22.12.2011 - 23.12.2011
There are certain places that are not high on my wish-list of travel destinations.
These include Benidorm, Bali, Orlando, and Disneyland (near Paris).
Dubai used to be on my list until December 2011.
In December 2011, we boarded an Emirates plane bound for Dubai, where we expected to transfer onto a flight to Bangalore. However, at Heathrow Airport in London, a techical fault was discovered just after we had taken our seats on the 'plane. This was, to my great relief, fixed, but the repair delayed our departure by about 2.5 hours.
We landed in Dubai too late to board our connecting flight. So, we were directed to a special counter to deal with our problem. We were offered two option. One was to board the next flight to India, and then take our chances with connections there. The other was to spend 24 hours in Dubai at a hotel paid for by Emirates Airline. We accepted the latter, and were taken to a hotel, the Copthorne, close to the airport. We were given two comfortable, huge interconnecting rooms, and informed that whatever we ate or drank at the hotel was free of charge.
We did eat breakfast at the hotel. Most of the serving work was carried out by staff recruited from the former Soviet Asian Republics. Few of them could understand any English. Staying at the hotel all day would have been dull, so we decided to explore.
On our way to the hotel, I had noticed an overhead metro system. There was a station near to the hotel. We bought a day-ticket that allowed us as many trips s we wanted, and headed into the city centre, our aim being to reach Dubai Creek, where the oldest part of Dubai stands.
Disembarking at Unity Square, we walked through the sun-drenched streets, noticing, as we proceeded, how many pedestrians looked as if they had come from the Indian sub-continent.
We reached the Creek, where there was a variety of public craft: ferries and waterbusses. We bought a go-as-you-please pass for the waterbusses, and set off across the Creek. This waterway was endlessly fascinating. Boats of all shapes and sizes plied along it, including traditional dhows.
We disembarked near a peculiar looking fortress tower:
From there, it was a short walk to a good museum illustrating architecture in the Emirates.
It contained much information about traditional building techniques and illustrations of building types. After spending time in the museum, we walked along the shore to the 'souk', which had a lovely wooden roof, but few bargains!
Near the souk, there was what looked to me like a very 'touristy' restaurant with tables on a platform projecting over the water. I expected that we would be disappointed, but we were not. the food was excellent.
After lunch, we continued strolling along the banks of the Creek, enjoying the maritime activity and the warm sunshine.
Before leaving the Creek, we saw some older buildings, which were quite picturesque.
We returned to the Metro, and travelled to the base of Dubai's tallest building the Burj Khalifa. More spectacular than London's Shard, it did little for me!
That evening, we returned to the airport, and boarded our flight to Bangalore. The 24 hours that we spent in Dubai proved to me that I was wrong to make assumptions about a place without visiting it. Although, I might not choose to visit Dubai, if circumstances, such as a missed connection, forced me to return, I would not be at all unhappy. There are still things that I would love to see (e.g. the aquarium and the desert) and also to revisit in Dubai.
[center]Finally, I must mention that all the people we met in Dubai were courteous, helpful, and friendly.