How did Ferda and I end up in Abu Dhabi anyway? The idea started because I flew through Dubai on the way back from Sri Lanka. A number of people had chastised me for traveling in the UAE and not visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I figured I could just extend my stay in Dubai a few days and see a couple things that I missed my first time in the country. Well, flight ticket fares being what they are it was actually cheaper to come to the UAE from Turkey rather than extend a stopover. That seems hard to believe — it must have had something to do with the bicycle — but I kind of remember that it cost less to fly from Colombo to Istanbul than Colombo to Dubai.
Anyway, here we are. We left gritty, dusty Cairo in the morning and were walking around sparkling, green Abu Dhabi in the afternoon.
From our downtown hotel it was a short walk to the corniche
and some very nice views of the city.
For a couple kids who have never been to New York, well, it really felt like we were in the big city!
I don’t think it’s just ’cause we came from the culinary wasteland of Egypt — we had some really good meals in the UAE. This Kerala dinner our first night in the country was definitely one of the stars.
The next morning we were clever to arrive early at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, certainly one of Abu Dhabi’s architectural stars. It was hot and crowded by the time we were leaving.
The floral patterns on the floors, walls, and columns, were stunning.
Ok, I get it. You can’t go to UAE without visiting this mosque. 🙂 It was completed 15 years ago and made us wonder what people will be saying about it in 1000 years.
Conveniently for tourists another of Abu Dhabi’s architectural gems, the Louvre, is accessible via the same bus route (94) even though it’s a good distance across town.
The exhibit is organized thematically taking pieces from different times and different cultures, illustrating our common humanity. A great example (though it’s a lousy photo) are these three statues representing motherhood — from 14th century France, 800-400 BCE Egypt, and 19th century DRC.
There was a small room with just burial vessels from Egypt including a painted wooden sarcophagus — very exciting for us since we had visited the famous Necropolis at Giza just two days earlier.
Two of my favorite pieces were this archer from Persia (510 BCE):
and, also from Persia, but about 2200 years later, this procession of Armenians:
The photo sucks, but this Vermeer is outstanding:
This surrealist work by Wassily Kandinsky reminded me of Dalí. Indeed they were contempararies:
I liked the way that the exhibit ended with ancient stone carvings and modern paintings, saying, apparently, the same thing.
It was Punjabi food for dinner that night and then a bus to Dubai the next day. Can Dubai possibly top our short, exciting visit to Abu Dhabi?