Yesterday at 1:30pm we left Cape Town for Dubai on Emirates Airlines. It is a 9:30 hour flight which took slightly longer because it seemingly took us forever to actually land at Dubai airport. We eventually landed at 1:30am. It was quite a good flight. Emirates have Wifi on their planes for $1 for 500MB. Needless to say everyone was very soon on the WiFi. No doubt two of the members were Whatsapping their girlfriends, Helen and Chloe caught up on Social media and I (responsibly) did some work. We also all managed to fit in a few movies.
The airport experience was relatively painless in that we got through passport control very quickly, luggage come off quickly and we were on our way to the hotel pretty quickly as well. We got to the hotel at about 2:30am (which was 12:30am SA time) and by the time we had checked in and settled it and managed to get into bed it was 3am. We are staying at the Hilton the Walk Jumeriah which is on the gulf coast. It is one of many hotels along the strip of coastline which is pretty much dominated by hotels and restaurants. We have a 3-bedroom apartment (which includes a lounge, dining and kitchen – not that we plan to do any cooking while here). Our room is on the 29th floor and every time we go up in the lifts my ears pop. We have a view over the gulf and the Palm Jumeriah.
We woke up at about 10am this morning and made it for breakfast at 10:30am (fortunately breakfast finishes at 11am each morning). After breakfast we decided to head for the Dubai Mall. We then wondered about dress code and after some internet browsing came to the conclusion that Chloe should cover up more of her arms and legs before we ventured out and the long pants for the men were safer than shorts. As it turned out, no one seems to be overly worried about dress code in Dubai. Public displays of affection are frowned upon and in fact there are actually signs along the beach walk that say no public affection. No kissing Helen then except in the privacy of our hotel room.
The Dubai Mall is the largest Mall in the World and includes 1200 shops. It also has the ticket and access point to the Burj Khalifa which is the tallest building in the World as well as an Aquarium and Indoor zoo. More people visit the Dubai Mall each year than visit New York City (a useless fact for you to repeat at the next dinner party you attend and you can impress everyone present with your knowledge). The Mall really is massive (by the time we left I had walked over 10000 steps already (about 8km). We agreed to split up so that Helen and Chloe could do the clothes thing and the boys and I could focus on the electronics. Between us we probably only cover a quarter of the Mall in the time we were there. We agreed to meet at 2pm so that we could have some lunch and then visit the Aquarium. Before we split up though we noticed the ‘Gold to Go’ ATM machine next to the ATMs. Only in Dubai could you have a machine that delivers gold to you through an ATM! We also saw a gold plated Playstation 4 (for the meager sum of R250k or $25k), a gold plated Range Rover and a gold plated Bose speaker set. The people here are clearly in love of gold!
Lunch was at a Dim Sum restaurant (and was quite good) and then we went to the Aquarium and Indoor zoo. The aquarium is really one big glass tank with thousands of fish inside it (33 000 to be precise). There are numerous sharks, stingrays (and other rays) and numerous other types of fish. You can walk through a tunnel under the tank and the rays swim right along with you allowing some fantastic photo and selfie opportunities. After the aquarium we visited the indoor zoo which hosts species from the desert (like scorpions, owls and other stranger desert creatures) as well as penguins, otters and even a massive crocodile from Australia (it currently weighs the combined weight of 14 men). In combination it was easily worth the AED80 that it cost per person (AED is local currency called dirhams and is about $1=AED3.7 or 1AED=R3.15).
Taxi back to the hotel (the Mall is 25kms from the hotel) and we were back at the hotel just before 5pm. In the room was a birthday cake for Michael (who turned 17 today). We made him light the candle and we sung happy birthday to him. I think he was touched by the gesture. Helen, Stephen and I went to have afternoon tea on the 35th floor and when we got back the other two was already fast asleep and Stephen soon joined them.
Given our clocks are out of sync, we decided on a late dinner. As I have already mentioned we are in an area called the Walk and it is literally a few kms of hotels and restaurants in both directions from our hotel. We headed out one way looking for a restaurant and the first one we liked the look of was Butcher’s Grill – yes the South African one! We decided that eating at a SA restaurant seemed wrong and so we walked on and eventually went to Leopald of London (which from my Google search is not found in London but only in the UAE). It was quite though relatively pricey (about R2000 for dinner for the 5 of us), the only problem being that no alcohol is served and I am going through withdrawal symptoms for a beer.