I still haven’t decided whether it’s best to break a travel post into many posts or to just write one really long one. Warning: this is one of those long ones. I welcome your comments!
A number of months ago, there was what we call a mistake fare posted by a Norwegian airline, Wideroe, that many took advantage of. I’m not sure I ever even thought of going to Dubai before, but here I was with a $271 round trip flight on United Airlines booked for a weekend in January, and I was very excited about it.
When I was choosing where to stay, I wanted a hotel that was a mix between old and new. I was deciding between a few hotels and posted my question on Twitter. Within moments, literally, Radisson Blu Deira Creek responded saying I should choose their hotel. So I did! I booked the two nights on points. Generally Club Carlson hotels offer a standard award rate (for a standard room) and a more expensive club award rate (for a club room, which includes breakfast and lounge access). I opted for the club rate – I find that what you get for the extra points is well worth it.
My life is kind of incredible. I have more coincidences, freaky stories, premonitions and extra-sensory perceptions than most people. These sort of incidents multiply when I travel. This just adds to the magic of travel!
My flight was on United Airlines, JFK to Dulles, and then Dulles to Dubai. On the international flight, I was seated in Economy Plus, and met another mileage runner next to me who had interesting stories and plenty of free drink coupons.
One of the flight attendants looked familiar, as if I might have known him in the very distant past, but I couldn’t place him. It gnawed at me, so finally, a few hours later, in the galley, I asked him where he was from. He said Ohio. Then he said he was originally from New York. I asked “Where in New York?” He named a small town on Long Island. Without missing a beat, I said, ” I think we went to High School together.” It clicked at that moment. Ernie? Kathy? We hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years! He was so animated. We talked high school gossip for a while and he introduced me to his wife, who was another flight attendant on the flight. Of course, the same crew was working my return flight home Monday morning, so I got to do this again! It sure is nice when a whole flight crew is friendly!
I arrived in Dubai. I was given a quick line pass for passport control, but that line seemed longer than the others.
Oh look, the band was waiting for me!
The hotel is not far from the airport, but I had the luxury of having a driver waiting for me to take me to the hotel. (Many hotels offer this service to their guests – so if you are ever going to UAE, ask if this will be included.)
My room was lovely, and had a balcony looking out over Deira Creek. The room:
There was a Nespresso machine, fruit and the cutest social media cupcakes waiting for me!
The balcony and the view of Deira Creek. I loved the view! The boats reminded me of Sinbad the Pirate stories.
Friday night was a blur. I arrived late and was jet-lagged and exhausted, and wasn’t sure where to walk and what to do. I just went to the lounge and had some cocktails (they made mean Manhattans!) and hor d’oeuvres and had interesting conversations with the other guests. I went for a walk along the Creek, then went to sleep.
I should note that the hotel is actually comprised of two buildings – the passageway connecting the two buildings has various shops as well as the restaurant where breakfast is served.
The breakfast at the hotel was phenomenal. There was a buffet, offering traditional breakfast items, as well as Asian and Arab food items. I really loved the Japanese cod.
Saturday was a busy day. I went for a short run (always a good way to familiarize oneself with a new area) and found a Citibank along the way so I could withdraw money without big fees (yay!). Some of the photos along my run:
I then went out for a walk to the various markets, called souks. I found my way to the spice souk and the gold souk. The souks were about a 20 minute walk from the hotel. The temperatures were a comfortable 70’s.
Fashion: in case you are curious, I wore a black skirt, that is not tight, and was about knee-length. I wore a sleeveless, but not revealing top, and brought along a scarf. I mainly wore the scarf like a shawl around my shoulders, but had it ready in case I walked into an area where it seemed appropriate to cover one’s head.
After visiting the souks, it was time to see a mall. Dubai is all about their malls, and though I didn’t want to spend my weekend indoors seeing malls, I had to go see the Dubai Mall, where the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, is located. I took the Dubai Metro there, which is clean and easy to navigate.
The mall was huge. Store after store, organized by category. In other words, all electronic stores were together. All children’s stores were together. All bookstores were together. An interesting concept that I’d never pondered before. The food court was huge as well.
I had bought tickets at least a month in advance to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa. Tickets online cost about $25 or $30, as opposed to more than $100 at the Mall. Although there was a fair amount of waiting on lines, it was orderly and entertaining. The elevator ride was a trip, with flashing lights and disco music! The view from the top was unreal. I really liked the event, and recommend it.
I rushed back to my hotel because in the interim, a friend had contacted me saying he’d was going to be in Dubai for a few hours that evening (he was on a mileage run). So, we met up, had dinner and drinks at my hotel, and he headed back to the airport.
Sunday was my final day in Dubai. After a run and breakfast, I decided I would take a local boat, called an abra, across Deira Creek to the Old Souk, also known as a textile market. The boat ride cost only a few cents (dirham) and took about 5 minutes.
I walked around the Souk. Looking at the items for sale. It was nice, but the salespeople were so pushy, it made me uncomfortable. I walked around the area, looked at the many textile shops, and the Dubai Museum, and headed back across the Creek.
The remainder of the afternoon, I wandered the streets, walked into some shops and then made my way back to the hotel to pack up and go to the airport.
And then, the weekend was over and I was back at the airport, I went to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge. It was rather small. While putting ice cubes in my scotch, I looked up and there was another friend I didn’t expect to see. He’s from San Francisco, another traveler. I boarded the United Airlines plane headed to Dulles, was greeted by the same crew I flew in with on Thursday night and was on my way back home.