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Friday, 14 October 2016

Day 13 - Into the Desert

Tuesday was an early start for David who had to go to a business meeting out of town. We left mid morning and headed to Abu Dhabi, the current capital of the UAE. Our driver was late picking us up, an omen of things to come.

Our first destination was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is a relatively new building created in honour of Sheikh Zayed. It is truly a work of art. Navigating the entrance was somewhat tricky. Monica and Anuzya went inside one of the entrances (there are separate doors for men and women but once through security everyone is on one large room) to find out where they could obtain appropriate robes. We found out we were on the wrong side of the building and it took our driver another 20 minutes to get us to the correct door. Monica and Anuzya disappeared inside while I waited in the very hot sun. I thought I had lost them but about 25 minutes later they appeared dressed in the appropriate hijab. We then waiting for David to arrive and finally entered the Mosque.

As you can see in the pictures it is quite beautiful.

After the Mosque we headed toward the desert resort where we were staying for the next 2 nights. Before we left David had alerted the driver that there may be road construction. He assured us that he knew the route.  Well he certainly didn't!  What should have been a 2.5 hour drive took five hours. AND he almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert!  Some words were spoken but we did eventually find the resort. As we were driving in the 4-5 kilometre hotel drive we passed two cars (also with guests) stranded on the side of the road. They had obviously not seen the signs that warn drivers to NOT pull over off the road. The sand on the side of the road is very soft and tires sink easily.  We sent rescuers from the hotel when we arrived.

We arrived late so we had to rush to get ready for our special dinner. We checked into our rooms and found we had been upgraded. We each had king beds, huge bathrooms with large tub and a balcony overlooking the desert.

At this resort there is some walking but mostly people are shuttled from place to place on small golf buggies. The drivers always ask if we are enjoying our stay. This place has customer service down pat. Our buggy dropped us off at reception where we were directed to a four wheel drive SUV for a 20 minute adventure drive through the sand dunes. It wasn't exactly dune bashing, but it was fun and gave us great views.

When we arrived at the top of one Dune we were greeted by a maitre d' and his 3 team members who proceeded to cater to our every whim. This was a private dinner right in the middle of the desert. We had a 360 view of sand, sand and more sand. It was gorgeous. It was pointed out that we were approximately 8 kilometres from the Saudi border. We also were on the exact Dune where the last Star Wars movie had been filmed. Wow!

The team had set up couches and coffee tables along with fire torches and a fire pit. We spent the first 15 minutes watching the sunset and taking pictures. We then settled in with a glass of wine and were served lovely appetizers consisting of humous, salad, .....  It was all delicious.

As the night progresses so did the wind. At first it was amusing to feel the sand scraping our faces and plates. But as the wind increased the maitre d' pulled an SUV closer to us to try and block the wind. Finally he wisely suggested we abandon our Dune for the safety and comfort of the resort. We concurred and he piled us into his SUV and dune buggies his way back. Sadly the outdoor alternative dining area was full of people and kids and lacked the romance of the Dune. But at least we had the sunset time.

After dinner we shared some wine on our balcony and had a wonderful night sleep.

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