Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nice to meet you Abu Dhabi: Part One

Night time view from my hotel 
Etihad Towers is outlined in blue in the background. Apartment complexes seem to come in sets of "towers" here. 
This one is a particularly nice complex.                       
Currency in UAE (dirhams and fils) is very colorful. I wonder if I'll ever know which is which without studying it for 5 minutes at the checkout. The bills come in aed (arab emirates dirham) 500 - 200 - 100 - 50 -20 -10 - 5. I haven't really figured out the coins yet, except the big ones are one dirham. I think they also have 50 and 25 fils, which is like cents. At the checkout, it seems that they usually just round to the nearest dirham and don't even bother with fils.

Daytime Adventures
 Elise and I managed to get very lost trying to find IKEA (on Yaz Island which is still developing as an area and much of it is clear for neither Garmin nor GoogleMaps), but saw this huge yo-yo shaped building on our journey. I've since learned to type in "Ferrari World"(a much more high-profile destination) if I want directions that actually get me near IKEA. In a total of about ten trips, I think I've managed to get there without getting hopelessly lost twice. Kim and I discovered that Yaz Island is a bad place to get lost when your gas light is on...there are NO petrol stations on the island!

Oh! And I even spotted a familiar activity...kitesurfing! (as they call it here) I've heard that summer is the off-season and that the wind is good from about September through June...
in case any of you wind freaks were looking for a new spot to try your skills. 
Who knows, maybe I'll give it a shot here since you don't have to worry about barges, rocks, bridges, river current...basically ANY obstacles besides other kiters.

The Night Scene
Then I went exploring the night scenes with fellow Oregonians, Lori & Dan 
and couple Brit friends, Jim & Ken. Dinner at Le Boulanger: chicken tika (basically shishkabob & veggies) with a big clump of intense garlic sauce - YUM! Lori and I decided that it was high time we tried shisha for the first time: grape & lime. I think I've figured out that the stuff you smoke is called sheesha and the thing you smoke it from is a hooka... 
Somehow the locals manage to make it look much cooler and more sophisticated.
The verdict: first puff or two was interestingly tasty but, 
IT'S STILL SMOKING! YUK! Nothing like the taste of ashtray mouth 
to ruin perfectly good garlic breath!

Despite the 100+ F degree temperature, we decided to walk the appx 2-3 km trek back to our hotel and were rewarded with the beautiful scene of the massive hotel down the street from ours, called 
The Emirates Palace. They put on a spectacular fountain & light display in the nighttime!

Shortly after this, dripping with sweat, we relented, hailed a taxi, and illegally squished all five of us in for the last kilometer of our journey "home." We tipped our accommodating driver BIG.

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