This was my first Christmas in a different country (continent) and a Muslim one at that. But, as I have learned, if there is flash and glam involved, the UAE is in with both pockets. So there were Christmas trees, carols in the shops, red Starbucks cups and crowds in the malls. If I let my mind wander, I could imagine I was home.
Minus the snow. Did I mention I am not missing the snow? I am not. I mean, I could have handled a few flakes on Christmas day but, I’m ok. Sorry to my dear Canadian friends reading this but if I never have to scrape off my car windows at -30 again, my life is still complete.
The last day of school prior to the holiday was the usual; lots of hyper kids and a few presents. A student gave me an ornament that said “JOY” so my streak continues. I had my car packed as the day of work for three weeks slowly ticked down. At the 3pm bell I was in the driver seat and aimed towards Al Ain. Hellllllo holidays.
For those of you who skimmed my previous posts you have seen Al Ain. It’s a perfect little desert gem. I am also able to find the malls, grocery stores, and the liquor store (it is important) all on my own. Thank you Darren for the patient lessons. Al Ain is a city that is navigated through roundabouts. You can see in some areas that they are abandoning this for the allure of traffic lights. Oooooh traffic lights. But I love Al Ain…
Now I know what you are thinking. Poor Joy, in a foreign country for her holidays … sniff sniff. Well, dry your eyes, I had a fabulous time. Darren had a busy opening weekend planned: a coworkers Christmas party full of cheer and turkey, brunch at the top of the Burj Al Arab followed by a chorale presentation of Christmas classic carols back in Al Ain and turkey meal number two within a 24 hr period.
Back to the Burj for a moment . Holy. Holy Allah, God and Buddha all in one. This is an amazing place, and if you are ever in the ‘hood, GO. There was a buffet of food that stretched beyond the gaze of my eyes. Maybe that’s because my eyes saw lobster and just stopped. I feasted on lobster, crab, some crazy beef that heard classical music and got massages until it met its unwanted end. Oh there was cake with gold flecks in it. I mean GOLD. White chocolate, fruit, chocolate fountains, seriously… stop me! Suffice it to say, anyone that comes over here gets to go there with me. Just saying…
At this point I have eaten non-stop for two days… Might have been time for an intervention. Alas, Darren had to go back to work (side note: different holidays are not fun) and I quickly settled into a routine of mall crawling, buying/hiding/wrapping presents and relaxing in bed with a book each morning. Of course having food served to me there only encouraged such decadent behaviour.
Oh there was a Christmas tree. And lights, and music, and chocolates. There were so many presents that the poor little tree was somewhat dwarfed. Don’t worry, when you see the pictures the tree is not full sized. That would make us both spoiled. Wait, we were/are.
So what else did I do… Watched movies- Avatar in 3D is a must, and Sherlock Holmes is what every movie should be… Went quad’ing in the dunes for New Years Eve. Amazing sights. I only broke two quads and neither one was really my fault. Drank a vat of mulled wine. Played games and thoroughly enjoyed each moment. You know when you realize how lucky you are and it sorta warms you all over? I had those feelings often. You can call it the desert temperature but I know differently.
And I haven’t even gotten to my wonderful presents! Basically, as I have inferred (ok, stated) previously I was spoiled. Things I didn’t know I wanted, things I realized I needed and things that made me stop and realize Darren is great at listening when I ramble. That’s a GREAT sign. As holidays go, this one was special for more than one reason… Christmas has a way of making little moments the big ones and those are the ones that matter.
My holiday mattered.
PS. Did I mention I cooked a FEAST?! I did. Check out the pics.
Entering the Burj Al Arab for an amazing brunch.
This tree was covered in JOY ornaments. Love it!
The view from Al Muntaha Restaurant on the 27th floor.
Still on the 27th floor (aka 200 metres above sea level).