Sunday, June 22, 2014

Brunch at the Fairmont

Ok, we have all heard of brunch right? You know.....that meal that falls between breakfast and lunch that happens when you FINALLY get to sleep in from the long week but by the time you wake up and get around to eating it is more like lunch time, but you still want some waffles. Right? Well, sort of. In the fact that it happens on the weekend, yes, we both have the same concept of brunch. That is where the comparison ends. In the UAE, I would equate brunch to an Olympic sport. NOT JOKING. It takes endurance, stamina, dedication, and one empty being to full embrace and enjoy it.

So brunch here is a 4-4.5 hour social affair, an absolutely amazing one. You really have to pace yourself to last the full time and people really take the entire time. It is decadent, over-indulgent, gluttony in the purest form....and it is AMAZING. Think buffet, but with every cuisine you can think off, from the top tier of quality, ridiculously fresh, and mind-blowingly delicious. Do not think that you can compare this to anything in Las Vegas. That and the booze flow freely. My new favorite drink in the world, for now anyway, is a fresh strawberry mojito.
While I overindulged on the sushi and sashimi bar, Adam pillaged the dessert table...5 tiramisu later he was pouting because they were all out.

This was my first brunch in Abu Dhabi and it was awesome. There were about 30 of us that came together to celebrate the birthdays of Dave, Phillip, and Jen, as well as having a gathering feast before the beginning of Ramadan next week.

Birthday boy Dave



Awaiting our Pimm's cup

Phillip, Dave, Carly, Johan, Adam, Elena, and Debbie

The birthday trio: Dave, Phillip, and Jen

Michael enjoys a fine mojito (or two) as well

Brunch is a serious feat

Rosemont Crew: Allison, Johan, and Elena

A beginning of a bromance: Adam and Johan

Rosewood Girls: Me, Allison, and Elena

The Rosewood Boys: Johan, Michael, and Adam with our awesome waiter Mukesh

After eating and imbibing for so many hours, it was time to decompress (I know, it sounds so rough right?), so to the pool we went! It was a beautiful afternoon of continued wonderment with friends and drinks. Adam and Elena slept by the pool while the rest of us. Overall it was a glorious day, meeting new amazing people, enjoying yet another day in this incredible life we are living.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hello Abu Dhabi!

I wish I could find the words to describe all of the wonderment of this country.

It is beautiful.
It is new.
We LOVE it here.

I am only two weeks into being here and it already feels like home. It feels like we belong. It feels...perfect. Who knows, maybe it is all just being so deliriously happy about being reunited with Adam, but it feels like much more than that. It is just SO much.
Adam has done the MOST INCREDIBLE job here getting our lives established. I love our new home, our new way of life. We have already made some absolutely awesome new friends and have a whole social group that live in our building. There are fun nights out, there are awesome nights in. I can't lie, I am writing this post while sitting at the pool (in the shade and slathered in SPF 100+ of course), enjoying the sound of the wind blowing through the surrounding date trees, blessed with warm weather and a cloudless blue sky. Please come share this good fortune with us!
It has been a very long time, since Hawaii actually, that I have felt this...peace. This sense of...where we belong. Maryland was not it. So what is it about this place? Again, I struggle for the words.

The people.
The food.
The cultures.

Seriously, the people are incredible. So many people from SO many different places. They are all SO nice. There is a real sense of aloha here, though they would not understand the meaning of this term. Yes, there are many issues with the way people are treated here, we are living in a very class-based culture, with there being many ethical issues about how the working class (laborers) are treated. We are fortunate to be white and American. We are lucky to be here and close to the top of the hierarchy. But everyone, so willing to go out of their way to help you, to make sure things are okay. I missed this.


I will definitely be working out more vigorously and routinely than I ever have...I have to, that or I will weigh a bajillion pounds. Cuisine from every nook and cranny on this earth, it is fresh, it is delicious. The other thing that I am LOVING is that you go into grocery stores, you look at ingredient lists on recognize every single word. Most products are free of preservatives, artificial flavors and coloring, fillers, chemicals, and focused on the natural. These are not organic markets or anything either...people just want the pure stuff. LOVE IT. You can taste the freshness in everything here, because everything tastes just a little different. 
And the different cultures. I imagine this to be a lot like New York...the melting pot, but still Americans are the majority population. Not only are white people a minority here, Americans are an even smaller part of that minority. I LOVE THAT! This also coincides with the food. So many different people to talk to, cultures to learn about, and my bucket list for travel is infinite! 

Before coming here, everyone was asking: "Are you nervous?" "Aren't you worried about XYZ?" And I wasn't. It is an incredible place. Yes, I live in the Middle East. No, I do not live in Iraq. No, I don't have to cover my head or wear an abaya. Yes, I feel completely safe here. The penalties are so steep here there is virtually no crime. I have passed Ferraris left running in the parking lot UNATTENDED, to keep the air conditioning on and the car cool (Yeah, there is a lot of wealth out here), and there is no worries that someone will take the car. Good luck with that happening in New York.
I really hope that you take advantage of our living here, come visit, come see this incredible place. Let your mind be blown at the ostentatious extravagance and luxury while enjoying the simple beauty of life in Abu Dhabi.

A snap shot of some of the things over the last two weeks...the brunch will be getting it's own post, as it was pure mind-blowing gluttony and extravagance.

Lounging by our pool, our building in the background

Sport shooting at Al Forsan

Adam and Michael

Alison, Michael, me, and Adam

Rosewood crew watching the World Cup (our place)

ONE of the sushi aspects of the brunch...HEAVEN!

Part of the brunch crew

He loves his pict being taken!

Awesome (and totally FREE) exhibit

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

One of the very first things Adam took me to see after my arrival (and jet lag recovery) was The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. It is absolutely breathtaking, it rivals the grandeur and architectural wonder of the Duomo in Florence...either of them being the most beautiful building I have beheld in my life thus far. It serves as both a religious place of worship and a cultural center.
Honestly, I am loving the tradition and rituals of the cultures here, just how different it is and how much there is to learn. To visit the mosque, like the Vatican in Rome, there are guidelines for appropriate attire. Men must be wearing pants and shirts with sleeves while women must have heads, legs, and arms covered. Adam was appropriately dressed, but I borrowed (both entry to the mosque and garment to be dressed appropriately are FREE) and abaya. While it it completely covers everything except your face and hands, and is black, it was really light and flowy, super comfortable. I would definitely not mind wearing one every day, having to remove the decision of what to wear every time getting dressed!
We took our time walking around the facility, as it is just so beautiful...looking at all of the fine and ornamental details, reflecting over the many pools, and finding a wonderful sense of solitude and peace within the walls.
If you are coming to visit, this will definitely be on the list of places that you will be taken! Enjoy the pictures!

Rockin' the abaya