March 9 -12, 2015
On Christmas morning, after we opened our presents, my phone started “blowing up” with news of a really good deal. There were some really cheap fares on Etihad. Susan gave me permission to go over Spring Break, but she and the kids wanted to stay home. I ended up booking a trip to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is close to Dubai so I was planning on spending most of my time in Dubai. I would only be in the UAE for about 40 hours. The airfare was a steal at $177 round trip!
I left on Monday morning. I flew to Laguardia in New York and changed airports. Etihad flies directly from JFK to Abu Dhabi. While at JFK, I grabbed a burger at Shake Shack and purchased some other snacks for the plane. The flight over would take 12 1/2 hours. The Etihad planes and service are really nice. I lucked out and had an empty seat beside me. I was able to sleep a little, but I mostly watched movies. I was not real fond of the food they served.
I arrived in Abu Dhabi at 7:30pm on Tuesday. I then took the free Etihad bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. I was staying at the Radisson Royal Hotel using points. The hotel was super nice I went to the grocery store and KFC and then I went to bed.
Wednesday morning, I got up early and had breakfast at McDonalds. I was going to do the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour so I could see as much of the city as possible. First, though, I wanted to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building. The building is connected to a mall. I had a taxi drop me off at the mall. I explored the mall on the way to the Burj. I got there when it first opened and went straight to the top with no waiting. The building is beautiful and over the top. Even the entrance and elevator were cool. On the observation deck, it was windy and sandy and the visibility was poor. After lots of pictures and videos, I took the elevator down and walked back through the mall. The mall felt like the a really nice mall in the U.S. and had every store and restaurant you’ll see in the U.S. including Yogurtland, Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse and more.
Upon leaving the mall, I joined up with the bus tour. We went around the city and I got off at the Dubai Museum. After looking around, I walked to the Old Market. I enjoyed doing some shopping and haggling. There weren’t many tourists out this early, so I was getting lots of attention.
I joined back up with the tour and got off again to walk through more markets or souks. First was the Gold Souk. Every stall and store was loaded with gold. They say this is the cheapest place to buy gold in the world. The next stop was the Spice Souk where they had lots of herbs and spices for sale. I boarded the bus to go to more sights. I saw the Burj Al Arab, which is the famous building that looks like a sail. It’s the one with the famous helicopter pad at the top. I saw the man made islands and we went onto the Palm island. I got out and explored the Atlantis Palm on the island.
My last stop was the Mall of Emirates. This mall is equal to the first mall that I was in. I had planned on looking at the ski slope that they have in the mall. I was surprised at how cheap it was, so I paid for 2 hours of skiing. Everything was included, except gloves. It was a unique experience and the skiing was actually really good.
Thursday morning, I got up early so I could see some of Abu Dhabi. My flight was around lunch time. I took the free bus to the airport and hired a taxi. The taxi driver was very friendly and gave me a tour of Abu Dhabi. The main attraction here is the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It wasn’t open, so we drove around and looked at it. It is very impressive. Next, he took me to the main areas of Abu Dhabi After the tour, he returned me to the airport in plenty of time to catch my flight.
The return trip had the same itinerary as the first part. I went through New York and got more Shake Shack at JFK. It was neat that I cleared US immigration in the Abu Dhabi airport. I was a little nervous about this trip because I’d never been to the Middle East. The whole time I felt safe, even when I was alone. I was told they have almost no violent crimes in the UAE.