From Dubai we took the metro to Gubiba bus station to take the E100 bus to Abu Dhabi (the capital). The journey cost €35 return and took about 90 mins. Upon arrival at the pastel green bus station we took a taxi to the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque (free entry). Such a beautiful, serene place! Its puffball-like domes, and marble, pillared walkways are a sight to behold. It was sweltering but they still insisted that I cover my hair and body in the black clothes provided! We stopped to take pictures of the marble courtyard and the gold-topped pillars, then entered the main prayer hall with its gigantic chandeliers, and vast domes, soaring above the beautiful carpet. We were hurried out, as it closes at 2pm for visitors. We had to wait a bit in the exquisitely manicured grounds for a taxi, but the security staff helped and me to find somewhere air-conditioned to wait. We asked the taxi to take us to the Marina mall, at the end of the peninsula, near the fabulous Etihad Towers hotel, in order to find some lunch. However, it wasn’t easy as all the food places were closed for Ramadan so we had to go to the supermarket and find somewhere out of the way to eat as considerately as possible. The buses had a few hours off for Ramadan too so we took a taxi to the public beach on the Corniche promenade. The water was warm and the sand was soft underfoot, but we didn’t have our bathing suits so we just waded in. I spoke to a couple of women taking their children for a swim and we got to learn how nice life can be living in the UAE. We then strolled a good section of the Corniche enjoying the sunset before attempting to make it back to the bus station. Mark’s new sandals were rubbing so we caught a taxi in the end, before taking the coach back to Dubai.
We had a lovely day in Abu Dhabi. I totally recommend it for a day trip from Dubai.
The following month we bought an Etihad flight from South Africa to India, and luckily for us it meant that we had a night in Abu Dhabi to see a bit more of the city. We arrived in the luxurious Abu Dhabi airport and managed to get some free meal vouchers from the transfer desk, which was good. We then took a taxi to the Central Yas Island Rotana Hotel, next to the F1 track. After checking in to our cool, modern room we braved the sticky humidity to walk to see the ultramodern Yas Marina racetrack. Not only did we get to see the track and stands but we also managed to explore the inside the gorgeous Yas Viceroy hotel in the middle of the circuit. It looked incredible, with the whole building illuminated in blue LEDs. We even got to stand on the hotel bridge over the track, which was pretty cool.
Next morning we returned to the airport and took the Jet Airways portion of our flight to Mumbai. For some reason Indians love to queue up really early for their various flights so there was a bit of a rush to get our people through to board in time.