Last Friday was a lovely day south of Abu Dhabi. Only an hour away is:
A mountain peak straddling the UAE/Oman border - Jabel Hafeet is a wonderful place to take guests. This is a beautiful view which we enjoyed over the weekend when we were invited to accompany the Simpsons and their guests for a day trip to Al Ain. We had not been to the mountain in over two years and were still amazed at the steep serpentine road up to the top.
Another view of this starkly attractive mountain. The mountain is riddled with an extensive cave system, some caves have been used at burial sites in ancient times.
Wish this pictures was better, am attempting to show you the strata of the rock formations. We had a picnic lunch at the top of the mountian and then drove back down toward Al Ain and...
Found an amazing public garden call "Al Ain Paradise". These beautiful Italian glazed pots were huge, gorgeous and empty... Sometimes we simply do not understand the way different are handled here.
This is right at the entrance. Christine is standing by the Guiness World Record Certification for the most handing baskets in a garden - there were just a handful less than 3,000.
Petunias were by far the most utilized flower in the garden, aovelyt least 10 different varieties and all lovley.
also planted flower beds - white daisies flanked by petunias. Please note the different colored bricks paths leading visitor throughout the entire garden.
We posed here to show the metal frames holding some of the hanging baskets
A different variety of metal hangers in this area. The colored stones were glued into place which made for an easy walk and easy maintainence. The gardens were overflowing with visitors; you can see 3 women in abayas (the traditional Emerati dress for women).
These heart frames were plugged with vines and petunias. Please note the large picture of the ruling sheik at the end of the path.
A wall of flowers - these petunia pots were plugged into wire frames attached to the walls. Can you imagine trying to keep these plants watered? After the gardens, which are only open Oct to April, we drove over to the museum in the former fort-home of the rulers of Abu Dhabi. We spent a further hour exploring the different areas, living quarters, kitchen and stores, bedrooms, receiving rooms and public garden at the fort.
Saturday we were invited on a Desert Safari. We were picked up in the SUV and driven to this camel farm out in the desert. I had no idea that camels came in so many different colors. The camels are all hobbled (note the rope tied between their front legs). They were so friendly and wanted petted - hey they have feelings, too!
The camel farm had probably 2 dozen newborn camels. The mothers were very protective and would lead the babies away if a person got too close.
Fresh Camel Milk - sweet, warm and delicious. However we had just come from half an hour of dune bashing in the SUVs and my stomach was not prepared for anything but water for the rest of the day!
Walking among the camels; One of our SUVs s in the background
Ever since watching Laurence of Arabia last year I have wanted to ride a camel and say "On to Aqaba!" It wasn't a hard as I thought, but it was a short ride.
This is how you get onto a camel. It is easy enough to get on. The difficult part is when the camel gets up, she rocked forward then backwards and then repeated the process - you had to hold on tight.
The safari encampment where henna tatoos are offered, a belly dancer performed, some climbed huge sand dunes and sand boarded down. A lovely fire was lit after dinner and we all enjoyed the warmth as it gets cool and windy when the sun goes down. Some guests smoked shisha - we passed on that option and enjoyed looking at the gorgeous stars. Dinner was a very nice buffet and beer was available, which surprised me. However this is strictly for tourist trade and some rules are relaxed a bit when the local population will not be "offended" by western practices.
Our group: Emelio, Sami, Georganna, Scott and Christine. we are sitting on huge carpets right on the sand. There are pillows and low tables all around the stage where the entertainment was...
a belly dancer. She did several numbers and then took a 36 inch stick and pointed right at Scott. He did not need any coaxing... Up and on that stage within a NY minute. This dance she put the stick between their bellies and they had to keep it there. All the ladies went up and danced as well, but I'll spare you all those photos.
There really is a fair amount to do here in the winter when all the locals and the expats find reasons to be outside enjoying the beautiful temperatures. Scott and I have gotten excellent at responding with a hearty "Yes" when ever we are invited on outings. We have been rewarded by enjoying outings with out friends and meeting people where ever we go. The adventures continue...
Stay safe and enjoy,
Christine and Scott