While the world may be getting smaller with technology bringing us closer together, there is still much to be learned from travelling to a place and submerging yourself in what is on offer with an open mind. I have been fortunate enough to travel to many places but I still hanker for new spaces to engage with. To understand people, it is important to wander their world, getting a snapshot of their lives, their culture, their experience. I always enjoy listening to radio and watching television in each place I visit, even when I don’t understand the language.
The one region I have never visited, other than a layover in Dubai, is the Middle East. The history of the Arab world, like Asia, goes back centuries and their impact on the world is far-reaching. So I jumped at the opportunity to go on a trip to Abu Dhabi with Montecasino, as part of a Scratch & Win competition they are running, the prize being a seven-night stay at Southern Sun Abu Dhabi and a trip to the 86,000 square metre, Ferrari World, worth R50,000. Ferrari World is said to be the “largest space frame structure ever built.” (Wikipedia)
You can enter by spending R450 or more at participating Montecasino outlets and getting a scratch card.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Impressions Of Abu Dhabi
It is interesting how conditioned we become to the way our own world operates. The work week in Abu Dhabi runs Sunday to Thursday so, landing at dawn’s crack on a Friday morning, meant a relative easy arrival. Even getting pulled aside to be thoroughly searched was a pleasant process with the security official apologising for the lengthy process, once they determined that I had nothing to hide. They did test my Grandpa headache powder though.
The first that hits you is the heat but, once you get beyond that, it was quite pleasant. It didn’t hurt hopping from air-conditioned airport to air-conditioned bus to the lovely Southern Sun Abu Dhabi. It’s fascinating how Abu Dhabi is a mish-mash of nationalities in spaces like the hotels and tourist areas, from South Africans, Zimbabweans, Indonesians, Filipinos, Egyptians, Brits, the French, Ugandans, Nigerians, etc.
From the Hytes bar on the top floor, leading to the pool area on the roof, fully-equipped gym and spa to the Blu Sky sports bar and the Kahraman Arabic Restaurant, there is everything you need. And it is located relatively centrally with easy access to most facilities including the Yas Marina Mall and Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit, Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
Things To Do With Montecasino
We started the trip off with a ferry ride through the surrounding waterways from which we got to see landmarks like the Etihad Towers, Fairmont and Yas Marina. I saw the yacht similar to the one I will own in the near future.
We spent some time in the Yas Mall, filled with premier retail outlets for most top luxury brands, ending the time with lunch at a very cool restaurant, Rogo’s, where you order your food using an iPad and it is delivered using an intricate mini-rollercoaster system.
Food is a major part of the experience and we learned how to make sushi in Kahraman before being served the best sushi meal I have had to date. For dinner, we had an exquisite Arab-themed dinner with a modern twist.
Another highlight for me was visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. In an Instagram post, I shared my first thoughts after walking out of the Mosque, namely: “I find places of worship, regardless of religion, so peaceful. I always seem to come out of them, even on tours, a little more settled.”
On our last day, we visited Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World. Just off that experience, I have decided that I need to go back with my family. Below are some random pics I took during the course of the trip.
I’ll share a bit more about that in a post in the next couple of weeks. Please do note that the Montecasino #ScratchAndWin competition runs till the end of October 2016.