesting to see that the food places were covered to allow diners privacy during Ramadan, presumably. We took some pictures of the hotel and later enjoyed the views of the skyscrapers at the Dubai Marina on the way back from the artificial island to the mainland.
Before heading home we stopped at the Mall of the Emirates, where we saw the indoor ski slope. Then we saw the stunning fountains. What a spectacle! Breathtaking! Afterwards we headed home. It was a beautiful long day. Back at the hotel reception we had a message for us to call the airport as our cases had arrived, but we would have to collect them ourselves, and we left that for the next day.
Next morning Mark woke up and went to the airport to get our cases back. They looked a bit battered, covered in tags and stickers, and had probably been opened, but everything was still there. We rested until evening then went to the Mall Of the Emirates again to visit the Burj Khalifa (by far the tallest building in the world). After enjoying the fountains show, which happens every half an hour we decided to go up the Burj Khalifa. The lift shot us up to the 124th floor to the outdoor viewing gallery. There we watched the wonderful fountains from a new angle and took in the unparalleled views. They had electronic telescopes where you could see the view in daylight, or at night as well as what the area used to look like 40 years ago. Once back at Union station we stopped in the mall to buy Mark some new sandals, as his Karrimor ones had failed to break in. We got some nice Merrell ones and returned to the hotel. Next day we did a day trip to Abu Dhabi (see Abu Dhabi page).
The following morning we had a lie in before checking out and settling into the hotel reception to wait for our ONTC coach to Muscat, Oman. Mark checked the shopping centre for somewhere to eat, but everywhere was takeaway only, and we no longer had a hotel room to eat it, so he ended up having lunch in the hotel buffet (€12, all you can eat), which he said was nice. We then took a taxi to the bus stop (quite hard to find, but next to the Caravan restaurant in Deira, off All Riqqa st). We caught the 3pm coach (the only other one was 7:15am, and that seemed a bit early). Our route took us through the desert sand dunes, to a more rocky landscape where we dipped in and out of Oman before officially crossing the border (after about 90 mins drive). As UK citizens the visa cost us €8 each, prices for other nationalities may vary. On the way I got chatting to an ageing Hindu couple from Bombay (Meena and Hadish). They lived just near our hotel and kindly not only offered to give us a lift to our hotel, but to take us round Muscat the following day!
Our second visit to Dubai saw us there solely for a flight connection.
Our plane touched down at Dubai International and we had approximately a day before we caught our Emirates connection to Dar Es Salaam. They couldn’t give us free accommodation but they gave us a free meal voucher. We had been careful to put our overnight stuff and swimming kit in our hand luggage, as our bags were going straight to Dar. The airport was really flash and we watched a lift with two sets of doors side by side pass up and down next to a waterfall in one of the halls. To get to the Landmark Grand hotel we rode the metro again but just a short distance this time. As we passed the airport it was amazing to see just how long the terminal building was, and you could see why it’s one of the world’s largest buildings. We checked in and relaxed in our room before reappearing in the evening for a rooftop swim. We rose the following morning and took our bags on the metro back to the airport, where we used our vouchers to get croissants, crisps, pasta salads, chicken sandwiches, coffee and an iced fruit drink from Costa. The plane then sped us to Dar Es Salaam to commence the Africa leg of our journey.
The United Arab Emirates is a stunning place to visit!! What beautiful building and landscape!! However, we were very excited about our trip to Africa. We couldn’t wait!