Staying over night in Abu Dhabi was not part of our plan. We thought about it, but as we were about to be always on the go, visiting several different places, when buying the plane tickets simply chose the best connecting option to Ho Chi Minh City. I was still curious to visit Abu Dhabi but it was not going to be on this trip. At least this is what I thought.
Then, we found out how true is the saying "plans are made to be changed". When arriving for our connecting flight, there was a storm over Abu Dhabi. So the plane had to hold over the city for around 40 minutes. As a result, our flight to HCMC left without us on board. This was the first time in my life I was missing a flight. I got so worried. What do we do now? How do we proceed? What about the plans we've had and other travel options we've booked? I was tired, sleepy, cold (because of the air conditioner at the airport) and there were also so many questions in my head. Their answers were depending on what the airliner would do regarding our case. And in particular, when would departure the flight they would rebook us for.
The airport was chaotic. I had the impression that companies from the UAE work very professional and quite fast, but here I was wrong. I guess, it's not common for them to deal with storms in the desert and flights delayed because of that... Apparently, there was only one direct flight per day to HCMC - the one we've missed. And as far as I understood the flight for the next day was fully booked. So, we had to wait for more than six hours until we got a solution and being able to proceed solving our other issues, caused by the delay. As time was passing even more passengers were coming to the Transfer Desk and the ones already waiting were simply getting more nervous as nothing was done. At the end they found a solution for us. We were rebooked for the same flight on the next day.
When arriving at the hotel the chaos was following us there as well. We were quite fast to check in as I literally run from the shuttle to the reception desk. After we had this task done, it was time to enjoy the few hours we had in Abu Dhabi before going to bed and waking up super early to catch the flight.
We left the hotel and got a taxi straight to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The taxi from downtown Abu Dhabi to the mosque costs around 35 AED and the drive takes around 15 minutes, as it's a bit outside the city. We passed close to it on our way to the hotel from the airport, but when I left the taxi I was stunned. We were hoping that the storm had passed and the sun would find its way through the clouds and we would be able to see it falling down by the mosque's domes and columns. Well, it didn't happen. Instead, it started to rain again short after we've arrived. But the contrast between the exquisite white marble with inlaid colorful, flower-shaped mosaics, and the dark skies was magnificent.
And as the floor got wet it kind of served as a mirror, reflecting the gorgeous architecture of the site.
Still, we were able to witness the twilight around the mosque. It was amazing. It seemed like every picture I was taking was very different from the previous one. The rain stopped for a while so we got out at the gardens around the mosque. The storm still haven't passed completely, as the sky was often filled with lightenings. But the atmosphere was kind of light, as the rain had washed all the tension off my shoulders and I almost forgot how exactly we got there. I still had so many things to deal with like cancelling reservations and buying new tickets, but at that time that was not my priority. As the lightenings were striking not so high above the mosque, I just stood there and watched. The rain was coming back. I started to feel the drops falling over my head and shoulders. I've almost forgotten that I had my phone in my hand, now getting wet. A few moments ago I was trying to capture the contrasting colors of the image in front of me, but then I gave up - decided to just enjoy it only with my eyes instead. The security was calling me to hide from the rain and to go inside. I started to run, but carefully not to stumble in my long robe I was given at the entrance. By the time I got inside, the view of the inside court was even more magnificent. The sky was darker than before and the white marble was looking even brighter than I saw it around 30 minutes ago.
As we've seen the mosque from the outside, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to see it all, so we got inside as well. The colorful, flower-shaped mosaics continued to be part of the scenery on the walls and later on carpets. The chandeliers were also quite colorful and heavy, shining and reflecting their own light.
In the meantime the rain had stopped again. We took a taxi and got back to the hotel. Without even noticing we've spent around 3 hours in the mosque, appreciating its perfection.
It was a truly unforgettable experience.
I guess dreams come true even if you don't cautiously chase them.