So, here I am. A strange turn of events really. Currently sitting in a fantastic hotel, being very well looked after and yet it's all not quite right. It's all been stressful and confusing and tiresome. I hate people who moan unneccessarily so I'm hoping this won't sound like too much of a whinge but I have had numerous emails asking what the situation is so if anyone does want the answer to that question it may well lie within here.....
I will start with today and then later on, when I have more time to kill, I'll write about yesterday....and Thursday.
This morning we woke about 7am (4am UK time) and turned on Sky News to read that Britain and Europe was closed again. We decided that booking more nights here was going to be essential and again made a list of pros and cons of whether we should move hotels or room types or what-have-you and decided that staying put was our first choice.
We packed (because we knew we had to move rooms today) and then made our request to our reception who told us that they would look into it but it was likely that the hotel was now full. We went and filled up on breakfast (delicious by the way) as we knew we couldn't afford lunch and then came in to the business centre where I'm typing from now to use the internet. We were then told that the hotel was full after tonight and returned to our room to decide what to do next.
Matt then had the brainwave that some of the rooms may be allocated to online providers and that we should try hotels.com or the like to see if we could book online. Just as we were locking up to go back to the business centre (which had been full of people trying to make contact home), the phone rang - it seemed the hotel had exactly the same idea. Matt ran (no, I didn't think it was possible either) olympic sprint style back to the business centre and got on a computer and within 3 minutes hotel.com had saved the day and we were booked in.
We returned to our room and collapsed in a heap. It may not sound that bad, but the pressure and waves of adrenaline like that have been immense. We waited for the call to say that our next bedroom was ready and got transferred and I unpacked a few things and we got ready to waste the day in the blistering heat....hence me making use of the computer in the air conditioning.
We set an alarm for 6.30am and turned on the TV to attempt to make some guesses from the 4 channels (with no English speaking news) about what might be happening.
A note had been put under the door by Emirates which told us that more news would be available at 7am. We quickly got dressed and went downstairs. Of course there was no news. We didn't have any vouchers for breakfast so we queued to get those and then ate some toast and muesli and contemplated the day ahead with vague optimism. I must emphasise at this point that we were getting tired of other passengers who, though lacked anger, did want to talk about nothing other than the inconvenience this was causing and looking to each other for solutions....no, I don't think we can charter our own cruise ship and get back in 6 weeks.
After breakfast we queued at the Emirates desk for about 10 minutes before one of the reps tried to make an announcement. She was barely audible but I managed to make sense of what she was saying and then joined another queue for clarification. Yes, I had heard right - we are now on our own.
Mild amusement at this point came from (what some might say is an inevitable Ruthie-ism) when we walked from the desk with a list of hotels in our hand. Note here that it was a ridiculous list - hotels alphebetised from just A-C and it was mainly 5 and 6 stars. We also had a telephone number that we were to phone to check when our flight would be. Yes, that's right 1 number for every Emirates flight that was cancelled for us all to re-book. I ended up repeating the information to two further groups of people. I did manage to resist standing on a chair while I did this but did think it wise to add that my information and views were not representative of Emirates!
We returned to our room to consider our options. We didn't really have any other than a bit of common sense that told me that the major chains (ie much cheaper hotels than the Burj) would be near the aiport. Matt went down to reception to change some money. In our ignorance we didn't even know the currency, the exchange rate or anything and figured that though we could put a hotel on a credit card, a taxi driver wasn't going to be that efficient.
I left a message on my dad's work phone (it was probably about 5.30am in the UK at this point) asking him to ring me with google open when he got in to work at 7am.
Meanwhile I did two things. Firstly I spent a ridiculous amount of money using my mobile internet (not a fancy iphone wireless - just plain old mobile web via my nokia) and got into hotels.com to try and find what was around. Whilst doing this I got the yellow pages out and tried to locate the addresses of the hotels on the magic list they had given us - some of which were in the desert over an hour away.
My dad rang from work as arranged and I talked him through my options. I'd got 3 hotels in mind but two of them were unlikely to have any other facilities (think premier inn) so possibly no on site food or internet or lounge. Do not underestimate the cell-like state of staying in a hotel room for 24 hours. Whilst grateful, it does leave you feeling cut off and adrift. After a few minutes discussion (at more mobile expense as it costs to receive calls too) I decided to go for the more expensive, yet near the airport and with facilities. We couldn't dial out from our hotel room so we had to queue for the hotel phone in the lobby. It turned out that you had to dial 0 and be put through by the hotel receptionist so the 3 phones that were available plus other people trying to ring in meant this was a non-starter and it just rang out and out and out. Rush back up to the room to use the beloved mobile again...got through straight away but room availability was already limited due to people booking in and extending their stays. I accepted what they'd got which was going to be a superior room. My father gave his approval on our next phone call so I felt slightly less like a naughty child taking a handful of sweets when other people were starving.
Our hotel lobby was full of confused and anxious people trying to find accommodation. There weren't enough phones, no computers, no maps in English and very little help. We checked out as instructed at 12.00 and travelled by taxi to our new hotel. It was ridiculous, we had left behind chaos. A queue had formed which were were unsure about but it turned out that "because the necessary 120 people had checked out, some passengers can stay here an extra night but they will have to pay for it themselves but will get meal vouchers." Typical. Looking back I would have gone insane if I had stayed there another minute nevermind day but at the time I was rather irritated.
We arrived at our hotel which is a stark contrast to the last. Plush and professional (think marble floor and piano lounge rather than stained carpet and sticky seats), our luggage was taken immediately from the taxi and labelled with our names. We were three hours early for the room....or so we thought.
Matt paid the taxi driver but the note was far too big (it was only about twenty pounds but the taxi had cost about three). The other saga I have failed to mention is that the queue for the exchange at the previous hotel was so long and they were running out of money so Matt braved going out into the street in 35 degrees and went to a cash point. He had no idea what the exchange rate was so just took out 1000 which we later learnt was about 200 pounds. The driver had to get the hotel to change the notes and Matt and I got separtated - him trying to negotiate money and me trying to negotiate cases.
We went to the reception desk and were then escorted to the Royal Club reception. It turned out we were in some executive room and have specialist access to all sorts of lovely things (well you should think so at nearly two hundred pounds per night) and we got a personal check in service, drink and guided tour. We sat justifying the money "one extra night of the honeymoon, deserve it after not sleeping properly for nearly 3 days blah blah blah" and then, after making some more calls home to notify wherabouts went for a swim and did a bit of internetting. We didn't have lunch because 'afternoon tea' is included in our stay. This, at 3pm comprised of tea, sandwiches, pastries and praline chocolates. Fantastic. We booked into one of the restaurants for dinner, (very very yummy cantonese - I could (and may) do a separate food blog!) which we enjoyed at 8.30pm and went to bed....
So, how did we end up at the first hotel? Find out soon! x