(This is part 3 of the series about our Globetrotting for 4-weeks using Miles & Points, from Oct. 12 to Nov. 6, 2015. Destinations included on this trip: Madrid, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, Maldive, Hong Kong & Macau, India’s Golden Triangle (New Delhi, Jaipur & Agra).
ARRIVING IN ABU DHABI in style
We flew 1st class on Etihad’s A380 jetliner apartment cabins. Impressive, indeed, and thrilled to experience this luxury. Spacious cabin with room to move around, a long, comfortable leather sofa that converts to almost a twin size bed for sleeping, two more leather chairs (one a recliner), dresser mirror, mini-fridge filled with sodas, bottled water & snacks Amenities which includes cosmetic bag filled with travel sized lotion, lip balm, socks; a comfortable set of pajama, socks & eye mask. Dining was on demand, with a dedicated Chef on board to prepare our meals. One flight attendant pampered us with great attention. The 1st class apartment cabins (8 total) was only half full during our flight.
My only complaint, our flight was too short. After about six hours, we landed in Abu Dhabi, and were whisked away by Etihad Chauffeur service (complimentary to 1st and business class passengers) to our hotel in about a 20 minutes.
Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel
From a distance, I saw a leaning, tall building which is UAE’s answer to Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, the Hyatt Capital Gate hotel where we stayed for two nights. The architecture of this hotel is quite unique and very modern. The lobby has a huge and impressive crystal lighting and modern furniture, but reception desk for check in is on the 18th floor.
Our suite on 29th floor has a large living room with full view windows overlooking the waters, a separate bedroom, and a beautiful bathroom with separate shower & bath tub. There were plenty of bottled waters everywhere (bedroom, living room and bathroom), a tray with fresh fruits provided a healthy snack on our late arrival.
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque: the number one attraction when visiting Abu Dhabi; impressive, beautiful, amazing, etc. Everything about this temple is spectacular, very impressive outside and inside. Admission is free and they give free tours which lasts an hour. We came at 4:30 pm for the sunset and to join the 5:00 pm tour. Our volunteer guide Ali was very entertaining and informative.
Women are required to wear Abaya to cover hair, arm and legs before entering the mosque, and are provided free of charge. Men are not allowed to wear shorts. And we had to take off our shoes when going inside the temple.
The mosque is spectacular and very beautiful, both inside and out. Outside has rows of pillars with flowers and marble floors decorated with flowers.
The inside is decorated with intricate designs; walls with flowers, floor covered with hand-woven carpet and seven chandeliers (one shown below, the biggest in the world).
Emirate Palace Hotel: if you are into gold, you’ll love this place. It is a luxurious hotel decorated with gold and marble. I made reservation for lunch at Le Café to insure entry, although per TripAdvisor visitors are usually without any dining reservations. The security guard asked to see our reservations at the gate. So I guess situations vary.
I kid you not, everything here is glittered with gold. We went for ala carte menu instead of afternoon tea since we planned on doing it in Dubai. A minimum spend of 200 AED is required at Le Café. We ordered a camel burger, served with hummus fries and their famous cappuccino. Look closely at the photos below, can you see the specks of gold sprinkled on our food and cappuccino? The camel burger was so moist and flavorful; but could not taste the gold.
If you are longing to have a gold bar, there is a Gold Vending machine in the lobby with a money back.guarantee if you’re not satisfied with its quality.
Heritage Village: is trying to give you a glimpse into the old Arabian days. There are small houses or structures with displays of arts & crafts, a history of past presidents of UAE, a shopping area, a camel farm, and a museum. Getting inside these houses or structures give a respite from heat as they are air-conditioned.. Interesting place and admission is free. Nearby are restaurants where you can enjoy the view of waters while dining.
Women engaged in arts and crafts.
Marina Mall: we came not to shop, but only to get local currency, Durham or AED. Exchange rates at the airport is the worst, at the hotel a little better, but malls gave the best exchange rates for our US dollars.
Lebanese Flower restaurant was on my list to try after reading good reviews on TripAdvisor. Their food is great, reasonable and served in great portions. We ordered a platter of mixed grilled meat for 2 people for take away (they won’t understand if you say to GO); to eat for dinner at our hotel as we just had lunch at the Emirate Palace hotel. Oh my gosh, our platter was filled with so much food and there was enough to feed 4 people…kebabs, rice, grilled veggies, hummus, chunks of chicken & beef. Every morsel was moist and delicious! Highly recommend to include this on your list to visit.
There are other attractions in Abu Dhabi we decided to skip. The beach, for we are going to Maldive later on our trip; the Yas Island for we are not into car racing, the Souks (markets) for lack of space in our carry on luggage.. If your flight lands in Dubai, it is definitely worth taking a day trip to Abu Dhabi, either by taxi or a public bus.
Part 4, Globetrotting: UAE in Dubai to follow.