A layover on both legs of our trip to Kenya landed us back in Abu Dhabi. We visited eight months prior thanks to mistake fare tickets on Etihad Airways. At the time we thought that it would be an exotic, once in a lifetime trip, who would have guessed we’d be back twice in one year?
During our first visit we hit the highlights which included the opulent Shiekh Zayed Grand Mosque, Burj Khalifa, Yaz Marina, the Formula-1 raceway and a desert safari complete with dune bashing, camel rides and belly dancing. Then in the evening we had delicious meals and shisha pipes. Was there more to see in the UAE?
During this trip we planned two nights in Abu Dhabi and two nights in Dubai. The first night we didn’t make it out of Abu Dhabi Airport. We had a twelve hour layover and a stay at The Premiere Inn was perfect for us. Our second night in Abu Dhabi was on the return flight from Kenya. We stayed at the Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan and we were sorry when we had to leave the next morning. Our room was fantastic, especially after coming from tent life in Kenya.
-Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan livin’-
Next we were off to Dubai where we hadn’t spent any time overnight. It takes about an hour and a half in a nice air conditioned bus to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Buses are 25 dirham ($7 USD) and run every ten minutes. We got a room through Priceline at Howard Johnson Bur Dubai. The hotel was a short walk from the Al Ghubaiba bus station where we got off the bus from Abu Dhabi. Bur Dubai’s close proximity to the bus and metro station and the action on Dubai Creek made it a great choice for our brief stay in Dubai.
We arrived late afternoon and after settling in we took a walk to the creek to hop an Abra boat across. For 1 dirham, $0.27 USD, you get a five minute boat ride across to the gold and spice souks. Dhow boats passed us in either direction taking passengers for a dinner cruise on the creek. We have no room for souvenirs so we didn’t stay long at the souk before heading back across the creek to have dinner and shisha.
-Gold Souk Window-
The next day was for sightseeing. We started the morning off with a ferry ride from Bur Dubai to the Dubai Marina that was about an hour and a half one way trip and passed the man made islands of The World and Palm Islands. We then passed the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the Burj al Arab (iconic sailboat shaped building) and the Atlantis Dubai hotel.
-Burj al Arab or Bird al Arab depending on who you talk to-
We exited the ferry at Dubai Marina where Chris asked for directions to the subway. We were directed up two flights to the food court in Marina Mall were we were still looking for train signs before realizing we had been directed to the Subway sandwich shop. Lesson learned, always ask for the metro! We took advantage of the mistake by sharing a falafel overlooking the marina.
We left one mall for another, Mall of the Emirates, to see Ski Dubai and PENGUINS! Ski Dubai is the only indoor ski slope in the world and the only place that allows visitors to hug a penguin. Every hour they have a penguin show where the King and Gentoo penguins come out and strut their stuff for an adoring crowd. We had planned on paying for the penguin encounter but sadly the next available tickets were not until the evening. The cost was also a little steep for our budget since they charge and arm and a leg for pictures in addition to the admission.
-Penguins on the run!-
If we were to return a third time to UAE we will stay in Abu Dhabi. We prefer the vacation resort feel of Abu Dhabi versus the urban sprawl and mall crazy Dubai. This trip qualified us for Silver tier on Etihad Airways so hopefully our travels will transit through Abu Dhabi again so we can take advantage of the lounge and amenities. Until then, goodbye Dubai.