Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A Perfect Weekend in Dubai. Feb 2011.

Dubai is a good choice for a weekend break from the UK, especially in the depths of a long cold winter like it has been this year. It is easily accessible from many regional airports; Emirates fly from Glasgow, Newcastle Birmingham and Manchester at least once a day. Flights from Heathrow and Gatwick are more frequent. It is a short 6 ½ to 7 hour flight and the time difference is either 3 or 4 hours depending on time of year. Unfortunately, I do have to acknowledge that Dubai is also a very expensive destination....but sometimes we all deserve a treat.

So I boarded EK 18 from Manchester to Dubai on a Thursday. The flight was due to leave at 13.30, but was delayed and left at 15.00. Subsequently the flight was late into Dubai.
If booking a hotel in Dubai it is pertinent to remember that many of the flights from Europe land at around 00.25 hours in the morning. So if booking a hotel and wanting to use your room upon arrival you would have to book it from the day before.
I had booked in at the Madinat Jumeirah Mina A’Salam hotel. Unfortunately, as I had not done as I have suggested! I was unable to check in till after 13,00. to while away the hours I decided to partake in a Dubai weekend tradition, The Brunch. 
Dubai Brunches are Famous, or Infamous if you end up being accused of having sex on Jumeriah Beach, put in prison, lose your job and get deported as did Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors in 2008. No such scandal for me, just Brunch please.
The lovely girl took us to Latitude at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This Brunch started at 12.30 and we feasted of cuisine from around the globe till 16.00, not to mention the pitchers of cocktails that just kept coming. After that I was ready for bed!

Madinat Jumeirah, is the largest resort in Dubai, spreading across over 40 hectares of landscaped  gardens. Madinat Jumeirah is located along one kilometre of now private beachfront adjacent to Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Burj Al     Arab and Wild Wadi Water Park. I have wanted to stay at the resort for ages. If you do want to look around you don’t have to stay, just book in for a meal at one of the many restaurants and eating places, then just mosey and nosey about!
Madinat Jumeirah encompasses two hotels and clusters of 29 traditional Arabic houses, all built around the souk, the traditional centre of Arabic life. The resort also provides conference and and banqueting facilities, and loads of various dining options.

It is designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town. The resort has a courtyard of summer houses called Dar Al Masyaf and two Hotels, Al Qasr and Mina A'Salam.
Mina A’ Salam or 'The Harbour of Peace' was the first of the boutique hotels to be completed, and features 292 rooms and suites. It reminded me of the Taj hotels in India. This was the hotel I stayed in. The rooms were very comfy, and the bed one of the biggest and best I have slept in. The gifts left each night were eclectic. the first night it was a bright red sweat band, chocolates the second night and finally lip barm.
Al Qasr, which literally translates to 'the Palace', comprises 292 rooms and suites, designed to reflect a Sheikh’s summer residence, (What!!)

Dar Al Masyaf consists of 29 stand-alone, two-storey residential retreats inspired by traditional Arabian summer houses. Each of the 29 'houses' features 8–11 rooms and suites which are extended across the resort grounds, surrounded by landscaped gardens, with some located on the beachfront. I had a look in the villas, all decorated in slightly different way, very posh!
There are 5.4 km of waterways linking the different areas of the resort, and water taxis, called Abras,  allow guests to travel along them to all parts of the resort. This is free for hotel gests or costs 50 Dirhams if you are a non resident.
The next day, it was more of the same, sunbathing pool side. A quick trip to Wild Wadi, this has to be the best Water park in the world! It is such fun, just make sure you wear and old costume, as the rides go up hill and tend to shred your cozzie! 
The raucous fun was put aside for more formal activities such as the taking of afternoon tea on the terrace of the Al Fayrooz Lobby in the Al Qasr Hotel. I did not have Champagne as I really could not justify the £20.00 per glass cost! But otherwise the afternoon tea was all it should be and the perfect end to the day.
Finally, and all to quickly it was Monday and time to return to Manchester.  
Manchester was just as we left her, cold and raining, but at least you can afford a glass of Champers to cheer yourself up!

Till next time folks, Cheers and Tarar.

Emirates A380 Economy class.

Feb 11th 2011, and I have just had my first flight on an Emirates A380.
On 1st September 2010 the first A380 arrived at Manchester Airport. The Airbus A380 is a double deck, wide body, four engine airliner, manufactured in Europe by Airbus. At the moment it is the largest passenger aircraft in the world. The seat capacity on the A380 can be anything from the standard 555 up to 800.

Today I flew on the Emirates A380, version 2, Economy class.
Economy class is located on the lower floor and has 419 Economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration. The seat pitch is 32’’ and the with 18’’. It doesn’t look too crowded and there is mood lighting and fibre-optic star-effect lights in the ceiling.
The seats allocated to myself and partner were very good as they were against the bulk head, so we had loads of leg room. Seat number 67 F & G for reference. However, the bulk head were were up against, contained one of the 10 toilets on board. This compares favourably with the 6 toilets on the Boeing 777-300 ER (2 class) I normally use out of Manchester. But even on the short 6 ½ hour flight to Dubai the 3 toilets in our row were in constant use and provided us with much hilarity due to the antics of fellow passengers.

Next to me were an Indian family, consisting of two women, each with a relatively young child on their laps. One of the toddlers was squashed into a ‘Sky cot’ or ‘Bassinet’ (as they now seem to be called), shortly after takeoff. As you can see from the photos the cots fill up the space in front of the seats. (this photo is not an A380), this and the fact that our tray tables were down and in use, did not deter fellow passengers from trying to cross over to vacant toilets on the other side of the plane.
One fellow traveller had such an urge to get to the ablutions that she almost ended up in the bassinet, with the sleeping child, covered in my red wine. She also failed to lock the toilet upon getting to it and using it, so we all got a good view of her sitting on the lavatory when the door was opened by another un-suspecting passenger. Good entertainment if you are sick of the selection on 'ice' ? 
The engines on the flight were very quiet, almost a hum.
The ice entertainment system was as good as it always is.
The crew were busy all the time, but the food served was only just warm. In fact the rice and chicken were cold in the middle so I did not eat them. I wondered if this was due to the fact that there are more to serve on the A380, but it is only 34 more economy passengers than the 777 so it cant really be that. What I do know is that if Emirates gets an outbreak of food poisoning due to serving half cooked food it will be front page news.
The flight had been late arriving into Manchester, so was late leaving but it did make up a bit of time. Many of the passengers who had onward connections in Dubai were really panicking about getting the connecting flights. We arrived into Dubai at 01.15.
Dubai was a warm 18 degrees, and many passengers were Dubai bound and joined us in the long Que to get through customs.
After a warm sunny weekend in Dubai it was time to board the faithful Boeing 777-300 ER 2 class at 14.35 back to Manchester.
If asked to compare the A380 to the 777, I still like the 777 best and cant wait for Emirates to get the Boeing B787 Dreamliner or the New 747-8 launched last week for me to try!
PS......this is not EK19, DXB-MAN, but the 777-200 ER parked next to my flight!