Tuesday 18 March 2014

Today we were up at 8:15 because, after a quick but delicious breakfast, we were heading off to Abu Dhabi (which is about 2 hours away via bus). During the long bus ride, however, we were able to play music over the bus’ radio. This started off as a pretty good thing, but as we soon discovered, Virgin 104.4 (which, surprisingly enough uses Ryan Seacrest as a DJ during those late morning hours!) plays essentially the same six songs on repeat.

Anywho, we made it to Abu Dhabi, and our first stop was a place called Masdar City. Now I must apologize in advance because unfortunately this hotel’s internet is not strong enough to upload pictures to Picasa web albums. However, this place is literally incredible (yet again, there are essentially no words to describe it, however I will do my very best!)

Masdar (as the man who spoke to us/gave us a tour explained) is essentially a mini, sustainable city within Abu Dhabi. At its core is the Masdar Institute (which is actually in partnership with MIT) and it’s a graduate-level only institute, focusing primarily on technology and engineering. All the students live in (gorgeous and modern and contemporary) dorm buildings in the city. There’s also a library and many cafés around campus. During our special tour, we also got to see state-of-the-art laboratory facilities in addition to different electron microscopes.

The rest of the city is under construction, but it is all going to be contained in about 6 square kilometers of space. The best part about Masdar City is how one gets from the parking lot to the city itself. There are these little car-like objects (except they run on magnetized strips, and don’t have wheels!) that take you through a concrete tunnel between the two areas. I literally felt like I was in a Sci-Fi film – it was one of the coolest technological experiences of my life!

After Masdar, we had a yummy lunch at an Indian restaurant nearby. Since it was buffet-style, I actually ended up having the vegetarian option, because it contained delicious roasted cashews on a bed of rice!

From lunch, we headed to the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque. “Grand” in this case is a crazy underestimation. This mosque was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been to! Before we could physically go inside, the females had to put on abayas (the beautiful long black robes that women must wear to enter mosques). This abaya came with a headpiece, as well (or, more accurately, a hood!) Once we put on these abayas, we were ready to enter the mosque.

The mosque was beautiful from the outside, but even more stunning from the inside. There were chandeliers (yes, plural!) hanging from the three main domes. The carpet was very intricately designed and the courtyard part of the mosque was crisp and white. After walking around the mosque for quite a bit, we returned our abayas and headed back on the bus. I must say, I felt very scandalous in my knee-length skirt after taking off the abaya (which I find very ironic because this knee-length skirt of Brenna’s that I borrowed is longer than most skirts I have at home!)

From there we went to Corniche, which is essentially the part of Abu Dhabi that lies along the beach! We were able to watch the sun set and grab a quick bite to eat before the long journey home. Dinner was pretty good – we ate at a pizza place in a mall (and yet again I was so hungry that the pizza actually tasted pretty decent, especially since this one had a lot of veggies on it!)

After dinner Nada, Priyanka, Katini and I all went in Nada’s car to get some dessert. Nada graciously toured us all around the beachy area of Dubai (called Jumeirah). We had the music blasting and it was just so fun singing at the top of our lungs! We stopped at McDonalds for ice cream (which us Harvard students found a little strange, but Nada assured us that it was the norm here in Dubai!) We ate our ice cream cones and then walked along the beach for a bit. Unfortunately we saw quite a few jellyfish on the beach, which freaked me out, but it was nice walking along the sand regardless. After an exhausting day, we headed back home (yes, still singing at the top of our lungs!)

TGT: 1) Singing and driving with Nada and friends 2) The amazing Sheikh Zayed grand mosque 3) The incredible, futuristic Masdar city

Until next time,
~JK

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