Abu Dhabi day one
16.03.2018 - 16.03.2018
How lucky am I!
I work as a consultant in the UK public sector, and my work takes me all over the country, but very rarely out of it. But recently it took me to Abu Dhabi for a few days, and presented me with the chance to see a little of what was a new country for me. Last year Chris and I had changed planes here on our way to Kerala, but I had never actually visited any of the United Arab Emirates and was keen to explore somewhere new. So my colleagues and I arranged to fly out a day early to allow a little time for sightseeing.
While they left from Manchester I flew from Heathrow with Etihad, as on that previous flight en route to Kerala. We left on time at 9.00 AM in a half-empty plane, so as well as the extra leg room I had paid for I had the luxury of an empty seat next to me - room to spread out!
I enjoyed the inflight catering (spicy lamb kofta followed by chocolate mousse) and watched The Shape of Water, a film I had missed seeing at the cinema but was keen to catch. While a little unusual perhaps I rather liked it and was glad to have had this opportunity to see it.
We had clear skies much of the way and I had some great views of mountain ranges in Turkey, south of the Black Sea, and the barren desert and mountain landscapes to the south of Baghdad.
View over Turkey
View over Turkey
Landscape over Iraq
But by the time we reached the Gulf there was cloud, and although this soon cleared, darkness fell, and we came into land over the bright lights of Abu Dhabi.
We were on the ground about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, and with a smooth passage through passport control and baggage claim, I was in a taxi and on my way to the hotel (the Bab al Qasr) before I should even have landed!
The ride took about 30 minutes and the hotel when I reached it was very swish! It is very new and successfully (in my view) combines traditional and modern influences in its décor. The copper-coloured exterior shows the influence of Islamic architecture in the huge lower floor windows and entrance, while the large atrium on the ground floor, which doubles as a coffee shop, is a beautiful space, especially at night when the glass roof is illuminated in a sequence of colours.
Front of hotel (taken the next day), and atrium
Atrium roof, looking up
I had booked a standard room but was upgraded to a larger one on the 22nd floor, with king size bed, lots of seating, a huge bathroom with both tub and walk-in shower, and great views. But I didn’t linger long as I was due to meet my colleagues for a late dinner. I called for them in their room, which made my upgrade look pretty feeble, as they had scored with a suite!
My bedroom at the Bab al Qasr hotel
We had a pleasant meal from the buffet on the lawn overlooking the beach, with lots of typical Middle Eastern dishes – I especially liked the hummus, always a favourite of mine. It was lovely after still-chilly London to be able to sit outside well into the evening. But bed soon beckoned, as it had been an early start for all of us. Tomorrow would be our sightseeing day.
Bab al Qasr hotel from the lawn