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Abu Dhabi, UAE

January 22nd, 2024

As this is not our first entry into the UAE there will be no regular “intro” except:  this time we bought gas!

GAS:   2.85 AED per litre about $3.21 USD per gallon

Upon arrival, we thought we could use the SMART entry into the UAE as we’d been here before so we’re in the “system”  but the passport scanner wouldn’t let us.  So back to the manual way and again, we were told “next time it should work”.  Mmmmhh we’ll see!

Our bags arrived safely, we didn’t need cash as we had a bunch left over from our time in Dubai earlier this month and we walked over to the Avis counter to get our rental car.  That took a good half hour as not only was there a queue but there was only one employee – a nice lady from Kenya who was pretty stressed!

We finally got our little Kia Picante:

And way we went.  We are only here for two nights and the city is similar to Dubai in that everything is spread out so it’s not a walking city – hence the rental car.

We left the airport after 3 and made our way towards the city.  We stopped to see a few buildings of note:

The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque was a drive by as all the gates were locked.

Then we tried to see the famous high end Emirates Palace (Mandarin Oriental hotel) but could not enter the grounds “just to look” so it too was a drive by:

Our pic:

Online pics:

Next we drove along the 11 km / 6 mi corniche but were on the wrong side of the boulevard so we couldn’t see much.  We found a parking lot on our side of the road and paid 2AED (about $0.50) to park for an hour.  You have to pay at a machine which was refusing our credit card.  A local said he’d help us using the parking app and our license plate number but then we realized we had some change and it worked.

We walked across the Corniche Boulevard and saw a Coldstone Creamery and just had to have some ice cream. It was yummy!  We took a stroll along the board walk while enjoying it beside the white sandy (looked brought in) beach for a while and as we walked further on, whistles began blowing but we did not think they were for us.  Apparently, they were; we had walked from the public beach onto a private one and we were asked to leave.

There were some people on the beach and even some in the water.

As we both had sneakers on (from our plane trip), we did not walk into the water, but Doug went to feel it and it was warm.

We found some public washrooms and then walked back to the car as we’d only paid for one hour of parking.

Now we finished the drive along the Corniche with lots and lots of glass buildings enroute and made our way across the bridge to the island with the Abu Dhabi Louvre on it.



We parked in the free lot beside it and walked over.  Other than the fact that it houses art, it does not look like the one in Paris at all.

We then decided that was enough for today and found our hotel.  It was of course, a tall building on a busy street and we learned they do not have any of their own parking.  The lady at the desk explained the parking rules (what the different coloured painted lines mean – resident, overnight, hourly) to us and Doug went and found a spot.  It costs 2 AED an hour to a max of 15 ($4) for 24 hours so not too bad.

In this hotel, we’d booked their Junior suite which was quite large with a bay window behind the bed with a city view; it had a kitchen, large living room and bathroom with a tub.  It came with towels and decent WIFI – supposed to have AC but there didn’t seem to be room controls for it so we were glad it wasn’t too hot for sleeping.

The temperature here is in the mid 20’sC / high 70’s F and at night drops down to the mid teens C and the high 50’s F. The sun is out but there is definitely a haze in the air.  It’s not green at all here and there are large swaths of land of just flat sand – we expect they will be built on in due time.

After checking it, we walked to a grocery store for some items for dinner and then spent a quiet night in the room.

One thing we wanted to do here in Abu Dhabi was ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World so Doug got online and got slightly discounted tickets.  Tuesday morning around 9:15 we left the hotel to make our way there on Yas Island to this indoor amusement park.  After figuring out where to park we went inside.

Here we met with big disappointment; the Formula Rossa coaster and the two other fast rides were closed today!  WTH?  The lady in front of us in line at the ticket counter was also disappointed and because she’d bought her tickets from the Ferrari World website, and because she kept saying “it’s the only reason we came here”, she got a refund but as of the writing of this, we are still fighting with the vendor who sold us ours.  They tried to get us to use them at the Warner Bros. park or Sea World, but we weren’t interested in either of those.  Fingers crossed we get the refund.  (Update:  after a week and threatening to leave a terrible review, we got our refund.)

So now we had the rest of the day to do something and it was near lunchtime now.  Doug has been hankering for a good breakfast with eggs etc. lately, and we’d seen a Denny’s at the mall near our hotel.  We drove to the Abu Dhabi mall which has a number of American chain restaurants and got parked free underground.  After a few false starts we found the way out of the mall to the street and went to the Denny’s prepared to be disappointed.

First of all, yes they have “all day breakfast” so that was good and second, they had the meals we both wanted. Thirdly, it was quite good and we were stuffed!

Then it was a debacle to find the car in the parking lot (terrible, terrible signage like at the lot in Dubai) but we found our little Picante and drove back to the parking across the street from our hotel.  We both went for walks to get the remainder of our steps.  Fran went to get a few more things for dinner and we spent the late afternoon in our room chillin’.

A fountain across the road from our hotel:

Here in the city, they  have shade covers over the intersections (the traffic lights are really long so much needed!):

Next morning, it was back to the airport, we dropped off the car and made our flight to the Maldives – it was actually more or less on time!

Abu Dhabi is like Dubai:  seems to be all about excess and like Dubai not a walking city either.  There are plenty of theme parks, cool buildings and super long traffic lights but most of this is not up our alley.

In Abu Dhabi we drove a total of 165 km / 102 mi.