Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend break: The Chedi, Muscat, Oman

One of the good things of living in the UAE is that you are pretty close to some really interesting destinations.
I usually tend to run away to Europe every chance I get. Not sure why. Maybe it just feels closer to home. But, this past week, we decided to spend Eid, one of the local holidays, in Muscat, Oman.
Ok. I confess. I did not actually get to see much of Muscat, so I really can’t give you much information on that, but I think you will enjoy a quick review on The Chedi, the hotel we stayed in.
If you ever need to chill and relax, this is the place to be. Beautiful design, with lots of green (which is always good for us here in the middle of the desert), water gardens and cozy little nooks.
The two swimming pools are amazing and you are constantly pampered with water to keep you hydrated. One of them is dedicated entirely to adults, so you don’t need to worry about kids running around, screaming or splashing water on you.
The beach is also really nice. It’s a bit rocky, so you need to watch-out as you go in, but once you are there enjoy the clear water and the little fishes passing by.
The spa has a great selection of massages and treatments and the gym, although a bit small, is sufficient to keep you in shape. Although you will have to work extra hard not to gain a few pounds since all you really want to do at The Chedi is eat and drink! I can personally attest to that!
Your day will go something like this: massive breakfast (buffet + a selection of eggs, waffles and pancakes a la carte), drinks, snacks and lunch by the pool and, to finalize, dinner at one of the restaurants. The best one, in my opinion, is The Beach Restaurant. Amazing setting, delicious food and perfect soundtrack: the waves.
Now I am re-energized and ready to face the marathon that is about to start Thursday night: Brazil here I come!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Camel milk: the tasting

This post is for all of you out there who dared me to go ahead and taste camel milk!
It was actually not hard to find at all. This Camelicious brand can be found in major supermarkets in Abu Dhabi and it even comes in different flavors: plain, chocolate, date, strawberry.

I went for the plain one to make sure I really did taste the camel milk. Want to know what I thought? Not that bad... It smells and taste a bit stronger than regular milk, but apart from that, no major differences. Same texture, same color... I liked it!
I had actually recorded the entire thing, but for some weird reason I am not able to post the video here. Will keep trying. Meanwhile, some pics for you...

Regarding the side effects, I'll let you know later. Really hoping there are none...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A cuppa ‘camel-ccino’ anyone?

I thought I’d share with you an article I read recently on the benefits of camel milk. That’s right. Camel milk.

Apparently, camel milk…
-         is low in fat (approximately 2% less than cow milk)
-         reduces cholesterol
-         boasts immune system
-         is a great alternative for people with lactose intolerance
-         is rich in calcium, promoting healthy grow of embryo during pregnancy
-         has anti-ageing properties
-         is good for healthy bones, nails, hair, teeth and skin
Who knew?!
In fact, a series of camel milk by-products are currently under development. Soon people will be able to ask for a camel-ccino instead of the regular cappuccino.
To read the article:
For more info on camel milk:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rain alert! Rain alert!

Just read on the paper that there's a chance of rain over the next two days. Uh oh…
You are probably wondering why this information made it to the headlines and you are also possibly curious as to why I decided to include this in my blog. After all, it's just rain. What's the big deal?
Well, rain is actually something kind of special around here. Hellooo!! Did you forget I am in the middle of the desert? It never rains here! Ever since I moved to the UAE (three and a half years on November 17), I have experienced only 15 days of rain - tops!
Actually, before last year, I used to wish for rain. I mean, I love living here and enjoying the beautiful sunny days throughout the year, but sometimes you just need a little rain and its sound and its smell and the laziness that comes with it and makes you want to stay in bed, under the covers, for the entire day, eating comfort food, reading a good book, watching TV and drinking wine. 
I guess I should be happy with the possibility of some rain, right? Wrong! Here's why...
December 2009. My husband was flying and out of the country (for those of you who do not know, he is a pilot). Only a couple of days until I set down to Brazil for the holidays. I was packing. It started to rain. I went to bed happy.
Woke up and looked out the window. Still raining. How nice. Suddenly I noticed some of the streets seemed a bit flooded. People had water up to their knees. Hmmm. Maybe not so nice.

Got my morning cup of coffee and sat down to check my emails. Inbox: one email. Subject: Cars parked at B2 MT (the building). Body: Residents with cars parked at basement 2 should go down as soon as possible. Reaction: What the hell?!?!?!?!
When I got down, I couldn't believe my eyes. There was water everywhere. I couldn't even manage to get down to basement 2. From a distance, I saw my car, along with ten others, completely submersed. Actually that is not true. I didn't get to see my car. It was literally under water – all of it!
With nothing else to do I went back to my apartment (up the stairs because elevators were no longer working), waited for the rain to stop and the water to go down (which took two whole days) in order to actually see the car and get the police over to give me the necessary paperwork to start the insurance process (yes, good news, my insurance did cover this).
This is what I found when I was actually cleared (sort of) to step into the basement parking:

I can understand losing my car due to a sandstorm or a terrible car accident or a close encounter with a camel on the road, but a flood? Really? In Abu Dhabi?
So, from now on, whenever I hear the word rain (thankfully, not that often) I get into alert mode. Already trying to figure out where to park my car in case it starts pouring. Definitely NOT in the basement.
People say lightening doesn't strike the same place twice, but you never know. I'd rather be safe than sorry...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Driving in the UAE Part II: also a pleasure

As I often say, everything in life has two sides to it. Yes, it can be crazy to drive in Abu Dhabi, but this passion that the locals have for cars and speed can also be a positive thing.

For starters, I get to drive alongside Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and all other sorts of luxury brands. Not too shabby!

Plus, I get to see some of the massive investments they’ve made in order to bring their passion to life here in Abu Dhabi: build the Yas Marina Circuit to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix and create the first and largest indoor Ferrari theme park.

Actually, the city is currently bustling because of these two events.

The Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, with over 20 attractions, will open its doors tomorrow, November 4, and the 2010 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place ten days later, on November 14.

Since October 12 Abu Dhabi has been stage to a big initiative called Yasalam 2010 (WOW 2010), put together to celebrate and build excitement for the F1 and three main concerts that will take place at Yas Island: Kanye West, Linkin Park and Prince.

Concerts, movie nights on the beach, photo exhibitions and many other events are happening all over the city, including the Abu Dhabi Corniche, opposite to where I live. Take a look…

A Brazilian parade is scheduled for Friday night. Can’t help but wonder about the girls’ costumes...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Driving in the UAE: a daily adventure

I remember the first piece of advice I got when I moved here:

‘While on the road, be very alert. Anything can happen.’

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that was no joke. People here drive like maniacs!

Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this video by a reporter from The National, a local paper:

Crazy, but true. And what you just saw are not random things you bump into sporadically. Quite the opposite: they happen every single day.

People around here drive recklessly. They don’t think ahead, they don’t consider other drivers or pedestrians and they don’t follow basic road safety rules. To make matters worse, they use a series of electronic devices while driving and speed like crazy, sometimes passing by you at 200km/h.

Result? Well, according to a recent article in Gulf News, another local paper, in 2009 Abu Dhabi had a total of 2,258,481 traffic violations, 116,487 traffic accidents and 1,697 deaths caused by traffic accidents.

It’s not pretty.

As someone once told me, the key to drive in the UAE is to always keep in mind that people will actually do whatever you believe can’t ever be done.

So, before attempting to drive here, learn this simple exercise. It goes something like this…

‘He won’t attempt to move from lane 5 to 1 to catch exit 139 just around the corner.’
Yes he will. Get out of the way!

‘He is already driving at 180km/h. He will see me here and slow down.’
No he won’t. Get out of the way!

‘The road is packed. These two cars can’t possibly be accelerating to start racing with each other.’
Yes they can. Get out of the way!

‘I’ve signaled. She will slow down so I can turn left.”
No she won’t. Get out of the way!

In the mood for a drive?