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Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

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Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Firstly thanks to all you lovely people who gave me such wonderful advice before going, it helped so much.

Left Heathrow at 09.40 on 26th December flying Qatar to Doha. Flight left about half hour late as they had to defrost the wings! Brilliant service, great food, loads of leg room, excellent entertainment and many drinks! Arriving at Doha and quickly directed to transfer terminal onto next flight for 45 mins. Very painless. Arrived in Dubai, brought 24 cans of fosters (£18) for boyf and bottle brandy (£12) for me. Met by driver from Belvedere Court hotel for our free transfer (will seperately review as excellent), 10 mins in people mover to Bur Duabi. Quickly checked in to lovely room with kitchen and nice balcony on top floor. Great night sleep, very quiet room and comfy.

Day 2 - The main purpose of this holiday was for sunshine and relaxation so spent the day but the roof top pool. Weather was beautiful and about 25 degrees. Just right to sunbath, however the pool was freezing so only dipped in and out to cool off a couple of times. The hotel had offered us free breakfast, so we made the most of that and just popped to Spinneys supermarket (5 mins walk) for a few snacks for lunch. We had a fully equipped kitchen with fridge so made a sarnie to eat by pool. Was worried that the pool wouldn’t get the sun all day, but need not have as it was there from 8am till 4.30pm, yes am a dedicated sun worshiper. In the evening we walked to the Burjuman shopping mall (10mins walk) for dinner. Eat in Caprinos which was an Italian bit like Bella Pasta. 3 mains, 1 starter and 3 soda’s (free refills) came to about £26 using Entertainer voucher for 1 main free. Good shopping centre with a lovely Nine West shop (bag brought for £29), also had Next, New Look etc. Surprised at prices as thought would be fat more than UK but would say UK shops had maybe £1-£2 on top of normal. Got Taxi to Dubai Mall (£3) took 10 mins. Dubai Mall is huge and very nice. Lots to see and loads of UK shops like M & S, Debenhams and River Island. Also Upmarket shops like Jimmy Choo, Gucci etc. The Fountains were AMAZING and we stood for an hour to watch 2 (every 30mins they go off) and then went back later to watch another 2! Each time was a different performance with different music. I was mesmerized and could have watch them all night. Really quite moved by some of the music! To get a taxi home you have to go down to the bottom floor and queue up but didn’t take long and was very organized. Had someone showing you to next available taxi which was good as could have been a nightmare otherwise as very busy. Cost home about £5 as more traffic and meter goes up when still, although not much.

Day 3 – Another day catching rays and relaxing by the pool. We had pool area to ourselves almost all week as the hotel was mostly full of Indian people who didn’t use the pool area. Was very peaceful and caught up on much needed sleep from busy weeks at work. Had lunch by pool made in kitchen. Food was very cheap in the supermarket and you could buy 6 cans of coke/sprite for about £1 which we kept in our fridge to bring up to the pool. In the evening we went to the Burjuman Mall again and had a quick bite to eat in the food court. Lovely Indian from one of the fast food counters (cant remember the name) we had 4 mains, 4 sides, 4 drinks and used 2 Entertainer vouchers. Came to £11, Bargin. Only 3 of us but though may as well have the both the free meals. Far too much for 3 though! Got taxi to the creek and the Abra station, planning to go across the water but my Mum didn’t fancy it as it was dark and couldn’t see where it was going! Planned to go back in the day time but didn’t get time. Walked through the streets and Souks and eventually gave in agreed to go see some fake bags & watches. My mum was horrified and wanted to turn round and leave but I have been to Egypt where they do the same thing and told her we were quite safe! We were taken up a back street into a shop, through the back and up some stairs to find shelves and shelves of bags, belts, purses, watches etc. Looked at a few and decided they weren’t that good quality but brought a couple of purses and makeup bags as the guy was so persistent and really quite sweet! Paid about £30 for all 3 which was half of his first price and probably bit too much for what they were, but hey these people have a living to earn I guess. Next went into the Arabian Courtyard Hotel as read quite a bit about it on TA and wanted to have a nose. It was really lovely inside, although I didn’t like the area much, much prefer the newer more modern Dubai. Had drink in the Sherlock Bar there, pint beer was £5 and Baileys £4. Walked back to our hotel in Bur Dubai as traffic was bad and decided would be quicker, took about 25mins. Popped in Spinneys for midnight snacks, as open 24 hours by the way. Although wasn’t keen on the older style streets round Arabian Courtyard, I have to say I felt very safe at all times.

Day 4 – Yep you guessed it another day by pool, tan coming on well by this time. I have to say although we were in a city hotel quite near to a main road, you could not hear any traffic by the pool or in fact at night in the room. Total peace and tranquility which suited us during the day times. Walked to metro station called Al Karama which was 5 mins from hotel, to go to Mall of Emirates. Brought NOL silver card for about £3.50 which took £1.47 off for the return journey. Took about 25 mins. Metro was fabulous as you got to see views better than in a taxi and beat the traffic which is quite heavy on the main road through Dubai. People on the metro are so unbelievably courteous. As soon as myself, boyf and my Mum got on the men got up from their seats and insisted we sat down, they insisted that my Boyfriend sat down too. You would never got that on our underground in London. Also it was immaculate. There is a fine for eating or drinking on the trains and people abide but this which keeps it so clean. We saw people cleaning and shinning the steps at midnight in the stations sometimes! We went to Ski Dubai and had an 90 min lesson. I had skied before few years ago but boyf hadn’t before. We couldn’t use the Entertainer voucher in the lesson so this was about £80 for the 2 of us. Included ski jacket, trousers, boots and skis. We had read they gave you socks but took our own. We brought hats (£6) and gloves (£10-£15 depending on colour) You could get cheaper gloves for about £6 but they were quite thin and though hands would get cold. Shouldn’t have worried as strangely enough it wasn’t that cold in there. We wore jeans, t-shirt and cardy with ski jacket & trousers over top and wasn’t cold at all. Mum watched from viewing area but spectators can hire a padded coat and go in and watch. 6 in our group and an excellent ski instructor refreshed my skills and taught boyf the basics. Because we had the last lesson at 7.30pm we were allowed to stay on the slops on our own after for as long as we want (closed at midnight) but we only lasted another half hour as was very tiring! Had Macdonalds there for dinner. Big mac meal £3, we get ripped off here!

Day 5 – More sunshine but change of scenery. Took taxi to Jeremiah Park Beach – 10 mins from hotel and £2.60. Lovely beach, very clean and £2.60 for sunbed hire. Toilets were hole in ground style but very clean also. No toilet roll but have a shower hose next to hole in ground to wash after I guess, but lucky had some tissues! All toilets have hose next to actually! We took cool bag with cans and snacks in but they was a kiosk selling hotdogs, drinks and ice cream. Had ice cream about £1. Beach very quiet and again relaxing. Had read it was about 35p to get in the beach but wasn’t asked to pay, unless it was included in the sunbed price?! Evening we got metro to Raddison Blu near the other side of the creek – return journey cost 60p. Had dinner in “The Pub” in Raddison which was an english bar. Food pretty good, English pub grub mainly. Had 4 mains, 2 soft drinks and a pint for £26 using Entertainer voucher. Beer was on happy hour and was £5.60 with 20% off as happy hour between 7 & 9pm I think. Walked up to gold Souk, about 15 mins walk. Very nice and bling bling! Just window shopped though as too much choice and was getting tired now. Nice people though and no pressure to buy really.

Day 6 – Topped up very good tan today by pool. Did a prayer for it to snow over Heathow or an ash cloud would do so unable to get home, then thought perhaps better ask the hotel if our room was free for another week. Went to Burjurman mall for dinner in Noodle Bar. Wasn’t expecting anything more than Wagamamas type of food but it was absolulty beautiful food. Entertainment vouchers had expired so couldn’t use them anymore so this was £45 for 3 mains, 2 rice, 1 noodles and 3 drinks but was well worth it.

Being New Years Eve we thought we would go to the Dubai Mall to watch the fountains (again!) and see the Burj Khalifa fireworks. Stupidly underestimated the amount of people with the same idea. Got on a very packed metro to Dubai Mall but once arrived couldn’t get off the platform for people! There were so many people trying to get out of the station through the turnstiles it had come to a standstill. We decided to get back on the train and go to the next station. If this has been a situation in London there would have been a riot and people crushed but people were just waiting patiently and calmly to get off the platform and down the stairs! Slightly worried it would take forever to get back after midnight we went back to our hotel and watched the fireworks from there. Could see them but obviously not the atmosphere and show we were hoping for! We weren’t bothered as not new years fans anyway. Was happy to watch it on the TV afterwards!

Day 7 – We pre-booked a spa & afternoon tea day at the Burj Al Arab, about £95. Taxi there was £6.80 took 20 mins. Arrived at 10am and driven by golf buggy to beach. I have sunbathed in some stunning places but this was amazing. Stunning beach with back drop of hotel. Very comfy sunloungers with towels on. Bottles of water on ice given as soon as arrived. Lovely toilets with lockers, deodorant, hairdryers etc. There was a cleaner in there the whole time polishing and dusting! Sent Boyf to check prices of drinks to report on TA! Was £7.85 for half pint or coke, £12.00 for pint! Decided to stick to free water. Walked along beach to next hotel, Madinat which also looked stunning. They must have had some kind of entertainment for New years on the beach as there was a big stage with a bar and fancy lighting. Noted must save hard to be there next year. On the beach they even had people cleaning off the froth from the waves on the sand to make it look nice! Stayed on beach till about 12.45, celeb spotting with no luck. Took lift to spa on 18th floor for the most wonderful massage in a room with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the sea STUNNING views. Massage (not body scrub as I though it would be) for just over an hour then given peppermint tea and shown to the infinity pool also with stunning views. Met boyf in the mixed pool and discussed re-mortgaging house to stay here next year. The décor was very bling but amazing. Had shower (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel etc provided) also given dressing gown and more towels. Hairdryer and face creams there too. Went up to Skyview bar on 26th and was allowed in one side to take picture. Looked very cool in there. Next to Junsui restaurant for our 7 course afternoon tea. I have to say I'm afraid this was a disappointment. The service was wonderful but the food wasn’t at all. I don’t like fish so perhaps this didn’t help but I thought the food was quite a poor standard. The chicken was quite fatty and the coffee was cold, although they didn’t replace it when I asked. It didn’t matter though as we had had a brilliant day and an experience to remember. Tried to wonder out to the pool area to watch sunset but was stopped and told this is a private area till 6pm. Oh well! Had a quick look next door in the Jeremiah Beach Hotel, which looked really nice and possibly more in our price range as would like to stay on beach next time.

Day 7 – Home time….boo hoo. Flight at 11.35am.

We were very sad to leave as had such an amazing time. Dubai was everything I’d imagined and more. We had set out on a budget as not bothered about fancy eating or shopping. Between myself and boyf we spent around £500 which included our skiing for £80. We took double that so was very pleased. Our days spent relaxing and catching rays may not be for everyone but this suited us and probably why we didn’t spend much, plus we didn’t drink much apart from duty free . Would have like to have done the dessert safari and some other excursions but didn’t get the time. We did enough sightseeing to fall in love with Dubai and decide we will be going the same time next year but stay down towards The Walk and beach.

Dubai doesn’t have to be expensive if you are happy to just soak up the atmosphere and sunbathe! Not for everyone but it suited us and I cant wait to go back. Apologies for any grammar or spelling errors. Ps costs are rough, used currency converter on iphone.

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11. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

I am also glad you took the time to put you post together . Including, the hotel review. Can you tell me if you can remember - did the hotel pool have graduated steps as well as climb down?

Dunedin, Florida
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12. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Kimish0052: Thank you for a most entertaining diary. It's good to know that one doesn't have to spend a lot to enjoy oneself in Dubai.

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13. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Brilliant trip report, you certainly put me to shame, you packed so much in and STILL had time for the important stuff (sunbathing!)

Glad you had a great time.

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14. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Hello..you mentioned entertainment vouchers in your very good detailed report - where did you buy yours and how much did it cost? Myself and my 16 yr old daughter are interested in Aquaventure, Ski Dubai, Burj Khalifa..is it worth buying? Thanks for your help, Leslie.

Eastleigh, United...
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15. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

A great report, thank you.

We are going out for the first time on 17th December and I am really excited. I loved the humor in your note :)

The vouchers you mention The entertainer what are they ?

Edited: 06 November 2011, 19:27
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16. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Thanks very much for that review! I'm going to Dubai next month, flying back from Australia. Breaking the journey for a couple of nights in Dubai. I'll be on my own and probably broke by then, so this will be very helpful for me. - gonna print it to read at home (at work at the moment!) Thanks again - great review!

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17. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Quick question about your report....where did you buy 24 cans of fosters? I have booked an apartment but didn't think I'd be able to buy cans of beer as its not sold in supermarket? Thought about buying whisky on arrival but would be excellent to have a few beers for the fridge. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Here and there
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18. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Just in case Kimish doesn't see this because her report is a year old.

She bought the Fosters and the brandy at Dubai duty free in arrivals. It is not sold in supermarkets

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19. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

Thank you latimer, very much appreciated

Fort Worth, Texas
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20. Re: Trip report - First timer just back. Dubai on a budget!

are these Euros you are talking about?? Sorry not very good with other currency