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Published: September 11th 2010
checking in at Estihad Airlines. I new we where in for a treat when a section of the check in counter had a red carpet and we were ushered there!
Yaay we have finally arrived in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates! We flew from Boston to Chicago (even though when asked by the hiring company what our closest departure city was NY or chi we picked NY so of course they gave us Chicago) Anyhow, nothing major happened on the first leg of the trip except for the behavior of my husband and my son made me so nervous I thought they were going to throw us off the plane. We were sitting in the second to last row of the plane Asiyah & Najd on one side, me & Abdullah across from them. There was a pilot getting a ride to Chicago sitting behind me & Abdullah, and another pilot, who kept coming to the back sitting behind my husband to talk to the pilot behind us. Now the pilot behind us was very friendly & seemed to get a kick out of Abdullah who kept turning around and peaking between the seats to stare at him. So the pilot gave him a bag of nuts, and Abdullah shared his Baklava with him. It was all good. Until ¾ of the way during the flight Abdullah peaks his little head
between the seats and starts calling the Athan…Loudly…Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar. It didn’t even dawn on me at first because I’m so used to hearing him. But I felt the pilot making fidgeting sounds and clearing his throat. And I realized Abdullah was probably making him feel real uncomfortable. I told Abdullah to turn around and that wasn’t the place to start calling the Athan, lol. I look over to see if his father recognized what was going on. But his dad, who has fear of flying, especially, when there is turbulence which we were experiencing, was sitting there, stiff, eyes closed, hands clenching the seat, Reciting Quran…and he started getting louder and louder because he was nervous. I’m thinking to myself Oh my God these people are definitely going to think were terrorists with these two.
In Chicago we caught our connection flight to Emirates on Estihad Airlines. I had never been on such a beautiful airplane before. For dinner we had our choice of Lamb tagine & couscous, basil crusted chicken & spaghetti with sautéed spinach, or a vegetarian curry Pakistani dish with daal. The meals were great! They also constantly gave us snacks and drinks. Everyone was
very nice on the airline. There were many teachers on that flight with us and I got to meet a lot of people. The flight was 14 hours long! I had only gotten 4 hrs sleep the night before. I thought I would be able to sleep on the plane but I did not sleep more than 3 hours total because there were 2 constantly screaming babies on the plane. One literally cried the entire time!
Because a few people told me that things I had mentioned in my travel blog helped them prepare for travel I thought I would mention travel tips more.
1. Mark you bags with bright colored ribbon (try to get a unique pattern). I learned this from the Morocco trip when someone accidently took my bag that looked similar to theirs. This helped a great deal this trip. Our bags were immediately recognizeable and when they took all the teachers bags for transport to the hotel (350 I might add) we were able to tell the porters ours were the one with the pink ribbons they delivered them all to us, no problems. Also don’t forget to put Name tags with your address on all
2. Bring some reading material. It comes in handy for waiting periods on the plane, trains, & busses. If you are visiting in- laws and you don’t speak the language, books are a must have so when your husband and family are talking you can read a book. I read 3 novels in Morocco, otherwise I would have been sitting there bored to death.
3. When you book your flight order your meals online, if you do this they will have your meal ready in advance and when it is time to eat you get served first.
4. Invest in a neck pillow especially for long flights. I haven’t done so yet but I will.
When we arrive in Abu Dhabi ADEC (department of Education) greets us and brings us through customs and all steps. I found it so 007ish that my husband had to have an eye scan for identification purposes. After the airport all teachers head off in 4 greyhound type busses to the hotel. As soon as you step outside it’s like stepping into a sauna, its 98 degrees, humid, and it’s nighttime! We are told that we will be going to a five star
hotel and we will love it, and we do! I have never experience such opulence in my life. It is called aloft hotel, it’s gorgeous. I will post some pictures but here is the link http://www.aloftabudhabi.com/ . I am amazed at how modern Abu Dhabi is. It is awesome; I can only imagine what Dubai looks like if it is more spectacular than this. It is clean, organized, and extremely modern. It’s funny because when you live in the USA you believe the hype that we are the most modern progressive country in the world. Uh No! Emirates make the US look like…..Morocco, and I haven’t really been anywhere yet. There are huge hotels being built everywhere and the designs are amazing. The hotel we are in is must run on solar energy because when I look out to one of its roofs I see rows and rows or solar panels. The only place I went was to the supermarket in a mini mall. They have food from everywhere around the world, all different types of fresh fruit, and it’s not at outrageous prices. And my favorite purchase was Jamillah, a "Muslim Barbie" for lack of a better explanation. She
is wonderful she has on an abaya and hijab, she has henna on her hands and feet, and when you remove her outer garments she has on a long slip and a tank top. She has long black hair and brown eyes. She is sooo cool! AND she came with twin babies and a baby carriage. WE love her! Abdullah got a virtual pet but the directions were in very weird english and dont really make sense and its not like the american ones so we still havent figured it out yet.
One of the stores in the mini mall just had girls dresses- my daughter’s eyes almost jumped out of her head when she saw a shimmery pink long dress with an intricate gem pattern, and the store was full of them, and they were tasteful and elegant. I tried to take a picture but security stopped me and made me hand over the camera until we were leaving. I guess it breaches national security and endangers the country in some way to take a picture of a bunch of girls dresses. I wanted to take a picture of the store because I know my mother would know
what American kids do to a Bidet
I went in their bathroom and this is what I found. They used it to brush their teeth. Just the right height
exactly how my daughter would react to seeing that.
Tonight the hotel is offering a free shuttle to a place called Marina Mall and one of its features is snow world described as a snow and ice fantasy that offers indoor skiing and ice skating. There also is a museum that has ancient Qurans, clothing, pottery, garment, jewelry - Well that’s what the visitors guide says, I will let you know!
While looking for an ATM machine I was directed to whole other side of the hotel that I didnt know even existed. And when I walked through the double doors, Muslims galore and ball rooms. They were cleaning up after the Eid celebrations. I would have definitely begged someone to let us crash there party if only I had known all of this was taken place right under our noses. I mean this side of the hotel has men & womans masala, An Auditorium which fit 6,000 teachers from all over Abu Dhabi! Its just amazing and my husband gets to be there all day for training. He said its magnigicent. All the dignitaries attend. I was just so surprised to see all the muslims on a totally
different side of the hotel. They got a serious hook-up. And they aint playin!
I also have to mention that the hospitality here is unbelievable. All of the hotel staff, taxis, police (except for one jerk) are great. They all help and do their jobs extremely well. They always greet you with a smile and are friendly. The manager of the restaurant here has taken a liking to Asiyah. and he takes her from me when we go down to breakfast takes her to order her eggs or just comes by to see if they made her eggs the way she likes them. They are all wonderful!
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