Thursday, 27 June 2013 – 3rd and Last day in Abu Dhabi – Dubai – Home

Thursday, 27 June 2013 – 3rd and Last day in Abu Dhabi – Dubai- Home

Woke up quite early as already the day was quite warm. After breakfast we left the resort and was driven back to Abu Dhabi in the same 4 wheel drive that we had been over the sand dunes in – our super driver. Was a pretty good drive – once more passing most of the buildings I had seen before – some different when we branched off the road for Dubai.

As my plane wasn’t departing until later that night, I decided to go to Dubai – main reason  – just to see the tallest building in the world.  The easiest way was for me to take a taxi as the price was reasonable.  The drive is only about 2 – 2 1/2 hours depending on the traffic. The roads are so straight and very good for miles.

Dubai’s wealth came about by the discovery of oil. It is hard to imagine that little more than 50 years ago Dubai’s desert skyline was largely undiscovered. The late ruler of Dubai, His Royal Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was very wise in his utilisation of the wishes created by the sudden discovery of oil. It allowed for the development of an economic and social infrastructure that is the basis of today’s modern s

We went straight down to the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. 

Bringing Burj Khalifa to life required a combination of visionary ideals and solid science. In the process, the project amassed an awe-inspiring number of facts, figures, and statistics.  It holds many World Records.  At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa holds the following records:      Tallest building in the world  – Tallest free-standing structure in the world  – Highest number of stories in the world – Highest occupied floor in the world – Highest outdoor observation deck in the world – Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world and Tallest service elevator in the world.  It also boasts  – Tallest of the Supertall  – Not only is Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building, it has also broken two other impressive records: tallest structure, previously held by the KVLY-TV mast in Blanchard, North Dakota, and tallest free-standing structure, previously held by Toronto’s CN Tower. The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has established 3 criteria to determine what makes a tall building tall. Burj Khalifa wins by far in all three categories.My taxi driver let me out near the Dubai Mall as it was difficult for him to park and for me to easily find him. I went straight along to the Burj Khalifa – what an impressive building for sure and saw the lovely Dubai Fountain which shoots jets of water 150 m up.fountain
fountain 2 highestI could not go up into the building itself as it was all booked out until the evening. Think I saved my money as it was a very hazy day so even if one could have gone up, I don’t think you would have got a good view. Was happy enough just to say I have seen it. Had a quick look in the souvenir shop and then came out and found my patient driver and we headed back to Abu Dahbi.  I had a late lunch and then returned to my hotel and did my final packing and booked out of the hotel when my cab driver returned to take me to the airport.I did the usual formalities before boarding my Ethiad Flight EY0454 leaving at 2035. I managed to have some sleep on the plane and it was into Sydney now being Friday 29th at approximately 18.00.  By the time I cleared Customs it was time to board my Virgin Airline EY6829 leaving at 20.35 to arrive into Canberra at 21.35 but instead of that, the flights were suspended due to storms, so instead of arriving in Canberra I was now taking off. I arrived in Canberra nearly an hour later but there was Peter and Lauren faithfully waiting for me to drive me home.  I thought I would be tired and go straight to sleep – instead I was wide awake so unpacked and did a couple of loads of washing!!!!!!!!And that is the final chapter of just an amazing and exciting adventure of six weeks away from home. Now looking forward to seeing Robert, Tina, Alicia and Adrian and to get back to reality BUT to look forward to my next trip. 

 

 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 – 2nd Day in Abu Dhabi and Desert

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 – 2nd Day in Abu Dhabi and Desert

This morning after breakfast, I wanted to buy some postcards so went into one of the very large hotels to see whether they had any. The receptionists told me they had and produced a nice package and asked me how many I wanted. I said I would like to buy the whole packet. Told me, “oh madam, our guests can have them free”. I informed him that I was not a guest at the hotel thinking he may not let me purchase them. Let me have them for free.  This is what I say about staying in huge expensive hotels – so impersonal and they don’t know whether you are a guest or not.  I then walked down to the nearby Al Wahda Mall to see whether I could get any more cards – the mall was so big. I gave up. Went and had some lunch and then had a rest before I was to be met by a Junelle from Al Badeyah Eyes Tourism. Got on a bus with several other passengers and was driven about 95kms for a night in the Arabian Desert.

I pallied up with two lovely girls from Taiwan, Doris and Annie. When we arrived after passing by lots of date palms, agriculture plots and sand dunes we were welcomed by a chap with his pet falcon so we had an obligatory photo taken.

Our accommodation for the night was in bedouin tents – air conditioned!  We were given refreshments and then the three of us had our arm henna tattooed. The lady was very talented. It was then off  for a ride in the 4-wheel drive over the sand dunes. This was quite exhilirating however, poor Doris was quite ill from the going up and down. I have to admit there were several times I thought the vehicle was going to tip over and go over a steep sand dune but the driver was excellent in handling the vehicle. Certainly wasn’t the first time he had done the run. We could go for a gentle slide down the sand dune – I decided to do this. It had an advantage to the one I had done a few years ago in New Zealand – you had to pull your board up the sand dune after you had slid down – this time, the 4 wheel drive came and collected us.  We then all went for a short camel ride.

After this, it was back to the resort for an extravagant spread of various dishes.  The atmosphere was really lovely as under the date palms, coloured lights had been placed and lit up the place. Just a very relaxing place.

After dinner, we were dressed up as Arabian ladies and had our photos taken – all in good fun. This was followed by a very informative documentary on how Abu Dhabi started from a desert to what it is now. All due to the dicovery of oil. We were seated on lovely coloured cushions outside and served drinks. The night was so balmy – still about 32 I think they said. After the documentary, Doris, Annie and I went for a walk and then it was off to bed. My accommodation was in the huge TV tent – they brought a bed in for me from another tent – don’t know the reasoning as there were unoccupied tents. Anyway, I could not settle – would you believe the air conditioner was too cold and I didn’t want to meddle with it so I put six of the lovely comfortable cushions we were earlier sitting on and slept out under the stars. Was just perfect.

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So endeth another interesting, yet different day. Just great.

 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 – lst Day in Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 – lst day in Abu Dhabi

Arrived in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates  pretty well on time. Did the formalities and caught a taxi to my accommodation at the Phoenix Plaza Hotel Apartments. I was able to book straight away into my room and then it was into a taxi down to the Abu Dhabi Mall to get on the Hop-on-hop-off bus to do a circuit of Abu Dhabi and surrounds. We passed many interesting buildings in downtown Abu Dhabi, drove along the beautiful Corniche – a wide boulevard flanked by public parks, walkways, fountains and the turquoise water of the Arabian Gulf –  passed the Old Souk Central Market, Markaziyah Park and Gardens, Heritage Village, Emirates Palace Hotel, Saadiyat Island, Yas Island – saw where the Formula 1  motor races take place and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Abu Dhabi has in just over 50 years, been transformed from little more than empty desert inhabited by nomadic tribes into a thriving 21st century society, which remains strongly attached to its culture and roots. Abu Dhabi’s activities and attractions are as diverse as its stunning multi-faceted landscape – dramatic desert terrain, cooling oases, 400 kilometres of pristine coastline and 200 natural islands.

I stayed on the bus until Marina Mall stop. Was walking in when a couple were going in as well – recognised my Australian accent and asked where I was from. Would you believe they live just around the corner from the house that Robert’s dad and I had in Macquarie in Canberra. What a small world it is. They invited me to join them for lunch. We went up to the Sky Tower restaurant where we enjoyed a spectacular view over Abu Dhabi.

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Our next stop off the bus was the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque (The Grand Mosque). It stands as a beacon of hospitality at the entrance to Abu Dhabi city and boasts 24 carat gold-topped domes. It is the third largest mosque in the world. It was conceived by Sheikh Zayed, the late United Arab Emirates President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Master craftsmen from all corners of the earth worked on the finest of materials to build this imposing landmark. It surely is.  Although it is far from the age of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India it reminded me so much of it. The interior especially with the flowered patterns on the wall tiles. Both monuments are just out of this world and one has to stand in awe and admire them.image

When we got out of the bus which was air conditioned we suddenly realised the temperature – 42 degrees. We had to walk from the centre of the back end of the mosque, along the side of the building and then across to the centre to the entrance. We were a tad warm to say the least. There was a magnificent ornamental pool at the entrance of the mosque and one felt like jumping in, but I did not want to view the UAE prison!!  When we entered, we were shown into a dressing room to be “properly dressed” in the long black frock. I was surprised that were were allowed to take photos in the interior which is so difficult to explain to the people reading this, to get the effect of this magnificent building – just so huge and wonderful. Just exudes opulence as the whole of Abu Dhabi.

The Mosque has a capacity for an astonishing 41,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. Was so lovely to walk on. Reflective pools surround the mosque, amplifying its beauty. The striking white and gold colours shining in the sun are transformed at night by a unique lighting system which reflects the phases of the moon.  We took our time admiring the interesting decorations until our feet were saying that we had walked enough. Handed in our garb and then made that hot walk to alight another bus back to the Mall.  What a great tour.

I wandered around the mall for awhile and then headed back to my hotel for the night.  Went to bed quite early as the flight and day’s activity caught up with me.