Friday the 3rd of October The Residential Palace for the Sheik in Abu Dhabi has been turned into a Hotel and a cultural focus point for the Emirate.As a building it is a phenomenal piece of architecture and as a Hotel it leaves the new style places looking tacky and under done.Today I spent three hours walking around what has to been one of the most stylish buildings I've been in. While I was in Europe I saw the Abbey de Founteroude (Spelling my be slightly off sorry) It was a 12th century architecture building that was incredible but this was something else on a totally different scale and design. I don't know what period the Palace was built in but the size positioning and scale is huge. Levels travelling up and down, spreading across the main land in beautiful gardens with pools and terraces down to the beach on the other side.Inside it has been tastefully up-graded to allow the rooms to become shops, conferences, auditoriums, Hotel rooms, display areas and a museum. The most interesting part was the presentation on the cultural direction of Abu Dhabi. The founders have hired 6 of the worlds top architects and have had them design a series of museums to present Art and culture to the community.There are Museums to present and show case Maritime history, performing arts, contemporary, cultural and general arts classifications. The designs are out there. Some are down right ugly but ones like the performing arts centre are fantastic.Its a 15 year plan to build all of the Museums and a lot of it on land that does not even exist at the moment. They all run along the coast line in varying degrees of habitation in the water presenting the cultural frontage for the UAE.
Thursday the 2nd of October
Today would have to go down as one of the laziest days I have had in a long time. I had a couple of hours on skype this morning talking to Jenni and team back home and then Philly and Lisa rounded out with Wendy and Greg. Great to chat and catch up with friends and loved ones.
I then went for a wander to do laundry. Now doing laundry here is a very taxing task. I have to carefully not think about separating out the colours and the delicates and I have to concentrate as I push the items into the plastic bag to carry down the back of the Hotel to my Laundry man. Its everything you think of when you think of shady back streets. Water dripping down the side of buildings from the air conditioning units and not a lot of natural light coming in. The rubbish bins out the back and general stuff you see in all good American gangster movies. You then come out onto a back street that is not much wider or brighter with a line of different shops, with one being my laundry man. After negotiating the deal I wander off to get a haircut.
There's a barber next door to my laundry man (Must learn his name, my laundry man not the barber) who offers me a good price, but I'm a little wary after the article I read in the paper two days ago. 423 barbers in Abu Dhabi have had sterilisation orders slapped on them in the last month and 37 of those business have been closed down. Now while I'm quite safe I'm sure because the 37 have been closed that's still an awful lot of unclean scissors out there lurking waiting to infect my neck so I head out onto the main street to find another location. Roll up Ali! Nice shop, no one in it (That's a worry) and double the price. Won't negotiate down either. So he's either good and knows he's worth it or I suck at negotiating (Probably the later!) I decide to give it a whirl and 50 minutes later I wander out a new shorter man with a very good haircut for $16. I'll be visiting Ali again. (Inshallah or Ala willing as he puts it)
After a bit of a wander around I'm ready for a swim so up to the Sheraton pool (Not quite into the man's beach yet down on the corniche. Eid means bulk male bodies. I'll wait for it to thin out) Couple of hours lazing around there a bit of reading in my room and I'm ready for tea. All in all a very pleasant day and one that I could easily get used to.