Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai: Week 24

Week 23 was a write-off so there’s not much point saying anything about it. I got back, fell ill and spent the week in bed. On Saturday evening I decided I’d had enough and that it was time to get back on track.

I had a Sunday morning session with Rama (it killed me). My parents wanted to go out for lunch so we headed to the Dubai Mall. Considering it was a public holiday it didn’t seem so crowded at first. When we were told we’d have to wait 1.5 hours for a table at one of the restaurants we decided to go elsewhere. We ended up at Red Lobster (I had grilled salmon, broccoli and a baked potato) and then went to Tim Horton’s for coffee. It must have opened while I was away because it definitely wasn’t there before I left. I had the French Vanilla cappuccino – I’d never had it before. Lovely!

After lunch, Dad went home and Mum and I went to get a birthday present for my cousin’s daughter. We went to Times Square Center intending to go to Toys R Us but I got side-tracked by a music store selling pianos.

I’ve been wanting to get a piano since I moved to Dubai (but admittedly haven’t done much about it) so I went in and looked at what they had. I’ve noticed a lot of places selling electric keyboards/pianos here, but very few sell traditional upright pianos. The assistant in the store said they only sell Ritmüller pianos. I’d never heard of them. I was told the pieces (hammers, strings, keys, soundboards) are crafted in Germany and assembled in China. I suppose Yamaha are also assembled in China – so what difference does it make? I’ll have to do some research. 

We eventually made it to Toys R Us, picked up the present, and headed to Oasis Centre. It was dull household stuff – hangers, plastic boxes for the kitchen, and so on. I couldn’t wait to get home. 

On Monday I had yoga after ages. After that I went for a Balinese massage at Dreamworks Spa at Palm Strip Mall. I’d bought the deal (1 hour for AED99) a couple of months ago and forgotten about it. When I found the voucher, I realised that Monday was the last day I could use it and luckily they had a spot available. I went there, really not expecting very much (especially after the massage at Chelsea Tower) but I was pleasantly surprised. 

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It was quiet. The rooms were comfortable. And the massage was amazing. I will definitely go back – and they have 25% off massages on weekdays! 

By Monday night I had a slight temperature again and my muscles were aching after my training session the day before.

I woke up on Tuesday at 6am to see the sun rising (I sleep with my curtains open).

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I did go back to sleep though, and stayed in all day – working.

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then Mum and I went to the Fairmont for a sushi lunch. We over-ordered and ended up taking home a doggy bag. After lunch we both had our nails done. I had a much-needed pedicure – all that walking in London didn’t do much for my feet, and even if I’d wanted to have a mani/pedi while I was there I don’t know when I would have fit it into my busy schedule!

My parents were out that night and I had the place to myself. I caught up on some work and some TV shows. That night a friend suggested I start a food blog. I admitted that I would love to but that I usually remember to take photos of my food after I’ve eaten it (oops). I must try and remember to take more photos. 

Thursday was quite busy. I went to the gym in the morning and then my parents and I went to Vapiano at the Dubai Mall for lunch. I knew their portions were huge from the last time I went, so I ordered a Greek salad to start with.

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For my main course, I was supposed to share the tagliatelle funghi with my mum, but it was too much. Next time I’m just going to stick to the salad. Oh, and of course I forgot to take a photo of the pasta! After lunch, I got a takeaway coffee from Tim Horton’s and we headed home. 

An hour later we went over to the Shangri-La as my cousin was having her daughter’s 4th birthday party there. There were kids, mums, babies, nannies, balloons, an entertainer, a bouncy castle, food, cake. The kids looked like they were having a good time. We stayed for just an hour. 

That evening I went to Dubai Wine Club. The last two times I’d been, the venue had been outdoors at the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel. This time it was at the Radisson Royal, just a few blocks down, at their restaurant Indo Thai. The venue is lovely but I preferred the set-up at Ibn Battuta: you can see everyone, you’re on a round table so you get to talk to most people. At the Radisson we were on long tables of 10 and the layout of the room was such that you couldn’t really see any of the other tables. Because we were on a long table our table was very much divided into two – which wasn’t very conducive to the discussion of wine (or anything else). I sat with one of my friends and the rest were all new people. I met an English/Irish couple and when they asked me what I did and I told them, the husband looked shocked and said ‘My wife wants to be you!’ She also works as a freelance writer/editor and in fact knew my ex boss from Haymarket Publishing. What a small world. 

On to the wines. Six sparkling wines were chosen for the evening – as before they were all blinded. 

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E was my favourite, followed by A. I didn’t like B. C and D tasted almost the same and I didn’t like them either. I didn’t really care for F either. So what were they? You will be s
hocked. I know I was. 

  • A: Spanish cava (Castillo Perelada)
  • B: Taittinger
  • C: Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
  • D: Moët & Chandon – and guess what grapes they use? Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  • E: Italian prosecco (Prosecco di Valdobbiadene)
  • F: German sekt (Henkell Trocken)

No wonder C and D tasted so similar – they’re the same grapes! And compared to a couple of the other wines, D didn’t taste that good. Surprising.

The choice of food was quite good – chicken satays, beef satays, calamari, spring rolls, fish, steamed dumplings. Again, I forgot to take a photo – but instead of it being a buffet like it was at Ibn Battuta, the food was brought to each table on long platters. 

As people started leaving, a group of people gathered at the bar. I’d met some of them before so I joined them for some drinks. Three glasses of Sauvignon Blanc later, we were the last group to leave the bar. I got home after 2am. 

On Friday the three of us went to Sakura for lunch with my cousin and her parents. The food was good and I overate as usual. As much as I like Sakura, I think the rest of the Crowne Plaze Hotel could do with a makeover. It’s pretty shabby.

We got home from lunch a little before 4pm and I thought about going down to the pool. I looked down at the pool to see if there was anyone there – about 20 kids were splashing around, there were tables and chairs laid out and there was even a blow-up slide leading into the pool. I decided that maybe I could wait until Saturday to lounge around by the pool!

 

My cousin and I were supposed to meet for a casual dinner that night as well – but we both knew our parents were out and both wanted to make the most of the peace and quiet so we decided to postpone it! 

On Saturday I went to the gym quite late and then spent the afternoon at the pool, swimming and reading. There was an English guy there – I’d seen him before but had never spoken to him. I’m terrible with guessing people’s ages but I think he must have been in his mid to late 50s. We started chatting while we were in the pool and he said that there had been so many problems with the pool the year before that he joined the gym at the Shangri-La. He said the pool had become an algae green colour (gross) and nobody was doing anything about it. He also said that the residents in the building should be concerned about their safety in the event of a fire. He said the smoke alarms don’t work and that there aren’t enough sprinklers on each floor. He said the chances of people on the higher floors making it out alive were slim. I have to admit this had crossed my mind already. It’s a long way down from the 23rd floor. Since I moved I’ve read about at least five fires in residential buildings with devastating consequences. We talked for a bit longer and then he left. I did a few lengths, dried off in the sun and finished my book. A great Saturday. And the icing on the cake? I had the place to myself on Saturday night too.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 8

Quite a busy week, I think!

I started off my week with an 8.45am session with Rama on Sunday morning. I was keen to get back on track after the week before where I did almost nothing. Dad and I went to Texas Roadhouse for lunch at the Dubai Mall – I wasn’t all that keen on going, but thought it would be a change from PF Chang! I ordered a filet steak, with a salad and jacket potato on the side. The house salad was disappointing but the steak was actually very good. I was pleasantly surprised – and very full when I was done.

We walked around for a while and sat down for coffee at Gloria Jean’s on the first floor. Just that morning I’d complained to Rama that most places in Dubai had never heard of a flat white coffee – even the staff at Starbucks stared at me blankly when I asked for it. At Gloria Jean’s it was on the menu – and it was one of the best coffees I’ve had in Dubai. Definitely somewhere to go back to! 

Dad had a doctor’s appointment after that, so while he was at the clinic I went to the supermarket next door and picked up whatever we needed for the house. Joy had given me a list of things we’d run out of so I trawled the aisles looking for them. It was so dull. I took my time on purpose as I knew Dad’s doctor was running late, but it was just so boring. I’m sure the security guards looked at me suspiciously as I pottered down the aisles over and over again.

Anyway, we finally got home, I changed into my pajamas and that was Sunday over with.

On Monday I had my yoga class at home and then worked all day. On Tuesday I met a friend for lunch at Social House at the Dubai Mall. The last time I went there we sat inside on bench-type chairs which weren’t conducive to long lunches. I didn’t realise there was a whole separate section on the other side – and a huge outdoor section. It was a nice lunch – I had the spicy tuna roll to start with and then had the spicy wok-fried chicken. The portion was really big and I ended up taking half of it home for Joy. 

On Wednesday I had my 10th session with Rama and then worked the rest of the day. 

My yoga teacher had a cancellation on Thursday so my cousin and I took advantage of that! I then went to PF Chang for lunch at the mall (again). Someone I know had just gotten married and moved to Dubai – she got in touch and we decided to meet for lunch. There were four of us in the end – the two of us, her friend from Singapore who also lives here (who I met for lunch a few weeks before at Social House), and her cousin who lives in Dubai. They decided to wander around the mall after lunch, but I headed home. 

On Thursday night I was supposed to go to one of the British expat meet-ups in Marina, but that afternoon a friend said he was going to Okku for dinner and did I want to join him? I still drool when I think of the truffle fried rice, so I said I would. I met him there at 8pm – we had a table at the bar. He had said two other people were joining us but they were running late. In the meantime we ordered a portion of the wasabi rock shrimp and two types of chicken. I’d forgotten he rarely eats anything but chicken. Oh well, more shrimp for me, and I thought we could order some more food when the others arrived. When they did arrive, one turned out to be vegetarian and the other vegan. Yes, vegan! This did not bode well for the food fest I had planned. So I switched to vodka. After dinner we moved to the bar and a couple of other friends joined us. It wasn’t a late night but it was nice to be out and about!

On Friday, I woke up and looked out the window. I couldn’t see very far and thought it was fog… but it was a sandstorm.

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A couple of hours later, it got worse. When I leave my building, the first thing I see is the Burj Khalifa, but on Friday it had disappeared. Apparently visibility was 800m that day (according to the paper). When I think of sandstorms I think of that old Laurel and Hardy movie, Beau Hunks, where they join the Foreign Legion because Hardy has a broken heart – and they then get lost in the desert in a sandstorm!

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Dad and I went to Red Lobster for lunch. I’d mentioned in an earlier post that the Dubai Mall has everything you could possibly imagine – and I wasn’t kidding! Dad and I shared the fried calamari and vegetables as a starter. I then ordered the grilled salmon and broccoli as my main course. It was extremely filling. After lunch we went back to Gloria Jean’s for some coffee…

We were only outside for 10 minutes at the most but by the time I got home, there was sand in my hair, my eyes, my throat… it was gross.

That night I had dinner with my cousins at Spectrum on One at the Fairmont. The restaurant was empty – apparently it gets very busy for Friday brunch, but by dinner time the crowd had gone. We had sushi to start with, and then shared the prawn teppanyaki and two portions of the lamb chops. We had ordered the black pepper beef but sent it back as it wasn’t very good. We shared the chocolate fondant for dessert.

Another cousin from Lagos arrived on Saturday morning – and was staying with us. He arrived at about 9.30am and we chatted for a couple of hours until he decided to go nap. I went to the gym. The sandstorm still hadn’t subsided. We later met our other cousins for lunch at Lafayette Gourmet – the service was bad, and I wasn’t sure whether our waiter was a man or a woman. I asked the others what they thought and they weren’t sure either. We had a mixture of food for lunch – sushi, pasta, curry – they do it all there. After that we went to Caffe Nero for coffee. I did try to get them to go to Gloria Jean’s but they said it was too far.

I went home and decided I wasn’t going anywhere else the rest of the day. And by dinner time my throat was hurting… 

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