Mam, Maria and I Times for prayer Dome MeJumeirah Mosque

Last Wednesday I took a trip to Jumeirah Mosque with my mam and Maria. We read up about it the day before so we knew in advance we needed to cover our arms and legs and that they would provide scarves to cover our hair. You can see chairs in some of the pictures. They are not usually there and are only there in this specific mosque because it’s the only one in Dubai that non-Muslims can visit freely. The chairs are left out for people to sit on at the 10.30am visit which is the only visiting time each day. A representative from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding spends around 1-1.5 hours explaining the religion and how the mosque is used. It was really interesting to learn about a religion that I knew very little about. The time board on the wall beside the clock decides the 5 times per day when Muslims pray based on the lunar calendar. Woman can pray either in the mosque or at home whereas men are encouraged to pray in the mosque. The reason for this is that woman are the primary care-givers for the children and it may not always be possible for them to attend the mosque. You will see in the photographs that there is a pattern in the carpets that forms lines for people to stand while they pray. The mosque itself on the outside is quite beautiful and although it has beautiful chandeliers and ceilings inside, it is very basic in that it is mostly a square room with very little inside. It was fascinating to learn about a different religion and culture, however, much like my own religion, some of the explanations for why things are done the way they are can be a little hard to swallow. Overall, it was very interesting and I would encourage people visiting Dubai to take the time out to visit the mosque. 

Burj Al ArabCheers - sparkling date juice

1st Course

course 2Maria, Mam and Icourse 3MocktailsCakes & creme bruleeCourse 4Chocolates to take-awayLeaving the Burj Al Arab

1) The Burj Al Arab – looking up,  2) Cheers – sparkling date juice,  3) First course – berries and cream on shortbread,  4) Second course – Beef and potato,  5) Maria, Mam and I,  6)  Third course – selection of sandwiches,  7) One of the mocktails we tried,  8) Cakes, cookies and creme brulee,  9) Fourth course – selection of scones and mini patisserie,  10) Chocolates to take home,  11) Leaving the Burj Al Arab

Yesterday my Mam, Maria and I went for afternoon tea in the Burj Al Arab hotel. Our reservation was for 4.30pm but we were eager to see the hotel so we arrived at 3.30pm. I had been to the hotel before with Dane’s previous employer but it was nice to have the time to look around the foyer area and take some photographs. We went up to the Sky View bar early at around 4.10pm and we were seated next to the window facing the sea immediately. The service in the hotel is second to none from the people who call the lift (elevator if you’re from the U.S.) to the waiters serving your table. There are several courses to the Sky View Afternoon Tea. When we first arrived we were offered dates which are the holy fruit of Arabia. We were then offered sparking date juice. Usually guests are offered champagne but as it is currently the holy month of Ramadan there is no alcohol served anywhere in Dubai before 8pm. The first course on the menu is berries and cream which is served on shortbread. The second course is the chef’s carvery of the day which was beef (cooked to perfection) and mashed potato. Although it was delicious it is a very small portion. This works out well considering there’s still 3 courses to go. Next we were served finger sandwiches including salmon, chicken, caviar, tuna, cucumber and beef. If you have special requirements you can let them know. By this stage we were feeling quite full. The second last course is a mixture of homemade scones, cakes and creme brûlée. The final course is lychee and rose sorbet. There is also a menu with lots of different teas, coffees, iced drinks, hot chocolate and mocktails and you can order as many as you like. We started off with an English breakfast tea (old habits die hard) then we moved onto a mocktail. I had a lovely Oreo one. We were so full by the end and we didn’t finish all of the cakes and scones so they packaged them up for us to take away. We were there for roughly two and a half hours in total and another 30 mins taking pictures beforehand.

For anyone visiting Dubai I would definitely recommend this once in a lifetime experience. There are two reason why you would only do it once. The first is that it is expensive and works out at roughly €93 which is 450dhs (Arab Emirate dirham) or 122 American dollars. The second is that it’s the only 7 star hotel (self proclaimed because there is technically no star higher than 5) in the world and the likelihood of you visiting Dubai more than once is low unless you have friends/family etc living there. I didn’t think I would be saying this but, I think it is worth the price tag to see the hotel, experience the view (which includes part of the Palm Islands) and enjoy the amazing food and drink.

China (1) China (2)India (1) India (2)Persia (2) Persia (1)Egypt (1)Egypt (2) Tunisia (2)Tunisia (1)

1 & 2) China,  3 & 4) India,  5 & 6) Persia,  7 & 8) Egypt,  9 & 10) Tunisia

Last week, while Dane was working late I went to Ibn Battuta Mall to take some pictures. It’s a nice mall only 10 minutes away from the apartment in a taxi so I’ve been there a few times. It’s the largest themed mall in the world (of course it is!) and its design is based on the travels of the Arabic explorer Ibn Battuta. The themes of the mall are celebrated on the inside and on the outside of the building. The different themes are: China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia. Unfortunately the section dedicated to Andalusia is small and I missed it. When you stop and look up the design is very impressive. My favourite section is definitely Egypt but that may be biased because it’s the only one of the 6 I’ve been to. Today I’m going for afternoon tea with my Mam and Maria in the Burj Al Arab. I looked forward to sharing my experience here soon. xoxo

A Beautiful Mess

My absolute favourite bloggers over at A Beautiful Mess have started a 30 day self portrait challenge and anyone can join in. I’ve decided to take part for a few reasons. The first reason is that I absolutely love their blog and everything about it so it must be a good idea. The second is that I think t will push me to be more creative when it comes to ‘selfies’. I will be posting my pictures on Instagram for the 30 days and I think it will require some creativity so my poor followers don’t have to look at pictures of my face every day. The third reason I decided to take part is because I absolutely love taking pictures of people. Portrait photography is my favourite type of photography but it’s not always easy to find willing participants. I think using myself as a subject will help me develop my skills and also help me to understand how uncomfortable it really is to be the sole subject of portraits. This might help me to put people at ease if I get some willing volunteers in the future.  When the challenge is over I will post some of the pictures and how it went here. Anyone wanna join me?  For details of the challenge, check out A Beautiful Mess Portrait Challenge.

Ice cold BulmersFish and ChipsMcGettigan'sFry

I decided to take a leaf out of My Tiny Mind‘s book and do a sort of review on an Irish pub abroad. There’s a pub not too far from the apartment Dane is renting called McGettigan’s and as far as I’m aware, it’s Irish owned.  I’m inclined to agree with My Tiny Mind in that Irish pubs abroad are usually not at all like pubs in Ireland so they would rarely be top of my list of places to find when I’m away from home. McGettigan’s, however, is different. It seems to be based on a more modern style Irish pub and has all the points Irish people look for in a pub. Number 1 and most important – it serves a nice cold pint (Bulmers for me), number 2 – it serves good food, and number 3 – it’s comfortable with an enjoyable atmosphere. 

 

I’ve been to McGettigan’s a few times now on my trips to Dubai, so it wasn’t my first visit and they serve food that will make you want to come back. I went for the cod and chips which is served with mushy peas. I’m not sure if mushy peas are a popular food around the world but they’re big in Ireland. You can expect them with Sunday dinners in most Irish households. Anyway, my meal was delicious. As you can see they serve really big chips which get a 10 out of 10 from me (I’m getting really sick of skinny fries Dubai – take note). Dane went for the full Irish (which is technically a breakfast meal but it’s served all day) and in usual form, completely changed what was on the menu to suit him, because he’s not picky at all (large side order of sarcasm please). He decided against the black and white pudding and tomato and much to his delight was rewarded with more hash browns. It’s also worth mentioning that the sausages in McGettigan’s are delicious, which is very important to Irish people as we have the best sausages in the world. I have absolutely no proof to back that up and I don’t need it. They just are.

 

So as not to end on a bad note, I’m going to jump straight to the negatives now. There are only two. Number 1 – you can still smoke in the pubs in Dubai which is not exactly McGettigan’s fault because there’s a law in Dubai which allows it. However, there is a separate section for eating which is non-smoking so it’s not so bad. Number 2 – The only thing the menu, or in fact any part of the pub, lets itself down on when it comes to it’s ‘Irishness’ is the use of the word pudding instead of dessert. In my almost 26 years of life, I’ve never once heard dessert called pudding in Ireland. England, yes. Ireland, nooooo! Pudding is something you get at Christmas or the meat mentioned above  in Ireland and a type of mousse in a pot in the U.S. It is not a substitute for the word dessert. 

 

Finally, the entertainment in McGettigan’s is always very good. They have live bands playing regularly and have brought over some big Irish bands, singers and comedians. We went to see The Coronas there in February and it’s a perfect intimate venue. They seem to have RTE 2 (Bog 2) on at least 1 television at all times, further cementing it’s ‘Irishness’. Overall, I’m going to give McGettigan’s a 9 out of 10, which I’m sure they’re delighted about…or else they will just carry on completely oblivious to this blog post. The latter sounds more like it. 

 

ChiefyLady

I’m already half way through my time in Dubai (wow, that went by fast) but I’m really missing these two dorks today. I miss the humans too. I haven’t fully transformed into ‘crazy dog lady’ just yet. Plenty of time for that.

View from Burj Khalifa Jade at Burj KhalifaSheikh Zayed RoadMe at Burj KhalifaView from Burj Khalifa

1) A view of some of the sky scrapers surrounding Burj Khalifa,  2) Jade on the observation deck,  3) A view of Sheikh Zayed Road,  4) Me on the observation deck,  5) Another view from the observation deck. The building to the left is the Address hotel which is 63 storeys high.

 

Last week Jade and I paid the Burj Khalifa a visit. We decided on a night tour and went up at 9.30pm after watching the Dubai Fountain and having some dinner with Dane and Owen. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world at over 828 metres high with more than 160 floors and it holds several other records. I had been to the observation deck of the sky scraper before but only during the day. It was much more impressive at night with the lights of the surrounding downtown Dubai on show. Like most cities, there are different sides to Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is a typical example of what you will find in ‘new’ Dubai, a city that is constantly striving to have the biggest and the best of everything. In my opinion, ‘new’ Dubai is certainly not without its merits and I defy anyone not to be impressed. For me, however, the older part of the city is much more enjoyable and interesting. There’s plenty to see around Dubai Creek with many different souks to visit. Although the heat is not exactly bearable right now (remember, I’m from Ireland) I plan to take a trip to the creek next week when my mam and Dane’s mam come to visit. 

Dinner by the lakeJade and Owen - MarinaJade & IOn the abraOwen and Daneour last dinner

It’s about time for another catch up as Jade and Owen have come and gone. We had a great 9 days and now the apartment feels so empty without them. To sum up their visit; the girls had lots of cocktails, the boys had lots of beer, we had plenty of food and loads of laughs. They saw the sights, the sun, the malls and the cars. They got to witness how the rich live and how the richer live. We now have new inside jokes and nicknames that look like they might stick. Jade lost some money playing cards and Owen still doesn’t know how to do a handstand against a wall. We made new friends and of course insisted they visit Ireland. The girls had a girl day which included the most painful massage I’ve ever experienced, a lovely facial and some shopping. The boys went go-karting for their boy’s day. I was really sad to see them go and greatly appreciated their company while Dane was at work. I was exhausted yesterday, slept in and did nothing all day but watch TV. Now Dane and I have a week to ourselves before his Mam and my Mam arrive. Summer in Dubai (part 3) will include their visit and how we’re getting on learning how to live in a Muslim country during Ramadan.

My hair colours

My hair colour over the last 4 years has gone from black to red to blonde with a few twists thrown in.

I sort of jumped into this blog without any warning, so I have decided to share some information for anyone reading it that might not know me personally. Below are 20 facts about me:

1. I like to change my hair colour regularly and get bored very quickly. I’m the same with my nails. I’m already planning the next set a day after getting them done.

2. I am addicted to diet coke.

3. Dane & I have been together over 4 years. We are so different in almost every way but it works. We have very little in common and even when we do share an interest, we usually differ in our opinion.

4. I worry way too much about things out of my control.

5. I consider myself tech savvy but I’m allergic to shopping online. I’ve done it maybe twice. It’s such an ordeal wondering when it will arrive? Is it what I want? What if I’m not at home & have to go to some collection centre? (Did I mention that I worry unnecessarily?)

6. I have an extremely low pain threshold.

7. I do not enjoy the heat if it’s above 25 degrees celsius (yes I am in Dubai for the summer where it is currently averaging at 40 degrees)

8. I’m slightly obsessed with my dogs. Some people would argue the slightly bit. They make me laugh every day and I think it’s impossible to feel lonely with them around.

9. I work in adult education. I teach basic literacy, computers, photography, communication skills, personal & interpersonal skills & family literacy which includes some arts and crafts. I ONLY work with adults. I could never teach children.

10. I enjoy making things but I get bored easily with longer projects.

11. I love when things are organised but I never manage to be as organised as I would like to be.

12. I have the most unconventional family in the best possible way and I wouldn’t change them for the world.

13. If I get an idea in my head, I want to do it NOW! On more than one occasion I’ve rearranged furniture in a room at 2am or started a scrapbook at 3am.

14. I have a love affair with leopard print. I have a radar for it & spot it every time I’m shopping.

15. I love animals & feel sick at the thought of animal cruelty but I can’t bring myself to give up eating meat.

16. I’ve had the same set of friends most of my life. I really couldn’t imagine it any other way. They’re very different women but they’re all amazing in their own way.

17. I really enjoy cooking and having people over for dinner.

18. I got my first (and only) tattoo at 24 and my ears pierced at 25.

19. I love being from and living in Ireland. It’s not perfect but it’s perfect for me.

20. I am extremely opinionated and can become very passionate if I feel strongly about something. I have, however, learned how to choose my battles. Sometimes it’s okay to have an opinion and not share it. 

Paper LanePaper Lane Paper Lane Paper Lane

I decided it would be a good idea to document my summer in Dubai in a scrapbook so last Thursday I took a trip to Borders. I don’t need an excuse to go to Borders, it’s my favourite book shop. I was very excited on my first visit to Dubai when I spotted the holy grail of book shops in the mall.  They pulled out of Ireland 3 or 4 years ago and left us with very few decent book shops. I think I read recently that they are gone completely from the U.S. now too so you can imagine my delight when I learned that they’re still in business in Dubai. I spent easily an hour choosing the book I wanted to use as a scrapbook (much to Dane’s displeasure) and I also bought a lovely travel journal which will no doubt go to waste because I’m very bad at keeping travel journals. I usually get behind after 2 or 3 days and give up. Anyway, I was happy with my choice so I paid for it and went on my way. Obviously all of my scrap-booking materials are in Ireland so I went online to find places in Dubai to buy some bits and piece for my scrapbook. I found a shop called Paper Lane in a mall about 25 minutes from the apartment so on Saturday we set off to find it. Two taxi journeys and three malls later, we fount it, and it was worth the hassle. I’m not sure if Paper Lane is an American company but I hadn’t heard of it before. As I’d imagined, it was the holy grail of scrap-booking (can you see a holy grail theme going on here?). I think it’ s important to remember at this point that Ireland is a very small country with a very small population (to put the size into perspective for anyone who doesn’t know, Ireland has roughly 4.6 million people, the state of Louisiana has the same) so we don’t have shops entirely dedicated to scrap-booking. It’s not a very popular thing in Ireland and it wouldn’t last in the current economy. Anyway, back to the point. This shop was amazing. I was like a child in a sweet shop and we didn’t get out of there in a hurry either. I wanted to look at each and every thing over and over and I’m still in awe when I think of the amount of card stock available. When we finally left, I was delighted with my purchases and couldn’t wait to get started. I’ll share my new scrapbook materials in a post soon and I look forward to sharing pictures of my scrapbook when it’s finished.