After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to revive my travel blog.  Though Facebook has become the primary way to share our adventures with my family, I find that when I’m traveling somewhere, I like to seek out opinions, thoughts, and advice from others who have been there.  Plus, I need to shake the rust off my writing skills!  So, for the grand reopening, on to our first – and likely most exotic – adventure of 2016…Dubai.


Though admittedly not my first choice of places to visit, I didn’t want to pass up the chance to visit Dubai.  When Roy was selected to present at an international academic advising conference in Dubai, we decided to make the trip together.  Interesting to visit that part of the world as a tourist, for a change!

Hotel Room - Crowne Plaza DubaiWe stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.  The hotel is centrally located and just a short walk from the Emirates Towers metro station.  Our room was nice; standard quality for this level of hotel.  It wasn’t very large, but big enough to put the suitcase up without tripping over it.  It had a decent bathroom with shower and tub, and standard amenities.  The hairdryer was one of those awful ones with a short cord and a button you have to hold down, so consider bringing your own if you don’t like that.  It did have a standard 110 and 220 outlet for “shavers” (Roy used the 110 to charge his phone).  Power outlets are the British rectangular 3 prong type, so you’ll need an adapter for your electronics – and a transformer for 110-only devices.  The hotel had a number of restaurants with different types of cuisine, and a good breakfast buffet (included in our room rate).  As an Intercontinental Hotels Group rewards member, I also got free wireless internet, which worked reasonably well.

Our flights were from Spokane to Seattle on Alaska Airlines, and then a direct flight from Seattle to Dubai International Airport on Emirates Airline (14 1/2 hours!).  We got to the Spokane Airport early for our 0600 flight.  Despite a bit of annoyance not being able to check in on the kiosks, we got checked in and to the gate early enough that we were offered seats on the 0500 flight which was just about to depart.  We didn’t get to sit together, but for the short flight, it was worth getting to Seattle early enough to get checked in and get our boarding passes (sitting together) on Emirates.

The Emirates flight was long, but reasonably comfortable.  They have outlets at each seat, so you can charge your phone/tablet, and those little screens so you can watch movies or TV shows or play games.  The food was decent (for airline food); they gave us dinner and a snack and breakfast, as well as drink service and a hot towel service.  They provided blankets, pillows, headphones, and a cute little pouch with a sleep mask, toothbrush, and socks.  The flight was not very full, so quite a few people stretched out and slept.  The only note – if you are flying on the Boeing 777 and want the seats in the back where there are only two on the side, get at least two rows back from the three-on-a-side seats.  We were in row 35, the first set of two seats, and for some reason, those seats are like boxes – they have solid wall-like sides instead of the regular armrests.  We were in the same type seats on the way out and back, but it’s only row 35 for some reason.  But at least we had the two seats to ourselves and didn’t have to share with a third person.

Arrival and processing at the Dubai airport was pretty quick.  We had to wait a while to get our bag, but other than that, there were no issues.  There’s a metro station in the airport, so we took the metro to the hotel.  Metro fares are reasonable; it was 16 AED (Emirati Dirham) for both of us (roughly $4-5).  Our room wasn’t quite ready, but we were able to wait in the air-conditioned lounge area, which happily had cold water available, while they got the room ready for us.  In spite of the concern about jet lag, we had to get some rest – Dubai time is 12 hours ahead of Spokane, so while we left home about 0300 on Sunday, we arrived at the hotel early afternoon on Monday.

After a nap, we ate dinner at “The Cafe”, one of the hotel restaurants.  The food was decent; we had the Arabian mixed grill, which included shish kebab (beef), shish taouk (chicken), and kofta, which is a kind of ground meat with spices in a sausage shape.  I think this one was ground lamb.  Their iced tea was surprisingly good – it’s brewed hot in a small teapot, which is brought on a tray with small glasses of flavoring, along with a tall glass of ice.  I had Earl Grey with lemon and Roy had mint.

McDonalds - everywhere!After dinner, we took a short walk along the road the hotel is on.  Sheikh Zayed Road is one of the main roads in Dubai, more of a highway than a city street, and it was extremely busy all the time, even late into the night.  Luckily, we had a room on the 11th floor and not right over the highway, so highway noise was not a problem.  The area around the hotel was about what you’d expect from any city, some shops, restaurants, and of course a McDonalds not far away!

23 Feb 2016

We woke early in the morning and decided to try out the hotel’s breakfast buffet, which was quite good, reasonably comparable to a European hotel, not the American stale pastries and a couple of warming pans and maybe a make-your-own-waffle grill.  Roy had to catch the conference shuttle at 0745 to get to the Zayed University Convention Center, so we went to breakfast shortly after they opened at 0600.  We were immediately greeted, given a table, and offered coffee (we both had lattes, not amazing, but decent).  This service continued through our stay – maybe because there was hardly anyone there early in the morning, but it was pleasant nonetheless.  The buffet offered an array of food, apparently selected to appeal to travelers from all over.  They had scrambled eggs (or you could get eggs to order), hash browns, pancakes, muffins, chicken sausage, and even a clearly labeled “pork section” with pork sausage and ham.  Roy said it was pretty good, but he prefers pork sausage to the chicken variety.  I didn’t touch any of that stuff; I preferred the rolls (little Brötchen – yay!), cheese, and cold cuts, although I passed on the cold fish.  We also tried what looked like regional foods.  Some of it was good (the hummus and pita bread were yummy), some of it, not my thing (I tried a little round thing called labneh, I think it is some kind of cheese and yogurt mixture – not my favorite).  I also tried something called moutabel, which I thought was a type of hummus.  It looks like hummus, and tastes a little like hummus, but it turns out to be made of eggplant!  I like “real” hummus better, but it wasn’t bad.  The items were slightly varied each day, but there was plenty of variety and the food was good.

With Roy off to his conference, I had the day to do “something fun” (yes, I know – still working on that, but read on, I am getting pretty good at it!).  I had considered setting up a tour or two, but hadn’t done it before we left, so I stopped by the concierge desk to take a look at their brochures.  The gentleman at the desk was very nice, and made a number of suggestions for me.  There are quite a few tours available; I would have loved to do the Desert Sunset Tour, but I did want to be back to spend the evenings with Roy.  I was a little wary of going around the city by myself, although the concierge assured me it was safe.  I decided to try the Big Bus Tour, a hop-on hop-off tour that looked like it covered a lot of the city, with three different routes (City, Beach, and Marina), and with several “extras” included in the ticket price, such as a boat tour of the marina, a dhow cruise on Dubai Creek, entrance to several museums and the aquarium at the Atlantis Palm, and several walking tours.  I figured I’d be safe enough on the bus, and it would probably be okay to get off and do the tours, and I’d get a feel for the city, and at any rate I’d get a panoramic tour.  This turned out to be a great decision; I bought the 48-hour ticket since it was only slightly more expensive than the 24-hour ticket, and I spent the next two days bopping all around the city!

The first order of business was figuring out how to get to the nearest hop-on stop, which was the Dubai Mall.  I considered the metro, but the concierge told me that would take a long time and suggested I get a taxi, so I went down to the front of the hotel.  The attendant there suggested I just wait an hour, when the hotel shuttle would leave for the mall.  I’m not sure he fully understood I wasn’t going to shop, but it was just an hour.  I went back down about 15 minutes early to make sure I’d catch the shuttle, and I had a very nice conversation with a lovely young lady named Gillian.  She was from the Philippines, and had recently started working at the Crowne Plaza.  I asked her how she felt about going around the city by herself, and she also assured me it was very safe.  I even used my extensive knowledge of the Filipino language with her; it’s a sum total of about three words (thanks, Lyn!), but she seemed pleased.


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One Response to “Dubai”

  1. So glad you’re sharing your adventures again. I look forward to hearing more about a civilian trip to Dubai!

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