One of the scavenges on our list was to get to the hightest verticle point possible in Abu Dhabi. Interestingly, it was actually tower 2 of our very own hotel, so we started our day off there! This was followed by a visit to the Emirates Palace.
The Emirates Palace is a very grand hotel that is the destination of choice for the affluent. It is absolutely stunning! The detail in the marble work around the building is mind blowing, and everything is delicately ornate and well done. They have a “gold to go” machine that allows you to buy gold jewelry of varying weights in a vending machine. The computer updates the prices every 60 seconds so that it always reflects the gold standard.
We indulged in a Golden Cappaccino while we were there as well; this is the first time that I have ever actually ingested gold, as there are real gold flakes on the top of the coffee, very prettily arranged! Yum!
Being as nosy as we can be, Mom and I made our way down to the bottom floor of the palace, where we were happily taking pictures and Go Pro video until a security guard alerted us to the very sad fact that, while we were very welcome to explore anywhere else in the palace, that particular area was reserved for the wealthy people who stay and have events there. Oops! Mom of course said “Well I’m glad I got some pictures!” which really tickled the guard
Upon leaving the Palace we spent some time at the Heritage Village, which was incredibly educational as to how the UAE has progressed and how they used to live. One of the oldest housing styles used to be called “Bait Al Sha’ar” and consisted of goat and sheep hair walls and ceiling, which adds strength and consistancy. They also used to use the wood of the palm tree for more solid structures, and these buildings were usually one or two rooms, and pretty but basic. Their rudimentary irrigation system was designed as a series of canals which let the water drain through their crops. They would use cows to dig the trenches, and it worked exceptionally well!
One of our scavenges was to go to a mall and find two European stores, two Middle Eastern stores, and two American stores. We went to Marina Mall for this purpose and were very interested to find that the western stores supplied most of the clothing while the Middle Eastern stores were more focused on gorgeous jewelry and accessories. Who knew?
By far our very, very favorite part of the day was going to the fish market, which was our next stop. The fish market was glorious! Upon exiting our cab and going into the warehouse, we could not have been more delighted if the clear voice of an operetic soprano began singing the notes which usually accompany a sight of grandeur. It was absolutely amazing in there!! There were all kinds of fish, caught fresh that morning, waiting to be sold. Any type of fish you could want was represented there, from shark to squid to red snapper, prawns, lobsters, crab, and many types with which we were unfamiliar such as Shary and Jesh. The smell was beautifully fishy and the people were so nice! You can eat at the market as well, so we selected 2 fish and 6 huge prawns and took them over to the grill to be done up. We waited the 45 minutes it took to cook the whole fish by walking around and talking to the fishermen, all of whom were eager to assist and communicate with us.
We sat down in the eating area to consume our incredible fish and it was literally just us and the fishermen eating there- talk about a local, cultural experience! They loved that we ate with our hands like they did and that I sucked out all 4 of the fish eyeballs (A habit I picked up from my Uncle Ash, an Egyptian friend of ours).The fish was perfectly cooked and the spices were amazing! They gave us saffron rice as well, and we ate all of the fish, all 6 prawns, and most of the rice and were as fat and happy as two cats. I cannot wait to go back next time I find myself in Abu Dhabi!
We could have perhaps mapped out our day a bit better as we went straight from eating all of that food to going up to Yaz Island to ride the world’s fastest roller coaster, which zips along at a neat pace of 240 kilometers per hour in less than five seconds and is located in Ferrari World. The coaster only has a lap bar and seat belt. and it turns sideways and goes up and down over and over, slamming your head on the back board the entire time. I usually love roller coasters but I did not find this one pleasurable because it was terribly uncomfortable, what with making the brain vibrate due to the speed, but it was an interesting experience and definitely worth a drop in if one is going to be near Yaz Island.
Another highlight of our day was our next stop, a walk through of Masdar City. Masdar City is where they develop and test innovative ideas such as the Person Rapid Transit (PRT), a driver-less electric car that run on lithium batteries powered by solar energy. We had the pleasure of riding in one and it was so cool! The city itself is really fun to walk around, and has three labs that we really would have loved to go in to! They have their own labs, coffee shops, food joints, and many offices.
Our last stop of they day took us to the Sheikh Zahid Grand Mosque. It is the most incredible mosque that I have ever seen. It is lit up blue at night with massive domes and expansive grounds. Inside boasts the largest rug that is woven into one piece, intricate in design and very impressive. There are a multitude of flowers made of various colors of marble crawling up the walls and columns, and the ceilings are intricate as well. The whole thing is utterly astounding. We were greeted by the sing-song prayers over the speaker and there were people in there of every origin. The opulence of the mosque cannot be overstated, and it is very tastefully done. We came away very impressed.
After all of this we met with our group and learned that next we will be going to the beautiful city of…..Milan, Italy! Yay!