Browsing Category

Expat Life

Accommodation Activities Dubai Expat Life Mid-Range Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

Stopping Over in Dubai – A Newbie’s Guide

June 4, 2017

Dubai truly is the epitome of luxury, the cars, the buildings, the hotels and the attractions.  It has so much to offer! If you haven’t visited or you are planning to visit read more to find out how to spend a weekend in Dubai.

Living as an expat in a different country is exciting but just like any other country, you get caught up in daily routines and life in general.  In the end, a lot of things are the same as they would be if I was still living in my home country.  I still spend the last day of the weekend frantically trying to get my lessons planned (only the day has changed from a Sunday to a Saturday), I still spend every day after school battling myself to get to the gym (only now the gym is in my building and I don’t really have any excuse – regardless though, I’m the queen of making them), I still spend the evenings cooking dinner and getting lunch ready for the next day and I still binge watch My Kitchen Rules.

Even though I live in an exciting and exotic location, life still goes on.

Every now and again though, I’m reminded of what an amazing place I do live in.  These moments are sporadic but they energise me and remind me to count my blessings.  In those moments, it strikes me just how lucky I am to be living this awesome life!

Dubai is one of places for me.

Every time we start to approach the Marina area and the high-rises emerge from the plains of sand I think how cool is it that I live in the UAE?!  It’s amazing that in around an hour and half I can drive to Dubai and experience all that this amazing city has to offer – people from all around the world dream of visiting and I’m lucky enough to have it on my doorstep.

Regardless of what brings you to Dubai, whether you live locally or are stopping off on the way somewhere else, this guide is for you.

Have fun, soak it all in and, when you’re done, waive the city goodbye, knowing that in a few years it will look substantially different – there’s nothing quite like it.

What to do in Dubai

Dubai is not short of fantastic things to do.  To some, this city is a shopping paradise but look beneath the surface and you’ll find it’s so much more than that.

The following are just some of my favourite ways to while away the time in this incredible city.

Sightseeing on the Water – Splash Tours

Splash Tours is a fairly new company based out of Dubai Marina that offer jet boat tours around the Palm and Dubai Marina – and man is it fun!  Before embarking on our journey we had imagined a tame, leisurely round-trip sightseeing tour.  The only thing we managed to get right was the round-trip part!

It was a thrilling adventure that had some of our fellow passengers white-knuckling the seats in front of them.  With the boat traveling up to 30 knots (around 55km/h), at times we felt like we were flying through the water.  If this doesn’t sound exhilarating enough, the twists, turns and 360’s definitely got the blood pumping!

The best part?  Not only were we jetting around The Palm but we were soaking up all of the iconic Dubai sights too.  With stops in front of JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence), Atlantis the Palm, and the Burj Al Arab (the first seven star hotel in the world), a speedboat tour from the marina is the perfect way to tick all of your touristy boxes.

Not sure what all the buildings are or have questions along the way?  Don’t worry, they’ll have you covered with their knowledgeable onboard tour guide.  Ours was more than happy to provide us with facts and interesting information along the way – we’ve never had so much fun learning before!

Most importantly, we didn’t feel in danger at any time.  The crew were professional and we felt safe and secure every step of the way.

My only advice, apart from booking this tour immediately, would be apply sunscreen before setting out as the Middle Eastern sun is strong and there isn’t a lot of shade on the boats.

Dubai Museum

Dubai hasn’t always been 100% glitz and glamour – far from it in fact.  To gain an insight into life before the Emirates discovered oil, head to Dubai Museum.  There you’ll develop a surprising understanding of the emirate all housed inside the oldest building in Dubai, Al Fahidi Fort.

The displays recreate the way in which people would have traditionally lived and worked in Dubai and also explore the previous uses of the fort.

It’s informative and interesting to see how Dubai looked before all the high rises – it certainly didn’t always look as it does now!


Dubai is known for its luxurious hotels and expansive shopping malls but to your average person, not so much for its traditional souks.  If you’re visiting this amazing metropolis, you’ll no doubt want a taste of Arabic culture though and there’s no better place to get it than at one of their traditional markets.

Located across from Dubai Museum, you will find the textile souk which is a little like stepping back in time.  This is a great place to pick up presents and souvenirs for your family or just to peruse the colourful and vibrant displays.  The textile souk is still full of fabric shops and tailors ready to create a masterpiece, along with stalls selling beautiful pashminas, bright glass lamps and your typical tourist souvenirs.

Friendly bartering is expected and the way to ensure you get the best bargain.

From the textile souk you can catch a long boat across Dubai Creek (they are frequent, inexpensive and leave once the boat is full).  Once on the other side of the creek, you will find yourself in Deria, the oldest residential area in Dubai.

The short walk from the docks had us questioning if we were still in Dubai!  This is a side to the city that is rarely seen – the buildings are run down, the markets sell various wares (trinkets, school bags, material, abayas and an assortment of goodies) and, unlike in the malls, the shoppers aren’t locals – chances are they’re either tourists or some of the many expats that you will find living and working in Dubai.

After passing the markets crammed with what feels like a thousand different ethnicities and being hounded by the shop assistants to snap up their best deals, you will find yourself at Al Souk Al Kabir.  Here there’s a perfume souk, spice souk and the infamous gold souk, so plenty of opportunities to test out your new-found bartering skills.

Pro tip – if you’re not interested in making a purchase, a friendly but firm la, shukran (no, thank you) will see you left in peace.

While I wasn’t in the market to purchase any jewellery (it was slightly out of my price range) it’s a great way to spend some time  If you are looking for something shiny to take home, you’ll want to note that each jewellery piece has their weight written on the tag – this will determine the price depending on the gold prices for that day.

Burj Khalifa Fountains

A trip to Dubai isn’t complete without a visit to the Dubai fountains!  They put on an incredible show every half hour from 6pm, at which time the fountains burst to life, dancing in time to the booming music.  The tunes normally alternate between English and Arabic.

The back drop of the Burj Kahlifa is nearly as mesmerising as the fountains themselves and it still astounds me how talented the technicians must be who create the sequence and how much time they must put into planning out these phenomenal shows.

The fountains get very busy and, at times, finding a good spot can be challenging, as everyone vies for the prime spot with the Burj Khalifa in the background.

Pro tip – Head into Dubai Mall where on the second floor you will find several restaurants that have fabulous views overlooking the fountains.

Be sure to check out this guide to the Dubai malls so you can decide upon the other malls you’d like to visit during the course of your trip too!


This is one of the favourite past times of western expats living in the UAE and though you may think you know what brunch is, you may just find yourself surprised.  The term brunch is significantly different in the UAE.

Brunch here is an all-you-can-eat affair that lasts for around 4 hours and generally falls only on Friday afternoons (our weekend).  The hotels that host these events are often the epitome of luxury.  The food is  usually so incredible that it’s hard to hold yourself back and with an amazing selection of top-notch international cuisine, why would you?

If you find yourself in Dubai on a Friday I would recommend trying out this favourite past time for yourself.

More Time up your Sleeve?

If you have more time in Dubai there is a plethora of activities for you to explore, including but  by no means limited to the following:

  • No trip to the middle east would be complete without participating in a desert safari, you will find yourself absolutely enthralled or terrified while dune bashing in 4WDs, once at your desert camp you will have the opportunity to dress like the locals while eating Middle Eastern cuisine and participating in whole array of different activities.
  • For nature lovers, check out Green Planet or Miracle Garden – both might take you by surprise within the concrete jungle that Dubai is.
  • If shopping is more you thing (and let’s face it, this is Dubai) check out Dubai Mall (which has a huge aquarium in the middle of the mall), Mall of the Emirates (which also houses an indoor ski slope) and head to Outlet Village to try and get high quality brands at discounted prices.
  • Or for a dose of excitement, there are countless possibilities with Skydive Dubai, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Aquaventure, Wild Wadi Waterpark and Aventura just being the tip of the iceberg.

Getting Around

The fastest and most convenient way to get around Dubai is by taxi.  They are well priced but be sure to enquire if they know how to get to your location before departing – if not try another taxi.

In other parts of the world, it might be surprising to find taxi drivers unsure of their own routes but buildings shoot up so quickly here, roads change in a flash and many taxi drivers are new to the country, so allowances certainly have to be made in the UAE.

Uber is another option but this will be dependent on your internet access in order to book one.  I’ve found Uber to be just as fast and often cheaper so it certainly is a good option.

Whatever you do, try to avoid the unregistered taxis at the airport – jump in one that’s sign written as they’ll always use the meter and you’ll be sure to pay a fair fare.  That is, assuming you picked someone that knows where you’re going.

During peak traffic times, which can be hard work in Dubai, it may be quicker to take the metro.  Dubai Metro is made up of two lines and covers an extensive part of the city.  Make sure you purchase a ticket before boarding as these driverless trains don’t have ticket conductors onboard.

Where to Stay

For this weekend staycation we opted to stay at the Amwaj Rotana.

I have a soft spot for the Rotana brand as on moving to the UAE I was housed in the Park Rotana for just over a month.  It was my first taste of the luxury that you grow accustomed to in the UAE and the customer service blew me away.

I was very eager to find out if the Amwaj Rotana would live up to the exceptional customer service I’ve come to expect from the Rotana brand and they didn’t disappoint.

Location, Location, Location

The Amwaj Rotana is located in the heart of JBR (Jumeriah Beach Residence) which is a stone throw from The Walk – a beautiful part of Dubai.

The Walk is a stunning outdoor area with plenty of al fresco dinning, boutique shopping and a beautiful promenade that has plenty to offer with parks, carnival games, a free public beach and even an outside gym facility.  It’s a great place to spend a day or an evening, provided you don’t start to melt with the heat and humidity that Dubai is known for in the summer months.

Checking out the Amwaj Rotana

Amwaj Rotana was built in 2010 and is one of the largest hotels located in JBR.  It has 301 rooms and suites spread over 25 floors, with each of the modestly decorated rooms being bigger than your standard hotel room.  The enormous beds are so comfortable that you will find it hard to get up in the mornings and, incredibly, every room has a balcony with unobstructed views of the stunning Arabian Gulf and Palm Jumeirah.

The hotel facilities will ensure that you have a memorable stay.  Aside from the standard facilities offered by hotels, the Amwaj also offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to popular shopping malls in Dubai, a car rental service, an on call doctor and a hair and beauty salon.

Recreational activities include a fully equipped gym (with 24 hour access), a jacuzzi, sauna, spa, steam rooms and for the little ones, Flipper’s Kids Club.  My personal favourite was the pool which I was absolutely fell in love with.  Not only was the water perfectly refreshing but with its location on a bridge that spanned the road, you were literally swimming above Dubai’s traffic!

Without doubt though, the highlight of my stay was the level of customer service.  The staff were amazing, so friendly, professional and went above and beyond to make our stay a memorable one.  It was impressive how we were greeted by name everywhere we went in the hotel and in a city as big as Dubai, it’s a small touch like that that makes a hotel feel a little more like home.

How do you really judge a hotel though?  Everyone looks for something different in their perfect stay but I’m a real sucker for hotel slippers.  I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with them – I really need to stop collecting them as I have far too many knocking around home!

The first thing I usually do on arriving at a hotel is locate the complementary slippers, kick of my shoes and slide my tiny feet into them.  For this reason I’ve decided to accompany any accommodation reviews with Sarah’s slipper rating.

With that said, Amwaj Rotana slippers come in at 4 stars (out of 5).  The only factor letting them down is I have tiny feet (UK size 4) so the slippers were swimming on me.

Everything about this hotel hit the spot for us – from the comfortable rooms to the high-pressured showers and everything in between.

Did Someone Say ‘Food’?

Within the Amwaj Rotana, there are plenty of options for fine cuisine.

For our visit, we settled on Rosso, an authentic Italian restaurant.  Being a bit of a foodie, I was very impressed with the menu and the gorgeous outdoor setting, made all the better by a portable air conditioning unit.

Aircon outside – don’t we live in an amazing time?!

The wait staff were attentive, knowledgeable and eager to make sure our evening was one to remember. Their suggestions on what to order were spot on and the only disappointment we experienced all evening was not having enough room for dessert.

To start we shared a traditional antipasto which was absolutely gorgeous and included a selection of Italian pork cold cuts (hard to find in the UAE), mixed grilled vegetables, olives, melon, figs, and bocconcino cheese. This all came accompanied with parmesan, pesto and a scrumptious focaccia.

After our generous starter I was feeling full but with a mushroom and truffle risotto truffle I found it in me to push on through – someone’s got to do it, right?

I love truffles and can’t get enough of this tiny-but-expensive mushroom.  I usually find restaurants to be a bit stingy with the truffle but not in this case!  The risotto was full of rich flavour; it was creamy and cheesy and had truffle mixed throughout the whole dish – not just served on the top as many places do. I would wholeheartedly recommend this dish to anyone dining at Rosso’s.

I can’t wait to head back again to experience their scrumptious food, outstanding service and relaxed setting.

Dubai – Stop Over or Fly Through?

Is Dubai somewhere you should consider visiting?

Absolutely!  Whether you live locally, are on holiday or are making a quick stopover, Dubai has something to offer for everyone. It has glitz and glam that will wow you, inviting beaches, high end shopping and theme parks that rival some of the best in the world.

Above all where else can you experience a modern city with a traditional twist?

It’s a truly vibrant city that knows how to put on a good show!

The best time to visit is in the winter months where you can really experience everything the city has to offer without those hot rays beating you down.

So, next time you are flying through this international hub, think about making a stop to explore fascinating Dubai!  You might just surprise yourself.

Love Dubai enough to stay?  Check out these ten tips that Gabby wish she knew before making the move to Dubai.

Planning a trip to Dubai?  Pin this post!

Dubai: Your guide to the City of the Future. Iconic sight-seeing, delicious food, culture and the best places to stay - if you've never visited the UAE, this guide is for you!Dubai: Your guide to the City of the Future. Iconic sight-seeing, delicious food, culture and the best places to stay - if you've never visited the UAE, this guide is for you!Dubai: Your guide to the City of the Future. Iconic sight-seeing, delicious food, culture and the best places to stay - if you've never visited the UAE, this guide is for you!

Thank you to the Amwaj Rotana and Splash Tours for hosting Sarah for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Abu Dhabi Accommodation Expat Life Luxury Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

A 2.5 Hour Drive from Abu Dhabi but a World Away: Jebel Dhanna’s Beachfront Paradise

February 9, 2017
danat jebel dhanna resort Abu Dhabi review

Only two and a half hours from the buzz of Abu Dhabi City, you’ll find Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort, a welcome reprise from the rush of everyday life.

Located on the shore of the mainland, opposite Sir Bani Yas Island, guests benefit from many of the perks of being near this natural reserve without the often-hefty price tag of the resorts on the island.

We spent a weekend at the Danat Jebel Dhanna and wanted to share our honest thoughts with those of you living in the UAE or planning a visit to Abu Dhabi.  Read on to find out what we thought…

Arriving at Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort

After a comfortable 2.5 hour drive from Abu Dhabi, following the coast West past the sand dunes, we arrived at Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort to begin our weekend of relaxation (and fun!)

As you would expect from a hotel of this calibre, check-in was a breeze and from the moment we arrived until the moment we left the staff greeted us with wide smiles and open arms.  This resort perfectly combines luxury with an unpretentious ease – if you want to dress up, you won’t be out of place but if you’re there to unwind after a busy week, you’ll also feel comfortable walking around in your trackies.

The grounds of the resort are fairly extensive and there’s lots of grass to relax on (a surprisingly significant treat when you live in the desert) along with beautifully maintained gardens.  The star of the Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort is, without doubt, the gorgeous seafront location though – the water was absolutely stunning and calm, both day and night.  It’s there’s an oil refinery that sits out on the horizon but it doesn’t impact the view badly – in fact, seeing it lit up at night, it was surprisinly beautiful out on the water.

Our own Private Oasis

The rooms at Danat Jebel Dhanna are generously sized and all benefit from fantastic views out over the gardens and opposing beach (which genuinely has the clearest, most gorgeous water we’ve seen in the Middle East!)

With plenty of room to lounge, a desk to work from and a beautiful deck, spending time in our room as a pleasure, though I must admit, it was hard dragging ourselves out of the incredibly plush bed each morning – it was definitely up there with some of the best we’ve slept in.

The bathroom was also well-sized and included all of the amenities a guest could need – a shave kit, loofah and moisturiser along with all of the standard inclusions you would expect of a five-star hotel.

danat jebel dhanna resort Abu Dhabi review room

Dining Options at Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort


Serving contemporary Italian fare in an intimate and homely setting we were delighted to find a restaurant serving such delicious food so far out of Abu Dhabi.  We decided on the three course set menu and with complimentary bread and nibbles and large portion sizes, came away very full and very happy!


If you’re looking for a relaxed adults-only spot to enjoy your evening, you’ll want to head to L’Attitude.  Delicious food served pub-style,  a live band (that featured three amazing singers and lots of classic tunes!) and tropical cocktails, we had a great night in there.


Tides is the main restaurant servicing the Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort and it’s open right through the day to ensure nobody goes hungry.

Every morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast which included a wide selection of options at the buffet along with freshly made plates (waffles, pancakes and omelettes anyone?) and for lunch we were pleased to see a range of options including curries, Arabic barbecue, meat cooked to order, salads, soups and much more.

Restaurants in other parts of the world could really learn a thing or two from buffets in the United Arab Emirates – they do them incredibly well!


The best option if you’re looking for a treat in between meals or need a coffee hit.  When the sun goes down, they also serve a full selection of alcoholic drinks – all with views out over the garden – what a spot to relax.

Who is Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort Best Suited For?

Familes with Children

The resort is especially well set up to cater to the needs of families.  With a playground, kids club and a wading pool, there’s plenty to keep the little ones engaged and happy.

Though there’s plenty for kids to do at the hotel we were never once disturbed by them – all of the children there were well-behaved, respectful and well-occupied, making it not only good for families but for anyone planning a getaway.

Those Looking to be Pampered

Nathan loves a good massage and when he comes out saying he’s just had the best massage of his life, you know you’re onto a seriously good thing!  We settled on a Swedish and aromatherapy massage respectively and for an hour let all of our worries melt away (though let’s face it, when your weekends look like this, you don’t have too much to worry about!)

Active Relaxers

If your idea of relaxing involves expelling a little more energy, you’ll have plenty of options at Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort!

Over the course of our visit we jumped onboard their boat to go snorkelling out above their local reef and zipped around on the banana boat (which was really much more of a giant hotdog – fun!).  There’s also a basketball court, tennis and squash courts, volleyball, a swimming pool, kayaks, a full gym and the option of additional motorized watersports (wakeboarding or waterskiing, anyone?)

Would we Recommend Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort?

If we could be there right now, we would be, so yes, we definitely recommend you check this beautiful seaside spot out.  It’s not the newest of hotels but set out of the city, on a stunning beach, with fantastic activity options, tasty food and staff that go above and beyond to make you feel at home, it ticks all of the boxes for us!

Only 2.5 hours drive from Abu Dhabi, we found paradise!

We were guests of Danat Hotels and spent the weekend at the resort for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own and 100% honest.

Europe Expat Life

A Nanny Abroad – What Life’s Really Like as a Nanny in Switzerland

January 21, 2017
Nannying in Switzerland, living abroad

A lot of people think nannying is a glorified title for a babysitter – but with longer hours and slightly better pay. I also subscribed to this notion – that is, until I actually became one myself.

For me, nannying came about after I left a difficult job in Kuwait and found myself floating aimlessly about Europe, reluctant to return home to New Zealand with my tail between my legs.

While eating a sad, slightly soggy egg and bacon sandwich from a gas station in Lisbon one afternoon, I came across an international nannying website. I registered myself, chatted with their recruitment agents, had a few interviews and bam! I was moving to Switzerland in two weeks to start a brand new career.

I could see it all – I would be living in a mansion, looking after two adorably clad children dressed in Armani Kids, sitting watching them splash about in the pool in the sun all day with a cocktail in my hand, a complete Chanel wardrobe at my disposal and a white Range Rover to ferry them about to various equestrian events and etiquette classes.

Fast forward a year and I’m on my way home to New Zealand with fond memories of Switzerland, a penchant for bratwurst and hiking with poles, and a complete H&M wardrobe.

So, you’re thinking about doing the same?

Here’s some advice for anyone thinking about nannying overseas

Kids overseas are not like kids back home in New Zealand.

It’s easy to forget that not all kids play Saturday morning rugby and think that a marmite and chip sarnie is the answer to all of life’s problems. Children in other countries have different interests, different customs, speak different languages and enjoy different foods. Embrace them!

It’s not easy.

Being a nanny is hard work. It’s chaos. It’s even harder when you don’t speak the language, you don’t know how to use a German washing machine, you can’t read the labels on the food in the supermarket, you’re not sure how to walk the dog and you just don’t get what a grittibaenz is.

You’ll need to be extremely independent and resourceful.

Being a nanny will require you to take children to new places, and you’ll have no idea how to get there. You’ll have to drive them to sports lessons in a car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side (FYI – a smart 4×4 rather than the Range Rover I was hoping for). You’ll have to communicate with other parents and children who don’t speak a word of English. Your first full sentence of Swiss-German will probably be something along the lines of, “Sie sind nicht meine Kinder” – 0r, “They aren’t my children” in English.  You’ll probably have to cook weird vegetables that you have literally never heard of before but trust me, you too will become a veggie slinging pro in time. It can be difficult, and you’ll feel completely out of your comfort zone but always remember – Google is your best friend.

Some days, you’ll get homesick and want to quit.

It can be hard when you are in a strange country, your family and friends are back home and it feels like all you see on Facebook are weddings, new babies, parties, grandparents growing older….and it feels like you are missing out. And you may be tempted to trade your morning handful of goldfish crackers for a glass of wine and call it a day. But then someone will wet their pants, or the dog will escape from the back yard, or the fish fingers you were cooking for lunch will start burning – and you’ll be so busy fixing the mess that you’ll forget all about it.

You’ll fall in love.

With the kids, their pets, the way of life….and the country.

A little bit like suddenly deciding to go out for the night (when you’d really planned to stay in and nap), and then having one of the best nights of your life, nannying overseas received little planning, but turned out to be something quite fabulous.

Whether you are considering nannying, teaching, waitressing or working in an office, working overseas is something that will change you forever.

Maybe it’s time you gave it a go?

Nannying in Switzerland ended up being a surprising but fantastic option for Maria.  If you too are considering embarking on your own nannying job abroad, fire your questions down below and she’ll be happy to help!

If you found this post helpful, please pin it so others can find it too.

Maria shares her honest thoughts on the challenges and amazing benefits of nannying abroad in Switzerland. What an adventure!

Dubai Expat Life Luxury Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

How is this my Life? Relaxing at the Waldorf Astoria on the Palm, Dubai

December 14, 2016
waldorf astoria dubai palm jumeirah Privilee review

It’s funny, when we envisaged our lives in Abu Dhabi, we certainly never imagined we’d be rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous out on Dubai’s Palm.  A year on though, we frequently find ourselves enjoying the best pools and beach clubs in the UAE (thanks to Privilee – the best membership around!) and though we haven’t met anyone of mention yet, there’s no doubt it feels like we could!

The Waldorf Astoria is located out on the East Crescent, with views out to the Atlantis, and is home to four pools and a variety of leisure activities.

If you’re there to take a dip (as we were) then you can choose from the large family pool, a slightly smaller but peacefully quiet adults only pool and or one of two jacuzzis.  Tennis is also on offer, as are a range of water-sports (including standup paddle boarding and fishing) out on the private beach.

When you’re ready for a bite to eat, you can indulge in plenty of tasty snacks and meals poolside, or head into the restaurants to relax.

We had a fantastic day at the Waldorf Astoria and will certainly be back.  The pools are beautiful, the food tasty and the service great (complimentary bottles of water, fresh, snuggly towels and magazines to read?  Yes please!)

There’s not much they’ve not thought of and we’d highly recommend popping along to the Waldorf Astoria with your Privilee card.

PS: The hotel is currently kitted out in Christmas decorations and wandering into the main lobby instantly perked me up – there’s nothing like a touch of Christmas spirit to get you excited for the coming season!

In the UAE?  Save this post to Pinterest…

Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah Privilee review

Abu Dhabi Activities Dubai Expat Life Luxury Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

The Membership Card You’ll Want to Use: Privilee Review, Abu Dhabi + Dubai

December 10, 2016
The Palace Downtown Dubai Privilee review Burj

Over the years both Nathan and I have signed up to our fair share of memberships – mostly to various gyms, all of which are eventually relinquished due to lack of use.  Privilee is different though… we’ve finally found a membership card that we love using!

What makes this membership so different?  Read on for our Privilee review…

These magic little cards open all sorts of five-star doors for you, granting access to the hottest spots in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  Simply put, it’s an absolute pleasure to use.

A membership with Privilee lets you enjoy unlimited access to beach clubs, spas, gyms and sports facilities at some of Abu Dhabi’s and Dubai’s leading hotels and resorts, along with special deals and discounts at a wide selection of award-winning restaurants and bars.

With our leisure membership cards in hand, we can enjoy dozens of five-star hotel pools and beaches whilst receiving discounts at their hotels and bars.  At the end of a busy week, we really look forward to getting comfy on a sun lounger and swapping between a good book and refreshing dips in the pool.

For those of you who are looking to burn off a few more calories, there are plenty of gyms and exercise classes that are included in the membership, along with the use of tennis and squash courts.

If you’re wanting to relax even more, discounts for spa treatments are included in the card and I don’t doubt for a second that they would be glorious!

When you factor in what it would cost to visit one of these hotels or beach clubs on a Friday or Saturday (for those of you not in the UAE, those are our weekend days), the monthly membership more than pays for itself.  We love that having it gives us a little push to head out for a day of relaxation in the sun and with three visits under our belt, it’s already helped us to see more of the UAE.

The service at each of the hotels/clubs that we have visited has been top-notch, with staff being professional but approachable – exactly what we’re after on a day out.

The team at Privilee are on top of their game too, ready to help you with all the information you’ll need to make the most of your membership without any downtime.

The best part of the membership though?  Undoubtedly the amazing spots we’ve had the pleasure of spending time at and the knowledge that there are more to come.

Do your weekends look as good as ours?

Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah

The Palace Downtown Dubai

Saadiyat Beach Club, Abu Dhabi

Turn every weekend into a five-star beach getaway. Fill your days with family fun in the sun, water sports and poolside lounging, energising workouts, pampering spa breaks and award-winning dining experiences. Do whatever you want, when you want.

We love watching emails pop up, sharing with us the newest hotels and beach clubs to come onboard with Privilee!  If you’re an expat living in the UAE, we’d definitely suggest signing up – those little emails will come to be the amongst the highlights of your week.  That is, until you get to the weekend and can head out to the pool!

Abu Dhabi Dubai Beach Pool Club Privilee review membership

Privilee currently have the following properties on their books, with more being added each week:

Fairmont The Palm • Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa • The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina • Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina • Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club • RIVA Beach Club • Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights • Media One Hotel • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai Jumeirah Beach • Shangri-La Hotel • Conrad Dubai • The Address Dubai Marina • InterContinental Dubai Marina • Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah • Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah • Sofitel The Palm Beach Resort & Spa • The Palace Downtown Dubai • The St. Regis Abu Dhabi • Saadiyat Beach Club • The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

Our Privilee review was made possible thanks to their generous support. We highly recommend their membership programme to beach and pool bunnies and anyone looking to unwind in the UAE (which is everyone, surely?)  As always, all thoughts are our own.

If you do decide to join the Privilee family, we’d love it if you’d use the links above.  Doing so will let us enjoy another month of pool-side fun at no extra cost to you.

Expat Life

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Go Home?

November 28, 2016
Expat Abu Dhabi Teaching

What do you do when your heart and head both pull you in different directions?  What happens when you’re not ready for your adventure to be over but it’s not quite as simple as continuing on without consequence?

Though we’ve been here in Abu Dhabi for a little over a year and three months, today my school requested for us to inform them of our intentions for the end of the academic year.  Initially we signed a two year contract with the agreement that, though it would be great to have the option of staying for more than two years should we choose, that we would also go home if required.

Why would anyone be ‘required’ back home?  We’re both blessed and cursed by the lure of the family business (and of course, many other factors that are calling us home).

On one hand, Nathan’s incredibly fortunate to work so closely with his dad, brother and all of the other men in their business.  He has job security that most people only dream of and actively plays a role in something much bigger than either of us.  Working in the family business, from what I’ve seen as an outsider, is incredibly rewarding but, at times, all-consuming.

Every coin has two sides and where, on one hand, you are offered job security, on the other you’re tied into your commitments.  Stepping away from New Zealand has, without doubt, placed pressure on the team left behind – something we’ve both carried a fair bit of guilt over.  Whilst we’ve been off exploring, the team left back home have had to work harder.

But now, as our contract here is coming to a close, are we actually ready to go home?

Is it enough that by then we’ll have had an amazing two years of travel (far beyond I could have ever hoped for) and experienced massive personal growth?  That we’ve made friends with people from all around the world and live within the intricacies of a new culture and religion?

Should we be grateful for the experience and head off home, knowing that we’re incredibly fortunate and richer for being here?  Is it selfish to want to continue on this journey?  To want to see more of the world and to make the most of the financial freedom that we enjoy here in Abu Dhabi?

Of course we miss our family, friends and our cats (more than these words could ever do justice).  I hate missing out on milestones back home – by being here we’ve missed out on kids growing up and celebrations of love (I would have dearly loved to have been at a family wedding just this weekend been).   I miss my old school and our beautifully renovated home that we worked so hard to finish.  I know though, that if we leave, we’ll miss our life here too though…

‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard’ – Winnie the Pooh

That quote meant so much to me at the time of my dad’s passing (I’m tearing up just reading it back) but I think it stands true in this case too.  We’re so fortunate to have left a life in New Zealand that we loved so much and equally fortunate to have built a life (albeit a temporary one) here.

I am grateful and I know how lucky we are to have been given the opportunity to be here but I am also confused about what to do and a little heart-broken at the prospect of it being over, of life returning to normal.

So, what all that said, where to next?  I’m really not sure.

We’ve talked about heading up to Europe for a while to explore from a new base (the most exciting option), about staying put here in Abu Dhabi for another year (which financially makes the most sense) and, of course, we’ve had many discussions about heading home.

People tell me that we’ll know when I’m ready to head home and if we’re not strongly feeling the pull that maybe it’s too soon?  Others have said that there will always be another opportunity to head overseas – to give New Zealand another go and play it by ear.

All I know right now, is that I’m mightily confused.  Still, there are worse things in life than having too many choices.

Abu Dhabi Expat Life Food Middle East United Arab Emirates

U-Turn: An American Diner in The UAE

June 24, 2016

Let me start by saying how much we really love a good burger… our love for burgers is on par with our adoration of the United States and all of their ridiculously delicious (and naughty) food in general!

Imagine our excitement when reviews for U-Turn Diner started popping up all over Facebook – Abu Dhabi’s very own American styled diner.  Now take that level of excitement and turn it up a notch, when not only did we have the chance to visit U-Turn but we were invited to trial their new menu.  The stuff of dreams!

U-Turn opened six months ago and has brought a relaxed and fun atmosphere to Abu Dhabi’s casual dining scene.  In a nod to their American roots, they serve generously sized portions

uturn abu dhabi monster shakesAmazing desert treats seem to be popping up the world over, with one of the biggest trends currently in the form of calorific freak shakes.  We were lucky enough to get our hands on all of the new flavours and they didn’t disappoint.  Choose between:

  • Armadillo (46AED): A caramel chocolate shake, with peanut butter.  Topped with a snickers chocolate bar, M&Ms and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and loaded with chocolate and caramel sauce.
  • Chocolattack (49AED): An oreo choc shake, topped with whipped cream, brownie, muddy chocolate, pretzels and an oreo cookie.
  • Strawberry Fantasia (47AED): A strawberry shake, topped with marshmallows, colourful sprinkles, and a mini cupcake.
  • Cloud Nine (48AED): A strawberry cheesecake shake mix, topped with a slice of cheesecake, sprinkles, strawberry sauce and cream.

We were served these monster shakes as an entree but next time we’d order normal drinks to accompany our main and order a shake as our dessert.  They were delicious but definitely better suited to a post-dinner treat.

uturn abu dhabi monster shakesFollowing our shakes, we sampled a range of starters (as seen below), including chicken bites, ‘bang bang shrimp’, chicken quesadillas and ‘pepe fries’.  All of them were tasty – the shrimp got great reviews from the other diners and I personally enjoyed the cheesy chicken bites and U-Turn’s take on poutine.  The servings were generous (especially when you consider the size of the mains to follow) so be mindful that you don’t over-order.

uturn abu dhabi food

Just when we were starting to feel full the mains made their way out to us – though we weren’t very hungry, we couldn’t resist tucking in.  The bread was the perfect middle-ground between savoury and sweet, the patties perfectly cooked and the toppings flavourful.  Each burger was served with a massive pickle and a side of beautifully seasoned fries.

We sampled theMamma Mia Burger (Italian influenced), Este Punto Burger (Mexican style), the OMG Burger (a serious burger – triple patty beef (120gr each), cheddar cheese (real & sauce) , strips of beef bacon, hashbrown, grilled egg, red coleslaw and grilled onion!) and also had a little taste of their U-Turn AD Burger (with a camel patty).

For all of us, the OMG burger was the clear favourite.  It was cooked to perfection and the hashbrowns and bacon worked well with the other flavours.  It would easily have been the biggest burger we’ve ever seen and would be well suited to sharing with someone else, but is one we’d order again without doubt (though we would ask them to withhold a little of the cheese).

I was brave and tried a little of the camel burger but must admit, it wasn’t to my taste.  I found it to be too salty, but for all I know, that could be how camel should be served.  I’m not very adventurous with my food so really enjoying it was always going to be a long shot!

uturn abu dhabi burgersAll in all, the food at U-Turn was tasty, generously sized and great value for money.  The monster shakes were an awesome once-in-a-while treat and the burgers delicious.  The menu has a wide enough range to cater to most tastes, but even still, try to book your trip into U-Turn on a cheat day… there’s no point heading somewhere like this just to order a side salad and water!

uturn diner location

If you’re keen to check out the U-Turn diner for yourself (and we suggest you do), you’ll find them not too far from Al Wadha Mall.

Sunday – Thursday: 8a.m till 11:30p.m

Friday & Saturday: 8a.m till 11p.m

Please note their hours may change (due to Ramadan etc.) so give them a call if in doubt…
+971 2 666 8070
+971 2 666 8060

Thanks U-Turn for having us along!  Nathan and I both had a great evening munching on delicious food in a fun environment with great company.  As always, all views are our own.

Dubai Expat Life Food Middle East United Arab Emirates

Freaking Out over Freakshakes in Dubai!

June 11, 2016

Anyone that knows me, knows that I have a major sweet tooth. In the past we’ve traipsed all over town (and sometimes further afield) to track down a delicious looking treat so when we saw the most amazing freakshakes popping up on Instagram there was no question that we’d be driving over to Dubai – the only questions were how soon we could get there and what flavours we’d choose (this proved to be a difficult decision)!

We looked over the menu and decided on a savoury start, as apparently milkshakes don’t cover all of the essential food groups required of lunch. We expected the shakes to be amazing, but didn’t have too much of an idea of what to expect from the other menu items; it’s fair to say I was blinded by the monster shakes.

Chicken wings were the easy choice for me and they were seriously good!  Crispy wings, beautifully cooked (remaining tender whilst not being even slightly greasy), served with a lemon and coriander dip.  I’m not normally a fan of coriander but everything about the dish was amazing.

The shakes are what drew our attention to Fume but I think the wings may just be what keep us coming back – yum!

Amazing chicken wings, Downtown Dubai, FumeIn preparation for our monster shakes, we decided we’d better stock up on water. For those of you who haven’t visited Dubai yet, there’s no such thing as ‘free water’ in restaurants – the majority of people don’t drink tap water in the UAE which means that water comes from bottles and it, of course, needs to be paid for.  We’re used to sometimes being charged a small fortune for bottled water but at AED10 for a 750mL bottle, we were pleasantly surprised – well done Fume.  I couldn’t resist a snap of the bottle either, check it out (melted snowmen, too cute!)

With water on hand, it was time for the main event…

Fume Downtown Dubai waterFume have four monstrous shakes, AKA freakshakes, on their permanent menu (chocolate, caramel and two berry based recipes) and they periodically add new ones (like their Ramadan date shake which is now in rotation).  Deciding which ones we’d like to try was a difficult decision (first world problems, right?) – check out the amazing ingredients that go into each of these shakes…

Fume make many of the different components for their monster shakes themselves, right down to the gooey brownie and cheesecake toppers and the delicious ice cream that is mixed in (and sits on top) of the shakes.  We enjoyed chatting to the pastry chef downstairs who is responsible for these calorific-delights and it was clear to see that he is immensely passionate about these creations – with good reason, too.

Freak Shakes Dubai Fume Downtown menuWe’d heard great things about the Bro-Nut and Popping Cereal but decided that with chocolate overload, a fruity shake probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, so we decided on Berry Freaky to complement our Bro-nut.

How amazing do these look?!

Freak Shakes Dubai Fume DowntownThey tasted every bit as amazing!

The Bro-nut chocolate creation was my personal favourite. The brownie was deliciously gooey and a very generous portion. It went far beyond being a garnish… In fact, it was amongst the best chocolate brownies we’ve ever eaten! The shake itself was, of course, sweet but avoided being overly so.  It had the perfect mix of milk chocolate, caramel and white chocolate, mixed in with their homemade, ice-cold ice cream.  Fresh cream topped off the shake along with M&Ms and a couple of Kitkat bars.  I’m not sure how Fume managed to create something that looks so absolutely decadent but isn’t overwhelmingly chocolatey, but they’ve managed it.

Freak Shakes Dubai Chocolate BrownieNathan favoured the Berry Freaky monster shake – a healthier combination of mixed wild berries, yoghurt, ice cream (because you can’t be too healthy when you’re talking freak shakes!), fresh cream and a wafer cone.  This shake was almost tart in comparison to the Bro-nut; a fresh option that nicely complimented our chocolate shake.  You could clearly taste the berries and yoghurt, and just like the Bro-nut, Berry Freaky was served icy cold, making for a very refreshing mid-afternoon snack in the desert heat.

Eduardo, the manager of Fume Downtown, explained that he personal favourite berry shake was the Funky CheeseShake – a strawberry concoction with a slice of cheesecake to top it off!  When we return, that’s going to have to be top of our list too as I think it would be the perfect combination of both sweetness and refreshment.

Whilst we were in Fume, a number of patrons ordered their monster shakes and the delight on their faces was a pleasure to observe!  Something about these shakes brings out the child in everyone – they’re decadent, beautiful and a little bit ridiculous (in the very best way).  They’re memorable and exciting which is exactly what you want when you’re deciding on where you’ll spend your hard earned cash.

Fume’s customer service was second to none (literally, the friendliest service we’d had in Dubai), their decor was funky and welcoming and the atmosphere energetic.  Everything about Fume was unpretentious but impressive; from the industrial styling, to the gourmet but upfront home-cooked food, everything had us wanting to come back for more.

If you’re stopping by in Dubai, be sure to venture outside of Dubai Mall and across the road to Fume – you will not be disappointed!

We came for their monster shakes, and left realising that Fume offers so much more.  Was it worth making the hour+ drive from Abu Dhabi over to Dubai to check these freakshakes out?  You bet!  Will we be back?  One hundred times, yes!

Fume Dubai view of Burj Khalifa

Thank you to Fume and Jas Hospitality for so warmly welcoming us as their guests.  All views are 100% our own – Fume is just that good!

Abu Dhabi Expat Life Food Middle East United Arab Emirates

Ramadan in Abu Dhabi – Iftar at Majlis Alfareej

June 6, 2016

Ramadan (in Arabic: رمضان, Ramadān), known as the Holy Month, is an incredibly important period of time for Muslims.  Over this time, Muslim’s go without food and drink during daylight hours, forsake desires and often help to improve life for others that are less fortunate, showing a great deal of respect and compassion.


Thank you to Wond for this infographic – though it is a few years old, much of the information is still relevant.

Today was the first day of Ramadan and over the Holy Month, Muslims in the United Arab Emirates will fast for over 15 hours, in temperatures of over 45 degrees celsius.   Those not observing Ramadan will show respect to those that are by eating and drinking only in private spaces which means the limited cafes and restaurants that will be open during daylight hours will be shrouded with black curtains and eating/drinking/smoking where someone else might see you is absolutely not allowed.

The morning meal, eaten before dawn is known as Suhoor, whilst the evening meal, eaten after the sun sets is called Iftar.  These meals are social occasions, where families and friends come together, united by their faith.

Imagine our excitement when we were invited along to not only our first Iftar but an Iftar preview (fancy, right?)

We were hosted by Majlis Alfareej, a new restaurant that’s opened in the up and coming foodie hotspot, Danat, where they serve Emirati fusion dishes in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Iftar (in restaurants) tend to be either set menus or buffets of traditional Emirati food.  The food tends to be a combination of beautifully cooked and spiced meat, served with traditional breads and rice.  Majlis Alfareej take these traditional meals and put their own special twist on them.

We started with a range of delicious soups – Nathan devoured his broccoli soup (enjoying the little surprise bursts of cheese) and I enjoyed a traditional chicken harees (a wheat and chicken broth) before being offered a range of traditional salads (which came jam-packed with all sorts of goodies, including strawberries and pomegranate seeds).

My favourite dish followed; khameer bread pockets, stuffed with flavourful meats (chicken, beef or lamb) and sauces, served with either Oman chips or fries – we will certainly be back after Ramadan to enjoy these for lunch!  Yum.

Clockwise from left: Peachy Loody, chicken and beef khameer sandwiches and broccoli soup.

Dinner came out in gorgeous traditional serving dishes, all with yoghurt and lemon and each one tasty and beautifully cooked.  The meat was tender and the rice flavourful without being overwhelming.

Fogah Samach – King fish and rice, cooked with Emirati spices and dried lemon.

Machbous Diyay – Chicken and rice, cooked with saffron and Emirati spices and a chickpea topping.

Like any good meal, we finished with dessert and were pleasantly surprised by the pistachio cake – it was velvety soft and a lovely light end to our dinner.  I’ve never really understood the inclusion of pistachio as a sweet dish in the Middle East but this cake absolutely had me onboard with the idea!

Of course, anyone that’s spent a reasonable amount of time in Abu Dhabi will be familiar with lgeimat; delicious fritters which are a staple over here (and one of my favourite local desserty treats).

Top: Pista Cake – Pistachio cake and icecream, Coffee Date Cake – Coffee infused sponge cake with a thick layer of cardamon cream cheese, drizzled with date syrup and batheeth crumbs. Bottom: Lgeimat – Fried balls with cardamon and saffron spices, served with date syrup and sesame seeds.

Throughout our Iftar we enjoyed a range of drinks, the best of which (in my opinion) was the ‘peachy loody’, an amazing concoction of frozen mango and peach with pomegranate syrup.  Honestly, one of the very best things I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.  That’s not an exaggeration in that slightest – it was that good!

We’d certainly recommend Majlis Alfareej to others, both as an Iftar/Suhoor option, but also as a great way to experience traditional Emirati food, which surprisingly enough is relatively difficult to come across in Abu Dhabi.

We had a fantastic evening chatting with others that have also made the UAE their home and enjoying delicious Emirati food; what a first introduction to Iftar!  We’re booked in to attend another few throughout the month of Ramadan and are looking forward to the food, the socialising and to learning more about the Muslim religion.

Apologies if I’ve made a mistake within this post; I am by no means an expert (in any way, shape or form) when it comes to Islam but I do feel fortunate to live in Abu Dhabi and to be experiencing my first Ramadan alongside my students, colleagues and friends.  Living in a country where religion is so closely linked to everyday life has been a real treat – these new experiences are what expat living is all about!  

Thank you to Majlis AlFareej and Q Communications for so kindly hosting us at this Iftar preview evening.  As always, all thoughts are entirely our own.

Abu Dhabi Africa Dubai Expat Life Holidays Monthly Round-Up theme park United Arab Emirates

Where has the time gone? Another ‘Monthly’ Round-Up

June 1, 2016

How on earth is it June already?!

The plan was to jot down what we’ve been up to over here each month but considering my last ‘monthly round-up’ was posted at the beginning of March, I think it’s fair to say I’ve been pretty unsuccessful in doing so!

The past three months have been a whirlwind of travels, work (school for me, price-lists for Nathan), brunches, socialising and for a week, family (yay!)

Nathan arrived back in Abu Dhabi, having spent a month or so working in New Zealand.  He had a great time catching up with our friends and family (not to forget our cats!) but it was nice to have him home again at the end of it all.

We were fortunate to get out of the UAE on two occasions since our last general update, on both occasions to Africa (which is incredible considering before those trips, we’d never set foot on the continent).

Our first trip away took us to Eastern Africa – Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.  It was a mind-blowing trip that left us feeling incredibly humbled.  If you’re interested in checking out our itinerary, you can see the key places we visited in this post.  The highlights of the trip were based around the amazing animals we saw – all of the ‘big five’, not to mention tracking highland mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in the wild (the stuff of dreams!), swimming with wild bottlenose dolphins, diving to spot seahorses and trying to avoid the killer croc that almost landed in our boat whilst cruising the Nile!  You can read about the differences between our Masai Mara and Murchison Falls safaris here too.

Our second journey to Africa took us to Egypt where we spend a whirlwind three nights exploring this unique, vibrant country.  We spent a night in Cairo and two in Luxor, where we were memorised by the incredible history found throughout the country.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe how much we managed to squeeze into our three nights (which was really only two full days) there – we visited Sakkara, home to the oldest buildings (which also happen to be pyramids) in the world, where we also climbed down inside a pyramid, rode camels and Arabian horses to the Great Pyramids of Giza, explored the Valley of the Kings and rode a hot air balloon over the Nile (and that’s only scratching the surface!)  We found the Egyptian people to be warm and welcoming and had no concerns whatsoever in regard to our safety.  I don’t doubt that having a fantastic driver/guide helped, but we have no reservations in recommending others visit this incredible part of the world.

I’m a bit behind the ball with blog posts (stay tuned for posts on our Masai Mara safari, Ugandan adventure and Egyptian exploration) but you can find our photos on Instagram if you’re keen for a peek before I find the time to get writing.

Back in Abu Dhabi, I’d been watching the newest coaster at Ferrari World pop up and the implementation of a teachers’ special made the call of a new coaster far too hard to ignore!  Along with three friends, I headed back to the theme park and, I’m pleased to say, came away feeling quite differently about my experience there (read my thoughts from our first visit here).  Flying Aces is a welcome addition to this indoor park – the initial climb was fantastic and a number of slow loops pull you right out of your harness – certainly a ride that doesn’t suit everyone, but I was a happy camper!  Whilst there I had another zip around on Formula Rosa (the fastest rollercoaster in the world) and again, felt much more positive about it.  The roughness that we experienced our first time riding it was gone, making way for a smooth, incredibly fast (yet comfortable) ride.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the engineers had given the cars a once over, but regardless of what made the difference, Ferrari World is now a much better option for thrill seekers… I will be watching with anticipation to see what the other new rides look like.

My friend from back home arrived so we had a great time showing her around the UAE.  Together, we managed to squeeze a trip to Aquaventure in (the waterpark over on the Palm, in Dubai) and we have a fantastic day splashing around and racing down the slides!  Nathan and I enjoyed Yas Water World but if we had to pick a favourite, I think it would have to be Aquaventure – it was seriously impressive!

We made the trip over to Dubai a number of times in the last three months and are finally starting to feel like we have a sense of direction there! It’s a big city and like all of the UAE, the off ramps tend to loop around which means you often drive in the opposite direction to where you should be going before the road loops back around.

The more time we spend in Duabi, the more the city seems to be growing on us! The architecture there is mind blowing and it’s nice to get out of Abu Dhabi; even driving an hour down the road feels like a mini holiday.

We spent a night in the city to see Armin Van Buuren play one of his Armin Only gigs.  We’d seen Armin play a few times in the past and though the production was good the music wasn’t particularly to our taste.  Regardless, it was a well overdue night out and Nath’s excited as we’ve booked in to see one of his all time favourite DJs over the summer.

On their way back from visiting family in Spain, my mum and stepdad swung by Abu Dhabi and spent a week with us. It was such a treat having them here with us!

We’ve also been branching out and trying a range of restaurants recently – as much as we love Chilli’s and PF Changs, its been great to broaden our options and explore more of Abu Dhabi in the process.  We treated ourselves to the fanciest meal of our lives at the Ritz, enjoyed the atmosphere and amazing pan Latin food at BU!, munched on burgers and crazy shakes at the U-Turn Diner and experienced an Emirati fusion Iftar taster too.

In mundane news, my word visa come through (I cannot tell you how exciting this is) which has meant that we can now start the process for Nathan’s visa.  We’ve managed fine without having them but life will be easier once they’ve both come through.  With my visa, I’m now a proud holder of an Emirates ID and UAE drivers licence (you can read my practical guide to converting my NZ licence to a local one here – it’s not exciting but will be helpful for other newbies).

School’s been incredibly busy with our students preparing for (and sitting) their SAT assessments and reports that need to be finished. Last night we celebrated how far they’ve come though, with a graduation evening – they’ve had an awesome year!

Nath’s been busy with work and by all accounts Chant has had a big few months which is awesome news!

As we wrap up our last few weeks at school and work, preparations for our European summer continue. I’ll pop our initial plans here – if you’re going to be in those areas or have any recommendations, we’d love to hear from you! Most stops aren’t set in stone quite yet so feedback would be much appreciated.

%d bloggers like this: