-Was taken by how peaceful and large the landscaped inner grounds (surrounded by a high wall and inaccessible except through a triple-reinforced indoor security station) are, especially now that it's nice outside. Of course, it also means that anyone from the second floor or higher has an unobstructed view of anyone below, but I didn't think too much about that.
A trapezoidal monument to freedom.
-Almost saw my hearing aids confiscated. I had to explain several times that no, I wasn't deaf--no matter what Mrs. Blog might say--but that I could hear much better with them. Eventually they relented.
-Saw only two firearms, both carried by UAE military personnel, both outside in the parking lot. Nary a Marine in sight. All the internal security was through a private firm that was, I would estimate, about 100 times more professional and efficient than what you usually see in this country.
-Had an almost overwhelming urge to ask every American accent I met where they were from. It was like, "Hey, so you wound up in Abu Dhabi too, huh? What's your story?" Of course, the answer would be something like, "I work for the embassy, dumbass," so probably not the best way to phrase that question.
In the end, I was in and out in less than a half-hour, and the biggest hassle was the hearing aid issue. The place is impressively bulletproof and the staff is pleasant. I never thought I would say this, but HSBC, take note--the U.S. government is more efficient than you are.