Category: Travelling

Naik Kapal Pesiar di Sunborn Yacht London

Ada yang sudah pernah naik kapal pesiar?

Saya dan suami sama-sama memiliki impian untuk berlibur menggunakan kapal pesiar. Diawal menikah, kami sempat membeli paket tur milik Royal Carribbean. Tapi sebelum hal tersebut terlaksana, saya sudah keburu hamil, akhirnya mimpi naik pesiar kami simpan terlebih dahulu.

Hingga akhirnya April kemarin kami memutuskan untuk mengunjungi London. Saya dan suami sangat excited mengingat kami sama-sama belum pernah menjejakkan kaki di negaranya Ratu Elizabeth. Seperti biasa, saya mengambil alih tugas mencari hotel. Setelah berselancar di internet dan membaca berbagai artikel, saya menemukan hotel yang mengingatkan cita-cita kami diawal menikah dulu. Naik KAPAL PESIAR.

SunBorn Yacht Hotel terletak di Royal Victoria Dock, posisinya bisa dibilang tidak strategis karena jauh dari pusat perbelanjaan, old town bahkan bandara Heathrow. Bahkan seperti yang saya tulis di artikel sebelumnya, butuh £70 dari pusat kota untuk mencapai tempat ini dengan taksi. But, who cares?

Hotel yang diresmikan pada tahun 2015 ini memiliki total 136 kamar dan terdiri atas 5 lantai. Memasuki lobby, kami terperangah melihat interiornya yang klasik dan mewah. Apalagi badan kapal didesain menggunakan kaca transparan sehingga mata langsung tertuju ke sungai Thames yang mengalir dibawah kapal. Menurut staff yang bertugas, kapal pesiar yang digunakan memang khusus didesain menjadi hotel sehingga tidak ada mesin penggerak didalamnya.

Tepat pukul 03:00 pm, kami memasuki kamar yang sudah di-book sebelumnya. Agar pengalaman ini terasa maksimal, saya dan suami memesan ruangan dengan river view. Begitu pintu terbuka, I feel so sentimental. Kami bergegas menuju ke balkon, masyaa Allah. Semoga saya dan suami ada umur dan rejeki untuk berpesiar menggunakan kapal.

Sama seperti di lobby, perabot dan interior yang diusung bergaya klasik. Di mini bar tersedia coffee machine lengkap dengan peralatan minum teh dan coklat panas ala keluarga kerajaan Inggris. Jadilah kami menikmati pemandangan di balkon sambil ngopi-ngopi cantik 😉. Begitu pula dengan Deira yang berinisiatif untuk merebahkan diri di kasur yang empuk dan nyaman, belum lagi selimutnya yang lembut. Poin positif lain dari tempat ini, di kamar mandinya terdapat water closet with shower. Selama 9 hari sebelumnya di UK, baru dihotel ini saya menemukan water closet with shower. Sungguh suatu hal yang membahagiakan untuk traveler muslim seperti kami. Menurut saya, hotel ini bisa disejajarkan dengan resort. Karena begitu saya berada didalamnya, saya tidak berminat untuk keluar. Akan tetapi suami saya yang suka fotografi mengajak saya untuk mengeksplorasi daerah disekitar hotel sekaligus mencari makan malam.

Ternyata lokasi hotel berada di kawasan yang disebut dengan ExCeL atau Exhibition Center London, tepatnya bersebelahan dengan ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company). Usut punya usut, area tersebut merupakan salah satu investasi milik pemerintah Abu Dhabi. Tercatat, berbagai event berskala internasional seperti London Boat Show, British International Motor Show, London Marathon, World Travel Market, Defence Security and Equipment International dan G20 London Summit diselenggarakan di ExCeL.

Everything is connected
There are no coincidences

Sekitar 500 meter dari hotel juga terdapat Emirates Air Lines milik Doppelmayr yang pembangunannya disponsori oleh maskapai Emirates milik pemerintah UAE. Ditempat ini kita menyeberangi Sungai Thames dengan menggunakan cable car. Aliran sungai yang tenang tampak memukau dari ketinggian 90 meter, dibutuhkan waktu sekitar 10 menit untuk menyeberang dari sisi Royak Victoria Dock ke Greenwich Peninsula. Sebagai residen Abu Dhabi, saya sangat kagum dengan cara berpikir Sheikh Zayed dan Sheikh Khalifa yang visioner. Kepikiran aja bikin investasi disini. Semoga Indonesia bisa sevisioner UAE dan semakin jaya 🙂

Cruising London with Sunborn Yacht

Have you ever been on a cruise before?

My hubby and I both have a dream of being onboard of a cruise. When we just got married, we have booked a Royal Carribbean tour package, but then I was expecting baby Deira so the dream cruise had to be postponed.

Finally on April 2017, we decided to visit London. We were excited about it because this was the first time we would set foot on Queen Elizabeth’s land. As always, I took the charge of finding the hotel and, after cruising the internet and reading countless articles, I found a hotel that reminded us about our dream: TO BE ONBOARD OF A CRUISE.

Sunborn Yacht Hotel was moored on Royal Victoria Dock, which was quite far away from the shopping centre, old town, and Heathrow. It took us £70 to go to the dock from the city center, but who cares. This hotel, which was christened in 2015, had 5 deks and contained 136 rooms. Upon entering the lobby, we were astounded by its classic and luxurious design. Through the hull’s glass wall, we could see the water of Victoria Dock and the houses across the water. According to the staff, the cruise was specifically designed for hotel, so it had no engine.

At 03:00 PM, we entered our room. To maximize the experience, we booked a suite room with river view. When we opened the door, I felt so sentimental. Immediately we went out to the balcony and, Masha Allah, the view was gorgeous. I wished we both lived long enough be on the real cruise.

Just like the lobby, the furniture and interior of the room was designed with classical look. The mini bar was equipped with coffee machine complete with tea set to enjoy coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. So there we were, enjoyed afternoon coffee and the cold England’s breeze at the balcony, looked down to the Dockland. Deira took initiative to lay down on the cozy bed, that was complemented with a soft and warm blanket. The closet shower in the bathroom was another plus point to us, moslem travelers, as for the first 9 days in UK, this was the first time I ever encountered closet shower. I think this hotel was comparable to resort because once we were inside, we lost the willing to go out, even though my hubby whose hobby is photography asked me to stroll around the dock to find photo spots and dinner.

Also in the Royal Victoria Dock, next to this yacht hotel, was ExCeL, Exhibition Center London, which was part of ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company). A quick investigation later, I found out that the area was one of Abu Dhabi government investment. Several international events were held in this area such as London Boat Show, British International Motor Show, London Marathon, World Travel Market, Defence Security and Equipment International, and G20 London Summit.

Everything is connected
There are no coincidences

At one end of the dock, around 500 meters from the hotel, a cable car installation owned by Doppelmayr, whose construction was sponsored by Emirates, Dubai’s airline, another emirates of UAE. The cable brought us across the river Thames to the Greenwhich Peninsula with 10 minutes journey time. As resident of Abu Dhabi, I admired the visionary thoughts of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa. I wished Indonesia could take their as an example.

7 Hal yang Harus Dipersiapkan Ketika Mengunjungi Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter

Siapa sih yang ga kenal Harry Potter alias the boy who lived? Saya pertama kali membaca novel Harry Potter pada tahun 2004 atau kurang lebih kelas 2 SMP. Mengingat harga novelnya cukup mahal, saya memilih untuk pinjam saja dari teman. Kalau ga salah karena yang punya cuma beberapa orang, jadi minjemnya-pun kudu antri. Kebayang donk seberapa excitednya saya ketika suami tercinta nawarin untuk memasukkan Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter ke dalam daftar itinerari selama di Great Britain. Tapi ternyata untuk berkunjung ke WB Studio Tours ga bisa dadakan kaya ngegoreng tahu bulat, hampir aja kami ga jadi masuk sini. Saya sih udah mau drama nangis-nangis aja, masa udah sampe London tapi ga bisa masuk ke studionya Harry Potter.

Nah biar teman-teman tidak mengalami yang saya alami, berikut saya tuliskan artikel mengenai 7 hal yang harus dipersiapkan ketika mengunjungi Warner Bross Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter (dibikin 7 biar kaya jumlah horcruxes).

  1.  Tiket, Berdasarkan pengalaman saya, sesudah visa UK berada ditangan, sebaiknya segera membeli tiket masuk melalui website resmi WB Studio Tours, mengingat tiket yang dijual jumlahnya terbatas (dalam sehari terdapat dua sesi tur yang ditawarkan yaitu morning dan afternoon tour, dimana hanya tersedia 590 tiket disetiap sesinya). Oleh karena saya kehabisan tiket online, maka saya membeli tiket melalui jalur alternatif. Alias membelinya ke pihak ke-3 alias travel yang bekerja sama dengan WB Studio Tours dan harganya menjadi 3x lipat dari harga normal donkkkk 😭. Salah satu travel yang menyediakan jasa tersebut adalah City Wonders Tours. Total yang harus kami bayarkan sebesar $367 untuk 2 orang, biaya tersebut sudah termasuk tiket PP kereta dari Euston-Watford Junction (£23) dan shuttle bus (£2,5). Eike sebel sih karena bayar mahal, tapi positifnya dengan mengikuti tur ini, saya dan suami mendapatkan tour guide yang menjelaskan koleksi WB studio ini dengan sangat detail.
  2. Mengingat WB Studio Tours berukuran besar, pilih sesi pagi saat membeli tiket agar kita berkesempatan mengeksplor setiap detail tempat ini. Sayang donk udah jauh-jauh kemari tapi kita ga bisa menikmati secara maksimal karena diburu waktu.
  1. Jangan lupa minta paspor Harry Potter yang khusus disediakan untuk anak-anak ke bagian informasi. Nantinya paspor tersebut akan mendapatkan stempel di area tertentu, beberapa orang dewasa juga ada yang minta paspor tersebut untuk koleksi. Sayangnya saking semangatnya saya lupa minta 😑. Padahal pas di antrian masuk udah bolak-balik ngomong ke #papadei biar jangan sampe lupa minta paspor. Tapi begitu udah sampe dalem ternyata mendadak kesirep alias lupa diri.
  2. Setelah melalui checking area, kita akan diarahkan menuju theater room. Saran saya, ambil posisi paling depan! Karena selepas giant screen selesai memutar cuplikan film Harry Potter, layar akan digulung dan pintu great hall yang super besar itu akan membentang didepan anda. Momen ini berhasil membuat saya dan beberapa pengunjung lain mewek terharu, apalagi dalam hitungan detik-pintu gerbang Hogwarts dibuka 😍. Dengan berdiri didepan, saya jamin efek nganga nya makin lebar hahahaha. Sayang ga boleh di videoin.
  3. Jangan lupa bawa bekal makanan dan minuman! Sebenarnya didalam WB Studio Tours disediakan cafe yang menjual sandwich, hotdog dll. Tapi karena saya tipikal orang yang tidak sabar menahan lapar, jadi saya bekal cookies dan biskuit untuk mengganjal perut sembari menunggu antrian yang luar biasa. Oiyah ditempat ini kita juga bisa mencicipi Butterbeer! Butterbeer dijual dalam dua jenis, bertempatkan gelas kaca seharga £7 yang gelasnya bisa dibawa pulang sebagai suvenir atau menggunakan gelas plastik seharga £3. Jika ingin membawa gelas buterbeer sebagai suvenir, jangan lupa membawa kantong plastik yah! Agar sisa butter tidak meluber mengotori tas kita.
  4. Istirahat semaksimal mungkin di cafe ini, karena ini baru setengah perjalanan. Masih ada area diagon alley dan CGI yang membahas detail proses pembuatan film Harry Potter.
  1. Disiplin budget! Ini serius mengingat harga suvenirnya super lebayyyy. Sebagai gambaran jubah Hogwart £80, mantel Hogwarts £60, tongkat sihir £25, magnet kulkas £7, bertie bott alias permen aneka rasa £9. Jangan kalap dan berbelanjalah dengan bijaksana!

Kurang lebih itu tips dari saya. Buat yang mau menambahkan tips dan saran silahkan tinggalkan komen dibawah. Terima kasih sebelumnya 🙂

7 Things to be Prepared When Visiting Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter

Who doesn’t know Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived? I read about him on J.K. Rowling’s novels on 2004, on my second year of Junior High School. The novels were quite pricey, so I, as well as some of my colleges, chose to borrow them from my friend and, due to high demand while the supply was really low, it was quite a queue back then. No wonder I was ecstatic when my hubby suggested to include the Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter in our UK Itinerary. Little did we know that to enter tour, we need to purchase the ticket early. I guess even today, 13 years later, the queue was still long (-_-). I almost broke down in tears, but luckily we found an empty slot provided by a tour agency.

So, for those Harry’s diehard fans, I wrote this post so you guys will be much more well-prepared in attending this tour.

  1. Ticket. Because there are only limited number of tickets sold (590 tickets per session, and there are only two sessions per day), as soon as your UK visa is approved, please buy the ticket through official website of WB Studio Tours. Alternatively, if you couldn’t get the ticket just like we did, you can buy the package offered several WB-approved tour operators. Their ticket price can be three times higher, but they usually offer a guided tour throughout the studio. In my case, we purchased the packages from City Wonders Tours that cost us USD 367 for two people. That already includes two return train tickets from London Euston to Watford Junction (£46) and shuttle bus between Watford Junction and the studio (£5). I was initially a bit upset by their price, but their guide, Matthew, was very knowledgeable about everything the studio has, and gave us a detailed explanation. So I guess it was worth it after all, because without the guide, we wouldn’t know half as much.
  2. Since WB Studio was huge, morning session is the best time to visit so we have ample time to explore the venue and its exhibits. We come along way from London not just to see fellow visitors, do we?
  1. Don’t forget to ask for Harry Potter passport. The passports were provided by the studio for the children. This passport will be stamped in certain posts within the studio. Although intended for children, you guys adults need not to be ashamed to ask for the passport because it’s a worthy collectible. While we were in the queue, I repeatedly reminded my hubby to ask for one, but alas, we forgot to ask!
  2. After the security checking area, we were guided to enter a theatre room with several rows of seats. My advice: take the front row, for right after the short introductory clip, the screen will roll up and suddenly you will face the gate of Hogward’s Great Hall. This dramatic event succeeded in making me, as well as several others fans, bursted into tears, and I had goosebumps when they opened the gate. By sitting at the front row, you are guaranteed to experience much more dramatic effect.
  3. Don’t forget to bring your own snack! WB Studio has cafetaria which sells sandwich, hotdog, etc, but since I am the kind of people who can’t hold their hunger, I brought some cookies and biscuits to munch while we waited in the queue. Oh and one more thing: the cafetaria sells Butterbeer! You can buy it either in a £7 souvenir mug or in usual £3 plastic glass. Should you choose to buy the souvenir glass, then don’t forget to also prepare a plastic bag so the butterbeer leftover won’t stain your bag.
  1. Take enough rest while you are in the cafetaria, because after it, there are still Diagon Alley and CGI areas that describe in detail about the making of Harry Potter the movie.
  2. Discipline on your budget! This is serious, as the souvenirs in the shop are quite expensive. Hogwarts’ jacket is sold for £80, the mantel is for £60, wands are for £25 each, and one fridge magnets costs you £9. So, keep calm and keep shopping wisely.

That’s a few tips from me. You are more than welcome to add more by leaving your comments below.

Note: The number of tips resembles to the number of horcruxes, but that was purely coincidental.

4 Transportasi Utama Selama di United Kingdom

Selama 11 hari berada di UK, kami menghabiskan 5 hari untuk mengeksplorasi London. Sistem transportasi di Inggris sudah sangat terstruktur. Untuk keluar kota London, kita dapat menggunakan GWR (Great Western Railway). Sedangkan jika ingin jalan-jalan didalam kota London bisa menggunakan tube ataupun bus kota yang terkenal dengan double decker-nya. Untuk itu, kita harus membiasakan diri membaca jalur tube dan jalur bis kota biar ga sampe nyasar 😂.

1. Tube dan Bus Kota

Jika anda berencana menggunakan kedua transportasi umum ini di London, maka saya sarankan untuk membeli Oyster Card. Sistemnya seperti Dubai Metro, jadi tiap orang harus memegang 1 kartu karena menggunakan sistem check in/check out. Biaya deposit setiap kartu sebesar £5. Untuk menentukan besaran top up yang anda perlukan tinggal hitung £6 dikalikan berapa hari anda tinggal di London. Jadi jika dalam satu hari kita sudah membayar akumulasi tiket tube/bus sebesar £6, maka dijalur selanjutnya saldo kita tidak akan di-debet lagi. Klo ga salah sekali jalan naik tube tiketnya sebesar £1-2,5.

2. Black Cab

Sebenarnya saya udah diingetin teman yang tinggal di London bahwa taksi di London mahalnya naudzubillah hahaha. Tapi liat bentuknya yang unyu-unyu, saya dan suami tertarik untuk nyobain. Nah 3 hari terakhir kami menginap di Sunborn Yacht Hotel yang terletak di London Timur, dimana hotel tersebut berjarak 60 menit dari hotel kami sebelumnya. Total biaya yang dikeluarkan £70.

3. Uber Taxi

Sebelum sampai UK, saya terlebih dahulu download aplikasi Uber mengingat lokasi Sunborn Yacht Hotel dengan Heathrow Airport yang lumayan jauh. Kalau naik Black Cab bakalan mahal donk yah, jadi sebagai alternatif kita menggunakan Uber Taxi. Untuk jarak tempuh 1,5 jam biayanya £152. Experience is really the best teacher and she sends a super terrific bills 😂. Buat yang penasaran kenapa saya dan suami bela-belain nginep ke hotel yang lokasinya jauh dari peradaban, nanti baca disini yah.

4. GWR (Great Western Railway).

Ini adalah kereta cepat antar kota, kami memutuskan untuk mengeksplorasi kota Bath yang terletak di Sommerset. Harga tiket London-Bath Spa-London sebesar £110 untuk berdua.

Melihat itinerari kami yang ingin ke Sommerset untuk masuk ke Roman Bath, ke Harry Potter Studio dan pindah hotel ke ExCel, menyewa dan menyetir mobil sendiri jatuhnya memang akan lebih irit jika dibandingkan dengan naik kereta api.

Namun kami memilih untuk menggunakan transportasi umum karena waktu kunjung yang terbatas. London adalah salah satu kota tersibuk didunia, udahlah cuma 5 hari masa mau diabisin dengan bermacet-macet ria didalam mobil? Selain itu, kami ingin merasakan suasana dan gaya hidup masyarakat di negara ini. We want to live like a local in London. Melalui cara ini kami dapat berinteraksi lebih dekat dengan masyarakat setempat. Dengan cara ini kami berhasil membuktikan bahwa apa yang tersebar di facebook tidaklah benar adanya. Sepengalaman saya, mereka tidak rasis dan cukup ramah. Bahkan saat kami bingung membaca jalur tube, beberapa dari mereka tidak segan menawarkan bantuan untuk mencari kereta yang tepat.

It is better to see something once, than to hear it a thousand times.

 

4 Main Modes of Transportations While in United Kingdom

For eleven days in UK, we spent five days exploring London. England’s transportation system was highly structured. For inter-city travel we can use trains, while within the city there are tube and buses at our disposal. So, unless you want to get lost in London, it’s good to know your route.

1. Tube and Buses

If you plan to use these modes of transportation, you need to buy an Oyster Card. The system works similarly to Dubai’s Nol card, where each passenger needs to have one card, and you check in while entering the tube station and check out upon leaving it. For buses, you only check in when you board the bus, and no check out is necessary. Deposit fee for each new card is £5. Oyster has caping scheme where you only have to pay at maximum £6 in your daily commute after which you can ride for free for the rest of that day. That makes it easier for us to calculate our daily budget for Oyster: simply multiple £6 by the number of days you will be staying in London. I noticed that it took me around £1-2.5 each time I checked-in and check-out of the tube system.

2. Black cabs

I have been warned by my friend who lives in Britain that London taxi is quite expensive, but we couldn’t keep ourselves away from having it a ride, so we hailed a black cab when we moved from Hilton Olympia at the west side of London to Sunborn Yacht Hotel at the east side. The ride took about one hour and cost us £70.

3. Uber Taxi

Before we reached UK, I downloaded Uber application, and we hired one Uber taxi for our ride from Sunborn Yacht Hotel back to Heathrow airport, that took 1.5 hours and cost £152. Experience is a good teacher and she sent us a super terrific bills. For those who are interested on why we stayed at the hotel that is quite far from the city center, please read on this link later.

4. Train.

We chose to use GWR (Great Western Railway) train when we went for a day trip to Bath from London. The return tickets between London and Bath Spa stations are £110 for two person. Besides GWR, there are several other train companies serving various destinations.

In the aftermath, reviewing our itinerary of London(west to east and back to Heathrow at the west side), Bath, and Harry Potter Studio, it actually might be cheaper if we rented a car and drove it ourselves. You can google it yourself if you don’t believe me.

Yet, we chose those public transportation modes because of our limited visiting time. London is one of the busiest city in the world, and we don’t want spending most of our five days sitting on a car in the middle of the traffic. Moreover, we also wanted to feel how the Londoners commute. By riding the public transports, we could have more interaction with the people, and that way we proved that what are widespread in social media are not completely true, to say the least. As far as my experience went, Londoners are not racist and many of them are friendly. Some even took the time and effort in helping us finding the correct tube route.

It’s better to see something once than to hear (or read) it a thousand times.

 

Cara Mengurus UK Visa dari Abu Dhabi

Liburan ini sebenarnya sudah saya agendakan dari tahun lalu dan mengurus visa adalah hal yang paling bikin deg-deg-an. Gimana enggak? Untuk mengajukan visa UK, kita harus melampirkan tiket pesawat yang sudah di-issue dan bukti reservasi hotel. Bayangin kalau ga lolos? Rugi bandar donk eikeh 😢. Beberapa traveler mensiasati syarat ini dengan melampirkan dummy booking ticket dan booking hotel yang bisa di cancel. Just in case visanya ditolak, ga bakalan rugi-rugi amat. Tapi saya dan suami memutuskan untuk do the things rightly. Daripada kena random check, ditolak dan malah di blacklist hehehehe.

Oiyaaaa visa UK ini berlaku di beberapa negara bagian yaitu England, Wales, Scotland dan Northern Irland. Jadi kalau ada waktu lebih, sekalian aja eksplore sampai ke Irlandia. Untuk residen Abu Dhabi yang ingin berlibur ke United Kingdom, kita dapat melakukan pengajuan visa secara online melalui website VFS yang nantinya akan diverifikasi oleh pelayanan imigrasi UK yang berada di Filipina. Beberapa dokumen yang diminta mungkin akan sedikit berbeda dibandingkan jika kita mengurus dari Indonesia. Mengingat perjanjian bilateral UK dengan tiap negara tidaklah sama.

Jadi sebelum membuka aplikasi online, dokumen yang perlu dipersiapkan dalam mengurus turis visa UK adalah:

  • Paspor+visa UAE (pastikan UAE visa masih berlaku paling tidak 90 hari dari tanggal kembali ya)
  • Emirates ID
  • Bukti akomodasi (tiket pesawat dan reservasi hotel)
  • Bukti tempat tinggal di UAE (thawteeq atau sertifikat kepemilikan rumah)
  • Slip gaji
  • Surat keterangan kerja
  • Rekening koran selama 6 bulan, bisa langsung print dari internet banking

Langkah-langkahnya adalah sebagai berikut

  1. Buka halaman ini, yang menghubungkan anda ke halaman visa application fotm yang perlu diisi. Dihalaman ini akan terdapat beberapa pertanyaan mendetail seperti itinerary, parents details, travel history dll
  2. Setelah formulir aplikasi visa selesai diisi, kita akan diarahkan ke halaman pembayaran. Biayanya sebesar USD 113 per orang.
  3. Setelah selesai membayar, kita bisa memilih jadwal untuk menyetorkan dokumen diatas dan pengambilan data biometrik
  4. Datang ke VFS Abu Dhabi yang berlokasi di Shining Tower pada jadwal yang telah disepakati dengan membawa dokumen diatas. Proses pengajuan visa memakan waktu maksimal 20 hari kerja.
  5. Nantinya kita akan dihubungi lewat sms jika paspornya sudah sampai di VFS Abu Dhabi.

Mengingat rumah saya cukup jauh dari Shining Tower maka saya memutuskan untuk menggunakan jasa kurir, biayanya AED 25 per paspor. Semoga berhasil dan Happy Holiday 🙂

Apply for United Kingdom’s visa from Abu Dhabi

I planned for this holiday since about a year before, and above all things, visa application brought me the most anxiety, since to apply for visa we had to provide issued airline return tickets and confirmed hotel reservations which will be non-refundable if, knock on woods, the visa got rejected by British government. Some travelers hedge against this situation by attaching dummy ticket booking and cancellable hotel reservations. After a short discussion, my husband and I decided to do the things appropriately, because the UK performed random check on some applications and should they found that reservations were dummies, we would be blacklisted.

UK Visa is valid for several countries namely England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. For Abu Dhabi residences who want to have holiday in United Kingdom, we can apply for UK visa online through VFS website. VFS will then send the application to UK immigration services in Phillipine. Required documents might differ slightly from UK Visa application in Indonesia, because of the difference in bilateral agreement between UK and each country.

Some documents that we need to prepare for the applications are:

  • Passport with valid UAE visa, make sure that the UAE visa is still valid for at least 90 days after the planned return date.
  • Emirates ID
  • Booked return tickets and accommodations
  • Proof of accommodations in UAE (Thawteeq or certificate of ownership)
  • Salary slip
  • Reference letter from the employer
  • Current account for the last six months, can be printed from internet banking if we have one.

The steps are as follow:

  1. Open this page, that will bring you to the visa application form that you need to be filled up. The form contains some detailed questions regarding our trip such as itineraries, parent details, travel history, etc.
  2. When we finish with the form, we will be directed to the payment page where we specify the payment details (credit card info, etc) for the cost of USD113 per application.
  3. After finishing the payment, we then choose the appointment date to deliver the required documents and biometrics.
  4. At the chosen appointment date, visit the VFS office (Abu Dhabi branch is in Shining Tower). Here our documents will be verified and our biometrics will be taken. The visa process will take around 20 working days.
  5. Once the process is completed, we will receive confirmation via sms.

Since my place is quite far from the Shining Tower, I decided to hire their courier service, which cost AED25 per application, so our passports were sent directly to our home.

Some Ideas to Cool the Summer Down

February hasn’t over yet, but the mercury has shown the sign of rising. I guess summer comes earlier this year, and I’m sure you have prepared plans on what to do this summer. Anyway, here’s two additional places you can put into your agenda to hide from the harsh sun: Magic Planet and Mikel Coffee

Located on the second floor of Burjuman, Dubai, Magic Planet is strategically placed next to the foodcourt area. As the name implies, as you enter the venue, you will feel like you are being transported to the outer space, with Saturn Rings float above you and stars twinkling on the blue ceiling. Roaming this interplanetary expanse, you will find many interesting game machines suitable for children from the age of 2 to 92. Machines like Wheel of Fortune that offers you a chance to win a thousand ticket, or a Color Matching game with a PS4 as one of its Major Prize, for example, will surely attract your attention for hours. If you feel like having some road rage, there is also a boom-boom car arena where you can safely release the tension.

For the little ones, there are also computerized rides where they can sail the ocean while fishing, or ride the seahorse to catch stars. You might need to ride with them if your kiddo is under 2, but beware, parents, you might end up having fun playing with those rides, even more than you kids!

Mikel Coffee is located at the ground floor of Burjuman, near the parking space, so it’s a perfect place to cool you down after your visit to the theme park above. This outlet of the coffee chain from Greece is easy to find as you can see the picture of the face founder’s father, Khadar Hassan, printed on the glass wall of the cafe. I ordered Cappucino Mikelo, their signature coffee, which is a cappucinno with a mix of various kind of milk. I don’t know what kind of milk they mixed, but all I can tell you is that this brew is amazingly delicious. I don’t think I have ever drunk a cappucino like this before, ever.

While sipping my coffee, I decided to order some croissant to accompany my cappucino, and so I asked them to bring me an almond croissant. I thought I made the right decision by choosing this croissant as it was really delicious and creamy with nutty almond flavor, but after a short discussion with my friends who ordered some other type of croissant, I concluded that couldn’t make any wrong choice here. Their croissants, regardless of the variant, are worth savouring for ;).

At the end, we are more than ready to welcoming summer!

New Year Staycation at Royal Rose Hotel

Early January, I got a chance to stay at Royal Rose Hotel located in Abu Dhabi Downtown. Its exterior hints to a 17th century French Palace, it fascinates me every time I pass by the hotel when I’m going to visit Abu Dhabi Mall. But honestly I never had any intention to stay there since I live in Abu Dhabi. Until I got a hotel voucher from Preffered Hotels, hotel booking site. Thanks to OurGlobetrotters who made this happened!

Location
The Hotel is within walking distance from the business hub, government institutions, shopping malls and other leisure facilities. The Abu Dhabi Corniche and promenade is a mere five-minute drive away.

The Room
It’s a 50sq room with one king size bed which more than fit for my family (2 adults and 1 toddler). We really love the clean sheets, fluffy pillows, soft blankets and the bouncy bed. It’s really comfortable, I don’t wanna go home!

The interior is equally opulent, with walls overlaid in intricate gold-leaf designs and accented with ornate chandeliers. Just like any other hotels, the room has all the basics facilities like SDB, cable television, hi-speed internet access, hair dryer, complimentary water bottles and coffee/tea kettle.

Their restroom has towels, soap, shampoo, and dental kit that come from Roberto Cavalli. What I like the most is the bathtub, so huge and fit for the three of us. For families who love to swim, this hotel would be satisfactory because the bathroom came with chloth line to hang your wet swimsuits.

Facilities
Actually there were so many facilities, they have 3 restaurants, healthclub and spa. But I just want to review their outstanding swimming pool. The temperature controlled, open air roof-top pool with jacuzzi, sun deck and kids pool are a perfect ways to spent the day. Look how my toddler really enjoyed her swimming session!

Services
Almost all the staff are warm and nice but they need make an improvement in valet service area. They should be more responsive in welcoming the guest since they are the first front liner. I think they need to put more efforts to make a good impression.

At the end, we got more than what we paid for. I will be back really soon!

*We personally didn’t order any food in the hotel because the location is close to the Abu Dhabi Mall, so we prefer to having dinner and breakfast outside the hotel.