Thursday, August 13, 2009

The one with a guy catching laptops in his arse!


The one with the Honeymoon in Dubai

With the risk of sounding like one of these "Come over and look at the holiday snaps" people, here's a brief lo-down on the honeymoon as a few people have been asking.

We headed to Dubai for the oul Honeymoon via Cork - Heathrow - Dubai. All flights on time, no delays and so on. Granted, the trek to terminal 5, was a bit long winded. Not that we needed maps and a compass or anything, but it just seemed to take a bit. But thats progress...or something, I'd imagine. We hop on a Boeing 777 and are declined the upgrade (unwritten laws state that honeymooners are entitled to an upgrade). But a very nice man from British Airways tracks us down and apologizes as it is a full flight. He says that he would give us an upgrade if he had room. Instead he lands a big bottle of champagne in our lap, which was a nice touch. By 10pm we're in the air and are fed a pretty bland meal. All thoughts of watching movies, gaming with the ipod and playing scrabble (!) never seem to come to fruition when I'm on a plane. Either way, we are completely relaxed after the wedding. A few hours into the flight, we decide to get some shut eye, as the captain has dimmed the lights to a romantic level. Well, more so a night time flight level.

I eventually nod off, which is difficult for me as I find sleeping on planes to be one of the hardest things to do. I'd imagine I'd get a better sleep hanging out the back of a plane on a bungee rope, rather than on the actual plane. So at one point I wake up, roughly after an hour. The in flight computer thing on the screen says we're traveling at 41,000 feet and then, for me, a small little surreal moment. We are flying over Baghdad and Iraq. The flight plan takes us down near Kuwait and eventually into the Arabian Gulf. And no, I didn't see any thing blow up.

We land in Dubai around 6am (local time) on a Tuesday morning. After reading the Daily Mail horror stories about fellas been arrested for thinking about neurofen in the airport, I was a small bit nervous, ok slight exageration on the neurofen. Dubai has a zero tolerance policy for drugs (quite rightly so) and the list of banned substances you cannot bring into the country is longer than an extended edition of one of the Lord of the Rings flicks. Reports of a man being arrested for having 3 poppy seeds(seeds connected to opium, connected to heroin) on his shirt after eating a Bagel in London, run through my mind. Anyway, we make our way through the airport like sheep, and it is quite beautiful. Very new looking, but it smells a little old for some reason. Thats the first thing that hits me, the older smell. Our hotel has sent a man with a sign for us. As far as I know, the ruler of Dubai, owns the company that owns our hotel (same company owns the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel) so the have their own immigration desk. We are then handed over to another man, who takes us to immigration and is on the phone belting out "Mr.Barry". 30 Seconds later we have been stamped and are waiting for our bags. All great so far! Then as you are about to exit into arrivals there's another security check. After not eating any bagels with poppy seeds I wonder did I step on a poppy seed somewhere in the last 24 hours. A security guard catches me eye and we kick off a staring contest. With in 2 seconds I break the stare and we are beckoned for more scanning. Scanned and no poppy seeds and no arrests. Great. So the dude that is dragging our bags brings us to the exit and then BANG. Fuckin' hell, its around 630ish in the morning and we walk into a big, thick wall of heat. Phenomenal. We are quickly dragged into a huge Lincoln Navigator, given drinks and cold towels. And we are off to Al Qasr at Madinat Jumeirah.

30 mins later we get out of the Navigator and fuck me (again) back into the furnace. The dude that helps us out is sweating like he has run about 30 marathons this morning. Again more cold towels as we are brought to a private check in and we are also brought to the Club Executive lounge and then our room. Room is huge with the biggest bed I've seen. I open the doors to the balcony and we have a stunning view of Madinat Jumierah and its waterways and also the Burj Al Arab is towering right in front of us. And like a typical man I leave the balcony doors open. Within 2 minutes, anything that has glass in the room has completely steamed up. We had to keep the balcony doors closed to keep the heat OUT! And anytime we took a camera out, the lens would steam up constantly!

After reading for months on tripadvisor, it was best to change euro in Dubai as opposed to in Ireland. So before we hit the Malls to exchange the dosh, we hop on an Abra. An Abra is a small boat used in the Middle East. Where we are staying its surrounded by waterways which are used to get around the massive complex. The abra trips are free and they will take you where you want to go. If you dont fancy an Abra then hop on one of the many golf buggys. So we stop at the beach and get off. This is now around 10 in the morning, so its getting exceptionally warm.
We grab a huge bed / tent thing on the beach and talk about the oven we are in. Then I decide to dip the ankles in the Arabian gulf. After walking on sand that literally was on fire, I put my lady like ankles into the hot bath of the Arabian Gulf. My new wife does the same and after 60 seconds we bail out. A golf buggy takes us to the front gate and we hope in a taxi and drive off to the Mall of the Emirates.

A gigantic Mall awaits and we exchange bobs and have a good nose around. We hit the Club Executive lounge when we get back and gorge on the free food and drinks and then we take a stroll to the Souk in the area. We have a dinner reservation for Pai Thai which is classed as one of the most romantic restaurants in the world. Amazing restaurant, amazing staff and absolutely to die for food. My first real experience with Thai food and WOW!!!! Our waiter also turns up with a cake and a rose and belts out a big "Happy Honeymoon" We have a late night cocktail in a bar and hit the room and collapse.

Next morning, we hit the Club Exec lounge again for breakfast. Pork in a Muslim country is a no-no but it can still be got. I eye up the rashers which are kept well away from the rest of the food. So before horsing into a bit of bacon, I decide to keep it local and have Muesli with CAMEL MILK! I lick the bowel clean while not thinking of a guy in the desert "milkin" a camel. Camel milk while it sounds disgusting is absolutely divine, to me it tasted very sweet! Apparently tis really good for ya as well! I'm not sure what we did for the morning, I think we hit the pool, but in the afternoon I had a reservation for afternoon tea in the Burj Al Arab. We hop on a golf buggy for a good 10 minutes and then get stopped on the road to the Burj and asked a manner of questions and a reservation number. You cannot get next to the hotel, let alone the road leading to it, if you don't have a reservation.
We get in, hop on a glass lift and go to the 54th floor (I think, one of the high ones anyway). Gold is everywhere and opulence shines like a lighthouse here. We get into the Sky Bar and enjoy the views and they lash out the champers and the afternoon tea kicks off. With a selection of sandwiches, cakes and beef wellington, after 2.5 hours we are well and truly stuffed to the gills. We hit the glass lift again, not shit ourselves and find a gift shop and buy a few fridge magnets, which I'm sure I signed up to a new mortgage just to buy them! We check out their fountain show and their giant aquariums. From the Burj we get a hotel car to the Dubai Mall. At this point, we are getting used to the heat so the gallons of sweat rolling down my back into my arse crack are now not even given a second thought!

We arrive in Dubai s biggest Mall and are met with a 10 million gallon aquarium. It is fuckin huge! I mean really huge. Sharks swim around with something like 40 thousand other species. We pay to get next to the glass and walk through the tunnel. We hit the tunnel and all of a sudden a couple of kids lose their fuckin mind as a big arse shark swims by. Thinking of Jaws 3, I wonder will the sharks decide to eat these whiny kids by hurtling themselves through the glass. Unfortunately they don't and there is no shark eating children drama. Like real tourists we pay an extra tenner to go on a glass bottomed boat. Well we felt like real tourists until there was nothing but locals on the glass bottomed boat. We are dragged out around the top of this big ass fish tank and to be honest, it was a little boring. I don't know what I was expecting but it would have been cool if a shark had started gnawing at the glass! We take off our life jackets and wander around their underwater zoo before finally exiting the whole thing and back into the vastness of the Dubai Mall.
We walk and shop for hours, highlight being me looking at a "cheap" Tag-Heur watch which was around €1500. You divide everything by 5 to get stuff back into euro. Its not 100% accurate, but it gives you an idea. Then a dude next to me with a little entourage is haggling over a watch. So I divide his amount by 5 and he's looking at something close to €30,000. After what felt like an eternity (and if you've read this far, you know what that feels like) we eventually find the fountains next to the Burj Dubai (Worlds tallest building). Like something out of Vegas we are treated to a huge water fountain show. I shoot some shots of the Burj Dubai at night and we leg it. We get back to the hotel dragging bags and wonder which supercar will be parked at the door tonight. Nothing but Lamborghini's, Aston Martin'ss Porsche's. Was hoping to see a Veyron, but no joy. We order room service! Chips, Cheese and Bacon. Dude arrives up to the room with a big fancy table, flowers and so on. And then horses our the chips, cheese and bacon. Awesome!

Next port of call, is old Dubai and the Gold and Spice Souks. Everyone goes there for gold or spices. So we get a taxi to Dubai Creek and hop on an Abra that takes us across. Well after a tour of Dubai creek, which I stupidly agreed to. The dude was from Bangladesh and really sound and we eventually arrive at the other side, after seeing the Rulers sister's gaff which was easily 10 million times bigger than your house! It is hitting 42 degrees with savage humidity. This is the part where Ger had to be really covered up, but wearing leggings and a short dress yoke brought on the stares. We both thought the leggins would be cool, but nope! We don't get arrested and with no map and no idea where we are going we start wandering the streets and by chance we find the spice souk. The smells are unreal and an Iranian dude starts lashing out the spices to taste. I stock up on some Iranian Saffron and we struggle on. Eventually we find the Gold Souk and go into the first shop we see, just for the air conditioning alone. 30 minutes later we leave, without buying anything nut promising to come back as the wife has seen something she liked.

As usual, I want to wander off the beaten track so we wander off down some alleyways and backstreets which is a phenomenal experience. There's not a tourist to be seen for miles and its a great buzz seeing proper, old school Dubai. A few dudes jump out in an alleyway and try and start to flog us anything they could. Great laugh with them, and we buy nothing and eventually make our way back to what looks like a main street. I haggle with a shop owner and buy a few tacky, light up souvenirs. We make our way back to the Gold Souk and Ger spots a bracelet she likes. Everyone expects you to haggle and you are supposed to haggle. So, with little English the store guy and I start the haggle process for a bracelet. Most of the haggling is done on a calculator with him showing the price, then me dividing by 5 and then offering another price. After 15 minutes I shave close to €600 off the price (which leads me to believe they mark things up) and we leave, bracelet in hand. We get lost and a really nice man walks us for a good 5 minutes to get is in the right direction. We hop on an Abra and get back to the hotel. More Club Exec action after a shower and a change of clothes. They cannot mix cocktails here. 6-7 shots of each vodka whatever go into the cocktail. Dude arrives with potent cocktails. He brings another wondering are the first ones too strong!!!!!!!

We hit the Bateaux Dubai which is a glass boat and have a pretty savage 4 course meal over 3 hours cruising on the Dubai Creek. I convince the wife to try Steak Tar tare (Raw mince basically) and she survives, just about. We hit the pool the following morning and pay €8 for 2 Fanta's! Harcore. More shopping ensues and that night we are all set for Refletts by Pierre Gagnaire which is seriously fine dining. Its located in the Intercontinental hotel and has a private elevator. When I step out of the lift, the front of house looks like he thinks I'm gonna rob the place. It is a beautiful, intimate restaurant but incredibly snooty and up its own arse. I'm glad I have more than a Dunnes shirt on. The staff eventually chill out and the guy that looks after us, asks where we are from and tells us that he spent 2 years in Kinsale. Everyone is then at ease and the food starts. Everything is like a work of art, and quite bizarre at times, from Basil Ice cream to Mozzarella foam. I love the food until I get jellied Langoustine and that is just putrid! I moan to the wife and start getting a little grumpy. I try some of Gers purple mash with caviar and it is divine. 3+ hours later, after paying a near mortgage payment for dinner we haul ass into the lift and get a Lexus . With me still moaning about the jellied Langoustine!

Everyone still reading, good! This is the last part I feel like writing! On one of our last days there, we took a desert safari. Basically they collect you from your hotel in a large 4 x 4. Drove for 40 minutes out of Dubai and then start hurtling you around the desert. We are in the dunes for nearly 2 hours, being flung all over the Chevy Tahoe we are in. Eventually they bring you to a camp that's been set up and feed you! You are then treated to a belly dance show and they drive you back to your hotel. Certainly one of the highlights of the honeymoon. A fantastic day that went on from 4pm till nearly 12am! We drop some people off at the Atlantis that night, which is stunning, but only ever has 30% occupancy by all accounts. Our driver Malick (Arabian Adventures) was fantastic, cool as a breeze giving Arabic lessons as we were dangling off the side of a sand dune at 60 mph! The following night we had an amazing sea food dinner at Pier Chic, wedged out into the Arabian Gulf. Bare in mind I hate sea food! And loved the dinner!

On the way home we go through a million security checks before they let us near the gate for the flight and then after another security check and scan we are waiting to hop on a 747 to London.
Of course as soon as we land in Cork airport, it rains. I bitch about the lack of air bridges and the one dude on Passport control and we know we are home!!!!!!!!!

Anyways, Dubai is a great place. Parts of it may be well over the top for some people, but that's what makes it unique IMO. Old and new! Its a melting pot of cultures and the attitude to progress is something this country could certainly learn a thing or 10 from! Taxis are dirt cheap as is fast food. Plenty of bargains to be found, but you gotta put on your Indiana Jones hat and start looking! Fantastic people, ever so friendly and helpful! Would we go back? In a heart beat!!!! Already planning another trip there and will take in Abu Dhabi as well.