Sunday, 27 February 2011

A seven nation army couldn't hold me back

This weekend was very exhausting and active. It's already started on Wednesday when with Diti we went for a meeting organised by Internations - it's an expat portal, but not only locally here. Groups exist in every bigger city. It's basically targeted for people traveling for work and being in a need to make some friends in a new place where they arrive. Very good concept I think. Meeting itself also was ok it took place in Blends at the Address Marina. We made friends with two German girls (why am I not surprised, that German?), had one drink and went home.
But on the Thursday night out took completely different course. With some people we met in Barasti Bar - beach bar with sandy dance floor, electro music and light shows, life music on a top deck, shishas. Not bad one, but electro music was not entirely my kind, but I guess that I was so desperate for some dancing that I wasn't giving a monkeys and I was dancing there and made friends with another female (is that gonna remain Dubai trend?). This time with a girl from Czech Republic, but shortly after I was told that we have to go to another place. Sanctuary in Atlantis Hotel, which is located at the top of the Jumeirah Palm.
A the door we had to pay 100 Dh which is 20 euro. I've never paid that much to enter a club. And when we entered there was again alectro and house, but with live drumming, which was not anything that I would have wanted to pay 100Dh for. Gladily in the end it's showed up that there is seocond dance floor at the balcony with dance and R'n'B sounds and that music was awesome, so I was not regreting any more leaving Barasti and getting there. Music was awesome and I had great 2 hours of dancing. Unfortunately all clubs close here at 2 or 3 a.m. At least you can get some resonable amount of sleep unless you get up at 8 cause you had an appointment with your  colleagues to have breakfast at leave Dubai at 9 to go to Abu Dhabi.
Going to Abu Dhabi you still could get enough sleep if only you knew that excursion will be delayed about an hour.
In the mean time I've also realised that I've lost my mobile phone, I was guessing that it's happened in a cab. It must have slipped out of my pocket. And indeed this is what's happened. I've managed to call my Dubai mobile from my Polish one and after the cab driver picked it we've arranged that he'll bring it back to me in the evening and I'll pay him for that. Hand set that I am using is not the fancy one, but that'd be too much hassle to buy new one, new SIM card, recover all contacts. Paying him 50Dh for bringing it back to me was the easiest and also the cheapest option.
I was very, very frustrated with that delay (prolly also the fact that I was very tired made me more frustrated) and there was another aspect that I was very unhappy with and in the end I've just exploded. I was leaving the car and had a quarrel with two out of three of my colleagues. Last time that I had this kind of 'conversation' was in Siem Reap, I remember how winded up I was there. This time it was doubled. I just hate the fact that some information was hidden from me and I was not asked neither what I think nor what i want.
In the end we've straightened things out and I did not leave the car and I've calmed down and we reached Abu Dhabi. Where we were greeted by great Sheikh Zayed:

Sheikh Zayed welcomed us in Abu Dhabi
Next we directed our steps to Emirates Palace which was exactly behind his back:
Emirates Palace - colossal hotel with nearly 400 rooms, 114 domes, 1.3 km private beach

Stairs leading to Emirates Palace

Emirates Palace

Interior of Emirates Palace

Piano in Emirates Palace. Steinway & Sons

Emirates Palace - Private beach

My beloved tiles in Emirates Palace

There are 1002 chandeliers with Swarovski crystals
Abu Dhabi city center:
Park in Abu Dhabi, feels almost like Central Park in NY

Starbucks in Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan Mosque:
To get into Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan Mosque I had to wear abaya (long black gown) and shayla (headscarf)

 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan Mosque is also knows as Grand Mosque is the newest landmark in Abu Dhabi. It can accommodate up to 40000 worshippers in its central courtyard and main prayer hall. Conceived by the late Sheikh Zayed - the 'father' of the UAE.

Black & white

Beautiful flower patterns are to be found everywhere in Grand Mosque

Main prayer hall. Carpet which is on the floor is the world's largest Persian carpet and took 2000 craftsmen 2 years to complete.

Clock in the Mosque shows Gregorian time, Arabic time and times for prayer,

The composition of marble, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics takes design cues from Morocco, Turkey and India's Taj Mahal

Seven gold-plated crystal chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, the largest measures 10m in diameter and weights almost 9 tonnes.

Tiles in Mosque

Paper cut

Grand Mosque from distance
And as icing on the cake we went to Abu Dhabi Ferrari World, which except Formula Rosa - he fastest roller coaster on the world was disappointing.
Ferrari World is located at Yas Island developed to appeal to cultural sensibilities

Ferrari World - picture of a car

This is the fastest roller coaster in the world. It simulates g-force in formula 1. It speeds up to 240 km/h in 4 sec.

Arabic girls on Formula Rosa. Some of them wear those red 'condoms' to protect shayla from falling.

This was the cutest car I've ever seen.

Abu Dhabi Ferrari World


Thursday, 24 February 2011

I want to see people and I want to see life

After almost two weeks in Dubai I’m still not in love with this city. I’ve made my ways around a little bit: I’ve place to run, which is in the walking distance from my hotel. It’s Greens Community and Lakes Community. If I go running in the evening I run only in Greens as to get to Lakes you have to run about 500m along the busy road and I don’t want to be hit by a car and still it does not feel too comfortable to run in shorts and top during the night along the road in a country where you should not show your knees not mentioning your tights or shoulders. In those closed districts when you do sports it’s still acceptable and you will not be caught and taken by police for that.

It’s difficult to run during the day as it is too hot. It literally feels like polish summer, so the only option is to go in the morning or in the evening, unless you want to go to the gym and do your workout on the trade mill, but that option I leave till it gets warmer when it’ll even be impossible to run outside in the night.
In Greens there are some grocery stores and mini markets. They also have some restaurants and cafes (what was a nice surprise to see Caribou cafe which I know from my time spent in Rochester, MN for IBM) which makes me feel much better and I guess that will be the place where I’ll be going more often, as where Grand Millennium hotel is it feels like in the middle of a business park which is still being under construction, so there is mostly steel, glass, concrete, dust and sand.
I’ve also managed to find nice beach, where you can freely wear bikini and sun bath. What’s more there is free shuttle bus from hotel to the beach and back which makes things easier too. The only thing that I regret is that I can go there only during the weekend.
The only thing that I did not find, and I guess I’ll not manage to do so, it’s public swimming pool where I could do laps. There are swimming pools in hotels (even in mine), but they are either something like 15m long or if they are 25m admission is far too high for my standards. I’ve heard about one public swimming pool, but it’s meant to be crowded and water quality is not too good, so it makes no sense too, so probably it’s better to use our 14m hotel swimming pool. At least it’s free and very close – only 9 floors up from my room. It’s also annoying there that swimming pool is situated between two towers in a way to forbid any sun there, everything is shaded.
Recently I’ve also gone through some bureaucracy procedures in Dubai. To legally work in Emirates you have to make medical check, which involves lungs x-ray and blood check against HIV and C hepatitis (HCV). As my mum pointed at least I’ll find out if I caught something in Asia.
When we went to the hospital with a colleague of mine, we literally did not know what’s going on. We were being redirected from one room to another, showing papers that we were given in the office, giving them out, getting something back, being redirected again to other room, having x-ray, blood check, going somewhere, coming back, etc. It was like some surrealistic movie (here is even something at the back of my head, that I’ve seen cartoon or short movie on this topic). But in the end of that long way we got out health cards which entitle us for treatment in public clinics.

My running routines in Dubai

Polish accent in Dubai

Jumeirah Park Beach in Dubai. In fact it was forbidden to take photos there so I had to take hidden shots.

Jumeira Park Beach

Room service always supplies me with 8 bottles of water after last weekend all I wanted from them was water. They've tried to clean my apartment 3 times, but each time I was telling them not to do so and give me only water.

Dubai Marina by night

Dubai Marina by night

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dubai behind green eyes

For the first couple of days I did not see anything in Dubai except airport where I've arrived, my hotel, office and road between all mentioned. It does not mean that I did not want to. I just did not have time to. And if I'd have time later in the evening I was too tired to go anywhere, especially that I wanted to do my sports. Obvious.
So the first thing that I saw outside, was 360 bar, which is located on a long, curved pier and gives magical view over Burj ar-Arab, unfortunately I gig not have my camera with me there. I also did not take my id with me which was kinda problem but in the end after a lot of smiles from me and Diti (Indian colleague who seems like soul mate in respect to parties) and telling him what year I was born and how old I am, bouncer let me finally in.
When we were entering there I've spotted swimming pool. 25 meters swimming pool in Dubai is rather uncommon thing. So I was amazed and decided that I've got to get in there and do my swimming there, as in Grand Millennium there is only 14 meters. On my first day off I've tried to go swimming there. But forget it. Entrance costs 250 Dh. And I've tried to enter it from three different entrances with three different people watching gates. There was not way to sneak in. I was soooo disappointed, that I went back home and went running with my colleagues. At least that was something that made my mood better, as I did not expect that there are such a nice places to run. Of course there are no parks (don't forget that Dubai is an artificial city on the desert), but there are some closed districts with nice pavements, not too many cars and some artificial lakes and some grass, so it's ok to do your training. The only problem was heat. After about 8 km and half a liter of water that I drunk during the run I had to stop cause I got dizzy. And it's winter. How it's gonna be during the summer? I bet that it'll even be too hot during the night to do anything outside, sit even, not mentioning any activities involving movement.
Yesterday we went to have food in the "old city". So we took a subway, which in fact is rather like a sky train, than we walked to see Deira Gold Souq and Deira Spice Souq where I had to talk to some shop assistants. I just love it to talk to random people who try to sell you something. He explained me what is what and for example showed me different kinds of cinnamon and dried sun flower petals. And to my surprise he said that they eat it with bread. I did not have time to ask if they prepare it somehow as guys were waiting for me and I was constantly slowing down the whole trip taking photos and entering stores.
Next we took abra - traditional wooden water taxi to cross Dubai Creek and finally we went to have food. That one was delicious in one of the Indian restaurants - Mumtaz Mahal. Name of thew restaurant comes from a name of a third wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who build Taj Mahal in memory of her and it's a symbol of eternal love.
Food was amazing, I had lamb with spinach spiced with cardamon and mint. It was called gosth something. I can guess that gosth means lamb in Hindu. Maybe Saagwala gohst? Just delicious. My mouth waters, when I write about it now, when I've long forgotten about that pseudo dinner that I had today.
Last part of the evening was to empty some bottles that me and Diti had. How strange it is that girls have them and guys did not have any?
Did I already mentioned that world is small and that there are people who you meet over and over in different places and situations? I guess I did. But now I should repeat it. There was a girl who sold me her flat about 3 years ago. We were in touch sometimes. When she was still in Warsaw I was at her hen's night and maybe even there was something at the back of my head that she moved out to Emirates, but that was such a long time ago that I was not expecting her to still be here. At least not in Dubai. But she was and she still is. In fact first she was living with her husband in Abu Dhabi, but in June they moved into Dubai. And accidentally she saw status on my gtalk, where I've written down my Dubai mobile number. She wrote to me and we met today. She was my private tour guide in Dubai, as she went here for the first time on order to write a guide book for Pascal about Emirates and Oman. We've spent really cool afternoon constantly talking (somehow from the first time when I met her we were always talking and talking and talking) and she's showed me most of the "must sees" in Dubai, which is not too difficult during one afternoon,as there is not much to be seen in here. But now comes the best: she studied Spanish philology and my idea was........ "So maybe you would like to give me Spanish classes two times a week?". So soon I'll have to find unoccupied 2 or 3 hours (bearing in mind time to commute even more) which will be a challenge, as I even have problems to find time for doing my sports, but Spanish is my biggest dream and I'm gonna start making it true again after I had to quit my classes in Sin Fronteras. At least there will be something to wait for (except sport) what I'll do after work in this city which I must honestly say don't like and work which is not short hours at all.
Grand Millennium seen from the Belgian Beer Bar

Belgian Beer Bar in Grand Millennium Hotel

View from 18th floor of a hotel. This is the view when you swim in a hotel, 14 m long swimming pool. In the end I've manage to do some laps there. It was more turning there and back, but there was a little bit of swimming too.

Metro station. All look the same, like some king of space ship.

Guess what is it?

You hit the jack pot. Burj Al Arab

Deira by night

Nuts in one of the stores where I had to come in and have a little chat with the shop assistant

Wanna buy some gold? Deira Gold Souq

It's not a good pic, but this is the biggest golden ring. It weights over 53 kg. Or was it 63?

Do you need a dress? Why not get one made out of gold?

Dubai Creek by night

Wind tower in Bastakia Quarter - Dubai 'old town'. Traditionally wind towers cooled buildings

XVA Gallery in Bastakia Quarter. One of the most reputable galleries in Dubai. There is also small cafe.

Bastakia Quarter

Dubai Creek by day


 Was there a volume of Pan Samochodzik in Dubai?