It’s been over a year since our unforgettable honeymoon in Nicaragua and though we have done some traveling in the past year, life has taken over and gotten in the way of our blogging time. I am excited to get back on the “horse” with tales of my first trip to the Middle East, specifically Dubai.
Drew has been sailing in and around the Arabian/Persian Gulf off and on since December 2015 so when he knew he would be in port in Dubai for a couple of weeks, we decided it was about time for me to fly out and see this part of the world too. We were lucky enough to have enough miles with Alaska Airlines (with a little help from my parents) to book me on a non-stop flight from SFO to Dubai on the infamous Emirates Airlines. That’s a 15.5 hour flight, in case you were wondering! I got to work right away on researching hotels, attractions, and packing suggestions.
I plan to write a post at the end of the trip with pictures of everything I wore and what I packed so you can get an idea of my “Dubai style.” Packing for this trip was particularly challenging as I had to pack for the hot desert climate while also keeping in mind the religious customs that dictate modest dress in this part of the world. My usual summer style of short shorts and sun dresses that worked perfectly in Nicaragua just weren’t quite right for this trip.
So last Monday afternoon I headed out on my 20 hour journey from Vallejo, California to Dubai. I have to admit, I wasn’t able to travel with just my backpack this time around. My clothes and everything fit in the backpack but I had some gifts and other items to bring to Drew that just couldn’t cut it so I ended up with a suitcase and tote bag instead. “Love & Suitcases & Totes” doesn’t sound as good as “Love & Backpacks” though so I think we’ll keep the name. I was glad I was at least aiming for fitting everything in the backpack because my overall load was still very manageable.
My good friend, Diedre, picked me up at home and after a quick stop for lunch, dropped me at a BART (the Bay Area’s metro) station in the East Bay. It was an easy 75-minute train ride to SFO where I was able to walk right up to the counter to check my bag and get my boarding pass. The security line was a little slower but not as bad as I know it could have been. I usually get TSA Pre-Check as part of my Global Entry membership but apparently Emirates Airlines doesn’t participate in Pre-Check, so that was a bummer. While in the security line, I had about 4 people cut through saying their flights were leaving in 20 minutes. The last guy who did it said his flight was boarding in 20 minutes and when I glanced at his boarding pass I saw that he was on the same flight as me. He was correct, our flight was to begin boarding in 20 minutes, however they were starting the boarding process 80 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart. So unless he was flying first class (he was not), he was not late. I just went along with the line and had just the right amount of the time to stop at the newsstand for some magazines, water, and snacks before getting to the boarding area with plenty of time.
This was my first flight on an Airbus A380 plane, which is the huge 2-story one. It was pretty amazing looking out at the wings and seeing just how massive they are. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Emirates’ famous first class cabin but unfortunately I was ushered straight into my economy section. My window seat was right next to the wing on the left side of the plane, and I was lucky enough to have the whole 3-seat row to myself. This allowed me to lay down and actually get some sleep.
This was by far the longest flight I’ve ever taken and I was very nervous beforehand about what I would do the whole time and what I should bring. Now that it’s over, here is a list of the items I’m glad I had with me:
- noise-cancelling headphones
- neck pillow
- wool blend compression socks (mine are these from Sockwell)
- 2 liters of water
- face cleansing wipes
I brought multiple books and magazines, as well as my iPad, but surprisingly didn’t spend much time with any of them. I mostly watched the movies and TV shows available on the flight’s free on-demand system or slept. When I first sat down I thought I’d watch at least 5 movies but I ended up only getting through 2 and a half. I slept a lot more than I thought I would. The plane was dark through most of the flight which is part of why I didn’t do much reading. I could have turned on the light above my seat but the people around me were sleeping and those lights are quite bright.
I had heard wonderful things about the food on Emirates and when I saw the menu I was impressed. In the end, I would say it was more interesting than the food I’ve had on other airlines but I’m not sure I would say it was better. For dinner I had a fish curry and some red wine. That was the best meal of the flight. Later on there was a cheese pizza snack which was overly salty for me. For “breakfast” I had scrambled eggs and chicken sausage. I really didn’t like this meal. For both the dinner and breakfast, the vegetarian options I saw looked better so I might have to try that on the way back.
About half way through the flight I looked at the time and couldn’t believe we were only half way there. At that point I had pretty much slept as much as I could and my ears were tired of wearing headphones. A guy who was traveling with his family back to India ended up sitting in my row for awhile as it was right behind his sister and we got to talking. I’m not normally one to enjoy small talk with strangers but it was nice to have someone to talk to during that insanely long flight.