Friday, 16 February 2018

Luxury in 24 Hours: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

I recently spent 24 hours in Abu Dhabi before heading to Dubai for a few days, and with not a lot of time in the city I thought I'd tell you all about what I got up to. I'd had a busy few weeks in New York and London, so wanted to use Abu Dhabi to relax as well as see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and new Louvre Abu Dhabi.

What to wear in Abu Dhabi

When visiting Abu Dhabi it's important you stay respectful with your choice of clothing, as it is a Muslim country. Some places you visit, such as the Grand Mosque, require you to cover your shoulders, knees, and your hair with a headscarf. The dresses below are all perfect for the requirements! Simply click on each image to go to the product page and purchase or view other similar style dresses. Trousers are also suitable and totally fine, I just always wear dresses because they're so easy to pack!

Spending 24 hours in Abu Dhabi

I arrived Wednesday morning and had had a long flight, so checked in to the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, then chilled out by the pool with my book and had a nap. I wasn't feeling very well as I was unknowingly in the early stages of my second pregnancy (which sadly ended a couple of weeks later the same heartbreaking way as the first - miscarriage SUCKS), so I was completely exhausted, so spent most of the day lazing around the hotel drinking fresh watermelon juice, and managed to eat part of a delicious caesar salad! In the evening though I was determined to push through the jetlag and exhaustion and go to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque for sunset. 

Before visiting the mosque I needed to freshen up, and the bathtub in my room was insanely deep so naturally I had to test it out. I was so relaxed I fell asleep though, and woke up in a panic wondering how I didn't drown myself. Does anyone else have that 'shit I could have drowned' panic when they wake up from a nap in the bath!?

With the sun slowly dipping in the sky, I got a taxi across the road to the mosque (like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is impossible to walk around), and after changing into one of their Abaya's I joined the last tour of the day. Timing your visit with a tour is well worth doing as they're free and I learnt so much! It was really fascinating, and it also allows you to enter half of the mosque that visitors aren't allowed to wander freely in. 

The mosque was finished in 2007, and is large enough to fit almost 41,000 worshippers! The carpet in the main prayer hall is the World's largest carpet, and took over two years to complete. Apparently they had to ship it into the country from Iran on a military aircraft!! I'll be doing a separate post soon on visiting the Sheikh Zayad Mosque, as I have hundreds of photos that couldn't fit into this post and didn't want to over-fill this one.

As we walked out of the main prayer hall the sunset prayer call began, and it was mesmerizing. Hearing the call to prayer just gives me all the feels. I have no idea what the words are or what they're saying, but they just sound so beautiful. The tour finished and we were allowed to wander around the public areas of the mosque. The light at night was stunning, but I planned to go back the next morning to see it again in the daylight. I'm actually really glad I did this as the light was completely different. 

I headed back to the hotel and decided to try out Barfly by Buddha Bar for dinner. As I was travelling alone I didn't want a typical restaurant where I would feel lonely, so opted for somewhere with more of a bar/nightlife atmosphere. I definitely made the right choice - I had a lovely dinner with some incredible food (although it consisted of everything you're not supposed to have whilst pregnant - sushi, sashimi, and alcohol), right on the water beside the canal. Also, it turned out it was ladies night, so I got 50% off my bill and bottomless prosecco (which I didn't even make full use of - I managed two sips of my glass before feeling sick). 

And then after more than 24 hours without a proper sleep, it was time for an early night. The next morning I awoke early, made full use of the buffet breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton, and then got a taxi back over to the Sheikh Zayad Mosque. If you have time I would definitely recommend visiting both during the day and at sunset, as it looks like a totally different building in the different light.

While I was in Abu Dhabi I was desperate to visit the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi. I've been to the Louvre museum in Paris many, many times over the years, so was excited to see what sort of size the Louvre Abu Dhabi would be and what pieces of art it contained.

The Louvre in Paris is absolutely huge, but thankfully the Louvre Abu Dhabi is much smaller, and they have an amazing selection of masterpieces that are all super easy to find. They had works from Bellini, Da Vinci, Monet, Pollock, Manet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Degas, Gaugin, and hundreds more!

Also, all my childhood dreams came true when I saw Whistler's Mother in real life...yes, THE Whistler's Mother from the Bean movie!!

Once I'd finished checking out the collection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi I then got a taxi over to Emirates Palace for some lunch. I didn't have a lot of time left before I had to check out of my hotel and head to Dubai, so I just went to the cafe in the middle of the Emirates Palace and had the most expensive club sandwich I have EVER had! It cost a whole £30, and it didn't even contain any gold leaf that the Emirates Palace is famous for adding to food and drink - sadly I don't drink coffee so didn't get to experience the gold leaf coffee!

If you have more time than I did on this trip, make sure you head to Zaya Nurai Island for a day trip! It's very close to Abu Dhabi and I absolutely loved it when I went in 2016.

After Abu Dhabi I spent 3 nights in Dubai with my old boss Nigel and his girlfriend Kristina. I still wasn't feeling well so we took things easy and it wasn't anywhere near as wild as my previous Dubai visit. We had a night out at Inner City Zoo the first night, an insane penthouse pool party at FIVE Palm Jumeirah on The Palm the following night, and then a fancy dinner at Sea Fu at the Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach on my last night.

I was struggling massively with food while I was in Dubai and everything I tried to eat was making me sick. Nige bought us burgers on the Friday for lunch and as soon as I smelled them I heaved and couldn't touch them, he was shouting at me "WHO ARE YOU?" because I'm known for being able to eat a burger ALWAYS. So as soon as I found out I was pregnant I messaged him and was like 'So I know why I couldn't eat the burger...'.

As well as the slightly sedate parties, we also did a brunch on the Friday and went back to my favourite bar - Shades at The Address hotel in Dubai Marina, and then went to Nasimi Beach Club at Atlantis The Palm on Saturday afternoon, where we napped in the sunshine and ate some sushi (again).

I won't be doing a separate post on Dubai as I honestly don't feel like I can, so this little round-up is all you'll get. Despite feeling rubbish with crazy exhaustion and sickness, I had a really fun time, drank way too much alcohol which has made me feel incredibly guilty, danced a little too wildly, and then got back to Sydney, found out I was pregnant, and just felt REALLY guilty and awful for it all. I'm not drinking for the foreseeable future purely because the amount of alcohol I consumed made me realise how much damage it can do, and how there is literally no reason or need for me to drink. Anyway, for all of my Dubai posts head over to my older ones (there are loads!)


PIN FOR LATER: Spend a luxury 24 hours in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Home to the Sheikh Zayad Mosque and Louvre museum, it's just a one hour drive from Dubai, so makes the perfect day trip or one-night stopover while your visiting Dubai.

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  1. SHould have gotten one of the signature cocktails..they do have gold leaf ;-)


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