Monthly Archives: January 2014

Money Mosque // Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Cover

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is, like everything else I’ve posted about up till now, massive. It is beautiful. It is overwhelming. It looks expensive.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Silhouette

Following the format of traditional Mosque architecture, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque features a massive central courtyard where visitors are asked to remove their shoes before entering. Nose plugs for this portion of your visit are highly recommended…

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Courtyard

The impressive scale of the building is made more astonishing by the materials used. Things like 24-karat gold, Swarovski crystals, marble, mother of pearl, and Iranian rugs amplify the impression of grandeur.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Interior 1

In case you ever visit the mosque and, for some reason, forget to look up, the following is a photo of the largest chandelier I have ever seen:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Interior 2

Bordering the Mosque are beautiful, blue reflecting pools. If you are able to look past the glaringly large budget and in-your-face type of appearance this building has, you may be able to recognize that it is a very beautiful place.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Reflecting pool 1

Especially in the “winter” during sunset.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque reflecting pool 2

This is a must see attraction in the UAE. It is definitely a tourist trap, and you will be pushed around and stepped on by people trying to take stupid pictures of their dumb family. But, if you are able to look past that, you will see something you won’t see anywhere else in the world. You might even have a spiritual revelation…

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Domes

…or an upset stomach from the stench of sweaty socks and dirty shoes.  

Back to studio! I count at least seven more posts about the UAE. So… bear with me…

UAE

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World’s Best Theme Park // Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World Cover

Keeping with the standard of World’s Biggest This and World’s Tallest That, Abu Dhabi is home of the World’s Fastest Roller Coaster in what is, in my opinion, the World’s Best Theme Park: Ferrari World. Please allow me to explain why:

Ferrari World Entry 1

A theme park is only good as it’s theme. What could possibly be more universally appealing to children and adults than Ferrari’s?

Ferrari World Entry 2

Unlike other theme parks of this size, this theme park is completely indoors. This means that all the pesky fresh air and sunlight that plagues most theme parks is removed from the equation.

Ferrari World interior Facade detail

The interior buildings that house programs like restaurants and smaller attractions are all clad with these interesting fins. Which obviously makes waiting in a line for three and a half hours totally okay, right?

Ferrari World Restaurant

Speaking of restaurants, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. I actually have nothing special to add about the restaurants. As far as theme parks go, the food is pretty standard.

Ferrari World Exterior 1

The massive scale of the building is an impressive attraction in itself. After standing in a room filled with a mix of different BO’s and successfully defending your place in line from the European family who thinks it is okay to cut in front of you in line if you don’t notice, you’re going to want a break. Go outside and take a look around.

Ferrari World Exterior 2

Take a moment to enjoy nature. Lucky for you, there is a fence to keep you from running away.

Ferrari World center atrium

The central core and structure are some of the more interesting attractions. Especially because they are the only attractions that don’t have a line that is over an hour long.

Ferrari Detail

If ever you are bored of the rides, there is a lovely museum that houses some of Ferrari’s past and present models. Be sure to take lots of pictures here. Everyone else is! Besides, it isn’t like every Sheikh and his male relatives are driving them around the city, right?

Ferrari World Interior Detail

In all seriousness, I don’t recommend this place. If you have to ride the World’s Fastest Roller coaster or you love Ferrari cars, then perhaps you will enjoy this experience. If you are a sane person who enjoys pleasant theme parks with polite staff and less… um… pungent guests, then I suggest you avoid Ferrari World. The very MOST I recommend you do is walk into the main atrium and visit the gift shop. Then, without purchasing a ticket or entering the park, turn around and face the direction you came in. Then run. 

I could say much, MUCH more, but I have too much school work to do.

I must now read myself to sleep or death, whichever comes first.

UAE

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Back to Basics // Dubai

Back to Basics // Dubai

Dune Bashing seems to be the type of tourist attraction that every country that has a desert features. Hundreds of similarly named companies (like Dubai Desert Tours or Dubai Sunset Desert Tours or Sunset Dubai Desert Tours etc.) offer once in a lifetime opportunities to drive Toyota SUV’s across the desert, ride camels, get henna tattoos, see belly dancers, and eat authentic Middle Eastern food.

Let’s begin with the Dune Bashing:

Dune Bashing Dubai 2

Dune Bashing is a fancy way of saying “driving recklessly through the desert”. It begins by letting half of the air out of your vehicle’s tires and then immediately moves to chaos.

Dune Bashing Dubai 3

There is no doubt that the drivers are very talented. Though the desert was littered with car parts (and a shockingly ridiculous amount of garbage), the drivers all seem to be extremely good at drifting the cars along the edge of the dunes without falling over the edge or flipping the vehicle.

Dune Bashing Dubai

Needless to say, I was made car sick almost immediately. This effectively lowered my abilities to take photos for the rest of the excursion, so I will share whatever I have.

Dubai Camel Crossing

After surviving the perils of the desert (which was also filled with other Dune Bashing vehicles from rival companies), You return to the highways of civilization at which point your driver pulls over and asks for your camera to take the above photo.

Dubai Camel Farmer

After that cultural gem, the driver takes you to a camel farmer, who he hands a bottle of juice, and then tells you to take pictures of him. Then you drive towards the camp while you slouch in your chair, point the A/C at your face, and pray nothing you ate that morning makes a guest appearance in the Toyota.

I really didn’t like Dune Bashing. Riding the camel was not as exciting as it looks. The “authentic Middle Eastern cuisine” was actually rather good. The belly dancer had very admirable… assets… 

Considering all of the above, the best part of the trip was seeing the sun set over the red sand dunes. 

Dubai Desert Sunset

Walking through that desert was a highlight of the Dubai trip for sure.

Hang in there folks. More Dubai posts to come. 

UAE

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Old School // Dubai

To avoid posting about Dubai for the rest of 2014, I’m going to be highly selective about what I post and am going to post much more frequently to help clean my desktop faster. Let us begin.

Historic Dubai OLD SCHOOL

Imagine Dubai in your mind. What do you see? Super tall buildings? Record breaking malls? Fashionable people driving cars that cost as much as small mansions? The old Dubai is nothing like that.

Historic Dubai Home

In this special part of Dubai, near an area they call the Creek (which looks much more like a river to me), is a re-creation of the original city that is Dubai. It is full of small houses that often serve as re-creations of the past and as museums, shops, galleries, or restaurants.

Historic Dubai Art Gallery

It is, in my old-people mind, very fun to wander around this tiny town and admire the architecture and sense of place.

Historic Dubai Art Gallery 2

It seems like a tourist trap, but has the potential to become a cultural hub more significant than any of the massive malls Dubai is littered with.

Historic Dubai Art Gallery 3To maintain these little pieces of history, one of the homes serves as a restoration shop.

Historic Dubai Restoration CenterThough the houses are lovely, I think walking between the houses is really special.

Historic Dubai Alley

I have to constantly remind myself that, though walking between these homes in December is lovely, come spring, summer, and fall I’m sure it is a whole other story. Recognizing the 106.1 degree Fahrenheit average in August did not stop me from falling in love with this tree-bush-thing.

Historic Dubai Alley 2

Strangely enough, this was one of the highlights of the trip.

Stay tuned for more of my favorite grandpa activities.

UAE

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A View From the Top // Dubai

I’m back in school and ready to work (kind of…), but first I must post a few trip photos.

Dubai View from the TopYes, it is true. I was in Dubai for a little while and was so over whelmed that I fell into an architectural coma. I’m attempting to sort through the thousands of photos I’ve taken to make several cohesive posts, so the first will be short.

The view from our hotel’s roof:

Dubai 1

The better view from our hotel’s roof:

Burj al Arab

The BEST view from our hotel’s roof:

The trouble with the above image is that I spent a lot of time on the hotel’s roof and I couldn’t decide which time of day made the towering skyscrapers and busy highways look the best. Morning is nice, but night is better:

However, in my opinion, Early sunset is the BEST:

More to come soon!

Assuming studio doesn’t get too crazy too quickly…

UAE

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