Maybe you are questioning what does my blog make-it-easy has in common with holidays in United Arab Emirates (except myself of course :-)). In reality also this is a bit of “do not complicate things if you do not have to”, because this was exactly what I was doing during the period of deciding if to go or not. So I hope you will find inspiration in this private travel post, too.
When I made a promise to myself last year end of February that I will travel “to the sun” next winter, I did not know if it would happen in the end. I only knew that I did not want to experience the unnecessary depression from a steadily grey Prague’s (no)winter anymore.
This year’s winter was a bit better so far, lot of snow (in the mountains) and even the sun has come out few times. But still bleak prevailed. And so I decided to “warm my eyes” during Christmas and started to look for holidays.
I asked my friends where I could travel to in January to see the sun and warmth. I had my own ideas, few “no go’s”, several “better not” and some dream destinations, for which one week would not be enough.
As usual, the destination found me, not the other way round. I have it like this with most things in my life, the right things somehow always kink into my nose, same as the nuts to Cinderella’s. :-) So before realizing it, I paid the holidays.
United Arab Emirates were on my list “better not” for some time already. Few (very) bad experience from muslim countries in the past were persuading me to prevent this destination. And than one of my friends added: “Don’t be crazy, there is cold in January, you will not be able to swim in the sea.”
I had a clear target: lot of sun.
But I clarified my target: lot of sun. And I decided to risk it, because the closest “better” alternatives meant 2-3 times longer flight. I did not want to take care of anything so I just went for a planned holiday from travel agency. No work, no worries. I got all information served and precisely prepared on time.
My preparation comes out of that: somehow I did not know what to expect, so I better did not look forward to it too much and just let it flow. The bigger was my excitement the first night after arrival, when I was having the first drink on the hotel terrace in a t-shirt.
So if you are hesitating here is few points that might interest you:
Cca 6 hours from Prague is reasonably short time. I was surprised myself how quickly it passed by. Of course I am used to prepare the whole family for the time spent on the road by taking different “activities” with us, the faster it flies than.
Most hotels in UAE are… how to say it… pompous. Huge, many stores jumbos built directly on the beaches. So if that is not your style, as well as certainly not mine, choose your resort carefully. I found the Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf resort. Hotel consists of main building with three stores and several two stores villas, each with cca 4 rooms, spread in the beautiful garden. This style is typical for carribean, maybe that is why I liked it there so much. :-)
Transport to and from hotel is usually organized by the hotel itself. After arriving to the airport you are sent to buses from respective hotel. So no multi-stop trip with big bus and dropping off your co-travelers.
As per my experience, kids are very wellcome everywhere. In the hotel they are very nice to them, trying to speak the kid’s language and smiling even if your child drops a glass of orange juice. And as the “white” kids are quite exotic for them, they attract attention even more.
Well, the situation is as follows. UAE is muslim country with strict rules of clothing for their citizens. On the other hand 90% of the people do realise that tourism is extremely important for them and so they do respect tourists. According to my belief, I respect the local environment, threrefore I always keep what is recommended: For women skirt or trousers to the knees and covered shoulders, for men long trousers and full shoes. In the hotel they are fully benevolent though, nobody has never said anything to mini shorts or tank top. Only to the touristic attractions it is always better to bring with you a big scarf that can help you to solve any issue.
Meals in the hotel are completely european, with a few tastings of local specialties. So no worries if you have something to eat. In our hotel the choice was not huge, but all we had was delicious. I give a thumb up to this reasonable approach as too many meals mean a lot of wasting so I find this much better.
Muslims and alcohol is not an easy “relationship”, but in hotels there is no problem. They do serve it according to their rules, better get to know them before (e.g. in our hotel the alcohol was served from 12 o’clock), but the quality of the drinks served in the all inclusive program was according to my opinion one level higher than in most european countries. I never had problems as a woman asking for a drink.
Twenty years ago there was just desert and maybe few nomad houses in the place of today’s Dubai. And this is what makes this rocket-fast developing city so interesting. Within few years many huge modern skyscrapers have been built here in the middle of nothing. Do not miss the opportunity to visit Dubai. I do recommend especially a trip by metro, that is driven by computer. You should not enter in the first wagon that is reserved for “gold card” passengers, but I personally tested that nobody tells you anything. :-) And from where else would you have the best view throughout the city.
Already at arrival we have recieved nice brochure offering big amount of trips and activities offered. As I mentioned in UAE the tourism is key, they are trying to “get the money” where possible. But if you accept that approach you will not be disappointed. I took the trip to desert safari and have been warned of its commerciality in advance, so I knew and enjoyed the trip nevertheless.
Forget the south Europe’s unpunctuality, here they come on time. Rather few minutes earlier. Do not expect them to wait for you somewhere. If you are late, you are in trouble.
Even if you are at the Indian ocean, beacause the coast is actually “covered” from the open sea, most of the time it is calm. It is actually a bit colder in January (around 21°C), but surely you can swim there. In the swimmingpools the water is warmer, so you can mix the water “splash”.
What to say in conclusion?
I am absolutely excited from a visit of this country. In just few hours you are out of the cold grey winter in the middle of summer, walking on the long wide sand beaches, enjoying the stunning sunsets and sitting until late night outside in a terrace.
This trip to exotics you can enjoy in two with your partner or as a family with kids.
Do not hesitate to visit UAE and do not complicate it by your worries and prejudices, as I did. Just try it. Only make sure you choose what suits you and go. You will not regret it.
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