It's the last night of luxury living with big thanks to Bettina and Ranna for putting me up.
The flight over was the generic tale...no sleep, uncomfortable and basically an easy jet experience. Although at London Stansted the check in guy was brilliant, he'd left Italy to go travelling and did such a good job of it he got as far as London, but he did make a point of saying had been to Spain as well! For the second leg of my flight he put me on the extra leg room seat...now at 5 foot 3 I don't usually have an issue with the standard seats. Ah well, I'll happily accept the little bonus (and the whole row to myself).
A brief touch down in Istanbul to change flights and got chatting to Mohammed from Holland in the transit queue, also heading Dubai. We went to kill the wait in Starbucks, where he insisted on buying my drink (chai tea not that vile bagged English stuff) and sandwich. I justified it as $15 well saved. Oh, he did tell me that if you want to make money...work in security in Iraq as his mate earns $30,000 a month!!!
Finally at 2.30am I land and FYI taxi drivers in Dubai are not like the London cabbies. They don't know where places are...fine but they are not too hot in following directions. 'Please can you come off at exit 42?' 'Sorry madam there was no 42, only 43 then 41.' Hmmm...not the usual numbering order. Oh well, after several phone calls, I'm finally reunited with Bettina.
Luckily these few days are the chilled holiday style with the two lovely ladies. The first morning began with an unexpected game of musical statues with the cutest 5 year old I've met. Then being made to feel old while he showed me how to work the iPad properly, well, least I beat him at the bowling game with 6 strikes (ok, I was being a tad too competitive especially against a 5 year old). The afternoon had us on a 4x4 sand dune busting and show tourist experience (Ranna wisely avoiding joining us). Great fun being driven around the dunes, white knuckling it and feeling like the car might roll at any point.
The show, hmm, that ended up being so horrendous it was hilarious. You got a free henna, which looked like a bird had pooed on your hand and a free shisha which lasted all of 2 minutes. But the creme de la creme was the show with 'renowned international belly dancers' where it would be fair to say I could have done a better job. I didn't think shaking one shoulder counted. The ultimate finale was the guys dressed up as a horse and stilted tall men, just wandering about the stage. Yep, it was bizarrely entertaining. Bettina put up the obligatory Facebook picture but decided we went on a 'dessert safari' but during the buffet we never did find dessert (except some porridge style sludge...best avoided).
Friday was the reopening of the Marlin Blue Ibiza, a beach party where must of Dubai turned up. Epic place and event with plenty of booze, sun, sea and sand. Lucky Bettina had a go on this guys flyboard which looked amazing. Wish I'd have had a go. Randomly at the end of the night, I go to get my flip flops from under the sun lounger and they'd gone. Some random had managed to go home in mine and leave their pair for me....ironically the same size as mine. Someone will be disappointed the next morning as mine where fake havaianas (called guavaianas from Argentina) that ripped my feet apart and I was left with a brand new pair of havaianas. A big improvement! We got a great driver who agreed to drive straight to downtown Dubai for lots of well needed Indian street food at Ravi's!! Which is where we ended up less than 24 hours later after spending the day chilling and watching the kite surfers down on the beach.
As Dubai is so large and you need a taxi to travel anywhere, it's worth joining the hop on hop off bus (not very cheap) but at least it gets you around all the places you could want to go. Plus a boat trip, which at least a gets you off the bus. I think it would have been better to make full use of the bus times as I couldn't cram everything in to the 6 hours I did.
Oh well, tomorrow is the next stop. NEPAL!