Oh my, our first trip to Dubai & it lived up to all of our expectations & then some!!
Our first time flying with Emirates was exceptional, flight meals delicious plenty of soft drinks/water/fresh orange juice/branded alcohol all included in the flight price apart from champaign! Our 9.40 am flight out from Manchester was on 21/09 thought Emirates cabin staff had wonderful customer service skills. In particular a lovely young lady who was from Crosby Liverpool, her name was Lucy we got chatting to her and explained we would be celebrating our Ruby Wedding Anniversary on our first trip out to Dubai! An hour after having our meal Lucy came along with two glasses of champaign and desert from the first class menu for each of us! Another member of staff asked if we would like our photo taken, this was taken by Polaroid camera & presented to us in an Emirates photo wallet! (Just a lovely customer experience!) Arrived in Dubai airport at 7.45pm collected our baggage and then went to Duty Free hubby picked up a case of 12 Bud and I picked up a bottle of Chilean red wine! A little tip for any wine drinkers the wine in Dubai Duty Free was more expensive than the wine in Manchester Duty Free! (£20 per bottle Dubai) as opposed to (£10 in Manchester) Bud was on offer & was very reasonably priced at Dubai! We had booked private transfer From Dubai airport to The Hilton Jumeirah Residences, and our driver was a lovely young gentleman. He very kindly pointed out some of the famous land marks along the way, and gave us lots of tips & info! On arrival at HJR we were given the keys to a sea view room on the second floor and waiting for us in the room was a gorgeous chocolate Happy Anniversary cake! Hubby was delighted with such a thoughtful welcome. There was a mix up with our room but the Hilton more than rectified this by upgrading us to a splendid two bed roomed sea view suit on the 5th floor. (I shall eventually get around to posting a review for the HJR!)
Saturday day 1: We had a lovely breakfast in the Hartisan restaurant at HJR we sat inside and gazed out at the most amazing views, we could see across to The Atlantis Hotel. After our breakfast we took a walk to the Marina Mall to change some money over, I knew through the forum it would be an aprox 15 minute walk and I had directions! Less than 10 minutes into the walk we decided that this was a bad idea! Never the less adorned in our base ball caps and shades (Grandson speak for sun glasses!) We carried on regardless; we arrived at the mall a little bit hot & bothered!! So decided to freshen up in the rest rooms. We then sat for 20 minutes having ice cold drinks & ice creams a wonderful combination after the Dubai sun shine. Before coming out to Dubai we got an exchange rate of 5.60 dirham’s to the UK pound. We got 5.82 to the UK pound at Dubai Marina Mall. We had lunch in the mall in a place called the Gourmet Burger Bar (I think) I had a very nice tuna salad and hubby had a gourmet burger which he said was also very good. Directly opposite the Gourmet Burger was the Waitrose supermarket so we decided to call in there for some fresh cream (to pour over Anniversary cake, later on!) and also some fruit to take back with us to HJR. After our initial walking experience we decided to take a taxi back to HJR the fare was 9 dirham’s. Had quick showers, suite had 3 bathrooms (how lucky were we!) And then hubby very bravely, I thought (because he doesn’t do sand!) said ‘’let’s go over to Jumeirah Beach, we can’t come all this way and not do Jumeirah Beach’’ HJR has their own private pool but residents also get to use the facilities at Hilton Jumeirah Beach Hotel, private beach/& their pool (which is lovely set in its own gardens that lead down to the beach) So grabbed our beach wear/camera/beach bag and headed off to the lift but made a slight detour first up to the 35th floor where the gym is (not to use gym!) we stepped out onto the terrace to look out for miles over Dubai, bliss!! Took the most amazing photos, which we haven’t had time to develop or down-load yet. Carried onto the Hilton hotel (just across the road from the residences) entered the Hilton & picked up our beach towels from nice towel attendant, was met on the beach by the Hilton life guard who asked which beds we would like, and who proceeded to take our towels from us & lay them on the most amazing sun beds we had ever seen! (In all of our travels) Every so often a Guy came around on a little sand tractor giving out cups of ice, lovely! We got talking to a nice couple & their grown up Daughter who came from Sunderland. The husband was over working in Dubai he worked at Port Rashid. His wife & Daughter were over on holiday visiting him. I must apologise again to them, because I think I frightened the lives out of them (and my husband!) Hubby & nice Sunderland people had their backs to the view that I was witnessing, there travelling towards us along Jumeirah beach was what I can only describe as an amazing sight! I leapt quickly off my sun bed (I am very sprightly for my age!) delved into my beach bag for our camera, thus startling hubby & nice Sunderland people. I now have a gorgeous photo of what looks like a young Omar Sharif attired in national dress, riding high on a camel & moving very sedately (the camel not Omar!) along Jumeirah beach! In the evening time we decided to go for a stroll along the walk, where we saw people driving along in the most amazing top of the range cars. We weren’t very hungry so we decided to get some snackie things from the 24 hour supermarket that was behind the HJR. Got back to our suit and broke open the wine and couple of cans of Bud from Duty free to have with our snackie things and, (also delicious Anniversary cake with the Waitrose fresh cream over it!)
Sunday day 2: (Our Anniversary) Made us both some coffee and sat with it in the lounge whilst opening hubbies card. Hubby then opened his card from me. We opened the cards from our Children and Grandchildren (had a little cry!) then opened the rest of our families cards which were all lovely! Had another lovely breakfast at the Hartisan we both had cereal freshly squeezed orange juice, hubby had a full English and I had eggs Benedict (highly recommended) we decided to spend the morning over at the Hilton hotel’s pool and to have our lunch at the Oceana Buffet. We spent a lovely morning at the pool reading/chilling and lots of swimming very refreshing as it was aprox 40 degrees! Around 2pm we had lunch at the Oceana Restaurant in the Hilton (I can recommend it!) this cost us 338 dirham’s for the two of us it included mineral water and two cappuccino’s the food was lovely & well presented lots of meat & fish dishes, deserts to die for and plenty of fresh fruit! After lunch we went back to our suite (I just love saying that!) We had pre booked a 6pm slot at Burj Khalifa so we wanted to be ready for 4pm so that we could grab a taxi and have a look around the Dubai Mall. We both thought that the Dubai Mall was fantastic! Kept having to remember to close my mouth (it kept dropping open in wonder!) I had brought the directions to the Burj Khalifa ticket office with me (which Latimer very kindly provided) so come 6pm there we both where on the observation deck at the top of the tallest building in the world. What a sight!! And as everyone advised just the right time to be up there! We took lots of photos, hubby asked a gentleman who was standing alongside of us and who was attired in national dress if he would mind taking a photo of the two us, which he very kindly did. This seemed to open the flood gates because when I looked around other couples started asking couples from different nationalities to take photos of them together (which was lovely!) Just then someone shouted the fountains have started so we were in our element. Hubby was snapping away like a demented David Bailey!! Came back down to the mall at 7pm and had another look around until 7.20pm. We then positioned ourselves out side opposite the fountains waiting for the 7.30pm show to start. What can I say at 7.30 the fountain show started along to the strains of ‘’I will always love you’’ (Whitney Huston) Hubby and I became a bit emotional! (That’s an understatement) We took some more lovely photos, and when Whitney had finished everyone started clapping! I turned to hubby and said ‘’how wonderful was that to be standing here along side you in this beautiful place on our 40th Wedding Anniversary & how appropriate was that song!’’ Hubby replied that he had arranged it especially with the General Manager of Dubai Mall, hmm! We had intended to have our evening meal by the fountains but hubbies blood sugar was high (he has Diabetes) so we decided to do some more walking/sightseeing. After a while we jumped a taxi back to the walk, did some more walking but by then hubby needed to eat and we wanted somewhere where we wouldn’t wait too long for our meal. We came across a place called Bob’s Diner, a fifties style diner. I ordered a fillet steak hubby ordered fish, I wasn’t expecting the food to be anything special but OMG the steak was the tenderest steak imaginable. The service was very good too, also the ambiance. (I kept expecting the Fonze to walk in at any moment!)
Monday day 3: After another nice breakfast we bid a fond farewell to HJR, we hailed a taxi from across the road, ready to embark on the second part of our holiday. The next seven days were to be spent at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa which was a twenty minute journey from HJR. J.A was absolutely lovely it was a little bit like staying in a beautiful Dubai country-side retreat! (Once away from the free zone) Again we were lucky enough to be upgraded from a garden/golf view room to a lovely Sea/marina/pool view room! The room was a wee bit on the small side but the view more than made up for this. (I will eventually post a review for J.A.) Spent most of the day by the pool, I thought that the sun beds at the Hilton were luxurious but wow J.A. topped them. The pool attendants were lovely & every so often would come around with ice cold flannels! We were on an all inclusive stay. (Hannah you were spot on about the food & service at J.A) I would very highly recommend this to anyone thinking of taking a holiday at J.A. We had a nice lunch at the Captains bar & we had a lovely view looking out over the sea, and every now and again a peacock would stroll past! We had our evening meal at IBN Majed (excellent) then we had a stroll down to the Marina and had a couple of drinks in the sports bar, which also serves excellent food. We finished off the first night in the Mushref bar, we decided to peruse their cocktail menu (even though we are not cocktail drinkers) I tried a B52 and became immediately hooked! Yum, hubby tried a long island iced tea & he became quite partial to them! We sat making our plans for the next few days, and decided to just chill but planned on a couple of excursions out as well.
Tuesday day 4: Basically just spent chilling/reading swimming in the sea & pool, by this stage we were developing very nice tans! Over lunch in IBN Majed we decided that on the coming Thursday we would catch the hotel courtesy bus to the gold & diamond park (hubby wanted to buy my anniversary present there) and come Friday evening we would do the J.A. evening Bateaux Dubai Dinner Cruise. Had dinner again at IBN Majed Tuesday evening was Lebanese night (every evening the dinner buffet is themed) Having never tried Lebanese food before, I found it delicious! Food and service was always top notch at IBN Majed! Rounded off the night at the Mushref bar I had two or was it three B52’s! Delicious, had very pleasant conversations in there with other guests & staff. Then off to bed.
Wednesday day 5: I was up first, showered dressed & out on the balcony with my morning cuppa, sat there watching the sea plane taking off from the marina for its trips over Dubai, hubby was still in the bathroom! After breakfast we spent a couple of hours over at the gym, I wondered if I could burn off 5 days of good living in two hours hmm! The gym was great the running machines were positioned so that you had a great view over the marina (whilst sweating away on them!) afterwards mostly stayed by the sea swimming and topping up our tans! In the evening we had an 8.30pm reservation at Shooters this is a steak restaurant located over at J.A shooting club. Food & service were excellent. We and other guests were taken over there in a small bus aprox 8 minutes to get there. It was lovely to sit eating and to be able to look out over the shooting range watching guest’s clay pigeon shooting! Had a coffee with gorgeous desert (forgotten the name of it!) rounded this off with me having a B52! And hubby had an L.I.I.T. Bus took us back over to J.A so took a stroll over to the sports bar & managed to catch the high-lights of previous Sunday’s game between Liverpool & M.U. (No comment!) had another B52 and tried to decide who made the best Mushraf, Shooters or the Sports Bar, decided to order another one to help me decide, (still couldn’t decide!) rounded the night off at Mushraf (with another B52 yum) Started to feel a bit squiffy (don’t know why!) so had a nice long iced mineral water with a slice of lemon in it. Then off to bed, remembered having a profound thought before falling asleep ‘’wondered if I would be able to make my own B52’s back home in Liverpool’’
Thursday day 6: Woke up to find Hubby watching TV, he said it was a very good hotel information programme on buying diamonds, cut/clarity/grading & so forth. I disappeared into the bathroom felt in need of a very cool refreshing shower, even though the air/con was on! Had a great breakfast & caught the 10am courtesy bus destination gold & diamond park. First stop was the IBN Battuta Mall. Second stop was Hotel Atlantis! WOW took some great photos from the bus. Hubby & I marvelled to be driving along on the Palm seeing all the sign postings of the fronds, how did they do it? Next stop was Mall of the Emirates and then finally the Gold & Diamond Park. As soon as we walked in the main entrance we came to a Jewellery store on our left called D Diamond FZCO we both fixed sights on a beautiful, unusually designed gold & pearl bangle. Store owner was very helpful he said it was 18k gold & he told us it’s price, we explained it was the first store we had walked into & that we wanted to have a look around. There was no pressurising us to stay and he told us to enjoy our visit. The Gold & Diamond Park is amazing just all diamond & gold stores. We walked further on & hubby kept staring at diamond rings, when we were nippers (17 & 18) and got engaged hubby couldn’t afford to get me a big diamond. He always said that one day he hoped to get me a better one (although I would never part with my first!) So eventually we came to a store called Cara, they actually have two stores opposite one another. We saw a lovely diamond solitaire in their window, but I didn’t really like the gold band it was set into. Across the way & opposite in their other store they had a lovely ring & we both said we liked the gold band but not the diamond set into it! On entering the store we explained this to the lovely sales gent who said he could show us some loose diamonds and that we could pick our own diamond to go with the gold band! We finally chose our diamond & then the fun started hubby began to haggle! (Very entertaining) the other sales assistants came over adding their comments to the proceedings & we attracted a little audience. We finally agreed on a price. The gold band was 18k but it had to have the diamond set into it & also made bigger for me. and our lovely Sales Gent said it would take aprox 30 minutes to do this in the Cara factory. He asked if we would like to go over to the factory with him to see the work being done. We both jumped at the chance, he asked if we would care for refreshments i.e. drinks. Our HRD Antwerp diamond certificate was given to us and then we proceeded along with the lovely Sales Gent & walked across to the factory each clutching a large cappuccino. The factory was a big work shop with around twenty men working away; they all seemed to have their own areas of expertise! First we watched the gold band being made bigger, and then the diamond was handed to another gent who set it into the gold band. Another gent seemed to polish & buff up the ring and finally the lovely Sales Gent asked if I would like my wedding ring polished up to remove any scratches so that it would go nicely with my lovely new diamond ring! We thanked all the Cara Staff for such a wonderful customer experience. On the way back to the main entrance hubby stopped off and bought the gold bangle for me as well! We jumped a taxi to Mall of the Emirates. I wanted to buy hubby a watch with a bracelet type strap, we didn’t see one he liked at the gold & diamond park they were a wee bit on the chunky side for him! Mall of the Emirates was fantastic took lots of photos of the indoor ski centre it just looked like a scene from a Christmas card! Also got a nice photo of the two of us stood beside the Emirates waterfall, nice Asian gent took that for us. Hubby still couldn’t find a watch that he liked so decided to pick courtesy bus back up at 14.30 and head back to J.A. In the evening we had a lovely meal at Divaz floating venue, moored at the marina. We chose our own fresh fish and it was prepared by the chef, recommended!
Friday day 7: Another day spent just chilling! We & other guests were picked up at 6.30pm by curtsey bus for our dinner cruise along Dubai Creek. This turned out to be a lovely experience I enjoyed sailing past all the fantastic buildings surrounding the creek, and it was lovely to watch all the Dhows go by with all their passengers. We were a bit disappointed in our meals though thought that they could have been warmer, we had a four course dinner with beverages included. This worked out at 440 dirham’s for the two of us, should have been 380 each but J.A gave a credit of 160 dirham’s per adult. Got picked up & dropped back off at J.A at 0015hrs. Had a couple of B52’s hubby had a couple of L.I.I.T’s at Mushref, retired to bed soon after.
Saturday day 8: Had breakfast and we decided to look in the jewellery store at J.A where lo and behold hubby saw the watch he wanted very,very nice with just the right bracelet strap for his slim wrist! So I was finally able to purchase my Anniversary gift for my beloved husband! Took ourselves off to the pool. After a while I sat pondering, hubby asked me what I was thinking of I explained to him that I felt a bit sad, thought that my gift to him couldn’t compare to his gifts to me. Hubby said that ‘’ I was the only gift he ever wanted’’ ahhh (he’s the apple of my eye!) Had evening meal at the Italian Restaurant La Traviata truly excellent meal and excellent decor, service as always at J.A was excellent. There was also a good three piece band playing some lovely music!
Sunday day 9: Our last day ‘’sigh’’ had another delicious breakfast. Went down to the beach to see if we could take out a kayak the sea was lovely very calm, we were told to call back later around 1.30 so later on after a nice lunch we went back for our kayak. The sea was no longer as calm but we were still able to take the kayak out. It was very tiring manovering the oars through the choppy water, we only stayed out 10 minutes. We changed out of our life jackets and went in search of a computer in the conference area so that we could book in on-line & print off our Emirates boarding passes. This was done without any problems. In the evening time we had one last meal at Shooters again very nice. We were dropped off again at J.A where we had a couple of last drinks at the Sports Bar. We said a fond farewell to all the staff over there.
Day 10 Monday: Time for home had our final breakfast at IBN Majed & said goodbye to as many of the staff as we could. Reception had pre-booked us a government taxi the evening before to pick us up at 10.30am. This arrived promptly and took a 40 minute drive from J.A to Dubai Airport the fare was very reasonable 144 dirhams’
I would just like to say thank you to everyone who offered me help and advice along the way on this excellent forum, and to any newbie’s contemplating their first trip out to Dubai and who are still reading this trip report!! I would like to say to you ‘’Go for it, I am sure you will not be disappointed’’ Dubai for us was a special place to celebrate a special Anniversary! I understand why so many on this forum make return trips! There were quite a few places and things we didn’t have the time to see & do but in the words of Arnie, Hasta la vista baby.Edited: 13 October 2012, 11:45