Al Ain Tour
We checked out of our NYU Abu Dhabi dorms this morning to prepare for our trip to Dubai. After packing up and eating our last dining hall breakfast, we hopped on the coach bus to meet with Georgette, our tour guide, once more.
Our attraction today was exploring Al Ain, the 'Garden City', and the largest inland city of the Emirates. Georgette took us to the most historic spots in the city, the first being the Al Jahli Fort. This fort stood accentuating the roots of philosophy and heritage of Al Ain. Al Jahili is one of the largest forts in the UAE, and its construction was ordered by the Shaikh Zayed Bin Khalifa, ruler of Abu Dhabi, in 1890. Although the fort was used by the ruling family Al Nahyan, the fort's rooms taught us about the life of Wilfred Thesiger and his exploration of the Empty Quarter in the 1940's.
We then got back on the bus to go to the Al Ain Museum, where we learned about traditional family life and cultural understandings of the past. The museum was decorated in small fields of green grass and plants, showing a lively interpretation of the famous oases of Al Ain.
Speaking of oases...
Al Ain is home to many oases, giving them a unique characteristic to the otherwise dry land that surrounds them. The patch of greenery isolates water sources, allowing the growth of vegetation as well as providing a cool atmosphere. Georgette led us off the road into an oasis and introduced us to a date picker that showed off his 'stunt' - climbing palm trees. Although we weren't as experienced, we decided to give it a shot as well. See below!
.... we need a little more practice.
Camel Trading Market
After a light lunch, we made it to our most awaited stop of the day; Al Ain's Central Market - the last camel trading market. Today, camels are typically traded for racing, breeding, and short-distance transportation. The sheer amount of camels we saw was a shock no matter what we expected; hundreds of camels were packed in cages, waiting until their next home. They were separated by owners, types (Dromedaries: one hump, Asian camels: two humps), gender, and age. Either way, we loved them! It was such an interesting and up close experience that we couldn't get from a tourist attraction- this was real life. Plus, we couldn't get enough selfies with our new friends:
Dinner at Liwan Restaurant at Swissotel Al Ghurair
After checking into our hotel, we walked a few blocks down to a gorgeous hotel to enjoy their international buffet. They offered just the right amount of selection and variety, ranging from sushi, to Arabic food, to specialty cold salads, build your own salads, soup, roasted beef, creamy pasta, and more. The ambiance of the restaurant made for a relaxing evening, and dessert truly put the cherry on top of our day...there was ice cream :)
Check out the blog tomorrow for our FIRST day in Dubai!!!