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Destination Abroad

Turkey & Dubai 2013

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Unlike the previous yearly trips in February the Visitor embarked on a more organized group tour this year, which was a one week trip to 2 countries with the Norwegian travel agency Oska Travel. The trip was for seven nights in a group tour, where around 150 Icelanders left for Turkey, of which 14 persons then also left for Dubai. We left for Dubai after three nights in Turkey, staying there also for three nights. On the way back we stayed again one night in Turkey before leaving for the 6 hour flight to Iceland. The biggest part of the group stayed all the seven nights in Turkey. The price for the trip was good or only around 950 dollars for Turkey/Dubai and a real bargain or only 500 dollars for those who just stayed in Turkey. This included all flights, hotels with breakfast and some tours mainly for those who only stayed in Turkey, they drove to (too) many places. However the guides in Turkey were very eager to sell the clients so-called comfort package which included all dinners and some lunches for those only staying in Turkey for 150 Euros, most probable a good choice. For those staying in both Turkey and Dubai it costed 350 Euros!, but included as well as 6 dinners, 3 lunches, some sightseeing and more. We didn’t find it economical to buy it and thereby having meals at the same places most of the time. The guide was in fact very pushy trying to sell it.

The airline which the group flew with was Coredon which is Turkish / Dutch, and we flew with them all the parts. The service on board could be described as medium rare, many of the flight attendants needed a bit more of smile on their lips, as the Visitor found a little bit the case in general with the Turks this time. We stayed in the so called Turkish Rivera on the south coast in the area Antalya. This was the visitors third time in Turkey (previously in Marmaris and a small village Fetchi not so really far from Antalya). The hotels we stayed in, in Turkey called themselves 5 stars but according to European standards one could easily withdraw at least 20% of that, leaving them with less than 4 stars. The hotel for the first three nights was hotel Verde, which is part of a Turkish hotel chain. There are many German tourists so the staff often spoke more German than English. The rooms in Verde were quite nice and spacious. The hotel had a gym, spa area Turkish bath, bowling and more. This travel period is of course off season and therefore the small towns were rather lifeless apart from a few shops and restaurants that were open. The temperature in Turkey was around 15-20 C in the daytime and less than 10 C in the evening.

Our sightseeing tours where the first day, to a famous Roman theatre nearby and some other Roman ruins including lunch at a restaurant in the area. We went the second day to the capital city Antalya in this area. This is a rather nice and clean city. The tour included also a visit to a wholesale gold factory which was not so interesting and very pricey.

The Visitor left the organized tour at that point to avoid the tour to the leather factory. Instead I explored the city with a friend, taking a local bus ride, doing some shopping and using the tram in the city. It was interesting to go there and see the daily life of the local people, by strolling the streets and plazas. The shopping prices were also generally good. Same goes for dining the price is usually good, although the Turkish cuisine is nothing to boast about and rather monotonous. The price in the gold factory was however quite high and we discovered that the price for a nice gold ring with diamonds etc. was better in Antalya in a nice shop, than in the factory!

As usual in the Asian countries the Visitor also had a good haircut for only 6 Euros, as often in Asia the work was the same or better than in the European saloons, but included also some shoulder massage and the usual Asian cleaning of the ears with fire.

After staying 3 days in Turkey we flew to Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates (OAE), with a morning flight which took a bit more than 4 hours. But this trip took almost a whole day, because of airport transfer, having to arrive 2 hours before the flight, and 2 hour time difference and etc.

The inhabitants in the OAE are around 7.2 million of which only less than 20% are the local Arabs! Indians and Pakistanis count for around 56%. There are also many Filipinos and those nations count for a huge number of those people working in the service industry. To take an example our guide in Dubai was from India. Unfortunately the standard of the hotel in Dubai, being a 3 star Pakistani-apartment hotel, did not at all match the description from the travel agency which was supposed to be “a luxury 4 star hotel, with a great breakfast buffet”. However, the guide/ travel agency compensated the visitor with some free tours instead, after complaining.

The local Arabs in Dubai often dress in the traditional dresses the men in the whole white outfit and and slippers almost all the time. After a search I managed though to find a few not wearing slippers?.The women covered in black, usually having a veil as well and therefore covering most of their faces as well.
One could say that Dubai is a city of extremes, you will find in this young city, which is built from the desert, some sky high building, such as the world biggest building Burj Khalifa and the only so called seven star hotel Burj Al Arab. It has also the biggest shopping mall in the world with 2.200 shops. There is as well an indoor skiing area.

Dubai is divided into many areas and one could feel when the places got more beautiful and touristic, they became quite expensive. The food we had was nothing to boost about. The Visitor took both a city tour with a travel agency and a private tour with a friend who is currently living there. We visited the above mentioned places as well as Dubai Marina, the adventurous Atlantis the Palm hotel and more. It was quite interesting to see some Europeans having moved to this country. Their family life is in a nice and very well protected neighborhood.

I discovered that some travel agents down the road or even at the hotels, had tours, some various tours often at quite more affordable price than the travel agency. The visitor would recommend the Big Bus hop, hop on hop off City tour, which visits in 2 routes the 20 most interesting sights in the city. The friend also took the visitor to the old city, where he felt the more Arabic bazaar feeling as experienced from his former trips to the Middle East and the Arabic countries (see reviews from those trips). However the sky high buildings in the horizon, and the Indian sales person did not quite fit into that picture. The city was noticeable clean and one could hardly see any litter on the streets unlike so many European countries including Reykjavik.

It was overall a nice experience and something different to visit this city and country, although being quite artificial and strange and often lacking a certain charm.
The group left Dubai with a morning flight, stopping one day on the way back again in Turkey (in a different hotel, also “so-called five star hotel”) before leaving very early the following morning back to Iceland. It was not less enjoyable on our way from the international airport in Iceland to stop at Kaffitár in Keflavík, and get a very good coffee, which is much better by far than the ones in Turkey and Dubai, for the same price, as well as getting free water.
The answer from Oska travel when the Visitor sent them mail after returning home complaining about the hotel in Dubai, was very lousy, trying to say that this was according to the description which it was not at all! There was in fact many things in the service level which indicated my findings about the agency not being completely Norwegian but Norwegian – Turkish.

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