The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of my favourite planes and it didn’t disappoint on my recent journey from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane. Neither did the Etihad Airlines service.
In fact, the only hitch was a 15-minute delay at immigration at Abu Dhabi Airport, apparently because my passport lacked a stamp indicating that I had reentered the United Arab Emirates after my recent Gulf cruise.
I’ve moved from the Ramada Downtown and I’m now ensconced at the Mercure City Centre, Abu Dhabi.
As this is an Accor Hotel, I’m on more familiar turf here. The hotel — one of the oldest in the Abu Dhabi CBD (and, I believe, originally The Novotel), is showing a bit of wear and tear, but the experience so far has been very pleasant.
Although I’ve been living in Abu Dhabi for five years — and I’m about to leave — there are bits I’ve missed.
The other day, I had a wander around the side streets near the corner of Hamdan and Salam (Sheikh Zayed) Streets in the CBD, and I found some thriving small shops and restaurants that had previously been off my radar.
Christmas markets, Christmas lunches, Christmas shopping … it’s all happening, and not just in traditionally Christian countries.
Not long after I moved to Abu Dhabi, somebody sneered on social media about “politically correct” Britain, where some councils had (allegedly) banned Christmas, and then added for good measure: “I bet you’re not allowed to celebrate it in the UAE, either.”
Those of us who like to travel sometimes forget about the delights of where we live. While researching the next exotic destination, we are sometimes oblivious to changes in our own neighbourhood.
It pays to have a look around; to go somewhere new but nearby. I did this today with my first proper visit to Al Maryah Island, which has been designed to be the new central business district of Abu Dhabi (which, in case you don’t know is where I live).
I understand why travel advertisements often feature pictures of beautiful young people frolicking about in exotic destinations or relaxing in impossibly large airline seats. It’s because young people do travel a lot and airlines and hotels want their business. But these pictures don’t reflect reality.
The real money in the tourism industry isn’t made from beautiful young people, because beautiful young people generally travel on the cheap.