Last Day in AD

Monday, January 14th.

Bittersweet… our last day in Abu Dhabi with M&D!

They took us to the famous Date Souk, little storefront shops all in a row in a warehouse district, all selling dates! We bought lots of dates!

Then it was off to Madinat mall, this one more middle class, and of such vintage that Scott remembered being here and in the vicinity 20 years ago. No high-rises! We strolled through the gold souk here, and had a wonderful Indian veg lunch at Saravanaa Bhavan, a chain with a location in Dubai where we ate last week. The size of their dosas is legendary! This could be the mall developed by Scott’s old business colleague Jamal…

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Saravanaa Bhavan

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Legendary dosa – this is a scrumptious roast ghee dosa!

Back to our Airbnb for an afternoon of cleaning up and packing.

Enjoyed our last dinner with M&D (Lebanese takeout), and then Matt drove us to the Corniche to pick up the Emirates Air free shuttle bus for the 2 hour trip to the Dubai airport.3fffc4ed-f959-4dd5-b041-8149ff5d8e4a

Dubai – FLL: Westbound — a 16.5 hour flight! The best thing about this flight and of course the most important thing is that it arrived safely. Other than that, it was a cattle car. Full flight, big plane, not enough toilets in economy class so there was always a line waiting to use them. By the end of the flight, at least one of the bathrooms in our section was out of TP and there was trash all over the floor. I slept for a couple of hours but then the idiot in the seat behind us decided to make a phone call and PUT IT ON SPEAKER!!!! If we never get on another airplane again that would be A-OK…

After landing in FLL at 10 a.m., we had to wait in the plane for about 20-30 minutes to get to a jetway. Passport Control was a breeze. No lines no waiting. None of the anticipated slowdowns because of the government shutdown. BUT: Then we waited 45 minutes for our bags. No wait at Customs! Breezed right through and out into the 70F Florida sunshine! Waited about 1/2 hour for the shuttle bus to the Tri-Rail station. Waited about 15 minutes for the train. Sat on the train for the one hour trip north to Lake Worth. Took an Uber from the train station right to our door: $25.96 !!

In the house by 1:30 p.m. The whole trip door to door was about 26 hours.

Home again, home again… getting back into our regular routines!b5091c55-c3e8-4650-a032-8a7af5e0126f

 

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Meals and Malls

Sunday, January 13th.

After a quick trip to the Waitrose supermarket across the pedestrian bridge from our apartment complex, and a pleasant walk around the courtyards and pools, we joined M&D for a drive to the very upscale Galleria Mall on Al Maryah island, where we had lunch at  Nolu’s California-Afghan fusion restaurant. This was really delicious! We walked around the mall, besides which all the previously visited upscale malls in the UAE seem dinky in comparison. The Galleria is on the water, surrounded by shiny buildings with interesting architecture, with the Abu Dhabi stock exchange, other offices, lots of restaurants and luxury shops.

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We noticed a separate section of the Waitrose Supermarket, secreted behind automatic doors, “For Non-Muslims.” Here is where ex-pats can stock up on their pork products and other non-halal items.

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At Nolu’s for lunch in the Galleria Mall

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The most delicious soup! Part of the vegetarian lunch special.

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Waterside stroll after lunch.

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Interesting architecture surrounding the Galleria Mall

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A shiny, colorful bauble of a building.

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View from inside the Galleria.

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Love birds!

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Directional signs in the mall.

Afternoon naps for some…

Then, more food!! Yummy Tandoori takeout dinner at M&D’s…

Watched a very funny vampire movie on Netflix: What we do in the Shadows.

 

Birding!!

Saturday, January 12th. We arranged for a guided excursion with a local birder. It was absolutely first rate! We were picked up in front of our building at 6:30 a.m. by Oscar Campbell, the chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee. He is a high school chemistry teacher at the British private school for (mostly) ex-pats. He is originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland and has been teaching (and birding) in Abu Dhabi for 12 years. First he took us to the Al Wathba camel racetrack. There is a stretch of irrigated lawn in front of the Sheikh’s grandstand and this attracts lots of birds so we watched there for a while, as jockies exercised packs of camels around the track. Then we drove down a dirt track into an area which used to be a farm for growing camel fodder, but which has gone fallow since camel fodder is now imported. We saw a total of 17 species in these areas:

Gray Francolin  6
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  30
Eurasian Collared-Dove  100
Laughing Dove  15
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier  2
Great Gray Shrike (Arabian)  1
Eurasian Skylark  8
Crested Lark  5
White-eared Bulbul  30
Asian Desert Warbler  2
Desert Wheatear  3
Isabelline Wheatear  5
White Wagtail  3
Tawny Pipit  4
Water Pipit  3
Corn Bunting  7
House Sparrow  15

Then we drove about 10 minutes away to Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. This is a reclaimed wetland like Green Cay or Wakodahatchee in Palm Beach County, using water from the local water treatment plant to augment and freshen a naturally saline lake. And, as we know from Palm Beach County’s man-made wetlands, if you build it, they will come! This place is famous for its large flocks of Greater Flamingos,3097c6ad-a09e-4b0c-b651-f868855d1cab

and throngs of people come to watch them from specially constructed bird blinds (or as Oscar said in UK parlance, “hides.”) There were many other wading birds too. We saw 56 species in all at the Wetlands! Some were repeats from the Camel Racetrack.
Common Shelduck 75
Northern Shoveler 250
Gadwall 2
Mallard 3
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian) 100
Ferruginous Duck 7
Tufted Duck 5
Gray Francolin 4
Greater Flamingo 2000
Little Grebe 40
Eared Grebe 8
Eurasian Collared-Dove 100
Laughing Dove 15
Pallid Swift 4
Eurasian Moorhen 12
Eurasian Coot 25
Gray-headed Swamphen 3
Black-winged Stilt 100
Red-wattled Lapwing 8
White-tailed Lapwing 6
Common Ringed Plover 6
Ruff 3
Temminck’s Stint 8
Little Stint 500
Spotted Redshank 2
Marsh Sandpiper 10
Wood Sandpiper 5
Common Redshank 4
Black-headed Gull 75
Larus sp. 35 Steppe types.
White-winged Tern 1
Greater Spotted Eagle 2
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier 8
Green Bee-eater 1
Rose-ringed Parakeet 1
Crested Lark 2
Bank Swallow 1
Rock Martin (Pale Crag-Martin) 1
Barn Swallow 5
White-eared Bulbul 30
Eurasian Reed Warbler 1
Clamorous Reed Warbler 10
Graceful Prinia 4
Bluethroat 1 Heard only – singing.
Desert Wheatear 2
Purple Sunbird 2
Citrine Wagtail 2
White Wagtail 1
Tawny Pipit 3
House Sparrow 25

One of the highlights of the day was spotting the Little Green Bee Eater. It was too far away to get a good photo, but the pix in Ebird are great.3223b0d4-7697-41a3-b626-5c99bbf73281

Oscar charged 500 dirhams ($136) for the 2 of us, transported us door to door, spent all morning into the early afternoon trekking around with us, provided binoculars, spotting scope, snacks & drinks, and an inexhaustible font of knowledge! This was major major big fun!!!!! Oscar entered all our sightings into ebird.org, shared the link with me, and when I clicked on it, these birds became part of my life list in ebird.org too.

It was very interesting talking to Oscar about non-bird related subjects as well. We learned that he and his wife (who is a primary school teacher also at the British School) love to travel and that Abu Dhabi is a good base of operations for them to travel and go birding all over the world. They’ve been to Africa and India several times, and Sri Lanka most recently just over Christmas break. It’s only a 3 hour flight and $300 round trip from Abu Dhabi. Their next trip on spring break will be to Ethiopia. He does not envision retiring in Abu Dhabi though. He has a house in the Norfolk area of England, presently rented out, where he thinks they will eventually retire.

On our way home, we swung by Mushrif Palace Park where Oscar had recently spotted a Eurasian Hoopoe, in the hopes that we would see one today as well, but no such luck. He showed us the place where he has seen it in the past, so we could come back on our own another day… but we may have to be content with this lovely image from the Macauley Library!5973b11f-d6da-4c88-af5c-c4090afedce5

Rested all afternoon, then made sautéed tofu, bok choy and pasta with broccoli and garlic for dinner at M&D’s.

Tamba Day

Friday, January 11th. This was the long-awaited day that we all went to brunch at Tamba, a posh Indian restaurant in the World Trade Tower Mall. Their Friday brunch is famously a 4 hour affair of 20 courses. Not as decadent as it sounds, since each course is a few bites. But it’s a nice, leisurely affair and we welcomed the opportunity to sit down together, enjoy a meal and have a good long chat. The food was excellent, the company even better! We were seated on the rooftop patio and the cool, fresh air gave us a good appetite!

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Although it looks like they emptied a bag of terra chips onto the platter, this was not the case: these were freshly made root veg chips… the carrot chips were especially wonderful! Mango chutney dip, too.

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Refreshing, frothy passion fruit, mint, elderflower cranberry juice,

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Avocado salad.

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Idli macarons with pistachio? Sauce

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A variation on palak paneer

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Our favorite! Stuffed mushroom in avocado sauce.

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Butternut squash on a spinach tortilla

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This was a sort of Indian cannelloni.

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Dessert platter! 3 kinds of ice cream, chocolate mousse in a chocolate shell, “A Sticky Situation,” cake topped with banana slices, strawberry cream cannoli topped with fresh strawberries — served with sparklers and dry ice. Pretty spectacular!

After we got home and rested a while, we met Matt downstairs at the heated pool and chatted as we paddled in the warm water. When we got out, it was cool and blustery, so we hightailed it inside, making it an early night in preparation for our pre-dawn Saturday morning appointment: BIRDING!

 

Grand!

Thursday, January 10th.

We took the elevator down to the first floor underground parking level to the Shams Boutik Mall Lift Lobby, walked across the pedestrian bridge to the Mall, tried and failed to get dirhams from the bank ATM, went to the Waitrose Supermarket for some supplies, walked back the way we came to our lovely Airbnb apartment. H went downstairs to the fitness center, cycled 20 minutes on the stationery bike while watching a high intensity workout class video (felt like I was taking the class!), then walked around the pool area for another 10 minutes. Back upstairs to get ready for our lunch date with M&D.

They took us to their favorite Lebanese restaurant, Mosaic.f276c323-d3c4-433b-8199-01795978e375

The food lived up to its reputation!

After lunch, Matt took us on a quick tour of his office and then we were off to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, reputed to be the largest mosque in the world. It was monumental, very beautiful, amazingly peaceful even with throngs of visitors. Women have to be covered up so H brought a scarf and passed muster but women with uncovered hair or skimpy outfits are loaned abayas to wear while they visit the mosque. You pass through several levels of security before you enter the mosque, and walk through long marble corridors on moving walkways just like at an airport, but much cleaner and prettier! Our first stop: the Gift Shop!

Then we trooped along with all the other tourists on a set path that took us around the huge central open courtyard, past the Ladies Prayer Room, under gigantic ornate chandeliers, between marble walls and floors beautifully decorated with inlaid flowers made of semi-precious stone. Where to look first?

Solemn, inspiring — truly grand! As with many other special places, the pictures can only hint at the majesty and depth of the experience of being there.

This was interesting: A digital clock with a changing display of the times for daily prayers, in Arabic and English.

Great day! Thanks, M&D! ♥️♥️

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Five-Star Treatment

Wednesday, January 9th. Beautiful morning! We took a walk around the pool area between the Towers and ended up at M&D’s for lunch: leftover Tuscan bean soup, hummus, carrots and tabouleh, and a sliver of Danielle’s cranberry orange cake. Then we took off for the Emirates Palace, which I thought at first was an actual governmental building or a history museum, but which turned out to be a palatial five-star luxury hotel. This pastry is called the Caramello, and was a delicious treat we shared between the four of us! We learned that the hotel uses about 5 kilos of gold per year, mostly in edible form – gold leaf and gold dust.272b63f6-b85d-4786-a22f-6a886cb14a6b

We walked around, ogling the ornate architectural features and fittings, while a piano-cello-flute trio played classical music in the background.

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From the door pulls …

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To the plush carpets …

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To the light fixtures …

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To the towering lobby …

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To the magical views of the marina…

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To the massive flower arrangements …

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To the juxtaposition of old and new …

… it is a destination hotel for The New Gilded Age tourist: big, opulent in a surprisingly understated way, to the extent that tons of gold leaf and peach marble can be said to be understated. A large German tour group trooped through on their way to afternoon tea in the lobby. We checked the menu: afternoon tea is 387 dirhams for 2 – only about $100. Asian and Russian tourists milled about, everyone taking selfies with their cell phones. A young Emirati couple waited out front for the valet to bring their white Lamborghini around. They drove away with a roar, but struggled to get out of the hotel property… Matt said he often sees people with these incredible luxury cars who don’t know how to drive them in traffic.

From here, we drove to the Corniche, passing the ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) along the way.a5aa5317-687c-46be-a2ce-818680ad24ce At the Corniche, we walked up and down along the boardwalk next to the beach, trying to stay in the patches of shade. Beautiful, but hot! Lots of rules!173347a1-1366-43d9-af5d-20edfedb68db

A butterfly taking a sip from an irrigation hose along the Corniche:0c57b352-53b0-49dd-a51e-a5438b5e19b8

On the way home we stopped at a souk inside a mall to try to find white cotton drawstring pants for S but they were not to be found. There were lots of interesting carpet, perfume and spice shops, though: fde4e55c-be03-4d50-95a7-bc3e7e376827

For dinner, M&D made a variation on the Cashew, kale and lime nacho bowl from Anna Jones’ “A Modern Way to Cook” — yummy! They disappeared too fast to be photographed!

 

 

 

 

Al Ain

Tuesday, January 8th. On the drive from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, we were struck by the contrast between the sunbaked dunes, parched lands stretching to the horizon, and the lush green irrigated roadside and median landscaping along this excellent highway. Date palms, bougainvillea, ghaf trees, aloe in bloom, many species we recognized from Florida, and many others we did not know. We drove straight to Jebel Hafeet, at 1300 meters, the second highest mountain in the UAE, along a 12 km steep, winding road.

 

The mountain is on the border with Oman, and we could see Oman’s empty land to the east, Al Ain‘s new homes in cookie-cutter developments springing up to the south and west. The view was a bit obscured by the haze… sand? Pollution? We do not know.

After we finished marveling at the views, we drove about 12km into the town of Al Ain for lunch at Coriander, an Indian restaurant Matt found very highly rated in Zomato. It lived up to the hype! Good food, great service! They started us off with complementary mango mint pineapple shots served in a tray steaming with dry ice!

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Mint mango pineapple shots on dry ice!

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Veg curry with crispy okra, palak paneer

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This restaurant is located in a mall, with images of Sheikh Zayed and other Emirati rulers prominently displayed. We wandered around in the mall a bit, bought another baseball cap for S, and then drove towards the city center to Al Ain Oasis.

This is a very interesting recreation of the old oasis which was the basis for human settlement of this area, and the subsequent development of the town— it’s all about water. In fact, we learned that the term “Shari’a” refers to the distribution of water and the administration of water rights, because shari’a was the place where water reached the surface from underground channels. There are kilometers of brick paths between sandstone walls surrounded by date palms.

 

There was a little refreshment stand in the oasis where we bought and shared a coffee ice cream roll with chocolate sauce to fortify us for the long drive home.9b8782ce-62ca-4d1c-b524-73741baa605f

A Walk in the (Umm Al Emarat) Park

Monday, January 7th.

This morning, we awoke refreshed, having slept more or less through the night. Maybe jet lag is gone!? At M&D’s we sketched out a tentative plan for our week in Abu Dhabi — one week from today we will take a free Emirate Airlines shuttle bus from the  Corniche to the Dubai airport for our flight home! In the meantime, we will enjoy ourselves with the following activities:

Monday (Today):
  • Umm Al Emarat Park
  • Marina Mall for Binocs!
  • Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Tuesday:
  • Kayaking, Mangroves
  • Lunch
  • Explore city center? Shopping? Pants (S), Nice top for Friday brunch (H)
Wednesday:
  • Leave at 2pm to visit Liwa Dunes
  • DUNES
Thursday:
  • Zayed Heritage Center
  • Khalifa Park?
Friday:
  • Tamba (Fancy Indian brunch)
  • Presidential Palace?
Saturday:
  • Birding Tour?
Sunday:
  • Rent a boat? Go to an island?
  • Or Al Ain?
Monday

Almost as soon as this plan was written, we started revising it. For example, today, we ran out of time and rather than rush, we decided to go to the Grand Mosque another day. Also, since D has PT Tuesday afternoon, we decided that Matt, Mom & Dad would go to Al Ain on Tuesday instead of Kayaking, and go Kayaking in the mangroves another day. Etc.

After this busy morning of planning, we took off for the Marina Mall to get a pair of compact, waterproof binoculars to replace the pair that drowned when our kayak capsized in the rapids of the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park in the summer of 2017. Unfortunately,  Carrefour’s, which we had been told was a good place to get binocs, did not have any. We were able to get a very nice Dubai baseball cap for Scott for US$3.81! The logo shows the year of UAE independence – 1971 – which is also the year of Scott’s college graduation! 34dec5ad-4b0d-4388-a723-412a2fa2541a

The Marina Mall also has a Mastodon skeleton, as well as a huge Bounce-house-type amusement area — I was tickled to see a directional sign for it together with the Muslim Prayer Room (of which there are several in every mall we’ve visited). Interesting juxtaposition!b1390c91-8bb0-497d-ac90-84f70da5c1f6

From the Mall, Matt drove across town to the Umm Al Emarat Park, AKA Mushrif Park. This is a vibrant, spacious gem of a park, representing the best of our Abu Dhabi experience so far! There is a sense of peaceful community, with many families picnicking on the grass, quietly enjoying the green space, fountains, Botanical Gardens with desert plants, animals (goats, sheep, llamas, rabbits, tortoises, donkeys and one camel), and the shade garden, a two story structure with views in all directions. As is often the case, there was no signage in the garden, except the following: 589f86e0-7f5c-4fea-9f2d-76f788ef8e9cThere is a little restaurant called Salt, adjacent to a food truck made of an old Airstream trailer. One of their specialities is a “Lotus Milkshake,” made with vanilla soft serve and a caramel/graham cracker crumb topping. We 3 shared one: Mmmmm! As we enjoyed our milkshake, a children’s birthday party was going on nearby, with a little boy sitting on the DJ’s knee singing an approximation of several songs, and as we left, singing in English “Happy Birthday to Sara.” Sweetness!

Danielle was enjoying a girls’ night out, so H made sautéed onions, bok choy and tofu with rice, and steamed broccoli with lemon butter, and we carried it over to M&D’s apartment. In the elevator on the way down, everyone who got on after us remarked on how good it smelled, asking what it was, etc. Interesting how food brings people together! An Emirati man got on carrying a tray of pastries, and I said “oh, you’ve brought dessert!” And he unwrapped the tray and offered it to us, insisting that we take some, so we did! Almond baklava! Mmmmm, again! We enjoyed a quiet evening with Matt, eating dinner, listening to 60s classics on Spotify, and planning tomorrow’s day trip to Al Ain.

 

 

Our first full day in Abu Dhabi

Sunday, January 6th.

Still jet lagged… but, after a night of NO sleep, we pulled ourselves together, googled jet lag, and found that the best remedy is exercise and exposure to morning sunlight (for those traveling east — afternoon sunlight for those traveling west). Accordingly, we went downstairs and Helen slipped into the warm (30C) waters of the heated pool and swam a few laps while Scott read on a lounge chair poolside. Somewhat refreshed, we walked over to M&D’s apartment and took off for the Abu Dhabi Louvre Museum. This was top of our list of things to do, deservedly so! It is an architectural marvel and the collection is a brilliant selection of items from the Paris Louvre, beautifully curated and displayed. The special exhibit, Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia, with artifacts from the UAE, was an unexpected treat! ca1d7b8e-a4fb-4b43-a469-010c896af20e00bab143-41bf-42fb-8f9c-a6c09fcc18d5914d1993-d026-488d-890b-346977d096a19454f70b-04f8-479d-a493-a1f0bc2ce432f609c41c-2938-4c96-b034-e53b28ccb91a4d6790c7-6d11-4101-bd59-8dacf8732403

On the way home, we stopped at the LuLu Supermarket, a big, bright, well stocked store catering to Indian shoppers, with huge open barrels of spices, nuts, seeds and grains, along with gorgeous produce (foot-long Sri Lankan winged beans, six kinds of mangoes, 4 kinds of eggplants, etc.), as well as most familiar brands of packaged and canned goods. Since we had not eaten since breakfast, we descended upon the prepared foods counter on our way out, and bought several kinds of vada (fritters), but the crunchy onion vada were the best by far. These were consumed too rapidly to be photographed, so google images will have to suffice!

Danielle in the meantime had prepared a beautiful dinner of Tuscan bean soup (made with freshly picked kale delivered that day from the local organic farm), salad and bread from the Bouchon Bakery, AND a home baked cranberry orange cake for dessert! What a treat!

New Year travels

January 1, 2019. Happy New Year! We got a lift to the Lake Worth Tri-Rail commuter train station, took the train and shuttle connector bus to the Fort Lauderdale airport. d8456992-0bd5-4949-9b4b-42a3bf41d55bFound the Emirates Air Check-in counter (in Terminal 3, not 4), stood in a long snaking line, got checked in, went through a desultory security check (government shutdown!)

The usual drill… waited at the gate, boarded by zones, filed down the jetway and then packed like sardines onto a slightly threadbare Emirates Air Boeing 777 jumbo jet. Watched BlackKKKlansman, Three Identical Strangers, and Ready, Player One (H), and Annihilation, Avengers: Infinity Wars, Venom, and Crazy Rich Asians (S), ate 2 forgettable vegetarian airline meals, and FOURTEEN hours later, stumbled out into the warm desert night in Dubai where it was Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Lost a day flying east! Such is modern economy air travel! Hopped in a taxi and ten minutes later, arrived at our Dunes Apartment Hotel in Oud Metha. ac8188c4-9ae9-4e57-888b-e39a627a592e

Checked in, dropped our bags, went back outside and walked 1/2 block to the local mini-mart for bottled water, fruit, oatmeal, and a UAE SIM card.

Thursday, January 3rd. Slept fitfully until 9 a.m. and woke up feeling like we were moving through quicksand. Jet lag! But it passed, and we had breakfast and soon enough, Matt and Danielle pulled up to the curb outside the hotel where we had a quick reunion hug and then jumped into the car for a day of touristic activities: Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa! Window shopped through the Mall with a requisite stop at the excellent Kinokuniya bookstore. We remarked on the many elaborate Christmas decorations on display throughout the Mall. Matt said they saw a Muslim family with women in full abaya standing in line so their kids could sit on Santa’s lap! Truly a melting pot and seemingly an oasis of tolerance in the Middle East!f21cfe7b-4b5c-448d-b709-9e2e6a8a3516Watched the water fountain show from the patio of Baker & Spice cafe where we ate lunch.

Back to the hotel for a rest, then out through thickening traffic to the old gold souk, which Scott remembered from his business trips to Dubai 25 years ago, and where he bought me the gold Om charm I have worn on a gold chain around my neck ever since. Battled worsening traffic from the souk back to the hotel, then walked a couple of blocks to a cavernous Lebanese restaurant for an excellent dinner of Meze platter, falafel, tabouli, hummus, freshly baked pita, and halloumi (fried cheese).

Danielle wisely stayed at the hotel while we went back out through gridlock traffic to Dubai Mall for the 8 p.m. light show (amazing!), and our 8:30 admission to the (almost) top of Burj Khalifa.

Had time to see the Diplodocus longus dinosaur skeleton in the Mall Souk, the giant aquarium and indoor waterfall with statues of divers frozen in place, and the indoor ice skating rink, which looked like big fun!

Friday, January 4th. Dubai Miracle Gardens: Disney topiary kitsch. Words fail us…

Emirates Mall with every luxury brand represented. Lunch at Greek food court restaurant. More meze and chick pea veg soup. Watched tourists enjoying indoor winter amusements at the ski and toboggan runs. Stopped to ooh and ahh at the 2 Tesla models on display in the showroom. Coffee break. 7703f045-f523-4ed1-973c-335e173e2f1fCrate & Barrel for Matt & Danielle’s Xmas presents (stainless steel skillet and cupcake pan), then the DU Store where we bought 200 MB data plan for our new SIM card ($6).

Back to hotel to rest. Then out to Indian veg dinner: masala dosas and thali platters.d16db97c-7782-42b0-9b31-df95a87dbb5b

Saturday, January 5th. After another restless night, woke at 9 a.m., packed up in a hurry and checked out of the Dunes just after 10 a.m. Matt & Danielle took us to “JBR” Beach – Jumeirah Beach Residences – a beautiful, walkable neighborhood that reminds us of a clean, new version of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Walked along the Beach, had brunch at Organilicious (guacamole + poached egg on toast, oat porridge). Walked to Bouchon Bakery (owned by Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame) to buy some breads and treats, then got back in the car and drove 90 minutes to Abu Dhabi, Al Reem Island, Gate Towers.

Our Airbnb, as you can see from the listing is considered a “studio,” but it actually is a separate one-bedroom with 1.5 baths. We are on the 30th floor in Tower 1 of three towers in the Gate Tower complex. Matt & Danielle’s apartment is in Tower 3. A five minute walk. The complex itself is like a resort with several swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, and a pedestrian bridge that leads over the adjacent highway into a mall with 2 supermarkets, a small hospital and many retail opportunities. Not exactly a hardship posting. M&D like it here a lot. We do too! 68762e53-f9e9-4a6b-a819-05b077b5a606