I had the opportunity to take off a couple of days last week, up to Sweden to see my parents for a bit. It was only for the weekend, but I'm always amazed at how much you can squeeze in to just a few days and how much even a short break like this is refreshing, and needed! Especially during these long, hot, dusty and boring last few months before summer holidays.
I was lucky to get beautiful sunny days, and enjoyed all the spring flowers and greenery. Even the lilacs were in flower already.
We did a short excursion to Lidköping and had coffee down by the lake Vänern, at Skogshyddan.
And since I had lots of space in the suitcase, I brought back quite a lot of food. Mostly pork, pork and more pork...
... and Swedish candy, of course. There was a new 'Polly'-combo out, delicious!
I flew in via Stockholm, and out via Copenhagen. I really enjoyed my Sunday morning train ride back down to Denmark via the west coast. I just sat and looked out through the window and tried to fuel up and absorb as much as I could of all the green, blue and yellow (rapeseed fields)... so pretty!
Both flights were good flights, but the return flight was almost empty which made for a really relaxing and comfortable trip.
So, this week might have been the last work for the season. Not only are we now in May, so the cruise ship season has ended, but it is also getting hotter and hotter by the day; and we have entered into Ramadan so things are very quiet here in the sandpit.
I still had two jobs this past week, which was really nice. Well the first wasn't actually "work-work" as such, as it was more of a networking thing, but related I guess. Tuesday night I participated at a Sundowner at the Ambassador's residence, hosted by the Swedish Business Council and SAAB. I was invited to hold a short presentation about the new cultural attractions here in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn and Qasr Al Watan.
Of course I couldn't let an opportunity like this pass me by, so I also told them all about my new venture, being an External Guide at the Louvre Abu Dhabi; and about why they should go back again and again to this museum, even if they have been several times; because that's how amazing it is!
And the very next morning nerves were tense again, as I was doing my very first English-speaking tour in said museum! I had a small group of 12 coming from Dubai on a city tour, and as they were short on time they had opted for a guided visit through the museum to make sure they covered it all. Although I must say, getting them through in an hour (they arrived very delayed and had a hefty program in the afternoon too), was quite a challenge for this newly baked museum-guide!
We made it in 1h10 minutes, but of course the visit got very compressed! Although I do think I managed to stick to the narrative and convey the message of the museum quite well. They seemed very happy when I left them in the gift shop anyway.
On Saturday it was time for another guided visit in Swedish, at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It was another group of SWEA ladies, and some husbands. I feel lucky this guided tour proved so popular, and that so many wanted to come along and hear more about the LAD, even though they all live here and had been there before.
Every time feels really special still of course, being so green. This time I didn't feel the flow just as well as last time. It was almost like the more I study and learn, the harder it gets to boil it down and deliver just the right amount of information. It went well, and I got nice feedback; but I think I need to practice talking less with my hands... oh dear, never a good look!
Next week I have my first tour in English in the museum, but I am actually a little bit less nervous about that. I've done all the study in English, took the course in English, and all my books and notes are in English, so should be easier. Plus, it's with a group of normal tourists - which means once the tour is done, they are gone, ha ha!
Yay, this week I could once again participate in one of my favourite SWEA-activities, the Little Lunch Trip. This time they had chosen a restaurant in the middle of the city, but luckily I found both that and a parking space really easily. We were going to Morocco!
We started the meal with some mint tea and got served a small plate of cookies with it. Felt a bit like a backwards dinner, so we saved some of the biscuits for dessert instead.
I had a merguez tangine, one of the other ladies tried the chicken tangine but the one most raved about was probably the lamb and dried fruits tangine.
The food was absolutely delicious! Some were a bit worried it would be too spicy, but it was just the right amount of hot, with an abundance of flavours. Really yummy, I might try and go back another time while in town.
I did a three-day job this week with another incentive group, this time a mix of nationalities from all over Europe. It was so much fun, not only because I got to work with this group of great girls, but also because I got to speak both English, Spanish and a bit of French! I even encountered the only two Swedish participants, so I had a very multi-lingual few days of work.
And no, yellow might not really be mine (or anyones...) colour - but at least we are easy to spot!
Our last guests left early in the morning last Monday, and before their flight had even taken off, I had stripped the guest bedroom and started the second machine of washing!
And Carin - it's nothing personal, at all! I had SO so much fun last week, but it doesn't actually matter who's been to visit, or for how long, I do the same thing every time guests leave - I clean out immediately, ha ha! The first day alone again I always look forward to getting back into routines, getting my laundry room and the rest of the space back, and just chill... but yes, then the loneliness calls...
So as I printed out their photo to add to my guest room wall, and reminisced of a great week, I felt a bit sad that this was it, no more guests this season. It's a very long time to go still on my own, until the summer holiday when I get to see friends again...
Of course we didn't slow down just because it was their last day, even though I think all of us were a bit tired and tender after a full-on week. First we went to visit the newly opened Presidential Palace, Qasr Al Watan. I wanted to take one of the guided tours this time, but unfortunately it was full so we did our own thing, which was ok too:
And in the evening we took on the F1-track, and TrainYas.
Some of us only did one lap, others went around again, a little bit faster than the first lap with all of us... Guess who did what...
I'm so glad I got to show my UAE to Carin and her family, and that they loved it too! We sure squeezed a lot of action, adventure and exploration into this week! I do believe they left with many new fantastic memories!
We all stayed over in Dubai for the weekend so that we would have plenty of time to go explore. The Italians went up Burj Khalifa on Saturday morning, and then we had lunch together by the Dancing Fountains. It was still perfectly nice to sit outside, they were so lucky with the weather while they were here, not too hot at all. Just lush.
We did a little walk about in the Dubai Mall of course, had to show them the waterfall, the ice rink and the aquarium...
... and then Carin and I went to Kinokuniya, one of the largest bookstores in the world and heaven on earth, and got ourselves some (more) art books!
And no visit to Dubai is complete without a visit to the Goldman of course!
There was also another reason we all went to Dubai last weekend, and that was that Nathan and I had bought tickets to go to see a show with the comedian Michael McIntyre. We have been firm fans of him for a long time, both his comedy acts and his TV-shows. We were so excited he was finally coming here to the UAE.
So while our two kids were palmed off to our Danish friends, the Italians were left to go on their own adventures. Nathan and I on our end, started our night at the Dubai Stars N Bars to get the first taste of the Sidehustle Brews beer - in the wild! The launch was just a few weeks ago, and it was pretty cool to see the fridges loaded up with those colourful cans, and be able to order ourselves a 'Sandstorm'!
Then it was time to get to the sold out arena for the comedy show. So many people! It was good fun, and I did laugh a lot, although I was a tad bit disappointed too, as he recycled quite a bit of his jokes we had heard earlier in YouTube clips. But all in all, a great night had, just the two of us!
Coming to this part of the world, of course you want to see as much as possible, so while the Italians were here we had planned a few days in Dubai as well. They wanted to tick off the World's Tallest Building among other things.
But the first day we went to an area I wanted to visit, Al Seef and Bastakiya. A mix of modern and old, in the same style.
Such a pretty, pretty area:
Awesome little art installations:
We had a lovely local lunch at the Arabian Tea House. Rather touristy yes, but such a delicious meal!
After lunch we took the abras over to the other side, to visit the Gold and Spice souq: