Visiting Abu Dhabi was not in cards but the offer from Etihad was tempting , they were offering free stay for 2 nights in 5 star hotel. I was on my way to India anyway, so it was a good deal. I arrived at the airport around mid day . Immigration barrier was mostly automated and getting a local SIM in airport was easy. I took a bus from airport to now defunct city terminal and then took a cab to my hotel.
Today I reached the hotel and relaxed . Latter I joined a tour to Emirates palace. Emirates Palace consists of 394 residences, including 92 suites and 22 residential suites. The residences are spread over two wings as well as a primary central building. The majority of the suites are furnished in gold and marble. The main primary building houses an expansive marble floor and a large patterned dome above, picked out in gold. The penthouse floor has six Rulers’ Suites which are reserved exclusively for dignitaries, such as royalty. We had very good tour including some of the palatial suits and then I had complementary Coffee sprinkled with gold dust and a cake wrapped in edible gold foil. Latter in the night I walked some vantage point to get a night time view of the Abu Dhabi skyline.
After a sumptuous breakfast , I went for a walk along the coast and had good look to some of the iconic building . I walked along Al Marsa street and visited the Marina mall. Latter I came back to Grand Hyatt and from there I went for a long 2 hour jet ski ride which was fabulous. I skied from Corniche beach to all the way to Saadyait island which is about 11 Km.
Later in afternoon I got picked up for Abu Dhabi Royal Safari with lots of activities . I got picked up from my hotel and then we travelled towards Yash island where two more were picked up and then we drove for another hour to a camel farm .
There we saw some camel and allowed to feed them , then the reduced tyre pressure and we did dune bashing for about 30 mins. We then stopped for some pictures and did some sandboarding.
Then we drove to a Beduin camp where we got some refreshments I left for for a quad bike trip.
This was a cool experience . Afterwards we did a camel ride at dusk. In the evening there were lot of planned activities at the camp. They had traditional Arabic dresses for everyone to try , then there were free Shesha .We had a very nice buffet dinner and then the stage was all set for grand finale – belly dancing. After some male performances , belly dancer put the stage on fire. It was interesting to see in a very conservative Islamic country such provocative dance is still practiced openly . We wrapped at midnight and came back to hotel well past midnight.
Today was the last day before my flight to Kolkata in the afternoon. After breakfast I went to Grand Mosque (Al Rawdah).
This is fairly recent construction , constructed between 1996 and 2007. Covering over 30 acre , the architecture was inspired by Persian , Mughal and Indo – Islamic monuments .
I took bus from my hotel but got down at wrong place . I have to call a taxi to reach to the mosque. I spent roughly 2 hours there. The mosque can accommodate up to 40000 worshipers and main prayer hall can accommodate 7000 people. It was very hot , I waited for my bus for quite sometime but finally called a taxi back to hotel.
Overall it was nice 3 day break in one of the most opulent city in the world.