Dubai.

My first holiday with my husband and our girls.

Before I tell you all about the holiday itself, let me be clear that this trip required me to face many anxieties and fears, not just flying, but many other things that may seem trivial to some, but were a huge deal to me. I had to confront my anxieties about airport queues, due to fear of having a panic attack and not being able to escape, or have anywhere to calm myself down. I had to confront my fear of being a passenger, both in taxis and transit trains, for the same reason. I had to confront my anxieties about medical emergencies or incidents involving my children, in a place far from home, where I didn’t know how the medical care system worked. These were all very real, very scary fears for me. They were things I had avoided for a long time, I mean, prior to travelling this year, I had managed to avoid cabs and trains for well over a decade (yes really). This holiday really has marked a huge shift in the way I choose to live my life, and I’m so grateful for support I received from friends and family, and particularly my husband. I also recognise and feel proud of myself, for the hard work it took, the difficult personal journey I came through, to get to the other side of my fear. I finally feel like I’m starting to live again.

The flight to Dubai was an overnight flight with British Airways and it was pretty uneventful. It was tiring though and I found myself wanting to nod-off, but kept jolting back to reality, worrying about the girls. They managed to get a little sleep, and Leya entertained herself with the IFE, however Aria found the headphones uncomfortable and wanted to sit in her dads lap for most of the flight (not so much fun for him).

We landed in Dubai at around 8.30am local time, and the airport was quiet. It’s a long walk and a short transit train ride at DXB to passport control. One thing -possibly the only thing- that impressed me about the airport, was that they opened up fast track family lanes to get you through immigration as quickly as possible if you had children with you. We collected our bags and headed to the taxi rank.

The Dubai heat hit me like a blast from an oven full of hot air! I was NOT prepared for how hot it was. However, we were soon in an air-conditioned taxi, on our way to the Hotel. Our driver was a friendly woman, and I immediately felt at ease in her cab.

Sofitel Dubai Palm Resort and Spa was beautiful. Adorned with palm trees, and designed with a Polynesian theme. There was a real ‘Island’ feel that I think hotels on the main land would find difficult to rival. The welcome in the main lobby was warm and friendly, with an efficient check in and a delicious cold beverage, which was very much appreciated. Our room wasn’t ready, due to us arriving significantly earlier than the regular check-in time, but we were invited to make use of the pool while we waited. When they did call us an hour later, we were delighted to discover that we had been upgraded to a suite. The room was gorgeous, with a huge bathroom and our own private terrace with comfy seating and a dining area, surrounded by tropical greenery.

The pool was fabulous and we spent our days cooling off, taking in the beautiful views and sipping cold drinks in one of the poolside cabanas. We would take late afternoon naps with the girls, and then shower and dress for dinner. The dining at the hotel was lovely, with lots of choice and something for everyone. We mostly ate at the buffet restaurant Manava, as it was the most convenient option with the girls. We tried the Porterhouse Grill one evening, and the steak was delicious.

As it was so hot (being the Gulf in the middle of summer), we weren’t interested in the usual Dubai excursions of shopping malls and sand safaris, this was more a chance for us to spend some quality time together as a family. That said, I had to visit Dubai Mall once, to see what the hype was about (Don’t believe the Hype), and to eat some cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, The peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake was amazing. The mall-not so much. Dubai is extortionate to shop in and I refuse to pay double what I would here for make-up. perfume, clothes, shoes and handbags.

Our flight home was delayed by over five hours (thanks BA), and we spent hours waiting around the airport. The girls were irritable and we were all extra exhausted by the time we eventually got back to London. This was further exacerbated by the fact that they couldn’t find anyone to attach the jetty to the aircraft, and then there were only two customs officers working in passport control. We had to queue for ages, as we couldn’t use the e-gates, and all families and non-EU passengers were sent the same way-bizarre!

I loved every minute of being in the resort and spending time with my family. Would I go back to Dubai? Maybe. I’d like to experience it again when it’s cooler, and maybe try a different resort, but I don’t think it will be until after I’ve been to some of my other dream destinations. The architecture, although impressive is a little over-bearing, and the dusty atmosphere with it’s never-ending construction just isn’t for me. They know how to create fabulous resorts though, I’ll give them that.

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