Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ramblings: Why Dubai?

What is the attraction with Dubai as a holiday destination? I just don’t get it. Of all the holiday resorts it would be bottom of my list to visit, below Blackpool or Iran. It looks hot and dusty, there’s not much booze and they don’t like gays and women much. It doesn’t look like a place of glamour and sophistication to me, unless you’re the kind of person who thinks Ferrero Rocher adverts ooze style. It looks tacky and bleak. The pictures I’ve seen make Centre Parks look cool and it seems to resemble a giant mall full of tacky crap that even Michael Jackson would have turned his nose up at on one of his wild shopping sprees.

I shouldn’t really judge the place till I’ve been but I can pretty much guess it isn’t for me, just as Antarctica wouldn’t be. I actually don’t really like traditional holidays too much. Most people’s idea of a holiday is my idea of hell. I haven’t been on a package holiday for seven years. The thought brings me out in hives.

I definitely don’t like beach holidays. I burn easily. I once got sunburnt so badly in Skegness as a child that my parents had to extend a grim caravan holiday by a week whilst I lingered in the local children’s hospital having my wounds dressed. For those of you reading from foreign climes: it’s almost impossible to burn in Skegness. The sun never shines and the local advertising slogan is “Skegness is bracing!” a.k.a. windy as hell. The Lincolnshire coast is a grim grey one.  

Sitting on a beach is so uncomfortable. It’s sweaty and hot, the sand gets everywhere and there’s nothing interesting to see unless you fancy ogling the pitiful specimens filing by in ill judged swimwear or like looking at sea, which to be honest, always looks like sea. The longest I’ve ever managed sun bathing for is an hour. It’s an endurance test for me. I get myself lathered head to toe in sun cream and lay out my belongings. I then try to get comfortable. This process takes about twenty minutes. I then sit in the sun for about ten minutes, trying hard not to glance at my watch. I get irritable. I wriggle about. I try to ignore the heat of the sun and the sweat pouring from my every pore. I try to read and try to get comfortable. This usually lasts five or ten minutes. I then leave the beach, after ten minutes spent putting my stuff back away.

I don’t do well in high temperatures. I wilt, my bowels curdle and I get heat rashes. I hate the performance of having to cover up just to go outside for a walk. All that slapping on sun cream, only to sweat it off as you walk around in undignified attire. Nasty.

Man made holiday resorts bore me senseless. There’s nothing to do but wander round trying to spot amusing Europeans in bad denim or sit making up little stories about dodgy couples who look a bit like swingers or serial killers. Finding the most lurid pictures on the awful photo board menus can be a sport in itself. It’s like a competition to see who can make the most innocuous food look as rancid as possible. There are parts of Europe that really aren’t worth the aggravation of a few hours on a plane to see. If I take the trouble to navigate cheesy air stewards with fixed grins, screaming kids and cramped seats, with only a hideous Jack Black comedy for entertainment, then I expect to arrive in a place with magnificent architecture and loads to see. Arriving in a barren resort with grimy sand and an Irish bar is not good for me.

All inclusive holidays make me think of Butlins camps with more sun. Neither is needed. I can’t imagine staying in one place for a week or more. I imagine it’s a bit like Tenko without the relief of Stephanie Cole’s acerbic wit.

Relaxing isn’t relaxing to me. Sun loungers seem like a threat as do bare hotel rooms. I want to walk, see and think. I have to be entertained a lot or find ways to amuse myself. Hanging around for seven to ten days in a resort feels claustrophobic. I recall passing time languidly, bored and indolent, waiting for lunch, waiting for dinner, waiting for sleep. For me, those kinds of holidays seem good as a prospect, are vile at the time and are remembered fondly through a haze of false nostalgia.

Skiing doesn’t sound like fun either. I imagine lots of hale and hearty people and me making a complete dick of myself and ultimately fracturing some bone which is impossible to fracture normally. Snow is tedious, as is exercise. A holiday combining the two sounds like a new kind of purgatory to me.

Don’t even get me started on activity holidays. Trekking in Peru or clambering over dangerous rocky crags? I can’t even begin to understand it.

Some people are natural travellers, liking the adventure of it all and relishing discomfort and grimy experience. I have a TV for that. The views are much better and you don’t get flea bites. I’m not at all comfortable with roughing it. It’s en suite or nothing. Preferably, a memory foam mattress, mood lighting and a functional bidet would be standard too. Air conditioning is an absolute necessity.

An ideal holiday for me would involve a city, preferably one with a moderate ambient temperature, good museums and galleries and nice places to take bracing strolls, with stop offs at good quality cafes. Naturally this would involve cake eating and people watching.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ll perhaps understand my reluctance to go on holiday. Near drowning, acute intestinal upsets and accidental stays in brothels feature. I’ll stick to my trips to Edinburgh, Brighton or London for now and keep a return to Paris, Barcelona or Rome (in a quality hotel during the winter, of course) in my sights when I can muster up the energy again. It’s much safer that way.  

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