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!


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How to plan your trip (without going crazy)


How to plan your trip (without going crazy)

DSCN2952Originally I was going to write this post while planning my three week trip to the US in September, but because, as usual, life happened and I had to cancel last minute. But even though I didn’t go, I went through the entire process of trip planning, so I decided I would share with you how I do it.

Even though it depends on what sort of a trip you’re planning – weekend getaway, road trip across a foreign country or a beach getaway, you have things to learn and plan, so here are my tips

  1. Flight (alternatively bus or train tickets, or car route). Basically, how are you getting to your destination (or the start point of your road trip) and back? It’s always good to start with this so that you have definite time information about the beginning and end of your trip. Personally, I check on websites that compare multiple airlines, so that I get an idea of the prices and can pick who I want to fly with. But I usually end up buying tickets with the airlines themselves, they are usually ever so slightly cheaper and the terms might be better. So it’s worth it to check out both the airline itself and other websites.
  1. Now that you know how and when you’re getting to your destination, it’s time to decide whether or not you will be in one destination for the entire trip or if you’ll be moving around. If you’re going to be moving around and spending time in different places, the next step is to check out transportation. Will you be renting a car? Taking a bus? Train? Look up arrangements, costs and travel times and possibilities. As was the case with my trip to the US, I looked at a few bus companies and AmTrak. I ended up picking a combination of buses that suited my route and budget the best. Map out your entire journey – if I plan on moving around, I like printing a map and drawing my routes in or looking them up on Google.
  1. Hotels! This is my favorite part. I love looking at places to stay and sleep. And since you have your individual trips planned out, you know where you will be staying. Look up possibilities and make sure to look at customer reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor. Also, don’t trust the amount of stars a hotel has. We’ve seen so many different three star hotels – ranging from nearly luxury suites to tiny moldy rooms.
  1. Now that you know the most important things, it’s time to see what you can do and see when you’re there! Obviously, if all you want to do is lie on a beach, your job is super easy. If you want to see as much as possible, look at things that are reachable by public transport or within a couple hours’ drive.
  1. And, most importantly, HAVE FUN!! Be flexible, don’t freak out when things don’t go exactly according to plan, they rarely do. But that’s what makes life interesting :)

My final tip is – you never know when you’ll have or won’t have access to the internet or a printer. Make sure you have the most important documents printed – plane/bus/train tickets, hotel reservations and possibly a list of places you want to go.

Is there anything you like to do when you plan a trip? Let me know below :) Fun travels!


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