Excited for my next adventure today.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Today was the day I took a trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I took a charter bus to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai and it took about an hour and a half to get there.
I thought the charter bus would take me all the way to the mosque, but it dropped off at the bus station and I had to take a city bus the rest of the way to the mosque which was another 20-30 minute ride.
The bus station in Abu Dhabi was segregated with a “ladies waiting area” and a men’s waiting area. I had no idea until I saw a sign. Interesting that the ladies had such a small waiting area while the men had massive room for seating. What’s that about? But I just went straight outside to wait for the bus.
There’s also a prayer room inside the bus station and people were taking off their shoes going inside to pray.
When I got onto the city bus, I didn’t realize the men and women had their own separate sitting areas. I almost sat with all the men but turned around and saw an empty seat next to a lady—so I sat down. That’s when I looked up and saw a sign that said “ladies only.” Whew!
You also have to open the door on the city bus yourself by pressing a button. You have to do this whether you’re getting on or off the bus. Of course, I stood there waiting for the driver to open the door for me until he told me. (I mean—how lazy can a bus driver be?!)
When the bus pulled up to the Grand Mosque, I got off and followed other people who were walking across a bridge to get there. The first place the ladies had to go was to get an abaya (garment) to cover themselves before entering the Grand Mosque. They kept my driver’s license until I returned the abaya later.
I cannot even put into words the beauty of this place. It was so massively huge and gorgeous, I was speechless. There’s beauty and gold everywhere!!
At one point I passed an area with books on a shelf. There was one book that was crooked for some reason and I wanted so badly to straighten it out but I couldn’t get to it because it was roped off.
Why have the staff not straightened it out? Did a deity of some sort move that book out-of-place? Is that why no one will touch it? Oh, it was driving me mad!
When I was ready to go back “home” to my hotel, I stood at a bus stop waiting for the #54 city bus to take me back to the bus station so I could catch a charter bus back to Dubai.
I got onto the city bus and after a 30-minute ride of seeing sights that I clearly did NOT remember seeing when I was on the bus coming out to the mosque, I got up and asked the bus driver where the bus station was. He told me I needed to be on the other side of the street headed the opposite direction. REALLY?!! After a 30-minute ride?! O-m-g.
But because the charter bus leaves every hour from the bus station, I was in a hurry to catch the next one back to Dubai—so I couldn’t afford to wait around on the next city bus to come by. I hailed a cab instead and got to the bus station in no time.
With 10 minutes to spare, I bought a ticket, hopped on the bus, and was headed back to Dubai. Relieved!
But, of course, I get off the charter bus in Dubai at the wrong location and couldn’t find a cab anywhere in sight. I texted one of the guys I met in Dubai and told him I was lost in Dubai “somewhere” and then—as luck would have it—my cell phone battery completely dies in mid-conversation with him at that very moment. Nice! So I decided to walk a little ways down the street and, after a few long minutes, I finally saw a cab to take me back to my hotel. YAY!
Oh the joys of getting lost in the Middle East by yourself. Now on to my next adventure!
So, if you have nothing else to do today, enjoy the beauty of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in all its crystal and gold.
Take-Away Life Lesson: When you’re used to your home country’s “ways”, it can be a shock to your system if you’re not prepared for a foreign country’s “ways” of doing things—especially when you clearly didn’t give yourself time to do the research. You just kind of learn as you go along.