Discovering Abu Dhabi

It’s a new year
& a new destination!

I have been in Abu Dhabi now for just over a month and I am excited to share my discoveries with you.
As a part of my new years resolutions I have been making some effort to go out and do more, the plans don’t always pan out but that makes for more adventurous stories.

Leaving Quarantine

Once I finally had my tracker/watch removed I was able to head to my new accommodation, unpack my bags completely, meet my new colleagues and settle in.
The settling in part happened quite easily when I compare it to what I had experienced when I arrived in America for the first time. This time was easier, because I felt like I have done this so many times before. I had set my expectations quite low in terms of accommodation, and apart from the bathroom set-up (which I’m used to now) things looked pretty much how I expected them to. It’s shared living, with the bare minimum; but the people I am sharing with are clean and quiet- what more could I have possibly asked for?

New Accomodation

The next two days consisted of orientation, learning all about the new place that I will be working at as well as being introduced to all of the employees. Meeting my new colleagues I was overwhelmed with the variety of nationalities all in one place; it excited me to know that working here would educate me of the world past the UAE horizons. Communicating with everyone while wearing a mask has made the name-learning process a little bit more complex as well as makes the language barrier even worse- because I never knew how much I needed to see what people were saying. It has been tough being emerged in a place where I am not immediately understood, and often asked to repeat myself or to speak slower. I am a fast talker, that has always been a bad habit of mine, and now I am forced to think about every single thing I say because it can be interpreted the wrong way or just won’t be understood at all (all the jokes that have gone unnoticed has hit me quite hard because sometimes I can be freaking hilarious).

My roommate is also South African and honestly, she is the best I could have asked for. She, along with the girl rooming next to us (also South African) have made my life here so much easier, and memorable. When I arrived they took me to the mall so that I could go and do some grocery shopping, they’ve introduced me to some delicious snacks and have been my soundboard through all of this.

Turning 25:

My 25th birthday arrived and it was everything that I could have hoped for in a new country. My two new friends surprised me with the best birthday present ever (a fluffy blanket, chocolate, and the cutest coffee machine) and made sure that the day was something to remember.
The day before my birthday we went to Al Seef Village mall to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere before we had breakfast at Cafe Artea (best scrambled egg on a croissant).

From there we took a taxi to Corniche road and strolled on this beautiful walkway alongside the beach. Of course experiencing something that is meant to be vibrant and playful during Corona times is a little bit different, but despite the lack of open food stalls I still enjoyed seeing this part of the city. We walked all the way to Marina Mall, spent some time in there and then when we walked back after the sun already set. Walking back we stumbled upon The Founder’s Memorial. By stumbled I mean, we walked, saw it and said “well it’s a good thing we turned right and not left.”

On the actual day of my birthday we went for breakfast at Tashas which is located in Al Beteen, and wow what a delicious decision that was. It is a boutique lifestyle café that originated in South Africa and delivers a taste of home with exceptional accuracy and an impeccable atmosphere. We had made the decision to go here very impulsively, but after having their chicken and mayo sandwich and devouring the pumpkin fritters I think I should make this a monthly commitment.

From here I walked back to the corniche and made my way to the Cabana Beach Bar & Grill. This little slice of paradise is located inside The St. Regis, such a hidden gem that if it wasn’t my birthday and I wasn’t determined to have a cocktail on the beach I most probably would never have found it.

But I managed to make my way to their own little private beach area, sip away on some delicious cocktails all while practically having the whole place to myself (thanks Covid). When I decided it was time to leave a lady arrived at the table next to mine and we got into such a great conversation that I almost did not make it to the museum on time.

I left the beach and took a taxi to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, an hour before closing. I thought that an hour was going to be enough, but it was not and I most definitely have to go back. I thoroughly enjoyed the first section due to it including a lot of Greek historical pieces and I just did a semester of Greek Mythology so some items I recognized (or I at least knew what they were referring to vaguely).

Christmas Time

I was fortunate enough to have Christmas day off, it rarely happens if you’re in the hospitality industry, so when I received my schedule I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
The day before I went to the mall in hopes of finding some Christmas themed pajamas, and let me tell you that the task was nearly impossible. Nearly. But after a few hours of literally going into every store I managed to find pajama pants that were Christmassy enough and I decided that they would just have to do.
On the day, I slept in had a good slow start to the day and then started baking cookies and brownies. Since I am still new and haven’t accumulated all of my baking supplies yet I opted for good old pre-mixed boxes that I could just add a few eggs to and bake but the lack of an electrical beater made me wish I was not baking cookies at all. But I persisted, my arm almost fell off, but bake cookies I did. While baking I watched elf, because it was the first Christmas movie that popped up on Netflix, I called my grandparents and spoke to my sister.
When everyone finally came home from work we made dinner together and had the desserts.
All and all it was a holly jolly day, and I hope that everyone who celebrated managed to find happiness in the day during these tough and confusing times.

Merry Christmas
from Route & Review
My baking skills put to the test

Other Discoveries

Although I have been MOSTLY working i have managed to get out a little and explored some of what Abu Dhabi has to offer
  • BYB (Back Yard Bistro)
    Located inside the World Trade Centre
    I’ve headed to the beautiful rooftop patio that BYB has to offer for mimosas more than once, and it has become my go to for a great day out. They offer great happy hour prices (which included the prosecco, hence the mimosa drinking) and when you’re there close to sunset the whole city seems to be alive around you.
  • Marta’s
    Located at The Louvre Abu Dhabi
    As my birthday was ending at the museum, I decided to have one last drink before getting the long taxi ride home. The bar above the Fouquet’s French restaurant (I had their mashed potatoes, and let me tell you they are not to be missed) seemed like the most viable option, so I went there and enjoyed deliciously crafted cocktails.
  • Sanderson’s
    Located at Al Seef
    We went here for a friends birthday breakfast, and they did not disappoint. Their interesting selections of caffeine free rainbow lattes definitely caught my attention, but I opted for my regular latte and a sweet potato base breakfast pizza. Their motto “Good Food, Good Mood” definitely resonates with the experience.
  • Cafe 302
    Located at the Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana
    If you’re looking for something in the city, close to everything and modern mixed with comfort this is the place. We had a side of their sweet potato fries along with their calamari starter, and if I could fit anything else in I would have ordered every sweet treat that they had to offer.

Exploring a country for the first time when there are social distancing protocols and “maximum capacity” signs posted everywhere you don’t get to experience what a place is truly like, it feels like I am experiencing Abu Dhabi in slow motion. It is almost as if I am seeing the behind-the-scenes version of everything that there is to offer, but I cannot watch the full movie yet.
It will take some time before I really get to know my new home, but until then I look forward to simply taking things as they are.

Talk to you soon,
Love Route & Review

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