Thursday, May 30, 2013

Amazing days in New York

Despite incredibly cold and rainy weather (what happened to spring NYC???), we have had an amazing time! Forgive me for repeating myself, but I love New York and I wish that we could stay for a month or so to be able to explore this amazing city as it deserves to be explored. However, we have done a lot (shopping mostly) and we have enjoyed great lunches, dinners and drinks, met up with interesting people (more about that in my next post) and generally had a fantastic time!
On Thursday morning, we took a stroll towards Korea Town and Macy's and spent a couple of hours around the area before heading back for a power nap at the hotel. The weather had been lovely in the morning but sometime around lunch time it started raining and what started off as a nice drizzle turned into a heavy thunderstorm. A very nice gentleman was kind enough to offer his large umbrella as he was just about to get on the metro home. Despite the umbrella we got back to the hotel completely soaked. After our much needed nap, we took a taxi down to Meatpacking District and ended up at The Old Homestead Steakhouse. We decided to go for fillet mignon and it was made to perfection. As the Rangers were playing their fourth game against Boston Bruins, I received updates from the very helpful waiters and when the game ended with victory to NY Rangers, I and friend M decided to go Spice Market for dinks to celebrate. Sadly enough, NY Rangers lost the fifth game and are now out of the Stanely Cup finals. After Spice Market we maded up to a roof top bar with a wonderful view over New York were we enjoyed more drinks before finally heading home to our Pod.
If Thursday had been rainy, Friday was even worse and the temperature must have dropped by at least 10 degrees, if not more. Gusty winds, dark clouds and a heavy rain made the walk from 39th street up to 60th street not very pleasant. Friend M had a nice make over at Bloomingdales, while I was walking around, slightly upset about the fact that there were not a single bench or chair to sit on and rest! Later that evening, we took a taxi down to our favourite district, Meatpacking and went to Bill's Burgers, finished off with a drink at Spice Market again and headed home for some well deserved sleep.
Saturday was just as cold and windy. We enjoyed a nice breakfast in Soho and then decided to part and meet up at the hotel later. I strolled around in Little Italy and Chinatown, enjoyed a nice glass of wine at small pub before walking up to 17th street and Barnes' and Nobles. I have been looking for a comprehensive legal dictionary for a long time and here in Dubai they just don't sell them. At Barnes' and Nobles they had a wide selection of various dictionaries and I opted for Black's Legal Dictionary, highly recommended online. Very satisfied with my purchase, I decided to walk all the way back home to our hotel. Later that evening, we had decided to meet up a friend from Singapore, she lives in NY since a few years back (yes, I'm jealous!). We met up at the roof top bar at the The Standard Hotel, which had one of the most amazing roof top bars I have ever seen with an impressive view over NY. The bar itself was shaped as a large mushroom (!) and apparently you have to arrive quite early to even get somewhere to sit! Since it was an incredibly cold and rainy evening, we decided to go for a meal quite nearby and ended up at Fig & Olive (420 West, 13th Street). Friend M enjoyed lobster salad, friend K went for the veal and I had a wonderful chilean sea bass! The food was just excellent, the only downside was the loud music that made a normal conversation almost impossible. However, the venue itself was very nice and judging from the crowd, very popular. Friend K left us after dinner and we went to our good old Spice Market for a ginger Margarita before taking yellow cab home.
Sunday was my last day as I had a flight later that night, so we decided to walk to Koreatown again and my favourite place, Mandoo Bar. The weather was perfect, sunny and a blue sky and not too cold! After a nice Korean lunch, we followed the crowd along Broadway and into the Disney store where I found some lovely Little Mermaid gifts for Joli. We went home rather early that afternoon and did my packing before we went up to the hotel's lovely roof top bar for a last drink. The airport shuttle stop was just one block away so it took less then 10 minutes to walk there. Friend M was staying one more night but since I was on standby, I had to try to get on the flight one day earlier as they looked quite fully booked. Well, to cut a long story short, I was bumped off the late night flight and had to go back (good thing we had the hotel for one more night). I slept for a few hours before heading back out to JFK the next morning where I got bumped off again. By that time I was so exhausted, I decided to stay at the airport until the next flight, late that evening. So there I sat, the entire day, at JFK airport arrival's hall (the only hall with chairs!) and watched people come and go. It was actually quite relaxing. I know I could have dumped the luggage at the luggage storage and head back to Manhattan, but honestly, I was so tired, all I wanted to do was to sit down. I think I even dozed off at some point. Thankfully, I made the flight back to Dubai and was quite relieved to get onboard. After a light meal, I fell asleep and slept like a rock for 8 hours!
Wonderful sushi lunch at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant

Yellow cabs

Kimchi at Mando Bar

Great concept with city bikes

Clever car parking

A trip to Chinatown is a must!

And to Little Italy too of course

My favourite place, we were here 7 years ago too

Slightly tired and puffy eyed but happy Korean!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A stroll along Korea Way

I landed yesterday in a warm but slightly cloudy NYC after an amazing flight over. I can't complain about the comfort at all, it was pure pleasure and I was very well looked after! I decided to take the shuttle bus from the airport and got off at Grand Central Station and walked about 10 min along 39th street east to the hotel, The Pod 39. The hotel is very busy with a taco restaurant/bar next to it, another bar downstairs which seemed to be quite packed in the evening and another roof top bar on the 17th floor. It was pretty busy and offered a great view over NY in the evening! After friend M arrived, we decided to go for some Korean food (and to avoid falling asleep at 7 pm as we were dead tired..).  We walked towards Lexington and Park Avenue and soon found our beloved Korea Way with lots of Korean restaurants. The choice of the evening was bipimbap, Korean beer and kimchi. The place was pretty busy (don't remember the name but remembered to take photos of the food at least). We woke up at 6 this morning and we will get ready for a breakfast at Starbucks and the head off to explore NYC. I have a few items on my shopping list but then I suspect we'll just roam around, watch people, have something nice to eat and drink and just enjoy ourselves.

A very good start to my morning...


Bipimbap, the famous Korean dish

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New York, New York

A while back, which feels like an eternity, me and friend M decided to meet up in New York. She lives in Sweden and just celebrated her 40th so why not add a trip to the Big Apple as an extra birthday treat? I, friend M and friend A all went to NYC in March 2005. We had a blast, dinner in the Meat Packing District, shopping at Macy's, drinks here and there. I can't say I'm a New York expert because I probably haven't seen even a third of what the city has to offer, but I fell instantly in love with it last time. Of course one should ideally spend more time than just a couple of days but it is definitely better than nothing.
Friend M is flying in from Sweden and I from Dubai and we meet up at our hotel The POD 39. As we are celebrating her birthday, I'm thinking fizzy drinks that afternoon, and jet lag and travelling lag permitting, I suspect we will hit Korea town later that evening for some great food and tons of home made kimchi!
Since NY Rangers just made to the Stanley Cup quarter final, I was a bit tempted to buy tickets for one of their first games against Boston Bruins but thought against it when I realized getting tickets would be quite problematic and in fairness, we can park ourselves in a nice bar (I hope) and watch the game. My son is a great fan of Henke and NY Rangers, so I'm planning on buying him some NY Rangers stuff whilst "in town". Joli will be more than happy with something from the Disney store, I'm thinking Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" (and also trying to find the movie as it is impossible to find here in the UAE by some reason). For myself, I'm looking at finding a new toilet bag, some new clothes (that you cannot buy in the UAE) and perhaps a new wallet. We shall see!

Not NYC but Seattle, another favourite city
So any of you who's got great tips on nice restaurants, bars, shopping places in NYC? I will be lazy and not do the usual tourist things (last time we decided against standing in an long line to get to Empire State and I suspect we will do the same now, esp. since I'm terrified of heights...).
The only "negative" thing is of course the one whether one will make the flight home or not, but I will try to remain positive!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Personal Trainer, no more excuses!

My training periods in life tend to go up and down and the latest trend is down. Last year I was quite good and signed up for boxing classes and spinning classes a few times a week. Unfortunately, due to lack of participants, they cancelled the boxing classes in the evenings and only kept the ones in the morning (which I can't go to as I'm at work). That was a huge disappointment to me and I sort of lost a bit of interest however kept doing my spinning classes. Eventually, I got a bit bored by doing the same exercise every week so that stopped too. For the past couple of months, I have been running on the treadmill at our gym, which is fine but quite boring to be honest.
Last week however, a lady residing in our compound sent out a message on the compound FB- page saying that there will be boot camp sessions in the evening, abs blaster classes (on hold for now due to lack of participants but hopefully later on) and you could also sign up for a Personal Trainer at your compound gym. I got very excited and signed up for the PT but due to some slow security procedures, he is yet not allowed to access our gym so we decided to do the session in my garden! And you don't really need a gym to be honest, we had a fantastic boxing session, abs session and skipping rope session (where I almost fainted) and it was the best work out I've had in months! So from now on, he will come to my house/garden for PT-sessions twice a week until I work up my motivation and can start doing my own programs at the gym! For the past three days, I have not been able to walk properly, looks like I have wet myself and I have pain in muscle groups I never realized I had! So that must be a really good sign! I am very excited already about tonight's session and since it is at my own house, there is no additional time to drive or find a parking space etc. and also no excuse not to do it! My PT is a very fit guy with years of experience from another fitness chain so I have no doubts of his capability.
Update: We had an evening session yesterday, in the garden (the biggest problem was trying to keep the kids away!). We did boxing with combinations (a bit tricky for a tired mind but fun) and then legs and abs and finished off with a fantastic stretching session (one reason why I'm not so sore today). Being outside is fun but it is quite hot, even in the evening. However, I signed up for 12 sessions and number 2 is on Saturday! Already looking forward to it!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The garden

Like anywhere else in Dubai, when you move into a villa, you need to sort out your garden yourself. For instance, when our neighbours moved back to their home country, five gardeners spent a couple of days literally tearing the garden apart as you are not even allowed to leave it for the next tenant. I find that very strange, not to mention the waste of money and beautiful plants! Luckily, they could give away most of their trees and other plants but the paver bricks were all removed and the irrigation system as well.
Anyways, when we moved in, everything around the house was sand. It took us a while to actually decide what to do with our garden. We opted for putting paver bricks on the front side where we have our outdoor furniture and a small fire pit (previously a washing machine drum...) and on the back side, hubby wanted to plant a small forest. I was very much in doubt when he actually did plant a bunch of little green plants that they eventually would grow up to large trees. We waited another year to put in grass in the backyard and the kids used it a gigantic sandpit to dig various holes and sand castles.
Finally, a few years later, we have now both irrigation (and it did wonders to our little forest) and grass at the back. Hubby bought some grapes and they are growing every day with large, green grapes waiting to ripe. Not quite sure how they will taste but we shall see. Hubby is also very fond of growing chili fruits (as I have mentioned before) and has collected various samples from his trips. We also have dill, beans, tomatoes, corn, water melon, strawberries and various flowers of course (I am crap at gardening so not quite sure what their names are but they are beautiful!).
Since hubby put a sail over the front terrace, we can still sit outside without melting away in the sun

Bouganvillea and another yellow flower that is climbing all the way up to our bedroom window

Hubby's forest project

Gorgeous grapes!

Chili plants in their pots
 Even if the days are quite hot, it is still wonderful to sit outside in the evening, listening to birds, cars passing by, kids playing on the streets... Even if I'm not a garden person at all, I do appreciate our garden, especially for the kids and that it gives us an extra "room" in the summer. Hubby is keeping himself busy between flights with all his vegetables and it is amazing to see how it grows! Who would imagine that, in the middle of the desert!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Excellent lunch at "The Noodle House", Dubai Mall

I'm not too fond of Dubai Mall, it is way too big for me and I tend to get lost there everytime, however, this morning, I and friends T and S decided to meet up there for coffee and lunch. Mornings are fine, the traffic (especially on a Friday morning) is not bad and you can easily find a parking spot. Joli had "book week" at school last week and had to bring in a book from her home country, and we opted for Pippi Longstocking! We only have Pippi Longstocking in Swedish and as strange as it may sounds, my daughter prefers it in English after a few phone calls to Borders and WH Smith, I finally  found the books at Kinokuniya, the enormous Japanese bookstore in Dubai Mall, hence I did have a good reason to go there. We started off our morning with a nice coffee at Nero's, next to the Ice rink before we strolled around for a while, Debenhams, Bloomingdale's and Mango, where we all found some really nice clothes (pants and skirt for work) and rounded off with lunch at "The Noodle House". The food was just divine! I ordered beef teriyaki, which came soaked in a rich, thick soya sauce. The meat was cooked to perfection, tender, juicy, perfect! With that, I decided for an Asian salad and it was also extremely good, fresh, a bit spicy (but still ok for a sensitive sould like myself) with lots of bean sprouts, onion, coriander, salad leaves and grated carrot. Friend T went for the sweet and sour chicken and friend S enjoyed a nice bowl of laksa. Eventhough it was a warm day, we decided to sit outside and enjoyed a great view over the fountains and Souk Al Bahar. It actually reminded me that I need to visit this place more often, it is indeed very pleasant but somehow I always find it too far away (which is not the case, I am just being lazy).
After our delicious lunch, I and Joli went to the bookstore and got some Pippi Longstocking books and then we headed home. Tomorrow Joli is invited to a pool party at Green community and I am trying to get enough energy to drag myself to the gym in the morning. Let's see how that will go...!

Passion fruit drink, very refreshing in the heat

Very yummy Asian salad

Beef teriyaki tenderloin

Sweet and sour chicken

So for those you want to have a wonderful lunch experience at Dubai Mall, I can highly recommend The Noodle House!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Smart contracting under English law

Yesterday, me and my colleague S were invited to a half-day seminar, hosted by the law firm Ince & Co at the Shangri-La hotel. I underestimated the time as usual and arrived in half-panic. There was a light breakfast served with pastries, coffee, tea, juice and fresh fruits before the seminar started. /The seminar itself was very interesting and for me, being new to the shipping industry, it was very useful. The speakers were all very well prepared and they brought up some interesting topics. After the seminar, we were all invited to a lovely buffet lunch (I felt a bit awkward to pull out my phone to take pictures, so hence, no pics this time either) before we both literally rolled down the stairs and out to get our cars from the valet parking and then headed straight to the office.
The weather has been very strange the last week. Cloudy, windy and with a modest rain/drizzle almost every day! That is very unusual here, maybe you get some rainy days (during winter) but they usually last maximum 1-2 days and then the blue sky is back.
Today we start the day with company breakfast which is a nice, monthly event. Everyone gets together in the lunch area for a nice breakfast, someone is holding a presentation and there is a bit of socializing before we all go back to our desks and get ready for the last working day of the week.
Tomorrow I desperately need to find some new clothes as I am now restricted to a few pieces only. And I also need to visit the good old blue and yellow store for some candles, lingon berry jam and prawns! Joli has a playdate on Saturday with a class friend and she happens to have an older brother who seemed keen to hang out with Elias, hence, a double play date and I get to spend a few relaxing hours on the beach! Win win as hubby needs to stay home and study for his PPC...
Well, I wish you all a great weekend!