A Travellerspoint blog

Day 02: A Tour of Dubai

a hot time in the new town

Although I set my alarm for 8:00 and then took an Ambien to force a good night's sleep in this time zone, I woke up bright-eyed at 5:00 after about 4 hours sleep. It takes me two days to adjust to a new timezone. And that short adjustment period is brought to you through better pharmaceuticals, otherwise jet lag can ruin a whole week.

WOW it's hot here. If you know me at all, you know I am usually too cool (pun intended) and never too warm. Well, I've just about met my match. Dubai in August is pretty difficult- today it is approx 104 and the humidity is almost the same. It's incredible. Walking outside is like clawing your way through hot, wet, cotton. Thankfully we only had one stop that entailed much outdoor activity, and that was the "Spice Market" which is an area in the old downtown section where importers by the score sell exotic spices by the bushel. The best part for me was down the street in the gold section. (heat? what heat?) When you walk into that area, you are in a neighborhood of gold dealers. Shop after shop. At the entrance to that particular neighborhood is a sign posting the day's price of gold. That's where you can begin to bargain. Pretty neat, but I didn't buy anything. I'll be back through Dubai in a couple of weeks, if I decide to buy jewelry rather than the computer I so desperately need, I'll do it then. (Don't hold your breath. I've become immune to bling - unless it's plastic gems glued onto a canvas bag)

The next stop was a neat funky museum financed by the government to depict the various cultures and the evolution of this city from a pearl diving center to an oil rich Arabian country, to a tourist Mecca. The best part of the museum is that it is mostly underground so the A/C works really well in there. From there we drove through the ultra-high-end neighborhood of Palm Island. You've seen the pictures. You have not understood the size. We drove and drove to get from the entry (trunk of the Palm) to the hotels outside of all the Palm frond shaped islands. It's huge and opulent and still a work in process.

You may not believe it but we then drove to a huge mall to wander around and get lunch. No, not the mall with the ski ramp, we'll see that on the way back. Actually, this mall was a giant air-conditioned excuse not to come back to the hotel too soon. Our plane doesn't leave until later so we have some time to kill. I'll bet all the other gals wish they had a blog so they would never have to worry about having a spare moment while on a trip.

Posted by Follow Carol 07:41 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (1)

Day 01: Traveling

A stop in Dubai

sunny

I could sure get used to flying Business class. Yes, I admit it, I capitulated. This rugged world traveler trembled in horror at the thought of spending 15 1/2 hours in the air in very cramped quarters, unable to sleep. So here I sit, drinking cappuccino In the Business class bar after having slept 4 or 5 hours in the fully reclining seat of my assigned "space pod". (my term. I'm sure Emirates Air would refer to the accommodations as something much more luxurious than "space pod") It's pretty wonderful traveling this way.

Much later: I am in the bar of the Dubai Marriott. It took forever to get out of that airport. The bag belonging to one of the ladies was accidentally checked through to Johannesburg so she had to get them to retrieve it from the J'burg airplane and bring it into the baggage claim area. That whole process lasted three hours - and here we had landed an hour early and were looking forward to that first glass of wine at the hotel. In hindsight, the rest of us could have gone on to the hotel, but the airport authorities kept promising, "10 minutes". Whose fault was this? It was not the fault of the traveler. But there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this. Bring your airline confirmation to the airport with you and be sure that the clerk and you fully understand each other before you leave the ticket counter. Emirates Air thought she was going all the way to J'burg today. She wasn't. Someone screwed up.

So anyway, I have very little to report on Dubai at this time because I haven't seen it in the light yet. Most of the skyscrapers are lit up though, so you can see some of the strange shaped buildings that Dubai is famous for. I had to laugh when one of the ladies said, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore". Indeed not. Tomorrow we'll tour this city and hopefully step into some of these fabulous buildings. In the meantime, it is early morning here, I am 11 hours ahead of Sacramento so my internal clock is almost opposite the time here. I do have to say that being a Sacramentan prepared me for the atmosphere. It was 104 degrees when we landed. But even Sacramento cools off a bit over night. It's 1:00AM and about 95 degrees now.

Posted by Follow Carol 13:39 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (1)

My mind is reeling with things to do

. . . .and here I sit playing with this blog

My trip to Africa is only a few days away now. I think I am ready, but since I always forget something, I can just about guarantee that I am not. Packing is a challenge this time around. Because of the weight restrictions for one of the prop plane flights we'll be taking to/from a camp, the safari director has issued us the only piece of luggage we are allowed to carry. As logistics go, that means that that is the only piece of luggage for the entire three-week trip. This piece of "luggage" is a brown canvas duffel bag, about the size of a 21" carry-on. Brown? Canvas? Oh my - a fashion faux pas to be sure. Before I could even begin to think about clothing, I had to customize the bag. I "blinged" it with epoxy and plastic gems, as you can see below.

bling_duffel.jpg

I have had quite a few requests for a copy of my itinerary so I am posting it here. I will try to blog every day that I can. However, for the two days that we are in the Okavango Delta, Botswana (Sept 2-3) we will not have wi-fi. Hell, we won't even have enough "current" to run a hairdryer. (I ought to look pretty fetching by the time we get to Capetown on the 4th - NOT) Please, if I don't blog, don't worry. I will not be lost in the interior of the Dark Continent. I'll probably be at a wine bar somewhere. Note that I am traveling with sixteen spoiled, middle-aged women. Check out the websites of our accommodations - we're not roughing it.

SO AFRICA / BOTSWANA ITINERARY 2015

Wed Aug 26 Arrival in Dubai
We proceed to the Marhaba Service Counter located before customs where a Marhaba Rep will accompany us through customs, baggage claim. Private transfer to our hotel.
J W Marriott Marquis (1 night)
Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai 121000 United Arab Emirates
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dxbjw-jw-marriott-marquis-hotel-dubai

Thu Aug 27 Dubai
AM Breakfast is included. Reception will advise times and location
Before 1000A Check out and store bags
1000A Guide meets us in lobby for our private ½-day tour of Dubai
Remainder of afternoon is free for exploring individual interests; we’ll ask guide for advice.
830P Private transfer to Dubai airport

Fri Aug 28 Livingstone, Zambia
We’ll be met exiting customs by a Wilderness Safaris rep. Private transfer to our hotel, 20 min:
The Royal Livingstone (2 nights)
Mosi-oa-Tunya Road Livingstone Zambia
www.suninternational.com/royal-livingstone/Pages/default.aspx
Check-in time is 3p, sooner if rooms are available. Bags can be held until check-in. Porterage is included (up through and including Kruger)
330P Guide meets us for Zambezi River cruise which ends after sunset

Sat Aug 29 Victoria Falls
AM Breakfast is included at our hotel
830A-1200P Led by our expert guide, we explore along rainforest trails and hit all of Victoria Falls’ best vantage points including the famed Devil’s Cataract.
Afternoon is free for pursuing individual interests

Sun Aug 30 Chobe National Park, Botswana
AM Breakfast is included at our hotel.
AM At time specified by our guide, journey across the Kazungula Border Crossing where Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet. Continue into Botswana to our lodge just west of Chobe National Park, ~2 hours
Muchenje Safari Lodge (3 nights)
Chobe, Botswana
www.muchenje.com
Lunch is included at our lodge
Afternoon our first game drive!
Chobe is renowned for its large herds of plains game, predators like lions,
leopards, and wild dogs, and the largest concentration of elephants in Africa
Dinner is included at our lodge

Mon Aug 31 Chobe National Park
Morning and afternoon game drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are included at the lodge

Tue Sep 1 Chobe National Park
Morning and afternoon game drives
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are included at the lodge

Wed Sep 2 Okavango Delta, Botswana
Breakfast is included at our Chobe lodge
After breakfast Transfer to Kasane airport (50 min.) for our charter flight to the beautiful 400,000 acre Abu Concession in the Okavango Delta. We get a bird’s eye view of the channels, lagoons and islands of the vast Okavango Delta. One of the world’s largest inland deltas, it’s all the more remarkable for its location deep within the arid Kalahari Desert. Transfer to our lodge, 5 min.
SURPRISE: AN UPGRADE! (2 nights)
Wilderness Seba Camp, reserved exclusively for our group!
Abu Concession, Okavango Delta, Botswana
www.wilderness-safaris.com/camps/seba-camp
Lunch is included at our Okavango camp
Afternoon Game drive
Our camp overlooks a lagoon with prolific birdlife and resident pods of hippo.
The habitats around the camp vary greatly, allowing for an abundance of game
viewing including giraffe, zebra, impala, wildebeest, buffalo and warthog.
Leopards, hyena and African wild dog are also regularly seen.
We’ll enjoy twice daily safari activities including game drives, mokoro canoe
excursions, night game drives, and walking safaris
Dinner is included at our camp

Thu Sep 3 Okavango Delta
Twice daily safari activities
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are included at our camp.

Fri Sep 4 Capetown
Breakfast is included at our camp
AM Morning safari activity
~1130A Transfer to Maun airport for flight to Capetown
200P South African Airways flight #8301 to J’burg (Lunch included on board)
340P Arrive J’burg
545P Depart J’burg on South African flight #359 to Cape Town (dinner included)
755P Arrive Capetown
We’ll be met at baggage claim by a Wilderness rep. Private transfer,~20 min:
SURPRISE: ANOTHER UPGRADE!
Taj Cape Town, a five-star boutique hotel (4 nights)
Wale Street & St. Georges Mall
Cape Town 8051 SOUTH AFRICA
http://www.tajhotels.com/luxury/city-hotels/taj-cape-town-cape-town/overview.html

Sat Sep 5 Capetown
AM Breakfast is included at our hotel
800A Depart for a ferry trip to Robben Island. Visit the Prison Block and Limestone Quarry. Lunch is included back on the mainland at a waterfront restaurant. Ride the cable car up Table Mountain for spectacular views of the city and Cape Peninsula. Visit Cape Malay Quarter and walk through Company Gardens, home to Parliament, National Gallery, and St. George's Cathedral.
Late afternoon Return to our hotel.

Sun Sep 6 Capetown / Cape Peninsula
AM Breakfast is included at our hotel
900A Depart for a full day excursion to the Cape Peninsula. Drive along Chapman's Peak Drive. At Cape of Good Hope NP look for zebra, ostrich, and baboon. Climb to the Cape Point Lighthouse for vistas of False Bay and stop at Cape of Good Hope. Lunch is included at a coastal restaurant. Visit Boulders Beach to see African Penguins. End at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Mon Sep 7 Capetown / Cape Winelands
AM Breakfast is included at our hotel
900A Depart for a full day excursion to the Cape Winelands. Enjoy tastings of high quality reds and whites. Lunch is included at an award-winning restaurant in the area. Spend the afternoon in Stellenbosch with its classic 18th Century Cape style and a chance to visit the museum or galleries.

Tue Sep 8 Cape Town & Homeward Bound / Johannesburg/ Kruger NP
AM Breakfast is included at our hotel (it appears restaurant is open 24 hours)
630A Private transfer to airport
Group of 12 is met at baggage claim by a Sable Tours rep. We’re
transferred to the game reserve, an hour away.
Motswari Private Game Reserve (3 nights)
Timbavati Private Reserve
Kruger SOUTH AFRICA
www.newmarkhotels.com/accommodation/game-reserves/motswari-private-game-reserve
Late Lunch is included at the lodge
Afternoon Game drive
The Big Five are spotted almost daily and the reserve is famous for
leopard and lion pride viewing
Dinner is included at the lodge

Wed Sep 9 Kruger National Park
Twice daily safari activities
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner are included at the lodge

Thu Sep 10 Kruger National Park
Twice daily safari activities
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner are included

Fri Sep 11 Johannesburg
Breakfast is included at the lodge
Morning Game drive
~1100A Private transfer to Kruger airport Exact time will be provided
We’ll be met at baggage claim by a Wilro Tours rep. Private transfer to our hotel, 30+ min, depending on traffic; rush hour starts at 400P.
Michelangelo Hotel (1 night)
135 West Street at Nelson Mandela Square
Sandton 2146 SOUTH AFRICA
http://www.legacyhotels.co.za/en/hotels/michelangelohotel

Sat Sep 12 Johannesburg & Homeward Bound
Breakfast is included at our hotel
By 900A Check out
900A Meet our guide in the lobby with our luggage. Private full-day tour of Johannesburg, Soweto, and Apartheid Museum
~445P Our tour ends at the airport.

Sun Sep 13 Dubai & Homeward Bound
We’ll be met exiting customs by a GTA rep. Private transfer for the 8 of us to JW Marriott Marquis (1 night) Store bags until 300P check-in.

Mon Sep 14 Homeward Bound
530A Private transfer to Dubai airport

Posted by Follow Carol 13:03 Comments (2)

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