Dubai is GMT+4 and uses the dirham (approx = 20p)
Wow, what can be said about Dubai! What a crazy place.
My trip started off very well, getting off the plane from Turkey I was the first to customs and went straight through – luckily with a British passport they just stamp and you go – no visa required. Ofcourse that just meant I had to wait longer for my luggage, which I never usually check in but annoyingly Pegasus airlines only do 8kg onboard!
Once through the airport I got a cheap coffee (don’t buy £5 starbucks – there’s a £1 coffee vending machine just next to it!). I drew some cash (500AED, approx £100) and found the little shop where you can buy a silver ‘Nol’ travel card. This works out cheaper than buying individual tickets, even if you just do one trip. As I had landed at Terminal 2 there was no metro stop so I had to get a bus to Nadha station. I quickly found the bus just outside the door and across the street and within 15 minutes was on the metro. Dubai is very clean and efficient and the metro is no different – it gives the London tube a run for it’s money.
One thing I didn’t realise about Dubai is that it’s massive! I mean, like HUGE! I think people make a mistake of seeing it on the map near the coast in a long thin line and think it’s small like Barcelona – it’s not. The metro is basically one really really long line and has about 50 stops and takes about 2 hours end to end. Also you can’t walk anywhere in Dubai because it’s just massive buildings and huge 10 lane highways everywhere and very little sidewalks. Luckily the metro is relatively cheap (75p – £1.50 per trip).
I was staying with my friends Mike and Lizzie who live in Dubai Marina, which is the very touristy, foreign area (although Dubai is 80% foreigners so I guess everywhere is the foreign area). I got off at Jumeira Lake Towers and walked about 15 minutes to their high rise block (everything in Dubai is a high rise block). It was still early morning but Lizzie stayed home to let me in before heading off to work. Since I had the day to myself I went for a stroll along the beach which is just a few minutes from their house. Initially I was suprised by the amount of people but then realised that even though it’s winter this is actually Dubai’s busy season because summer is way too hot. I walked all the way down to a bar called Zero Gravity which looked really posh and was strangley playing house music at 10am. Then I walked back along the beach, bought some relatively affordable (£3) McDonald’s and then wandered along the marina, which has a nice canal-side walkway flanked by expensive yachts and fancy apartment blocks.
The next day me and Mike went shopping for a phone at one of Dubai’s many malls and I was suprised to find electronics are very affordable in Dubai – in fact cheaper than London for the most part. I didn’t end up buying one though as they didn’t have what I was looking for – that is, a cheap phone with an excellent camera – about as rare as a unicorn.
In the afternoon we walked about an hour to a bar called Barasti, which reminded me a lot of Ibiza – big comfy sofa’s around a swimming pool on the beach with house music playing and a sun setting behind palm trees. Oh and also excessivly expensive drinks! Mike was kind enough to gift me a few beers. 🙂
That evening I bought some ingredients at a local store which were not too expensive and made lasagne for Mike, Lizzie and their housemate. Then we got rather drunk on free wine Mike had been given by a client he did some work for.
We spent the next few days on the beach, exploring some other malls, the Burj Al-Arab, the Palm Jumeira and visiting a tattoo artist to plan Mike’s next piece. We also had some excellent cheap food at a Middle-eastern restaurant and drinks around the exceptionally posh swimming pool at the Ritz-Carlton. On Wednesday we watched an endless stream of skydivers from JBR beach diving from the Skydive Dubai plane that takes off about every 20 minutes. I would love to done it but it’s way out of my budget.
On Thursday Lizie left to go to Greece for Christmas and Mike left for Sri Lanka, where I would meet him in 2 days. At the same time I got very sick so I spent the next two days just lying in bed and updating my blog.
On my last day I went past the Burj Khalifa on the way to airport and watched the dancing fountain show that they have every day at 6pm. I don’t suggest doing this with all your luggage – I didn’t realise that the fountains are actually a really long walk from the Burj Khalifa metro station, although fortunately the walk way does run through the biggest mall in the world and so has aircon and travelators all along the way.
Dubai airport has some of the cheapest duty-free I’ve ever seen so it’s a good place to stock up on cheap alcohol, cigarettes, cologne and all the other crap they sell at duty-free. They also have comfortable reclining seats in the waiting area so if your flight is delayed due to the abnormal mist that only happens once a year at least you have some nice to wait. It was totally worth it though because the view of Dubai in the mist from the airplane might possibly be the most surreal thing I’ve ever witnessed.