Thursday, April 5, 2012

Visitor Adventures: We worked, they played

The next few days, our visitors were on their own and Brian and I were both working. Here are a few of the fun things they did:

Falcon Hospital Tour
I've written about the importance of falcons to the UAE culture (some even have passports!) and this hospital is one of the facilities that cares for these amazing birds. They offer a tour or a tour and lunch option for visitors and from the descriptions that evening over dinner, it was well worth the visit. They got to learn about the falcons, see an operation in progress and tour the whole facility, finished off with a nice Arabic lunch. Definitely a 'must-do' for anyone coming to the area.

Big Bus City Tour
The Big Bus company operates in a lot of major cities including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It's a nice way to get to know the area and included in the ticket is an audio tour in a variety of languages. It's a 'hop-on, hop-off' tour that visits the major attractions in the city and allows you to jump off and explore and catch the next bus when you're ready. The benefit was it gave them a good sense of the major tourist spots (and made sure we didn't forget anything on the tour schedule. :) Despite a bit of wind, everyone seemed to really enjoy the tour.

Trip to Sharjah
On Wednesday, they ventured out of Abu Dhabi with our reliable taxi driver, Mohammad, to a neighboring Emirate and city called Sharjah. Sharjah is about 2.5 hours from downtown Abu Dhabi where they were staying and allowed them a nice view of the UAE desert - and they passed through Dubai on the way, which is a always a treat. The destination in Sharjah was the Blue Souk. This is technically the Central Market of Sharjah, but because it's made of these beautiful blue tiles, everyone calls it the Blue Souk. It's a mall, but offers traditional stuff as opposed to high end fashion designers. They got to wander around the shops and see silver, carpets, pashminas, tourist junk and a whole floor of gold jewelry stores. I think they had a good time here, but not sure it was worth the 5 hour round trip. These are a few photos from my visit back in Spring 2011.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Hands down a highlight of the trip. I've heard it twice compared to the Taj Mahal. I've posted on the Grand Mosque before so won't repeat myself. They went in time for the 10am tour and loved it. Ladies have to don traditional Abaya and Sheila to enter the mosque and everyone has to remove their shoes. It's a really great experience and another 'must do' if you're in Abu Dhabi. A few of my favorite photos of the Mosque.

High Tea at Emirate's Palace
As you know, we'd been having difficulty getting in to the Emirate's Palace and on the Big Bus tour, the group found out that they no longer welcome visitors. To get in, you have to have reservations for and event or tea or dinner or ... So, the group decided to sign up for High Tea. Yes, it was expensive, but judging from the fact that no one was hungry for dinner that night, it sounds like it was worth the dirhams. A spread of sandwiches, meats, cheeses and of course loads of deserts kept them busy for almost 2 hours and they really enjoyed the experience.

So, there is lots to do my friends! Have you booked your tickets yet?

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