So 5 days ago i finally started my long awaited and so-much-just-talked-about trip to southeast-asia, with a stopover in Abu Dhabi. Etihad, the airline which i chose, offers two “free” nights in the capital of the UAE. I didn’t know what i expected, but after leaving i am at a loss if i found the city good or rather not. I mean, everything is very modern there and you can see impressive and edgy architecture, but everything is very far from each other as well, with featureless spaces in between. There are literally zero people in the streets, unless the many foreign workers on the countless building sites. Yeah, i know, that is due to the heat outside, but somehow i felt like in a ghosttown. A city without a soul, projected on a desk in the 1970ies. It’s not a city which affects or touchs me, like other cities did. At least that was my impression after those short two days being there.
Saying that, i tell a lie. There were two places which really touched me and which were fascinating indeed: the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. And that was what i did during those two days, visiting both places.
In fact, i could see the Mosque from my hotel window, so i thought it couldn’t be a long walk. How wrong i was… i didn’t really check the distance in a map or something (which is a shame for a cartographer, i know), but i was really out in my estimation. It turned out to be around 5 km until there, and this in the merciless arabian sun, isn’t too much fun. Happily i took enough water with me and i could use the shelter of climatized bus-stops every now and then. The bus itself didn’t work for me, cause you need some special electronic card to use it and i also was too proud to stop one of those daft SUV’s, which are practically everywhere in the city (apart from the fact, that probably no one would have taken me at all). Anyways, i reached my destination, the Mosque, and it was all worth it. If you want a feeling of ‘Thousand and One Nights’, this is definitely one place. Especially when it’s getting dark and the Mosque is illuminated with blue and yellow spotlights. Even though the place was first opened in 2007, it feels like it was standing there for ages. Just the moving staircases and shopping-mall-like entry reminds you, that this is not possible.
Another spot, which i definetely recommend to anyone who stops by, is the quite new Louvre Abu Dhabi. To say it with the words of the visitors guide, Louvre Abu Dhabi is home to a fascinating collection of objects and works of art spanning time, place, cultures and civilisations. It is a universal museum that enables visitors to experience art and humanity in a new light. Master works by many of the world’s greatest artists are on display, revealing threads of creativity that connect diverse cultures across thousands of years. I had heart of it before, but mostly by Instagram posts, showing the unique, monumental dome which spans the whole museum. It is impressive, no question, but in this case the exhibits inside the museum and their presentation impressed me much more than the extraordinary architecture of the building.
So back in the airplane, i wasn’t sure if i will ever come back to this place. Probably not. By chance, the entertainment program of Etihad offered the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo di Caprio, which I put on my must-see list since a long time. Somehow i never made it. Now finally i had the chance to see it and which movie could be more anticipating than that one?! Thailaaaaaand, here i come!