Tuesday, February 26, 2008

weekend get-away

the morning after v-day, we went off to our road trip to Al Ain. to entertain ourselves, we sang Coldplay, Matchbox Twenty and Linkin Park songs while on the road. it sounds so unromantic, but yeah, we did belt out some rock tunes to keep us awake during the long drive. it’s about 140 kms. away from where we live, so just imagine our boredom, especially Ryan who was driving our car in cruise control the whole time.

my driver

you know that you’re in Al Ain when you begin to see red sand dunes and rock formations as huge as mountains that are similar to the ones in Roswell, New Mexico. by the time we got to the town centre, it was already 11:00 am. our first stop was the Al Ain Zoo since the last time we went there, the cat house was already closed for viewing. i know, i know…going to a zoo doesn’t sound so fitting when you want a romantic weekend getaway. but it’s just that it’s on the way to where we were headed to so we decided to make a pit stop. besides, Al Ain Zoo is one of the most popular places to see in Al Ain since it doesn’t only have an African Safari feel to the place, but it also is a beautiful park where families could just relax and have picnics. in fact, we had lunch at their glass pavilion that has a fastfood outlet, so while having our leisurely break, we got to watch kids run around the huge lawn and play in the fountain.

chow time

Al Ain Zoo is not the typical zoo we’re used to. it’s a conservation zoo, so their animals are not locked up in cramped cages, and they look like they’re treated well and fed properly. in fact, these animals, even the not so endangered ones, are kept in an enclosure that is similar, if not close to their natural habitat. some animals have cages that surround them, while others have fibre glass to encircle them. their huge space enable them to freely roam around.

as you walk past the entrance, you’ll find a small lagoon on your right side where pink flamingos gracefully wade their way through the water. and when you stroll past the other pens, their structure would remind you of bedrock, and would even prompt you to subconsciously imagine Fred Flintstone sitting on one of the boulders :D

our favorite part of the tour to the zoo was the visit to the cat’s house where the lions, tigers, pumas, black and spotted leopards, and the jaguars were kept. i know that chimpanzees do not belong to the cat family, but they do have a special spot in the cat’s house, as well. tall posts with ropes and ladders were made for these human-loving creatures who enjoy being looked at. they’re not exactly adorable to my taste, but i have to admit they could be cute & funny in their own way.

chimpanzee in action

endangered bengal tiger

the lioness

Timone, is that you?

pumas in waiting

after spending about three hours in the zoo exploring every area of it (yes, it is that huge!), we worked our way to Jebel Hafeet to see the much talked-about Green Mubazarrah. surprisingly, it didn’t take us much time to find the place. my instincts were pretty much intact that day, and despite the fact that my last visit to Jebel Hafeet was more than 2 years ago, i managed to remember how to get there. i guess i’m just plain gifted when it comes to directions :)

as soon as we disembarked from the car to enjoy the scenery, we couldn’t help but wonder how such lush greenery could possibly grow on rock formations right smack in the middle of nowhere. it was a refreshing sight! we welcomed the change of atmosphere.

me trying to be cute...haha!

the greens

view from afar

after surveying the area and taking some photos, we proceeded to our final stop: the Mercure Grand Hotel. we checked in at half past 3 pm, and was given a room with a breath taking view of the Green Mubazzarah and the hotel’s recreation area.

the road to relaxation

the view from our room

the weather was great up in the mountain – not too warm, and not too cold either. i didn’t realize it would be that nice that i regretted tossing out my swimwear from our luggage while packing our stuff the night before. the pool was too tempting so i ended up buying a swimsuit from the hotel’s gift shop. good thing they were selling O'Neill items, so i was able to snag a pretty-looking swimsuit in black and white hues. a lot cheaper if bought from Beyond The Beach, but i had to settle for it. at least it’s something i can wear again.

we rested for about an hour and walked towards the pool just before sundown. hubby took a few photos of the area as i swam for about an hour, and then headed back to our room again to quickly shower and change for dinner. we grabbed a quick bite at the Orient Café in the lobby, and thereafter took a quick peek at the viewing deck overlooking the sights and lights of Eastern Abu Dhabi. it was chilly in the evening, so we decided to just hang out in our room instead and watch more TV. yup, telly watching with bubble bath as a night cap.

me & hubby

overlooking Al Ain

the following morning, we woke up to the usual gorgeous sunshine of the UAE. we had a hearty buffet breakfast at The Belvedere and stuffed ourselves like turkeys with cold cuts, breads, sausages, hash browns and fruits. after breakfast, we played a round of mini golf where hubby won by two points. (he just luckily got past the “volcano” hole without any glitch!)

at the hotel lobby

the winning shot

at around 2:00 pm, we checked out from the hotel and maneuvered back home fully content of how we spent our weekend. more importantly, hubby enjoyed his gift immensely, and wouldn’t stop thanking me for the trip! :D


vanniedosa said...

wow, your pictures looks great. very nice place. thanks for sharing!

thea said...

woah! sarap nmn ng bakasyon. :)

btw, for you:

Big Eyed Gal said...

Hi! Just hopping by... Love the animal pix... Parang sa Flintstones yung mga rocks. :-)

Coriander Dreams said...

Sobrang ganda naman ng view from your room! :) Must have looked magical at night! :)