Abu Dhabi

By Alysha Brilla

When I left Toronto this morning/last night/whenever it was as I've lost all relative sense of time, I was lamenting to my family how nervous I was for the 18 hour flight to Abu Dhabi. I'm not the best at sleeping on airplanes, nor does my propensity for yoga stretching every 20 minutes fare particularly well when I'm confined to the squishy seat of an aircraft and occasional trips to the tiny bathroom.

So, as you can imagine, I was ecstatic when the girl sitting next to me pointed to the screen on the back of the chair ahead of me and showed me "11:45 to Abu Dhabi". Woops. It's only times like these that my remedial high school math education peers its incalculable head.

I'm not sure whether it was my anticipated dread of the long flight, combined with the sudden huge relief that it was almost cut in half, but I can honestly say that it felt like it flew by. No. Pun. Intended.

I flew on Etihad airways; probably one of the best flights I've ever had. (Noting, I bought my ticket with credit card points and it wasn't very expensive even if I had had to pay).

The plane; I don't know it's technical name...like...is it a "757" or a "A180" (again with numbers), but I can tell you it was HUGE. Here is a photo of its engine:

Because we hit the sky just around 10pm, we were served dinner immediately. 
I was soooo happy when I saw that they had Indian food on the menu; both meat and vegetarian options- also prepared Halal. Wine was *free* (can I get a what what).

The movies were plenty and diverse. I watched an Indian movie called "Queen". It's a story of a young woman whose husband cancels the wedding just days before. She's sad. Instead of mulling about, though, she goes on their honeymoon alone- to Amsterdam and Paris and learns more about herself; really comes into her own (which she realizes she wouldn't have been able to done had she married this man). It was a very progressive, feminist film, which I loved. It was also about travelling, so two thumbs up.

Once I arrived to the airport in Abu Dhabi, we took a shuttle from the runway to the building; I saw a very cute baby...baby fever might be the most serious thing I contract on this trip.

This airport is an international HUB. Flights coming and going from every place imaginable; Russia, Los Angeles, Toronto, India, Dubai, Malaysia...you name it. 

The airport here is very clean...I did have to walk through store after store after store to get to my gate. No shortage of corporate shopping here. I didn't really see any 'local vendors', but one doesn't usually see such things in airports, anywhere. I did buy a $7USD croissant. Why? Because I believe croissants illicit the same emotional response in me that, let's say, 'falling in love' would.
Just kidding. Well- I do love croissants, but this one wasn't worth $7. Ok. That's the most I will end up spending on a food item for the rest of my trip. Walking through the airport with my guitar on my back, I did get quite a few stares...

What was very beautiful, though was seeing that there are prayer rooms in this airport. I think this is a brilliant idea. I didn't really inquire if they were suited to/available for all faiths, but it's nice to have a space to settle the mind in between travelling. It's actually a dream of mine to have airports everywhere open up "inclusive prayer/yoga" rooms for those who need to physically, mentally and spiritually re-engergize/re-set themselves while travelling. I know a few airports have yoga spaces. The ones that don't can enjoy strange ol' me breaking it down vinyasa style in the middle of the rows of chairs at my gate.

Now here I sit; at my gate awaiting my flight to India. I can't much describe the excitement I feel. It's an anticipatory joy that over rides any lack of sleep- how can I think of anything else right now?

My heart is absolutely filled to the brim with happiness. I've dreamed of this trip since I was in my early teens and now here we go. Abu Dhabi; your airport is very nice and hopefully I can come visit your city someday. Until then...it's off to India with me.


Alysha Brilla


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