Wednesday, December 29, 2010


26 Dec 2010 -4 C @ Vienna
Hotel, courtesy of Emirates, in Dubai for transit passengers with 8 hours transit or more.Though family, we can opt for 2 rooms because of Pat in the traveling party.

We checked out of Pension Suzanne ( cash only ) and left for VIE. Rather than taking the train to Landstrasse and then transfer to the CAT, I had arranged for airport pickup from AirportDriver some weeks back, 31 euros payable in cash to the driver.

The driver arrived punctually ,picked us up outside the Pension and zipped us to VIE in 15 minutes.

At VIE airport, I congratulated myself for checking in at Emirates online the night before because the queue was superbly long. All I had to do was get our boarding passes from the web check in and luggage drop off counter.

After passport control and customs control, we took our purchased items and tax refund forms to the tax refund counter where a duty officer certified the documents. At the money exchange near it, we were refunded in cash, some more pocket money for further shopping before departure.
Gargantuan wasn't enough to describe Dubai airport. Fast and cheerful service and sufficient washroom would have made the airport my favorite transit place.

A four hour flight and we landed in Dubai. Meanwhile we admired the girth of the many pillars adorning  the arrival hall, resembling pillars of huge worship halls but bigger and oohed at glass lifts the size of my bedroom !

After a long walk, we joined an extremely long and slow moving queue at passport control. It was a terrible wait seeing tourists bumped off and refused entry. With a little prayer and submitting our passports, hotel vouchers with 'sponsored visa' and boarding pass to Singapore, we were quickly admitted. Whew!

After the customs control, we waved our Millenium Airport Hotel vouchers to the staff at the transfer counter, who promptly ushered us to the hotel van nearby. We zipped past the airport, manicured palm trees and giant malls. 5 minutes later, we were checked in quickly by the efficient staff, meal vouchers for 2 meals ( dinner and breakfast ) and room ready for us - amazing efficiency! Millenium is a big hotel and the room suitably so that we wonder how they make money out of this free transit business. The buffet at the restaurant could not be better.

Depending on the connecting flight, the wake up call was programmed 2.5 hours before departure. We still had time for a buffet breakfast ( efficient people that we are ) and a superfast check out saw us back in the airport just 2 hours before departure. Give yourself ample time to go through the passport control and then some more time to walk through the giant of an airport to your departure gate. That would be enough workout for the morning ! If there are any complaints, it is that DBX is too big and walking along it tires you out.
Whoever runs Dubai airport thinks shopping is more important than basic amenities, eg toilets. Shops are closed at 4am when lots of passengers transit with only Burger King and Macs in operation.

Dubai's duty free shops are said to be one of the cheapest in the world but we did not verify it. With 1200 channels in-flight, we were already planning our individual entertainment program on the 7 hour flight back.

Indeed, we did not sleep a wink and TV dramas and movies of all nationalities kept us busy, laughing or crying at our seats, depending on which movie we watched. The only interruption I allowed myself was snacking on the yummy snacks handled out quite very often. I watched the entire season of a Japanese serial and arrived at Changi Airport goggle-eyed.

Thus ends my Europe trip, with a teeny introduction to the middle east. If I am to do it again, I will equally divide time between each city, take trains across borders every other day and have a good time from shopping districts to mountains tops, all within a easy ride. Whatever the  choice, it will never be boring and an attitude for adventure will make us see things beyond the cookie cutter packaged tour. Have fun!

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