Last week I ticked the Ajman box .... this means that I have managed to visit all 7 Emirates during my stay here.... OK ... so Umm Al Qawain may only have been a trip to Dreamland but it counts!
Ajman was only a fleeting visit for one evening but we packed a lot in. First there was dinner at the Casa Samak almost on the sand at the Coral Beach resort. Unfortunately it was buffet night so the food was rather grim but apparently the normal menu is excellent and as the name suggests fish is a speciality. However I don't really see how it can beat the Al Sheraa fish restaurant in Sharjah which is an absolute treat. I went there with a group of friends after an afternoon at the biennial. There is a menu mostly of fish nobody had ever heard so we ordered a few different kinds which were served whole for everyone to share. They were gorgeous and the shrimp was sublime. If you know what you're doing you can even go and select your own fish. Highly recommended although Coral Beach obviously trumps it on location!
But back to Ajman. After dinner we went for stroll down the corniche which is very lively, full of people (and cruising cars) and real buzz. Then to the huge Ajman Kempinski which is completely over the top and has bizarre rules like not being allowed to go in the sea after sunset even just to paddle! I took off my shoes and made determined moves toward the shore but was stopped by security before the water hit my toes. I loved the geometric parquet in the lobby. This was the first thing I noticed but the next obvious thing was the couple who didn't look like they were married casually waiting for the elevator enroute to a very temporary room rental.
It was another of those great UAE contrasts. From the corniche packed with movement, barbecues and great weekend atmosphere - South Asian bachelors, assorted families and a lot of local families - to the opulence and decadence of the adjacent 5 star. Another lovely anomaly is that the wholesale Al Kahool outlet is right opposite the palace which made me grin. But what was most striking were the Russians. The hotels were full of them and there was even a fur coat shop in the lobby of the Coral Beach resort. Down the main drag there were shop signs in Russian too. There were the usual quota of inebriated Brits who are found anywhere there is an Al Kahool outlet but in Ajmanski they shall be mercilessly crushed by the competition from their Eastern European neighbours....