Like to travel? Check out the Etihad Guest Frequent Flyer Program

We travel quite frequently, especially since we moved to the UAE. Abu Dhabi (as well as Dubai) is a hub for international flights, and a lot of expats who live in the UAE make good use of this fact to ‘decompress’ in a different country every three months or so. Also, we are lucky to have a lot of public and religious holidays, that allow for several long week(end)s throughout the year ūüôā¬† Continue reading “Like to travel? Check out the Etihad Guest Frequent Flyer Program”

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Paragliding in Spain – Day 7&8

The next video in the series of Paragliding in Spain is up. After a busy first week, we got day 7 off. Pablo was kind enough to give us a ride to Ronda, which is definitely worth a visit. Very special place! Unfortunately there was bullfight on that day, which I am not in agreement with, but I respect that this is a local custom. Hopefully someday enough Spaniards will vote to have this practice banned due to animal cruelty. Irrespective of this, Khaled, Michal and I spent a wonderful morning wandering the streets of Ronda while Josh stayed back in Algo.

Day 8 provided us with some great conditions! We flew from Levante in the morning and went back to Poniente in the evening. As we had to wait for the winds to drop, we ended up being the last ones on Poniente and had the ridge all to ourselves! Joshua, Michal and I were the last three in the air, and we only gave into coming down when the sun got too low. After doing our first tandem at Poniente just over one week ago, it was an amazing feeling to fly here by ourselves!

 

 

 

Higher expenses turning the tide for life in the UAE?

Yes, Kermit is holding Euros, but if it were Dirhams, that would be a close depiction of what I look like when I go shopping these days… pretty shocked.¬†

Since we moved to Abu Dhabi in 2013 things have definitely changed. Life has gotten more expensive and there is certainly a move towards making the Emirates less of a tax-free haven, but a country that is somewhat supported by moneys collected from its residents and citizens. Which, I guess, is a natural evolution. In comparison with what you would pay in taxes in other countries, it is still very low, but if you are looking to move to the UAE you may want to do your reading on this before you settle on that benefits package.

Here are some of the key areas in which we have noticed the biggest price hikes since 2013:

Continue reading “Higher expenses turning the tide for life in the UAE?”

Paragliding in Spain – Day 6

Day 6 ended our first week of training, with a fantastic evening flight along the ridge of El Bosque, lasting over one hour! When we started this course, I did not think this kind of progress would be possible within just 6 days. And it was only achievable¬†thanks to the¬†experience¬†and support of the awesome boys at Zero Gravity – Jose, Javi, Pablo: thank you so much! This is a day we surely won’t forget. And thanks to all the awesome¬†people flying with us, especially Michal and Khaled!

Hope you enjoy the video. Although it basically shows this one long flight, it gives you a nice idea of the coaching we got while in the air, the beauty of the location, and the joy of finally¬†advancing to flying with¬†friends ūüôā

Marathon Training – Week 1&2

So, in December I found out that I won myself a spot on the 2017 Berlin marathon. It’s 10 months till the race in September, and 10 months sounds like a long time to train, but I know time will fly and I really¬†haven’t run properly in 7 years. The longest race I ever did was a half marathon in 2009, in Bristol (UK), so the marathon distance does suddenly sound very, very daunting. I know I have a lot of work to do, and I want to do it properly and slowly, to remain injury free and enjoy the process.

In order to help me do this, the first thing I did was contact Full Potential¬†in the UK, to ask Ben Barwick for private coaching. Ben helped Maria Conceicao train for her crazy 777 challenge (7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in 7 weeks), so I knew I’d been in good hands.

Full Potential can offer training plans and coaching via email/phone/Skype, which made this a great solution for me. Ben and I discussed my goals, current state of health and fitness, and what I have available to me for exercising (swimming pool, gym, space to run,…). What followed was an Excel sheet with a first training plan, and a flood of supporting information. The training plan covers running, swimming, and a multitude of specific exercises to improve strength, conditioning and stability. He also provided me with information on stretching, nutrition, and a detailed guide on what feedback to provide him with for every day so he can adjust my training accordingly. Thanks to Garmin Connect,¬†I can also use my Garmin Forerunner to share my runs’ ¬†data with Ben. After our first Skype meeting, to address any initial questions, I went off on Christmas holidays to start my training plan!

The first two weeks are ticked and done, and were thankfully a lot less scary then I expected them to be. Getting back into running was daunting, but Ben’s plan has¬†helped me make a comfortable, but challenging start, and the stretching and conditioning exercises have prevented any sore muscles to date. Which is awesome ūüôā

I’m excited to see where this training will get me. Throughout January I am registering for the first little 5K races. It seems like such a short distance in comparison to what lies ahead, but I am happy to have enough time to take it step by step, so I can hopefully progress in leaps and bounds!

Thanks to Ben for getting me started so quickly, especially just before Christmas, and to Maria for her constant encouragement!

Alcohol in the UAE? Get a Liquor Licence.

Buying alcohol in the UAE? No problem.

Most of our friends abroad think that living in the UAE means that alcohol is as rare as a tropical rainstorm over here, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Just ask anyone who has been to a brunch in Abu Dhabi or Dubai before…. There are numerous¬†off-licence shops¬†around Abu Dhabi¬†and bars, nightclubs and restaurants located within hotel complexes sell¬†alcohol.

Here are some key things to consider, if you want to purchase alcohol in Abu Dhabi:

  • Alcohol may only be purchased by Non-Muslims who are over 21.
  • You should not be seen drinking or acting drunk in public. Penalties can be¬†severe, including¬†jail, fines, and deportation. Zero tolerance.
  • Do not drive after drinking¬†any alcohol. Zero tolerance. If a police officer believes that you have had alcohol prior to driving, you will be charged as such. No “but I only had one a few hours ago” will get you out of jail. Literally. Again, penalties are severe.
  • If you are a tourist, holding a tourist visa, you may drink alcohol in your hotel bars and restaurants. You may not¬†purchase alcohol from off-licence stores.
  • If you are a resident, holding a resident visa, you have to hold a valid liquor licence in order to drink in hotel bars and restaurants, and to purchase alcohol in an off-licence.
  • Note that restaurants located outside of hotel complexes are generally not licensed.

Warning: Each Emirate has ist own liquor licence and variations of this law. Sharjah, for example, does not permit any alcohol at all! If you plan to travel around, do your reading!

If you reside in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, you can apply for a liquor licence at the Special Licence Office online. You need the following documents (see full length pdf for more detail: liquor-licence-requirements):

  • digital passport picture
  • scanned copy of your Emirates ID
  • scanned copy of your Passport front page and visa page
  • salary certificate addressed to the Special Licence office (min. salary AED 2501) or other proof of income.

Go to www.auhsl.ae, register, and upload all of the above documents. After a few months (yes, months!) you will receive your license at your selected location.

Bottoms up!