Dubai

Dubai Marina

We have been to the city of Dubai twice now and both times we have stayed in the Dubai Marina area.  We stayed there the first time pretty much by chance, and the second time because I refused to stay anywhere else because I absolutely love it there!  The Marina area is awesome, it is as if we stepped out of the Middle East and stepped into Chicago.  It has the same tall buildings with awesome water access that you get when you are in Chicago.

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Chicago last summer with Sarah, Heidi, Katie and Laura…Miss you Ladies!

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Dubai

The Marina is built on a two mile stretch of man made canals surrounded by tons of high rise apartment building, restaurants, shopping, and best off all: walking paths!

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The Marina is right near the Palm Jumeira, which is a series of man made islands in the shape of a palm tree. At the top of the palm tree is the Atlantis resort where I took my infamous leap of faith 🙂 The UAE is currently in the process of building another series of man made islands but this time they will be in the shape of a map of the world.

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One other selling point on the Marina for me is that awesome little M on the map. The Marina has a metro stop right next to it, making basically everything in Dubai just a short train ride away.

One thing we have been majorly missing in our Kuwaiti life is access to outdoor space.  We do not have sidewalks, parks, or green space near us in Kuwait, so the accessibility of the outdoor space in the Dubai Marina is luxurious to us.  When staying in the Marina area we could roll out of bed in the morning and go for a walk, go out for brunch, run into the mall, or go for a bike ride.  In our short little weekend jaunt to Dubai we did exactly that on both mornings while we were there.  The only time we left the Marina area was when we went to the Rugby 7’s Tournament and when we went to the Irish Village for live music and dancing. (more on the 7’s and the Irish Village later)

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When adulthood and childhood collide….adult size big wheels.

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Niamh and Mitch

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Jooles

I love so many things about this city: the diversity, the amenities, the cleanliness, the metro, the legal alcohol, but more than anything else that I have found in Dubai, I love the Marina!

IMG_4842With a view like this, can you guess where I will be staying the next time we are in Dubai?

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Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – December 8

Cheers, let’s go to happy hour!  If we were back home, we’d meet at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’d be drinking a big ass glass of Blue Moon on tap with 12 boneless buffalo wings! (1/2 mild & 1/2 parmesan garlic if you were wondering).  Holy smokes, my mouth is watering so much right now!  I’ve been craving Buffalo Wild Wings for the last 3 months.  Here’s what’s going on with us this week:

  • We had an absolute blast last weekend in Dubai for the Rugby 7s tournament!  It was a quick trip, but a great way to re-energize before these next two weeks of work prior to Christmas Break.  We went with some great friends and had a ton of fun meeting and celebrating our weekend with people from all over the world.  We also got a good dose of beer and pork ribs (both of which are prohibited here in Kuwait) during our vacation.  It was awesome!  We’ll post more info and pictures from our weekend soon.  In the meantime, here is a quick pic of the main stadium at the tournament.
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The picture looked good on my iPhone 4 when I took it over the weekend. However now that I am sober, I’m realizing that my sight must have been a bit blurry from all of the Heinekens I was drinking.

  • I used to hate Mondays. It was that stupid day after Sunday, that would ruin every weekend. However in Kuwait, I think it’s my new favorite day of the week!  Our work week here is Sunday-Thursday, so it no longer ruins our weekends anymore. I also like it because it’s the day our maid comes! Her name is Lily and she comes once a week. We leave for work and our house is a complete disaster.  When we get home . . . . VIOLA!!! All of our dishes, laundry, ironing, cleaning, and everything else is done. It is so fun to drive home from work on Mondays, with the anticipation of walking into a spotless apartment!
  • For the last couple of months, Rachel has been teaching an iMovie Club to a group of students at school. The school offers a ton of different after school activities for kids, and they meet once a week. She basically taught them how to use iMovie on Apple devices, and showed them some tricks and tips they could use to make some fun videos. She had a great group of about 10 kids from grades 3-5.  Apparently she was the only one who didn’t own the new iPhone 6, and the kids couldn’t believe that her antique phone (iPhone 5) still worked because it was soooo old!
  • For about the last month, I’ve been searching for a jar of Miracle Whip (mayonnaise).  Everyday for lunch I my wife makes me turkey sandwiches with Miracle Whip.  Not only is it my favorite, it is also the ONLY kind that I like.  When we first moved here in August, we found some at one of the grocery stores.  However since then, I haven’t found it anywhere!  I’ve tried a couple of different “local” brands, and they taste almost sour or something. NASTY!  We’re slowly realizing that when you see a product you like at the grocery store, it’s best to buy about a dozen of them because you never know if they will ever have it again. In case you are wondering, I still haven’t found another jar of Miracle Whip, therefore I have no idea what i’m eating for lunch tomorrow!

I’m still daydreaming of a Blue Moon and boneless chicken wings from Buffalo Wild Wings! See you guys next week.

Weekend Plans: Heading to Dubai

We’re super excited for tomorrow, we’re heading to Dubai for the weekend!  It has been about a month and a half since our last vacation, so we are eager for our upcoming trip.  There is a group of 8 of us going this weekend for the annual Dubai 7s Rugby Tournament.  I don’t know the slightest thing about rugby, and to be honest with you, I probably won’t watch much of it this weekend either.  Instead, we’re going for the party!

The game of rugby is huge all over the world (except North America).  This is one of the largest annual sporting events on this side of the world.  The international teams from 20 different countries will be represented in the 2-day tournament, being cheered on by thousands of people from all over the world.  The games begin each day at about 9am, with a new match starting about every 20 minutes until 9pm.  Apparently a lot of people prefer 7s rugby over the traditional sport, because it is faster paced, more scoring, and the matches are much shorter.  The best part of the tournament begins when the matches are over . . . . apparently there is an outdoor concert at the conclusion featuring live bands and more partying! I read online that there is 7 different beer gardens 🙂  We’ve been in Kuwait for about 3 months now, and my liver is about dried up since there is no booze here.  I’m going to try my best to rehydrate Mr. Liver this weekend with as much beer as possible to jump start him again!

We rented an apartment through airbnb.com in the Dubai Marina area again.  We stayed in the same area during our visit in October and totally loved the accessibility to everything.  Dubai is an awesome city, with great public transportation, and so many cool things to do and see.  We’ll be sure to take a bunch of pictures and share experiences from Dubai on here next week. Cheers!

Camels and a Guilty Conscious

When we decided we were moving to the Middle East, I very quickly told Mitch, “I don’t care what we do over there, but I am riding on a camel.”
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While were in Dubai last month for our Eid vacation, I did exactly that!  We went on one of the famous ‘Desert Safaris,’ where all of the tourists gather, to enjoy a variety of desert adventures.  Some of the options are: going bashing through the sand dunes in a 4×4, sand boarding, four-wheeler rides, riding camels and a bunch of other stuff.  I was so excited for my first camel ride!

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When it was our turn, we climbed up on the huge creature, (seriously, these dudes were twice the size of any horse I have ever ridden on) put on my brave face (see below . . . it doesn’t look very brave) and rode a camel with my hubby!

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We smiled for the camera, laughed, and enjoyed our short 1 minute and 36 second camel ride.

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At the end of our ride, we had to prepare for the awkward dismount.  To get off the camel, it would drop to it’s knees, and eventually sit on the ground.

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The ride was extremely short, but here I am 5 weeks later still thinking about it, feeling guilty about it.

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I made the decision to ride this camel in the name of a fun picture.  Would I ride an elephant at the circus in the name of a good picture? No, I would refuse to participate in the mistreatment of animals.    I was a part of the problem, I participated in the mistreatment of these camels.     Instead of dealing with the situation with my moral compass strongly in place, I twisted my thought process around into “I might never have a chance to do this again,”  “it will make great pictures” and “you are in the desert, you have to ride a camel.”

So as you travel the world and have the opportunity to experience new and interesting adventures, I encourage you to keep your moral compass strongly in place.  I regret that I allowed mine to slip up a bit, but have definitely learned from this and hope that others can too.

So there it is a major Debbie Downer of a post all about my regrets and the lessons I learn by making mistakes along the way.

First Aid Station: Atlantis Dubai

I have always been a klutz.  I am clumsy and don’t pay near enough attention to what I am doing.  I once stabbed myself with my own ice skate and ended up in the emergency room with stitches.  In college I broken my foot while ….WALKING.  Mitch and I once got into an argument because he believed I was being too “Rachel” while standing near the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Yesterday, I continued the streak . . . I ended up at the first aid station at a water park!

While here in Dubai, we decided to spend a day at one of the coolest water parks in the world: Aquaventure at the Atlantis Resort. We smartly arrived 10 minutes before it opened, so that we could strategize what would be our first ride of the day.  We quickly came to the decision that we had to go big right away.  Our first slide of the day would be the Leap of Faith.  The Leap of Faith is a 60 foot near vertical drop followed by speeding through a clear acrylic tube that goes through a shark tank.  Yes, our first water slide of the day would be the “shark slide!”

IMG_1487We excitedly power walked (we couldn’t be part of the crazies who ran through the park) across the park to the tower that housed the Leap of Faith.  We climbed the bazillion stairs to get to the top, and realized that we were the first customers of the day.  With no time to think or get nervous, our friend Jooles quickly jumped in the tube and off she went, with only her screams to fill us in on what we were in store for.

I decided to go next.  I stepped into the water slide, SLIPPED, and immediately fell.  I barely caught myself on the handle bar saving myself from a trip over the edge, before my arms and legs were crossed, and inevitably the world’s worst wedgie ever.  A sigh of relief came out of Mitch, myself, and the water slide attendant, who humorously reminded me “be careful, it’s wet.”

As I giggled about my clumsiness, I pushed myself over the slides edge and screamed the whole way to the bottom.  (PS…apparently if you are screaming and have your eyes squeezed shut it, it’s really hard to see the sharks on the shark slide) As I splashed into the pool at the bottom of the slide I realized I didn’t possess the same gracefulness that my fellow sliders were apparently born with.  Every other person came off of the water slide by gently lifting their legs, and splashed bum first into the pool.  I however decided to go about it a different way.  I kept my feet crossed, locked my knees, and lifted my shoulders and head up off the waterside, which created a dismount that was more of a tumble rather than a plop.  The result: bleeding from 6 different locations!

To the First Aid station we went, where the kind medics informed me I was lucky customer number 1 for the day.  They were also pretty impressed, because they had never heard of anyone hurting themselves while sliding into a pool of water before.  In fact the medic asked me on numerous occasions if I was sure I hadn’t been running on the wet pool deck.   IMG_1486Once I was all bandaged up, I thanked the medics and began walking out of the first aid station.  As I was getting up from my chair, I stepped in a bit of water, SLIPPED, and barely caught my fall on the door handle.  One of the medics looked at his other medic buddy, and just said “Oh, she’ll be back.”

Eid Vacation Plans

One of the reasons we decided to move to the other side of the world, were the endless opportunities to explore and vacation to other countries, that are hardly practical to reach from the United States.  It costs thousands of dollars to travel from North America to other continents, and sometimes days to reach your destination.  One of the draws to moving to the Middle East, was the close proximity and affordibility to so many cool places in Europe, Africa, and Asia. We are so excited to be taking our first vacation, since moving to Kuwait, next week during Eid break!

You’re probably wondering . . . “What is Eid break?”  Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure either.  All I knew was that it was a Muslim holiday, and we got 9 days off of work! Therefore, I did a quick “google” search, and here is what I found:

Eid-al-Adha is the second and final Eid celebration of the year. It commemorates the completion of the Hajj, (pilgrimage to Mecca). Although only the people who take pilgrimage participate in the Hajj fully, Muslims around the world join them in celebrating Eid Al-Adha. For more information on Eid Al-Adha, click here.

Since we signed our employment contracts last winter, we have been looking forward to taking advantage of this week-long break in the school calendar. However we weren’t able to book a trip until about a week ago, because we didn’t have our passports!  The minute we arrived to Kuwait about a month and a half ago, School Administrators had to collect everyone’s passports at the airport so they could finalize the visa process and apply for everyone’s Civilian IDs.  They told us they were going to try their best to speed the application process up, however they couldn’t guarantee that they would be back in time for Eid. Thus they told everyone not to book a trip because they probably wouldn’t be back in time. We were bummed, but knew we had to respect the process, and just kept our fingers crossed.

We were super surprised last week when we got an email from the school informing us they had our passports back! We were so excited, however we suddenly felt panicked, because we only had a week to book a trip!  We frantically searched for flights to just about everywhere in the world. We were totally open to going anywhere new, that was reasonably priced. Unfortunately though, because it was so last minute, our options were limited due to high prices for flights. After an exhaustive day of searching, we found a great deal on airfare to Dubai!

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Photo courtesy of hdwallpaperfresh.com

Dubai is a futuristic city and perhaps one of the flashiest. It is home to the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa) and the largest mall in the world (Dubai Mall). I’m sorry my fellow Minnesotans, but Mall of America is nowhere near the size. The Dubai Mall is 12.1 million square feet compared to the Mall of America that is 5.62 million square feet, so its more than double the size!  Dubai also features amazing artificial islands and some of the best beaches around.

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Photo courtesy of Dave Anthony

Dubai is home to some of the most incredible (and expensive) resorts in the world. For our accommodations, we actually decided to rent an apartment right in the heart of Dubai, near the marina. We used a website called AirBnB.com (click here for a free $25 credit on airbnb.com) which is a website where you can rent a couch, a bedroom, or an entire house. Since we are going with a few friends from Kuwait, we decided to rent an entire apartment.

Dubai has a ton of fun things to do! We have been spending the last few days putting an itinerary together, and here’s what we have planned thus far:

  • Atlantis the Palm Aquaventure Waterpark

This waterpark has been named one of the top waterparks in the whole world, and has been featured on multiple TV shows, magazines, etc. We are super excited to go on their slide called The Tower of Neptune. You fall over 9 stories in a mere second before you find yourself speeding through a clear acrylic tube surrounded by Great White Sharks and sting rays!

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Photo courtesy of atlantisthepalm.com

  • Desert Safari

We have fun evening planned with a tour company where we go on a baja ride through the sand dunes of Dubai in a 4×4 jeep.

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Photo courtesy of arabizhorizons.com

  •  Burq Khalifa

As I mentioned earlier, Dubai is home of the Burq Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. We are excited to take a tour to the top of the 2,722 ft. building (163 floors). This building is twice the size of the Empire State Building!

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Photo courtesy of blogs.atrapalo.com

We have also decided to spend a few nights in Abu Dhabi next week, which is only about an hour or two from Dubai.  Abu Dhabi is also a very futuristic and flashy city.  As part of her research for this trip Rachel decided that this week was the perfect time to rewatch Sex and the City 2!

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Photo courtesy of theguardian.com

We’ll be in Abu Dhabi on my birthday and found something super fun to do . . . . . we are going to an international soccer game between Australia & United Arab Emirates!  I’m a sports junky who loves visiting professional stadiums, so I’m super pumped to go. I’ve never been to one before and can’t wait to experience the excitement, the crowds, the chants, and everything that an international soccer match has to offer!  Definitely fulfilling an item on my “Bucket List.”

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Al Jazira Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium – Photo courtesy of http://www.jc.ae

We also plan on taking a tour of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, which is said to be the most expensive hotel ever built at over 3 billion dollars!

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Photo courtesy of proudlyarabian.com

Since we are going to be on vacation all of next week, I’m not sure if we are going to be able to post any new blogs. We will try to post a quick update, otherwise you can follow along with us on Twitter: @mightaswellers. When we return from our trip, we’ll be sure to post a bunch of photos.

Cheers & Eid Mubarak!