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Month: April 2017

Abu Dhabi in a day

Abu Dhabi in a day

Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest of the 7 Emirates and also the richest. This Emirate consists of 200 Islands and 700 KM coastline. One can easily visit Abu Dhabi from Dubai, either by car or by bus.

The distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is approx. 140 KM and it takes around 1 hour 30 minutes by bus. The buses are available from Al Gubaiba Bus station in Bur Dubai (E100) or from Ibn batuta stop (E101). The frequency of the bus from Ibn Batuta is every half an hour. The ticket costs 25 AED, one way. Ordinary NOL card with sufficient currency is enough to swipe for the bus ticket.

the bus is the cheapest transport available to reach Abu Dhabi (taxi costs 300 AED one way!) or there are private tours that take a full day/half day city tour to Abu Dhabi for around 150-200 AED per person. Getting around Abu Dhabi is easy as there are plenty of cabs and price is reasonable ( meter starts from 3 AED, unlike in Dubai 5.50 AED

Places to visit in Abu Dhabi in a day

1) Marina mall: one of the famous malls in Abu Dhabi which houses all the local and the international brands. It also features the bowling alley, cinema and ice rink. One can also take the ferry wheel ride outside the mall (200AED pp)

2) Abu Dhabi corniche: It is a 8 km stretch and an amazing place to spend a couple of hours with the family.One can simply sit and enjoy the sunset, or cycle around, take a walk.Kids can play in the kids’ area. There are plenty of eateries available too.

3) Heritage Village: The heritage village is 20 minutes taxi ride from the Abu Dhabi metro station.The entrance to the heritage village is free. This place showcases the culture of UAE. It has an entire Emirati village re-created including the wells, farms, home, godowns etc. It shows how the city was before the oil boom. Kids can enjoy the camel ride and the horse rides here. There is a small souk, where the souvenirs, silverware, toy camels etc can be purchased. Also, there is a museum which houses photographs of various stages of development of the UAE, from small fishing villages to the super cities. The artisans there give a live demo on making of leather shoes, bags and glassware and various artifacts. One can have some quite time sitting at the sea shore and enjoying the view of the Abu Dhabi skyline from here. Recommended time to be spent: 2 hours. (unfortunately, I do not have enough pictures of the heritage village.)

pic courtesy: visitabudhabi.ae

4) Emirates palace Currently the 7-star hotel in Abu Dhabi, It used to be palace before. The visitors are allowed to visit the Hotel. Since it is closed on Friday (only hotel guests are allowed), we could not visit.We just took some snaps near the entrance to the palace. On the way to the palace, one can also see the famous Etihad towers (fast and furious 7 towers jumping scene) and ADNOC headquarters.

5)Sheik Zayed Grand mosque: It is one of the largest mosques in the world. It can accommodate around 41000 worshippers at a time.This mosque is open for people of all religion except during the prayer time.Women are required to dress modestly and cover their head with the scarf. The mosque is an amazing example of the modern day Islamic architecture. With over 80 domes and more than 1000 pillars, the mosque is a feast to the eyes of the visitors. The main attractions of the mosque include the largest loomed prayer carpet and the beautiful chandeliers (made of pure gold and Swarovski crystals).

6)Yas Island: Yas Island and Ferrari world need an entire day to dedicated to itself. But one can visit the Yas Island for a photo stop and also visit the Ferrari Merchandise store( Right before the entrance to the Ferrari world) and buy some Ferrari souvenirs and goodies.

One can also visit the Abu Dhabi souk, the carpet souq or the Abu Dhabi falcon hospital if the time permits.

The bus back to Dubai should be boarded from the Abu Dhabi bus station.

Gadauri-I fell in love with the Snow

Gadauri-I fell in love with the Snow

Finally, my wish for seeing the snow was turning into reality.  We were all set for our trip to Gadauri on our second day in Georgia. We started at 9 AM after the complimentary breakfast at our hotel. Gadauri is a ski resort located around 2 hours away from Tbilisi. The temperature there was estimated around 1 degree C without snowfall.  We both were fully decked up in our winter suits. Our first stop was Jinvali water reservoir, which is on the way to Gadauri.

Jinvali/Zhinvali reservoir

Jinvali/Zhinvali is an artificial reservoir located on the river Aragvi. It provides Tbilisi with drinking and utility water.The reservoir was only half filled as it was still winter in Georgia. It reaches its full capacity in spring, melt once all the snow from the mountains melts. After few pictures, we headed to Ananuri Castle Complex.

Ananuri Fortress
Ananuri Fortress
Ananuri Fortress
Square tower
Church,Ananuri Fortress

The entrance to the fortress is free. The Ananuri castle complex consists of a fortress and two churches.  The fortress is on the UNESCO tentative list for the world heritage sites.  The construction of this fortress dates back to 13th century. It was a beautiful structure. There was a small underground tunnel too. We went up the square tower for some snaps . The steps were too narrow and the landing at each floor was made of wood and too rickety. It was a kind of adventure going on to the top :P. Later, we visited the church in the complex. Once outside, we took some snaps of the amazing landscape and started towards Gadauri.

Inside the church
Ananuri Castle
Ananuri Fortress

First glimpse of Snow
View from the highway

Around half an hour later, we had our first glimpse of snow.Yayy!! I was thrilled beyond words. As we moved ahead, we could see entire mountains covered in snow.Indeed a mesmerizing and an unforgettable view. When we reached Gadauri at around 12 PM, it started to snow (Thank God for fulfilling all my wishes that day :)) Then we quickly had our lunch at a local restaurant there ( some soups, Pizza, and lemonades). The plan was to spend the rest of the day there. There were options for skiing, paragliding and helicopter ride.Well, we did not opt for any of them but took a chairlift to take us to the 2nd level. Unfortunately for us, we were unaware that there are many levels that the chairlift could take you (5 I suppose), but since Sandro took just one ticket each, we couldn’t go up any further.

View on the way

Level 2 was breathtaking enough. It was totally covered in snow and we both were freezing in spite of all the winter wear. There was a restaurant, Vitamin, which we visited for some hot coffee. Once we were feeling warm enough, we went on to explore the place. Well, there was pretty much nothing to explore, but for the infinite stretch of snow and people skiing around. It took some time for the awesomeness to sink in 🙂 I was in love with the snow, the view and the mountains. After spending 2 hours literally doing nothing (jumping around in knee deep snow), we took the chairlift back to the level 0.

The view <3
All the snow

All the snow
Restaurant-Vitamin
Chairlift
View from the chairlift ride

We started for Tbilisi at around 4 PM and reached our hotel by 5:50 PM. Later we realized that we missed a visit to Russian-Georgian friendship monument which was a bit far from the resort area :(After a quick change( I hadn’t realized my socks and trousers were wet because of snow ), we decided to explore the city and grab some dinner.

The city looked very beautiful in the twilight. As we walked, we found a tattoo studio. I had been long planning to get a second tattoo done. Until that day, I was not sure of what the tattoo would be. At that moment, it had to be a snowflake. I was totally and irrevocably in love with the snow *blush*. That was my first travel tattoo 🙂  We were surprised when we saw the Georgian tattoo artists watching a Telugu Movie. Later we got to know that one of them had worked in Tollywood industry and had widely traveled across India.  50 laris and 20 minutes later, we were back exploring the streets of Tbilisi.

Amazing architecture
Some building
Main street, Tbilisi
My snowflake tattoo

We had our dinner in one of the Indian restaurants and headed back to the hotel for a quick nap.  Our driver picked us up at 2:30  as our flight was for 4:40 AM.  We were back in Dubai at 8 AM, the next day. That was the end of a memorable and awesome journey.

dubai