The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The first thing I wanted to see in Abu Dhabi was its iconic landmark, the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque. I had studied the city bus network beforehand and also distinctly remembered reading somewhere that bus drivers accepted payment in cash. Unfortunately, on boarding the bus I found out this info was no longer valid! Now that I tell you this, you can come prepared: please remember you currently need a Halifat card to use Abu Dhabi public transport. As for me the misinformed, the driver generously let me get a free ride to the bus station where I could buy this card, so I didn’t get into trouble either.
The trip from the bus station to the Mosque took me about 40 minutes. The first sight of the huge white building contrasting with a clear blue sky was overwhelming! The security guard told me how to get to the entrance which was some 10 minutes away. I was afraid my dressing style might be found inappropriate, and they won’t let me in... No worries though – my outfit was not modest enough indeed but they have a ready solution to that by now: a huge pile of traditional clothing provided free of charge to both women and men, so I got it in exchange for my ID card as a guarantee of return.
I strolled around for a while, taking pictures, and then joined the free guided tour starting at 11 a.m. Each of us got a pair of headphones for the informative commentary on how the mosque was built and what kinds of materials were used. Sheikh Zayed, now buried next to the mosque, initiated the project but passed away before the job was done, so it was his son who supervised the final stages of the building process. The guided tour lasted 45 minutes and is a beautiful memory of mine, so I strongly recommend visiting the Grand Mosque to everyone who is going to Abu Dhabi. The excursion took about 2 hours in total, dressing and undressing included, plus 2 more hours for transits from the hotel and back, so 4 hours overall.
The Emirates Palace Hotel
After lunch and some rest in the Cristal hotel, I took a bus to Marina Mall, then a 20 minute walk (with photo stops) to the Emirates Palace hotel. The way I chose offers a great opportunity to see the hotel across the water. In what seemed like an endless fence, there was finally a gate to the hotel, but it was closed, and an angry security guard told me to keep off when I approached. I went further along the fence and soon spotted another open entrance. The hotel and the surroundings looked gorgeous in the evening light, and I could finally sit down to a cup of tea with scones for 170 dirhams and a live cello performance – a truly elegant ending of that memorable day.
A practical tip: as Abu Dhabi has no metro, allow enough time for above ground travel.
Published by Anita on January 02, 2016
- Travelled November 2015
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