Monthly Archives: October 2013

Dubai Digs II

Here are the final few snaps of our apartment – the master bed and bathroom – exciting stuff over here 🙂

The bedroom is still a bit bare in my opinion: we need to hang some pictures/mirror and add a rug, but it’s a work in progress! Here is a little mood board of my psuedo inspiration for the room – Barr and I both love the colors and patterns of Ming and Delft pottery – it’s just so clean and classic! Here’s what we’re kind of working with…

General bedroom inspiration - love the colors and patterns!

General bedroom inspiration – love the colors and patterns!

And here’s our current reality – obviously we have a ways to go (I hate these lamps):

Part of the bed. Some notes: if I could monogram everything I would, yes we have a mini Dash, and yes I know that picture is probably too small for that wall but it matched my motif inspiration!

Part of the bed. Some notes: if I could monogram everything I would, yes we have a mini Dash, and yes I know that picture is probably too small for that wall but it matched my motif inspiration!

The dresser and entry way leading to the kitchen/living room - note the slam dunk of a lamp I found!

The dresser and entry way leading to the kitchen/living room – note the slam dunk of a lamp I found! Would love to find a statement mirror for over the dresser…

Bedroom - Barr will cringe when he sees that I left my bathroom and his hangers on the bed, but hey, this is real life here

Bedroom – Barr will cringe when he sees that I left my bathroom and his hangers on the bed, but hey, this is real life here

It’s also an interesting balance to strike in our apartment here as we of course want it to feel homey and comfortable, but at time same time, when we move back to the states (eventually), we’ll be limited on the furniture and knick knacks we can bring back – so it’s just deciding what and how to spend our money on those sorts of things! A silk rug and a local piece of art are on our wish list.

Here are the two areas of the apartment that we’ve really struggled with: the closet and bathroom as both are quite a bit smaller than we’ve previously had. It was initially an adjustment, but we’ve found that it’s really not as bad as we thought.

Where some of my shoes live. I dont have a problem; YOU have a problem! (Okay, I have a problem)

Where some of my shoes live. I dont have a problem; YOU have a problem! (Okay, I have a problem)

The closet is two sided, divided in half by a sliding mirror door.

The closet is two sided, divided in half by a sliding mirror door.

One side of the bathroom (note the toilet seat, David ;)

One side of the bathroom (note the toilet seat, David 😉

The shower - thrilling!

The shower – thrilling!

So there you have it! The whole kit and caboodle. It’s cozy and we’re really loving it so far. The one thing the pictures dont do is give justice to the location and view, which was the real selling point; we feel very blessed to have lucked into the building and location. Hope everyone is having a great hump day, is eating an absurd amount of candy ahead of trick or treaters arriving (I know I always had to wait until October 31 to actually buy the candy), and until next time….

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Expo 2020

I know I mentioned a master bed and bath post today, but inspiration struck me, and a post that I was going to wait a few more weeks to write is coming a bit early….

I planned to write a post on Dubai’s World Expo bid for 2020 when I saw almost every business, car, building, etc around town boasting their support for Dubai for their bid to host the 2020 World Expo; I thought I would wait until November and the decision date a bit closer (countdown: 30 days).

Honestly, right now, it’s all anyone can talk about here in Dubai and rightfully so – it’s a huge honor and turns the global eye to this amazing region and city; to provide a bit of perspective, the World Fair (sometimes World Exposition or Expo) began in 1844 in Paris, and have brought forth such works/ideas as the Eiffel Tower, the telephone, moons rocks and ketchup!

The Burj Al Arab awash in support for Dubai’s 2020 Expo bid

The other impetus for moving up this post was the video below. If you have 4 minutes, I recommend watching this – it’s incredibly poignant and really gets one jazzed up about Dubai and all the groundbreaking work they are doing.

Cool, right? You totally want to visit Dubai now, dont you??

And frankly, the expo aside, Dubai really is an incredibly forward thinking, innovative, multi cultural city – yes, the constant construction and new project after new project could get a bit old, but when you think about where Dubai was 40, 30, 10, heck even 5 years ago, it’s pretty incredible – Dubai epitomizes the term “urban development” – case in point:

Then & Now (ish) – even that 5 year gap (2008 vs. 2013) has made a huge difference on the Dubai skyline

Global leader(s) couldnt agree more – it’s a cosmopolitan, fresh and fun city!

Further, I love living in a city where there you hear a number of different languages any way you turn and can learn about any culture you could dream of. The world is getting smaller and smaller, and living in a melting pot is such a blessing (if youre into that sort of thing).

Izmir, Turkey, Yekaterinburg, Russia, Sao Paulo, Brazil (sorry, Emily :)) and Dubai are your 2020 Expo Candidates and the decision is slated to be made by the end of November. Keep those fingers and toes crossed for Dubai! Until next time…

Dubai Digs I

I have been in Dubai for 6 weeks, and our apartment for just shy of 4 – hard to believe! And I have a feeling time will just go by more quickly once the holiday and visiting season is in full swing. 🙂 So on the anniversary on our 4 weeks in our Dubai digs here in the marina, I give you part uno of our little (literally, approximately 900 square feet to put it in perspective) apartment. While the unit isnt as large as we were accustomed to in Charlotte, Atlanta, or Durham for that matter, I think it has and will be good for hoarder Barr and shopping fiend Abby in the long run – there just isnt any room for superfluous stuff! (And boy did we embarrassingly have a lot of stuff…) I actually want kind of waiting until we had managed to store most of our clothes, shoes, golf paraphernalia, etc  before taking pictures, hence the 4 week delay. Along these same lines, the bedroom pictures are going to be in part two because it’s currently a disaster!

That all being said, the apartment we selected has been fab – we are really pleased thus far! The location is ideal; with Barr’s work schedule being what it is, it’s been amazing to have a lot going on right outside our building as well as lots of shops and such nearby. Not to mention there is a great 10k running loop around the marina – get ready, Mom! Last, but certainly not least, the location is literally a 5 minute walk from the beach as well as the metro, which has been delightful given our lack of car situation.

Entry way & our makeshift Ikea closet/storage (say hi to our suitcases on top!)

Entry way & our makeshift Ikea closet/storage (say hi to our suitcases on top!)

Guest bathroom - please note the authentic African mask that we procured in Cape Town

Guest bathroom – please note the authentic African mask that we procured in Cape Town

The living room

The living room

The coffee table/linen closet

The coffee table/linen closet

Friends! Oh and the tv console/book shelf - Ikea furniture is so multipurpose!

Friends! Oh and the tv console/book shelf – Ikea furniture is so multipurpose!

The kitchen from the living room - BOO!

The kitchen from the living room – BOO!

Kitchen shot - I mopped the floor just for yall

Kitchen shot – I mopped the floor just for yall

Living room from the kitchen

Living room from the kitchen

Close up of our fridge

Close up of our fridge

So now a few questions for my loyal readers (hi Mom!) First, below are the two pictures that I had shipped from the states to be hung here – the walls are concrete, making hanging things a bit challenging as I need our maintenance men to help out (and the maintenance folks here, while helpful once theyre here in our unit, are exactly speedy). Now that youve seen the vast expanse of white walls, any recommendations/thoughts on where to hang them? (OR if you have any tips to hang pictures on concrete walls yourself, that would be equally helpful)…

Picture from the states #1 - beautiful needlepoint done by my talented Mema (she just started a Dubai one!)

Picture from the states #1 – beautiful needlepoint done by my talented Mema (she just started a Dubai one!)

Picture from the states #2 (to be framed) - artwork by uber fabulous KJane Studio

Picture from the states #2 (to be framed) – artwork by uber fabulous KJane Studio

Project number two: I have two pillows for the sofa that I want/need (?) to get covered. I’ve been visiting the textile souk looking for some fab local fabric to have made into pillow covers, but it’s been challenging to find fabric in a pattern and texture that I like and would match the “vibe” of the room as well as me and Barr’s taste. While I havent completely given up (I love a good challenge), I did find these awesome pillows from a local designer.

Aina is the local designer, and we were really drawn to the use of the “dalla” as well as the lovely embroidery; some favorites are below. From their Facebook page: Aina uses the “Dalla”(coffee pot) symbol as an icon to represent the Dirham coin of the U.A.E. Depicting history, roots and heritage, this embroidery is created with attention to design and detail in every piece, making each “Dalla” unique to its owner. 

The bare pillow :(

The bare pillow 😦

Pillows by Aina

Pillows by Aina

So there you have it: part 1 of the apartment tour. Tomorrow I’ll bring you the master bed and bathroom – I hope yall can get through the day waiting for that post 😉 Until next time…

The More You Know: “Forbidden” Foods

Pork and alcohol. No no, not together (at least not typically), but pork and liquor are the two items that are tough to find here in the UAE due to Muslim beliefs – the UAE is an Islamic country (rulers and all).

I happen to love both, pork and alcohol that is, so I was really worried (#whitegirlproblems) that I wouldnt be able to find them here and would need to have visitors smuggle in bacon and wine 😉 Not the case, thankfully! Here’s a bit of background:

Alcohol in the Gulf

Alcohol rules in the Gulf by country

Alcohol in the gulf is not fully or strictly forbidden, as indicated in the little map above; the rules really vary from country to country. Thankfully, we live in one of the dark green countries and can buy alcohol, meaning we can purchase alcohol at duty free in the airport, in limited liquor stores with a special license, or in hotels.  Phew! We just applied for our liquor license where we essentially had to show proof of our residency, our religion (no Muslims need apply), and our salary – hopefully we should be receiving that in the next few days!

Now some brief background as to why alcohol is haraam (forbidden) in Islam; truly, the abstinence form alcohol is a command from Allah (dictated in the Qur’ran), which is the law that governs Islamic nations, Dubai included. Alcohol is haraam for the reasons you would anticipate (and understandably so): it impairs judgement (and could cloud prayer) and it could be viewed as addictive. To each his own, and while we’re here, I definitely want to respect the rules and customs here in the UAE (though, selfishly I am glad we live in one of those dark green countries!) 🙂

Pork section at the grocery store

Pork section at the grocery store

So that brings me to the other item: pork. Above is a photo that I snapped in the grocery earlier today of the pork section – non-Muslims only! In there, there are the pork lunch meats, pork chops, pork and beans…you name something with even trace amounts of pork in it, you will find it in this section; and each grocery store I’ve encountered here so far has one of these special areas.

As with Jewish law, Islamic law similarly states that “…for the consumption of pork, that the land animal must have split hooves and chew its cud and it cannot have one and not the other…the pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud.” (per Wikipedia). THEREFORE, no pork for Muslims. That’s okay, more bacon for us 🙂 (Side note: turkey bacon is really good!)

So there you have it: two forbidden food/drink items here in Dubai. If you have any interest, you can read more about halal here – the more you know, right? Until next time….

nowyouknow

Cape Town: The Grand Finale

Grand finale – it’s a big statement to make about our final full day in Cape Town, but it’s 100% accurate in this case. As if Robben Island, Table Mountain, the fantastic food, Cape of Good Hope, the penguins and seals, and shark diving wasnt fantastic enough, our day in the Winelands of South Africa was icing on the cake. And no, it wasnt just because I love my wine (and no, I do not have a problem ;)).

A majority of the reason why our day in the Winelands was so special was our tour guide/company: Wine Escapes with John. From start to finish, this was a first class operation and Barr and I felt so well taken care of – I told John before the tour that while we (okay, me) have our views and tastes on wine when at home/dinner, we were a blank slate when it came to what we wanted to see and taste in the Winelands; we really just wanted to see fabulous farms/vineyards, top notch wine and learn about the history of the region and their processes along the way. Wine Escapes did not disappoint.

John picked us up with goodie bags in hand (it had, in addition to other things, candy – so I was thrilled from moment go), and said we would be exploring Stellenbosch that day, with trips to 3 farms and a stop for lunch as well. (Just as an FYI: there are two other large towns that comprise the Winelands, Paarl and Franschhoek – places that I hope to go back and explore next time!) 

Gorgeous Stellenbosch

Gorgeous Stellenbosch

Our first stop was Hartenberg Estate. We had an amazing round of wines and the farm itself was beautiful. I’m not a big Chardonnay person typically, but the Chardonnay here was so light – not buttery or “oaky” at all – John explained that they specifically make it less oaky as my opinion apparently aligns with the global opinion and decline of Chard consumption over the last 10 years (editor note: my palette is clearly amazing). Hartenberg is also very well know for their 1st Place Gold Medal Syrah Du Monde France 2012, the Stork, named for the original owner of Hartenberg, Ken Mackenize. If you’re so inclined, you can read more about the Stork here.

Hartenberg Wine Estate

Hartenberg Wine Estate

Hartenberg Estate

Hartenberg Estate

The next stop was Waterford Estate. Again, another home run! Here, John had set up a wine and chocolate pairing as well as a cellar tour (Barr was pumped for one of these and I was pumped for the other – bonus points if you get it correct!) This farm was originally built to grow citrus, and the drive up to the estate still has many of the citrus trees still standing (and smelling ahhhhmazing).

The citrus trees which line the entrance

The citrus trees which line the entrance

Waterford Wine Estate

Waterford Wine Estate

Waterford Wine Estate

Waterford Wine Estate

Wine, chocolate and Barr: some of my favorite things!

Wine, chocolate and Barr: some of my favorite things!

Learning about the cleaning of the barrels

Learning about the cleaning of the barrels

The Waterford Estate cellar

The Waterford Estate cellar

En route to lunch, we passed a sign for Ernie Els’ wine estate – Barr casually asked about it and John inquired if we enjoyed golf. If you know my husband, to say he “enjoys” golf is an understatement. As soon as John asked this, I (several glasses of vino deep by this time) exuberantly and proudly told him all about Barr’s time playing golf for university (and growing up), as well as just his general, overwhelming love of the game. (Side note: I too enjoy golf, but the it’s more of a love/hate thing at this point…) Anywho, John nodded and deposited us at our lunch reservation, but came in a bit later to join us and inform us that he had made an appointment for a tasting at the farm as well as a special surprise – he also assured us that the wine was excellent 🙂

Can we talk about this?

Can we talk about this?

The surprise, aside from the wine tasting, was the little chipping green and a special tour of Ernie Els’ personal wine cellar – we were in 7th heaven! Usually, they only have this set up 1 time a month, but when John called ahead, he specifically asked if they would set it up for us! Plus, if you make a “hole in one”, you got a complimentary bottle of wine – pressure was on! But back to the wine…we were really impressed with the wines we got to sample – the Proprietor’s Blend was our overall favorite there. Not to mention the tour of Ernie’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis) personal cellar was beyond cool. Here are some of my favorite shots from Ernie Els Wine Estate:

Golf nerds the (replica) Claret Jug

Golf nerds the (replica) Claret Jug

Why, yes, I did try my hand at this - see that fountain? Yeah, that's where my first ball lives now (second attempt was more successful)

Why, yes, I did try my hand at this – see that fountain? Yeah, that’s where my first ball lives now (second attempt was more successful)

The Big Easy's cellar

The Big Easy’s cellar

His hands and feet are huge!

His hands and feet are huge!

Victory!

Victory!

Loved how open and airy this estate was

Loved how open and airy this estate was

Clearly, this was a day to remember (though some points were a bit hazy…) Let me tell you again, if you ever find yourself in Cape Town and are interested in visiting the Winelands, do yourself a favor and book with Wine Escapes – you will NOT be disappointed.

So that’s all, folks, from our trip to Cape Town. Our final day was truncated and we didnt bring the camera around with us, but Bo-Kaap and the markets in downtown Cape Town were festive and a fun way to see us off. We are so glad we made the whirlwind trip to Cape Town, and as I have said multiple times, hope to go back one of these day – we should be so blessed! I also want to thank all my friends for their tips and recommendations – yall are the best 🙂

Now that the Cape Town posts are done, I guess you’re stuck with just me and my everyday life here again and for that, I apologize, but hopefully I will have some good posts and pics up my sleeve in the coming days/weeks/months. Until next time…

Cape Town: Day 3

Well friends, we’ve made it to Day 3 of our adventure in Cape Town and this day was a doozy! From the moment we decided on a location for our Eid trip, Barr was adamant about cage diving with great white sharks; I was less enthusiastic, but was ultimately convinced (he should have been a lawyer, I swear). So I accepted our fate and researched the best company I could possibly find to swim with the sharkies – this was the one excursion I didnt want to scrimp on! Marine Dynamics came highly recommended via TripAdvisor (side note: TripAdvisor is the BEST for doing bulk research on a trip, particularly if you’ve never been to the location before!), so I booked us for our all day trip into the depths with the great whites…

The bus picked us up at our hotel and we had a lovely 2 hours drive to Gansbaai. Once we arrived at the Great White House (clever name!), we received our marching orders and safety instructions (keep your hands in the cage when it’s submerged – duh!!). When got on the boat and again – so rocky – the waves were insane. Before we reached the submersion location, there was a whale spotted!

Well, you can kind of see it...

Well, you can kind of see it…

After that, we anchored at the cage and the wet suits went on! (It also got really “wavy” at this point and very wet, hence the lack of pictures by Barr/Abby.) There were about 6 people in the cage at once, submerged off the side of the boat for 20 minutes at a time, depending on the experience at that time. The crew, which I can’t say enough positive things about, created a special (stinky) chum mixture to toss into the water to attract the sharks, as well as a little wooden seal board, and boy did those do the trick! Here you can see one of the sharks going after the fish head (delish!) bait (c/o Marine Dynamics):

A 13 foot shark coming right at the cage (you'll see the cage with SHARK ALLEY just in front of the shark!)

A 13 foot shark coming right at the cage (you’ll see the cage with SHARK ALLEY just in front of the shark!)

When it was our turn to get in, I popped into the cage first and had a minor panic attack, more because of the cold water – brrr! Suffice it to say, the experience in the cage was amazing – we saw plenty of great whites swim right past the cage! When we were pulled out, I immediately changed out of the wet suit, but Barr’s dawdle-y ways paid off and because he hadnt changed out of his wet suit, he got another go in the cage! And man oh man, his second turn was well worth it; the shot above and those below are all from that second experience – way cool.

Panic attack #2 occurred for me watching this go down in front of my husband

Panic attack #2 occurred for me watching this go down in front of my husband

Came right at the cage!

Came right at the cage!

The fin with some coral-y stuff on it

The fin with some coral-y stuff on it

The group for the day!

The group for the day!

Post cage dive - I preferred watching from afar :)

Post cage dive – I preferred watching from afar 🙂

For more reading pleasure, you can check out Marine Dynamics’ blog post about our day as well! Also, some of the other passengers had GoPro cameras and promised us some footage – as soon as I receive it, I will post it – I’m sure it’s incredible. Alrighty, until next time…

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming…

I interrupt our regularly scheduled Cape Town recap broadcasting to review something highly important (in my opinion, as that is the one that matters in the case of this blog ;)).

Given that we are about to have a handful of visitors fly out to Dubai for the holidays (Anna! The Blantons! My mom! The soon-to-Haverlands!) – and also since I have flown on my fair share of 10 hour + flights in the last 10 years, I feel exceedingly well qualified to bestow upon my loyal blog readers (hi mom!) some nuggets of travel wisdom…prepare yo’ selves for the incredible flying Abby’s Tips to Surviving (perhaps, dare I say, enjoying?) Loooong Flights (warning: many of these are a tad tongue in cheek, but the basic elements apply):

#1: Load up what really entertains you. Don’t try to be a hero with the latest copy of the NYT or Wall Street Journal – yes, you haphazardly grabbed it when you walked on the plane (why?!?), but if you dont usually read it, you wont on this flight, I swear it to you; it’s merely taking up valuable seat back pocket space. Ladies and gents, there is zero shame in buying the latest Us Weekly (Kim K is pregnant is again! What DID Kate Middleton Wear?). The same can be said for downloading a beloved movie or TV series – these long flights will usually have movies on demand, but just in case, better safe that sorry! Stock up! (True story: on our journey back from Cape Town, 2 mini bottles of vino later, I sobbed through Meryl and Amanda’s ABBA rendition of Slipping Through my Fingers) – Barr was less than impressed. Okay, he was mortified. And stupefied. But you know what? Who slept 5 hours during this flight and who didnt?

#2: Dress for comfort. So glad that Gwenyth and Miranda wear those fab skinny jeans and freshly pressed, crisp white shirts with boots, but THAT IS NOT REALITY. Who the HECK is so bold as to wear a white shirt on one of these flights in literally beyond me. My favorite outfit is baggy, blue linen pants and a black tee shirt, with a sports bra. (Ladies, the sports bra is your friend on these flights.) Along those same lines, dont forget to keep your jewelry, any meds, a toothbrush/paste, and a bit of extra make up with you in the carry on.

#3: Never underestimate the power of sleep deficit as part of your travel prep. My husband is the king of this tip as he typically finds himself packing, working, dicking around (or some combination of all three) the night before a long flight. Along these same lines, if you can schedule a flight for reeeeally early (ahem 4AM flight to Cape Town), this may bode well for the aforementioned tip. And honestly, get on the destination time zone ASAP – naps during those first few crucial days can be potentially detrimental.

#4: Alcohol (preferably wine) is your friend on these flights. Drink it. Enjoy it. Bask in it.  Anyone who tells you not to drink on a long-haul flight hates you, hates freedom, and hates wine (blasphemy!) The only way I survive any flight longer than 8 hours is to spend as much of it as possible in a fabulous little haze of prolonged buzz, and obviously alcohol is key for this. This tips comes along with a disclaimer that one should also consume plenty of water throughout and of course, caffeinate yourself should you land in your destination in the AM, but booze it up my friends.

#5: Bring your own snacks. I am the QUEEN (Duchess Kate) of Snacking. Ask anyone. I can also be a picky eater and have trouble with the celiac thing as well in the plane (hello?? I can’t eat those delish muffins you just laid before me for breakfast!! Damn you!). So I have learned that bringing a few granola bars, a little bag of chips or a sweet, gum, a large bottle of water, and whatever else my strikes me, is a healthier option, fills me up, etc, can be a lifesaver.

So there ya go. You didnt ask for it, but I felt compelled to provide my limited knowledge on life in general and thrust it upon you. 🙂 Hopefully one or two of the tips help!

Next post, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming. Until next time…

Cape Town: Day 2

Our second day in Cape Town included another round of fabulous views…

Barr jumping for joy

Barr jumping for joy

We had set up a bike and full cape and peninsula tour with Day Trippers in Cape Town. The bus picked us up at the hotel and we headed south for our first stop of the day in Hout Bay to see the seals! Here’s our route so you can follow along:

Courtesy of Day Trippers site

Courtesy of Day Trippers site

At Hout Bay, we boarded a boat for a quick 45 minute trip to see the seals (not to mention awesome views).

Just a casual seal to feed

Just a casual seal to feed (washed my hands about 1,000 times after this experience)

Seals

Seals

Barr & I

Barr & I

From Hout Bay, the bus took us a bit further to Chapman’s Peak for some more photo ops – these are from the peak, looking down at Hout Bay below:

From Chapman's Peak

From Chapman’s Peak

Chapman's Peak

Chapman’s Peak

The next stop was one we were really looking forward to: Boulders Penguin Colony! African Penguins galore – we were in heaven (so would my two favorite penguin lovers, Mema and Mike ;)) You could stroll along the beach on a wooden raised walkway and any which way you turned, you would see hundreds of penguins just waddling around – you couldnt help but smile!

I know there are no penguins, but isnt the water an awesome shade of blue??

I know there are no penguins, but isnt the water an awesome shade of blue??

One of the little buddies and his (her?) little house

One of the little buddies and his (her?) little house

Sunning themselves

Sunning themselves

We were then en route to the last stop: the Cape of Good Hope. I dont know what were expecting, but it certainly wasnt anything close to what we got: it was so much more:

God is good

God is good

After a quick lunch, we were given a quick warning about not feeding the wild baboons (apparently they’re vicious!), and boarded our bikes down the cape through the reserve.

Good thing we heeded this warning: on our bike ride, we can within 6 inches of 2 baboons!

Good thing we heeded this warning: on our bike ride, we can within 6 inches of 2 baboons!

The Cape of Good Hope is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, and before the Suez Canal was built, the only way boats could get from England to the Middle East, China, etc – as I’ve mentioned before, the water here is extremely choppy (at least when we were in town), and I can’t believe that people sailed these waters in wooden boats back in the day! Again, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

At the famous sign (side note: the wind caught BB at a bad moment)

At the famous sign (side note: the wind caught BB at a bad moment)

Waves crashing

Waves crashing

The Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope

The other side of the Cape

The other side of the Cape

So happy!

So happy!

The entire day was such a joy. The Cape of Good Hope (and the peninsula in general) was a visual extravaganza, and we couldnt have lucked out more with the weather.

DSC_0407

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on our close shaves with Great White Sharks (and even a whale spotting!) Until next time…

Cape Town: Day 1

Someone once advised me to plan out at least a week’s worth of blog posts at a time, and typically I do not adhere to this because, well frankly, I dont know if I have that much to say (or at least the knowledge of it in advance). HOWEVER, this next week of posts have been planned, and all will be dedicated to our recent trip to Cape Town.

In brief, this was hand’s down one of the best vacations we have ever been blessed enough to embark upon. Barr and I loved the city, lucked out on some potentially questionable weather, booked some amazing guided tours, and took a ton of great pictures to remember the trip by (just prepare yourselves for photo overload!)

Arrival: We arrived Saturday evening to some chillier weather than we have been accustomed (not too hard given Dubai’s climate, but I digress) – actually, the mid 60s temps were quite a welcome surprise! We grabbed a cab to our hotel, the Glen Boutique Hotel, situated in Seapoint in Cape Town. If you ever find yourself in Cape Town, I can’t recommend this hotel enough! It was incredibly charming, just the right size, the food delish, rooms/views amazing, and the staff was friendly and so very helpful (we were immediately greeted with glasses of wine, which as many of you know, is the way to my heart!) We were both a bit zonked from the travel, so we made our way to the V&A Waterfront, grabbed some ahhhmazing sushi from Willoughby & Co (most of which I’m pretty sure Barr doesnt remember due his 24 hour marathon of a day), and headed back for a good night’s rest.

Cheesing for the camera on the balcony at Glen Boutique Hotel

Cheesing for the camera on the balcony at Glen Boutique Hotel

We woke up the next day raring to go (the 2 hour time difference and 12 hours of sleep helped a bit :)), as we had tickets to Robben Island and also wanted to see Table Mountain as well.

Robben Island: Absolutely moving place to go. Nelson Mandela and many, many other political (and criminal) prisoners were held here throughout apartheid, undergoing horrific physical and psychological torture. The island is about a 20 minute (rocky! not for the faint of heart/those prone to seasickness) ferry ride, where we disembarked and had a bus tour around the entire island, showing both the prisons from the apartheid period as well as WWII (practice purposes) cannons and the like. The tour concluded with a former prisoner walking us through several of the blocks, discussing everyday life there, and ending with a viewing of Mr Mandela’s cell. What really struck us was that both former guards and prisoners work as guides on the island now – our guide stressed that there are no hard feelings and it’s a testament to how far the country has come. Very neat if you ask me. Here are some of my favorite snaps, including the breathtaking views of Cape Town from afar:

Table Mountain from Robben Island (c/o Barr, photog extraordinaire)

Table Mountain from Robben Island (c/o Barr, photog extraordinaire)

As I said, the views were just beyond

As I said, the views were just beyond

Our amazing tour guide: both an incredibly strong, knowledgeable and forgiving gentleman

Our amazing tour guide: an incredibly strong, knowledgeable and forgiving gentleman

Nelson Mandela's cell

Nelson Mandela’s cell

Robben Island

Robben Island

V&A Waterfront: After disembarking from the ferry back in Cape Town, we were hungry (BTW: Cape Town food/restaurants are some of the best I have ever encountered – totally a foodie/wino’s paradise – also, we Blantons love to eat). We stopped for a quick bite on the water (as well as an obligatory bottle of local vino – when in Rome, right??) and grabbed a quick tourist shot before heading up the mountain.

Tourist-ing for days

Tourist-ing for days

Table Mountain: Table Mountain is the centerpiece of greater Cape Town – dont get me wrong, there are plenty of AMAZING mountains, hikes and views aside from Table Mountain, but I think this is probably the most iconic (you can check out of my Instagram for some top notch Photoshop of Table Mountain). We were a bit pressed for time as we had dinner reservations (as I said, we like to eat and plan each meal, duh), so we took the cable car up. By this time in the afternoon, it was a bit overcast and cloudy, but it was still a really neat and beautiful perspective to see the city below from above the clouds. Next time we visit Cape Town, hiking up is definitely on our to do list.

View of the clouds, city and cable car

View of the clouds, city and cable car

It was a wee bit chilly up top

It was a wee bit chilly up top

Aren't the clouds hanging low like that lovely?

Aren’t the clouds hanging low like that lovely?

Views for days

Views for days

I’ll sign off of the Day 1 post with some gorgeous shots we captured on drive down Table Mountain of Camp’s Bay and Clifton Beach (and the anticipation of what Day 2 holds) 🙂 Until next time….

Is this real life?

Is this real life?

Magnificent

Magnificent

Sea, sun, sky

Sea, sun, sky

The Kitchen

I am by no means a Julia Child or Suzy Homemaker, though I am trying on both accounts. In order to hone the aforementioned skill sets, the kitchen is probably the most important room in the house, so without further ado, I give you some of our new kitchen.

Kitchen sink and drying rack - old school

Kitchen sink and drying rack – old school

Washing machine - small but effective! You don't realize how much you love a dryer until it's gone :)

Washing machine – small but effective! You don’t realize how much you love a dryer until it’s gone 🙂

I took these shots so you could see two very important things about the new kitchen: lack of dishwasher or disposal and no dryer for our clothes. During my time in Rome, we also lived sans said amenities, so I understand the extra time chores take living without these appliances! #thirdworldproblems 🙂 I’ve just had to relearn becoming extra diligent in washing dishes and learning to be patient (!) in clothes, sheets, and towels to dry. (It’s also pretty humid here and we don’t have a balcony, so things take extra long – oh well, extra opportunities to learn grace and patience, I suppose!)

 

What the heck??? As my mom would say/abbreviate, GTS (I'll let yall figure that one out yourselves ;) )

What the heck??? As my mom would say/abbreviate, GTS (I’ll let yall figure that one out yourselves ;))

Also – can someone PLEASE explain to me what all of the options on this washing machine are? So far, I have only managed to flood the kitchen once, knock on wood, but apart from a handful of the icons, I couldnt tell you what on earth most of these mean and why in the world one would need so many options!! And yes, I have googled the model and brand for their manual, but have only come across the Greek version. Pray for our clothes. And kitchen. And me. And then, maybe pray for something that really needs prayer 🙂 Until next time….