It’s all been a bit hectic in the run up to Christmas, as well as it having been absolutely ages since I wrote one of these posts so I thought I’d use this week, the week before Christmas to have a little ramble about what I’ve been up to during December and a few of the useful titbits I’ve discovered on my way…

We started the month for National Day with a staycation at Etihad Towers which was uh-mazing… we had a fab time and I plan to write about it soon, so watch out for that. While we were there we ate one night at Ray’s Grill which turned out to be quite fortuitous and an excellent view-point for the National Day fireworks from Emirates Palace, the Corniche and Al Maryah Island!

Back in September the new Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi opened quite quietly in the city, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that they finally had their grand opening party which I was invited along to. The hotel is located on Airport Road, just across from Al Wahda Mall and offers five-star comfort for business travellers looking for a central base in the city.

Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi

One of the most hotly anticipated restaurants from the Marriott chain has also opened within the hotel – JW Steakhouse. The restaurant seems to have an excellent reputation from all over, and indeed, several of my friends seem to be already raving about it. I was treated to dinner prior to the grand opening of the hotel and while it was good, I have to say that it didn’t blow my socks off. Mr Arabian Notes was pretty impressed though, so maybe it’s just me…

I hadn’t been planning to go and get all Christmassy so early on in the month, but after a lovely festive session at Kindermusik with the toddler I suddenly changed my mind and decided it would indeed be lovely, so we popped in for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Eastern Mangroves. I was really glad we did, it was lovely with carol singers, festive biscuits being passed round and mulled wine or egg nog to choose from, as well as the chance for the little ones to meet santa! It was a lovely little event, and though the toddler was not sure what to make of his first meeting with santa, he was more than satisfied with the goodies in the christmas stocking he received! 😀

And being the silly season and all, there’s been a few Christmas parties and events that I thought it would be nice to attend, and not just that, but to attend for once with Mr. Arabian Notes. Since Baby Arabian Notes was born not far off two years ago now, due to the lack of babysitting assistance we had not been out together alone since then! I had heard about a nanny service through the midwife we used after Baby had been born, and decided it was high time we bit the bullet and gave it a go.
The company is called Elyzee, their nannies are very experienced with babies and kids and they’re all registered nurses into the bargain, so we thought, if we can’t relax safe in the knowledge they know what to do in the event of – well, pretty much anything – then we never will. I booked three nights for December in advance and because I was able to give quite a bit of notice it meant we were able to secure the same nanny for each evening which has been great. It really is a fab service and we will definitely be making more use of it in the new year to make sure we get a night out to ourselves every once in a while! For anyone in a similar position to me who doesn’t have help at home to call on for babysitting and no family nearby (hello expat life!) it really is a godsend.
You can give them a call on 056 691 0556 to find out more and book.

So as well as the opening of the Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi, we also made it to the husband’s work Christmas Ball. You’ve got to love a good Christmas ball, it’s a good excuse to get all dressed up which I very rarely do these days!

And, most of my friends and family back in the UK have been raising their eyebrows at me, but hasn’t it been cold in the last week or so?! There was one day especially where the wind was really nippy! But, when I looked at the temperature, it was still a seemingly mild 23°…! Though I know those of you who have lived here a while in the UAE will understand, 23° is pretty cold when you’re used to average temperatures in the 30s (not forgetting that for a good proportion of the year it’s an awful lot higher!).

I’ve obviously also done a bit of Christmas shopping here and there, mostly at the Yas Mall I think. And although there have been some excellent sales on already (buy one get one free anyone?!), it really can be quite frustrating trying to find exactly what you want. Whilst you don’t have to worry about the Christmas rush or shopping on crowded streets here (bliss!), the range of seasonal gifts and goody boxes on offer just isn’t the same, so I pretty much resorted to buying most of what I wanted on Amazon and using Shop and Ship to get it here. Much easier, job done. And even though you have to pay for the shipping with Shop and Ship, the prices I paid on Amazon were cheaper than they would have been here anyway so I figure that it all balanced out. 🙂

Now that nursery has broken up for the winter holidays too, it’s been play dates galore trying to keep the little one entertained (erm, worn out) and also making the most of the cooler weather where we can actually get outside!

One such afternoon was spent at Khalifa Park – have you been? It IS a bit of a concrete jungle, but a couple of hidden gems lurk there – the Maritime Museum and the Khalifa Park Children’s Library. The Maritime Museum is not nearly as boring as it sounds, but is actually a little ride that takes you through the ‘Story of Abu Dhabi’. The ride adds to the novelty factor and if I could hear the whole narrative past the excited toddler shouts of ‘camel’, ‘man’ and so on, it would actually be quite interesting. As it is, it’s a good bit of entertainment for little ones and at a bargainacious couple of dirhams entry it’s well worth a look. As for the Children’s library – there’s really a lot there, and it’s spread across two floors. There’s a good selection of both English and Arabic books and again, is well worth a look. There’s also the adult library across the other side of the building too.

One thing I’ve been really keen to try at Khalifa Park is also the train that runs around the outside of the park. I didn’t see it running the day I was there but will definitely have to go back for that one given the toddler’s current obsession with all modes of transport!

I also caught up with Kirsty from Life in Excess at Glo Ladies Night at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi recently which was a lot of fun (if perhaps a little too much Christmas spirit was had… 😉 ). The music was great fun and it’s a really lovely outdoor venue with great views of the city if you haven’t been (and they have outdoor heaters for the cooler nights!).

And that’s about it really, that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to this month! So Merry Christmas to you all when it comes, and I hope Santa is good to you 😉