First of all for those of you who have never been to Abu Dhabi, it is in the Emirates. Describing it bluntly, it's a very rich Gulf oil State. So wealthy that all of their labor there is imported. No joke. The store attendants at all the amazing malls, restaurants, shops, etc were all "foreigners". But let me get back to the little things that we were able to enjoy. Beautiful paved roads. The steering wheel on the "correct side" of the car for us Americans, lol. No tuk tuks. No dirty, trash strewn streets with tin, tent, and cardboard cities all around. Quiet streets, no "noise" pollution. That was the first thing we noticed and it was quite unsettling at first. All the loud noises were simply not there. It took us all a few minutes to realize that Aliens had not come down and kidnapped everyone and that all was well.
It was amazing to enjoy that wonderful luxury of convenience. We haven't been able to enjoy everything at out fingertips since we left the US, and despite the high cost, it was so nice to luxuriate in that for the long weekend. Abu Dhabi is definitely not a city for the poor, but it is a great place to visit to get away from the grind that is Bangalore. Here's the thing. I enjoy living in India. It's crazy, it' chaotic, on a daily basis as I have said before it can frustrate, drive you insane, and then make you fall in love with it without warning. I really just had no idea how much I missed things running in an orderly, intuitive fashion. And though we really loved clean water, orderly and non terrifying trafic, etc., there were still things that I found sad and disturbing. No public displays of affection is tolerated there. And I would say about 90% of the women wore the long black burkas as well as the complete head coverings where everything and I mean EVERYTHING was covered, eyes, nose, mouth. I still have not figured out how they do it in the heat and how they are able to eat without getting everything stuck in the veils. It's a whole different world there and even though we were caught up in the luxury and glam and ease of life there as visiting foreigners...there were still things that made it clear we were in a foreign country. It's hard to feel sorry for people who live in such obvious wealth, but I did find myself feeling sorry for the little girl sitting happily and carefree in a sweet, colorful, spaghetti strapped dress next to her mother who was draped from head to toe in black, knowing that someday that same little girl will most likely be donning the same. Who knows, maybe the women are ok with that, but again for me, quite thought provoking and took just a little bit of steam from the shock and awe I was experiencing in such a beautiful city. I didn't know what to expect and I was more than pleasantly surprised most of the time. However, the infringements placed upon women in that kind of society, making them cover their beautiful faces and endure hot weather in layers and layers of clothing is appalling to me. Having said that, that is their culture, their country, their way of life.
It is starting to be customary for John and I to hit the ground running when we are on vacation. Our flight left Bangalore at 4 something a.m. to Doha. From Doha we transferred to Abu Dhabi and arrived at 10:00am, Friday morning. We got to our hotel room, ordered room service, hit the showers and then headed straight out. See, we promised Bruce a trip to Ferrari world. And with our jam packed weekend there was no time for naps as we wanted to do as much as we could in a short time. So as Bruce said when we got in the cab "Ferrari world here I come!"
Ferrari World. Marketed as the World's largest indoor theme park. It was roller coasters and rides in the form of different Ferrari cars. Bruce had a blast and of course we had to buy him a slot car race track to bring home. I think John and I are having more fun with that then he is, lol. The entire theme park is within a dome and with temperatures OUTSIDE regularly in the 100s, it must cost a fortune on air conditioning to keep it nice and cool and so perfect,when it's like a sauna outside. The detail of the whole park was excellent, and it would have been nice to explore some of the more adult sections. But when you are visiting a theme park with Bruce, it just doesn't work out like that. They had a lot of racing simulators, and even an artificial town where all the kids are driving Ferraris on the street. i don't think Bruce quite gets the idea about sports cars as he was gleefully crashing into every nearby vehicle (and tree) he could find. While the structure and atmosphere of the park was outstanding, they could definitely talk a lesson from Disney on how to efficiently operate the attractions. Regardless Bruce enjoyed his day enormously and it was a fun way to spend an afternoon out of the heat. Ferrari World, would we go back again? You betcha!
Like Zombies, I can only say that we did Ferrari purely for Bruce's sake and that we lasted as long as we did because it was important for us that Bruce have a fun day so that we could enjoy our night on the town. The evening finally came around and it was time for us to ring in the baby sitter and get started on our first night out in Abu Dhabi. Still unsure of what to wear out, I wore a long Chinese gown with a nice, long scarf. Didn't take me long to get rid of the scarf and I spent the rest of the night wishing I had worn something more comfortable with less material to better dance around in. Haha! What a fun night. We started out at the Viceroy hotel for an authentic Arabic dinner at one of their restaurants called Atayeb. The ambiance was lovely and service was excellent. And the food....my goodness the food was finger licking good although I did resist the urge to do so in such a fine establishment. Dinner was a small fortune but so delicious and in such a relaxing, beautiful atmosphere that it was well worth it.
After dinner, we headed out to a club called Allure. Woe. Think "da Club" song by 50 cent, "you can find me in the club, bottle full of bub......So come give me a hug" ... Laughing out loud thinking of the fun "people watching" we saw. It was a night out rolling with the big boys. You want a table and chairs? That'll be mucho dinero to do so, and I'm not talking the usual big money you spend out at da clubs, I'm talking big money but hey, again, it was an interesting evening and it was fun watching the scene play out. All the high rollers coming in, all the big fuss when a group would buy a bottle of champagne, all the players out with their mommasitas, all the gorgeous gay dudes dancing and looking amazing, while the usual bouncer types "Hans & Franz" stand around in their big muscled bodies wearing black in case of trouble. Definitely a night to remember.
And on that note, I'm out. Day 2 which includes, sand bashing, belly dancing, a full complete day of fabulous fun and then of course there is last but not least, Day 3...Madonna. Stay tuned. Till then, enjoy the pics of Day and Evening 1. Did I mention I love Abu Dhabi?