Where to begin 😃😃
Al Ain (The Spring in Arabic)- you now know where it is😃- so what’s to do there?
Plenty as it turns out.
A lovely fruit and yogurt breakfast started the day which saw us driving up to Jebel Hafeet.
Al Ain is flat, desert scrubland with these sudden dramatic protruding ‘mountains’. Except mountains is not the correct word – extrusions is perhaps a better description. I am trying to discover their origins but for that, patience please 😂.
Jebel Hafeet is a short drive south of the city centre along a remarkable double lane highway.
The second highest point in the emirate it is a protrusion that dominates the ‘flatlands’ Complex rocks, with many caves (no we didn’t enter any) and marine fossils apparently easily visible.
A UNESCO Heritage Site, 500 tombs have been uncovered here, dating back 3200-2700BC.
This is the most remarkable road, and reminding me in the scale of the road I had just walked on towards Buckingham Palace : impressive, winding ever upward (1 249m; 4098′) – to, as it turned out, a Palace.
Well no longer a palace for reasons best understood by Sheiks, Sultans, Kings and Queens, a new palace has been built with even better views (?) and perhaps a bigger bathroom or two-it is not for us to know.
The ‘old’ palace is now a hotel, looking out boldly across the city. We looked out more dimly than boldly as there was a definite heat haze blurring our vista.
The coffee was weak and very hot (could have done with it strong and cool😜); the sun forced us to move into the shade and we watched as people lazed around the pool, drank beers (alcohol not served outside hotels), men and women with flesh and tattoos exposed; a definite no no for the emirate people, of whom we saw none up here and for a short stay could have been at any hotel in the western world.
We continued a short way beyond (You could only continue a short way😂) when the road stopped, or rather we were stopped by the entrance to the new palace, from what I could see a masterpiece of modern sleek architecture, curved glass, blending spectacularly into the mountain.
Should I be back, I would like to walk this drive. To savour the views, the colours and textures of the rocks, at a more leisurely pace (albeit with, no doubt bursting lungs and aching legs). There is a cycle race annually here; the hills used for training for hikes and treks, (although I saw no sign while in Al Ain of any physical activity at all – sort of noticeable by its absence)