Early morning and on the Bridge, ships at anchor and others bustling to and fro, the watch officers having to keep their wits about them as they deal with the shipping. We board our pilot and we pass pleasantries when he reaches the Bridge; the Staff Captain does the briefing, I am ‘Navigator’ and too busy to do so.
We dock at the cruise terminal, a beautiful building, its floors lined with marble, any port in the world would be jealous of. Astern and a distance away is an ‘old lady’, once the pride of the British Merchant Navy, the QE2 looks forlorn. Having been moved from a Dubai dry-dock pier, she now awaits her fate, possibly a convention centre and hotel, however I won’t hold my breath, too many lovely ships like this have meant to be so converted, only to eventually taken to the knackers yard as scrap.
Day 1 and it’s a trip to Abu Dhabi, 100 miles (160 kms) to the north. Abu Dhabi has a plentiful supply of black gold, oil and as such is Dubai’s rich neighbour. As we leave Dubai on a 6-lane road, our guide tells us that it will soon be a canal, yes, they’re building a canal system to link the old ‘Creek’ area, it will be 35 metres deep and will result in the centre of the city sitting on an island, it’s surreal, the magnitude of the project is mind-boggling.
It takes us 2 hours in heavy traffic to get to Abu Dhabi, as soon as we cross the ‘border’ between the two, the road surface changed colour and date palms line the roadways. Our first stop is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, 3rd largest in the world and stunningly beautiful. The ladies have to don clothing, nothing bare can be seen……
Lapis Luzali, Mother of Pearl and ornate carvings, 3 crystal and bejeweled stunning chandeliers, the world’s largest hand-made carpet, 17 tons of gold 😯 ,the list goes on. It is magnificent and cost billions of dollars.
Next stop is the Emirates Palace hotel. Formerly one of the Sheikh’s palaces, (he has 17 and is building an 18th), it is now an hotel, however the upper suites are reserved for the royal family. 35 tons of gold were used in the construction! (A friend informed me that much of it has since been removed, the reason? Guests were chipping it off)! We stop for a photo tour and gasp at the decadence of it all, magnificent. We stop in the tea-room to partake of a cappuccino coffee, complete with a gold-flake sprinkle on the top! I bet you’re wondering how much? $20 U.S. 🙂
Then off to Heritage Village, built so that we can remember that Dubai was, in 1960, nothing but sand and a fishing village. It has old boats and houses and of course, stalls; one can even get up on a camel’s back, (no, none of us tried it).
The 28th and day-2, K1 and I set off to the Souk’s for a wander. The Gold souk, was, as always fascinating, How about the world’s largest ring, 57 kg (157 lbs)of gold and silver???