sheikzayedmosque2We arrived on August 15th to the wonderful and magical city called Abu Dhabi.  There is a story around every corner, a proud history in everyone’s eyes, and a generosity behind the beautiful black shaylas the women wear.  This city is exploding with warmth, energy, and an over all sense of pride.  I’m thrilled to be sharing some of the wonderful experiences we’ve had thus far in this city.

Upon arrival, as you know, we checked into the Intercontinental oceantimeHotel.  Everything has been amazing from the breakfast buffet, to the housekeeping service, to the very hospitable staff.  Everyone is attentive to my children and their needs, and to our overall happiness.  While there is not a kids club here, there are nannies you can hire through the hotel, there’s a wonderful kiddie pool, and the beach is right out the door.  The great thing about the beach is that it’s blocked off at a point, not allowing any ocean crud or fish to come into the swimming areas.  It’s pristine!  SO clear, and so warm. 

adnocAs you begin venturing out of your hotel and into the city, you will be magnificent feats of architecture everywhere and wonder how on Earth they managed to complete that!  And of course, there are cranes everywhere due to all of the construction happening here.  They have a goal…to be the first carbon print free city in the World.  They are dedicated.  An interesting tidbit of information, they are going to have a bigger Louvre and Guggenheim here!  Can you imagine that?  They have built a Formula 1 race track on an island!  I’m telling you, this place is going places…wonderful places.  The picture to the left is almost complete.  It leans more than the Leaning Tower of Pizza if you can believe that!  It’s amazing to see.

The deeper in the city you go, and the more you choose to let yourself go and be embraced by the people, you’ll find abaysoukyourself in very “local” areas, such as the Madinet Zayed souks.  Imagine a flea market of sorts, but everything is indoors, in tiny little shops, in a massive building.  Everything from brilliant fabrics, to abayas (the National dress), to jewelry…and you can negotiate your own price on it all.  The abayas are gorgeous!  And there are thousands of them in here.  The abaya is very comfortable…you can whatever whatever you want underneath…WHATEVER you want.  Seriously!  I have already purchased three and intend to have some custom tailored as that too is a cheap service over here.

papajohnsAs you continue exploring the city of Abu Dhabi, krispykremeyou will find that you really aren’t that far from home.  At first you’ll notice almost everything translated into English!  Then you’ll notice how many people here know enough English to communicate with you!  You might next notice that all of your favorite restaurants are here from Benihana to P.F. Changs, to these two popular fast food chains! You won’t long for much food at home.

Even in the stores, you won’t be longing for fresh veggies, fruit, or MOST of your favorite foods.  We were shocked at the amount of brands we were used to.  nonmuslimAnd if you can’t find it at one store, perhaps Carrefour, then you might find it at Lulu’s or Spinneys!  Also, you’ll find organic, natural, and no hormone items as well!  But, remember this…this is a non-pork country.  This means ANYTHING from a pig…right down to gelatin.  So, when you’re at a store, you’ll come across this room, with sliding doors, which states that it’s pork for non-muslims only.  Inside, you’ll find all your sausage, bacon, ribs, pork chops, as well as  Quaker Oat chewy bars, Pop Tarts, and marshmallows!  Why?  Gelatin!  Funny enough, we didn’t eat much pork at all at home, so we didn’t even buy anything nor want to buy anything in here.  But I know there’s a few die-hards out there searching for the pork.

Lastly, but definitely not least, if you find yourself fortunate enough to be here, go to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque…it’s breathtaking!  The first image in this article is one piece of it…trulysheikzayedmosque beautiful.  Go on a guided tour and allow yourself to let your guard down and just take it in.  Listen to what they have to say…I bet you’ll find it’s not much different than how you yourself feel…just put in a different way.  I really enjoyed my time here, even video recording the tour because I wanted to remember how special it was.

There are treasures all throughout this beautiful city, you just have to be willing to let them find you.  The most beautiful of them all?  For me?  The 5 calls to prayer throughout the day, radiating through the city.  I do not attend church, but you do not have to be a church goer to feel the beauty of this sound.  You miss it if you don’t hear it.  This as I listen to it right now from my hotel room.