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I became acquainted with Dubai International Airport in 2001. I was flying Delhi-Dubai-Athens and back and was a Ph.D. student then. I was wide-eyed too, sometimes I miss that, I don’t think I am that wide-eyed anymore! This was my second trip abroad, the first being to Singapore in 1999! However, in a way this was my first real trip abroad as I was completely on my own. When I went to Singapore I stayed with a classmate’s family and was well protected.
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If you throw your mind to the date once again, 2001 was a long time ago. As I was doing my Ph.D. at IIT Kanpur, I had internet access at the institute but it was damn slow. A lot of social media platforms I use regularly, were not even born. So we booked the tickets from a travel agent. He gave us an Emirates Flights. We didn’t even look at the tickets closely. It was only after I boarded the Dubai-Athens flight, I realized I was booked as a vegan instead of a vegetarian. I was drooling over the desserts that others ate while I got just fruits.
However, it was only on the return leg that the real fun began! I realized that I had a 23 hours 40 minutes layover before my Dubai-Delhi flight. Had it been over 24 hours, I was entitled to a hotel room. The time was just short of 24 hours and I was not savvy enough to argue my case. If it would have happened today I would have probably taken up the matter on Twitter!
So, I walked every inch of Dubai Airport. I was enamored with the gold shops! I explored every nook and cranny of the souvenir shop which had exotic dates (the kind that grow on the trees, not what you get on Tinder) they had camels of all sizes and shape (not the real ones, the souvenir kind), I also remember the ornate surahis. But being a student on a meager scholarship made almost everything out of reach!
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Eventually I went to look for food. Then the food court used to be on the first floor. As I am a vegetarian I eventually ended up eating a dosa. I eventually got tired. I discovered reclining chairs and claimed one as mine. I wanted to crash for a few hours. All was good initially. But then I found the AC too strong at the spot I was trying to sleep! As those were the early days of traveling, I did not have a shawl. Now I invariably keep a shawl in my shoulder bag for such eventualities. I have learnt my lesson. I slept uncomfortably for a while. Then the hours felt interminable. However, I boarded my flight in the end. As it was Dubai-Delhi flight I got vegetarian food, along with the delicious desserts.
I have taken flights with Emirates after that as well, I have transited via Dubai again. Those have been a breeze! And if you would ask me how would I rate my first experience, I would say it was still fun, after all I remember so much about that trip!
My acquaintance with Dubai is only with the airport and the Emirates. I have transited thrice but never ventured into the city yet. I have been only a transit passenger to Dubai till now. The first trip was in 2001 when I was flying to Athens for an academic conference. I had a 23 hour layover while coming back. And yet all of it was spent on the airport.
I transited again in 2009 and 2011 while flying Delhi-Manchester. On both these occasions I had only a few hours to spare and once again they were all spent at the airport. While I quite like the Dubai Airport, I certainly wish to explore more.
At one point my younger nephew (also known as Brat 2) did a long internship in Dubai. I almost made a trip then. I researched Dubai Packages and Dubai Tourism options but it was not to be. That trip also got shelved.
If I get a chance to go to Dubai here is what I would like to do
Go on a Dessert Safari
I have read a lot about the dessert safaris in Dubai. Though I do get motion sickness easily I am still determined to go through the experience whenever I get a chance. I wish I could do the hot air balloon ride too but I will be happy with just a safari to begin with.
Though I am not a hardcore shopper but then there are places which make me happily go shopping. Jaipur and Thailand readily come to mind. I have a feeling that Dubai would be the same for me. I am waiting to test this theory.
Stay High in the Clouds
I have seen and drooled at the pictures of people posting tip of the buildings seen through clouds in Dubai. I am not sure how common the experience is, but I certainly wish to stay high enough in a room and see if I can talk to the clouds!
Explore the beaches
I have read of public beaches and private beaches in Dubai. I would wish to experience both when I visit Dubai.
Explore the Traditional City
Though a lot of the city is modern, I would certainly like to explore the old souks of Dubai and see if they can transport back in time.
What do you say about my wish list? What have I missed out?
I have taken three flights overall with Emirates. The first one was a long time back when I was traveling to Athens to attend an academic conference. The second and the third flights were to Manchester related to my work. So while the first flight was Delhi–Dubai–Athens, the other flights were Delhi-Dubai-Manchester and back. All my flights were in the economy class.
I have to say I am impressed by the airline. They are consistent; all my fights were comfortable and on time. I like flying Emirates because they are professional. Here are some of the salient features of my flights with them.
Overall, I have had good experiences with Emirates on all my flights. I hope I will fly with them again soon.