Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Afternoon on the Arabian Sea

It is mid-afternoon on a December Wednesday.  The navigation map on our television tells us that we are beyond the mid-point in crossing the Arabian Sea; our ship, Celebrity Constellation is closer now to India than Oman.

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Our deck and view of the Arabian Sea
If you are a regular here you know that we set out last week to stretch our comfort zones by taking a cruise that began in Abu Dhabi and will end 10 days from now in the same Emirate.  I often get so ‘taken’ with the places we visit that I drop you right into the location and then many of you ask how we even got here from our rural village in the Greek Peloponnese.  So, today, as the song lyrics say, “Let’s start at the very beginning. . .”

Getting There. . .

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Our flight from Athens to Abu Dhabi
We’ve not – aside from a few cruise ports of call in the region a few years ago – traveled much in this area of the world. The Scout  had to figure out the airline we’d use as well as where we would stay until boarding the ship (we usually arrive a day early ‘just in case. . .’ and that also gives us time to explore the area a bit.)

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Arriving in Abu Dhabi we took a bus to the gate 
We flew from Athens to Abu Dhabi, a 4 hour 20 minute flight, on Abu Dhabi’s flagship airline, Etihad. There’s a daily flight between the two airports. With a two hour time difference between the two cities, our early afternoon flight got us there in the evening.

The aircraft, an Airbus 320 had comfortable seating in the economy section.  The meal (no extra cost) was one of the best we’ve had on an airline in a long time. I chose the chicken – very tender and moist.

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My meal - Etihad Airlines
Yes, that is white wine in my glass above – also free if charge.  And I sipped it while flying over Saudi Arabia (the idea of which still feels real exotic to me) and I chuckled at the fact that I was getting caught up on one of my favorite U.S. television shows, Criminal Minds, while doing so!

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Movies and television shows were available on individual screens
Maybe this exotic adventure wasn’t going to be so exotic after all!

Arriving Abu Dhabi

Entering the Emirate was simple, there were no lines at immigration. They took a photo of us as part of the entry process – slick, smooth and easy. And yes, everyone speaks English!

We had received -- several weeks prior to our departure -- a letter from the cruise line and one from the travel agency where we had booked the cruise warning us about bringing drugs –  the prescription kind – into the UAE. They are strict and e prescription drugs have a protocol set out for review and approval. We were nervous that our over-the-counter vitamins and cholesterol drugs might raise eyebrows so I had them in original containers in the carryon bag and brought only the number of pills we will consume while traveling . . .and no one even mentioned drugs!!

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Marriott downtown Abu Dhabi
We were each allowed to bring a bottle of alcohol into the country (in our checked bags) and that is the same amount allowed to be brought on board by the cruise line.  We had no problem bringing two bottles of wine. However, it was readily available at the many bars that were found inside our hotel, the downtown Marriott.

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Our Junior Suite - bigger than The Stone House on the Hill
Those customer loyalty programs do pay off!  We’ve stayed loyal to the Marriott brand and have finally reached a level where the benefits can be startling, like being upgraded to a junior suite in Abu Dhabi (we could have entertained far more guests here than our home in Greece.)

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A room with a view - Marriott Abu Dhabi
The morning after our arrival we opened our curtains to this view of the city - ceiling to floor windows that gave us a window on Abu Dhabi. But we were ready to explore further and had one day in which to do it! Next time I’ll show you some of the city’s magic. . .and believe me there is plenty of magic in this part of the world!

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Grand Mosque - Abu Dhabi
Thanks for being with us today ~ as always we are thankful for the time your spending reading our blog! We’ll be back soon with more Middle East tales and hope you’ll join us.
We are linking up this week with:

hrough My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Best of Weekend

10 comments:

  1. Hello! !
    Today I decorated the Christmas tree. I really enjoyed it! Every year I get very excited, I decorate the Christmas tree and it begins to feel like Christmas. I think this year's Christmas tree is also very beautiful.
    Ryoma.

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    1. Hi Ryoma, It sounds like your Christmas tree is very beautiful. Enjoy it!

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  2. Criminal Minds ... can't beat it!! But shouldn't it be a Lear jet?? Have a wonderful time xx

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    1. Good one!! I hadn't thought of that. . .but what a treat to watch an old favorite!!

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  3. We are really enjoying your Middle east journeys. This is a region we would like to visit some day. Your photos are certainly building a good case for our travel.

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  4. The Marriott junior suite looks pretty swanky to me! I flew Etihad Airlines at the beginning of the year and had a favorable opinion of it as well. (My list of airlines I like is startling small compared to the ones I try to avoid!) I've only been in the Abu Dhabi airport and look forward to seeing some of the city through your eyes.

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  5. Maybe I will enjoy Etihad as much as I enjoyed Emirates, and Abu Dhabi as much as Dubai. I did love a layover at Doha!

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  6. An interesting read and we will probably be visiting Dubai in October 2019. The Emirates seem sort of exotic and a bit strange from afar. We did have a layover once in the Dubai airport. There were men's and women's mosques in the concourse---right next to the, presumably unisex, Irish Pub! We flew Emirates on that trip---from Zurich to Perth Australia (hence the Dubai layover). We also found the service to be more than a cut above the legacy US carriers.

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  7. I visited the UAE not too long ago though visited is a big word for what I did - I was there overnight and had dinner with a friend, without getting to see much of the city at all... it's a corner of the world that fascinates, in part because part of my father's family was from that region, and it somehow beckons - large expanses of flat sand, there's just something about it. That high-up view looks fascinating - I should return and spend a little bit of time!

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  8. I think cruising is a wonderful way to see the world, but I had never thought about the route you chose. I have long wanted to visit Abu Dhabi. Thank you for this interesting post!

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