Category Archives: Reviews

Arabian Ranches Golf and Nails

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Since TBG was gonna go to the Arabian Ranches Golf Club driving range and hit some balls, I decided to tag along and get my nails done, and enjoy the lovely weather.  Luckily, TheNailSpa salon in the Arabian Ranches Clubhouse had an opening, and I was able to get in to get my raggedy-looking nails done.

The interior was pretty and calm and fairly quiet… my nail technician was quick and efficient and did a nice job.  The chairs were comfy, and futuristic looking.  The pedicure chairs looked particularly inviting.

Furniture here tends to be a bit... um..... extreme.

Furniture here tends to be a bit… um….. extreme.

Don't the pedicure chairs look comfy?

Don’t the pedicure chairs look comfy?

It was odd that the salon supervisor and another woman stood together with a clipboard watching her the entire time she was doing my nails.  Prices here are at a premium, they seem to be between 10 – 15% higher than other places I’ve frequented in Dubai.  And, like most, pressure to purchase additional product was consistent and heavy.  But it is convenient and the quality was good.  Beware of providing your phone number, you’ll be receiving many many many phone calls from them!  If you schedule an appointment, they’ll call back to confirm your appointment.  Then, they’ll call the day before the reconfirm your appointment.  Then, you’ll be called on your appointment day a bit before your appointment time to confirm that you’re coming.  And if you don’t schedule an appointment, you’ll be called to ask why and to ask you to schedule one.  If you’re like me, and on a pre-paid phone system, it’s annoying, to say the least!

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After the bit of pampering, I wandered out to the driving range to watch TBG hit balls for a bit.  Not my norm, but I was “car-less” and he was my chauffeur!  Found some comfy chairs to lie back in and wait for him to tire.  The view was lovely and relaxing, so I never made it to the range, just waited for him on the patio.  This is a bit of what I saw as I relaxed…….

Lovely course.

Lovely course.

Some of the villas are right *on* the golf course.

Some of the villas are right *on* the golf course.

Calm pretty view.  In the desert.

Calm pretty view. In the desert.

comfy place to stash my pocketbook and mickey mouse hat

comfy place to stash my pocketbook and mickey mouse hat

Great place to prop up my fee, huh?  The bottom of the trees appear to have all been trimmed.... wouldn't want to brush up against them, ya know......

Great place to prop up my fee, huh? The bottom of the trees appear to have all been trimmed…. wouldn’t want to brush up against them, ya know……

Not long after I arrived, he came up toting his clubs…. And we headed back to the truck.

And yes, TBG, hauling his clubs.   Says something about good exercise..... I think he's too cheap to tip a caddy!

And yes, TBG, hauling his clubs. Says something about good exercise….. I think he’s too cheap to tip a caddy!

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Now, just take a look at the amazing brickwork here, and the landscaping.  It’s such a beautiful, well-tended place.  Hardly looks like the desert now, does it??  It’s a lovely compound, a gorgeous place to live in Dubai.

The Burj Al Arab (Tower of Arabs) – Video inside

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My friend Koral and I decided we wanted to go to the Burj Al Arab for High Tea.  You know, that big sail-shaped incredible looking building sitting on its very own *island* off the coast of Dubai?  The only 7-star resort in the WORLD??

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Yup, that’s the one.  Now, being a 7-star resort and all, they are not gonna let any ole riff-raff in off the street.  No siree bob.  Shoot, this is a resort that has a fleet of TEN white Rolls Royce Phantoms as their airport transfer cars!  As you approach the causeway to gain access to the resort, you have to have a reservation of some kind, and have your name on the “list” at the guard gate.  Otherwise, you’ll be directed to complete the “drive of shame” – turning around and leaving…… in the direction that’s NOT towards the Burj Al Arab. L  But us?  We had reservations, and our name was on the list, so we were waved on.  Here’s what it looked like as we approached…. And yes, I wish I’d taken our reservation paper off the dash, too, it would have made for *much* nicer photos…..

*sigh*.... isn't it just beautiful??

*sigh*…. isn’t it just beautiful??

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated.  There's also a walkway to the right.

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated. There’s also a walkway to the right.

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn't it?

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn’t it?

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

Before I forget, the website of the architectural firm and designer (Tom Wills-Wright of WS Atkins)that designed this building has some awesome information on it – take a peek if you’re just geeky enough to be curious about whether it’s built on sand or bedrock, and why it was designed to look like a sail, and why it was placed on an island, instead of built on the beach…..and exactly what that “sail” is constructed from and how it stays so clean.    Now the designer also has a personal site which has got some crazy-cool stuff on it as well… don’t miss it!

Oh, and lookie here…. You know TBG is a helicopter pilot right?  GUESS WHAT was on the helipad running as we drove up?  YUP!  A helicopter!  You can *just* see the tip of one of the rotor blades on the helipad hanging off the side of the structure.  We were convinced it would take off as we approached and since Koral’s hubby is a pilot too, we’d have the MOST meaningful photos ever.  So we sorta hung back and drove slowly, and waited and waited….. and it shut down.  *sigh*  Oh well,  we heard it as it ended up taking off while we were inside the hotel lobby.  Made me smile.

See the edge of the helicopter's rotor blade??

See the edge of the helicopter’s rotor blade??

When we drove up, the number of extraordinarily exotic autos was pretty surprising, you’d expect them to all be parked as soon as they arrive – the entrance area is actually quite small for the Burj Al Arab.  You drive up, the valets open your doors, you get out and they drive off.  There are staff members to direct you to wherever you need to go, and will answer any questions you may have.  It’s quite busy, but didn’t seem frantic.  Oh, and there’s a colorful camel just to the side of the entrance which made me smile.  The walls are of glass, and the outdoor columns are pretty cool looking.

Now, something tells me that these are "fire" columns.

Now, something tells me that these are “fire” columns.

The nation's rulers

The nation’s rulers

these portraits flanked the entrance

these portraits flanked the entrance

Ya think it's just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

Ya think it’s just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

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All shiny steel and glass outside.

All shiny steel and glass outside.

cars waiting for their drivers

cars waiting for their drivers

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

looking back towards the beach from the resort

looking back towards the beach from the resort

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

As we entered the lobby through a revolving door, we were greeted by staff members in the most lovely uniforms I’ve ever seen.  Jewel-toned and opulent looking – the costumes truly matched their environment.  They were both warm and welcoming to us, and encouraged us to enjoy their lobby and public areas.  Understand, there truly is VERY LITTLE “public area” in the Burj Al Arab –  the lobby is quite sizeable, and there are beautiful water features with “water snakes” very much like Disney has at Epcot – and there are matching aquariums on either side of the water feature and escalators.  But it’s not huge by any means.  Restaurant entrances are to the left and right, and we were directed to the escalators, across the upper level, and to the elevators for a ride down to the Ground Mezzanine level.   OK….. here are some photos…..

all shiny and bright....

all shiny and bright….

see that red leather sofa?  Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has....

see that red leather sofa? Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has….

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this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby.  Just stunning.

this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby. Just stunning.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level... there's a coffee shop/cafe there.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level… there’s a coffee shop/cafe there.

OK, so we’re still looking around, and starting to look up…. holy cow!

looking up through the atrium

looking up through the atrium

aren't the colors divine?

aren’t the colors divine?

a little closer

a little closer

wow - that's the very top!

wow – that’s the very top!

 

Now, our reservation was for the Asian Afternoon Tea, AED285 per person.  It is served in the Junsui Asian Restaurant,  one of the 9 restaurants in this resort.  It was actually so very cool that I’m gonna write about it separately.  Also, there’s a ton of food porn photos that will go along with it.  <smile>

We took the escalators up to the next floor, past the aquariums on either side, and looking down on the lobby area, it’s pretty interesting looking seeing the carpet and big curvy sofa from this angle….. oh, and here’s what some of the gorgeous insets on the floor down there looked like…..

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors.... of *course* it's gold, silly!

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors…. of *course* it’s gold, silly!

As we stepped off the elevator, the “public areas” were clearly indicated by “no photography” signs towards the open café looking over the lobby from the mezzanine level.  That’s cool – but it was a beautiful looking little café, and I’d like to return to try it.

one of the restaurants

one of the restaurants

Tons more photos of the mezzanine level…..

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The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

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After the escalator ride, there is a quirky little water feature in the center of the walkway, filled with various pieces of glass that looks like sea-glass. But look at what you’re walking on to get there!  Awesome tile work.

Simply stunning tilework here, isn't it?

Simply stunning tilework here, isn’t it?

my favorite water feature - on the mezzanine level.  It reminds me of the "water snakes" I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

my favorite water feature – on the mezzanine level. It reminds me of the “water snakes” I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

My favorite water feature there.... did you go to the designer's website and read about it?

My favorite water feature there…. did you go to the designer’s website and read about it?

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The colors are exactly like the ones in the atrium!

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and look! There’s the water tubes!

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Between the lights and the water, I was mesmerized

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Just too pretty to stop taking photos, right??

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Tiny little loose pieces of glass

 

The colors and placement exactly mimic the coloring of the atrium area when you look upwards…. Now this thing was designed to shoot water up 50 meters!  I read about it on the designer’s website.  Really cool and entertaining….I think I have a video of it!

Now, if I remember correctly, I saw a TV special about the design and building of this tallest hotel in the world – the atrium inside – the room walls, not the sail part – was originally white, stark white.  And when HH visited, he asked for more color.  Or I could be making that part up, but it seems like I remember it…….

We crossed past the water feature, and passed by some very luxurious-looking shops to where the bank of elevators is located.  All mirrored and shiny, this was beautiful.

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Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Well *certainly* there's a Rodeo Drive here.... sheesh!

Well *certainly* there’s a Rodeo Drive here…. sheesh!

 

At the far end, there was a woman behind a desk in a cordoned-off area.  I asked her what that area was, and she said “private elevators”.

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Snuck a peek out of the window in the "private elevator" area.

Snuck a peek out of the window in the “private elevator” area.

Lovely glass sculpture/laser rendition of the hotel was enclosed in glass….. I tried to capture it in photos, but it was tough.  Pretty interesting looking though.

Side view of the crystal replica

Side view of the crystal replica

Swavroski crystal Burj al Arab.  Mercy!

Swarovski crystal Burj al Arab. Mercy!

Donated by Mr. Swarvoski.  Frankly, I didn't actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swavroski.

Donated by Mr. Swarovski. Frankly, I didn’t actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swarovski.

OK, our elevator’s here, and Koral and I are headed to the Junsui restaurant for our Asian tea!

Just so you know, a one night advance booking for a one-bedroom suite here (least expensive room) will set you back a cool $1951 USD  non-refundable and payable in full at the time of booking.  But included in that price is the following

“• Personalized butler service. • Sumptuous breakfast buffet for two in the privacy of your suite, Junsui or Bab Al Yam Restaurants. • Full range of Hermes luxury amenities for her and him. • One complimentary bottle of red wine or Bateel juice on arrival. • Complimentary in-suite tea and coffee facilities. • Fresh fruits, Arabic desserts and dates. • Complimentary internet access (Wi-Fi). • Unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park”

For me?  Not likely that I’ll ever spend a night here, but my experience there was certainly fun, entertaining, and a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Hope you have enjoyed seeing it as I did!

Truly Grand

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The Grand Mosque, that is.  Its official name is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  We were invited to a reception recently in the nearby UAE capital city of Abu Dhabi, and that’s where the Grand Mosque is located.  It’d been on my “must do” list since I read about it, and this was an excellent opportunity to visit.

Muslim mosques are not generally open to the public, there are only two in the area available to visitors, this one and the Grand Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai.  Tours are at no cost, but only available at certain times and days, I was thrilled that this time would work out for us to visit.

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I was definitely impressed as I approached this mosque.

TBG as we approached the Mosque.  I think even *he* was a bit impressed!

TBG as we approached the Mosque. I think even *he* was a bit impressed!

Upon entering, there are signs describing appropriate clothing.  There are people that will let you know if your attire is not appropriate, and will either direct you to the exit or to borrow appropriate clothing.

This sign was outside the main entrance - pretty clear depictions of what is and is not considered appropriate.

This sign was outside the main entrance – pretty clear depictions of what is and is not considered appropriate.

My clothing was modest and passed the inspection, and my pashmina shawl was perfectly acceptable as a shayla (headscarf), but I feared with the wind that it would blow it away, and that would have been disrespectful, so I opted for a loaner abaya (traditional black robe) which provided the appropriate coverage without worry of the wind rearranging it.

We noticed a man in a white kandura close to the entrance and there was a large group of people forming around him.  I assumed that he was one of the tour guides, and he was – you just find a group and join in.  He started telling us about the outer areas of the Grand Mosque, the walkways, the spires and minarets and domes,  the columns, floors, it’s all pretty elaborate.  And the floors of the exterior area are made of white marble which helps keep them cool in the summer’s scorching heat.

It was not until a month or so later that I discovered that the gent who was our guide was actually a local celebrity, Ali Al Saloom, aka “Ask Ali”.  This gent provides a local outlook on Arabic heritage, culture, customs and the history of the United Arab Emirates.  He’s not only informative, but manages to pass on a ton of information in a short period of time, and intersperses the delivery with humor.  A winning combination!  He also writes a regular feature column in the local newspaper, The National.  We were very fortunate to land in his tour group.

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The columns are inlaid with semi-precious stones, and they are so well-made that you can barely feel seams where the materials join together.   And there are over a thousand of them!

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Inside the minarets, there are scriptures inscribed from the Holy Quran, each in a different calligraphy style. Some styles are so very elaborate that they’re an art form on their own, and extremely difficult to read.

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The floors in the courtyard area are all inlaid white marble.  White because it reflects the sun and stays cooler to walk (or kneel) on.  But look at the elaborate inset bits that are formed into amazing flowers!  And look at the sheer SIZE of the courtyard area!  It houses worshippers in the event that the prayer room or reception room is full….

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Then, just before you go through these arched doorways with their beautiful glass-work, you’ll remove your shoes, and place them in the shelves provided.  Everyone that enters the mosque must remove their shoes.

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Inside, there’s a large reception area, with one of the most lovely chandeliers I’ve ever seen.  They’re actually gilded in 24 karat gold!

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The entire room was bright and felt welcoming.  The vining flowers on the walls are a work in relief, and they’re pretty amazing.  Everywhere I went, I was so impressed by the amount of work and planning (10 years!) that went into this facility, and couldn’t stop touching the work that had been done.  The hall off to the right side was generally used for the women’s prayers.  They separate men and women here during prayer times because the Holy Quran bids worshippers to pray “shoulder to shoulder and feet to feet” – this connection confirms their solidarity as well as causes them to focus more on their prayers.  If women and men prayed together, it would be seen as a distraction.  This information came from our guide.  Interesting.

A short walk further and we were in the main worship room of this mosque, and please understand when I say that it was truly *magnificent* – that is such a small word to describe this space!  Ornate beyond belief, quiet, with a feeling of reverence enveloping us as soon as we all walked, barefoot, inside.  And the only photo I snapped of TBG and I inside…. sorry it’s so blurry!

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There is the most amazing carpet in the main prayer room – it is the largest single hand-knotted carpet in the world.  Look at how vivid the colors are!

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It took a group of over 1300 Iranian craftspersons to make it, and it was brought in pieces to the mosque and re-assembled.   This wool and cotton carpet has lines shaved into it, you can see them here….

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The purpose of these lines is to help  “line up” up the worshippers.  You see, this mosque can accommodate over 40,000 worshippers at once, and having them line up provides the highest number to be inside at once.

The ceilings, the chandeliers, they’re all so incredible – photos simply don’t do them justice once you’ve actually seen them in person.  The colors, the shimmer, the amazing effort put into the design and construction was simply breathtaking.  Here are some additional photos of the inside of the mosque……

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Our visit managed to overlap both late afternoon and early evening lighting here – it was a truly spectacular view.

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As we left, there was another, less-obvious entrance we passed.  And, as we approached a police car came out, followed by a large SUV with dark windows, and four dark sedans following it at a high rate of speed….. and the SUV had no number on its plate, simply a crown!

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We are assuming that we saw a royal motorcade.  Pretty cool cap to our amazing visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Madinat Jumeirah Souk

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*sigh*…. Where to begin? This is a very picturesque touristy-shopping-eating area inside the Madinat Jumeirah Resort that’s been purpose-built to resemble an old-world souk.  And it kindasorta does, a little bit – but not really. You do have to acknowledge the efforts put into the theming though – again, Disney would be proud!  This is what the approach looks like, and on the right side of that bridge is a *perfect* place for a photo, fast, easy to get to, and never a bad photo.  No one else is gonna be in your shot, either!

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Meandering walkways and canals will eventually lead you to an amphitheater area, as well as some lovely restaurants and cafes. On this early April day, sitting outdoors to enjoy a coffee in the early to late morning would be pleasant. Much later than that and this gal would be searching out some air conditioning.

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moving water makes you feel cool and relaxed, I think

moving water makes you feel cool and relaxed, I think

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There is a scenic sort of a canal that runs around the outside of the area, and small abras will take you from area to area if you’d like – it’s quite a bit of walking! I did take some photos of the area, the shadows and lights make for some interesting patterns.The landscaping is quite lovely, and the grounds of the resort are just beautiful.

framed by a lovely arch, the trees provide privacy and a barrier to the city beyond

framed by a lovely arch, the trees provide privacy and a barrier to the city beyond

light and dark, shadow and sun - we're always looking for one or the other here

light and dark, shadow and sun – we’re always looking for one or the other here

loving the pergola and shadows here

loving the pergola and shadows here

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shadows and angles

shadows and angles

beautiful landscaping all around

beautiful landscaping all around

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Around the grounds here there are some awesome photo opportunities, and we took advantage of all of them, I think. There are some cute decorative items all throughout the souk areas and the restaurants have some wonderful “local flavor” built in, too.

me standing in front of the ampitheater area - it's quite large!

me standing in front of the ampitheater area – it’s quite large!

and yet another photo op

and yet another photo op

just stand in front of just about any place here, and the photo is really pretty!

just stand in front of just about any place here, and the photo is really pretty!

outside one of the restaurants

outside one of the restaurants

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This is what they look like during the holidays, quite crowded and decorated.

 

inside the dark cool souk.  And I've also noticed it spelled souq.

inside the dark cool souk. And I’ve also noticed it spelled souq.

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This is a favorite photo – it captured both the top of the Burj Al Arab, plus the wind towers on “old” buildings…. they actually funnel the wind blowing and acted as early air conditioners!

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So, if you’re exploring Dubai and looking for some afternoon shady entertainment – this is your spot. Take some money, check for vouchers from the Entertainer or Big Bus Tour books, have a late lunch and snag some memorable photos before you leave.

Al Ain Zoo – I fed a giraffe!

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OK, so…. this is the part I’m excited about, and you’ll read about in a bit…..

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Al Ain is another town about two hours’ drive from Dubai, it’s a much smaller town, and from everyone’s description of it, I imagined it to be a sort of Podunk kind of place small, not much to it, you know?  Boy, was I wrong AGAIN.

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It sits on the border of Oman, and is built around seven oasis areas.  It’s referred to as the Garden City or Oasis of the Emirates and is a very fertile area, we saw tons of small family gardens all along the way.

The drive there was as uneventful as any drive in the UAE is – you just learn to roll with the lunacy and keep your insurance paid.  I did get to see the difference in the sand in the various desert areas, though.  Here around Dubai it seems mostly white-ish sands, and khaki colors.  But further into the desert, it turns red because of the iron oxide content – kind of like Alabama red clay.  Interesting.

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Filled with incredibly ornate villas/mansions, the drive to the zoo had my head swiveling around like an owl’s.  I looked ahead through the haze and said to TBG “So, honey, does Al Ain have mountains, or are those clouds ahead or what?”  He hesitated a second, looked at me funny and said “Mountains.”    And after a bit of googling, they’re the Al Hijr al Gharbi mountains to be exact.  But the one we were seeing is called Jebel Hafeet and it is the tallest mountain in the UAE at 1340 meters high.  It straddles the Al Ain city and Oman borders.  Here’s  photos taken on our drive in through a  desert area I’d not seen yet as well as some of the homes, and scenery.

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I had asked some of my “imaginary friends” on a local website about any tips they may have for me during my first trip to this zoo…. They all said “go early, wear comfy shoes, sunscreen and take a picnic lunch”.  They were exactly right, except for one tiny detail….. a big sun hat!  TBG reminded me just as we were walking out the door, and I’m grateful he reminded me of that – it was a lifesaver!

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This is the entrance sign, and area right inside the “gate”…. You go to a window on either side, pay for your tickets, and go to the turnstiles.  Of course, you can’t possibly scan your *own* ticket, so there’s a guy there to scan it for you and then hand it back.  ??  Anyway, it’s only about AED15 each to get in, a big bargain, for sure.

And then?  The animals begin….. enjoy!  (I think the meerkats are one of my favorites – they posed for me.)

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Look at these guys.... they're learning to fight to get the girls!

Look at these guys…. they’re learning to fight to get the girls!

Pink Flamingoes - they look kinda peachy-colored here, but in the shade???

Pink Flamingoes – they look kinda peachy-colored here, but in the shade???

In the shade they're pink as can be!

In the shade they’re pink as can be!

cute metal sculpture of a zebra

cute metal sculpture of a zebra

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Desert Dogs.  Doing what all dogs do in the heat of the day.... they sleep.

Desert Dogs. Doing what all dogs do in the heat of the day…. they sleep.

Now, aren't these just the cutest critters?  Meerkats!

Now, aren’t these just the cutest critters? Meerkats!

They remind me of prairie dogs.... but smaller.

They remind me of prairie dogs…. but smaller.

Meerkats are very social critters... they love being around other meerkats!

Meerkats are very social critters… they love being around other meerkats!

And this guy just flat-out sat down and posed for me..... waited for me to take his photo!

And this guy just flat-out sat down and posed for me….. waited for me to take his photo!

Sleeping dogs.

Sleeping dogs.

This is where the White Tiger lives!

This is where the White Tiger lives!

Hey!  He was awake!  Awesome looking critter, isn't he??

Hey! He was awake! Awesome looking critter, isn’t he??

But, by far, my favorite part of this excursion was definitely getting to feed the giraffes!  There’s a fairly mundane-looking sign that says “giraffe feeding station” and I made a beeline for it…. Walked up the ramp to the GIRAFFES!  Well, after I stopped at the lady’s kiosk and paid my AED30 for a cup of carrots to feed them… and washed my hands….

This is the little feeding station at the Al Ain Zoo

This is the little feeding station at the Al Ain Zoo

Listen, till you’ve seen one of these suckers heads coming towards you quickly because they know you have their favorite snack, you don’t really understand how BIG they are!  I had no clue that their heads were almost half the size of my whole body.  Huge.  Really big.  With horns, and eyelashes, and a muzzle that feels like a horse’s – all furry and with long prickly whiskers on it.  And apparently ticklish, because they would always jerk their heads away when I tried to pet their noses.

Oh my gosh... there's one!

Oh my gosh… there’s one!

It's TBG, and he's gonna feed the giraffe???

It’s TBG, and he’s gonna feed the giraffe???

Oh my gosh, he did it!

Oh my gosh, he did it!

They're just so cool looking!

They’re just so cool looking!

Look at their sweet faces!

Look at their sweet faces!

Holy cow - they've got a dang big ole head, now!

Holy cow – they’ve got a dang big ole head, now!

I did get to pet his nose, but not for long.

I did get to pet his nose, but not for long.

"Come here and let me pet you!"

“Come here and let me pet you!”

Awww......how about a carrot?

Awww……how about a carrot?

But they have personality, too…. One was bold, knew exactly how far to lean towards you for photos and carrots.  Another was timid, wanted to get his mouth close, but on *his* side of the fence, and just stick his giraffe-lips and tongue through the fence to get the goodies he smelled….. funny.

He's got that tongue all stuck out, huh?

He’s got that tongue all stuck out, huh?

He's wondering how close he's gonna have to get.....

He’s wondering how close he’s gonna have to get…..

Speaking of giraffe tongues, did y’all know how incredibly flexible they are?  I mean, here comes this big long slimy snail-looking thing out of his mouth, but it’s pointed, and searching gingerly for the carrot he smells…. When the tip of his tongue touches it, he coils his tongue around the carrot in a spiral, like a snake or something…. I never imagined that!  Then, he’ll gently take it from your hand and back away to munch it.  Funny as heck.  I got to scratch one’s neck and jaw for a minute, y’all, it was so cool!

OK, but this is my laaaaassst one!

OK, but this is my laaaaassst one!

There now.... doesn't that feel good??

There now…. doesn’t that feel good??

Oh my goodness!  Who knew they could do this??

Oh my goodness! Who knew they could do this??

Too funny.... he wanted more!

Too funny…. he wanted more!

They have fur that’s almost exactly like a horse’s, or a cow’s….. straight, stiff and soft feeling if you pet it in the direction of growth.  If not, it’s bristly.  Pretty cool.  Oh, and the giraffe toes are just like the camel’s…. only two, poor things.

Yes there were other animals there, a reptile house…..

Outside of the reptile house.

Outside of the reptile house.

A giant tortise.... we got to see them at lunchtime too, and I was surprised at how quickly they can move when there's food involved!

A giant tortise…. we got to see them at lunchtime too, and I was surprised at how quickly they can move when there’s food involved!

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There was an area with the big cats too – white tigers were totally amazing.  I watched them for a long time.

This lion guy was licking his paw - I thought it was such and oddly endearing thing for him to be doing.  Well, at least he wasn't sleeping!

This lion guy was licking his paw – I thought it was such and oddly endearing thing for him to be doing. Well, at least he wasn’t sleeping!

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This is a pacing puma.  Honest.  All he did was pace.  Made me wonder if he was unhappy??

This is a pacing puma. Honest. All he did was pace. Made me wonder if he was unhappy??

And a pretty cool aviary.  That’s the bird house, right?  😉  There were parakeets, parrots, and tons of tiny little finch-like birds…. too cute.  The parrots were paired up, and we’ve seen a number of them flying around in our neighborhood here.  The other day, two of them about maybe…. 16 – 18″ long landed on the upstairs balcony handrail and sat there and screeched and scrawked for a bit, not minding at all that I was there watching them and talking to them!

Bird neighborhood.  Wonder if they like having their houses so close together?

Bird neighborhood. Wonder if they like having their houses so close together?

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Hey now, you're hidden in there pretty well, aren't you?

Hey now, you’re hidden in there pretty well, aren’t you?

The parrot's other friend... hanging upside down from the screen covering the roof of the aviary.

The parrot’s other friend… hanging upside down from the screen covering the roof of the aviary.

Finally managed to snap a photo of one of the parrots - they're such a vivid green.

Finally managed to snap a photo of one of the parrots – they’re such a vivid green.

Looks kinda like one of the US southwest's roadrunners, doesn't it?

Looks kinda like one of the US southwest’s roadrunners, doesn’t it?

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These two doves were building a nest.

These two doves were building a nest.

I forget what these are called, but there's a pair of them that comes to our back sliding glass door.  They're REALLY loud, and will peck at their reflected image in the door.  I have video somewhere I have to dig out.

I forget what these are called, but there’s a pair of them that comes to our back sliding glass door. They’re REALLY loud, and will peck at their reflected image in the door. I have video somewhere I have to dig out.

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This is where the big green parrot *was*..... dang, they're fast.

This is where the big green parrot *was*….. dang, they’re fast.

parakeet gang

parakeet gang

Parakeet gang home

Parakeet gang home

There was also a penguin exhibit…

Penguins.  Sort of an obligatory display..... they were so far away, you couldn't touch them, and we've got Peng-friends already.....lol.

Penguins. Sort of an obligatory display….. they were so far away, you couldn’t touch them, and we’ve got Peng-friends already…..lol.

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This place is really popular with families… you can see people sprawled out all over the grassy lawn areas in the shade…. most brought picnics….

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I’m so glad we went there – it was a really good day.