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!
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.