On my way to India, I made sure I get a stop somewhere in the Middle East to avoid taking a long flight and see a new city. I chose Abu Dhabi as a stopover destination for only 22 hours. It was enough time to enjoy the capital of the United Arab Emirates and stay at some of the best hotels in town! I enjoyed my stopover at the Hyatt Capital Gate famous for being one of the best hotels in town but also for being a leaning tower, a modern Pisa in the middle of the Arabian city.
My flight with Etihad Airways have been delayed for 5 hours, therefore, I lost 5 hours of sightseeing in Abu Dhabi. I got very angry but what can I do, the airline compensates with a free lunch at Heathrow Airport. The next morning at 6am, I arrive to the capital of UAE for the first time. It became then the 27th country I visit and my second time in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia. The heat was very very strong, some temperatures that goes up to 40 degrees which I am not used to at all… People think that Morocco is like that but no way, it is much more fresh, there is some air to breath.
Anyway, when I arrived to the airport, I have been escorted by a taxi who took me straight to my hotel. I stayed at Hyatt Capital Gate, a very original hotel directly connected to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center and just between the city center and the airport, very practical for such rapid and quick stopover. From my first step in there, I felt at home. The staff was very welcoming and friendly, great service and good attention to details. The room was as big as 40 square meters with a nice view over the city’s towers and the sea. As a welcome I found some very nice chocolate and Emirati pastry as well as a fresh peach juice, my favourite! They did not know I like peach juice but the coincidence was just perfect and made me really happy, well, yes…. even in supermarkets I never find peach juice! Anyway, the room was fully equipped with the latest technology and gadgets such as a Bose system. Some interesting point, the TV has a large choice of channels from all over the world and the bathroom’s tube is quite accommodating and looking over the rest of the room.
After exploring bit by bit my nice room, I quickly went down to the restaurant to get some breakfast. And once again, no disappointment. I found whatever I always like to eat in the morning, from fresh juices to some international pastries. The choice is large once again and without any doubt it was the best breakfast buffet I have ever had in so many years. For cultural reasons, I don’t eat pork but there they had beef bacon which was perfect for me to complete for the first time an English breakfast! Following my breakfast, I went back to sleep and recover from the long flight.
I did not have much time in Abu Dhabi so I had to start visiting after my quick nap. I visited firstly the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque just 5 minutes by taxi from Hyatt Capital Gate. I visited that beautiful mosque by walking around until I start feeling very hot, the heat was incredible I guess it went up to 45 degrees under the burning sun. It did bother me a lot, so I just spend 15 minutes no more outside. The fully white mosque reflects some strong peace that just gets inside the soul of the visitor. Indeed, the whole of the United Arab Emirates are an example of peace and tolerance in the region. It is a Muslim country that hosts many foreigners from all around the world no matter their believes and ethnicities so the whole country is made of expats and just 10 % of native Emiratis. Back to the hotel where I had a good lunch at the “18 Degrees” restaurant. I had a very succulent pasta with chicken and mushroom quickly served but also… quickly eaten as I was starving! The menu focuses on Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Moreover, the view from the restaurant is impressive, it was amazing having a lunch up in one of Abu Dhabi’s most famous towers.
Later, I went to the centre of Abu Dhabi to see the high towers and the marina but the area was quite empty which made that place boring. I understood that people are just hiding from the hot temperatures most likely in some of the huge malls of the city. Meanwhile, I was the only one struggling to walk around the marina. My walk led me to the Heritage Village where I had a very traditional preview of the real Emirati culture rather than the modern face of it that is all over! That village is a great way to experience the culture with some camels, Arab horses, villages huts and desertic scenery. There was a path leading to the sea, I follow it and by surprise back to reality…. I could see the gigantic towers again. I must say that the view was amazing, I took lot of pictures before getting tired and drinking a liter of water.
I return back to the hotel to breath after my very first contact with Abu Dhabi’s weather. Even though the hotel is more focused on a business clientele, it has many services to offer such as the Rayana Spa, it is located in a very calm area of the 19th floor. Then brave enough, I go out to see the swimming pool and it is just amazing. The view is spectacular from there but unfortunately, the heat once again makes it difficult to even swim… it is really impossible to stay outside for more than 10 minutes. It was really frustrating for me as I wanted to see and do more but it’s not easy when you are not used to this type of weather. Therefore, I think it is important to stay in a very nice hotel when travelling to such countries with extreme weather. Hyatt Capital Gate was just a great place to stay for the day, lot of comfort to erase the bad memories of the flights delays and hassles and look forward to the rest of the trip.