Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Abu Dhabi meanderings

Hi lovely readers, 

I intentionally delayed part two of my travel post, so that when I do write about it, it will be just long enough after the actual experience so that I can reminisce properly! After spending about a week in Dubai, we opted to stay 5 days in Abu Dhabi to see a different side to city. 

Our previous trip to Dubai was most certainly a different one, we stayed on Yas Island, one of the islands quite removed from the bustling downtown of Abu Dhabi. Yas Island is home to the thrilling Ferrari World, YAs Water World, the Formula One track where one can experience racing first hand, yacht club and stunning beaches. In other words, a resort-like feel to the entire island. When we visited at the beginning of 2014, Yas Mall was in the process of being built, by December it was complete and occupied with retail stores - in true Emirati fashion.

This time round, we decided to stay in the city centre, close to Abu Dhabi mall. Although it was more for convenience than shopping that we chose to stay in the banking district. We decided to be typical tourists, and ditch the shopping- so we booked the red bus tour, a night tour and planned a few other touristy excursions.

Abu Dhabi slowly crept into my heart, the city is rich with culture, the atmosphere more relaxed and it’s clearly more conservative than the vibrant Dubai. It is apparent that there are lots of South African expats living in Abu Dhabi evidenced by a typical South African Woolies complete with RE: and Super Sport clothing ranges! Nandos, Mugg & Bean and even Steers have found a home in this chilled city.

Red Bus exploring 
The Volvo Ocean Race docked … all the way from Cape Town!


We enjoyed lunch at the Observation Deck, 74th Floor at Etihad Towers with the most amazing views
And that pic in the top right corner is actually a hotel, Emirates Palace, once of the most expensive hotels in the world.
How amazing, a building so green it has automatic shades which open and close depending on how the sun hits the exterior of the building to save on cooling costs (energy efficient!)
Abu Dhabi aims to be a cultural tourist destination and have embarked on building their very own Louvre and Guggenheim museums
One of the pieces of the seeing through light exhibition: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection

The UAE PAvilion, this majestic Dune shaped building was moved piece by piece from Shanghai. Designed by highly acclaimed London firm Foster and Partners
Many of the Middle Eastern cruises depart from Abu Dhabi, they have a busy working harbour 
The road runs along the Corniche, the Waterfont area.
World Trade Centre Souk & Mall, previously the old Central Market
I totally loved the architecture, all the timber works, lattices and atriums



One of the highlights ofAbu Dhabi was the desert safari, hosted by Desert Rose Tours and Safaris. The dune bashing was amazing (although not as hair raising as I was expecting but there were some loud screams in our 4x4). We were then taken to a camel farm, and had some time to interact with these gentle animals. We proceeded to do some more dune bashing and drove off into the sunset to our camp for the evening. 
We arrived at sunset at an authentic bedouin camp where we were treated to a traditional Arabian grill, some belly dancing for entertainment, sheesha pipes and henna art thrown into the evenings activities.











The setting sun on the desert horizon


I did not enjoy the Arabian coffee and instead opted for the familiar taste of Nescafe
It was interesting to see the young locals enjoying their Friday evening with dancing and singing

Ok, so maybe a bit of shopping, checking out the Marina Mall
And a proudly South African Woollies!
We had a superb time, but by the time we had to leave, we were so ready to see our kids and to spend the night in our familiar bed… Travelling is great, but there’s really no place like home!

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo