OR How to amuse yourself in a non-Disney resort when your husband's at work... Cast: Me: Karen (a.k.a Kaz) 40-something. Loves to take advantage of all travel opportunities, a Virgin Redhead in the VA Clubhouse and spending slightly less of DH's $$$ than before... Him: Richard (a.k.a ****) Slightly older 40-something. Loves most things Kaz suggests, a Kir Royale in any Lounge and holding onto his wallet at all times... Rogues Gallery: Kaz... ****... Plot: On Friday of last week, my lovely husband phoned me from work to tell me about an upcoming business trip he absolutely had to do at short notice. However, he suggested that as would be after my last exam, I go with him and we add a couple of days on at the end!!! "Where are you going?" I asked, mild curiosity in my voice and I could not believe his reply of "Dubai, baby!!!" Suffice to say I spent quite a few moments squealing and leaping around the kitchen in my PJs!!! I composed myself sufficiently to put the phone down and before you could say "By Richard Branson's Beard!", I was online and booking my upper class flights with Virgin. The absolute bonus was the fact that I was lucky enough to be able to use miles so my return flights just cost £245 in fees!!! I then ensured I was sitting next to my husband (his flights had been booked via his work travel agent) and tried v-e-r-y hard not to be distracted from my final phase of revision... Later, in a study break, I checked out what tours were possible in Dubai and picked out a couple I could do on my own as part of a group... I've only accompanied Richard on business trips a couple of times over the past 20 years but I know the most important thing is NOT to be desperate for your husband to return!!! SO I really wanted to have a few plans for myself in place... I didn't know where we would be staying until yesterday as the company have a shortlist of hotels with favourable corporate rates and we would be governed by that. I really couldn't believe it when Richard texted me with the news that we would be staying at the fab-looking beach resort on the list!!! Finally, I was able to book the tours and print out the vouchers... So dear readers, without further ado, I give you... The Itinerary... Sunday May 31st: Courtesy of DH's work, we have a limo coming to pick us up at around 4.45pm this afternoon which will hopefully ensure we are whisked around the M25 to Heathrow without delay. I hope we get to do that 'check-in from the car' thingy before heading straight to the Clubhouse for one of these... ...and a pedicure. Actually, Richard declined the pedi and for some reason insisted on having a shoulder and back massage instead...? Anyway, we should be hopefully in our seats (10K, 11K) and on flight VS400 without delay... As it's an overnight flight, I shall be requesting a sleepsuit and a pillow as soon as decently possible - a gal needs her beauty sleep dontcha know!!! ZZZZZZZZ Monday June 1st: Arrive in Dubai at 6.55am. I think we're being picked up by a car and Richard is being taken straight to the office. The car will then take me and the luggage to our hotel for the next 6 nights... And here it is - Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa... Looks pretty fabulous so I shall undoubtedly spend the rest of the day checking out the resort, relaxing by the pool and exploring out the beach before getting an early night... Tuesday June 2nd: Another working day for Richard, so definitely an opportunity for me check out some of the shopping opportunities (shopportunities?) Dubai is famous for! I plan to hire a cab from the hotel and go to one of the Malls... I have to be honest, it's really the Mall of the Emirates that is calling me so I think I will head there for a few hours... This afternoon, I'll return to the resort for more sun, sea and sand... I am also thinking of booking a facial and massage as they have some wonderful exotic-sounding, age-defying solutions on offer - God knows I need 'em all... Wednesday June 3rd: The first of my solo excursions is booked for today and I need to be up bright and early as it's a 9am kick-off. I have a seat on a tour to the nearby city of Sharjah, the "Pearl of the Gulf". Seems one of the many landmarks to see during the tour is King Faisal Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the Emirates. I'll visit the renovated Fort of Sharjah, former residence of the ruling family originally built in 1820, then continue to the Heritage Museum and proceed to wander through the adjacent souk "Al Arsa". Before returning to the hotel, there will be time to stroll and shop at souk "Al Markazi" a treasure trove of carpets, jewelry and handicrafts. Sounds fun,huh???? I'm especially looking forward to trying out my new camera and haggling over a rug... OK, it's the rug I'm mainly keen on... Later, I'll return and head out to the pool area before hopefully (fingers crossed as it depends on Richard's schedule) getting ready for a Dhow dinner cruise... I haven't pre-booked this as we're not sure which evenings Richard will have free but we are determined to do one so it'll happen sometime during the week and I think this evening is free... As the resort has fourteen (YES, 14!!!!) on-site bars and restaurants, I don't think we'll go hungry or thirsty... Anyhow, the upshot of this is that I haven't made any specific dining plans... Thursday June 4th: This morning I intend to practise the ancient art of Chillax! A good book, my iPod and a handy beach or pool area are all I need for this and guess what, I have them right there!!! I shall, however, be getting ready for a 1pm pick-up as my second solo sight-seeing expedition leaves then! This afternoon I'm going to be exploring Dubai itself and hopefully get to experience it's historic sites and vibrant cosmopolitan life. From the famous gold souk to the sail-shaped hotel Burj Al Arab, I'll see all the famous sights of Dubai on this leisurely afternoon tour. The excursion begins with a photo stop at Dubai's most famous landmark, the Burj Al Arab hotel. The unique billowing sail design of this world-renowned luxury hotel is a must-see for all visitors to Dubai. I'll then be taken to Jumeirah, Dubai's picturesque palace and residential area that's also home to the famous Jumeirah Mosque. The tour then continues to Al Bastakiya, Dubai's atmospheric old quarter by the Creek. Here, I'm gonna visit Dubai's famous museum housed in the former Al Fahidi Fort. Then it's all aboard the Abra (water taxi) to cross the Creek to the spice souk followed by time to shop in another famous Dubai landmark, the glistening gold souk... I'll be meeting up with my fab husband for an evening of on-site fun... Friday June 5th: This is the first day of the weekend in Dubai so Richard will be free to do what he wants any old time!!! I am absolutely 100% confident that he will be in need of a little pool and beach therapy... We shall spend most of the day at the resort before getting ready for our late afternoon excursion which sees us travelling by 4WD across the deserts of Dubai!!! Yeah, baby!!! We're going to be sandboarding and dining under the stars... As far as Richard is concerned, heading into the desert is a must-do experience when you're visiting Dubai so this is his choice... Zipping along by 4WD, there'll be several photo stops during an exciting drive across the dunes to the first destination, a camel farm. The drive continues across the desert and we will witness a beautiful desert sunset. It's one of the highlights of a trip to the Arabian desert. Upon arrival at the campsite, there'll be an opportunity to ride on a camel, experience the thrill of sandboarding and try out a henna design on hands or feet... After all that activity it's time to enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner and a shisha (the famous Arabic water pipe). The evening also includes a belly dancer performing her show around the campfire in the moonlight... Sounds like a fitting final excursion on this short notice shindig... Saturday June 6th: Our last full day and I just want Richard to have as much downtime as possible so another beach/pool day is what I have in mind... We might venture off-site and visit the amazing Atlantis Resort for a meal at Rostang, the French brasserie with a modern twist BUT we might not... Don't know when we'll get a chance to come here together again so it makes sense to just enjoy the resort... Sunday June 7th: Up bright and early - very early - for our 9.15am return flight (VS401) to Heathrow... We're heading to the Gulf Air lounge at Dubai airport before boarding our flight and settling into seats 10K and 11K... All things being equal, we should arrive at Heathrow for 2pm so we should be totally turning into Taylor Towers by mid-afternoon - those kids better have the red carpet out... Until next time, you've been kind and I've been fah-bu-lous. PARTY ON!!!