Sunday 2 February 2014

A week's holiday in Dubai

Well my first impressions of Dubai wasn't great, but the place has grown on me as the week has gone on.

We're staying at a hotel on the beach front, the Sheraton Jumeriah, with breakfast included and full use of the pool and sun loungers. There are a couple of public free beaches, where you bring your own towels and chairs or for 5 AED per visit you can use the hotels towels and sun loungers.

 The Metro is easy to use and for 16 AED per day you can travel the full length of the city including to and from the airport and all the buses from the station to the beach or inland, be prepared to stand for most of the journey during peak times. You can pick up a bus and metro route map from the terminals, which also names the attractions and hotels so you know where to get on and off. Standing in the rear carriage gives you excellent views of the City.

The Emirates Mall and Dubai Mall can be reached directly from the Metro, although be prepared for a bit of a walk. There is free wifi in Dubai Mall, although the wifi in Emirates Mall requires you have a cell number to have a message sent to, to receive your password.

There are plenty of tours available. The best value is a boat taxi across the river in Old Dubai at 1 AED each way. For a longer trip or a trip round Palm Island out in the Gulf prices start from 150 AED.

The only tour I took part in was the visit to 'at the top' at the Burj Khalifa, The World's tallest tower. I was however disappointed to discover that visitors only travel to 452ms of the 828m height on floor 124 of 160, still the views of Dubai were pretty amazing. It cost 150 AED if you book a time slot in advance or 400 AED if you turn up without a booking and there is space.

Prices appear to be in general cheaper than the UK, but the cost of eating and drinking is far more expensive than South Africa and alcohol is restricted mainly to hotels, there are non alcoholic beers/champagne/cocktails on the menu.

I particularly enjoyed a visit to the old part of Dubai, reached by the Metro and a short walk and a river trip. I felt very comfortable in the Souq, I managed to get out without buying a Pashmina or any real 'fake' goods as they described the phones and handbags they had for sale.

I also spent a lot of time on foot, walking around Dubai Marina. For me living in South Africa I loved the freedom to be out and about, find free wifi and use public transport. I did however get the feeling that I was indoors all the time, I was reminded of Las Vegas and the 'falseness' of the malls and hotels there. The outdoors, indoors.

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