Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween from Dubai

We began our first Halloween here in Dubai quietly, we had an easy morning chatting with Grammy K. (thanks for staying up to talk to us) Then we double checked our costumes and headed out from our hotel in Al Barsha to The Green Community with a slight detour through some place I have never been before. I definitely took the wrong exit out of the 'traffic circle of doom', that thing is huge, but after a little jaunt through Jabel Ali we were back at said circle of doom but I managed the correct exit out this time.
The girls love the Clason home, it is warm and welcoming and let's face it they have a killer play room. They get in the door with  their shoes half off and just gravitate to all the wonderful stations. Anna hits the dress up box, equipped with mirror and accessories, while Emilee has a dolly, stroller and is fighting to keep the purse on her shoulder all before I have my shoes off. It was so cute to watch them sitting together playing tea party, no arguments even - that is rare.




So after a great afternoon of playing it was time to put on our costumes, any guesses?

No surprise, Princesses!!

Our costumes came together a little last minute but I knew I brought those dress up clothes for a reason and 2  for 1-ing it sounds good too. Anna was hooked the moment I told her she could have some 'make up' on and Emilee loves anything her sister loves. 


Princess Emilee is so very cute, Princess Anna was too excited to stay and have her picture taken :)




Lets take this party outside, group shot and some palm trees.





In retrospect this is the first chunk of time the girls have spent outside, a.k.a. not air conditioned or not swimming, since arriving in Dubai and I am a rookie Dubai mom. Apparently strollers and water bottles are mandatory based on their use for anything outdoors. I will remember for next time, promise.


 Emilee loved 'tricker treating', I can not even think of how to spell the way she pronounced 'tricker treat' at the door of these spectacular villas. So cute even without her bag to put the candy.






I was amazed by how many people were out and how many houses were decorated and handing out candy. Our group was not the biggest we saw. It was really amazing to hear all the different languages and accents, see all the costumes and all the kids.

  
Some things are universal and others are not. I wish Andy would have been with us, his perspective would have been quite interesting. Moving on...

The girls were having a lot of fun at first but it was hot and then the "my feet are sore" started, and we quickly arrived at overwhelmed. All it took was a pushy group of boys, dressed in all black, to accidentally knock Anna into a gate and it was all over, poor thing. Am I a bad mom for taking a picture of it? I don't think so. Not a happy camper. Anyways, Anna recovered quite nicely after I picked her up, no program required here, just carry your four year old around for at least a block in 35 degree heat.


 
My princesses, yep everybody is almost done.




Emilee was fascinated with everything around her and she did a great job of taking it all in. Anna needed a break and stayed back with me but both were so well behaved and listened very well, that part was wonderful for this mom.

 



Our first Halloween in Dubai was quite fun. It definitely had some differences than we would have had if we had been in Calgary. We missed the mandatory sit all the cousins and friends on the sofa picture, but still can't wait to see their costumes. It also seemed a little strange eating pumpkin pie tonight without the crispness in the air that my mind associates with fall. No frost or mittens or long sleeved anything. It was nice not to have to figure out how to put on a snow suit before putting on their costumes though. The girls did great and were very tired so we made it home with out any detours and straight to bed. That's next for me, big hugs and lots of love, ~the Andersons

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Decisions, decisions... and... camels?


Alright, well I suppose it's my turn to add something to the blog.

These last couple of days we have spent a bit of time going out on our own to find a suitable villa.

Have you ever watched that show on HGTV called Location, Location, Location? They never seem to end up in the place they say they wanted in the first place.  We seriously could have filmed our experiences and followed the typical progress of the show.  We started out telling our agents one thing, only to find that after all the searching we have done, what we are truly after is something completely different.  It's comical and definitely frustrating for both sides.  However, after all that we have seen, we're coming to the conclusion that the house is much more important to us than the location despite starting out by limiting our location to a single community.

Our ideal situation is a good sized home in a neighbourhood called Arabian Ranches. They are landscaped, have community pools, lots of green space, are close to many things (including work) and it even has a shopping center in the community.  As it turns out, that's quite important because the way of purchasing fresh food products seems a little different here than in North America.  More frequent purchases in small quantities compared to the massive stocking we would do at home.  Apparently, there are fewer preservatives in things like milk and bread (we'll find out).  Regardless, the company agent has been trying to find something that fits, in the area, but has been striking out.

Based on our allowance we have been searching the desert side of Dubai for the perfect villa to house all of our (ahem, Darcy's) hobbies... Now don't get me wrong, it's not that one-sided... it's just that we didn't bring any old cars with us and the term "old car" doesn't quite mean the same thing here... I don't dare take apart a post-2005 BMW anything... Anyways, we've been searching for something with enough room for the kids, for us and for any guests who may come to visit (hint, hint).  The problem is, that in classic 'Andy' fashion, I researched the heck out of this before coming and found the ideal floor plan online. Ah, the elusive 'Cordoba.'  The advertisements made it seem like it was in the middle of the perfect community.

Here is the floor plan:



We've been struggling since we arrived to have any agent show us something that we deemed suitable based on its floor plan regardless of square footage.  There are many HUGE houses here, but we don't really need a 3 bedroom with 20'X20' rooms and full en-suites in each one.  So, the typical dilemma, to find a great house, it's further away and has no amenities yet.  In the nearby, developed neighbourhoods, the houses are either smaller than we are after or WAY beyond our price range.

So, we went out on our own to see what we could find.  We spent a frustrating morning calling around about properties that were advertised online to find out that pretty much all of them did not exist or "were already taken."  Luckily, someone gave us an address to a great villa that was slightly out of our price range in what is known as the Green Community, that happens to be considered quite a long ways from the office.  It was fantastic! 5900 square feet! What!?!? Nearly 5000 sq ft larger than the house we have up for sale in Calgary. Ok, ok a bit of an exaggeration given the lack of  basements here compared to there, but seriously, this place was massive!







  






Anyways, as it turns out, it was a bit above our budget. Plus at the price we could offer there would be no landscaping or appliances and the monthly cost of the utilities in this neighbourhood is more than the others.


So, today we decided to head out to the Villa project to see if our Cordoba would be worth the trade off of a lack of community for a great house. As it turns out, it's everything we had hoped for.  I think this means we now know that the house is worth more to us than the amenities.  Plus, there is a chance that the amenities will come within a year or two.  In the meantime, we would have to drive for our groceries and invite ourselves to as many pool parties as possible.


And here you can OBVIOUSLY see the problem:


The problem being that the above picture is of the community center, gym and community pool... which won't be there for quite some time.

So, after finding a great house in a not-so-great community, we went back to the company relocation specialist and the agent we had been dealing with to provide some very specific details of the home we would like to find in Arabian Ranches... within our budget... which likely doesn't exist.

And as I write this a new piece of information... a place filling our requirements in Arabian Ranches has become available this evening.  Here is the floor plan.  It's ONLY 3100 sq. ft, which the agents refer to as "small." Hopefully we get to go see it tomorrow:


Anyways, I think we're finally getting somewhere.  With the employment visa now secured, it's off to the clinic for a medical exam and then we can finally get that residence permit, which means the rest of the family can finally get a residence permit... which means we can buy a car, get licenses, get paid... all good things.

ENOUGH WITH THE HOUSES, ON TO THE GOOD STUFF!

With all of this fun, we simply have to mention the best camel sighting we've had so far.  The Villa project is right on the edge of the desert, which means the camels are plentiful. We pulled over to get a few shots.  The little bumps on the horizon would eventually move if we watched for a while.  There must have been 100 of them.  The piles of sand are what line the street (construction access) into and out of the development.






Thanks for putting up with me. If you're lucky, Darcy will take over again for the next one.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Beach Day in Dubai

We are sleepy and slightly grumpy but we have returned from a wonderful Saturday in Dubai. Andy has the girls in the tub attempting to wash off the surprising amount of sand. We all know most sand sticks to you but this stuff REALLY, really sticks to you.

We managed the beaches today quite well if I do say. We drove the beach road for the first time, Anna said the metal fence in the middle looked like music, sheet music I guess but very clever we thought. We found the Jumeirah Beach Park and a public beach during our travels. We knew from our first trip here in April/May that it is a "violation of park rules" if you take pictures at the park. So not willing to risk getting our Canadian derrieres tossed out of the park and knowing how many pictures I wanted to take, we found a public beach to get our first visit to the sand and surf of the Arabian Gulf, it all worked out well.





Here we are, on the beach. Our little white rental car is parked there in the background. Its a Nissan Tiida, again with the car stuff, not my thing. Anyways, it is ok, a little rough but does the trick. We filled it up tonight, it was at a 1/4 tank but still only cost 54 dirham ($14.86 CND) the kicker gas is only 1.72 dirham / litre or 47 cents / litre. I think we can afford to drive that tank Auntie J was talking about. Anyways, back to the beach.







Had to take some video of us getting our feet wet :)

video

Emilee eventually warmed up to the surf and we enjoyed a great few minutes in the sun. We found some special sea shells to help us remember our first day at the beach, I picked this one.


We played in the waves and the sand for a few more minutes. It was so fun.

 


 Trying to avoid a sunburn but wanting to not spoil such a great time we decide to head back to the car for some a/c and to go to the park to cool off with some ice cream and swim.

So this ends our photos of the day, we had a great time eating or wearing our ice cream, depending on who your are.. cough, cough, Emilee. We rented an umbrella for a little shade, got our suits on and had a blast in the surf. Emilee loved it, she had such a big smile, Anna wasn't quite as excited after she got a big wave in the face, but is getting so much better about that. The girls were well behaved except a little sand throwing by the two year old, but all in all it was a wonderful experience.We left the beach, negotiating ourselves out of a side adventure on the park's playground, got changed and back into the car and a/c. Both girls were asleep as we made our way back down the beach road, what a great day.

Thank you for all your kind comments, we/ I hope you enjoy the pictures and our silly stories. We love and miss so many great friends and family. We are well and hoping as this Dubai weekend comes to a close (Saturday here is like Sunday in Calgary) that the next week brings a resident permit (RP), getting paid would be a good thing. No RP = no bank account, no bank account, you get the idea. The permit also means our container can be shipped, a UAE driver's licenses, a leased car of our own, and so on and so forth. Maybe so more house hunting this week so that if and when that container arrives we have some rooms to put things in. We will keep you posted. Big hugs, lots of love. ~the Andersons.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Post Ikea Fun

 What to do on a Saturday in Dubai? Dad and I laid in bed Saturday morning deciding what adventure to take the girls on that day, a day trip into the dessert? How about a day at the beach? (still have to do that one) Visit a historical site, a local attraction, museum anything cultural and informative? What do we pick IKEA!! Now in our defense, it is Anna's favorite place in the world, she loves to play at the stations and most of all have ice cream at the end. And second we might need some things for our house so that's informative, right?. Little Emilee made us all cry when she got so excited. "Grammy, Papa too?" Sweet thing, she has been so sensitive, more than I anticipated. She was upset one morning, really very grouchy and in desperation I asked her if she was missing Buzz and she said yes, cried and sat on my lap. Anyways now that I am crying writing this, back to Ikea.
   We managed to plan and execute our route with a combo distance calculation to a potential neighborhood and avoid the toll roads. Got a little turned around, found a gas station to get water and a new map (left the first one in a previous rental car) and back headed in the right direction. Found Ikea, parking was a nightmare, both the people and the lack of parking stalls but took a deep breath and made it. It is, if you were wondering exactly the same as the one in Calgary :) Just a few little differences, prints of Dubai in the picture section etc.

We had a look around Festival City mall, I found the water slippers I was looking for. They are like gymnastic shoes but with extra grippy rubber bottoms. They were only 45 dirhams ($12.33 CDN) very exciting. They are great and keep the girls from slipping around the pool. I couldn't spend the 175 dirham (47.95) for a pair of Nike capris but unless this girl can go on a diet or magically be the size six that all and I mean ALL the clothes here come in I might have to go back ;) We had a good visit, Emilee had a great temper tantrum mid mall and so we were all done and ready for the car.

We planned our route back and navigated out of the parkade. Got going on the right road and then all of a sudden were on the "wrong" road. Not wrong as in direction or anything just a toll road and a not the one we wanted to take. What do we know, it may cost 5 dirham (1.37) per gate and I think we did two or three gates but it was well worth it.


We found ourselves in the financial district at sun set, it was cool. Emilee missed most of it and Anna was more interested in drawing pictures, which was ok with us.


It was a fun ride home after a fun day in Dubai.








So as we got back to our hotel we had a Dubai car moment. It is a terrible, I mean a terrible picture, out of focus and such (took me too long to get my camera turned on and lens cap off etc, etc) but it is proof that we were beside, if only briefly, a Porsche which was beside a Bentley. Correct me if I am wrong, cars are not "my thing".

~

The girls are getting along well in our hotel. We are staying in a one bedroom, the girls sleep in the 'living room' and there is a tv and sofa. We sleep in the other room which is as, if not larger than most regular hotel rooms so we are not crowded, it a good thing. We loved taking my quilts and making forts at home so we decided we should do the same here, you should have seen Anna's face when I said yes, she was surprised. They are cute and I took the few minutes of quiet to sew and take a few pictures.


Big hugs and lots of love. ~ the Andersons