10 October 2013

Under Arabian Skies - a day in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is not somewhere I’d expected to visit in my lifetime. But when it became apparent that flying via Etihad Airways was by far the most economical option for us all to get to the UK, it became more than just a possibility, as the thought of flying straight through to London was not something any of us were keen on.

After doing our research we discovered that this time of the year the temperatures were going to be under 40 degrees during the day (always a bonus in the Middle East) and decided that so long as we could find a hotel with a pool, a stop-over would actually be rather appealing. Staying in fancy hotels is not something we have made a habit of so that in itself was something to look forward to.

We arrived in Abu Dhabi at 11pm after an insanely long flight of 14 hours straight through from Sydney, which was on top of another 12 hours travel time from Wellington via Sydney. The incredible heat as we exited the airport was like opening the door into a sauna and the air-conditioned limo (read: glorified people mover) a welcome relief.

The trip to the Crowne Plaza Yas Island was blissfully short, but the casualty of that short trip was Noah’s monkey George who got left in the taxi that then drove into the night. Thankfully, Noah realised within 2-3 minutes and burst into floods of tears. We raced over to the concierge who pulled out all the stops to call the taxi back. By the time we had checked in and got to our room, Edward our concierge was walking down the hallway swinging a happy little monkey, which was met with an equally large grin and a bucketload of thanks by Noah. Big relief.

We’d taken two rooms, hoping to get interconnecting rooms but with the hotel being full to capacity, this wasn’t possible. So we took turn about to sleep with the kids and with Super King beds we hardly knew the boys were there, other than the restless sleep of the jetlagged that affected us all each night and made sleep from 2-4am each morning a bit of an impossibility.

The morning brought daylight and the ability to see what our night-time arrival had kept hidden from us – views that we were well within walking distance of the Formula One Grand Prix hosted in Abu Dhabi only the day after our return stopover here later this month.

The morning also saw us sit down to an incredible spread at the buffet breakfast which ended up doubling as lunch for us and with the kids eating for free it wasn’t as extortionate as it would otherwise have been for a hotel-priced breakfast.

The hotel pool provided just the right spot to recover from the long flights of the day before, and with the temperature reaching 39 degrees during the day we were sure glad of it, dipping in and out of the pool the entire day.

After a brief stint back in the cool of our rooms, we returned to the pool area for dinner despite the intense heat that still blazed around us and watched the most incredible sunset – a perfect ball of fire sinking quickly through the purple haze.

 The sun sets unbelievably quickly in the Middle East, with no daylight savings to extend daylight hours, so while the boys retired up to the room for showers and some TV time, I took the opportunity to bring out the tripod (which Mark had suggested I needed to get good use out of to justify bringing on the trip!) and capture some night shots.

It was an unexpectedly luxurious and relaxing day spent under the golden haze of the Arabian sky.

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