Ok, I know it’s been a while since the intro blog entry here, but it’s so hard to find inspiration to blog these days, despite having so much time at home due to ECQ.
I don’t know if I mentioned in the previous blog that our itinerary changed a few times and we even thought of staying at least one night in Abu Dhabi, but we already knew that we’ll visit Abu Dhabi during the early days of our trip, instead of towards the end. We had a full day and really thought we had enough time to visit all the places we planned to see but we were dead wrong! To think that we have taken taxis to travel around the city. So, I definitely want to go back to Abu Dhabi and finish this itinerary. But on to the Abu Dhabi blog…
We started our day pretty early because we were going to leave at the same time as Ria and her boyfriend, who were going to work that day (this was a Thursday). I think we woke up at around 5:30am to allow time to prepare and left at exactly 7am. We dropped off Rhia at her job, which is Times Square Center, before going back to downtown, since her boyfriend works at Dubai Mall. That’s also where we bought our Nol card since we’re gonna be using it for the metro and bus during our entire trip. It was pretty straightforward; we bought the card and loaded AED100 to it. The card is 6AED and that’s not consumable, also, you need to have at least AED7.50 on your card before tapping in. We had sort of an issue with this towards the end of our trip, when we were at DPR, so I will elaborate on this when we get to that day.
HOW TO GO TO ABU DHABI FROM DUBAI?
There are several ways obviously, but the cheapest is via bus.
Travel time: 1 ½ to 2 hours (but I think it took us almost 2 ½ hours)
How much? AED25 one-way and can be paid using your Nol card
How? From Dubai Mall Station (oh, this is also where we had breakfast – at a convenience store near the terminal), we had two options: either go to Al Ghubaiba Bus Station or Ibn Battuta Metro Station. We departed from Al Ghubaiba Station (Metro fare: AED3) even if that meant going back a few stations because we read that that the interval of the buses leaving from Al Ghubaiba is more frequent (every 15 minutes vs every 30 minutes).
It’s not hard to find the bus station from the metro station. As in any metro station from any country, the key is to find the correct exit, so you don’t walk far. We have mastered more complicated metros in our life so Dubai’s metro was super easy. Lo and behold, we found the right exit (while helping an auntie find Carrefour in the process) and just had to cross the street to get to the bus station. The bus number is E100. I think there is also a sign that says “Abu Dhabi” so it’s hard to miss it. If in doubt, just ask. It was a Thursday, but the bus was full. I didn’t sleep on the bus because I was excited to see the route going to Abu Dhabi. Even when is just an endless road of nothingness and disyerto, I still found it interesting. HAHA.
You will get off at the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station near Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi. From there, you can take your preferred mode of transpo going to different tourist destinations around the city. We flagged a cab outside the station to Emirates Palace Hotel.
EMIRATES PALACE HOTEL
Opening hours: Hotel is 24 hours (Le Café: 8am to 1am)
Entrance fee: None. But if you plan to do the afternoon tea, then expect to pay up HAHA. Yes, it was expensive but it was our birthday, so we splurged a little. We paid AED399 (for 2) for the traditional afternoon tea.
Taxi fare: AED23 (I included this to give you an idea of how much it will cost to take cabs around Abu Dhabi.)
I have to shout out our cab driver! En route to Emirates Palace, he was trying his best to provide some info on places we’re passing through so it’s like having our own tour guide! We found out that that zone of the city is exclusive to the members of royalty / locals. There are even places (for example, hospital) that are meant just for them. He also pointed out some key places that we passed by, most of them related to the president or the prince.
Emirates Palace is a 7-star hotel where we can do afternoon tea, so of course, we had to go! I wanted my coffee with edible 24K gold flakes! We had our reservation at 2pm, but we went there straight from the bus station instead of the Louvre because we were afraid that we’d be late for our reservation. (We read that you can’t be late or you’ll lose your reservation.) I’ve explained the reservation process in my previous blog so I will not rehash that. A reminder though, they have a smart casual dress code and they will send information on that when you make a reservation. There is a possibility to be turned away if you’re inappropriately dressed, or if you don’t have a reservation. Even our cab driver asked us if we had a reservation. (Disclaimer: We didn’t see anyone being turned away, even those embarrassing tourists. LOL.) Also, the prices are for two people, but when they emailed, if you are alone, they offer half of the afternoon tea at AED200, so it’s quite fair.
This is the menu.
Traditional Afternoon Tea (in three-tier serving stand / can be shared by two guests) – AED 399* net per set
Traditional Afternoon Tea with 2 glasses Brut bubbly – AED 560* net per set
Traditional Afternoon Tea with 2 glasses Rosé bubbly – AED 650* net per set
For single dining guest, we will offer a half set of Traditional Afternoon Tea at AED 200 net
These are some reminders once they confirm the reservation.
While waiting for our 2pm reservation, we took photos around the hotel for the gram (obviously) but did not take photos outside because it was so hot! Turns out, it’s the perfect time to do so if you don’t want any photobombers, but damn, it’s just too hot. We couldn’t do it. We’d rather have photobombers than take the perfect photo at noon in the Middle East!
A few minutes before reservation, we approached someone from Le Café, who led us to a nice table. Le Café is in the middle of the lobby, near the stairs and a huge window overlooking the beach. We paid for the classic high tea for two, with hot beverages (coffee or tea), and this is served from 2:00 – 6:00 pm. So the canapes (seafood, chicken, and vegatarian) is set – they actually send you the menu via email when you make the reservation and they ask you if you have any dietary restrictions. But during the high tea, they give you a beverage menu where you can choose your tea or coffee. I went with coffee and they came with those gold flakes!!!! That was my first drink, and then got pot of tea for my next beverage. I think we stayed at Le Café for two hours, but too bad, we didn’t get to finish all of the treats. (We took the leftovers home but then left the box at Rhia’s house!) Seriously, I was already full after finishing 3 scone halves. (Celine and I split each one so we can taste everything 😌) We spent the next few days looking for passion fruit jam around Dubai but to no avail. Is this an Emirates Palace exclusive? If anyone knows where to find this passion fruit jam, tell me! This might have been expensive, but, it was an amazing experience and a nice birthday present for both of us. I would say though that the afternoon tea at that luxury hotel in Brunei was more sulit. ^^
By the way, in front of the Emirates Palace Hotel is the Etihad Towers. This is the best place to get to view these towers! Right around the corner is the Presidential Palace, we only managed to see it from the cab. It’s walking distance from the Emirates Palace – if you can walk under the heat of the sun. LOL. We left Emirates Palace Hotel at around 4pm. We spent 4 hours here!!! We asked a nice guard to flag a cab for us, it was super convenient.
Opening hours: Closed every Monday. They have different closing times almost everyday, but it opens at 10am everyday.
Tue – Wed: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Thu – Fri: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Entrance fee: PHP764 (We booked a voucher via Klook, but it says on their website that the ticket costs AED60. So, we just saved a few pesos by purchasing on Klook.)
Taxi fare: AED34 (I think it was more expensive because we passed by a toll bridge.)
On the way to Louvre, we passed by the Corniche, but I think it’s best to come here at night. It’s just too hot to explore that area during the day. We definitely saw a couple of tourists walking and I was both horrified and amazed.
Louvre Museum is located on Saadiyat Island and is developed jointly by UAE and France. It has a 180m wide dome, which I think is its answer to Louvre France’s pyramid outside. Ok, this was huge. At the end of touring different galleries, my feet were so tired and almost giving up on me. I truly enjoyed the Children’s Museum though. It’s very interactive and there’s like a game that you need to finish, and in the end, you can wear a costume if you’d like – we didn’t because the clothes were for kids. Haha. By the time we were out of the museum, it was already dark. We spent around 2-3 hours here because it was almost 7pm when we left.
These are some of the stuff I found interesting! Tawang-tawa ako sa pair of earrings cause ya know, the bigger the hoops, the bigger the hoe! And ang bougie nung tie closet na LV!!! Opulence, you own everything! We didn’t even see that 10,000 Years of Luxury exhibit but one of the Pinoys working there pointed it out so we went. And I’m glad we did. Btw, for some reason my flash worked while I was taking a photo of the sphinx and I was horrified!!! Napindot ko ata accidentally huhu. Sorry, Louvre! 😭
I also need to shout out the Filipinos working here! There were so many of them and it’s only Day 2 but I’m already getting used to hearing “Kabayan!” all the time. I feel like this is an extension of the Philippines because there’s so many Filipinos around. Also, during our trip, we were constantly talking about working in this country, and we were like, “I wouldn’t mind a job at the museum!”
How beautiful is that dome though?! Jean Nouvel is a genius!
We got super tired walking around this huge place but was so worth it! We had to flag the golf cart after taking photos outside because we are titas like that. We were so bummed we couldn’t go to the Sheik Zayed Mosque anymore because we already missed the sunset and although it would still be beautiful to go at night, we were super tired and it would be so late by the time we’re back in Dubai, I will have to be satisfied for now with this photo I took while on the bus. So, we took a cab back to the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station and took the bus back to Dubai.
PARK VIEW RESTAURANT
Our hosts met us at Nahda Station, and then had dinner at Park View Restaurant. They live in Al Nahda 2, so this is close to where we were staying. Ok, I super love the food here! I didn’t get to take photos unfortunately, but I remember, we had chicken and fries, hummus, fried rice, and finished it with chai. We drank a lot of chai during this trip and loved it each time!
That wraps up the second day of our trip, but actually, the first day of sightseeing. It was tiring! But yes, if you don’t have your own car or do not have a friend who will drive you around, it’s best to take cabs in Abu Dhabi, we barely saw any buses around. Yes, it is pricier than taking the bus obviously, but if you’re splitting it with someone then it’s not too bad. I understand that taking a cab by yourself can take a huge chunk of your pocket money, since each cab ride cost us around PHP300-500.
If I had to do it again, I would’ve gone for a 2D1N trip instead of a day trip. That way, we could go out at night and maybe explore Cornish – I would like to visit some of the gardens there, visit the Presidential Palace. And I really would like to visit the Grand Mosque next time. It’s too bad that we could only visit two places, but we really took our time and made sure we got to experience everything. I need to go back to Abu Dhabi!
Taxi fee (Louvre to Central Bus Station: AED28.50
Bus fare (Dubai to Abu Dhabi): AED25
Metro fare (from Al Ghubaiba Station to Nahda Station): AED5