Day 9 – Dubai

31 Mar

Obnoxious traffic cops who think they’re dealing with a first-timer (Ha! Fools!), incompetent baggage handlers, screaming children, and delayed flights were only capable of spoiling my day until I finally arrived at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina, albeit a lot later than planned.

Country number 93 achieved, my free (on points) room gets upgraded to a club suite and I get access to the really very nice Club Intercontinental lounge for canapes and cocktails.

A plate of gyoza and a dry martini later and the hassles of today are forgotten and a view of the marina beckons. Not sure I’ve got time or energy left after today to see it tonight, but tomorrow is just a few complimentary martinis away. It’s good to have some luxury to enjoy when everywhere you look there are 20 year old Arabs driving Ferraris or 30 year old Europeans in Bentleys….

Oh yeah. Last night I camped (as in slept in the car) on top of Jebel Shams when I discovered what it was like up there and after being disappointed with the hotel.

And what a place! Windy and a bit spooky after dark but with a “tucked up in bed while there’s a storm outside” feeling. Sadly my visit coincided with a full moon but if you stayed here another time you’d have a sky full of stars, and if you came with camping gear you’d have a whale of a time, assuming you don’t break your ankle or fall off the cliff when you leave your tent/car on the rocky cliff edge in the dark to take a piss. Its surprisinhly popular so you to get a prime spot you have to stake your claim early.

Dubai at night is a lot better lit than Jebel Shams.

Day 10 – Dubai

1 Apr

Regular sized skyscrapers look like toytown from the 148th floor… Could be a photo taken from an airplane, not a building.

No idea why there’s a moss covered Land Rover in the middle of the historic district

Day 11 – Yerevan

2 Apr

Yerevan, Armenia, and in the background, Turkey’s Mount Ararat.

I came to Armenia because of course it’s on the list of countries I haven’t been to yet and because the ticket from Dubai was dirt cheap. After experiencing the shittest travel experience ever, I now know why “Fly Dubai” fares are so low. They should pay you.

Still, you can’t beat patriotic statues, Stalinist architecture, post-Communist decay, and Soviet military hardware used as public art, to revive the travel spirit.

Here are some of Yerevan’s more desirable hillside residences:

The washing is out to dry so someone does actually live here:

Day 12 – Yerevan

3 Apr

Armenia is like Borat’s Kazakhstan. At one of Yerevan’s premier attractions, Victory Park, there is a funfair that by night is very popular, but during daylight looks like the set of a zombie film (and the staff all look like they’ve been dead for several years). It’s in worse condition than the one in the abandoned town near Chernobyl yet after sunset this place is all lit up, the music is playing, and it’s full of people screaming (not surprising if they’ve seen the mechanical condition) on the rides and eating candyfloss.

Day 13 – Dubai

4 Apr

It’s my birthday so the Radisson Blu Yerevan made me a birthday cake that I didn’t have time to eat before my escape from Armenia.

Eventually to the SPG Grosvenor House hotel where they upgraded me to a 2 bed residence, because birthday.

Amazing views across the marina and all the way up the coast to the Burj Al Arab. Or it would be, if the windows weren’t filthy.

So I expressed my disappointment, because birthday, and they upgraded me again.

This time to their top level room, a Royal Suite, because birthday.

Still with OK views of the marina, and this time a Jacuzzi and a sauna. In the bathroom.

The next time you stay in a hotel that has a Jacuzzi and a sauna, remember that I stay in hotel _rooms_ that have a Jacuzzi and a sauna!

This is the door to the room. From the inside.

So, go out and explore Dubai again? Or enjoy canapes and champagne in the executive lounge, and a specially created cocktail presented to me by surprise, because birthday, before a sauna and then a martini in the jacuzzi? Easy choice, because birthday.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Or, how about a bottle of wine and another birthday cake, compliments of the Grosvenor?

Seems my plan to make sure I was in a top hotel on my birthday in the hope of special treatment worked a charm. Would be a bit better if i hadnt just seen about 10 guys in Ferraris and Lamborghinis. In Dubai there’s always someone a thousand times richer than you just around the corner…

The hotel room is ridiculous. To put the level of poshness in context, the bathrobe is floor-length silk and has an inside pocket.

Walking from the end of the walk-in closet past the dressing room, toilet room, shower room, his and hers wash basins, Jacuzzi with TV, sauna, double chaise longues with a view of the ocean, king size bed, massive TV, study with exquisite desk, fully equipped kitchen, dining room with seating for 10, living room with marina views and another massive TV, to the entrance hall with its marble floor, takes 62 steps, without going in any of the smaller rooms. It’s all very high quality too. Marble, wood, soft carpets, automatic curtains, so many little details that show no expense was spared.

And if I need anything else, I can just call Jerome. Jerome is the butler. I’ve even got a fucking butler.