Monday, February 28, 2011

February is Over

February is now over and this means that we have been here for one month.  I could say “one month done, only twenty-three more to go…” but I’m not thinking like that yet.  I am enjoying Dubai so far, we haven’t seen much of it yet – we have spent most of our time organizing our living situation.
Here is what we have done so far:
  • Lived in a hotel for 10 days and experienced the Green Community
  • Moved into our apartment with rented furniture, linens, dishes and appliances
  • Received our air shipment of goods from home (still waiting on the sea shipment though)
  • Had the baby vaccinated
  • Rode the train
  • Took many many taxis
  • Went to the beach
  • Went to the pool (outdoors)
  • Went to the playground
  • Went to a playgroup
  • Got our visas
  • Got our driver’s licenses
  • Learned to use iTunes to purchase music
  • Arranged to buy a vehicle
  • Got a haircut
  • Figured out that all of the clothing I own is likely inappropriate
  • Learned to cook with gas
  • Got a library card (and found a library!)
  • Got a cell phone
  • Learned to use the bank machines
  • Learned how to buy produce here (it’s very odd…)
  • Read disturbing news reports about world events that are now too close to home
  • Fallen back in love with cappuccino         
  • Started figuring out the school system (somewhat)
  • Read “The Happiness Project” and adopted a couple of the ideas
  • Bought appliances
  • Arranged for water delivery
Onward into March…

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fireworks

Tonight when we got home, we heard a noise outside our apartment.  We looked out the window and saw fireworks at the Burj Al Arab, across the sea.  My husband told me that this is what the hotel does when an extra-VIP guest arrives.  Can you believe it!

Wafi Mall

This evening we went to Wafi Mall to see the Return of the Pharaohs sound and light show.   It is an outdoor show that takes place in a small plaza behind the mall.  It was very impressive – a ten minute show consisting of Egyptian pictures and drawings projected onto the walls of the mall.  The projections wrap around the audience and the audience sitting in the plaza.  Music is broadcast and it co-ordinates with the visual show.  It was very well done.  The plaza where the show was broadcast was decorated in an Egyptian theme and part of the mall itself is a pyramid.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Driver's License

Today I got my UAE Driver's License.  First comment - the picture isn't too bad!  Much better than the wrinkly-necked one on my Visa.  Anyways - the process took about 2.5 hours.

First we went to the Canadian Consulate to get a letter advising that our Alberta DLs were indeed valid.  Then we drove a fair distance to a really crowded shopping complex where we got eye tests and then went to the second floor of a department store to get our DLs.  Thank goodness we had a driver to help us navigate all of this.

My husband had to write a letter stating that he did not object to me driving.  So...he had the chance to say no and didn't!  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ibn Battuta Mall

I can’t believe that I’m excited about a mall.  But, I am!
Ibn Battuta Mall is one of the neatest things I have ever seen.  It is set up in a series of lands (Egypt, Persia, China, Tunisia and some more).  Each of the different areas of the mall is themed from that “land”.  It is incredibly difficult to describe, but an example is the “China” area.  There is a long mall-like hallway that has some themed d├ęcor – ceiling, flooring, etc and it is really nice.  But then at the end of the hall it opens up unto a massive dome with a full-sized sailing ship in it – crazy!  Another section has a huge mosque dome and yet another has a telescope.  It is just unbelievable and very well done.
The mall was designed to celebrate the travels of the famous explorer, you guessed it – Ibn Battuta.
Anyone who knows me well knows that “the mall” is never my favourite destination – but this one wowed me.  Our older son actually wanted to look at everything and stay longer at the mall!  There were tourists taking pictures all over the place.  This is one place we will definitely take visitors.

Library

On Monday, I got a library card.  It is for The Old Library at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.  It is the first thing I have obtained in my name alone without the permission of my husband in Dubai.   Everything else, from water delivery to driving requires either that the contract be in his name or that he give his consent.
There is a public library system in Dubai, with a handful of branches scattered around the city.  At first I thought I would join that library, but once I started to look into it, The Old Library seemed like a better fit.  It is a very small, not for profit library at the community arts centre.  The arts centre looks a lot like this type of centre looks in Canada – silly murals are painted on the outside wall and everything is a bit run down.  It is in a room about the size of my “great” room in our apartment, and the books are a fairly cobbled-together collection.  But, the location is convenient (I buy groceries downstairs at that mall), and it has a children’s story hour on Sundays.
When I was getting the card, the librarian asked for my passport (they require your passport or visa for everything here).  She saw that my birthplace showed as Edmonton and said she was from Calgary – I explained that I had been living there as well!  Small world.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I am north of 30 and south of 35....not that it matters, right, it's how young you feel.

Anyways...it is a pretty typical Monday here - I will take the kids out to get a library card (I hope!) and some groceries and, possibly a cell phone.  Maybe a walk on the beach and a trip to the playground, then dinner and a birthday treat.  It will be an all-round good day.

I would normally have a drink to celebrate, but I'm nursing and Dubai is pretty dry (although where we live is not on the mainland so the liquor rules do not apply here).  So, if you are reading this - feel free to drink a beer for me - preferably an ice cold Rickards Red (GCK, you can have a warm Guiness if that suits).

Have a good day everyone!




Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dealing with the Mundane

We have been in our new home for about 10 days now, and we are still dealing with the mundane, house-setting up tasks.  We have no vehicle, so the "big shop" that you always need to do in a new home has been via a series of cab trips.  There is nothing worse than hauling a big grocery load in a taxi!

I was starting to resent these errands, such as: getting a visa medical; buying appliances; waiting for appliance delivery; arranging internet; arranging gas hookup; buying pantry and spice groceries; and soon - shopping for a car.  But, now it is clear to me that these bland errands are a useful exercise in getting to know our new community.  Sure, we haven't travelled anywhere exotic, and we've only done a handful of touristy things around Dubai, but we have learned more about how we will function on a day to day basis in this community.  I have found a paediatrician, bought groceries, located the public library, become comfortable with taxies and learned to use the bank machine.  I am walking before I run.  Today the all day mini-mart, next month, Oman!

Floors - Advice needed!

Please post a reply if you have an idea or advice.

I have never lived in a sandy locale for longer than a brief vacation, and I'm having trouble deciding how to deal with the floors of our apartment.  We have all ceramic tiles.  We have to drive the baby buggy and bicycles into the foyer of our apartment where we take off our shoes, so sand gets in that way.  Also, sand gets in on everything else, it seems.  We now have the kind of floors where you get dirty socks from walking around - yech!  But, it seems impossible to control unless we stop going to the beach.

So, is it best to give up on perfection, and have "inside shoes" that we all wear as soon as we are indoors?  Or is there a way to win the floor/sand battle?

Casey Kasem

My husband's company rented furniture for us to use until our furniture arrives by sea.  I got to pick items off a list that I wanted, and one of the things I picked was a radio/CD player.

There are lots of radio stations here, and I know I should be open minded and try to experience the local culture by listening to indigenous music - but I didn't want to.  So, I scoured the stations and found the Virgin station - 104.4.  Brand new pop, just like home.  Not what I would normally pick, so I found another station right next to it on the FM dial, 103.9, that plays a very random mix of soft rock and new music (with all swear words included in the songs - nothing is edited for content!).  We have been listening to this station pretty much all the time.

On Friday morning (second day of the long weekend), there was an announcement on the radio that they were now going to play the Casey Kasem top 40 countdown.  I love countdowns, even if I don't like the style of music, I just love a countdown.  This was good, and a little surprising - I didn't know there was still a Casey Kasem countdown.

The countdown started, and I was ready to listen, and then they announced that it was the Casey Kasem countdown from February 16, 1980!

Jumeirah Beach Resort - An Evening Out

We went out for dinner at the Jumeirah Beach Resort this weekend.  I was really interested in seeing this area, which is near the Marina, because for a while, my husband thought we should live near there.  Then he changed his mind because of the walk to the beach and the lack of playgrounds.

The area is like a tourist resort town, with a main street and lots of restaurants (almost no shops at street level).  We walked along the entire street, then picked a restaurant (Paul, the French chain) and had a great dinner.

After supper, we went to the second level of the street to go to the grocery store.  On the second level there were children playing kick ball and people smoking sheesha (not sure of the spelling) and just milling about in general.  The entire area was incredibly lively and crowded, and the walkway was a nice contrast to our quieter neighbourhood.

I think this is another place we will take visitors to in the future.

Internet

We finally have internet again!  We have been "off-line" since the 10th when we moved out of the hotel.

More posts to come as I catch up.

JaniceLJLJ

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Souk Madinat

This past weekend, we went to Souk Madinat for a night out on Friday night.  We still have no way to cook at our place, and we thought it would be fun to eat out there.

Souk Madinat is a fancy, touristy mall that is kitted out to look kind of like a covered souk.  The stores are fairly high-end and there is no bargaining, etc.  It is air conditioned and completely indoors.  Not very authentic as far as souks go, but a nice place to visit with a clean, resort-type feel.
When you go outdoors at Souk Madinat, there is a lovely garden area with beautifully lit plants and trees.  There is a series of canals with boats running up and down and different outdoor restaurants along the water.  The big draw is an amazing view of the Burj Al Arab, the sail shaped hotel.  We can see the other side of the Burj Al Arab from our living room, so it was neat to see it from Souk Madinat.
We will certainly take visitors to Souk Madinat (if anyone ever comes to visit!), but we would not do our regular shopping there.
It is fairly cool here right now – around +15 or 20, but with strong and unpleasant winds and cool evenings.

Line Up

Every time I travel to a new place, I wonder what kind of line-ups there will be.  I am a big fan of the completely orderly line-up – the type where the first person to arrive and stand in the allotted spot is in the front, and there is no pushing, shoving or subtle creeping forward to change position.  I like the “Canadian” line up, where everyone is, in general, orderly and when someone is not, there is a lot of passive-aggressive mumbling among the crowd. 
 I had assumed that in Dubai, it would be the “European” style of line-up (anyone who has ever driven in Milan or boarded a Lufthansa flight knows what I’m talking about).  I was pleasantly surprised, this is a city quite obsessed with fair line-ups.  Queues are orderly and there is no pushing and shoving.  Everyone maintains a reasonable distance from others (personal space is defined a bit small for my liking here, but still acceptable) and waits their turn.  Taxi lines are supervised at the shopping mall so that everyone goes in order – both cabs and patrons.  People line up to board the train, or pay their bills and there are no major issues.  Sometimes there are lines for ladies only or preferred customers and these are used in an appropriate manner.
There is one notable exception to this orderliness – the ladies washroom.  I first noticed this in the Dubai Mall, but it appears to hold true for all large ladies washrooms that I have seen so far.  The system is entirely different inside the washroom – the doors are all floor to ceiling, with an indicator indicating “vacant” or “occupied” on the door lock.  Instead of forming a line somewhere near the sink that could stretch outside the washroom, what happens is that when you go into the washroom, you pick a door and stand outside it.  If your door opens before a door where someone has been waiting longer, so be it, you were just lucky.  So, instead of one big line, there is a different line for every stall.
Interesting system, and not necessarily fair.  I have not decided whether I like it or not yet.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sand

Well, we have moved into our new digs on the Palm.  It's a pretty amazing location - it's more like a resort than a home.  Our home is nice, bigger than it seemed at first, with nice decore and a good layout.  We are close to a beach, playground and swimming pools.  There is really nothing to complain about (other than some issues raised in previous about home repairs). 

I proudly took our sons down to the beach to show off all of the amenities that we will have access to.  "This is our new playground!"  I told our older son excitedly.  He said "I like it....but I don't go on sand."  What?  He hates the idea of sand.  I try to talk him into it...no dice.  I cajole him, tease him, threaten him gently - nothing works.  So I give up.

I then offered to take him to the beach (yeah, I know that makes no sense).  He was excited though, he said he wanted to go and wanted to see the swimming area, as long as there were no sharks.  There isn't...right?  So, I took him to the beach, and he would not walk on it, because of the sand.  He would, however, be willing to go to the pool he announced, but not today.  I got pretty annoyed and took him home, I decided at this point that it would be my husband's job to fix this. 

The next day, we all went out and my husband went through the same "no sand" routine with him.  But, he eventually talked him into trying the sand by telling him that it was cool or some other nonsense.  Then, our "delicate flower" was upset when there was sand in his shoes.  This was getting worrisome because we will be here for two years and maddening because he is just so stubborn.

Then, we walked past a beach shower, and my husband showed him how to wash off his feet.  Eureka!  He is now fine with the sand, because he can clean up after the playground or the beach.


Baby Care in Public

It's Dubai Shopping Festival this month, which means huge sales at the malls.  It also means huge crowds at the malls.  On Wednesday night this week, we needed to go to the mall to buy appliances at the Carrefour store.  We went to the Mall of the Emirates (the one with the indoor ski hill). 

At the mall, we decided to eat supper and shop.  During supper, the baby woke up - starving.  We are in an extremely conservative country, and the mall has a sign on the door requesting that all patrons cover their shoulders and their knees when they are shopping.  Given this climate, I did not think that breastfeeding the baby in the middle of an open restaurant in the mall was a particularly good idea.  So, I went to the "baby room" near the ladies washroom in the mall.

In the baby room in this particular mall, there is a fancy changing area, and another room with comfortable benches and also mirrors and a countertop.  The room was empty, but opened into the ladies washroom so ladies frequently walked through it.

When I got to the baby room, the baby started fussing.  Then he went bananas into a full-scale scream and I could not calm him down.  This is unusal for my baby, but he had been vaccinated that morning, so I was prepared for this exact scenario.  I was armed with baby tylenol and ready to take action.

I needed to calm the baby enough to tylenol him and nurse him.  He also needed a diaper change, but I was willing to do that while he cried.  I could not calm him down so I changed him first and got him further agitated.  Then I was trying to calm him for the feeding and tylenol.  And everyone started interfering...

A crying baby attracts a lot of attention in the ladies room .  Ladies were coming from all parts of the washroom to give me helpful advice:  walk with him; sit with him; let me hold him; nurse him; nurse him better; he's too hot, too cold; and so on.  I could not get away from all of the advice, and it was making matters much worse.  So I calmed him partway down, gave him the tylenol and stuck him (crying) into the Baby Bjorn.  I walked down the mall, and got a bunch more advice before the baby calmed down.  (Turned out the best advice was to walk with him - that calmed him (it wasn't the tylenol, because he spit it all up)).

I thought this was interesting becuase I have never received any advice in Canada like this.  Once a lady rudely told my friend to stop letting her baby play with something, but that is the closest I have experienced in Canada.

Negative Week

We have had a rought first week in Dubai.  I don't regret coming (yet) because most of our issues have not been caused by the locals, the customs or the culture but rather by our relocation "experts."  I didn't post any of these issues as they were unfolding, as they were each entirely all-consuming and seemed like the end of the world at the time.  They would obviously all be resolved in time, so I saved up for one big negative post.  Once it is out there, I will turn over a new page for a better week next week.



Apartment



The process of taking possession of our apartment has been a comedy of incompetence.  We travelled to the unit one evening to do a walk through in the dark as the lights were not working.  When I made the obvious complaint, our relocation specialist (agent) told me that this walk through was just for major items as the unit was still to be painted and cleaned.  OK, well then I could live with that.  She says we'll be in by Tuesday, so we arrange moving our rental furniture accordingly.



Then, she emails and says it actually doesn't need ot be painted because it already was, by the tenant.  Only touch ups were required.  This sounds weird and very convenient for the landlord.  I point that out in an email.  My husband's company rep tells the relocation specialist in an email that the apartment must be paited, so get on it.  I also ask about clenaing.  She replies that she double checked with the landlord, and it has been painted, so it is fine.  Then she says she will be doing a walk through on Monday, after the cleaners and touch ups to ensure that everything will be ready for us.  There is a bit of a scuffle via email, where she informs me that "touch ups" have nothing to do with paint, but refer only to cleaning....hmmmm? 



Our relocation specialist let us know that she supervised the cleaning and the apartment looked good.  We could come the next day for a final walk through.  Horray!  We might be moving out of our single room .   We  made a plan.  As we had 6 huge suitcases, 4 carry ons, 1 stroller and 3 car seats at the hotel, we would try to take some things over to the unit with us.  We were meeting at the unit at 2, so my husband took 2 suitcases to work.  I was to take 1 suitcase, 2 carryons, the stroller and 2 carseats (I actually managed all 3!) with me.



When we got to the unit, from the first step in the door you can tell that the unit had not been painted.  Nor had the walls been cleaned.  I tell this to the relocation specialist who insists that it has been painted.  There is no way, I show her my mounting "evidence" and my husband says something about a blind person knowing that it was not painted.  This was not getting off to a good start.



Then we start the walk through in earnest.  There is something wrong with the caulking on the tub in the kids bath.  OK, it can be fixed.  My husband turns on the master shower and it leaks.  OK, it can be fixed.  He turns on the master bath and the handle falls apart in his hand.  OK, it can be fixed.  So far, calm husband, angry wife.  Meanwhile, I'm getting angrier, now at the agent and my husband - why do I always have to be the bad guy?



And then, my husband walks into the first bedroom and opens the window - the safety mechanism has been removed.  So the window flaps all the way open and is high off the ground.  Completely inappropriate with kids in the home.  My husband looks at the agent and says "I was going to be a nice guy, but this is completely inappropriate."  She says "OK, it can be fixed."  He walks into the next kids room and again - no window safety.  His ears are steaming.  Then we walk through the entire apartment and everything we touch seems broken or dirty.  The agent follows us, making excuses and writing down about 6 things in her fancy notebook.



She calls the landlord, who says it was painted.  He eventually comes over and he is angry because he paid for it to be painted.  Everyone is super-happy now, as you could imagine.  An arrangement is made for a repair person to come in at 4 - about 1.5 hours away.  He will apparantly fix all of the problems right away and we will be happy.



The relocation specialist (our agent) tells us that she will stay to supervise.  I go back to the hotel and my husband stays to supervise.  Apparantly a crew of about 12 guys showed up and a painting crew also showed up.  My husband left at around 6 and she stayed to supervise the painters.



The next day it did look better, but when we moved in there were a series of small disasters - there was no hot water, the bathroom flooded adn the stove/oven didn't work, to name a few.  One good thing - our rental furniture also showed up and now that it is furnished, the unit seems much larger!



Appliances

The appliance debacle started when we were asked to go to our new apartment for a "walk through" in the dark.    When we were in the kitchen, our agent suggested that as my husband would have two days off soon (the weekend), we would be wise to spend that time shopping for appliances.  Seemed like a smart idea. 

Having purchased applianaes before in Canada, I asked what I thought was a smart question - what are the sizes of the spaces in the kitchen for the appliances (so that we would buy the right size).  The relocation agent told me it didn't matter, you just buy the appliances.  I wasn't sure she understood my question, so I asked if all appliances were the same size in Dubai.  "Yes" she told me, with the exception of fridges - there are different sizes of fridge-holes (TDG I put this in for you).  Then I saw a tube next to the stove top and asked if it was for gas - yes she said, all stoves in Dubai are gas and then she launched into some explanation about ordering gas cannisters.

I quite frankly did not believe her, so when I returned to the hotel, I did a quick google search and discovered that appliaances were all different sizes, just like at home.  I felt great!  I was right!  Hold on...I was right, but what did that get me - now I didn't know what size of appliances to buy.  So, I was no further off than in the first place.  So, we emailed the agent to ask for the sizes.  She was pretty snarky and told me it was now the weekend and agents don't work on the weekend - exactly the point, neither does my husband.  You could tell she was thinking "crazy lady always wants something from me..."  I also noticed that there was a wide range of electroc stoves for sale.



She eventually got the sizes for me - after the weekend.  We went to Carrefour (the local store that is closest to a Walmart store) and bought all of the appliances we needed in about 10 mintes.  They will be delivered on Sunday.  So, we will live here with rental appliances for about 4 days - this would be no problem, but the rental stove/oven does not work!

Hotel Eviction



On Monday, the day before we were to do the final walk through at the apartment, I took our sons to the playground.  We spent a leisurely morning wandering the park and I took them out to lunch.  We were going to a party that evening, so then I gave them baths before lunch.  We had lots of time and I took my time.



During baths, I thought I heard a knock at the door, but there was no way I could get it, and I convinced myself that I was not expecting anyone.  Then I thought I heard the phone ring - but same deal.  I got the boys dried off, and the baby dressed (not our older boy though).  Then there was a knock at the door.  I answered and a man asked me when I would be checking out.  Thursday, I told him.  He left and I though "how strange."  Then another knock and a different man with the same question - I gave the same answer.



A third man came and asked and then he told me that my booking ended today and I was supposed to have been out a couple of hours ago.  They needed me to leave immediately becuase someone else was waiting for the room.  What!!!  But, I had not booked the room and had no real info.  I tried to call my husband but I could not for the life of me figure out the phone.  I had no-ones number.  I decided to email my husband and our contact at his company who had made the booking.  In the meantime, the hotel kept calling and asking me to leave and they kept sending people to the door.



Normally, packing and leaving would not have been such an issue, but we had 6 suitcases, 4 carryons, 3 car seats, a stroller, and a borrowed bassinett.  We had been living here a week and every drawer and surface was full of our stuff and toys were everywhere!  I started frantically packing and emailing, not knowing what to do. The baby got hungry and started screaming.  Our older son was quiet but incredibly unhelpful as he packed his cars by playing with them. 



I could not find my husband anywhere.  I finally got an email from the co-ordinator at my husbands work.  she said that she had extended our booking and there must be an error.  Just sit tight she said.  Meanwhile they kept phoning and visiting - becoming increasingly agitated with each call.  "Please madam - we need for you to leave immediately." then "you must leave now" then "when will you leave."  It is a classy joint, so it did not get worse than that.



I finally got an email from the company co-ordinator, she had talked to the hotel manager, so we were good to stay.  Shortly thereafter, I got a call from the manager.  She told me "we are overbooked and someone needs your room, but you can stay in it."  Thanks...I guess.



At this point our room is ripped apart and naps are about 2 hours off schedule.  Then my husband decides to call...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Frusterating?

My great grandma used to say sometimes that she was "frust-er-ated," and to a certain extent I am feeling that way right now.

I connected to the internet from our hotel and accidentally turned all of the script on the web to Arabic.  I cannot read to find the button to change it back!  So it took me 40 minutes to figure out how to create a new blog post.  Also when I used the spell check on the post, all of the words in the whole post were misspelled (because it was checking to Arabic, not English)!  (this is - of course - my disclaimer for having any spelling mistakes in this post).

I think that experience is a bit of a metaphor for our time here so far.   We seem to accomplish what we need, but there are always annoying twists and turns along the way.

Anyways, it is Sunday here today, which is the start of the work week.  My husband was off Friday and Saturday and we had some family fun.

On Friday, we stayed around the hotel and the community that we are temporarily staying in.  We went for a long walk in the park and had lunch out.  Then naps and dinner.  A pretty benign day, but the family is still adjusting to the time zone.  Also, we will not live in this community for much longer, so we might as well enjoy it while we can.  It is pretty far away from everywhere else in Dubai, so it is unlikely we will come back here often.

On Saturday we were more adventurous.  We took a taxi to the train station and took the train into town.  The train here is futuristic looking and there are no drivers.  Our older son is obsessed with trains and was sufficiently impressed with this one.  The stations are very new and shockingly clean.  I mean no litter, etc but also floors you would almost eat off of.  I noticed on the train that the mindset is different than Calgary when it comes to seating.  People here are incredibly driven to get a seat on the train.  They will ask someone to move over and they will sit uncomfortably close to other people.  When someone with a seat gets off of the train, there is major competiation for the spot.  I was standing with the baby in a Baby Bjorn and a woman offered me her seat (very generous in the circumstances).  I didn't really want it because it is awkward to sit with those carriers, but she seemed almost annoyed that I would not take the seat.

That all being said, the train was actually pretty empty.  The train ride was a neat way to see some of the landmarks of Dubai, including the Burj Khalif and the sail shaped hotel.

We got off of the train intending to go to Dubai Creek, and instead walked the wrong way (frusterating).  We walked a long way in the wrong direction.  When we figured out our mistake, it looked like an easy fix to cut through on another road, so we did that.  We ended up in a sketchy neighbourhood and on the wrong side of a huge wall that lined the Dubai Creek area.  We found no break in the wall so we had to walk around it (a really long ways).  By this time our older son was cranky from walking, no lunch, the heat and needing the washroom.  And I, of course, wasn't cranky at all.

We got our bearings and found the Dubai Creek area which is really neat.  There are lots of boats and it is down from Port Rashida so some of them are of an impressive size.  There are a lot of dinner cruises and tourist boats also.  There is a midway in the area, but it was closed - we could not tell if it was closed for the season or if it was just too early in the day.

After Dubai Creek, we had lunch and then took the train to Dubai Mall.  We looked around - it is pretty impressive, especially next to WEM.  Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world now (sorry WEM) and it is shiny and new.  Outside of the mall and looking on to Burj Khalif, there is a water show that is similar to the Bellagio show in Vegas.  We waited 20 minutes to see the show and then it was over in about a minute and a half.  It was an impressive minute and a half, but the last time my husband saw the show it was about seven minutes!

We took a taxi back to the hotel after that and ordered room service.

I am starting to become really impatient for our apartment to be available.  A lot of things seem to be "lost in translation" with our english-speaking rental agent, so I am also concerned that there may be issues once we get possession.  We need to purchase applicances, because they are not provided with rental units here (so I get to own 5 kitchen appliacnes that will be unusable in Canada!).  There are a lot of little tasks in moving that I was either unaware of or had not factored in.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting There

We're here, but how did it all work?

I had a plan.  I always have a plan - but this one was going to take me and the family from Canada to Dubai for a seamless transition....maybe.  The first part of my plan was to be flexible if things did not go as planned.  Good thing, because there were a few bumps along the road.

Our last day in Canada (January 31) seemed to take forever!  Our flight was scheduled for 5:30, so we needed to fill the day.  We had one last breakfast at Cora, checked out of the hotel and headed back to our place to load up the suitcases.  Of course, the baby threw up in the night, so I had to try to dry out some of his clothes quickly as well.  Then it was noon - what to do, we had hours to kill, but nothing pressing to accomplish.  So, we went to a San Francisco style Chinese buffet (something we never do).  Then we picked up the father-in-law downtown, as he was driving us to the airport.  At the airport, we unloaded, said one last good-bye and checked in.

We had 6 huge suitcases, 2 car seats, a stroller, and 5 carry on bags - it was a real mess, but the check in went well.  Then we killed some time in the lounge.

I was upgraded to first class, so I got a sleeping pod on the flight to Frankfurt for the baby and me.  My husband and our older son sat in coach and had a "dude's night" on the flight - movies, snacks and naps.  The pod was great, I could flatten out the bed and there was space for me and the baby.  One drawback was that if the bed is flattened, the tray could not be down, so I had to hold the baby through all of the meals.

Frankfurt was a quick stop, we grabbed a bite in the airport because Lufthansa food can be awful - it wasn't it was beef stroganoff, pretty good (but, I don't like been stroganoff).  We had a bassinet on the Lufthansa flight, that meant I could put the baby down for a while - welcome relief.

We arrived in Dubai at midnight local time.  Our trip through customs and immigration was really quick.  There was a huge line up for the retinal scan, with one short line marked "for ladies only."  My husband did not need a retinal scan, so I went to ask if I could then use the ladies line with our 2 sons.  It turned out that I was not supposed to be in that line at all!  An officer helped us find the right line which was much shorter, and we were done in a flash.  Then a sketchy ride through Dubai crowded into a small SUV until we got to our hotel.

Arriving at 2:00 am in the hotel meant it was really mid-day back home and we were all wide away and hungry.  We ordered room service, unpacked and then tried to sleep.

We have been living in the hotel for about 3 days now, and it is a nice accommodation beside a large green park.  Everyday we walk in the park and our son plays in the fountain and at the many playgrounds.  There are restaurants and shops and a water pond to walk around, so there is a lot to do.  We will move into our permanent apartment within the next week or so.

We viewed the apartment yesterday and did a walk through for major damage.  It looks like a nice place to live although the apartment felt pretty small (but our home in Canada is ridiculously big).  There is a balcony with one side looking into the complex and one out to the sea and beach area.  The kids rooms both have a sea view and the kitchen looks very nice.  The master bedroom is almost comically small, but maybe once our furniture is in it will seem larger (does that ever happen?).

Now we are waiting for the apartment and I am trying to get the family adjusted to the new time zone.  The baby and I are completely adjusted because our sleep patterns were irregular anyways.  But my husband and our son are disasters.  I am hoping tonight is a turning point - I don't think I can take much more whining from either of them!

Thursday, February 3, 2011