Dubai: Day 1
Meredith is working a conference in Dubai, so Max and I decided to tag along. Although she’ll be busy working “16 hours days” (likely more than this), Max and I will scope the place out and then once the conference is over, we’ll take her to the places we liked the most. Making the trip with Max (verses just Meredith going) was a difficult decision. We were’t sure how he’d handle the long 12-13hr flight or how he’d adjust to the time difference (8hrs ahead). Safety wasn’t really a concern as this city is very safe and modern.
We ordered a cab to take us to the airport – cheaper and less hassle than parking. Max liked looking out the window on the way to Dulles – he can’t usually see out the window in his car seat. Max got to use his new umbrella stroller in the airport. He was a good boy!
The flight was about 13 hours. We pre-ordered a bassinet which bolts into the wall in front of the seats (the bulkhead). Max barely fit in it! He slept for a good portion of the flight, part of the time in the bassinet, part of the time in my arms. He was very well behaved, as usual, and at the end of the flight people complimented him on how good he was!
We did have a baggage snafu once we got off the plane. The stroller, which we had checked at the gate, was not there when we got off the plane. We waited for probably 15 minutes and then asked them to just send the stroller to baggage claim. Well, it was a long walk to baggage claim with an 18+ pound baby in my arms and our carryons in tow!
When we finally made it to the main terminal, we easily got through customs and Max got his first stamp in his passport.. I had done some research regarding how to not get ripped off (or get less-ripped-off) when converting currency. The recommendation was to use your ATM card to withdraw a small amount of local currency at the airport, and then use a credit card to make purchases if possible. Using a bank was another good option, if you need to have cash on you. Using the airport currency exchange kiosks is not a good idea. They charge a service fee and they don’t give you good conversion rates. So I got a little bit of cash from the ATM without issue. The baggage took another 30 minutes or so to start coming out – and the stroller didn’t show up. Luckily there was a woman there who helped us track it down and 15 minutes later we were on our way out of the airport.
It was crazy to see how many people were waiting outside the airport to pick someone up – there must have been hundreds of people lined up in waiting areas, and then another 50 cabs all lined up with people directing travelers and helping them with their luggage. We instantly got a cab (van) and took the short trip to the hotel. It’s just across the “Dubai Creek” (it’s more like an inlet as far as I can tell). The car ride only took about 10 minutes.
At the hotel (the Grand Hyatt), our bags were quickly unloaded and put on dumbwaiters. We were given a claim ticket and were told that they would bring the bags to our room. The lobby of the hotel is massive and beautiful. There is a huge crystal (I assume) chandelier, multiple levels of seating and live music. We were also greeted with fresh orange juice at the reception desk.
The ceiling above the atrium – where there is a winding path between lots of vegetation and babbling brooks, etc. – has three massive “undersides of boats”:
We received a nice surprise when we first came to the registration desk. We had been upgraded to a club-level room. So we were escorted to the 14th floor where the club registration desk is located. It was all very fancy. Everyone is so friendly here, so far! Having access to the “Grand Club” is really awesome. Basically we get free wifi, breakfast in the morning, and snacks throughout the day. Sweet bonus!
After we got to our room, the luggage showed up promptly and Meredith had to get ready to go “check in” for work. Max and I went to look around the hotel. He didn’t last long…
While we were out, someone delivered a bottle of wine and two glasses. Nice touch, too bad we don’t drink – I’ll just dump it down the drain and smash the glasses. (Kidding, of course, someone will make use of these.)
I was going to eat while we were exploring the hotel, but I figured it was time to get Max to bed. So I had my food delivered instead: spring rolls and chicken fried rice – a traditional Middle Eastern dish.
I wanted to get him adjusted to sleeping at “night” (remember, Dubai is 8 hours ahead of EST). It was a little rough to get him to sleep through the night. He would sleep an hour, wake up, then I’d coax him back to sleep – this happened probably 5 times. Then he was asleep for good!