Uber was a key travel partner for this day trip as it made it relatively easy to get around to different parts of town. After storing our bags at the airport we took an Uber to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. First impressions – wow, white! After a security check and clothing-appropriateness check we were admitted onto the grounds. Compared to Muscat the complex is more grand, but less lush, less signage and a lot more tourists.
There were a lot of security guards standing around intermittently telling people they couldn’t walk in certain places but enforcement was spotty at best.
Interior was rather gaudy compared to artistry of Muscat’s main mosque. Lots of inlay, very cool translucent pieces too.
From the mosque we headed to a late lunch at Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant – we made it in beofre they closed at 3:30, however (apparently) after 3pm there are only two options — both platters of about 10 sauces with rice. The food was OK, but rather bland overall and not especially memorable.
A Lulu Hypermarket was across the street, so we ducked in to do some spice shopping. Located in a mall, the interior was quite different with lots of scarves, perfume and cellphone kiosks. Leandra was delighted to find cardamom pods and whole nutmeg for cheap!
From here we walked through the city, the WTC mall and souk, but didn’t see much of interest. Instead we continued to the Corniche. Here we had some nice views!
We enjoyed the promenade for a bit and when our feet wore out, took another Uber to Emirates Palace. Over the top opulence… after winding our way through the hotel to find the beach area we weren’t allowed out the back, not sure why exactly, but it seemed another case of UAE security guards rule-making on the fly. Thankfully that detour didn’t cause us to miss the nice pre-sunset light.
We walked down the street to the Government Circle, then found a Waitrose Supermarket in yet another mall for a snack and to use the remainder of our local cash. After enjoying some lemonade under the Etihad Towers, we took some final night shots and hailed our final Uber back to airport.
Abu Dhabi was a bit of a disappointment to us – we never really connected with it like we did Muscat, and I can’t say that we left wanting to explore more around the city.