Day 1 Ever since my approval for my application for British citizenship had come through, we had planned that as soon as I had my British passport, we would go to Dubai for a weekend so that I could get some stamps in my new passport. The original plan had been to do this January or February, but this year has been so busy so far that this became increasingly unlikely. I started to believe that I would get my very first stamp when I am going to the USA in May. Then luck struck. I needed to attend a meeting on a day off and in exchange, I was given the Monday off after a weekend that I was off anyway. Dubai was back on again. We had planned to fly out on the evening flight on the Friday, but that flight was very busy. So I managed to swap with a colleague to give me the Friday off as well and we were all set. We were up bright an early at 5:30 in the morning that Friday. We got ready, grabbed our carry ons and walked to the station. We got on the train precisely 45 minutes after getting up, which must be a new record. The airport that morning was a zoo. Fortunately our desks were not particularly busy. I quickly said "hi" to my colleagues at the ticket desk and checked where we needed to go. At different times, I have been directed to the Business Class check in or the Online check in desk. That day we were sent to the Business Class check in. As we approached the check in desk, the customer in front of us was just finishing off so essentially we were checked in straightaway. Flying standby is always a bit nerve wrecking and often you have to wait until check in is closed before you find out if you are actually on the flight. Sure enough, the person checking us in checked with her colleague when she should ask us to be back. He checked his system and saw that we already had been allocated seats and handed her our boarding passes. So there was no waiting around this time. This turned out to be just as well. When we left the check in desk, we saw a huge line. I thought that this was the line for check in for one of the other airlines. However, it turned out to be the line for the desk where they check passports and boarding passes before you even get in the area for security. I started to get very worried. The lines moved quite quickly. When we got to security, it was smooth sailing. Neither of our bags made a detour this time for extra screening. Once we were through security, I had to go an buy some toothpaste as we were only travelling with carry ons, we were restricted as to what toiletries we could take. Everything else we needed, I had in travel sizes, but no toothpaste. So I got a travel size at the airport. We walked through duty free, but I did not stop. We still had time until the gate opened so we went to Starbucks for some breakfast. Graham had an Americano and a Cinnamon Swirl and I had a Caramel Macchiato and a slice of Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf. After breakfast, we had a quick bathroom stop and then we headed towards the gate. We were quite surprised that even though it was still an hour until our scheduled departure time, most people already seemed to be on board and they had started open boarding. We walked up to the gate and walked straight onto the plane. We had been allocated a window seat and middle seat in the second row in economy. When I handed Graham my carry on to put away, I noticed that somehow I managed to lose my neck pillow that I had tied around the handle. Once everything had been stored away, I checked out the offerings on the entertainment system. I decided to check out the soundtrack for Les Miserables while we were waiting for our turn for take off. Once we were up in the air, the cabin crew came round with hot flannels and the menu. I was delighted to see that they were no longer offering a cooked breakfast. The food served on Emirates is normally very good, but the cooked breakfast that we had in 2010 was not quite up to the usual standard. Instead of the cooked breakfast, they were now serving a continental breakfast and then lunch later in the flight. By the time breakfast was served, I had finished listening to Les Miserables. I had brought my own cheap noise-cancelling headphones, but I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the sound on the plane. We were also on one of our newer Boeing 777s and I was surprised just how quiet this aircraft was. Breakfast was very nice. It consisted of Orange Juice, a warm Croissant with Butter and Marmalade, Fresh Fruit, a Vanilla Plait and something to drink from the trolley. I went for Mango Juice, but unfortunately I somehow managed to knock this over and some of this ended up being spilled over Graham and me. After breakfast, I played some of the games and then I watched Hitchcock. I had seen trailers for this at the cinema and was quite curious about this, but not enough to go and watch it in the cinema. This turned out to be a really good film. Once the film was over, I went back to my games until lunch was served. Lunch consisted of Smoked Trout served on Courgette Salad topped with Cherry Tomato and fresh Parsley, a hot meal, Apple and Blackberry Crisp, which was a Cinnamon Crumble with Vanilla-flavoured Mousse, topped with Apple and Blackberry Confit. We also got a Roll, a snack box with Cream Crackers, Cheese Spread, Bruchetta Bites and Sweet Chilli Sauce and a piece of Chocolate. Graham had Lamb Vindaloo with steamed Basmati Rice and Mixed Vegetables for his hot meal and I had Grilled Chicken with creamy Pepper Sauce, Mashed Potato, Carrots and sautéed Celery. Lunch was very pleasant. We both had some white wine and water with our meal and some coffee afterwards. After lunch I took turns playing some of the games and listening to music while I had the map up. We got treated to a fantastic view once again. Those of you who followed my last trip report will remember my photos that we took flying over Greenland. We got a very similar view,but this time instead of snow and ice we were treated to sand dunes and desert and instead of over Greenland, we were flying over Iraq. After this, it did not take much longer until we were approaching Dubai. We were ahead of schedule. The captain made an announcement that we were in a holding pattern, but that Dubai recently had installed a new air traffic control system, which had increased the frequency in which planes can land and he was optimistic that we would get a slot ahead of time. In the meantime we were treated to a fantastic view of Dubai at night while we were circling. Unfortunately the only cameras we had brought were our underwater cameras and they did not cope with nighttime conditions at all. Suddenly we went into a very sharp bank and then we were descending into Dubai. Normally whenever I have flown to Dubai on a Boeing 777, they had parked us on a remote stand where we had to take a bus back to the terminal. So I was delighted when we turned towards the terminal building. On the way, we taxied past our new Concourse A, which is our dedicated Airbus A380 terminal. It looked very impressive with an A380 parked at every gate. When we had got off the plane, we made a quick bathroom stop and then we started our very long walk towards immigration. As we started walking, we could hear the call to prayer. Now I definitely knew that I was in Dubai. When we got to immigration, we found huge queues. We have arrived in Dubai at the busiest time of the day for Dubai airport before and although the lines were long, they moved quickly. This was supposedly a quieter time, but the lines did not move at all. Initially they only had one desk open for residents and people who just needed a stamp in their passport like us. Suddenly immigration officials arrived from every corner. I think they must all have been at prayer.after this the line moved really quickly and soon I had my first stamp in my shiny, new British passport. Graham made a comment to this effect, which triggered a huge smile and a "Congratulations" from the immigration official. As we had not checked any luggage, we could have walked straight to the baggage hall. However, the baggage hall in Dubai has something that I have never encountered anywhere else in the world - a duty free shop. I had been asked to bring back some cigarettes for two of my colleagues. As they do like to make staff travel passengers on standby tickets run in Dubai, I thought I better get the cigarettes while I could. I left Graham with our carry ons and went to did the shopping. This did not take long and we were soon clearing customs. When we got outside the terminal building, we had a short wait for the shuttle bus. This was not a hardship. It was still very warm and it was glorious to feel the warmth on the skin. When the shuttle came, it was the same driver that had driven the shuttle the previous two times I have stayed at the Premier Inn. It was nice to see a familiar face. We had to wait a few minutes in case somebody else showed up, but we were both handed a bottle of cold water so we were quite happy. Check in at the hotel was quick and smooth. We checked if the pool was still open and were told that it was until 22:00. At that point it was 21:10. Once the check in process was completed, we quickly went to our room to drop off the luggage and get changed into our swimming gear and then we headed up to the roof. It was quite windy up there and therefore it felt a lot cooler than it had been in ground level. We quickly admired the gorgeous view and then we got in the pool. The water was very warm and it was nice to just feel all the muscles unknot. I had expected that we would be the only people who wanted to swim that late at night, but there was somebody else in the pool as well. After we had swum quite a few length, we retired to the hot tub and relaxed in there for 10 minutes or so. While we were in the hot tub, we could smell grilled meat. We realised that we were both hungry. We got out of the hot tub, quickly dried off enough that we were no longer dripping and then wrapped ourselves in the huge beach towels and headed back to the room. Coming out of that hot tub definitely was not fun. Once we were back in our room, we got dried off properly and changed and then we went downstairs to the hotel bar for something to eat. We shared a bottle of water. Graham had a T Bone Steak with Chips. He commented that he went through three weeks in Florida to get a steak of this quality and here he got one within two hours of getting off the plane in the hotel restaurant of a budget hotel of all places. I was graving Middle Eastern food, but the only thing that fit the bill was lamb, which I do not eat. So I went with the Chicken Tikka Masala instead, which was served with Basmati Rice and a Poppadom. I have had countless Chicken Tikka Masalas over the years and this is one of my favourite curry dishes, but I was not prepared for this. I tasted the first bite and I wanted to spit fire. I don't think I have ever tasted something quite so spicy. Once I got over the initial shock, I thoroughly enjoyed it. After dinner, we went back to the room, got ready and went to bed.