Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Atlantis-- The Palm, Dubai

We just got back from a beautiful weekend at the Atlantis Hotel, in Dubai.  Joe and I have been to the one in The Bahamas, and I had no idea there was another one.  But there is!  :)

The Palm is a set of man made islands off the coast of Dubai.  It is shaped like a palm tree, as you can see.  The Atlantis resort sits at the number 5.

We drove to Dubai this time and made good time.  We were too early to check in, so we decided to head to The Dubai Mall and go to Texas Roadhouse.  The rolls were delicious!  Let me tell you, that lunch was so wonderful.  There was a baseball game on the TV and country music playing in the background.  It did this Texas girl a world of good to just sit and enjoy the feel of home.

Here we are, driving up to Atlantis.  I don't know if you can tell on the brown street sign, but the 'fronds' of the palm tree are really streets that are named by letters.

At the water park at Atlantis.  I didn't really spend too much time there, so this is the only picture I have of it.  Obviously it is a big area and there is lots more to see.

The beach had a view of the Burj Al Arab.

Here is the amazing Dale Chihuly glass tower in the middle of the main lobby.

One of the painted ceilings.

We enjoyed viewing this aquarium in the hotel.

Our favorite tank! 

I have seen a lot of Keep Calm signs, but not this one.  Loved it!

As you can only imagine, there were so many ocean-themed decorations and architecture at the resort.  I especially liked these 'coral' sconces.

Another one of the aquariums.  You could actually dive in this one.

This was my view for a few hours one morning.  The temperature was about 100 degrees, so it was definitely better in the morning.

The beach had an amazing view of Dubai.
I did more relaxing on this trip and didn't take as many pictures as I normally do.  This is just a glimpse at all the beautiful and fun sights at Atlantis in Dubai!

My 'New' Antique Doors

This week Joe and I celebrated our 29th anniversary.  Anniversaries are not always a gift-giving occasion at our house, but this year we got ourselves some doors!  Doors are a big deal in Oman and the Middle East.  Doors are usually highly decorated and old carved doors are very popular.  We actually started looking for some back in December, and that is when the first few pictures were taken.  We found the best selection of doors at the Muttrah Souk, in Muscat. 

Just to the right of the Ali Baba Gift store, you see these steps.  It is a narrow staircase to an amazing array of doors!

These doors come from all sorts of old buildings, and from several countries.  Omani doors are usually more rectangular in shape and much shorter than other doors.

 These are the doors that I liked the most in December and my favorite still.  Depending on which salesman you talk to, these may or may not actually originate in Oman.  I tend to think not.  They are pretty tall.

Here is Joe haggling for the best deal.  Not sure what he was doing with that finger!  :)  I wish I would have had my friend, Theresa, with us.  She would have gotten us a better deal, I am sure.  That woman was born to bargain!  But, I was happy enough with the deal we got.  Look at all the jewelry in that room!  It was hard to walk upright.  Really felt like a treasure cave.

And here are my 'new' antique doors in their new home!

In Hot Water!

 A few days ago was the first day I saw 110 degrees. I believe that is a personal high for me, although there was that summer of 1980 in Texas. But it is just May, and summer has not really begun. I noticed something last night, while taking a shower. I had to keep turning the dial to the right to get the water cool enough to shower in. More than usual. I mentioned this to someone and this is what I learned. These homes all have water tanks at the top of the house. As the summer progresses, this water gets very hot. Eventually, we will need to turn off the water heaters (which are inside the house).  The water heater will still continue to accumulate water, and it will stay 'cool' in the water heater. So to take a shower, there needs to be enough 'cool' water in the water heater to offset the extremely hot water coming out of the 'cold' water faucet. We will have to take quick showers so we don't run out of cool water! Crazy!

Well, as long as I am talking about showers, here are pictures of our bathroom.  They were taken during our house hunting trip last September.

Savannah is thinking, "Where is Mom going to put all her stuff??"  Good question.  There is no storage in any of the bathrooms.


Not a cabinet or drawer in sight. Nor electrical outlets!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fun in Abu Dhabi

In the six months that I have been living in Oman, I have visited Dubai four times.  But this last weekend was my first time to visit Abu Dhabi.  They are about an 1 1/2 hours apart, but so very different!  While Dubai might be the more glitzy and glamorous of the two cities, Abu Dhabi is much larger, wealthier, and the capital of the United Arab Emirates.  When I drive through Dubai, I just get a sense of highways and tall buildings.  I found Abu Dhabi more beautiful and elegant. 

So, speaking of elegant, guess what finally brought us to Abu Dhabi?  That's right, Monster Jam!  This was the first monster truck event ever in the Middle East.  Now I am from Texas and there have been so many monster truck rallies in my time there, but we wait till we have to drive five hours to actually attend an event!

This was originally going to be a boys' weekend.  While I was making the hotel reservation, I noticed the hotel was attached to a beach and a mall.  I said wait a minute, I am going too!

These pictures were taken by Austin.  He loved it!  Um, where was I?  At a mall.  People watching!

Let me go back to the beginning of our trip.  Here we are, driving in.  Here is the disk-shaped HQ building, which was voted 'Best Futuristic Design' in 2008.

Shimmering almost like a mirage, is the Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan Mosque in the distance.

This is where I spent our first afternoon.  At the Beach Rotana Hotel.  So, technically it is a beach.  There is white sand and beautiful blue water.  But I have never been to a beach where I could see massive buildings so close.  But hey, it was still a beautiful and relaxing setting.
The view of Abu Dhabi from the hotel room balcony.

That evening, as the boys headed to Monster Jam, I took a taxi to the Marina Mall.  It was a gorgeous drive along the corniche, along the water.  Now this picture was taken on the bridge to the mall.  As the name indicates, the mall was next to a beautiful marina, with the skyline of the city in the distance.  My pictures did not do it justice.  So back to the people watching.  If you go to the mall in Muscat, you will mainly see Omanis, and just a few Westerners.  At the main malls in Dubai, it's mainly Westerners, with fewer locals.  I found more of a mixture of people at the Marina Mall.

There were two places I wanted to see the next day.  First stop was the Emirates Palace Hotel, which we see in the distance.  

More beautiful white sand and blue water.
We have noticed this in Oman-- mannequins dressed as construction workers holding a caution flag.  This was not a mannequin per se, but it was very well done.  Of course as soon as Austin got back in the car, we saw the 'No Photography' sign.  Oops!

This is just the entrance to the Emirates Palace.

My husband has done lots of traveling in the US and around the world, and has stayed in some very nice hotels.  He said he has never seen a hotel like this!  I really wanted to see the inside, but Austin was wearing 'short pants' and they frown on that.  So he and Joe stayed in the car while I took a peek inside.  But I got so distracted and was in a hurry that I didn't get good pictures.  Reason enough to return to Abu Dhabi!

My next must-see was the mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque.  Here you can see some of its 80 domes.

This mosque was recently completed and is the burial site for Sheik Zayed.

Truly beautiful!

I was under the impression that all women had to wear an abaya (black robe) and sheyla (headscarf).  I could have just worn my own scarf as long as my pants and shirt sleeves were long enough.  Oh well, makes for an interesting picture.  :)  Austin is wearing a dishdasha (which the mosque provided) because he was wearing shorts.  By the way, if you are a man and want to visit the Middle East, shorts are generally not a good idea.  One more thing.  We had to remove our shoes before entering the prayer hall.  The temperature was in the upper 90's and let me tell you, the marble floors outside the entrance were HOT!
The 24-karat gold-plated chandelier in the main prayer hall.  Okay, I don't mean to sound like the Omani resident that I am, but I found the interior of the Muscat Grand Mosque to be much more beautiful.  (But the exterior of this mosque is more stunning.)
This main hall can hold 7000 worshippers.  It is the 8th largest mosque in the world, according to Wikipedia.
This was a whirlwind visit to Abu Dhabi.  I loved what little I saw!