Travel Journal: Dubai & Abu Dhabi
It's been almost two years since I visited the UAE, purchasing the flight for a measly $285 - remember that 'flight glitch fare' by Eithad on Christmas in 2014? Every now and then something reminds of how amazingly eye opening that trip was. For starters, it was the longest flight I had ever been on at the time, from Dulles International Airport in Virginia to Abu Dhabi (my most recent flight on a layover from Istanbul to LAX has taken over that stat since then). I truly didn't know how I was going to survive going into it. But I quickly discovered that if I wanted to venture out to the other side of the world, I would have to bypass any uncomfortable or uneasy feelings I had and just deal. And truthfully, it turned out not to be that bad. The fortunate thing about long flights is the carrier will help you stay entertained and provide you with pretty good food and drink options. I was able to catch up on a few movies, tv shows, and sleep. Ate some native and authentic (I assumed) middle eastern food and drank some wine to help relax and ease any nervousness and anxiety. Fun fact: I sometimes get anxious on flights because when I ready to get off, I'm ready to get off.
We flew directly into Abu Dhabi airport and caught the shuttle straight into Dubai, which took about an hour. We arrived at night so we couldn't see much in between cities, but I imagined it being desert views. Once we arrived at the dropoff point at Eithad's offices, we grabbed our belongings and made our way to a long line of people waiting for taxis. Luckily they arrived pretty quickly and effectively, knowing where the money was. Since we arrived in Dubai at night, the main strip was lit up and I instantly felt like I was in Las Vegas. We made it to our hotel, Four Points Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road and upon checkin we were graciously upgraded to a bigger suite. Happy birthday to me! This trip was already looking up. Since it was late, we grabbed some quick eats and tried to catch up on some sleep. Jet lag is no joke!
The next morning I put on my bathing suit and headed up to the pool and to take a peak at the view. A. Ma. Zing! I admittedly pinched myself a few times because it felt so surreal. Here I was in the middle of this beautifully man made city staring at the tallest bulding in the world, Burj Khalifa. God continues to blow my mind! I quickly jumped back into real life, however, and was reminded that I was in the middle of the desert and it was very hot! I took a quick dip in the pool to cool off then relaxed on the pool chairs soaking up the sun, still in amazement. Perfect way to start the morning.
Thanks to the Travel Noire squad those who were able to take advantage of the glitch fare had access to a spreadsheet which listed the dates and airports of those traveling to the UAE. Awesome idea which allowed travelers to connect with other travelers headed out at the same timeframe. As I got closer to the time for leaving, I initiated a convo between some of the ladies headed to the UAE during the same timeframe as I. We were able to connect and meet up on the same desert tour and yacht excursion.
Our driver for the desert tour picked us up at hotel and we took the 45 minute drive into the middle of nowhere. Or so it felt. The desert went on for miles and miles and miles and seemed never ending. We arrived at our starting point of the tour where camels awaited our arrival. We were able to take photos with them and get up close and personal. We hopped back in our 4x4 truck, where our driver drove over the sand dunes in a semi outrageous but hella fun way. Disclaimer: if you get motion sickness quite easliy I would not suggest this type of tour. One guy from another truck was bent over with a barf bag. Not a good look. But we pulled over a few times to take photos and to take in all the beauty that surrounded us. Breathtakingly beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me the type of scenery that can only be seen or experienced in certain parts of the world.
While Dubai was an amazing place to visit, I really connected to Abu Dhabi. It felt more cultural and authentic. As I previously stated, Dubai reminded me of Vegas, and Abu Dhabi didn't feel like any place I had been to before. After our time in Dubai came to an end, we took a luxury taxi to Abu Dhabi. Since the drive was about an hour, we opted to pay the extra money for a comfortable ride (meaning a/c) and upgraded from the typical taxi. We stayed at the Southern Sun hotel near the Corniche area, which was very nice, had a dope rooftop pool and amazing views.
Things we did: visited Corniche beach which had beautiful clear water that felt as warm as bath water, visited UAE Heritage Village for souvenirs and henna tattoos, and visited the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for an unforgettable spiritual and cultural experience.
Since it was my annual birthday trip, I had to do a photo shoot (which is my birthday tradition) along side the Persian Gulf to put the stamp on an amazing trip. Next time I would devote more time to Abu Dhabi, but I can't wait to visit again. I need another glitch fare! Til next time!