Dubai: first impressions

  A while back I promised an article about my trip to Dubai. I was able to go there in October, when it was slowly starting to freeze in the Czech Republic, so a nice vacation to a warm destination was perfect.

I arrived in Dubai on Thursday around 1 am and headed straight to the hotel. Since I had no local currency, my first worry was to get cash for a cab. There was an atm right before passport control, so I was able to get cash and be calm. Since I checked in fairly early, my bag was one of the last ones to come onto the carousel. And I headed to find the cab.

It was pretty easy to find cabs and I was met with my first surprise. Since I am a woman and was traveling alone, I was immediately sent to a line of cabs with pink roofs. These are cabs designated for women with female drivers.

Arriving in the hotel at 2 am wasn’t too bad and I was able to check in quickly. The hotel, located in the Dubai Marina, was amazing. It was comfortable and we had a room overlooking the marina and the hotel pool.

In the morning, after a quick but delicious hotel breakfast, I went for a walk. At 9 am, the heat was almost unbearable and I immediately regretted wearing skinny jeans. I walked around the marina and was awed by the city. Everywhere I looked, new skyscrapers were being built, yet the overall feeling on the street was calm.

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I ducked in for a lemonade and to cool off in an airconditioned cafe to keep a headache from coming on.

And here’s my first tip: make sure that even though it’s hot outside, carry around something to throw over your shoulders inside. They generally blast their a/c pretty high.

I spent the rest of the day at the pool and lounging at the hotel, getting some work done and generally enjoying the time off.

The following day, I let myself sleep in, got ready and headed out to the famed Dubai Mall. It’s hard to find words to even describe it. First of all, four hours were not enough to even see everything. Second, thank god for the map, without them, you’re sure to never find your way out (I’m only half kidding here). And yes, I got lost once and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

And then – there’s a full-sized ice rink and an aquarium. So, it sets standards for shopping to a completely different level, I mean, how can you even shop without the option to ice skate or scuba dive? :)))

There wasn’t a single brand I could think of that wouldn’t be in the mall. So I did some shopping and decided to brave the outside heat and check out the Burj Khalifa.

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It is magnificent. When you’re standing next to it, you feel tiny. It’s crazy to think about how they managed to build it. And I was already excited about our planned visit to the top. After a small UBER mishap later, I arrived at the hotel and, this time, headed out to a business dinner.

Finally, Friday and the day I was going to get to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa arrived. We had prebooked tickets the day before for 10 am, so we headed out right after breakfast.

 

The entrance is through the Dubai mall, and first you go to a waiting area and through a security check. We went through a hallway with photos and information of how it was built and facts about the building. If you have a spare five million dollars, you can buy a two-bedroom apartment there.

On the way up, you get an impressive projection of the world’s tallest buildings and then you just take in the view. We went to the 146th floor, which has an outside viewing area. There are high glass panels, so you’re still closed off from the sides, but the top is open and you’re literally standing outside in the height of about 600 meters. It’s unbelievable.

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If you go to Dubai, visiting the Burj Khalifa and going to the top is a definite must. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Have fun!


READ MORE: 

Emirates: worth the hype?

How to plan your trip (without going crazy)


Emirates – worth the hype?

For the past year or so, I’ve been hearing a lot of praise for Emirates. I’ve flown with quite a few airlines already, but I kept hearing how Emirates is off the charts wonderful. Finally last week, I got my chance to check it out and see how the airline compares to its competition. So what did I think?

My Emirates plane!

Pre-flight

To be honest, I can’t judge their booking process, as I haven’t gone through it myself. But from the point of receiving my tickets onward, I was happy with the pre-flight process. A day before each departure (from Prague and then from Dubai on my way back), I received a text message, reminding me of my upcoming departure. What was great about this text was that it included a link to online check-in, so I could complete that fairly quickly. At the airport, it was pretty standard – bag drop, quick coffee, security. The one thing I have to say is that on the way back, my check-in, passport and security checks were completed in a total of 15 minutes. That was a first for me, so I was fairly impressed and at a loss for what to do in two and a half hours I had until boarding.

Flight

On my way there, I sat in the very last row of the plane. I don’t really sleep on planes, so I’m not bothered by travelers or flight attendants frequently walking by my seat. I was flying in a Boeing, but I was immediately impressed with their in flight entertainment, which you can start watching as soon as you sit down. Boarding was a quick process and I even got lucky – the seat next to me was empty – probably the only empty seat on the plane. And on medium to long haul flights, this is something I always hope for. I held my breath and was so happy when they closed the cabin door and it was certain that I won’t be fighting for my spot on the armrest. The flight was almost entirely a smooth ride, with no major turbulence or other disruptions.

In-flight entertainment

Even before takeoff, we got hot towels to freshen up and headsets were already on our seats. As soon as the safety video was over, I started looking through my movie choices. The selection was impressive and included several movies that I have been planning to see. Which means that precisely at that point I decided that I’d use the six or so hours to catch up on movies and tv, rather than sleep. (I was grateful for the same selection on the way back, because even then I didn’t watch everything I wanted to).

The in flight entertainment was so great that I didn’t even feel the need to test the in flight WiFi or turn on my phone, which were also within the realm of possibility on these flights. 

Emirates food

Cabin service was amazing. When mealtime came, I was worried that, as often happens in the back of the plane, I wouldn’t be able to choose my meal. And guess what? They still had chicken when they reached the last row of the plane, which almost never happens. And it was not just edible, it was good. I also fell in love with their adorable mini snacks that were a part of the meal. But my favorite part? When they collected my tray ahead of time, so I didn’t have to wait for the cart to reach my row.

 

Emirates luggage tag.

Does it stack up?

Both of my flights, Prague to Dubai and the return journey a few days later, were great and comfortable experiences and we landed before I could get bored.

My conclusion: you have to try it. It’s still an airline, but if you’re traveling far and want to feel at least a little pampered even in economy class, do it.

More details on my adventure in Dubai are coming soon, so make sure to check in later!


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How we flew with Ryan Air

How to plan your trip (without going crazy)