Most people start off meeting somewhere mutual before realising they like eachother, a few texts back and forth before organising a first date maybe. After a first date if both parties are interested, a second date is arranged followed by a third, and so it goes on. A first holiday is organised what, a few months down the line? Once you’ve decided things are ‘official’ and you feel comfortable enough being exposed in a two piece H&M bikini or a pair of Speedo’s for longer than a swimming pool outing.
So what’s the stance on a first, second and third date, oh and a holiday..rolled into one weekend..in Dubai?
Yeah. I kinda went on a date to Dubai.
It was the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done. The reason I did it? Because I couldn’t think of any why I shouldn’t. The friends I told encouraged me to go for it: “It’ll be a good story to tell your grandkids. You can say that when you were in your twenties you took up an offer to go on a date thousands of miles away”. That sold it to me; I’ll be such a cool grandma. Well, no, that wasn’t the main reason. I got bored of dating incompatible guys, so I decided to give it a break and see if anything came to me. Ironically, a reader of this very blog got in touch with me after I had met him on holiday in Dubai a couple of months ago through mutual friends. He asked for the link to the blog after hearing about it through our friends, so I gave it to him.
Things quickly turned from generic chat to more subjective life chat. We messaged constantly for around two weeks before he popped the question, so to speak. He had won a night’s stay in a 5* hotel on The Palm in Dubai which he needed to use before July: “Don’t suppose you want to come and be my +1? It’ll only go to waste else” I read on my whatsapp.. who am I to turn that offer down? I’ll be doing him a big favour helping him use that hotel and I’m all for doing a good deed.
Firstly though, I didn’t take it seriously. This doesn’t happen to me, you read these sorts of scenarios in books, and only Rebecca Bloomwood gets these mental opportunities. So I asked him if he was being serious to which I got “yeah, why not! Be spontaneous!” I have a scour at Skyscanner on my lunch break and realise the flights aren’t actually too expensive at this time of year, probably something to do with the 35degree average temperature. Even the airlines are trying to lure me in, I thought. It took me a couple of days of thinking and asking others opinions, oh and selling a pair of Louboutins (it’s okay, I have another pair and the sold ones were bought for me by my ex, bad omen) before I finally sat down and booked it. Good old AMEX doubling my air miles with BA, another pro to this crazy decision I was making. So now I had booked a flight to go on a date, in Dubai. I’ve bloody done it. Oh. My. God.
After constant, and I mean constant, messaging to the point where my housemates told me I was acting like a teenager, by the way I would laugh out loud then look up to find them all staring at me, as if I’d just interrupted a conversation about religion or something. Sooorry guys, just a message I got. Cheshire cat grin plastered on my face. I knew I’d made the right decision, albeit a crazy one.
We all have that nervous anticipation before a first date. I had met this guy a couple of times previously, but in a social capacity. There was no one-on-one time, in fact I even tried to get my friend to chat him up while we were there on holiday, though I did approach it as “he’s really fit, what do you think? Holiday romance?” she was having none of it and I didn’t think about myself, too busy playing matchmaker. (I did add him on facebook after that holiday though; he made the first message move).
I hadn’t felt this excited in a good few years. Guys have come and gone and the ones who have been interested have either been too overbearing or boring. The fact I was going to another country to meet someone that hadn’t been via Tinder or a setup was exciting and new. Not to mention the fact I was about to top up the already fresh tan.
Reality kicked in the day of flight. Sat at my desk in the office, my colleagues all knew what I was up to, one asked how I was feeling. Up until that moment I was so busy with work that I hadn’t properly thought about the getting to the airport, or getting to the other side. Now I started to panic. We both obviously had an idea of eachother and we always glorify what someone will be like when it’s in our heads. So what if he was really disappointed? I’m a bit too down to earth sometimes, people think I’ll be intimidating and sophisticated whereas I’m ditzy and a klutz at the best of times, hiding behind my eyeliner.
After a smooth Terminal 5 experience, I arrived in Dubai. I waited for half an hour at the wrong baggage carousel. *Introducing me*.
Once I realised that everyone else had left and I didn’t actually recognise anyone off my flight, I found my bag sat next to another carrousel like a total loner. Good start.
Meanwhile he was waiting outside for me; we greeted eachother with a peck. I was knackered, properly tired but I quickly forgot about that and the chat was mainly consisted of me saying “I can’t believe I’m here”, to which he responded “it’s good right?”
We got better acquainted after a Bucks Fizz that morning. He took me on the best first date I’ve been on..wine and cheese. Can’t go wrong, did he research these were my two favourite foodstuffs? We proceeded to a bar in a nearby hotel, turns out it was the wrong hotel and we were rather tipsy in a lift with some strangers when he realised the error. We went to the right hotel. We drank more. I spilt the best part of a glass of Cabernet Shiraz over my cream dress and tried to hide it, it didn’t work, he noticed it and we used white wine to attempt a DIY Vanish jobbie.
Second day we went to the famous hotel on The Palm. Those who know me know I get very excited, the phrase ‘like a kid at Christmas’ is apt for this situation. This was just something else. We pulled up to a grand entrance and I had that light headed ‘wow, this is amazing’ feeling as we entered. I’ve been to nice hotels before, but I was swept up in the romance of it all.
That feeling remained until I was asked for my passport ID upon check-in. I had left it at his apartment. Shit. The lady at reception told us there was no way we can stay without my passport, it was a requirement. She asked if I would have a copy on my emails. Yes!! I did. When buying a place with my ex I had to scan it to our solicitor, this information all rushed to me and I spent about ten minutes trawling through my emails until I found it. Thank god for that, trust me to almost ruin the holiday. Our hotel room was awesome, the balcony looked out onto a pool lagoon and we sat outside in our robes drinking red wine that night before having dinner at Atlantis.
The rest of the weekend was a dream. No awkward silences but no forced conversation, I was happy to lie on the sun lounger on the beach with a cocktail in silence, just soaking it up. Then we had sea breaks and just talked about all sorts. Watched footballer Darren Bent (yeah I had no idea who he was either) trying to balance on a paddle board, and drank lots. The final day was spent at the beach before he took me to the Hilton Skybar which had epic views across The Palm and we supped a G&T with the sunset as our backdrop.
We proceeded to a cute Italian (restaurant!) for dinner before I headed back to the airport. I remembered I had promised my vegetarian friend who was my holiday companion the last visit, that I would bring her back some marshmallows. Apparently fish gelatine is better than pig, so a detour via Spinney’s supermarket was made, with me tottering in my heels around the supermarket looking at the ingredients list of these mallows. T’was a scene.
We said our goodbyes and I was back at Dubai airport ready for a 6 hour night flight/sleep across three seats before returning back to my desk for 9am. With a head buzzing with new memories, and a bloody good tan.