Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Buses, fish and endangered species

On Tuesday we started late as it kept on raining but managed to find a number 34 bus to the bus station after a while for our intended journey to Al Mina where the dhow harbour and various markets were located.

When it rains, it pours
Public transport here is pretty good and essential for Abu Dhabi is well spread out and that doesn't make it an easy city to walk about in.  The bus stop nearby had a decent understandable map that showed the correct way to get to Al Mina.  Number 34 to the bus station and then one of eitther the 9, 56 or 11 to Al Mina.  Trouble was when we made it to the bus station, we discovered it was huge.

Also no local buses stopped there, only the long distance buses that went to Dubai, Al Ain and elsewhere.

A very kind guy asked if we were in trouble and helped us locate a bus stop ... that turned out to be entirely wrong, but another guy did get it right so we hopped the number 11 to Al Mina.

2 dihrams each for bus fare is the equivalent of a bargain.  About 50 cents.  Everything is subsidised here.

The harbour and various markets are really tatty but functional.  The dhows looked as though they had seen better days and it seems a bit of a wonder to think that these boats used to go out in summertime on pearling expeditions when the men would be out on the sea for 120 days at a stretch.  Maybe they were more sturdy than they look.

Not every mosque is as impressive as the Grand Mosque
The fish market was jammed with fish.  Not sure how much of it is endangered though as many sources say that most of the fish varietals around here have been over-fished and when I saw the dozens of huge fish pots outside, I'm not surprised.  These fish pots have been banned in Bermuda for this very reason.

This guy was de-gutting shrimp

Dozens if not hundreds of fish pots
The market is divided between people dressed in blue and those dressed in red.  No women at all unsurprisingly.  Those in blue sold fish whilst those in red were the fish cleaners, de-gutters and de-scalers.

The restaurants in and near the market were pretty scuzzy looking and clearly operated for the local workers and other call in orders.  The map I'd found showed a restaurant that turned out to be closed when we passed there around 12 noon (it was open and thronged by the time we passed going the other way 2+ hours later... I guess lunch time here is later than in the west) but a few doors along we found the Al Mina Fish Restaurant which happily was open.

The restaurant was divided into 2 parts, one part being regular tables and chairs but the other was divided up along traditional lines with patrons sitting on cushions and mats and taking their shoes off to eat.  That side was jammed whilst ours was half empty.

It was an absolute gem.

As it turned out we had the local Haroumi fish (endangered, sorry) deep fried along with tandoori grilled locally caught shrimps.  Just fantastic!

Before we hopped on the bus back to the bus station (and Al Whama Mall) we gave the fruit & veg market and the date market a once over.  All the F&V were imported which was quite disappointing but the date market was enormous and jammed with loads of different types of date... that we'd eaten in the desert a few days earlier.  Still sweet and yummy though.

But I think we nailed the buses though!

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