(5am local time, 1am Nigerian time)
If you’re like me, and you want to make the most of long trips – money and experience-wise, book a flight with a layover that is long enough for you to go into the connecting city, but short enough for you to exit before your money finishes. That is what I did. My layover in Dubai was 11 hours, and it came with complimentary 48 hour Visa, hotel accommodation at the Capthorne, and food.
But no Internet. Or, it wasn’t free at least. 30mins was $15, while 2 hours was $22. I paid for 2 hours because I needed to download apps I will never ever complain about the cost of Internet in Nigeria again. My eyes have seen, my pocket has felt, my mouth will talk about the goodness of Nigerian ISPs.
So, how do you spend 8 hours in Dubai – give or take 3 for airport check-ins? Tour the city. Last time I was here, I didn’t have the time to actually do it. But this time, I had a few hours for just that, and fortunately, there was a 2-hour city tour from 9am to 11am. I signed up for it, and went as scheduled.
It was a simple drive round the city, while the guide told us about the various sites. From the Sheik Al Zayed Road, we went to one area exclusively reserved for the Emirati. No matter who you are, you cannot own a house there except you’re a citizen of the UAE. We went from there to SAGA where we saw some really beautiful art, and the dealers tried to sell us some. As compelling as they were, I no buy anything. I’m not rich enough to like art like that.
Dubai remains one of the most beautiful places on earth, but as awesome as it is they’re still building, still developing, still advancing technologically. As we cut through the city, more real estate wonders are being created – like this “Yatch in the sky”.
How much is $1200 in Naira? About N420,000 today. That is how much a night at the Burj Al Arab costs. You know what is even more dumbfounding? It could cost as much as $10,000 during peak periods. And that is just the cheapest rooms. So, how do people sleep at nights when they’re there? How do people get to become so rich they can afford to spend that much for a night? Those were my thoughts as we stopped at one of the most iconic hotel buildings on earth. As I took a walk on the surrounding beach, I made a mental note to work hard so I can afford to spend time there, someday.
We proceeded to the man-made palm islands, and stopped briefly at the ‘crown’ in front of the Atlantis Hotel. Our guide said the 15 minutes fireworks that heralded it’s opening in 2008 cost a whopping $15 million dollars. Our jaws dropped, but I decided to check later and I found out that while the fireworks were indeed magnificent, it was the entire opening ceremony that cost $15million and guests included celebrities like Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, Richard Branson, etc.
Our tour ended at the Burj Khalifa. It wasn’t my first time there, but as always, its sheer magnificence left me in awe. Too bad I couldn’t walk into the Dubai Mall beside it, and get lost in its thousands of stores. Another time.
I made a few friends during the tour. Thomaz and his Brazilian brother want Nigeria to trash Argentina for them.
Abdulrahman is from Sudan and was sent there by his government. He was the most animated person in our group and made the tour livelier.
And of course, Moses and his brother John, my ‘brothers’ enroute Russia too. I mean, is it really a tour if there are no other Nigerians?
2:00 pm, I departed the expensive-WiFi-but-great-food-and-room Capthorne Hotel and began the last leg of my journey to spending #36DaysInRussia. The real adventure begins.
Follow the full travel series HERE.
See more photos of the Dubai Landscape.