Sunday, August 17, 2008

Souvenir Shopping

After Ski Dubai we decided to try souvenir shopping one more time. There is a place called the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. On the way there it got really windy and was pretty much a sand storm. How crazy is snowboarding and being in a sand storm all in one day! Madinat Jumeirah is where we went to dinner when Daniel was in town. It's an indoor area that has kiosks, stores, restaurants, and bars. It is modeled after the old fashioned souks- like the one we went to on Friday, but it's air conditioned, much nicer quality, and the people don't harass you! I definitely prefer this one to the outside one.

We walked around for a few hours and bought a bunch of stuff. We had to stop at one point and get some ice cream of course. I was able to find an authentic outfit for myself as well as many other small souvenirs. Derek and I will get dressed up and take pictures so everyone can see our awesome outfits. I'll also get back to you on what their official names are. It turned out to be a great stop for us. We got almost everything we wanted to bring back, but it's a surprise so you can't know what we got yet! We each left with 2 or 3 bags- hopefully we can get it all home in one piece!! I don't know how much room I have in my suitcases tho!

At the end of the trip we saw a henna tattoo place and decided to get one (like the ones we got on the desert safari). They turned out really cool- I got flowers on my ankle and Derek got a cool Islamic symbol on his back. After a long day of skiing and shopping we decided to call it a night and head home to relax and watch the Olympics.

Ski Dubai

For those of you that don't know- Dubai has an indoor ski park that actually has real snow! There is about 22,500 square meters of space covered in snow. The area is kept just below freezing year round. The have a few different runs that you can either ski or snowboard. There's a snow park for kids and adults can just play in the snow and also instruction/lessons for all skill levels. They require certain skill level to be able to ski the slope and offer lessons for those not ready for it. Since Derek's been skiing/snowboarding since he was little he had no problem just hopping on the slope. My inexperienced self decided to try out my first time in snow with a snowboarding lesson. To put a long story short I'm not a natural like I was expecting!! :)

I bought a lesson ticket earlier that week to make sure I had a spot. We got there about 30-45 minutes before my lesson and Derek bought a 2 hour slope pass. When you walk in you pick up your shoes/boots and clothing. After putting on the ski pants and jacket you go and pick up your snow board/skis. There were lockers in the beginning area where we stored our shoes and my purse. After we were all ready Derek left me to fend for myself in my snow board lesson and he went to enjoy the slope.

The lesson started with a few minute safety lesson and general get to know your board. The next thing we did was go to the mini hill/ lesson area. You can either lead with your left foot or your right foot; with your left is called regular and with your right is called goofy footed. For me both ways felt goofy!! lol I knew then this probably wasn't going to be easy. Next, we scooted around the snow a little bit; all with only one foot strapped to the board. Then, we went up the little hill about halfway and tried to slide down. Apparently I turn my hips too much and can't go straight. One time down I almost ran into the little kids next to us!! Our last time we went all the way to the top of the hill and strapped in both feet. We went down the hill facing forward (as opposed to sideways) and kinda scooted down on the back side of the board. Basically on our heels. Derek found me at this point and took a few embarrassing pictures! Pretty much the whole time I was afraid of falling down, which just makes you tense and makes you fall down! I didn't have any huge spills but I definitely look pretty doing it.

So my conclusion on the whole snowboarding thing is:
-I was born in the South for a reason, snow stuff really isn't for me :)
-If I ever try snowboarding again I'm probably going to have to do a private lesson so someone can hold my hand for the first little bit
-my knee was fine but my confidence with my athletic ability isn't where it should be for me to do something crazy like learn to snow board (especially because the number 1 cause of a torn ACL is skiing!)
-learning to ski/snow board would be more fun with someone because then yall could laugh at each other as opposed to looking like an idiot all by yourself

Friday- Gold Souk

After seeing much of the city and with only a week left we decided to go souvenir shopping. The have outside markets where you can bargain with the vendors and pick from any number of items. On Friday we decided to take a trip to the Gold Souk (where most of the stores specialize in jewelery). We got there around 2:30PM and most of the shops didn't open until 3:30. As soon as we walked up we stood out for sure. We were the lightest people there and I'm pretty sure I was the only woman. At the time there were a handful of stores open and these owners were on the streets trying to get everyone walking by to come to their store. Everywhere we walked somebody came up to us trying to get us to buy fake this and fake that. We went looking mostly for authentic Emirate outfits. Derek found his at this store that was no larger than the width of a door.

After only being there for 20 minutes both of us were already tired and hungry. I personally don't like getting harassed while shopping especially in 110 degree weather! So we left shortly after Derek got his outfit, mostly because there were no stores open and we wanted to get something to eat. After driving around for 20 minutes and not finding a gas station we decided to give up on shopping for the day. We stopped at a grocery store on the way home and picked up some food for dinner that night and for our last week here.

Since we were going to take it easy that night and stay in and watch the Olympics we decided to try and cook something different. I remembered really enjoying Dad's feta stuffed chicken and thinking it would be simple to make. So that's what we decided to cook. Derek tried feta cheese for the first time while he was here and really liked it. (I'm glad I influenced him to try new things!!) We got all the ingredients we needed (chicken and feta- really complicated, I know) and picked up some hot, fresh bread and some stuff to make salad (Derek's also come to enjoy eating salad- thanks to my influence!)

The bread was absolutely fabulous- I'm really going to miss the fresh bread that only cost 3Dhs (<$1). The chicken also turned out great!! I was honestly surprised because I had no idea what I was doing and totally winged it! Derek was very impressed!! :) I guess I do have some domestic qualities. So we ate dinner, watched the Olympics, and rested up for our next day at Ski Dubai.


I feel like I'm only writing about the weekends, but honestly we don't do much during the week. Our schedule goes- work, workout, watch the Olympics. The weekends are when we have time to do cool things and to explore Dubai and the UAE.

Unfortunately I missed the opening ceremony of the Olympics. I was really worried that I would find a channel that showed them. After a deeper look I found 3 or 4 channels but none of them were in English! The next day, thankfully, I found a channel that plays them in English. The English is the British version of English but at least I can understand and read what's going on. The announcers here are hilarious. Some of the things they say are so off the wall and totally random.

Usually after work I turn on the Olympics and can catch some of the days events or at least recaps. I've really enjoyed watching the women's volleyball matches I've caught. The swimming and Michael Phelps is absolutely crazy!! Track and diving are also favorites of mine. I'm actually Facebook friends with a guy that ran the 100M for Great Britain. He ran track for ATM a few years back. I don't really know why were friends because I don't think I've met him but it was kinda cool to see the pictures of the Olympics he put up. I've also found watching the USA guys basketball. The games are ridiculous!! the lat one I watched they won by 37 points against Spain who's last years (maybe this years? sometime recent, idk) World Champion. What's crazy to me is the whole team (besides Kobe, Kidd, and one other guy) is my age!!!!

I'm really hoping that the USA wins the medal race!! It kind of stinks that the Olympics end the day we head back because it means that I'll miss the closing ceremony too. Oh well!

GO USA!!!!

The Fairmont Hotel- Thursday Night

The Fairmont Hotel is located across the street from our apartment. In 110 degree weather I prefer to take a five minute taxi as opposed to walking- Derek thinks I'm crazy but I don't care, it is too darn hot for us to be walking anywhere!

One of the teams of people we've worked with invited us to a bar on the second floor of the Fairmont. It is Cin Cin and is known for its wine selection. I had one glass and it was pretty good! I'd recommend it if you ever came to Dubai. Three of the guys we worked with were there when we showed up at around 11PM. The ratio was as bad as it is everywhere here. In a crowded bar where there was barely any room to walk I could count the number of women on one hand! One of the girls standing by us lost an earring and was frantically trying to find it. Me, having grown up in the shop looking for the stuff dad has dropped, was the one to find it. She was so excited and wanted to become my best friend!! lol She and her friends bought me a drink because they were so happy.

We stayed upstairs at Cin Cin for about an hour or two and then decided to go dancing- it wasn't even my suggestion, it was the guy's idea. Man I love the nightlife here!! The club 400, which I've talked about before, is on the bottom floor of the Fairmont. Our group ratio wasn't very good either- just me and Derek (the Americans), "The Russian, The Indian, and The African" (we were adding to the eclectic crowd at the bar). When we got downstairs we had to camp out and find a group of girls that'd allow us to tag along so the boys could get in. Derek being the adventurous and outgoing Texan he is, got right on the task at hand. Within a few minutes there were two very nice Russian girls that helped us.

Once inside it was exactly like it had been the last time. The music was great and everyone was dancing. We had a great time! Ranjith (our coworker) who's married was put on curfew and had to leave before the end of the night :) . At the end of the night I let Derek and our coworker, that lives in the same building as we do, convince me to walk home. That was big mistake! It was miserable outside as always!! Honestly it was only a 10 minute walk and we took a covered bridge over the road; but by the time we got home I was hot, sweaty, and my shoes were completely covered in sand. I need to add that to the things I won't miss- all this darn sand!! lol Overall, it was once again a good night!

Harley Davidson Dubai

On one trip to the mall we noticed that there was a Harley Dealership on the side of the road. Being my dad's daughter (that's kind of redundant!) I had to stop by and look before we left. To my inexperienced eyes every Harley Dealership looks pretty much the same. There were bikes and there were clothes. I did notice a few different things. For instance the Emirate head dress which is red and white. The Harley place had one embroidered with the Dubai/UAE owner's group. They also had some cool t-shirt designs that had camels and Arabic on them.

Next door to the Harley Dealership was an Exotic Cars store. We looked in and took a bunch of pictures. My favorites were the baby blue Lamborghini and the black Bently with red interior. I've never seen so many fancy cars in one place in my life! What's really amazing is that there are actually a lot of the luxury cars like that out on the road. There's a red Masarti that parks in the front of our apartment. Just yesterday when we were shopping a Lamborghini into the parking lot before us.

I can only dream right?? One day.... :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Burj Al Arab

Burj in Arabic means tower, therefore the hotel’s name is the Arab Tower. We made reservations at the Skyview Bar for Friday the 8th at 7 PM. Earlier that day we went to the mall so I could find a dress to wear and so Derek could find a shirt. After the mall we came back and ate dinner and got ready to go. A taxi picked us up at 6:30 and we headed to the hotel. About 15 minslater we arrive at the hotel. You have to have a reservation to even drive up to the hotel (they have a security guard and a list at the gated front entrance). You walk into the front lobby where everyone you walk by greets you- “Hi Sir/Madam, have a good evening.” There is some open space in front of a collection of water fountains. On either side are fish tanks the size of walls. An escalator takes you up to the second floor where there are elevators to the guest floors and the restaurant floors. The Skyview Bar is on the 27th (top) floor of the hotel. We arrived just as the sun was setting, which made for a great view of the ocean. The express elevator to the bar was incredibly fast. It took less than 30 seconds to climb 27 floors!

Window seats were available first come first serve. We were among the first people to arrive at the bar that opened at 7 PM and were lucky enough to receive a window table. From the windows you could out for miles of the gulf. To the left was the Palm Jumeirah. It was really cool and totally looked like a palm tree! We were shown to our table and then were handed menus that I swear weighted 10lbs! They of course carry a large variety of drinks and offer a mixologist that will make a special drink to specific to your tastes. Since we were celebrating being in Dubai, Derek and I each started out with a glass of champagne. Of course it was delicious. During our first drink a waiter came by and gave us a complimentary sample of “snacks”. There were mini chicken burgers, mushroom tarts (they looked like keishes), and a humus type dip. For our next drink, I order a peach Bellini and Derek had a King Fisher beer. His drink contained rum, whisky, something fruity, and for an extra kick, some curry. Both once again were very good.

The next thing the waiter brought to us was a mixture of nuts. They used a 4-tier display type dish where each tier was something different. The top one was a water chestnut cracker type thing that had a spicy flavor. The next two tiers had cashews and the bottom tier had glazed roasted almonds. For our next round of drinks I ordered a glass of red wine called Billie Billie Shiraz and Derek had a King Fisher beer. We were going to go home after this but decided we’ll probably only do this once in our life we might as well stay for a little longer. The wine I had was so fantastic I just had to have another glass and Derek ordered another beer, but this time it was a German beer called Erdinger.

Next we headed home. The hotel has taxi’s that are available for all of their guests and diners. So we took a taxi home. This was no ordinary taxi- it was a Lexus! What I found most interesting was that the fair was very similar if not exact to that of a regular taxi. Our ride there cost 40 Dhs and the ride back in the awesome Lexus taxi was 50 Dhs (Derek told him the wrong exit for our apartment so we were driving a few minutes extra!) After drinks we came home and changed to go out with some people from work.