Part 2. Off to Abu Dhabi then Dubai...photos plus video of the world's fastest roller coaster....

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  Tom took this photo from the 124th floor observation deck of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa with a total 163 stories. For more photos Tom took at the top,  see toward the end of today's post.
Yesterday, we received a comment from an anonymous reader with a story about the dangerous Coronavirus spreading from the Middle East.  Last night, we saw the same story on CNN about this virus spreading to a French traveler who had visited Dubai, UAE, which proved to be fatal. 

With dozens of cases throughout the Middle East and, considering the places we've visited, I was concerned.  Tom, was less worried than I.

After taking my 4th dose of Z-Pak, I'd expected to turn the corner.  It had been 16 days since the illness began. What would happen if this continued until next Tuesday when we board the ship for the Mediterranean cruise and we wouldn't be allowed on the ship, although we're no longer contagious?  Oh, dear.

I had an idea in my desperation to improve; put a large pot of boiling water on the stove leaving it on all day at a slow boil.  Perhaps the moisture in the air would lessen the sinus infection. 

Second idea;  follow the guidelines espoused by Dr. Bruce Fife, of the benefits of Oil Pulling, using coconut oil twice a day as a mouthwash for a full 20 minutes, swishing and gargling and then spitting it out.  Coconut oil, which we have with us, is a powerful antibacterial. 

Starting these two modalities or merely coincidence, I started to improve late afternoon. I'm much better today.  Whether it was the Z-Pak finally kicking in, the coconut oil, the boiling water putting moisture in the air,  just "time," or a placebo effect, I don't care the reason.  It's only the result that brings us much relief.  Tom, struggling with the sinus issue to lesser of a degree is also feeling better.

So now, we can rest one more day with a plan to begin tomorrow to sift through our stuff, one more time, to further lighten our load in order to avoid extra baggage fees when we fly away on Monday from Dubai to Barcelona.  It will be done!
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Now to Part 2 of our day trip to see some sights in Abu Dhabi and Dubai...

After leaving the mosque on Monday, Umer was anxious to show us other favorite tourist attractions.  In my weakened conditioned, I reminded him that walking was difficult for me in the heat and if we'd be getting out of the car, it must be to air conditioning with places to sit.  This limited us to a degree.


Most intentionally crooked skyscraper in the world in Abu Dhabi, Capital Gate, built at a full 18 degree angle. Oh.
With this in mind, he drove to a popular destination, Abu Dhabi's world famous seven star hotel, the Emirates Palace Hotel, an extraordinary architecturally interesting hotel filled with Arabic works of art, its own marina and heliport and the finest of amenities.  Again, we were enthralled by its creative design, tasteful amenities, massive structure and opulence.


One of the entrances to the Emirates Palace Hotel.


Looking up, as we stood in the main foyer of the Emirates Palace Hotel.


The main foyer.

Happy to sit in the air conditioned comfort of the Emirates Palace Hotel.


Looks like a cash machine.  Nope!  Its a gold machine.  Put in a credit card and out pops a chunk of gold at your choosing.
Another view of gold machine.


View of Emirates Palace Hotel's private beach and marina.


This is a full view of the Emirates Palace Hotel depicted on an enormous wall.  Its actually a handmade tapestry!  The detail in person was breathtaking.
 
 

We stepped out on the veranda for a better view of the ocean front.


One of two open staircases at one end of the hotel, with its handmade carpeting and stained glass railings was worth a shot.


As we drove away from the Emirates Palace Hotel, took this photo of one of the fountains.



A small portion of the Abu Dhabi skyline as we drove away.


The attention to detail is at every turn.  Notice the shaping of these trees along the boulevard.

From every angle the views are amazing.

Umer drove us past the Sheikh's new home currently under construction.  This photo is only a small portion of the massive estate.



World's largest roller coaster is located in Ferrari World, the Formula Rossa. Here's the link to watch the seven minute video.  No, we had no interest in riding this so we just breezed by.

By the time we returned to Dubai it was after 1:00 PM, anxious to get to the Burj Khalifa
so Tom could ride to the observation deck on the 124th floor.

 Tom taking photos at the 124the floor of Burj Khalifa.
 


 More views...

 This is the highest view from any structure on earth.

Breathtaking!  He loved seeing it firsthand.  Wish I could have joined him but these photos are quite gratifying.
Miles of views.

Tom took this photo of the portion of the Burj Khalifa remaining 39 floors all above the 124th floor observation tower. 

The freeway system is evident in this and the photo below, indicative of Dubai's efficient systems.

Unreal views.  Great job, Tom!



Although these look as if they are black and white photos, it was taken in color.  From the distance, everything appeared in monotones.


A peek of grass and water shows the colors seen from above.


A photo of a photo on New Year's Eve as fireworks were being shot from various floors of the Burj Khalifa.  Now that would be fun to see in person!

Winding down our day, he drove out to Palm island to see the gorgeous properties.


Our final stop on Palm island, the renowned Atlantis, The Palm Hotel & Resort that doesn't allow tourists to visit except dining or as a booked guest.
Finally, returning to our condo after a gratifying day, although cut short in part by my illness, we were so happy to have gone to see some of the highlights of this amazing country and two of its extraordinary cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capitol city. 

Although we've seen but a small portion of what these great cities have to offer, we're grateful for the experiences we've added to our repertoire of fine places to visit, as we continue on our worldwide journey.
 

Part 1. Off to Abu Dhabi, then Dubai...photos...

As we sped along the freeway to Abu Dhabi, a 90 minute drive, we encountered numerous mosques.
Abu Dhabi, the capitol city of United Arab Emirates was hovering in my mind after arriving here more than a week ago.  How could we possibly leave Dubai not having seen the world-renowned, most opulent city in the world?


Each mosque had its own unique architecture.

Dubai, in itself is a wealthy city of perfection, cleanliness, low crime rate, strict cleanliness laws and a gentle demeanor by its occupants.  How could yet another city in this country be more in excess than Dubai?  We were compelled to find out.


Umer, our trusty tour guide and driver, was waiting outside the parking ramp for us when we arrived 10 minutes before our scheduled time of 8:00.  Still feeling ill and hesitant about going, I was determined to make it through the day of sightseeing that we had arranged and rescheduled once already. 

As we entered Abu Dhabi, our mouths were agape at the world's first round skyscraper, AIDer HQ.

 
 

As we neared the mosque.
Much to our delight, Umer arrived a brand spanking new Lexus, comfortable, smooth and well equipped for our day's outing.  As he explained he spent most of his days driving travelers about to see the various treasure of Abu Dhabi (and Dubai), a 90 minutes drive on a flawless, seemingly no-speed-limit freeway.  His vast knowledge and experience were astounding, ensuring us we'd made the right choice in a driver.

As we approached Sheikh Zayed Mosque.  It was difficult, based on its size and location to get a full shot of the mosque's enormous expanse.  This link will depict a full range.
With three hours of driving time to arrive in Abu Dhabi, we were left with five hours of actual sightseeing to include both cities.  Would I last that long?  My head still pounding, along with a feeling of exhaustion and weakness, I felt determined to do push myself as hard as I could. 

Real gold, everywhere!
The three hour drive was pleasant and uneventful, as we chatted on endlessly with Umer, learning the many ways of Muslim life.  Our preconceived notions and prejudices are often far removed from reality. 

The crispness of the white exterior was astounding!
This has been an eye opening experience that will remain in our hearts forever.  A particular area of interest to me when speaking with Umer was the attention of one's physical and emotional health, as well as spiritual well being.  The work ethic is embedded in centuries of taught disciplines.  Respect and care for one's elders, arranged marriages and family life are the core of their existence. 

Almost to the entrance!
And, of most curiosity while here in Dubai and then yesterday in Abu Dhabi was the five times a day loud speaker chanting announcing prayer time, during which everything stops for those of the Muslim faith while they commit to prayer.  Many times, we've heard the sounds, more so when we've been out to the pool at precisely 12:20 pm, less so when inside.

Umer insisted we stop for a photo op, taking this of us.
The first place we visited upon arrival in Abu Dhabi was the 8th largest mosque in the world and the largest in UAE, Sheikh Zayed Mosque.  Before getting out of the car, Umer explained we'd be required to change into a black full coverage abaya for me and a white long thobe for Tom which would be provided for us upon entry into the mosque.  As a result we wouldn't need to wear the long pants we'd brought with us nor the long black scarf I had in our bag.
Definitely not my most flattering photo.  Tom looks great!  We're standing in front of the architectural scale model. After we posed for this picture, a security guard rushed over telling us we are not allowed to touch one another in the mosque.  Of course, we complied.






The beauty continued at every step.



Hand cut granite floors.



This chandelier, one of three, was made entirely with gold and jewels.

The long walk from the parking lot to the mosque, in the heat with no breeze, was almost unbearable in my weakened condition.  Tom and Umer's patience with my slow and unsteady gait was appreciated but the longer I was in the heat, the worse I felt. 

Handmade carpeting.

By the time I reached the ladies open air changing room I was beside myself wondering if I could go on.  The thought of donning the long dark garment in the heat was overwhelming.  There was still quite a walk to reach the mosque.

More eloquent beauty...
The attendant looked about trying to find a garment tall enough for me with the requirement that the ankles are covered.  She handed me a jumble black ball..  I struggled trying to figure out how to put on the silky one piece garment, finally requesting her help.

One of several areas for display of the Koran.

The sleeves to the abaya were inside out making it impossible to put on.  I felt as if I had a tight turtleneck sweater caught on my head while trying to pull it off.  Add, my bad shoulder and how I was feeling and I nearly panicked. 

Standing among the gilded elegance left us in awe.
Alas, she helped untangle it and minutes later I walked out of the changing room to find Tom standing proudly in his white collarless one piece thobe looking at ease and quite dapper.  In looking back at our photos I felt as if I looked more like the "grim reaper" than a respectful tourist.
Hand crafted prayer time clock...
With yet another stop outside in the heat to remove our shoes placing them in little bins, I couldn't wait to get inside the air conditioned comfort of the mosque.  Moments later, the blast of cold air filling us with relief, our eyes beheld a plethora of sights no word can describe. 

It was difficult to decide which way to look.  The jewel encrusted accouterments were not only breathtaking but tastefully designed eliminated any sensation of gaudiness one might expect in such a lavish, opulent environment.

Umer suggested this traditional photo op in this designated prayer area.
For a period of time, I almost forgot how awful I was feeling becoming enraptured by this experience.  All along, both Tom and I have said that we are more interested in people and culture throughout our travels than we are in visiting buildings. 

Every nook and cranny beheld another work of art.
The more buildings we see, we find that they bespeak their people and cultures, the finest workmanship, the creative minds and the often profound messages they are striving to convey in their work.  The mosque was a fine example of this message and we felt honored to share in its glory and gift to the world.
Tom, as we're nearing the turn toward the end of our tour through the mosque.
Let our photos depict the elegance and grace surrounding us as we slowly walked through this memorable spiritual place, Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Our personal tour guide, Umer, couldn't have been more helpful.  Should you decide to come to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, whether vacationing or on business, you can feel comfortable having him provide not only your transportation needs but as a tour guide as well.  At approximately US $250, AED $900 (plus tip) for the day, it was well spent. His personal email is listed here at this link.

Tomorrow we'll post Part 2 of our day trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai and also photos of Tom's visit to the 124th floor observation deck of the famed tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa.  Unable to join him, I was thrilled with the excellent photos he was able to take while Umer and I waited in a cafĂ© at the Mall of the Emirates in  Dubai, the largest mall in the world. 

They do "largest" here in UAE.  Interesting.

Only steps from the door to exit the mosque, Umer again grabbed the camera insisting we take one more shot of us, pressing me to smile.  The experience, worthy of great smile.  My headache, not so much.