We arrived at the airport about 3 hours before our departure time (we were supposed to have about 4 hours, but Amtrak was delayed from DC, so it was an hour late when we boarded at BWI), which I expected would be plenty of time. The airport was a madhouse. In particular, the line for Etihad, which we were flying to Nairobi, was ridiculously long and wasn't moving very fast. Turns out that some of the delay was because Etihad attendants were measuring carry on bags. I have never seen this on an international flight, but after watching multiple people trying to get away with 4-5 carry-on bags, I then understood why there was a need to tag carry-on bags. The guy behind us in line explained that because things are so cheap in the USA, people traveling home to the Middle East take as many things as possible and they try to avoid paying extra fees for bags by carrying them on the plane. They must still get away with taking too much on, because Erik and I ended up not getting any overhead bin space on the plane!
|Flying over Saudi Arabia|
We arrived in Abu Dhabi around 7pm local time and our flight for Nairobi did not leave until 2am. Since we had some time, we decided to make the most of it and head out into Abu Dhabi. After doing some searching before we left home, I thought that the best place to visit would be the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Since we are American, we were able to get a free visa on arrival (no paperwork necessary). Immigration was very welcoming and there was no line, so we were out into the warm fresh air within a few minutes. We took a taxi to the mosque, and our friendly driver assured us it would be easy to get a taxi to the airport in a few hours when we were ready to head back.
|Inside Abu Dhabi airport, which was really nice!|
|Blurry picture, but that is me standing at the entrance!|
|Inside the mosque, wearing my borrowed abaya.|
|Awesome corridor view|
|The prayer room is at the far end behind Erik|
|Pretty lights outside the mosque|
The architecture inside the main prayer hall was stunning, as was the attention to detail on every part of the room from the floor to the ceiling!
We spent a few hours at the mosque before heading back to the airport to grab some dinner. If we had a longer layover we would have really enjoyed seeing more of Abu Dhabi. Etihad offers a free shuttle bus to Dubai also, so that could have been an option if we had a day to spend in the area. Lots of flights these days seem to stop in one of those 2 cities in the UAE and we would definitely consider extending our stopover if we happen to fly through the UAE again in the future.
Our next flight was on Kenya Airways, which was not nearly as nice as Etihad, but they still got us safe and sound to Nairobi at 6am, where we would start our African adventures!