Eleven Days

Jun 26, 2010

In light of the fact that I'm only 11 days away from flying back to my beautiful home country, I've decided to compose a list of the things that I miss the most from home. After 7 months of dealing with the insanity that is life in the Middle East, there is nothing that I'm looking forward to more than 2 weeks of familiarity.

  1. Tim Horton's - If you are Canadian or have visited Canada, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Affectionately known as "Timmy's", this place is practically a cult amongst Canadians. Serving coffee and donuts among other menu items, it's highly addictive. When it comes to good coffee, I personally prefer Starbucks, but the patriotic Canadian in me stays loyal to my beloved coffee shop. It's my first stop after retrieving my suitcase from the baggage carousel and kissing my boyfriend. Hello turkey bacon club sandwich, and medium iced cappuccino... made with chocolate milk, of course.
  2. Titan - This tiny bundle of fur is one of the most important boys in my life... second only to Ryan. He's the family pet, a 2 1/2 year old bichon shitzu that I love more than I ever thought I could love a dog. He is the cuddliest puppy in existence and still has a baby face despite being fully grown. I'm working on getting Ryan to bring him to the airport so that I don't have to wait the 2 hours that it takes to drive from Calgary to Red Deer.
  3. Fresh air - I'm from Alberta, Canada. Endless wheat fields, towering mountains, and clean, fresh oxygen... compliments of the millions of trees that grow naturally.
  4. Camping - There are few things that I love more than spending the weekend in the mountains with my boyfriend. I've spent 22 of my 24 years living only a few hours drive, and they still never cease to amaze me. The whole area is breathtakingly beautiful, and that's not just my biased opinion. Go see for yourself. The weekend that I arrive I'm heading out with Ryan and his family... nobody knows how to camp like they do. Last year I fell in love with the pizzas that they cook.... over the fire! I'm drooling already.
  5. Ryan - This one is just a given. Long distance relationships are extremely difficult and I can't wait to be with him in a country where we can feel free to hold hands in public and even sneak in a kiss from time to time.
  6. My family - I miss my mommy and my dorky little brothers. I miss my grandmas and cousins and aunts and everyone else that makes up my crazy family.
  7. My friends - I've met some great people here in Dubai, but nobody knows me quite like my friends from home. We'll be silly, share stories, laugh for no reason, and confess our love for each other with a great reunion.
  8. Laundry - Okay, this one is a bit random.... but I'm really looking forward to washing my clothes at home. Everything on my washing machine here is written in Italian and I have to hang my clothes to dry. Not only does it take forever and require a great deal of planning outfits in advance, but they never feel quite as comfy as they do after being tossed on tumble dry with a yummy smelling dryer sheet. Oh, simple pleasures in life.
  9. Tap water - You can't imagine how frustrating it is to wake up dying of thirst only to find that you've drank your last drop of bottled water. There are mixed opinions on whether the water that comes from the kitchen taps here is safe to drink. Some say that it's not properly sanitized, while others say it's perfectly safe if you don't mind the salty taste. I stick with bottled water.
  10. Freedom of speech, women's rights, and non-restricted internet browsing - I could go on, but you get the idea.
  11. Summer - Sure, Dubai has summer. Only instead of warm days and breezy nights, it's like you are in a sauna with no door to exit for relief. Actually, make that a steam room. It's getting more humid each day. I can't even walk the 3 minutes to the supermarket below my building without overheating. I love warm weather, but here in the sand pit temperatures in the height of summer can top 50°C.
I could spend hours compiling this list, but I think it goes without saying that I miss home and I'm really looking forward to being back.

24, and graduated!

Jun 25, 2010

On February 3, 2010 I stepped onto a plane as a flight attendant for the very first time. 4 1/2 months have passed by, and my job has taken me to 21 countries. I've spent hundreds of hours serving meals in the sky. All of this before I could even call myself an official cabin crew member. On June 23 I reunited with my friends and batchmates, back at training college where we'd spent many agonizing hours writing exams and cramming our brains with knowledge. It was finally graduation day! We spent the morning reviewing what we'd learnt, sharing stories, and taking photos. We are all so busy flying that we rarely have the chance to see one another, so it was great to catch up after a few months. After lunch it was time for the main event. We piled
into the auditorium, touched up our lipstick, and waited. Friends and family holding huge bouquets of flowers and balloons arrived, looking proud. After a few typical graduation motivational speeches, we walked onto stage one by one, shaking hands with our managers as we accepted our certificates. Once my entire batch was on stage, the host prompted us to take a bow, and then we headed back to our seats. We applauded each and every person until the very last one had crossed the stage. We were graduates!! I think that the fact that we've already been doing the job for nearly 5 months took away from the excitement, but once we all sat clutching certificates, we felt pretty proud of ourselves. For many (myself included), this was a dream several years in the making. We ended off the ceremony with a video compiled from clips of training college. I briefly flashed across the screen, struggling to swim through the icy pool. The ceremony was over, and it was time for the best part of the day.... cake! I helped myself to a rather large slice, telling myself that I'd earned it.
That evening I headed out with a few of my fellow graduates.We went to Irish Village to celebrate our achievements. We indulged in delicious pub food at the only place in the city that serves not only alcohol, but pork! At midnight, our reason for celebration shifted.... it was officially my birthday!! I sipped a pina colada as my friends and intoxicated patrons sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Exhausted from an early morning, we headed home to bed. The birthday wishes were already piling in. I woke up early the next day and got ready to meet up with the lovely Rebecca. She was sweet enough to give me a birthday present of emergency chocolate (she knows me too well!) and girly face masks to pamper myself. It was a hot sunny day, just like 90% of days in Dubai. We headed to the Shangri La hotel, where we spent the afternoon lounging
by the beautiful pool, sipping cocktails and soaking up the sun. It was a quiet, uneventful birthday.... but it was great! Later in the afternoon a sandstorm blew into Dubai. The towering Burj Khalifa, which was usually in clear view from the pool was hidden behind a cloud of dust. The entire city looked quite eerie, with limited visibility. We ended our day with Starbucks before heading back home. Feeling a bit under the weather, I'd decided to spend my evening
relaxing in my room. I grabbed some takeaway dinner from the cafe downstairs. I'm a regular there. One of the employees, Juanita, lectured me... I'm 24 now, I should be getting married. After all, she was married by my age. After I'd finally convinced her that I wasn't quite ready to walk down the aisle, she sent me away with a large slice of tiramisu. I retreated to my room, spending some time talking to Ryan before calling it an early night. My birthday may be over, but I'm looking forward to celebrating it again with my friends and family back home in 2 weeks.
After a busy few days, I'm a year older, and an official flight attendant!

chocolate paradise

Jun 22, 2010

I felt as if I'd one the lottery this week when I called to check my roster. Expecting to hear the automated voice tell me that I had airport or home standby, I was shocked to find that I'd been scheduled for a flight. No standby! I was even happier when I checked the airport code to find that I'd be jetting off to Zurich, Switzerland!
Now let me tell you a little about my love for chocolate. It's indescribable. If it was a legitimate food group, I'd consume far more than I already do. I immediately began planning for the mass amounts of chocolate that I'd be hauling back to Dubai. Switzerland is said to have the best chocolate in the world. It is home to delicious brands such as Lindt and Toblerone. This layover was practically a dream come true and the best gift that crew scheduling could give me for my birthday, which is a few days away. I charged my cameras and packed my suitcase, leaving plenty of space for my purchases.
After a 6 hour flight we landed in Zurich where the weather was a chilly 12 degrees Celsius. To be honest, I love the heat but the recent sauna-like temperatures in Dubai have made me crave a bit of cool fresh air. I stepped out of the airport and took a deep breath. It was perfect. It was a night time arrival but I wasn't quite ready to go to sleep. I met with some of the crew for drinks and snacks in the lobby bar, where we sat for a few hours of mindless chatter before retreating to our rooms.
I tried to wake up extremely early the next morning but my body didn't agree with my sightseeing ambitions. I decided to rest for awhile longer. Ryan called my hotel as he does quite often on my layovers. Many of the countries that I fly to are far cheaper to call than Dubai, so we have many chats from my hotel rooms. Finally I convinced him to go to sleep as I got ready for the day. I met up with Jenny, a new crew member from Ireland. We caught the shuttle to the airport, where we caught a train into the city. It was a cool and cloudy day, but I was just relieved that it wasn't raining. As we walked around the city I went snap happy, being the tourist that I am. We walked down beautiful cobblestone streets lined with cozy cafes and shops. Starving, we stopped into a busy cafe and grabbed lunch. I opted for the most amazingly greasy dripping with cheese slice of pizza. It was delicious. As we continued walking we reached the water. Swans and ducks swam up to us in hopes that we'd give them food. On a clear day the view of the Swiss Alps would have been incredible. The clouds blocked the view, and we could only vaguely see the snowy peaks. It was another one of those layovers where I just walk around happily taking photos. After awhile I could sense that Jenny was ready to call it a day and head back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep before the flight. We caught the train back to the airport. As she headed for the hotel shuttle, I stayed to browse the shops above the train station. I had some serious chocolate buying to do. I wandered through 4 shops, unable to decide what to buy. I found the Sprungli Confectionery... the same company that produces Lindt chocolates. I'd heard great things about their truffles, but as I browsed the store I quickly realized that I'd be sacrificing quantity if I splurged on the fancy gourmet chocolates. Of course, I had to sample the famous brand, so I bought 2 truffles and continued on to the next store. In the small supermarket there was an aisle of every imaginable flavor of chocolate. Since boarding the flight the day before I'd found myself constantly asking locals for the best chocolate in Zurich. I grabbed a few bars of the brands that they'd recommended and then continued on to the next store. I couldn't leave Switzerland without a little bit of Lindt chocolate. I chose one that I'd never tried, along with a bar of chili chocolate. It sounds odd, but it's really delicious. Content that I had enough to last me until at least my birthday, I began to make my way towards the hotel shuttle bus. As I wandered the airport a sense of happiness overcame me. I stood at the greeting area where people stood watching the arrivals screen, holding bouquets of flowers as they waited to reunite with their friends and family. I saw two girls frantically run to hug eachother, overwhelmed with excitement. It had clearly been a long time since they'd last seen one another. Emotional me nearly shed a tear despite the fact that they were complete strangers. In 2 weeks I'll have my own airport reunion, and I can't wait to go home. I realized that I'd been standing there for quite some time, daydreaming of my arrival in Calgary. I tend to get lost in my thoughts from time to time. I caught the bus to the hotel, where I dropped off my bags and proceeded to consume an entire chocolate bar. Knowing full well that I'd be unable to nap, I headed outside to a trail located behind the hotel. I took in the beautiful fresh air as I walked through the countryside, surrounded by fields and apple trees. Mountains stood tall in the distance, birds sang and butterflies flew by. I fell in love with Switzerland. It reminded me so much of the beautiful place that I'm lucky enough to call home.... and I don't mean Dubai. Dubai is the place that I live, but Canada will always be home. I wandered through a forest with tall pine trees and wildflowers. Locals walking their dogs greeted me warmly in German as they passed by. I love my job and the excitement of jet setting around the world, but some destinations make me long for home, for the simple life that I left behind. I want to walk my dog through the forest and take photos of flowers and trees. Jenny labeled me as an "outdoorsy girl" as I told her of my excitement to go camping in the Rockies next month. I've never really thought about it, but I suppose it's true. I'm a nature loving, tree loving, sad attempt at being a big city girl. When I pack up and leave the sandpit for good, I'll be happy with my beautiful home where the buildings are no more than 10 stories tall, and islands are really islands, not dug up chunks of ocean. I was running out of time so I turned back to the hotel. I lovingly packed my chocolate into my suitcase, praying that it wouldn't melt on the way from the airport to my apartment upon reaching Dubai. I sadly said goodbye to Switzerland, but I've made it my mission to return some day, perhaps when I have a stretch of days off. A few final breaths of fresh non-polluted air, and it was time to go to the airport. I fought fatigue throughout the long overnight flight, and finally reached my apartment and fell into my bed at 8 in the morning. Ahh, back to the desert. Back to the smoggy, dusty heat. If there is one thing that I can thank Dubai for, it's the mass amount of appreciation I have for home since living here. Home sweet home... only 15 more days!

China.... A Completely Different World.

Jun 18, 2010

June has not provided much refuge from dusty, sweaty Dubai. On average I spend at least half of the month in other countries, busy with a crammed schedule of flights. Not this month. I've spent days sitting around my apartment, wandering the malls aimlessly, watching DVD's, lying around the pool... heck, I've even took up running! I'm sure that for all of you hard working people working 9-5 jobs, this sounds like a perfect break. Unfortunately, I despise the city that I live in and thoroughly enjoy when my job takes me elsewhere. My friends have been busy making their way around the globe, while I've sat all by my lonesome in Dubai. All of my waiting finally paid off when I received a call at midnight informing me that I'd been pulled out for a flight to Beijing, China. CHINA!! My thoughts raced to beautiful temples, the Great Wall of China, and all sorts of cheap things to spend my money on. I happily headed for the airport, thrilled at the notion of leaving Dubai. My recent lack of human interaction has made me a little bit loopy. I chattered non-stop as I met the crew, happy to have somebody to talk to... finally! It was a long 7 1/2 hour flight to Beijing, but the passengers were lovely and I managed to fight my fatigue despite the ridiculous time of day that we'd departed. Once we landed, I quickly established the plans for the afternoon. On the bus ride to the hotel we all stared wide eyed out the windows, some of us (okay, just me) taking photos of everything. It reminded me of the tour buses full of Chinese tourists that line the streets of Banff in the summer back home... only this time I was the tourist, in their country. Once we'd reached the hotel I met up with Eva from Greece and Vicky from Ireland to head out in search of great bargains at a local market. We hopped in a taxi and made our way to a huge building with 6 floors full of everything imaginable. First, however, was lunch. We circled the food court a few times before deciding on what to order. After reading dishes such as "Mushrooms with 2 types of meat" and "Cooked meat", I opted for vegetarian fried noodles and spring rolls. It seemed like a safe bet. After we'd filled up on our grease saturated meals, we set out to shop. Eva was on a mission and went her own way as Vicky and I slowly wandered. We weren't as intent on spending all of our money. I'm terrible when it comes to bargaining. I give in far too easily. After a great deal of arguing with a very persistent (but adorable and sweet) sales lady, I gave in and forked over the cash for a fake designer bag. It was more than I'd offered to pay, but after she started going on about how she was very poor and had a family to feed, guilt got the best of me. I'm such a sucker... I probably paid triple what any smart local would have, and a big family to support? China has a one child policy. Regardless, my new bag is pretty and it was cheaper than I would have paid in Canada. My other purchase was the entire 6 seasons of Dawson's Creek, complete with 23 disks to keep me occupied and reliving my childhood for the rest of my reserve month. Satisfied with our purchases, we met Eva who showed up with quite the haul. Apparently she's far better at bargaining than we are. We headed back to the hotel, where I was extremely excited to book a tour to the Great Wall of China for the next day. Sadly, Eva changed her mind after seeing the prices. It wasn't overly expensive, but she'd spent her entire allowance already and decided that she'd rather save her money the next day. To pay for the tour alone would have been quite the splurge for me, as we needed to hire a driver and a car. I tried my best to persuade her before I miserably accepted that I wouldn't be seeing the Wall this time around. Back to my room I went, gloomily staring out onto the rainy streets, thinking that life was over because things didn't go as I'd wanted them to. I'm quite dramatic when I'm upset. I was determined to still enjoy my layover, so I headed to bed thinking of what I could do with the day ahead.
I woke up early the next morning to the sound of rain. I opened the blinds to see grey skies and wet streets. Well, this could put a damper on my plans. I decided to meet up with Eva once again, catching a taxi to the giant silk market. They were far more aggressive sales people than the market the previous evening. Walking down the crammed aisles they would grab our arms and try to drag us into their shops. I was a bit overwhelmed and the endless sea of colorful handbags and silk garments was making me dizzy. I watched Eva bargain like a pro, wishing that I was capable of such persuasion. She left with a pile of goods while I walked out empty handed. There was nothing that I particularly needed. I'll save my money for my next Beijing trip... hello, Great Wall. Hungry from a busy morning, we set out in search of a place to have lunch. We found a nice little restaurant down the street, where the staff spoke no English and waited for us to point out what items on the menu we'd like. We declined chicken legs and boiled frog, requesting a dish with "vegetables only". Our polite waiter reassured us "No meat. Beef!". Well, as long as I wasn't being served some breed of canine, I was happy. We stuck with prawns and eggs, lacking a bit in the adventurous spirit. When we asked the waiter for "Fried noodles", he nodded knowingly and returned with 2 cans of Sprite. Well, I suppose that will do. Though we were a bit nervous for what was to come, we were satisfied when we received our delicious meals. The skies had cleared and we decided to make the most of the few hours that we had left by heading to the Lama Temple. In the midst of the busy city was a huge and very spiritual cluster of buildings, making up one beautiful Tibetan style temple. It's been around since the 1700's. Tourists wandered while Buddhist worshipers lit incense and prayed. When I think of China and temples, it's exactly what I would picture. Beautifully detailed red buildings surrounded by bamboo. After we'd seen it all we headed back to the hotel. Before heading back to Dubai, I insisted on going to, you guessed it... the supermarket. I'd discovered a Carrefour (Asia's version of a Walmart super-center) directly behind the hotel. I was amused by an entire aisle dedicated to soya sauce, and another to cooking oil. People scooped rice from huge bulk bins. I grabbed some green tea and a few random candies to bring back to Dubai. We headed back to the hotel, where I was unable to sleep before the flight. Needless to say, it was a long 8 hour journey back to Dubai. I can't wait to go back to Beijing and explore some more... it's definitely the highest ranking destination in terms of culture shock.

Hanging out With Elephants in Sri Lanka

Jun 10, 2010

It had been nearly a week since my last flight, and I was starting to get quite anxious for an escape from Dubai. Had it not been for Ryan's visit, I would have already been far past insanity. On the roster for the evening was a lovely standby shift... 10:00 pm to 6:00 am the next morning. As I hadn't had much sleep that day, I was almost certain that I'd receive a call for a flight. At 11 pm, the phone rang, waking me from my evening nap. "Hello Krysta, you are going to Colombo!", said the voice on the other end. I groggily acknowledged my duty and reluctantly rolled out of my bed. The good news was that I had a 24 hour layover. On the other hand, I knew absolutely nothing about the Sri Lankan city. I threw a few things into my suitcase, changed into my uniform, fixed my hair and makeup, and headed out the door. Fortunately I'd caught a couple of hours of sleep before they'd called, but my energy level was still quite low. I was surprised and relieved to learn that the flight was only 4 short hours. It was a breezy service and as we approached Sri Lanka, a few crew members began making plans for the layover. I eagerly agreed to join in since I've been lacking layover adventures over the past couple of weeks. We reached our hotel early in the morning and instead of sleeping, met up to venture out. 6 of us decided to hire a driver and a van to drive us to an elephant orphanage recommended by the concierge. We piled into the van and set off for the 2 hour journey. Along the way our driver pointed out pineapple plants, and pulled the van over to show us a rubber tree. I dozed in and out of sleep, waking to find that we were surrounded by beautiful, lush green mountains. I hadn't expected that, but then again, I knew nothing about the country until I'd arrived. We eventually made it to the elephant orphanage, where we handed over half of our meal allowance for admission. We watched as they bottle fed cute baby elephants and then trekked to a huge open area with elephants galore. The scenery was stunning and the elephants a few meters away from us made it all seem very surreal. I went camera happy, thinking of my elephant-obsessed mother and how she'd hang such photos throughout her home. If only I'd brought my big DSLR camera, as it takes far better quality photos. After we'd all taken a multitude of photos and the crew successfully convinced me to touch actually get close enough and touch an elephant, we proceeded towards the exit. Two police men blocked traffic as a herd of elephants was led down the street towards the river. Every single day they lead them to the river to bathe for a couple of hours. We laughed at the sight of elephants roaming the streets... definitely not something you'd see anywhere else. As they walked into the river we happily watched them roll around in the water and play, once again pulling out our cameras. The lingering clouds finally closed in on us and it began raining. I stood under the shade of a building, happy to have brought my waterproof camera. The rain was warm and a welcome relief from the intense afternoon heat. Had I known that I was going to spend the day following elephants, perhaps I would have packed more wisely. Instead, I was breaking a sweat wearing jeans. Once we'd finally had our fill of elephant watching, we browsed the nearby shops, politely declining to buy "elephant poo paper", which is exactly what it sounds like. Elephants poo, and they turn it into notebooks and photo frames. What better way to show your love for somebody than to frame their photo in poo. We'd all been awake since around 11 pm the night before, so by the time afternoon rolled around, everyone was feeling fatigue set in. We agreed to head back to the hotel. I turned on my iPod and escaped to nap-land for a good hour, until our driver pulled over at a fruit stand on the side of the road and hopped out. He came back offering fresh slices of pineapple that he'd bought for us. It was perhaps the most delicious, sweetest pineapple that I've ever tasted. I didn't hesitate to take seconds. After a long day, we made it back to the hotel. I stopped in a shop downstairs to browse the collection of cheap DVD's, picking up 3 for the bargain price of 15 dirhams, or less than $5 Canadian. They are all brand new, still in theaters. One of the many joys of visiting Asian cities. It could be another week until my next flight, so I need some good chick flicks to get me through the boredom. I was very excited with my new purchases as I headed up to my hotel room and flicked on the TV. I watched the Discovery Channel for awhile, happy to find a hotel TV that showed more than just CNN. I called up room service, breaking the poor man who delivered it to my room's heart by answering "Yes" when he asked if I was married. I'm not, in case you were wondering... but as far as foreign hotel employees need to know, the ring on my finger is from Ryan (but actually, it's from my mom). It was about 7:30 pm and I could barely keep my eyes open, so I flicked off the lights, snuggled into my bed, and slept until it was time to get ready for my flight back to Dubai in the morning. My verdict for Colombo: Despite the fact that the hotel had no internet and the food wasn't much better than what we serve onboard, you can manage to have a great time if you are lucky enough to be with a decent crew willing to leave the hotel. Back home to Dubai we went. Now I must wait again, hoping to land another decent flight out of standby!

In completely unrelated but equally exciting news... I've finally booked the Dubai-Toronto segment of my flight back home next month! I still need to find a flight from Toronto to Calgary, but the main part is out of the way. Yay! I'm going home in 28 days! Hellooooo Tim Horton's.

A Blissful Reunion

Jun 6, 2010

Why is it that when you are waiting for something exciting to happen, time seems to slow to a halt... yet while you are having fun it passes far quicker than you'd like it to? I waited patiently for my boyfriend Ryan to arrive in Dubai to visit me. Finally, the day arrived and I headed to the airport to pick him up. 6 days zoomed by, and tonight we said goodbye once again. I forced myself to be strong, attempting to avoid the impending emotional breakdown that will likely strike once I find myself alone in my quiet apartment.
All sad thoughts aside, we had an incredible 6 days together... without a doubt the best week I've experienced in Dubai in my 6 months of living here. It began on Tuesday evening... I set off for the airport to reunite for the first time in over 4 months. I caught the crew bus to headquarters, planning to take the metro to save some of my precious dirhams. I was 10 minutes too late and the staff informed me that I'd missed the last train. Nothing could ruin my great mood, so I headed for the exit to hail a taxi. Normally catching a taxi is simple... a 3 minute wait at most. That night was an exception. I grew impatient as I checked my watch to find the time drawing increasingly nearer to Ryan's arrival. After 15 minutes in the extreme heat, I finally was able to stop a taxi and I made sure to express the urgency in which I needed to get to the airport. I soon discovered that all of my rushing had been for nothing. The flight was delayed, and I waited for nearly an hour and a half before I finally spotted my Canadian boy dragging his suitcases towards the exit. We rushed to hug eachother, as he struggled to comprehend how it was even possible for a place to be so hot so late at night. We caught a taxi back to my apartment and headed to bed, happy to finally be back together.
The next day was a very special day... our anniversary of dating! Unfortunately, I found myself on standby later that evening, so a romantic evening was out of the question. I'd convinced myself that I wouldn't get called for any flights, so I was quite upset when we were woken from a nap to a phone call informing me that I'd be heading to Delhi a few hours later. I cursed crew scheduling and thought all sorts of mean, miserable thoughts as I reluctantly got ready for one of my least favorite flights. The good news was that since I'd return at 7 in the morning, I was guaranteed the rest of the day off. I flew to India and back, keeping myself motivated by the thought of heading home to cuddle with my boyfriend. Early in the morning I dragged myself into my room, and we slept until later that afternoon. That evening, it was finally time for a long overdue date. A friend had recommended a great restaurant called "Jimmy's Killer Prawns". Both of us were extremely excited as we ate plate after plate of unlimited prawns and sushi. It was delicious, and while it was far less romantic than a typical date spot, it suited us perfectly. We were barely able to walk after eating far too many prawns. Perhaps crew scheduling had felt bad for the India turnaround that had interrupted our first night together, or maybe luck was on my side. Either way, I was thrilled to find that I had the next day off. I immediately began making plans for what we'd do with an entire day of freedom. We woke up early, changed into our swimsuits, and headed for the beach. I know that I complain quite often about my dusty desert home, but I must give Dubai credit for its beautiful beaches. We found a spot on the white sand beach just beneath a palm tree, and then ran into the warm blue water. After we'd both acquired mild sunburns, we headed back to my apartment to shower and get ready for the rest of the day. Next stop, Irish Village. In the midst of this large Islamic city lies a restaurant serving pork, beer, and cocktails. I sipped a pina colada (my first alcoholic beverage in Dubai) as Ryan opted for a delicious long island iced tea. We shared an appetizer before catching the metro to Dubai Mall, where we spent hours wandering the huge shopping center. After weeks of healthy eating, we treated ourselves to Starbucks and McDonald's. Eating junk food tastes soooo good! For dinner we chose to return to a restaurant where we'd dined at back in January. We sat on an outdoor patio with an amazing view of the Burj Khalifa and the awesome dancing fountain show. I'd highly recommend this place to anyone who visits Dubai... you get the great view at a decent price. The food was incredible. We ordered the seafood platter, complete with squid, fish, and giant prawns that tasted like lobster. We finished off with tirimisu, and headed home satisfied with a great day. I thanked my lucky stars when I checked my schedule to find that I had yet another day off. I was giddy, once again making plans to have a great day out with the boy that I love. I felt as if I'd won the lottery when I found that I had the next day off as well..... 3 in a row!! We may not have the opportunity to go on many dates, but when we do, we go all out. In celebration, we decided to spend our evening sipping fancy drinks at the world's one and only 7 star hotel... the Burj Al Arab. After making a reservation, it dawned on us that we were not dressed nearly classy enough for the highest class place in this city. We headed to the mall where he picked up some new shoes as I searched for a brand new dress. Wearing our new purchases we set off for the Mall of the Emirates, where we chowed down on Big Mac's to fill up a bit before heading to the expensive bar. Dressed to the nines, we shoved burgers into our mouths in the mall food court. We hailed a taxi and felt quite high class as we asked the driver to take us to the Burj Al Arab. Upon reaching the beautiful sail shaped hotel, a security guard confirmed our reservation before our taxi was allowed in. Another security lowered a roadblock allowing us access. We stepped out of the taxi and entered the famous lobby. We stood in awe as we gazed up at the towering ceiling. Every single detail was extravagant. Gold pillars, beautiful fountains, and beauty beyond any other building that I've stepped foot in. We took the elevator to the 27th floor and were taken to a seat by the window. The bar was filled with pretty lights and exquisite decor. Fancy dressed couples sipped champagne like royalty. We were extremely excited when we were brought a tray shaped like the hotel, filled with nuts. We browsed through the pricey menu before deciding upon two cocktails. The "Burj Royal" for Ryan, and the "My Mela" for myself. Both were amazing, but mine tasted like chocolate covered strawberries and was perhaps the most delicious cocktail that I've ever sipped. Never ceasing to impress us, the waiter delivered a small plate of tapas... a tiny plate full of tiny (yet delicious) bites of food. Realizing that this was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity, we decided to order 2 glasses of champagne. The waiter poured a small amount into Ryan's glass, as Ryan cluelessly stared back at him. "Taste it!", I whispered, nudging his arm. He gave his approval and the waiter topped up our glasses. We clinked them together and said "cheers!" to an amazing night. Making the most of our evening, we stayed for several hours. We were moved to another table with a view of the city skyline and the Burj Khalifa. The menu was by no means cheap, but we agreed to treat ourselves, as we ordered a cold seafood platter. It was small, as we'd expected, but the mussels, crab, prawns and oysters were little bites of perfection. We sat hand in hand taking in the atmosphere, getting a taste of what life might be like for the rich and famous. After several hours we finally agreed to call it a night, as we headed back down the lobby. We stayed for awhile taking photos of the beautiful hotel. We met an employee who told us about all of the celebrities that he'd met in his 6 years working at the hotel. Ryan inquired about what he planned to do with the roses on each table, to which he quickly caught on and asked if I'd like to take them. "We import them each morning from Holland", he informed us, "I'm just going to throw these away tonight." Ryan handed me a few of the fresh roses as we continued walking around snapping photos. A few minutes later the friendly employee walked over and handed me another huge bunch of roses to take home. We'd had a great night, and it was time to head home.
The next morning we woke up and headed straight for the pool. Summer is only a few weeks away and spending more than 20 minutes outside is getting more and more impossible. After a quick dip we headed back to get ready to head for lunch. As it was Ryan's last day in Dubai, we opted to head for all you can eat prawns yet again. We ate plate after plate of juicy prawn goodness and headed back home. I was scheduled for airport standby at 12:30 am, so I needed to get some sleep to manage to stay awake until 4 am at the earliest. We had our last nap together, waking up to pack our suitcases. At 10:30 pm, it was time to say goodbye. I held back tears as I clung to Ryan, reluctantly bidding him farewell. I took comfort in the fact that unlike last time, we will only be apart for a month before I come home for 2 weeks in July. I walked him downstairs and gave him a quick hug before he walked out the doors and headed for the airport. Oh how I hate goodbyes. Not wanting to ruin my makeup, I didn't let myself cry, as I changed into my uniform. This part will never get easier, but the amazing time we had together overshadows the sadness that I'm left with when he's gone back home. Only 30 more sleeps and we'll be together again!!

A Brief Hiatus From the Blogging Life.

Jun 1, 2010

Please, dear friends and loyal followers... trust that I'm safe and that I haven't fell off the face of the planet during the next couple of weeks. The blogs may be few and far between.
The main reason of course is that my amazing boyfriend is currently en route to Dubai. In 4 hours I'll be hugging him at the airport, and I'm more ridiculously excited than words can express. It's been 4 months since we last saw each other! Being in a long distance relationship is one of the biggest challenges that I've faced... some days I'd rather sit in my room and sulk in my misery than go spend time with friends. The reunions, though never long enough, make it all worthwhile. We spend weeks talking about what we'll do when we are together again, and we finally have the opportunity. While he's here, my time will be occupied trying to soak up all of the happiness and love before we are forced to part again.
The second reason for my anticipated lack of blogging is the fact that as of today, I am on reserve for the entire month. In non-crew terms... I wait around on standby at home until crew scheduling calls me for a flight, or until my standby shift is over. Or, I go to the airport in full uniform and sit in the standby lounge for hours, crossing my fingers for a nice layover. It's not much fun, but after this I'm free of reserve for 7 more months.
Nothing exciting has happened recently. I endured a trip to Lagos once again. I'd spent the days before convincing myself how terrible the flight would be. Maybe it seems pessimistic, but when you are prepared for the worst, anything better seems awesome. I must admit, it was quite decent in comparison to my last trip to the Nigerian city. We stayed at a different hotel where the power only went out every few hours as opposed to every 30 minutes.
This morning I met with my manager and received the "all clear" to graduate this month. Despite 4 months of flying, I'm still not officially graduated until the 6 month probation period is over. There will be a formal ceremony on June 23rd... the day before my birthday. I can't believe that I'll be 24 in just a few weeks. I'm still in denial of the fact that 21 is long gone. I can't help but to grow older, but I'm not sure that I'll ever be ready to grow up.
I must cut this short, as I have many things to do before Ryan arrives.. primarily cleaning my mess of a bedroom.
Love you all, Happy June! It's my favorite month of the year!