Saturday, September 10, 2016

Abu Dhabi

To start off our Sri Lankan family vacation, we flew through Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was mostly to break up one long day of travel into two shorter days. The first night we went to Yas Island, and the following day we saw the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque before our flight out to Sri Lanka.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Yas Island
We arrived on the evening of September 9th. After checking in to our hotel and resting a bit, we went to Yas Island mall for a haircut for me and dinner for all of us. While I was getting haircut at Figaro (the only men's salon in the mall), Kacey took the girls to Fun Works on other side of the mall.
When I caught up to them, the kids were somewhere in a three-story fun house and Kacey stated that this place was her personal version of hell: loud, crowded, full of flashing lights, and uncomfortably warm. It took me about 10 minutes to find the kids in the fun house because they got lost and couldn't find their way back...but I guess that's what happens when your entrance isn't on the lowest level.

We got dinner at Giraffe Cafe. I had duck stir fry and the giraffe sundae with baklava and pomegranate. After dinner, we got lost in the mall. Found ourselves at the Boulevard area (felt like being outside, but air conditioning) by Ferrari world. Cab home (~25 UAD).
Old cars outside Ferrari World at Yas Island

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Saturday morning, we took a cab to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It was about ~50 dirhams from our airport hotel.

Followed signs to entrance. Ended up going underground thru garage to where they hand out abaya. Men's and women's entrances. Greg had no issues in pants. Kacey came dressed per code, and the cashier asked her who sent us down here because that was fine.
Mosque Manners (Source)
Interestingly, they handed out hoods instead of scarves, which was completely opposite of our experience at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Anyways, that kinda set the tone of the tour.
The site is large and blindingly white in the morning sun. Flowers were created from stone inlays of all colors (my favorite ones are from blue lapis lazuli), and they were everywhere with some gilding and reflecting pools thrown in for good measure.
I'm a sucker for arches on columns. They did a good job with them.
Clearly lots of work went into it.
 Ceilings were spectacularly complex. Odd that it was built on 5-sided vs 8-sided. Why? Five pillars of Islam is my guess, but we didn't have a guide.
Inside, mother of pearl inlays on columns.
Large chandeliers.
Under one of them, our elder daughter said "I feel like i'm being watched by a hundred eyeballs".
Maybe that's because she's a little blonde girl wearing a summer dress in the mosque and the eyes aren't in the chandelier. 


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The head covering we brought for Kacey to use was actually a scarf that I received from a friend in Turkmenistan that was a little too slick and didn't stay on so well. So, ladies, find a headscarf you like and just keep it with you. We saw one lady with a wool knit scarf pulled over head. As if the other options weren't already uncomfortable enough in the 90+ F heat.
Probably the only photo we have of Kacey wearing a headscarf.



 We took a cab back to airport hotel for 40 UAD, got our bags, and boarded the plane to Sri Lanka!

Of course, the cup won't fit in the cup holder.
Over all, the mosque was an impressive place, but I wouldn't have made the trip to Abu Dhabi just to see it (as opposed to the Hagia Sofia).

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