Off The Ship & Abu Dhabi, Monday, 11/26/18

It’s sad as we leave the ship today.  It’s been comfortable, and you know what you’re getting with a cruise.  There are no guarantees with our tours beginning today thru India.  Interesting times ahead.

Off the boat at our assigned 7:30am time, but no guide was waiting.  We’re off really early.  I probably should’ve tried to send a message and let them know how early we were scheduled. We patiently wait while the ship empties out.  Lots of people like us waiting on independent tour operators.  Thankfully we found a place to sit while we wait and the sun is hidden behind clouds.  It’s actually a comfortable temperature with a cool breeze.  Yesterday’s rain chilled things off.

Our guide, Faheem (Pakistan), and driver, Salvin (India), show up at 9:00, talking about the awful rains in Dubai (his home base) this morning.  Since they get rain only twice a year, the city hasn’t spent much on infrastructure to drain, so the streets quickly flooded (kinda like west Texas towns).  But after talking to him more, we realized his goal for arrival was 9:00am, so he’s right on time.

Abu Dhabi in the 60’s.

First stop is the Corniche (beach front) in Abu Dhabi.  We walk around the area, admiring the cleanliness and the views of the downtown skyline.  There is polished marble everywhere.  Then we make a long walk to the Heritage Village, a museum displaying the traditional desert living.  As we walk we learn more about Abu Dhabi and its ruling family, as well as all of the other UAE states (Dubai, etc.)

After the museum, we drive to the Emirates Palace Hotel.  It’s the same place we ate Saturday night after the mosque.  We got more of a tour today.  Faheem worked here in Hospitality for eight months, before becoming a guide.  We were especially curious to try the 23k gold leaf (real gold they say) topping for ice cream and gold flakes for cappuccino.  It’s fun!  While we sit in the “coffee shop”, we do a lot people-watching, checking out all the Emeratis dressed in their traditional attire.

Lamborghini and a Rolls in the background as we walk into the hotel


After the hotel, we cruised down the main road for a daytime look at the Grand Mosque.  No need to go inside, since we had a good visit Saturday night.  Next stop was the Louvre Museum – Abu Dhabi.  They are associated with the Louvre in Paris, and the city is also building a Guggenheim “franchise.”  Unfortunately, they’re not open on Mondays.

Grand Mosque in the daylight

Abu Dhabi Louvre

Our last stop is “Ferrari World” on Yas Island.  It’s a huge indoor amusement park, connected to an even bigger mall, next door to the Yas Island Formula One Race Track.  We ate Indian food in the mall fast food court for a late lunch before entering the park.

The park has the world’s fastest rollercoaster.  They’re not kidding, 230 kilometers per hour in 5 seconds at the start.  Without goggles, it would peel your eyelids back. There are a few more rollercoasters and some 3-D rides, all well done.  Mostly, the park is a big commercial for Ferrari and Italy.  Around every corner are cars on display, and a couple of the rides simulated driving a Ferrari.  Also, for 800 dirham ($270 USD), I could drive a Ferrari around the racetrack for a half hour.  Not today. I’m saving my money for more of that 23k gold topping.  The entire park is built indoors.  It’s quite impressive (and comfortably cool).  No sweating it out in hot lines here.

After Ferrari World, we begin the drive to our Dubai hotel, Atana.  The highway is 14 lanes, so traffic isn’t a problem.  We arrive at our hotel around 7:30pm.  We’re surrounded by lots of tall buildings.  I’m anxious to see tomorrow, if Dubai can match the opulence we experienced in Abu Dhabi.

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