FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Chilling out in Dubai

Posted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates by folkestonejack on April 21, 2019

The penultimate stage of our homeward journey saw us land in Dubai at 5.25am after a 14.5 hour flight from Sydney, stagger through the long queues at passport control, collect our baggage and then take a cheap taxi to a hotel in the city. Our choice of hotel had a lot to do with the availability of an early check-in rate that allowed us to crash out in our room at 7am. It was good to escape the heat – it was already hot and forecast to hit 37 degrees in the afternoon.

The other benefit of our hotel was a rather splendid rooftop terrace with a stunning view of the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa was inaugurated in 2010 and has a recorded height of 828m (2,717ft) and more than 160 stories. The record might not last that much longer as the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach a height of 1km (3,281ft) when construction is completed in 2021.

The view of the Burj Khalifa from our hotel

Early in the planning process I imagined that we would check out the Etihad Museum, the historical district and the Burj Khalifa. As the trip drew closer we pared this back, balking at the cost of the high level views from the Burj Khalifa, then wrote off almost everything after discovering that our energy and engagement levels had been zapped. It seemed that holiday mode had been well and truly switched off, so we just took it easy from that point on.

The wind-down included one of the most enjoyable meals that I can remember – a ‘Fifty flavours of Vietnam’ brunch at Hoi An, a Vietnamese restaurant located in the Shangri-La. The combination of superb food, a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and exceptional service from every waitress made for a perfect couple of hours. Just what we needed at this point of the trip.

On being seated we were presented with a menu and at first expected that we would need to choose. Instead, waitresses brought out small dishes of every starter from the menu, followed by a traditional noodle soup with chicken, then small dishes with every main (including an exquisite and incredibly tasty portion of sea-bass marinated in onion and ginger) served with a large bowl of fried rice and finally a couple of desserts. I guess you could say that it was a bit like a Vietnamese tapas or an 18 course banquet.

The Dubai Metro

Although we didn’t go to the top of the Burj Khalifa we certainly got a terrific view of the building from the rooftop terrace of our hotel as the sun set and the lights of the city switched on. It was ever so slightly terrifying looking over the edge and down to the Dubai Metro line crossing the spaghetti like tangle of the motorway!

Our time in Dubai might not have been as packed as we expected, but this proved to be the perfect chill out ahead of our final leg – an eight hour flight to London.


A little luck in Dubai

Posted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates by folkestonejack on March 30, 2019

Our travels had brought us to Dubai Terminal 3 at the mid-way point on a journey to New Zealand to visit family and see a little more of the country. The first leg, from London Gatwick to Dubai, saw us arrive perfectly on time and in a suitably exhausted state for a night’s recovery in the airside Dubai International Hotel. However, opening the curtains the following morning brought the unwelcome sight of thick fog and the news that many flights had been severely delayed or even cancelled.

Our Emirates A380 for the journey from Dubai to Auckland

The Emirates flights covering the 8,823 miles to and from Auckland are among the longest commercial flights in the world. The outbound leg from Dubai tends to be a little shorter, clocking in at just over 16 hours, compared to 17 hours for the return. If you travel to and from New Zealand you will probably flown plenty of long flights, but somehow the extra couple of hours on this routing pushes me through a psychological barrier. In short, I have been dreading this leg of our travels for some time!

The in-bound flight from Auckland (EK449) this morning had been diverted to Dubai World Central International Airport due to the fog, followed by a 22 minute flight between the Dubai airports that effectively saw it arrive at the right airport three and a half hours late. Taking that into account, along with the many other delayed flights on the boards, we felt extremely lucky to be boarding more or less on time. Although our flight (EK448) left around 90 minutes late, most of that time was recovered and we landed just 20 minutes behind schedule.

Landing in Auckland

The flight was made considerably less painful by a late upgrade that gave us a little more space and the novelty of drinking cocktails in the bar on the upper deck mid-flight. As a once-in-a-lifetime experience it was pretty neat and ensured that we were a little fresher than usual when we stepped off the plane and into the welcoming arms of family in the terminal. Time to chill out and relax!