On Wednesday, March 27th, Rebecca and I met her father, Barry, and his partner, Carole, at the airport. They had traveled from Calgary via Toronto. We made it back to the apartment and got everyone settled in.
The next day, Rebecca and I both had to work, but that gave Barry and Carole a chance to settle in. On Friday, we all took the opportunity to relax by the pool. Barry and I dropped the girls at the mall to get their nails done and to do a little shopping while we did a bit of a driving tour downtown. After picking up the ladies, and seeing that it was Good Friday and all, we drove down to Port Zayed to check out the fish and vegetable market. We were able to negotiate the price of a nice little Hammour fish and got it all cleaned up. Needless to say, we had a great dinner that night.
Saturday was the main event of Barry and Carole’s visit to the United Arab Emirates…the Dubai World Cup. The Dubai World Cup is a thoroughbred race in which the last of 9 races has a purse of $10MM US dollars and over $26MM for the day. The race is held at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse which is a vast estate of grandstand, golf course, hotel, and stables. Meydan can accommodate up to 60,000 spectators and it was packed to the brim on Saturday. For those race fans, Meydan has a 2,400 metre left-handed turf race track and a left-handed 8.75-furlong (1,750 metres) Tapeta synthetic dirt course.
Barry, Carole, Rebecca, and I had an awesome time at the race. Although gambling is illegal in the Emirates, it didn’t stop us from staying involved in the races.
The Dubai World Cup has a different flavor than any other horse race I’ve ever attended (namely Calgary’s Stampede Park). It was a sensational display of high fashion with most of the ladies in new dresses and a fascinator (fancy hat). There were many prizes given out for the best dressed.
We finished the night with a glass of Champagne on the hotel’s rooftop patio overlooking Downtown Dubai. After our big night, we all had breakfast at the hotel, but were sure to check out early because Rebecca and I had booked tickets to check out the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. We were surprised to find out that Barry is not a big fan of heights, but we were able to coax him up. That night was Easter Sunday, so we stopped at the soon to be favorite of Barry’s, Spinney’s, to pick up a ham.
Rebecca and I returned to work the next day, but that did not stop Barry and Carole from venturing out into Abu Dhabi. They paid 2 visits to Heritage Park ;-), the Falcon Hospital, the Souk at Qaryat al Beri, Marina Mall, the Hilton Hotel, and, as I mentioned, Spinney’s.
On Thursday, we went up to Ray’s Bar on the 62nd floor of the Jumeirah Hotel at Etihad Towers for a pre-dinner cocktail. Soon, we were at the InterContinental Hotel where we had a superb Italian dinner by the marina.
A storm had begun to blow in on Friday so after an easy morning, we decided that a driving tour of Abu Dhabi was in order. We drove out to Yas Island, saw the F1 Circuit, stopped for a snack at the Crowne Plaza, and toured the new development of Saadiyat Island.
We awoke on Saturday morning to hear the wind whistling by the apartment. We could see from the windows that it was a little unsettled outside, to say the least. I was the first to say that any such weather would not affect our pre-determined plans of a trip to the oasis village of Al Ain. We set out shortly past the official itinerary time of 9:00am. Once we cleared the metropolitan area of Abu Dhabi, we soon realized that we were driving in a full on desert sand storm! Pressing on, the visibility was low, and the wind gusts high, but we still spotted some camels and raging sand dunes. We by-passed the city of Al Ain to make way for the drive up Jebel Hafeet, the Emirate’s highest point at 1249 m above sea level. The drive up was spectacular but the view from the top was not…the dust storm below blocked any possible view. We then drove into the heart of Al Ain to visit the millennia old oasis. We toured the Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum almost entirely by ourselves. By the time we finished, our sand blown souls were ready to high tail it to Abu Dhabi.
The last few days with Barry and Carole were spent continuing our individual quests for cribbage dominance, dining over great meals, drinking fabulous wines, and hitting the button (sorry…inside joke!).