Almaty (+ Astana Part II)

Ideal stay: prolonged weekend trip
Temperature:
similar to Astana (depending on season; winter very cold (-20) & summer quite hot (30°C))

..here I go again..

The “see you later”-day has finally arrived. There I was – sitting in the fully booked airplane to Astana.
Astana? Once again I realized that many people are not really familiar with this capital and are not too sure to which country it belongs..

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After a few hours of good airplane-sleep I arrived at the Astana Airport. Incl. my damaged luggage piece…well done. How to report a damaged luggage piece in a country where barely s.o. speaks English.. Licious made it. Not too sure how but it worked out.

After going through that struggle – I was even happier when I spotted HIM in the crowd at the arrival area.

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We took a UBER and went to his new kicka** place (super fancy high-tech apartment) to get some sleep & recharge for the upcoming sightseeing days.

btw: UBER is the best way to move around since you do not need to speak the local language; distance and destination as well as price are set – no struggle to bargain etc.etc. = super convenient)

 

DAY 1

..same old same old..

He left early to work and I stayed a little longer in bed.. cosy & nice observing the snow storm out there.

I wrapped myself in my winter clothes and left for grocery shopping. The “European” & classic stroll through the city, window shopping and unwinding is a no-go with these freezing temperatures. I quickly went to the supermarket, grabbed some fruits, spotted the Crossfit place and decided to have a relaxing manicure & pedicure.

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The way to get the mani & pedi was again quite tough – google translator, pictures and videos helped to get what I was looking for.

..me-time..

Afterwards I went home, relaxed, watched a movie and two series, did some paperwork and all of a sudden it was 18h & he got home from work.

Cute to see that he enjoyed the fact that I was waiting for him at “home”. Till his career step & move to Astana we have lived in several countries together – this was the first time we were “forced” to live apart.

We enjoyed some qualitytime at home before heading to the restaurant near his flat.

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The Chef is famous for delicious burger, homemade sauces and affordable prices. For the first time in my life I ordered a burger with a black bun – crazy.

..Fun fact: they give you gloves prior serving your burger.. 

After dinner we went to the nearby mall and checked on the different products. I love to do such store checks! One is able to buy almost everything (overpriced!) since they import around 32% of the products from Russia, 26% from China and 4% from Germany.

We went home, watched a movie and talked until we fell asleep.

 

DAY 2
He went to work and I – yes – stayed in bed.
This time it was not possible to stay that long since he booked a crossfit trial class for me.

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I got there, tried to communicate (fail), changed clothes and waited. All of a sudden everyone gathered around the trainer – so I joined.
He explained the whole training in Kazakh (well-done) but at LEAST the technical vocabulary is the same all over the globe: sit-ups, dead lifts & burpees. After the first intense round I wondered why burpee is such an international term – else I could have skipped it, reason: lack of understanding. 😉

At the end of the session I went to the adjoining coffee shop and had a “Paleo”-meal. Not. My. Style.
I left quite unsatisfied, went home, did the laundry – well at least I tried to do the laundry. But…

..excuse me?..

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At 19ish a UBER drove me to the St. Regis Astana: dinner with my loved one.

This property was brand-new and its unique restaurant “The Grill” – the new place to be.

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Impressed by the well-matched interior decoration we were escorted to our romantic table. I was not even done with reading the menu & I already smelled the truffles and saw him looking at me like “you see, I know what you like”. 😉

..TRUFFLE LOVE – BIG TIME!..

While freakin out on the truffle (+ the extra truffle topping + the truffle butter + the truffle mashed potato) I felt so much gratitude. Gratitude for our collective life, the mile stones we achieved, our lifestyle, our trips, our future vision, our exclusive taste when it comes to food etc.etc.

We ate pasta, bread with the dif. sorts of butter, he got his onion soup (he LOVED it).. We had steak with truffle mashed potato as a main course and wrapped the dinner up with a sweet dessert assortment: chocolate souffle & “destroyed” tiramisu.

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UBER picked us up, drove through the “Schlagbaum” (Kazakh for toll bar – HAHA) and brought us home.

..happy and lucky us.. 

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At home we had a really good laugh (us – being us) and brushed our teeth in our dress & suit. Fancy manancy. I was unable to open the child safety lock of the mouth wash – and relied on the “house husband”. Just a quick glimpse into our “routine”. 😉
We fell asleep and were looking forward to our trip to ALMATY!

 

DAY 3

..early börd..

Not amused by the way he woke me up at around 4h.. got up, prepared myself – he packed my suitcase – we rushed down, caught the UBER and drove to the Airport.

..Boarding: Almaty..

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Prior Boarding he showed me a super fancy app: Google translator with SCAN. Deeply impressed, I have to admit.
Basically your phone serves as “scanner” – you just hold your camera towards the document / sign / letter you want to translate from Kazakh to English and the letters on the screen change immediately into the translated version. Super cool..
Obviously then he got obsessed and translated almost everything around us.. boys.

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Travelling with my best travel buddy has always been great – and just now a huge advantage having him by my side since he managed to study RUSSIAN in the past few months!

We arrived at the Almaty Airport , got our rental car and drove to our hotel: Ritz Carlton Almaty (+/- 30min).

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We were escorted to the reception, impressed by the views and got our upgraded room quite fast.
I love to enter hotel rooms, inhale those vibes and the BEST part: personalized treatments or Cards. 🙂

..knowing me..

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We ate the heart-shaped cake, drank a coffee and left to the St.Nicholas Cathedral. We took a stroll through the park and ended up at the bazar.

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Well – in case your tummy is sensitive this would probably not be the best idea.. Meat all over, horse penis (yes..) but also homemade honey, jam & a huge variety of dried fruits, fruits and veggies.

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It was a super cool experience since in “Europe” you would not encounter this (anymore).

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This country is so full of contradictions: top modern banking system with instant transfers or super high-speed internet connection vs. old-school, poor housing and missing food cooling-system.

..#whataview..

We decided to check on Kok Tobe Hill, took the cablecar up and were amazed by the city views. IMG_3276

Up there it was pretty cold but we walked on, talked and ended up in the amusement park. Always a child 🙂

..incredible sunset vibes..

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Dinner was served at the restaurant “Inkhzu” – not my stlye but okish.. Afterwards we went to the hotel and enjoyed the amazing facilities.

 

DAY 4
We got up quite early and drove to Leo’s where we had an amazing grapefruit juice and a yummy omelette with goat cheese.

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Butter over here is quite “animally” to be honest… just FYI ;).
We joked, laughed and were looking forward to the mountain trip.

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After entering the reservoir & the endless ride up to the mountain, we paid the entrance fee and walked around. What we spotted next was just INCREDIBLE – such a beauty..

..wow..

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Big Almaty Lake

Amazing views: shiny, clear, blue water..snowy mountains..fresh air..sun on our skin.
Us: 100% HAPPY ..and ok, a bit tired of me – poor him. Haha.

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He promised I would be able to spot some animals – but this was not the case. You can imagine how I reacted.. #BockigeJenny.

The mountain was steep and snowy but obviously we aimed high and drove all the way up.. LOVELY view.

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At one point we got stuck – managed to get out and drove back down.

..schöner Rucksack..cooler Rucksack..Profi-Rucksack..

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We spotted the (dried out) Ski-Area and enjoyed a hot chocolate in the sun.

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It was amazing to feel the warm sunrays on my skin – living for such moments!

..Liebe..

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Lived also for those endless laughing fits; our stories; our words; our signature features; our vision; our shared opinions and opposing views; our spirit; our humour and our love.

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Till our city trip to Almaty, I was not aware that this area is well-known for skiing. If you are into skiing you should def. give it a try!

For Lunch we stopped at an amazing place with local food. Unfortunately I was not able to read the name of the restaurant, check the picture:

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I immediately fell in love with this place. Calm, peaceful, traditional, romantic, sunny and – it turned out to be – DELICIOUS.

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As usual he was hungry AF and we nearly ordered the whole menu.. a normal thing 😉 At least we got to try it ALL.

We also enjoyed a hot tea after the winter feeling on top of the mountain.
A glorious laughter ensued.

..us being us..

Me = a wannabe influencer and at times advertising specialist and him = an involuntary follower which had the best giggles because of my attitude.

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Our day was not over yet.

..Yes, our travel pace differs from other travel styles (never relax & chill only)..

We drove to the Central Park (also known as Gorky Park) and went for a walk.

Interesting: In KZ they do not just sit on the floor and beg for money (like in Hungary or Portugal).. but rather try to sell sth to you or offer you a service which they want to get paid for later on.
eg. They take pictures of you while walking in the park with your loved one and afterwards they show you the printed pic version and try to sell it at an horrendously high price. Smart.

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The park is lovely.. huge green areas, multifaceted flora, cute lake with a waterfall, amusement rides (yes, seems they are into it!) and stunning TOP views.

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We rode the big wheel to get one last shot of the Skyline, afterwards we enjoyed the sunset at the Barfly Rooftop Bar.

..sunset is my fav color..

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Unfortunately this bar did absolutely not come up to scratch. Service was “non-existent”, windows were dirty and the whole place rather shabby.

Tired we went back to the hotel, checked on the nearby posh mall, purchased some fresh juice and fruits. We got a “quick” rest and went to the jacuzzi….yesssssss.
An amazing end of a quite eventful day!

 

DAY 5

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We grabbed a coffee and a croissant at PAULs and drove to the airport – time to fly back to ASTANA.

We arrived in Astana, took a UBER, went home, relaxed a bit and went to the Nur-Astana Mosque.

..beauty..

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This mosque was so full of energy, good vibes, style, classiness and love. It reminded me of the positive spirit which Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque spreads.

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This mosque is the third largest mosque in Central Asia. The minaret is 63m high which stands for the age of Muhammed when he died. The whole structure is made of the best glass & granite and has capacity for 5000 people.

We left quite impressed and walked aka. jumped over to the famous “Pyramid” aka. Astana Piramida.

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The Piramida is also called “The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation” – “..it is a Symbol of friendship, unity and peace in Kazakhstan..”.

We paid the entrance fee and waited for our guide. After +/- 20min the (rather military) lady showed us around. She showed us different national dresses which stand for the over 130 diff. Nationalities who live in peace and harmony in KZ.

..clichee-ridden..

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After showing us the basement, the Atrium Hall and the Opera Hall, we got into the fancy elevator (build by SWISS engineers) which took us diagonally up to the peak.
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Under the sky-blue roof there is a meeting room which is – among others – used for the worlds’ leaders congress.

..the sky is the limit..

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The whole room radiated such a positive and peaceful vibe. No matter how rainy or snowy it is outside – inside it will always stay bright and friendly. Well done!

..proud..

As mentioned earlier he already acquired some Russian skills – reason why he did such a good job at bargaining the taxi price. The crazy taxi took us to the famous Baytarek Monument.

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Remember? This is the tower which I have already seen the last time I came to Astana but was back then under construction.

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The price to access this 97-m high tower is around 700T and “..embodies a Kazakh legend in which the mythical bird Samruk lays a golden egg containing the secrets of human desires and happiness in a tall poplar tree, beyond human reach”.

..one world..one love..

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The elevator takes you – basically – inside the egg. The view from up there is incredible. The highlight is President Nazarbayev’s palace.

Exhausted and overwhelmed by all the information we have received, we decided to take a break at my fav. place: Rafe Cafe.

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Obviously I had to order the BEST HOT CHOCOLATE – ever. But – guess what – he was not INTO IT!! How come?! (“How comes” like he would have said)

He took a snacky-pumpkin soup and drank a fresh juice before we headed in the direction of the parliament.

Our last stop for this day was: The Ritz Carlton Astana.

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A surprise for me 🙂
He took me there to enjoy a couple massage as the GRAND ENDING of this beautiful trip.

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The spoiling started with a dip in the (cold) pool and after 30min they called us for the main treatment: a hot stone massage.

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We relaxed and enjoyed it sooo much. It was literally the perfect ending. During this massage I just remembered how grateful I am for this life and my travel buddy. This travel style is unique but exactly what we love.
We love to explore it all in a rather tight time frame and at the same time we love to indulge in those fancy treats. I could not wish for a better travel buddy.

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After this incredibly unwinding massage, we got some tea and cookies, talked and laughed in the relaxation room.

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Following this we went to the mall near his place, ate plemini and went back home to sleep because at 4h a taxi would pick me up and take me to the airport.

..all good things come to an end..

Thank you ASTANA, ALMATY & my LOVE for this incredible trip! I had a blast and will never forget those HAPPY FEELINGS back in those days 🙂

Forever grateful.

 

Breakfast spots TOP 5

yummy in my tummy…
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Mhh…there is nothing better than a yummy breakfast on the weekend.
Yes, sure we have breakfast every day but we kind of cherish and celebrate it on the weekend.
Sleeping in is set to be the first weekend goal and the second is surely to have a good, nourishing breakfast. Treat yourself more often!

Below you will find my TOP 5 Breakfast spots in Abu Dhabi:

 

5.
Shakespeare & Co. 

Shakespeare is a franchised company with almost 10 branches around Abu Dhabi.
Its old-fashioned furniture beams you back to the 18th century. It is known for its delicious breakfast combos and fair prices!

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My favourite brekkie is the “Healthy” one which contains: Egg white omelette with herbs, roast potatoes and asparagus, fresh fruit salad, natural yoghurt, brown toast and honey, grapefruit juice and latte macchiato.
This whole package at AED 58 only.
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BTW: My fav branch is the one on Saadiyat Island with a lovely outside seating in a hidden courtyard within the St. Regis Residences complex.
 
4.
Third Place Café

Third place is a small but very cute spot located on the Corniche. It’s not only a great breakfast spot but also a place where you can hang out, relax, read a book, do your work or simply enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
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Once you are here you have to try the smoothies! Simply delicious.
Actually I just realized that I always had those late, late breakfasts there – which kindly slip into a “lunch”. Therefore I suggest the Goats Cheese & Spinach salad. Delicious.At this spot you will also be able to sit outside and enjoy the Abu Dhabi breeze (if not during the hot summer months ;)).
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3.
Al-Ulya

Al-Ulya made its way straight into my heart once it opened its doors almost 2 years ago.
I still remember that I somehow spotted it somewhere on social media; but then they still did not have a food & drinking license since they were just arriving from Portugal.
Al-Ulya means “Loule” in Portuguese and is a town located in the south of Portugal with strong Arabic roots.
Kind as Portuguese always are – they opened their doors to give us a taste of Portugal and to check the future customers feedback. Obviously those treats were handed out for free – Kindness 🙂
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It quickly became my second home – simply because it has all the delicious Portuguese dishes combined with the lovely Portuguese owners, completed by the Portuguese music as well as interior. From “pao com manteiga” (Bread with butter), “meia de leite” (Latte macchiato) over to “Natas” (custard tartlet) – you will get anything you would crave for.

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Even if the seating is only inside; this spot is definitely worth visiting.
2.
Byparkers

Byparkers is a fairly new spot located in the old Mushrif park (Umm Al Emarat Park). Lovely outside seating facing the greenery; and even if the weather does not allow you will not be disappointed by the creative interior.

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This spot has so much modernism and still sticks to good ol’ quality food.
The menu is quite “Organic” and so delicious.
I loved the poached eggs with avocado crème on a baked sweet potato. Further I ordered a fresh orange juice which includes free refill. To compliment my brekkie I ordered the banoffee pancakes. OH MY GOODNESS: amazing. Absolutely fantastic. Loved it.
IMG_4510Unfortunately the portions (eggs, tacos, etc.) are not too big therefore you better order another main dish ;)Overall a great spot with lovely, dedicated and knowledgeable staff!
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1.
Tasha’s

South African franchise Tasha’s is my personal number one! I just love everything about it… from the lovely location in Al Bateen Marina; the outside seating arrangement with the view; the stunning interior; the attentive staff and the delicious food.
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I have to admit – once I am here I ALWAYS order the same. But I can’t help myself… I just love it! And whats so special about it: it is consistently good… Which is quite special for Abu Dhabi – where you sometimes get your dessert with or without cream although you did not change anything upon ordering… Sounds familiar?
 
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I simply love the layered yoghurt with home-made granola and all kind of citrus fruits. Oh… I urgently need to satisfy my palate.
Of course other dishes are delicious, too. But definitely give my favourite a try…Well… certainly there are many other spots in our beautiful town – yet the above ones are my personal TOP 5 🙂

Give those a try as well…
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PS: If you are into trying a hotel breakfast buffet I highly recommend the one at Rosewater in Jumeirah Etihad Towers…

Art of living

..I am back!..
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With this post I will not give you any insights of Abu Dhabi or the ultimate travel guide but rather an insight of me and my current thoughts.
 
“Du murmelst jedes Jahr neu an Silvester die wieder gleichen Vorsätze treu in dein Sektglas
und Ende Dezember stellst du fest, dass du recht hast wenn du sagst, dass du sie dieses Jahr schon wieder vercheckt hast.“ (Julia Engelmann)
 
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In the last couple of weeks I realized how fast time is passing. I mean, we all just celebrated the new year of 2017 – full of prosperous wishes and resolutions. And if you have a look at your calendar it shows you: 10.09.2017. 
Where and how did those 9 months pass by?
 
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” (Stephen Covey)
 
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You sleep in on a Sunday, you wake up and do your “usual” stuff and before you know it, it’s Monday and your daily work routine has started. Then you run through the week, caught in the so called “whirlwind” and look forward to the weekend again. This is how it usually is.
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A couple of years ago I was unfortunate, yet somehow also lucky, to experience big losses or strokes of fate. Unfortunate because I lost three of the most important people in my life, yet lucky enough to carry all the great memories of them with me and a realisation of how precious time is.
 
“Voy a reír, voy a bailar…Vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la” (Marc Anthony)
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Those days made me realize that one’s life is now, your time is now and you are the one in charge of making the most of it. No one simply has time, YOU have to make time for it. For your priorities. For your life. 

“One day baby, we’ll be old…And think of all the stories…that we could have told”
(Asaf Avidan)
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Who guarantees that the so called “one day” (“one day I will travel to XX”; “one day I will have XX”) exists? Maybe you will be lucky enough to experience it – great! – but maybe not. 

There is no guarantee that every one of us will turn 80 years old and live happily ever after. Sorry Disney. I lost my dad when he was only little over 50 – but his bucket list would have kept him busy for another 50..
 
“Everybody dies, but not everybody lives”
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.It could be over in 50 years, 15 years, a few weeks, tomorrow or even this evening. Sounds tough but this is how it is. You simply don’t know, no one knows. 

My question is this: is it OK to be afraid of that particular day? Or to even wait for that day? The day we wish for us and our loved ones to be a long time in the furthest future? Or is it OK to be aware of “the day” and until then make the most out of everything?
 
“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
(Kurt Vonnegut)
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By everything I literally mean everything: 
Appreciating the first breath you take in the morning, before running to the bathroom in order to make it to the bus; the first sun rays which hit your face while driving; the small snail which crosses your path walking to your office; greeting random people; being actively present (mentally, not just physically) at the family gathering; seeking conversations with other colleagues or enjoying a dinner alone while overlooking the city.
 
TGIF
 
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All those “minor” things tend to get lost in our busy routines. 
If one always try to monitor ones busy whirlwind, one will never have time for (self) growth. One will run behind ones tasks, try to manage them and in the end one will realize it is Friday and simply thank God for it.
But how sad is it, in fact, that we did not manage to visit Granny during the week for a quick coffee since she only lives a few kilometres away? Or to catch up with the friend who is in town only for a short period?
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Meh I am too busy, sorry.
 
Are we able and grateful to handle our time wisely or are we somehow happy that “the routine” takes over and the excuse is prepared? 
Are we really sorry about it?
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“Die meiste Zeit verbringen wir damit zu sagen, dass wir keine Zeit haben”

I tend to say: if you really want something, you will find a way and if you don´t you will find an excuse. 
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Doubt is more dangerous that failure ever was.

Every one of us is somehow busy nowadays, we are not kids anymore with no duties being able to jump from one tree to the other – caring less to fall or make it; we are adults who carry certain responsibilities yet we are humans and it is allowed to live for more than just work/duties.  
Our mums did not go through 9-months + 18 years of struggle to then find us mishandling this “gift” AKA “our life”.
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I absolutely LOVE my birthday and the planning of the big party usually starts months prior; why do I love it? Because I love myself that much? No, not at all, because I love my mum for deciding on having me. I’m truly thankful at all times and the whole party with its spread of LOVE is because of her.
Love is key.
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The more I think about and observe life, the more I realize that in the end the key is LOVE. 
Love towards our family which makes us think of/meet/miss them; love towards friends which made us choose them as friends; love towards the job which made us study for it; love towards our pets which make us pet them; love towards our better half which made us establish life with them – love towards life to be here and live it.
 
The inner-struggle is real “I don’t have time for that” vs. “I still have time, one day I will xx”.
 
I believe we have to ask ourselves if we would be happy the way our life is currently in 5 years from now. If your inner answer is yes, then you should go on. If your reply is rather a no, then it is time to think it all over and change something. Change something before life changes you.
 
“If you don’t like how things are change it! You are not a tree.” (Jim Rohn)
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Change is good, change is scary, change is risky, change is exciting, change is definitely not comfortable – still, what prevents you from risking it? 
It is your life so you have to be happy with it – you and no one else. 
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You want to do something crazy? Do it. You feel like quitting your job? Do it. You want to study although you just turned 30? Do it. You want to explore a country which everyone discourages you to visit? Do it. 
And surely this so called “Do it” does not consist of one action; it is a combination of smaller actions and struggles. Yet, it will be worth it if you really want it.
 
“Just do it” (Nike)
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Many people approach me with comments like “Oh, your pictures look beautiful, your life must be nice hopping from one country to the other for work purposes”. 
Well, this is what pictures show and this is definitely how I – at one point – feel it. 
But mostly I went through struggles till I got and felt it.
 
Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard. (Coldplay)
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It is not easy to leave your family and friends in your beloved home country; it is not easy to go through the whole paper work and CV-struggle to get an apprenticeship in a new, unknown city. It is not easy to start from scratch with social network and all that comes with it; it is not easy to go through difficult times alone; it is not easy to find even an apartment and put up the bloody shelf; it is not easy to handle envy at work or down-trodding because of one’s young age;
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..it is not easy to move to another totally different country and its peculiarities; it is not easy to learn a new language and claim a certain standing; it is not easy to miss out on special occasions back home; it is not easy to handle severe losses and strokes of faith; it is not easy to coordinate work and private life; it is not easy to re-start all over in a new town and work place; it is not easy to drive to work without taking the wrong exit again; it is not easy – but it in the end it is worth it. 

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It was all worth it and I am blessed to be able to say: I regret almost nothing.
The only thing I deeply regret is that I did not spend more time with my grandfather just because I thought “there is still plenty of time for us”. There was not.
 
Take a moment to be aware, to reflect.
 
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All those struggles one goes through will help us to appreciate the good moments a little more. 
Life is definitely not a bowl of yummy cherries. Yet all of us are able to make the most out of it.
The small things turn into big things if you let them: sunsets, good health, food on the table, loving people around – gratitude towards life.
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Own the moment.
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And in every busy life, in the end it is definitely all about priorities…
“We have to meet” – Arrange it. 
“I miss you” – Do something about it. 
“I would like to travel to…” – Save money and book it.
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It is easy and quite trendy nowadays (Hello Insta!) to google “life quotes” but it is your task to live the quote. It is easy to criticize others but it is your duty to question yourself from time to time.
Be open to different mind-sets; learn to accept but question others views; explore more than your own habitat and challenge yourself.  
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Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to highlight my way of living, loving and impose it onto others; I’m simply trying to show that all of us tend to seek the easier, more comfortable way, keep ourselves busy with the minor “things” and forget to appreciate our time here. We all have exacty the same 24 hours in a day. It is about making the time for the things you want.
 
Happiness is not out there, it’s in you.
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Live and hence love truly and consciously.
My “art of living” post was shaped based on the above-mentioned life experiences and the bottom line of: avoiding the statement “I wish I could have xx”.
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You only have this one life but if you live it properly once is enough.
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PS: I dedicate this blog post to my incredible granny who actively shaped my art of living 🙂 Rest in peace my love ❤
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Inspirational:

Love letter to Abu Dhabi

Dear Abu Dhabi,
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For quite a long time I have felt the strong desire to write you a letter – a LOVE letter, to be precise.

You might ask yourself why I felt the need to do so. A love letter? To a city?
Well, the thing is, you are not just a city to me…
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Your International Airport is the door opener to a whole different world. It all starts at the “warm welcome” in immigration, led by the well-groomed officers in their white, perfectly-ironed Kandooras.
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Somehow, a heavy burden falls immediately off your shoulders (and no, I don’t mean the 30kg luggage which is carried by the lovely porters) once you breathe the UAE spirit in.
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The way from the airport (either by car or black, luxurious yet still “standard” taxi) to your centre makes one realize that you are the perfect combination of tradition and modernism.
You provide an incredible variety of attractions; activities; beauties; services and people.
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To be honest, I do not even know where to start my long list of praise!..

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Yes, you have a great waterpark; a stunning Formula1 race track; the fastest roller-coaster; the most palatial of all hotels; the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the biggest shopping malls but hey, this is definitely not all!

First and foremost you are the host of “happiness” – why?

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No, not just because there is actually a “Ministry of Happiness”, but because you were built according to people’s needs.
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..You make us feel at home, away from home!..
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Everyone who is here finds their own kind of happiness by, for example, earning enough money to feed their families; strolling around shopping malls to get the latest fashion or simply to relax on the beach during the weekend.
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Your streets enable camels in pick-ups and blondies in VW Polos to meet the biggest SUVs as well as the fastest Lamborghinis.

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..marvellous Saadiyat Beach..

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Endless beachfront; well-tempered, baby-blue and clean sea; balanced amount of algas and fish; delicate natural sand; jovial dolphin families; super amiable Bake-staff; delicious ice cream and comfortable sun beds.

Just one day over here makes up anything bad one might have experienced throughout the 55-hour work week!

I appreciate the lifestyle you provide!
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..Boredom? Not-at-all-ever! Beach? Desert? Sun?..
You really have it all: from the jet-ski session behind Lulu Island; yoga in the park; relaxing deep tissue massages; late night basketball sessions with the dudes, to the exhausting bootcamps at 5h30 with Haddins.
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The happy hours & ladies nights in the different rooftop bars; shisha-bars with a view; countless pool & island-party options; 180° bars near the waterfront are the perfect closing of the various international, gourmet or traditional, local dinner options.
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Thanks to your incredibly huge variety of nationalities, you spoil us with the finest cuisine in all possible variations – from Indian, to French, over to Chinese and Moroccan which ensures that literally EVERYONE will find something suitable. Even for the “conscious eaters” you established many Organic Cafes in addition to cute waterfront coffee shops.

I love you because you make me feel warm, loved, respected and safe at all times.

 

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Leaving bags unattended while grabbing some more food at the buffet; asking the waiter to charge the phone and getting a “tag” in return; dancing on my own in the club without getting harassed and revealing the debit card pin towards the petrol attendant make you stand out in comparison to any other city!
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..with you everything seems so relaxed and easy…
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The spontaneous off-road parking; the drive-through ATM on the way home; the affordable taxi drives; the natural rounding off at the cashier due to the lack of change; the delivery of McDonalds; pick-up of the dry-cleaning laundry at 23h00 or the helpful Baqala attendant who gets me the missing onion while I can continue chopping the meat.
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You are the stable bridge between a “low-key” and a “high-level” lifestyle.
Not all of us earn a huge amount of money over here – yet from time to time we are able to pamper ourselves with an exclusive high-tea on the 70th floor; the much-needed mani-pedi or a quick getaway to the fancy desert hotel nearby.
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You make me literally feel like a Princess whenever you spoil me with the sumptuous places; worryless lonely walks during night time; preferential treatment in queues, public transportation as well as waiting areas; stunning views supplemented by the services (like valet parking; butler service; shopping packer  etc.) with the greatest attitude instead of awaiting to be tipped.
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You make me happy with your stunning sunsets; the pleasant outside temperatures at night-time while dancing to the best songs; the dips in the warm sea and the people you connected me with. 
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You surprise me with your forward-thinking, conveyed by SMS from the Ministry of Interior; the instant print out of the drivers license; the chilled bus station; the free wi-fi connections in the most rural corners; the convenient E-Gate at the airport; the instant messaging & transfers by the bank; which clash with the missing mail addresses; illogical approach in many areas and the common “lack of common sense”.
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..You are the link between all of us..
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The leading example for a tolerant, peaceful co-existence between over 80 nationalities.
You taught me so much about people and awoke my interest in different cultures as well as religions.
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You and your cosmopolitan attitude deserve recognition. Contrary to the wide spread rumours you tolerate other dresscodes; merge highly diverse groups of people; provide everyone with the basic needs and make us residents but also tourists feel welcome.

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Because of you I have learned to appreciate every single given moment – I have learned not to take anything for granted; to be thankful for what I have.

 

..Love isn’t always pure and baby-rosa – of course there are days that I “hate” you..
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Sometimes it’s simply too hot, too sticky, too humid. The daily struggle at work or even in private life due to the multicultural environment is very real!
The high cost for a small, average-quality smoothie or the 15min delay due to the taxi drivers’ poor language and orientation skills can be depressing.
The lack of information and communication in the shopping mall or via call centres gets on ones nerves.  The promised-but-still-pending call backs; the wide-spread “no problem!” (which clearly prepares one for a bigger problem) and the “well-equipped” but often clueless maintenance guys make me go CRAZY.
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But like in every good relationship, one has to learn how to deal with and make the best out of it (even if your inner anger screams to be let out 🙂 )
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I really want you to know how proud I am for what you’ve achieved within a rather small time frame and especially what you did for me in the past 3 years.
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I thank you for from the bottom of my heart for connecting me with the people I now call “friends” and for deepening the relationship with my better half.
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You’ve provided and contributed to countless happy moments; unbelievable situations; unforgettable stories; stunning pictures; deeply felt gratitude as well as LOVE.
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Thank you, Abu Dhabi, for being simply you.
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Yours,
Jennylicious

Dubai – more to see, eat, drink & do

..one post is not enough!

In my previous post I elaborated “the perfect day trip to Dubai”. Obviously this city has so much more to offer so one day only is almost not enough.. In the following post I will just quickly enumerate some more attractions, actions and dining experiences to round off your Dubai experience. These are just “elements” which you can incorporate into your personal plan according to your interests, budget and time frame.

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Bar Level 43 @ Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed

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Dubai Miracle Garden

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Global Village

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Chillout Dubai

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Souq Madinat Jumeirah

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Sunsets @ Old Dubai

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JBR Walk

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Beachin’ @Kite Beach

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Cruisin’ around

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Skyscraper by night

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Win Victory Love

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Milkshake @ IceLab

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City Walk Dubai

..and many many more! Go & explore!..