For the second time ever, Bec and Dan have graciously offered a posting as a guest blogger, which I happily accepted… then procrastinated on… so apologies for the late post!
Last year, when Bec’s passes were about to expire, she asked if anyone would be interested in coming for a visit to Abu Dhabi. On a whim, I sent it to my sister and brother-in-law in Calgary to see if they would be interested in a Middle Eastern vacation. Which to my surprise they were!
Myself and my boyfriend, Steven, flew in from London on March 15th and had a night to catch up with Bec and Dan. Laurie and Grant arrived the next day so we picked them up from the airport and brought them back to Bec and Dan’s place for a rest. With a 12 hour time swap, there was time for a quick nap before I got them up for a wine tasting at the British Club with the Abu Dhabi Wine Club. We started with a welcome glass of Prosecco followed by a different style of Prosecco, a Rose Frizzante, a Moscatel, a Pinot Grigio and then finished with a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. There was also a speaker from an Italian winery called Villa Sandi who gave us a brief overview of the winery and their wines.
The next day we toured around Abu Dhabi. In the morning, we took a tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and then had a nice lunch by the water in the Eastern Mangroves. It was only day 2 so we learned a hard lesson about how to calculate dirhams when we ordered a bottle of wine that was more than our meal for 4 people! After lunch, we took out the Eco-Donut boats and learned how slow it is possible to go while still moving. It was Mojito night at the Palace so we hit the Havana Club and each tried a different flavour.
Friday was the day we had all been waiting for. Brunch day!! We had a reservation at the Ritz so the ladies got ready and we ate as light as possible in preparation. We paced ourselves as best we could but after multiple trips to the lobster thermidor station, cheese room and a few too many visits to the various cocktail stations, we had a quick dance at the after party and called it a day. The next day was for recovery – the girls hit the spa at the Viceroy while the boys hit the golf course and the pool.
Then we said goodbye to Abu Dhabi and drove out to the Rub’tl Khali desert. We stayed at the Qasr Al Sarab desert resort. We could have stayed there for about a week with everything that was on offer but we decided to forego all the activities for the swim up bar and a walk in the sand dunes. I didn’t manage to order a personalised scent from the soap concierge but I did have a swim in the most gigantic tub I have ever seen.
After too short a time experiencing how the other half live, we made our way to Dubai. We had a quick walk around Dubai mall and then went to the top of the Burj Khalifa just in time for sunset.
The next day was power sightseeing on the hop on, hop off bus. We toured around palm island, Atlantis, the gold and spice souks, Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai Mall, Burjuman, Sheikh Zayed Road and Jumeirah Beach Park. We only hopped off once to do a Dhow cruise on Dubai Creek. The boat didn’t seem very sea worthy but at least the beer was cold.
The next day we had to head back to Abu Dhabi where Laurie, Grant and Steven had one more night of Bec and Dan’s hospitality before they flew back home. I stayed on for Bec and I to have a girls trip. We spent the better part of a morning scouring every route that Etihad fly, trying to find a destination but much to our dismay, every route was busy with the Easter traffic. So we decided to hit the Saadiyat Beach Club and start our 5 day staycation. Even though we were not in Thailand like we planned, we made the most of Abu Dhabi. We spent the next few days finding a secret ham room to make Easter dinner, a secret cocktail venue for Dan to pick up some tricks of the trade, shopping at Yas Mall, catching a movie at the cinema, and Dan even managed to take us on a desert drive. Bec and Dan also let me partake in their “bucket challenge” which sent Bec and I to Khalifa park for an afternoon picnic on Easter Sunday. We ended the staycation with a Hamman (aka Turkish bath) experience at the Spa to fully relax and rejuvenate.
My family vacation and girls staycation were both a success. Laurie and Grant enjoyed their first trip to the Middle East (and their first sample of flying business class) and I always enjoy any chance to have some of Bec and Dan’s first class hospitality.