If youíre ever going to fly coach (I know, blasphemy), emirates is the way to do it. Itís just feels more comfortable than other airlines, the seats (feel like they) recline just a bit more, the ambience is nicer, the staff is nice and responsive, etc. We donít really eat airline food though they had a turkey sandwich for snack that was pretty good, except that it only included one(!) slice of turkey. I know Mr. Broadway shaved their portions but compared to this, Mr. B gives you whole animals.
We ended up getting a little delayed on the way to DXB due to a sick passenger so we arrived at around 10am instead of 8am on Tuesday. The 12 hours it took really flew by (pun definitely intended) as we slept for about half and spent the other half watching movies. Their entertainment system is the best of any airline Iíve taken (though I remember taking AA in J from London to NY last pesach and they had a pretty good selection as well).
The DXB airport is massive. Let me rephrase: The DXB airport is gorgeous and MASSIVE. Huge ceilings, marble everywhere. Itís a work of art. (I apologize to everyone, we didnít take many pics of the airport as we were tired and werenít thinking straight. We intended to on the way back but as youíll see later, that wasnít possible). The one interesting thing about our flight is that almost every passenger was en route somewhere else on a connecting flight. I counted a total of 7 other people collecting their baggage with us. Letís not forget, this is an A380 which likely had 400+ people on it.
The employees in the airport all either were in a police uniform or were wearing the traditional white garb with the black ring(?) on their head. We learned that only 13% of the population in Dubai are natives. However, only natives are allowed to get govt positions so all of the airport workers were dressed the part. When you get out into the city, itís a lot harder to find people that dress that way. You see them around but itís closer to the 13% figure than anything else.
Getting through the airport was no issue. I will say it again to beat it into the ground, having Israeli stamps on your passport means nothing. We were admitted without a whisper of an issue. Our food also made it through without issue (though it was opened and checked and repackaged by the TSA - I guess they werenít really that hungry for deep frozen POM meals).
We took a taxi (Not a black car!!! Ė note that they try to scam you into getting into a black car and from what Iíve read, they are like 5-10x the price) from the airport to the Park Hyatt, around 10 min for ~$10, and were checked in and given our suite right away. We were given the option of 1,000 Hyatt points or an "amenity" from their list -some sort of champagne/fruit drink and other misc things. We were given a huge fruit bowl in our room and had free breakfast as diamond members. The suite was beautiful and huge. It was also in a great location in the main building of the hotel .Most of the rooms are in adjacent buildings- some so far you need a golf cart to take you there from the lobby area.
If you zoom in, you can see the natives with the garb
Some funny money
Some of the grounds
Views from brekkie
Burj zoomed in
Dubai Day 1:
On our first day we took some time to freshen up and enjoy the view from our suite before taking a taxi to the Dubai mall to try to zip line (dw saw videos online and wanted to do it.) Turns out the zip line wasn't open for the season yet Ė was told another month Ė so we spent a few hours walking around the mall, which is huge and beautiful, before our fountain lake ride at 5:45 pm. We booked the ride through At the Top (the Burj Khalifa website) and were given a 15 minute boat ride through the fountain during the water and light show (~$15pp). We stayed in the Burj Khalifa area for another half hour before we called it quits for the night. We were both dead tired.
I should point out that choosing to leave at around 6:30 from the Burj area was a terrible idea. The traffic was murder. Whereas it took us 15 min to get there, it took us 50 minutes to get back. Avoid rush hour in Dubai.
The Burj Khalifa
Its really so big
They light it up at night. It's still intimidating but with a christmas feel to it
The light show
Dubai Day 2:
We woke up early and headed down to breakfast at around 6:30AM. Seeing breakfasts at hotels like this makes me wish I could eat anything and everything. They had about 6 dishes of hot food including sausages and eggs and the works. We kept it simple and stuck with fruit and coffee. It was like going to a Syrian Bar Mitzvah with the amount of food they had. We sat outside facing the little dock that outside of the hotel and had a view of the Burj Khalifa as well. The reason the pictures from the hotel of the Burj are not so clear is because there is a lot of pollution in Dubai. I havenít really been to many places with high pollution but that was my guess, confirmed by the few taxi drivers we took, and later confirmed by some fake news sources online.
We then went to the Mall of the Emirates to check out Ski Dubai. We bought "Ski Dubai Experience" tickets which gave us 2 hours of skiing, snow park access (with a mini zip lining, a kids park area, and ďgiant snowballĒ ride) and a penguin experience. The skiing was not bad for an indoor slope- we did the ďblueĒ slope which wasnít all that long but still fun. We skiied for about an hour before we had our penguin experience. The penguins were by far our favorite part of the Dubai trip. Ski Dubai has around 30 penguins that they are doing research on and we were given the chance to meet and play with 3 of them (2 Gentoo penguins and 1 King penguin). We were not allowed to touch the Gentoos but we watched them do tricks and run around between us. We were then given a chance to play with and pet a king penguin on a turn by turn basis. There was a photographer taking pictures which would be for sale at the end. (No cell phones or cameras allowed inside so we actually bought a picture for around $35 to remember the experience).
After all our ski adventures we headed back to the hotel for lunch then checked out (we had 4pm checkout with our diamond status) and were picked up by Arabian Adventures at 3:15 for a desert safari (~$100pp). The first stop of the safari is a falcon demonstration, where they teach you about how the falcons hunt and show us how itís done. You get a chance to hold the falcon and take pictures with it after. We then get into Toyota 4x4s for dune bashing, which was A LOT of fun. Unfortunately I didnt take many pictures or videos during the dune bashing, but I probably would have dropped and broken my phone/camera if I had done so. It was veryyy bumpy. At some point, you literally feel like youíre going to die but itís worth the thrill. We stopped on the top of a sand dune for pictures at sunset then went to the camp for dinner (you're at the camp for 2 hours during which they serve non-kosher dinner but we didn't eat and did other activities during this time). We were able to go sand boarding (eh) and camel riding (good for the pics) then dressed up as UAE arabs and took pictures (similar to penguin, would have had to pay but figured it wasn't worth it this time). When we finished with that we sat on some pillows and relaxed looking at the stars. There is no sight like seeing the stars while sitting in the desert (that is until a few days later in the Maldives). There was a belly dancing show as well as some hooka on the side. Overall the desert experience was Ö interesting. Reminiscent of Bedouin tents in Israel but fun nonetheless. We were taken back to the hotel at around 9:15 and used the beautiful spa facilities (no cost) to shower and get ready for the flight to MLE. We then had dinner and relaxed at the outdoor lounge area of the hotel until 11:30. They took some time to find our Pom meals since they stored them in a different freezer than the whatís normally allowed for guests but we still got to the airport with time to spare.
(Once I learn how to post videos, I will upload a ski video so you can see the slope, and some others that are nice and worthwhile)
The giant ball that you roll down a hill in. Fun but made me pretty dizzy
We were able to hold this guy later
Few sights such as seeing the sun disappear in the desert
Sand Boarding - meh
The Merhaba lounge (priority pass) near gate B21 in DXB aws *awful*. Overcrowded, noisy (all of DXB is noisy), and just unpleasant. I donít travel often so Iíve only been to probably 7-8 lounges but this one ranks as the worst by far. I didnít check for alcohol which I probably should have to help me get through it. I kid you not when I say we probably would have been more comfortable sitting on the lousy chairs by the gate. For the free water and banana that I took, it wasnít worth going near it. Itís also impossible to find. Everyone tells you its by gate B21. No one tells you its on the second floor! And to get to the second floor, you have to go back to where the elevators are in the middle of the terminal and take a different elevator than the one you were just on to go upstairs. It took us at least 15 minutes to find the darn thing.
We boarded our plane (777) to MLE, slept through the flight, and landed at 8am in MLE
To be continued....