Yesterday I got on plane (yes another one) and headed south east for a week of wallowing in Abu Dhabi.
Abu where (or why) many of you may be saying.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, a tiny country near the tip of the Arabian peninsula overlooking the Persian Gulf. It is a little under 8 hours flight time away from London and as to what I'm doing here, at this time of year day time temperatures average between 28-30C, I am in serious need of some sunbeams and there was a ripper of a deal.
So enough of the background. Let's get to the point of my story.
I arrived last night at around 9pm and after making my way though the cacophony of the terminal and spending more than an hour shuffling with the rest of the queue through passport control, I found my 'pre-booked transfer' man and was duly on my way to the hotel in the lovely leather back seat of a white Audi. With a driver that sensed I was too tired to chat.
A little thing, but nonetheless appreciated.
My room is lovely and spacious - on the 7th floor overlooking the lights (at night) and the white sands of the private beach (during the day). The Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri is a 4 star hotel and yet there is a robe, slippers, a gigantic bed with an assortment of pillows and a fully equipped bathroom: when I say fully equipped I mean not just the requisite toilet and basin but also a bidet, a big bath and a separate shower (not a shower over a bath).
I also found two complimentary bottles of water on the bedside table - these are rarely complimentary or offered (versus being asked for) in multiples - and there are both English (3-prong) and European (2-pin) plugs in the room.
A further 3 bottles of water have been left in my room today. Oh and the wi-fi is everywhere, fast and completely free.
Such small attentive details create such lovely looked-after moments, don't they?
After the haunting sounds of the Muslim call to prayer echoed across the hazy dawn sky this morning, it was off to explore the breakfast buffet and not only did I have a delicious, freshly cooked omelet but there was also turkey bacon. Yes turkey bacon - these things are of great significance when you don't eat red meat. I do have turkey bacon at home but have not seen it anywhere on my travels so this was such a rare and happy find.
A post-breakfast stroll along the paved and scrupulously tidy boardwalk took me past several of the Shangri-La residences in the complex, the marina and into the souk. I'll wander in the other direction tomorrow - apparently there's a day spa nearby.
And then it was time to hit the beach. Free water (another 2 bottles) in a little esky was duly delivered along with 2 big towels to my sunlounger of choice. A further and even larger towel was wrapped over the mattress with the offer to replace this later in the afternoon. And I was about 10 steps away from a cooling, salty swim.
Little things people, it takes such little things to make me happy.
I can hear the wailing call to prayer as I sit here wrapped in my borrowed robe typing away. The lights are appearing in the dark night sky and with Day 1 under my belt, I'm already feeling loose-limbed, sunkissed and deliciously relaxed.
As-salamu alaykum (السلام عليكم) is the traditional Arabic greeting here and while it is used as 'hello', it actually translates as 'peace be upon you'. And I can confirm peeps that yes, peace is definitely what is happening up here on the 7th floor.
I can see nothing for it but to repeat the whole luscious process tomorrow.
(See you soon...)