Thursday, November 11, 2010

You know what really sucks?

Not having a car in the UAE. Yes, we unloaded the Audi--she is now making daily trips between Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the primary commuting vehicle of a co-worker--which means we are on our own for transport around the city.

Now, taxis are cheap. You can get from one end of the island to the other, 20 kilometers or so, for about $8. The same ride in Chicago would cost $30, easily. But they are not always convenient. For instance, if you don't know exactly where you're going, including several nearby landmarks, you're out of luck unless the cab driver is experienced and speaks good English.

Or if you want to just go somewhere non-specific, i.e., "Let's go find a cup of coffee," you're forced to decide on a destination before you head out the door. It takes a lot of the fun and spontaneity out of random weekend drives. And of course road trips become a matter of either renting a car or, if you're going someplace like Dubai, just ponying up Dh250 ($68) for one-way taxi fare.

And that doesn't even count the inconvenience of ordinary errands if you don't live within walking distance of the places you're going. Fortunately, now that it's winter, foot travel is a little easier. So when Mrs Blog heads to the market (and by that I mean the nearest mall), she can hoof it over there through beautiful, scenic Tanker Mai and the greater Al Wahda neighborhood without breaking a sweat.

Getting the groceries back is another issue altogether, although at least the malls have regular taxi stands.

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that:

1) Abu Dhabi is not a pedestrian-friendly city...
2) Taxis are cheap but not always convenient...
3) Re-adjusting to life here is always a bit of an exercise, but it's especially exhausting when you don't have wheels.

So shall we start a petition for the Municipality to start work on the Abu Dhabi Underground?

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