Perhaps I was a little ambitious in thinking I would be able to post at least once a week. However, my lack of writing is only because I have been keeping extremely busy! That phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” is not necessarily true. While I have been having fun keeping my mind and body busy with sight seeing and activities, the last three weeks have felt triple times that length. (I promise there won’t be any wet eyes after reading this post). So, although it feels like the clocks are slower in Abu Dhabi, I am enjoying every minute that passes (especially the nine minutes between the morning alarm clock snooze buttons).
To prevent this post from being too long or earning a reputation for a nice “before bed read” (also known as boring), I will give you the A to Z of what I have done and seen!
A Air Races
The Red Bull Air Races were held in Abu Dhabi this year on Friday March 11 & Saturday March 12. We went down to the Corniche (see below) on Friday, which was the qualifying day, to watch the airplanes go through the course. In all honesty, being at the beach and having the view into the Arabian gulf was the best part . . . and the ice cream.
B Beach – Saadiyat Island
Saadiyat Island is Arabic for “Happiness Island” and that is exactly what you can find there, along with (real) big waves, sunshine and endless ocean views. We spent the entire day at the public beach (100 AED = $35 CAD for your admission, beach chair and umbrella). Besides losing my new sunglasses after two gigantic waves nearly drowned me, it was a perfect beach day. Fun Fact: endangered hawksbill sea turtles are original and natural habitants of Saadiyat island, during hatching season you can go down to the beach to watch them hatch and begin life in the sea – please add this to my TO DO LIST.
Along eight kilometers of road you can find hotels and shops on one side and cafes, beach clubs and the beach (obviously) on the other. Traveling along the road can be done by walking, running or biking. It is highly recommended to hire a bike, but what’s even better than that, is getting the bike and having free drivers.
I came here with absolutely no intention of driving; taxis are cheap and transportation by shuttle bus to work is free. As each day goes by, I wish more for a car. Simple things like going out to buy milk or fruit suddenly become a chore. Having said that, have you ever played Grand Theft Auto? I used to play and thought it was fun to drive around abiding by the rules of the road (red lights, stop signs, yield to pedestrians etc.) – weird I know. How most (and how you should) drive in the game is ruthless, disobeying every rule of the road – that’s essentially driving in Abu Dhabi.
E Emirates Palace
The same day “we” cycled along the Corniche, we visited Emirates Palace. I know very few facts about the building besides its obvious beauty, it was a quick stop and I would say I was definitely under-dressed for the palace. I will be returning there showered and in proper clothing to drink the cappuccino with 24-karat gold flakes – another to add to my TO DO LIST.
There is no shortage of good food here, and it’s all reasonably priced. Like the “freshmen fifteen” there is the “Abu Dhabi Stone” – or so I’ve been told. Cheap and easy food is readily available. McDonald’s delivery? Yep! I have not yet experienced the McDonald’s delivery and have been trying very hard to make meals at home . . . but Arabic cuisine is so good.
I met my best friend when I was four years old with a simple “Hi my name is Lisa, I’m four years old” sentence, and that simple statement, excluding my now much older age, has become my broken-record greeting. It has been extremely easy to make friends here since everyone is friendly and in similar ‘looking for friends’ situations.
I am working at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and all I will say is that the hospital is unbelievable. The design both inside and out is amazing. Even better than I have seen in many hotels. Puts Foothills Hospital to shame and the patient rooms put my bedroom to shame.
I Irish celebrations – St. Patrick’s Day
A large amount of the expat population here are Irish. So it’s no surprise that St. Paddy’s day celebrations were a big deal. Fortunately, I’ve made friends with a couple of Irish girls who definitely know how to throw a party. The evening was “grand” 😉
Along with blogging I told myself I would attempt to write each day in a journal about the daily events, feelings or thoughts. Let’s just say I’ve been doing better at blogging that journaling.
K Kayaked Through the Eastern Mangroves
One of my highlights over the last three weeks was kayaking through the Eastern Mangroves. Not only was it nice to be outside, get some exercise, but the tour was educational. I won’t bore you, but unlike most things in Abu Dhabi or UAE, the mangroves are natural to the salty ocean shoreline. We saw flamingos, purple crabs and I sun burnt my shins ☺
L Ladies Night
One of the top things you’ll hear about Abu Dhabi or Dubai are the ladies nights. Almost every night of the week ladies can go to a bar and get a number or unlimited free drinks (good ones too).
Oh yes, work. It seems and feels like I have been on a vacation, but the reality is that I do have to work. 5 days a week. 40 hours. Full time. The first two and a half weeks have been simple classroom orientation, as if I were a student again (but getting paid instead of paying). I have now officially had two full days working in the clinic. My position here is ambulatory clinic float nurse, so I get to float around between all the clinics in the hospital. Talk about huge learning curve. The best part? The uniforms.
In Islam, pork and pork products are considered “unlawful” and therefore not consumed. I thought this was going to seriously affect my life and more importantly, my bacon consumption, but fortunately there are “non-muslim” sections at the grocery store. P.S. Who knew pop-tarts are considered a pork-product?
R Run. Color Fun Run
Wake up at 6:30AM on a Saturday morning to run 5K in 25 degree weather? SURE! I’m being a little dramatic, I walked the majority of it and it was basically a giant party. The early wake up was worth every inch of coloured corn starch skin and clothing.
My very first shisha! What a place to experience it too, in the Middle East on an outdoor Lebanese restaurant patio. Watermelon flavour will not disappoint you! But don’t worry mom and dad, I won’t be making this a habit – putting your lips to a hookah for 60 minutes is equivalent to 25 cigarettes.
T Trying to Keep a Plant Alive
One of the worst things about the apartment is how brown and white everything is. Fortunately, my roommate has a few plants and candles to liven the place up (that is all it takes). But. . . I decided to test my green thumb and buy a mint plant from the grocery store. Mint grows like a weed, so if you can keep dandelions alive you would be able to grow mint. That being said, I had one close call after I decided to leave my plant out in 35 degree direct sunlight. It’s back to life now.
U UV rays*
The sun is hotter here and the sun burns are more painful. Let myself and my Irish friend Laura’s back tell you all about it.
My apartment balcony faces out into a golf course and in the far distance you can see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. In addition to the already incredible views, the desert sunsets are always as beautiful as the last. (If you have me on SnapChat I apologize for all the sunset snaps)
W Washing Machine Broke
Not a very exciting a moment, but a blonde one to say the least. I make jokes about not knowing my own strength, but there is truth to it. Apparently, you are supposed to wait for the washer to make a “click” noise before trying to use all of your body strength to open the door. On a positive note, the handle does work better now than it did before. Add this one to Lisa’s Blonde Moments.
Y Yas mall
Or just malls in general. The shopping here is HUGE and the malls are HUGE. American, European and Canadian brands, along with traditional Arabic clothing stores, line the malls. The malls have countless restaurants and movie theatres attached and often grocery stores too. In the sticky summer heat the malls are the best place for escape from the weather with all the AC and shopping you could imagine. Yas Mall is on Yas Island (where Ferrari World is) and is closest to my apartment, so I tend to go there at least one to two times a week . . . sorry bank account.
Z (Sheikh) Zayed Grand Mosque
One of the top three things I wanted to do when I came here was see the Grand Mosque. Bigger, better and more beautiful than it is in pictures. Every single step you take along the fine marble or the world’s largest hand-woven carpet, you are taking in the incredible beauty of the ‘white pearl of the gulf’.
There will be an entire post dedicated to the Mosque.
*Not necessarily events, but important to make note of
**I have left some letters blank, to be filled in at later dates 🙂