My weekend trip to Abu Dhabi, enjoying lunch at Le Pain Quotidien at Yas Mall, getting a dose of history and culture at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, sampling gold and luxury at Emirates Palace, savouring the camel tannour at Mezlai Emirati Restaurant and taking in the beautiful architecture of Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Day 1.

On the road just after 10am and heading on the E11 to Abu Dhabi.

Today's plan was to first go to Yas Mall for lunch before heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island. We would then cross over Sheikh Khalifa Bridge onto Abu Dhabi Island and then drive along the Corniche to the Emirates Palace.

Fueling up at a ADNOC Station about half-way to Yas Island.

Outside Trayano at Yas Mall.

After a bit of shopping we headed to Le Pain Quotidien for lunch. Rianda with her frittata and potatoes with a glass of pomegranate lemonade.

And enjoying the Angler brunch platter with some black coffee and a glass of orange juice.

A short drive away on the E12 highway was the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Opened in November 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron, UAE Vice President Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the museum is the result of a thirty-year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government.

In the first of twelve galleries in the museum, the Grand Vestibule, which featured a series of exhibits each containing a trio of similar historical objects from around the world.

Three hand axes. From left the first is from Saudi Arabia, 800,000 BCE, the second from Algeria, 200,000 BCE and the third on the right from France, 500,000 BCE.

The 3,000 year old sarcophagus of the ancient Egyptian Princess Henuttawy.

The Pharoah Ramesses II, sitting on his throne.

A bust of Constans, the Roman Emperor from 337 to 350.

A silver-gold pendant from Ras Al Khaimah, UAE dating from 2000 BCE.

A schist Buddhist statue of Bodhisattva from the Kushan Empire in present day Pakistan, 200 CE.

In a special darkened room that held ancient copies of Buddhist scripture, the Bible, the Quran along with the Torah (below) from Sana'a, Yemen from 1498.

A Greek male torso of an athlete from 200 CE.

A painting of Napoleon Bonaparte crossing the alps by Jacques-Louis David.

In the twelth and final gallery featuring contemporary art.

No. 14 (Browns over Dark) by Mark Rothko.

After the delightful walk through the various galleries we headed outside to discover and explore the distinctive architecture of the museum itself.

Designed by the French Architect Jean Nouvel, the museum features a "seemingly floating dome".

The dome is made from 7,850 aluminium stars of varying sizes and was designed to reflect light into the museum like a natural palm frond.

And had plenty of places for the perfect Instagram shot.

After the dose of history and culture at the Louvre we made our way over to Abu Dhabi Island and to the Emirates Palace for our one night stay.

Inside the very golden lobby.

At check-in where Rianda was welcomed with a single red rose.

And welcome cool hand towel to refresh with.

A map of the main floor of the hotel. We had booked a room with a garden/city view but were upgraded to a sea view.

Mukhtar showing us our room in the east wing. The hotel television loop also featured scenes with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in the film Furious 7, which was partly shot at the hotel.

At 55 square meters (592 square feet) there was plenty of room to stretch out. Our low season summer rate was 1150 AED ($310) per night including breakfast and seemed quite reasonable compared to the 6150 AED ($1675) rack rate.

A plum, apple and kiwi.

The extensive (but albeit expensive) minibar.

Coffee machine and gold flaked water.

From 195 AED ($53) a bottle we would definitely be sticking to the complimentary water though!

The spacious marble bathroom.

Complete with bath tub.

The view from our balcony with Qasr Al Watan, the UAE Presidential Palace, visible in the distance.

And our two room keys, two golden medallions.

After freshening up we went out to explore the rest of the hotel.

Faux palm trees at the bottom of the atrium. The hotel is managed and run by Kempinski.

The Emirates Palace opened in 2005 and was at the time the world's most expensive hotel constructed at $3.9 billion.

A harpist and cellist entertaining guests.

The main atrium leading up to the hotel suites. The penthouse florr is home to six Royal suites which are used for visiting dignitaries such as GCC heads of state.

At Le Café where we took a seat for some afternoon coffee.

The hotel café is famous for its gold flaked cappuccino.

Rianda opted for the camel milk ice cream topped with 23 karat gold.

And at 73 AED ($19.90) the cappuccino was an affordable taste of outrageous luxury if only for the photo!

After the gold-flaked indulgence we went for a sunset walk along the private hotel beach.

Emirates Palace behind us with the 342 meter tall ADNOC Headquarters building center.

Looking at Qasr Al Watan at dusk from Emirates Palace Marina.

The moon upper-right as blue hour begins.

The hotel and city buildings now all lit up as dusk fades to an end.

Back at our room where our sheets had been turned down and slippers placed on each side of the bed.

Rianda making the most of the plush bathrobe and towels after showering before we headed to dinner.

We then headed down to the lower floor where the hotel restaurants were located. With 9 meter tall ceilings and lined with faux date palms it was very grand but also slightly surreal.

For dinner we decided on Mezlai, an Emirati Restaurant that has been voted one of the best Arabic restaurants in the country.

Welcome Arabic coffee.

A mural inside on the wall of some of the city landmarks including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Zayed Mosque which we would visit tomorrow.

There was only a few other guests so we settled in a small, private table in the corner of the restaurant.

Being an Emirati restaurant we figured we had to have the local water from Al Ain rather than one of the European brands on the menu.

Some fresh, hot bread with olive, tomato and chickpea dips to start.

For the entrée we shared a selection handmade meat, cheese and vegetable Sambousas.

My main, the camel tannour served with okra and ersyah, an Emirati specialty.

Rianda's Farsh fish rolls with baby spinach and olive, tomato, dill, onion, garlic and lemon sauce.

Both dishes were delicious with some amazing and very interesting flavours. Mezlai was quite different from other Arabic resturants we had been to over the years of living in the UAE and it was great to have a taste of local cuisine at such a stunning location.

The view from our balcony after we retired to our room at the end of a great day in the city.

Day 2.

After a good sleep I got up at 7:30am and went for a walk along the 1.3 kilometer beach again.

Looking down on the hotel surrounded by the extensive and well manicured grounds.

I then went for a lazy morning run to burn off some excess calories.

And finishing up with a warm dip in the sea.

I then caught up with Rianda who was taking it easy by the pool.

And cooled off from the morning humidity with some ice cold water.

After the easy morning we headed to Restaurant Le Vendome at 10am for breakfast.

Making the most of the extensive buffet with everything from dim sum to steak!

And enjoying the view from our room as as our short stay at the Emirates Palace came to an end.

Rianda posing for a photo in front of the portraits of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and UAE Vice President Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum after check out.

We then headed for a visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Despite being open since 2007 it was our first visit to the country's largest mosque.

Looking up at the 107 meter tall minarets.

Designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky, the dome layout and floorplan were inspired by the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, which I had visited last year on my trip to Pakistan.

The main prayer hall featuring a 5627 m2, 30 ton carpet made with New Zealand and Iranian wool.

Rianda posing for a photo for her first visit to a mosque despite living in the Middle East since 2005!

And heading across Maqta Bridge on the E22 as we make our way back to Dubai after a great and relaxing weekend in Abu Dhabi.

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