Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – January 23, 2015
We arrived in Abu Dhabi at 19:45. We made it through the airport with no issues. As we came out of the baggage area, a driver from the Ritz Carlton hotel met us. We had opted for an allowed rest stop due to the distance we were traveling to Islamabad, some 8,300 miles.
The hotel is direct across the highway from a huge mosque, beautifully lit at night.
At the front door of the hotel, the welcome staff swarmed our luggage and us. One wanted our name and quickly took our baggage away. Another man dressed in a traditional Middle Eastern costume led us to the reception counter.
While we checked in, a woman in a traditional costume approached us with a small tray. On the plate were two warm, damp washcloths, and two small glasses of juice. They were both refreshing after our long journey.
With the check-in process complete, one of the costumed women walked us to our room, 2677, on the sixth floor. Decorative marble made up the floor of the room, on top of which was a large rug that stuck out from under the bed on three sides. We overlooked a massive courtyard area containing a vast swimming pool. The terrace was comfortable with furniture consisting of a small round table and two chairs.
We did not unpack. Instead, we went directly downstairs to the restaurant. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the lighting of the grounds and a wonderful dinner.
The next morning we sat on the terrace enjoying our coffee and the beautiful sunrise. Following our morning coffee, we moved down to the restaurant. One could order from the menu or choose to go to the massive breakfast buffet. We opted for the buffet. We had a wonderfully relaxing breakfast, sitting on the patio of the restaurant.
After breakfast, the swimming pool beckoned. Leslie sat in the sun and read her book while I swam a little.
The scale of this hotel is incredible. I have stayed in many hotels around the world, but this one was massive. One can get an idea of the scale by looking at the photographs. The six and seven-story buildings of the hotel overlooking the pool seem endless. The size is similar inside too. Much of the common areas have ceilings some 25 feet above the passageways. The lobby is even more immense, with the ceilings there easily 40 feet above the beautifully inlaid marble floors. Many of the ceilings throughout the hotel are punctuated with enormous and beautiful chandeliers too. The colossal scale does not end there. Out the front of the hotel are dozens and dozens of private villas. They do not look so much like private hotel villas as they do an upscale neighborhood in Beverly Hills.
Speaking of Beverly Hills, I felt a little like Jed Clampet…just a little out of my league!
Looking at the lobby photograph, one can get an idea of the scale. Three large chandeliers are hanging from a tall vaulted ceiling. The marble floors below are exquisite.
One of the more unique things I have ever seen was the painting that hung above the bellman desk. It was a rectangular painting. Within the art were three pyramid-shaped pieces of canvas with flat tops. The paint covered the entire canvass, including the four sides of each of the pyramids. When one moved, the scene in the painting “moved” to adjust to one’s position. The shape of the pyramids caused this optical illusion. I don’t know that I would ever want one in my house, but it was quite amusing.
We checked out of our room that afternoon, shortly before 15:00. The hotel stored our luggage, allowing us to partake in a late lunch. When we finished lunch, we lounged in the lobby area. We saw many fabulously dressed people arrive for a wedding. I do not want to think about what a wedding at the Ritz Carlton hotel must cost.
Our ride to the airport arrived at roughly 17:00. As we walked outside, I saw a silver Lamborghini parked near the door. I thought it looked great, but Leslie was not impressed.
The ride to the airport was quick. When we checked our baggage, we did not face any of the weight drama we had suffered in the Dulles airport, even though we had not left anything behind. For some reason, flying Etihad from an origin other than the United States meant the maximum weight allowed for each bag is 30kg per bag! The attendants never even asked to weigh our carry-on bags.
After going through passport control, we began our long walk to gate 46. When we were nearly at our gate, I saw the Etihad First Class Lounge. That reminded me that I had heard an announcement on one of our previous flights that there was an Etihad Economy Lounge. I left Leslie standing in the concourse while I approached the woman at the counter. I inquired as to the location of the Economy Lounge. She said it was in Terminal 1, about a 15 or 20-minute walk. I thanked her but said, never mind. I told her Leslie has trouble walking. The woman suddenly asked to see my boarding pass. She asked if we were both flying in economy. I replied, yes. Unexpectedly, she said she would make an exception this time. She allowed us to enter the lounge.
We were like peasants in the king’s palace, oohing and awing at everything. There were numerous types of food and snacks available. Of course, drinks were free and readily available. It was an excellent way to prepare for the final leg of our journey.
We left the lounge and went to our gate to wait for the final hour or so for our flight. Since we were going to have to climb stairs to get to the plane, we requested early boarding for Leslie. Shortly after that, we found out our 22:00 flight was delayed until about 22:30.
When the agents finally allowed boarding, they led us to a bus. By chance, we ended up right at the front door of the bus. Unfortunately, when the bus stopped at the plane, only the middle doors opened. Regardless, we were able to board reasonably quickly and easily.
The man I happened to sit beside was very aromatic, not in a good way. Then I noticed the same with some other passengers. I adjusted the fresh air vent to blow across my face.
Our delay continued to increase because we were waiting for about 40 passengers from a connecting flight. They finally arrived. We pushed back from the gate at about 23:05, a little more than an hour late.