A few years back, God and I decided to take a walk on the Middle Eastern wild side by holidaying in Dubai. Everything had to be planned with uber-military precision, particularly as we were travelling from two different countries. Given the inordinately high temperatures the UAE have to endure during the Summer, and in which we’d liquify into a puddle, it was agreed that we would defer until the Autumn. There was also the matter of Ramadan to contend with, as we didn’t want to holiday during that holy time (more out of fear of insulting someone by making a social faux pas than anything else), so finally after much ado about everything, we agreed on the middle of October. Whoop!
I flew out on a lovely sunny October mid-morning from Dublin Airport to London Heathrow, from whence I would fly with Emirates Airlines to Dubai. So far so neat. Bags checked in straight through, super. Derv checked in straight through, duper. Except for the fact that whilst I had an option on the seat type for the flight over, the seating plan for the second leg was not available to the Aer Lingus ground staff, and, therefore, I was auto-checked into an “undesignated” seat from LHR. As it turned out, I ended up in a middle seat – more of which anon!
The flight to London went swimmingly – however, there WAS a two hour delay in Heathrow. Unfortunately, this did not come to light until we had all been shepherded down to some ‘standing room only holding bay’ for human cattle circa the famine. Hot, humid, tiny, crowded, people sat on bags, the floor, cases, each other! There was nothing to drink, no vending machines and we were miles away at the end of the departure gates, beyond the point of no return. Mood boarding flight – #mildlygrumpy. But hey, still excited. HOL-EEE-DAYZ! (I was going to throw an “innit” at the end of that, but thought better of it!) INNIT!
Up, up and away…(oh right, sorry that was a balloon), Well off we went….
The flight was due to arrive in Dubai at 6am local time and there I was – stuck in the middle of Tim and Tom, the Teletubbies, both of whom promptly fell asleep after dinner (Cue loud zzzzzzzz).. By midnight (God knows whose time), I was peeing myself. I tried very nicely to #pokemon but he was a no go. Being the well reared, too shy to poke harder, nice Irish girl that my mother prayed every night I would turn out to be (I blame the ringlets), I ended up sitting with my legs crossed for 4 hours. Due to severe renal stress, I couldn’t fall asleep. So I sat staring at the flight path (they had those little dinky TVs going on) and reading a book, whilst not-the-Beauty and the Beast snored the night away. #Yawn.
Eventually they woke up just as breakfast was being served, but, when I asked if I could get out to go to La Toilette, Beastie Boy said no. His breakfast would be served before I would return and he did not want to be disturbed whilst he was eating! Now, being on the verge of becoming a human watering can, I had to resort to pinging the “Help I need you please” bell, to alert a member of the cabin crew to my fast approaching kidney failure. She requested, in a reasonably authoritative tone, that the gentleman let the lady out of her seat, to which he sulkily agreed. Phew. What a relief, and then some.
However, on my return, the same BB was scoffing his breakfast. He was not for moving. Absolutely no way was he having his meal disturbed. I had to sit in another seat, whilst he now, very slowly ate what remained of his meal. What can you say. Either you have manners or you don’t. Finally, I was allowed back into my seat and served my breakfast, which unfortunately, I found hard to eat, given our ill mannered friend’s penchant for machine gun like burping, which I presume is some cultures version of thank you, sans parlance.
Anon, the flight arrived in Dubai Airport and I was collected as organised with the hotel. I have to say there is something of the thrill at walking into arrivals and seeing your name beautifully printed on one of those big cards. Very VIP – where are my Paparazzi a la Lady Mc Gaga. The car, well, I can only describe as “big n black” – I’m not good on cars. It had enough leg room for a giraffe to swing a kick, and, was air conditioned, which was very welcome indeed. The driver was very Blues Brothers in an Arabic kinda-way – all “black suit n shades”.
I arrived at the hotel – the Jumeirah Beach – around 7am ish. Meanwhile God, aka, Marco Polo was still trekking over the sand dunes on the slow train to dawn.
Me got to the hotel and hey, the room wasn’t ready (despite the fact that we had requested an early check in and all was confirmed blah blah!). Anyway, they offered me a comp breakfast, which I gladly accepted, especially given that I hadn’t been able to stomach much during the flight for various reasons. After about 45 minutes, the receptionist arrived at the outside dining patio where I was “chillin'” to inform me that the room was now ready and would I like to follow him pleez. Si, oui and نعم
(that be the squiggle for Yes in Arabic!). When in UAE and all that.
When “Basil” and myself arrived at the room, it was an immediate case of Dubai we have a problem. It was facing the “wallah wall” (internal vista). “Erm”, says I, “Yes” says he. “Um, we booked “A room with a view” ” … s’il vous plait, and, er … “it should be a suite actually at that” thank you. So, he said, something along the lines of – ‘oh yeah sorry about that – F’off for a few hours and we’ll sort you out around midday’.
I was wall falling at this stage but you know you get on with it – HOL – EEE- DAZE!
At this stage is was well into morning and seeing as I had appointments in the “dum-diddily-umptious super deluxe watch me lie back and enjoy this one” spa in the Burj, I thought, well yeah, I’ll go over and hang. I had booked in for three appointments (you only live once) and the first was for 10am. It was all good n da hood.
So I changed my clothes and slowly ambled over, taking in all the sights, noting the whereabouts of everything, key places of cultural importance (eg the poolside bar, the water themed park – this will be an important player in an upcoming episode). So there I was, in a pair of shorts and tee shirt as you do. And in I walked, into the 6-star, gold plated, Burj Al Arab, not looking or feeling very 6-star myself. Up the steps went I, and no word of a lie, I think they were debating ejecting me (I think it was those Gap shorts again, I really must bin them!).
Anyhoo, this very Larry Grayson type came over to me to enquire of me as to what my business was. So I duly informed him that her “Maj”, Lady Mc Gaga had zee ‘app-oynt-munt’ in zee salon chop chop, and so off we went into this gold gilt & jewel encrusted menagerie (see photo of the atrium). And it was just beautiful, in the “stops dead ,have never seen anything like this before, AND, probably never will again, kind of way”.
We arrived at the spa after a brief journey in the lift, wherein I had to asap park my fears of all things vertical. It was simply divine. Tawny shades complimented by cream marble, it was the architectural version of an M&S dessert.
It was chilled.
It was spacious.
Larry having taken his leave, I walked up to the spa reception, and announced myself.
Big smiley face.
“You’re not booked in with us Madame”. I countered with a “Ooh, yes I am!”, all the while thinking it’s the name, the accent, they can’t understand me. Not being condescending , it wouldn’t be the first time. We tried again. Nope v Yes. So, out I pull ye olde email – see here, all booked and confirmed – in writing – smug smile! They looked at it – then they looked at me – then they looked at their computer again. And then, very nervously, they enunciated the following:-
“We thought you were a man”.
So there I was all female of me booked into the male salon – Derval obviously isn’t a very prevalent name in Dubai! Humpf!!
They were fully booked out in the female end of things, so they sent me off to lurk at the pool whilst they figured it out. They asked me if I’d like to avail of the sauna and whirlpools etc. Eh, hello, me in shorts and tee yes?
So I paddled my feet and had more free bloody coffee, and faffed about, and they managed to fit me in for a 12pm noon slot. For a facial, but they also gave me a comp massage. It was really lovely – luxury La Prairie products etc – yum yum. Then they gave me lunch – you know the lunch you get in spas – all melon, “mixed leaves”, and fresh air. After lunch, I was brought off for my pedicure. The girl was lovely – she was from Durban. She looked at my feet and looked at me. She looked at my feet again and then sighed, “I can’t give you a pedicure!”.
“Because, Madame, you have athlete’s foot”
I thought I’d heat rash…I’d never had AF in my life. So no pedicure. Well this was just getting better. So she said to me, we’ll start on your manicure and think of another treatment we can give you in the meantime. And then she inspected my hands. And said. “I can’t give you a manicure Madame, as you have a cut on one finger”. #IWANNACRY.
By now, she was feeling very sorry for me. So she gave me a file and polish to try to move things on. We discussed options – Head Massage and Eye Treatment (ie you’ve bags to your toes) sounded good. So she put the treatment on my eyes, and then proceeded with the head massage. ‘Cept because I had the misfortune to inherit my mother’s sensitivities the lovely luxury caviar eye treatment she put on, had to be whipped off less than 10 minutes later.
In the end, I think I left looking worse than when I had arrived. My hair was slicked up on top of my head, my eyes were like orangutan’s lips, and the only part of me that looked any way any star were my nails.
I left there just after 3pm, worse than when I went in and Euro 200 plus, lighter (of wallet only). Ah well, c’est la vie. Chalk it down to experience.
It was a nice day, I was on my holibops, I decided to take the beach route back to the hotel.
Have you ever seen those cartoons where the cat is jumpIng around the place like it’s got ferrets for feet well that was me!
A picture of poise and grace I was not.
I finally got back to the hotel, got the keys to the NEW room, went up, threw myself into the shower and then into bed.
What a start and we weren’t even finished Day 1 in Dubai.
Tune in next time for….
#WILDLY WADI, #FISHING FOR AND #CACHING THE CASHMERE