Friday, April 1, 2016

Short Trip to United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi

They have smog and haze, too
We are constantly watching European plane fares throughout Europe, but lately in particular, we were looking to trade the fog and cloudy days of Venice with something hot and sunny.  There was a cheap fare to Dubai, taking us through Istanbul on Turkish Air and we jumped on it.  We like Turkish Air, mostly for the food, as they seem to have to best food of any airline and served with a guy who greet you in a chef hat.  

Orietta & Ayesha 
Our friend Ayesha, who lives in Sharjah, wanted to show us around.  She ended up doing a huge amount of driving.  One thing about Dubai, when you look  at the map, the distances between Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi appear much shorter than they really are.  It is 180 kilometers or just over two hours from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi, much of it mesmerizing desert scenery broken by a few oasis of giant buildings in the cities.  After two days, Ayesha was pretty tired.  She was a real trooper.
Right Through The Center of the City
Driving around Dubai you see a great contrast between the rich and the poor, the modern, very beautiful skyscrapers and  the dormitories provided for  the workers.  Architectural students should visit the Emirates to see these buildings.

Making Repairs
The stark differences are there to see:  the racing camel drivers and the resorts accomodating tourists from abroad, the  boat drivers and the well dressed,  and the laborers in the hot sun next to  a horse track packed with people attending the World Cup. The freeway is loaded with expensive huge SUV’s, while along the road the workers and their families walk the streets at night for just for something to do. 

First stop along the way was to see where they race camels.  We didn’t get to see a race, but saw them exercising the camels and they stopped to let us take photos and ask questions.  These camels are well taken care of, and the drivers were very friendly.  

500 yards away
Second stop was a game preserve where they have flamingos.  They were some distance away and visable better through a telescope from which I took this shot with my camera.  

Third stop was the waterway and boat docks.  There are numerous wooden boats which give rides to tourists wanting to relax and see Dubai from the water.  Ayesha bargained with one boat captain and we hopped aboard. 

Ayesha knew a great place to try Pakistani food.  In the Veneto, unfortunately,  there are no Pakistani restaurants, so this was a treat.  As you can see, we didn’t go hungry.   Along with the grill of meat, there was a pot of curried chicken in green lentils that was to die for.   
smoking grilled meat
Some restaurants have alcohol but this was not one of them.  A specialty drink was one of yogurt and lemon juice, called lassi.  Doggie Bag in her fridge!

It's huge and beautiful
That evening we headed to the Global Village Expo, which turned out to be a colorful Disneyland type experience.  Along with the usual amusement rides, each country had its own pavilion filled with rooms of spices, clothing, honey, coffee, foods, rugs and tea.
All Colors

Lit up at night like Las Vegas, with streets clean as a whistle, the whole appearance was fascinating.  We  were two of the few western dressed people there, and when we talked to people in the pavilions they were shocked to learn I am American, asking, “What are you doing HERE?”  Apparently not too many Americans go to the Expo.    We didn’t see any, nor hear English spoken by others.  

Tea Anyone?
 Our dinner  there was a sit down to more Pakistani cuisine and  I needed to sit as my Garmin told me I had already totalled over 14,000 steps.  (My feet are too old for this!!)  

There is a boat ride in a canal, small taxis for tired feet, numerous stands for fast food, women giving cooking demonstrations and selling their food, and amusement rides for the thrill seekers.

My favorite attraction was the Kuwait pavilion where they had a great band with super energy.  They attracted quite a crowd and I wished I could have stayed there much longer.  I especially liked the drummers who noticed I was watching them so they began to ham it up.  

Their drums were made of camel skin stretched across the round rim ands  I wish I could have brought one of those home. 

It’s too bad that tourists in the Emirates miss the Expo, it was my number 1.  The video is not great quality, I am sorry my camera does not record sound well.  They were a hundred times better than the recording.  If you are interested you can see it at the end of this blog.

Chatting Away In The Shade
The next day we drove all the way to Abu Dhabi to visit a park where they displayed the old ways of desert life with displays of crafts and a museum of relics.  It was located on the waterway where across we could see the huge buildings and resorts with boat marinas dedicated to the needs of foreigners.  There are few small boats here!  
After this we saw a museum dedicated to stitchery art and jewelry and then drove to the huge mosque that you see here.

On the right you can see part of an exhibit to show the style of clothing for women.  (We did not see any styles for men. )  There were also old coins, swords, rifles, photos, cannons, basketry, and cooking implements.
One of the largest mosques we saw

My last mention is the massive air conditioned mall in Dubai. 

With a view of the largest building in the world (remember Tom Cruise hanging on the side), this mall is multilevel, with a waterfall, an aquarium and Bellagio like dancing waters.  The builders seemed to think of everything you could put into a mall.  Every corporate name seems to be there, with P.F. Chang and Texas Steak House type restaurants. You see all types of foods, even the very  popular cookie makers are there.  I've never heard of Ben's Cookies but it looks like Arabs seem to enjoy a good cookie.  P.F. Changs is just to the left of this photo.
I wonder if they like peanut butter or oatmeal
 You want to go skiing?  Yes, a whole ski run is inside the mall.
How about Ice Skating?  It’s there.  You can even take a miniare jeep/taxi to get from one area to another.  

Umbrellas hanging in the mall
 and…I want to mention that I saw a lot of Americans shopping.  Too bad they missed the Expo!

Here is the video of the band from Kuwait.

Please leave a comment by clicking on where it says, "no comment"  below on the right.  I appreciate hearing what you think, and want to hear any suggestions, etc.

Thank you, Ayesha!  It was such a great experience!  Now come to Venice!

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