Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy Hijri New Year! and a visit to the Rainbow Sheikh

November 5th was the Hijri New Year, which is the first day of the Islamic calendar. As I've shared before, many of the Islamic holidays are based on the moon cycle so they aren't fixed dates on the calendar. This year, new year's day was November 5th.

I asked my Emirati acquaintances how the new year is celebrated by Muslims here in UAE and got only a shrug - doesn't seem to be that big a deal. But, it did mean a day off work so everyone was happy about that. What's most amusing to me is that the 5th fell on a Tuesday this year, which is in the middle of the week. So, the government declared the holiday from work for November 3rd giving us all a three day holiday weekend. Who am I to complain? :)

So, did the Stolls jump on a flight to somewhere exotic? Sadly no - this time we stayed closer to home and explored a bit of our own back yard. We visited the Emirates National Auto Museum!

This museum is actually the private car collection of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan and consists of around 200 cars - everything you can imagine. Here are a few highlights:

Sheikh Hamad is know as the Rainbow Sheikh (no, not because he's gay - that would never be admitted in public here) but because he owns a fleet of rainbow colored Mercedes!
We couldn't even figure out what this was - the seats look too small for anyone but children.
I don't think this behemoth runs as there is a set of stairs going up into the cab (sadly blocked off when we were there). Here's Brian kicking the tires to show just how monstrous the thing is.  Why? As one of my recent taxi drivers said to me, "too much money".

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Buenos Aires: Botanical Garden

My last post of our Buenos Aires adventure is a tour of a beautiful botanical garden we walked through on an equally beautiful day in BA. Enjoy!

 Didn't see very many cats in BA - LOTS of dogs, but not too many cats so had to grab a photo of this one

Friday, November 1, 2013

Buenos Aires: Palacio Barolo

One of our favorite adventures in Buenos Aires (wait, do I say favorite on every post?) was the Palacio Barolo night tour.  The Palacio Barolo is a gorgeous office building with a lighthouse on the top and an interesting history.

(Copied from Wikipedia)
Italian architect Mario Palanti was commissioned to design the building by the empresario Luis Barolo, an Italian immigrant who had arrived in Argentina in 1890 and had made a fortune in knitted fabrics. The Palacio Barolo was designed in accordance with the cosmology of Dante's Divine Comedy, motivated by the architect's admiration for Dante and his work. There are 22 floors, divided into three "sections". The basement and ground floor represent hell, floors 1-14 are the purgatory, and 15-22 represent heaven. The building is 100 meters (328 feet) tall, one meter for each canto of the Divine Comedy. The lighthouse at the top of the building can be seen all the way in Montevideo, Uruguay where there is a similar twin building built by the same architect. When completed in 1923 it was the tallest building, not only in the city, but also in the whole of South America. It remained the city's tallest building until 1935.

The tour took us through the various floors with a narration on how the building aligns to Dante's Divine Comedy. We ended up in the lighthouse with some amazing views of the city and even got to sit in the light tower itself as the guide turned on the searchlight for us. Pretty fun experience. Here are some of the photos.
 A view of the lobby (also considered 'hell').
A view from purgatory down into hell.
Some beautiful accents throughout the building. This is supposed to look like a dragon head on and just ornate scroll work from the sides.
A gorgeous view from the lighthouse. The moon was in almost the perfect spot too.
Can you see Evita on the side of the this building?
Even the staircases were beautiful - and to think this is 'just an office building'.
This is off one of the patios (maybe around the 12th floor or so?) It's a huge patio area and this is looking back at the building. There's some significance to the green as well, but I can't remember anymore what it was. A cool view that's for sure.
Our camera has this amazing night shot setting, which is the only reason this photo turned out at all.