Friday, January 20, 2012

Emirates National Auto Museum

Out in the middle of the desert, is a giant metal and fiberglass pyramid known as the Emirates National Auto Museum. The pyramid shaped building houses the personal car collection of Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nayhan (The Rainbow Shiekh). Sheikh Hamad is the same person that carved his name into his private island off the coast of Abu Dhabi in letters two miles across and visible from space.

His collection of over 200 cars varies from the luxurious to the bizarre to the completely custom. The crown jewel of the collection is a 1950's Dodge Power Wagon that is 8 times the size of the original. The Dodge is so large that there is a 4 bedroom apartment inside the cab and truck bed.

The Sheikh got his nickname from his love of bright colors and penchant to paint rainbows on his cars.  In 1983 he acquired seven Mercedes 500 SEL, one for each day of the week, which the firm Styling Garage in Germany painted in the colors of the rainbow, complete with matching interior. The vehicles also included gun racks on the inside of the boot lid which held several M16 rifles. The guns were also painted to match the cars.

The museum is such an odity that it's a must see.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Holidays - 2011

Oh my! What a whirlwind adventure this year's holidays were. After recovering from Cheryl and Kip's visit, we had a fun filled week celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve in true Abu Dhabi fashion.

On Christmas Eve we spent the day at the Monte Carlo Beach Club drinking champagne and swimming in the heated pool, then went home, made chili and Christmas cookies, cranked the AC down real low, and watched Love Actually under the blankets with a bottle of wine. On Christmas day we woke up and opened presents from Brian's Mom, gave each of the fur kids presents and a Christmas breakfast, then drove to Dubai to do a little Christmas shopping for gifts to ourselves. We took a little break from shopping to have lunch at the Armani Hotel on the 122nd Floor of the Burj Khalifia, then hit the stores again for a second round of shopping. Afterwards, we drove back to Abu Dhabi and had Christmas dinner at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse (the best restaurant in the world).

New Year's Eve was the best night out ever! We started with some champagne at a friend's house, then went to the Coldplay concert, where we had VIP tables overlooking the stage. Not really a table, per se, but a series of white leather sofas on a platform raised above the other 25,000 people in the crowd. Our "table" came complete with our own personal bartender and servers. It was like no other concert experience we've ever had. Then, Gwyneth Paltrow walked by and sat down at the table next to us. Yeah, that's right, we spent New Year's Eve with Gwyneth (not really, but that's what we like to believe). After the concert and after the midnight fireworks, we walked next door to the marina and boarded a boat that we had hired to take us by water to Emirates Palace, thus avoiding all the traffic and chaos. At the Etoiles Nightclub in Emirates Palace, we had a private table, more champagne, and another personal bartender. Then the party really got started around 1 AM when Jeremih came on stage. The rest of the night is a total blur, so don't ask.

Bugatti Veyron

A VIP parking space @ Emirates Palace fitting for a car that costs $2.2 million.

Kip and Cheryl's Abu Dhabi Adventure

After what will forever be known as the Worst Flight Ever (44 hours, 4 airlines, 5 layovers, and 4 lost suitcases), Brian's Mom and her husband Kip finally made it to Abu Dhabi for a short visit. And after they got over the jet lag, stress, and into their summer clothes, they started to finally enjoy everything that the Middle East has to offer.