travel postcards, practical advice, images and snippets of randomness

Despite being almost 1000 years old (since building began), Gloucester Cathedral is quite a contemporary place and features some wonderful modern additions, such as the blue stained glass windows in a small chapel behind the altar.

At the moment they are hosting an exhibition called Crucible 2 featuring work by many contemporary artists – including Anthony Gormley. Crucible 2 runs until the end of October – get there if you can.

Gloucester Cathedral - Cloisters

Gloucester Cathedral – Cloisters

Gloucester Cathedral - Blue Stained Glass

Gloucester Cathedral – Blue Stained Glass

Dubai Airport is a major hub for traffic between Europe and Asia, and with Emirates’ services to local airports across Europe it can provide better choices than some national carriers: for example, you no longer have to face the nightmare journey (and expense) of departures from London to reach the Far East and Australia.

There are a few things to note ‘tho:

The terminal at Dubai is huge (by some measures the largest building on earth). Transfers between gates can involve an underground train journey and can take up to 45 minutes. There are cafes, shops and toilets all over the place, so it’s advisable to get to your departure gate and then look around.
This is particularly the case if you disembark ‘off gate’ and have to get to the terminal by bus. The journey can go on for ages, to the visible consternation of people who have not experienced this before – as long as 30 minutes to the terminal after getting off the plane.

Dubai is famous for shopping and the airport particularly so. It’s surreal to arrive at a major shopping mall in the middle of a desert in the middle of the night, to find it full of people from every corner of the globe – often in national dress – and all spending like crazy…
However: be sure to have a currency converter with you because I have found that prices in the ‘Duty Free’ are not very competitive and they do not carry the latest and most up to date stock lines.

For example: in August 2014 I checked prices on a Fujipix XP70 camera.  The price in Thailand was 5990 Bht, Dubai Duty Free were charging 7,800 Bht for the same camera, some 30% more than the Thai tax paid high street price.
The currency is often the cause of the problem, Dubai prices goods in Emirates Dirham and US Dollars (at their conversion rate), if you don’t understand current rates you may assume you and getting a duty free bargain when you are not. The same camera would actually be cheaper from Amazon in the UK (with free delivery), including the UK 20% VAT/ sales tax…

High pricing continues in most areas of the airport: a small can of Fosters lager is 35 Dirham, (£5.67 or 306 Bht), and whilst I accept that airports are premium priced venues, this is still very high (a pint of lager in Suvarnabhumi BKK is 250 Bht). Coffee is around £3 depending on what style you order.

Another issue is that they will take most currencies, but give you change in Dirham. So if you break a £10 or a £20, then effectively that is what you are spending – unless of course you are staying here. It’s not uncommon to see people checking price lists, to see what massively overpriced items they can use up their change on.
Despite any loading, it’s probably better to pay by card, and always in the local currency, don’t let them convert it to dollars, sterling or whatever, ‘for your convenience’…

The airport offers WiFi: DBX Free WiFi shows up as connected, but I can never make it work. Instead you are redirected to a service from Boingo, which offers a free 30 minutes but wants you to sign up… yada yada yada – they have other priced plans as well. Not worth the bother really, sounds like the gateway to a lifetime of spam.

So; Dubai offers some attractive transfer options for global travel from local destinations – but check your prices if you intend to snap up a duty free bargain.


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