In the beginning, Aboudi quite enjoyed playing tourist, taking pictures of Leonardo’s La Ferronnière,
admiring “leaf because no briefs” Apollo , the Belvedere Apollo ,
and stroking the head of a marble statue after getting (naughty) teta’s permission for “ touching “ . Honestly, I thought his question was intended for another part of her anatomy but apparently he was too prudish to act on the obvious object of his fascination. Luckily, the mama was away and didn’t notice the security guard who warned him afterwards “ not to touch”.
However, we soon found out the visit wasn’t quite up to Aboudi’s expectations: when mama told him we were going to see Mr Bean’s painting AKA Whistler’s Mother (James McNeill Whistler). He built up a hype up so strong that nothing interested him anymore throughout our flânerie…he kept on repeating despondently the same litany “when are we going to see Mr Bean’s painting😞?” Once there, the disappointment mirrored in his eyes was explained by the “where’s Mr Bean 😳?!” His logical question echoed in the silence of the big hall and triggered a few smiles among the art aficionados who witnessed the endearing legitimate confusion of a four year old boy .
“Let’s sit down and enjoy the ba7er (sea)”. His enthusiastic suggestion once he saw the magnificent sea view that welcomes the visitors on the way to the restaurant reassured us about his aesthetic appreciation’s skills…what’s even better ?
His “can we stay until night time” request in the Children’s Museum 😍😁!!
Among the many advantages we get to enjoy living in Abu Dhabi, this quiet, peaceful and laidback capital, is it’s proximity to Dubai. The energy, vibe and joie de vivre you feel in this cosmopolitan city remind me of Beirut my beloved hometown where going out for dinner means having a good meal but also see and be seen…Throughout the years, the experience evolved from the odd weekends with the family or the few weekday trips with the girls to more frequent and longer stays..
Old Cataract & Nubian village with family & friends
While bride & father of the bride were going through last minute details, mother of the bride was dutifully entertaining the early bird guest, lovely Samira, both having fun posing for a memorable photoshoot at the Old Cataract…and then again during the cruise to the Nubian village with family & friends😍
// Part 2 //Portofino, the Italian Riviera – June 2014
Having made up our mind a bit late on this trip, Hotel Splendido was fully booked and so we stayed at its sister hotel, the Splendido Mare. To make it up for us, we were given a suite which we declined in favor of a room with a breathtaking view of the spectacular harbour, the 15th century Castello Brown and the beautiful surrounding hills.
And that wasn’t all…the bonus was its terrace ,
ideal for a room-serviced breakfast 😊😍
The concierge recommended we have the afternoon tea at the Splendido, and dinner at the Mare. It sounded like an excellent plan so we let him do the booking.
Excellent plan yes but up there, once I stepped down off the shuttle that zigzags uphill and downhill between the two hotels, I fell under the spell of the stunning panorama and had a change of heart…I was reluctant to stick to the initial plan: I preferred to prolong our stay and have dinner where we could feast our eyes as well as our taste buds. And that we did…
However despite its unparalleled beauty, it wasn’t the Splendido that triggered my emotions…strangely though it happened at the Mare, when we returned.
Once back in our hotel room, I went to the bathroom for my nightly skincare routine, but abruptly stopped it and did a rushed U-turn towards the door as if I were under hypnosis . “Speak Softly, Love”, the soundtrack of “ The Godfather” 🤷🏻♀️
I could hear it as our “room with a view ” was above the restaurant ❤️😍🎶 !! This unexpected combination of many favorites – song, movie, Italy- was the culmination and the greatest finale to this extraordinary night, a night to remember…
Having lost my ability to speak, I got hold of my husband’s hand and dragged him towards the small balcony where we could feast our eyes as well as our ears…Wishing the singer will never stop, I basked in the magic of the moment, oblivious to the tiny droplets that were finding their way slowly onto my cheeks.
Our relationship with the places we visit doesn’t end with the sojourn…we stay there for a while but they stay with us forever, in our mind, in our heart …
However, before landing their ranking on the mere memories versus cherished memories chart, there is something common to all those visited places: the first timer’s feeling 🤩…I look forward to it,always..I absolutely relish the suspense surrounding the discovery process before the expectations-versus-reality factor splits them on the cherished memories’ chart.
Yet, 2 places are in a category apart…
1️⃣ New Zealand – the longest “hubbyless” touristic venture up to then.
I still remember that day in 2004, when I read in the WIAD (Women in Abu Dhabi) newsletter that one of the members – Diane – was organizing a ladies trip to her homeland New Zealand. I was super excited but unfortunately my excitement didn’t last long…The trip got canceled due to the lack of participants: too expensive. Four years later Diane tested the water with a revised proposal hoping the ladies might have changed their minds..Some did, however this time she was met with a quite unlikely response : two ladies along with their husbands – one French couple and one Tunisian. I wasn’t keen on going solo but my husband pragmatically persuaded me and I overcame my hesitation with his sound logic : “It’s a busy period for me, I can’t take two weeks off to accompany you; NZ is on the other side of the world, I don’t see myself going there in the future. It’s either now or never, believe me, don’t miss this opportunity”. That was enough…I was convinced 🤷🏻♀️…and Diane would be my roommate..
Situated on a hill with a breathtaking view, the modern B&B we stayed in on our second night was above everyone’s expectations, out of Hollywood movie!
I’ve never stayed in a B&B before and was pleased with the charm of this concept which allows some warm interactions with your hosts. I just ❤️ it and wished my husband was with me. This place ticked ✅ all his boxes: sea view and boats 🚣♀️ boats🚤 and boats ⛵️everywhere…I knew he would’ve loved it too, and well… After the meet and greet, we sat for tea. However, when my friend Beya, teapot in hand, asked me whether I’d like some tea, I couldn’t reply…she looked at me and noticed the battle going in my head, on my face : this emotion-fueled moment I was shyly trying to suppress was revealed by two shiny dots down my cheeks…
So although I was convinced to go alone, deep down I still wished my husband was with me. It was just a normal feeling considering he selflessly encouraged me to take part in this beautiful adventure; he truly gave me the wings to fly so far from home and at that moment I wished I could share this spectacular view with him, I wished I could share my room in this beautiful place with him, and I promised myself that I will come one day with him…
PS Eleven years on and we still haven’t made this trip together …
Moral of the story : you snooze, you loose ..never hesitate …if you really want it, you go for it 😉
PPS I recently read a study which found that the Bay of Islands has the second bluest sky in the world after Rio de Janeiro. This is definitely a destination I’m going to do with my husband..it’s been on my bucket list for years, and I’m not settling on going solo…
Technically it’s the first time..yes, my eldest grandson is 3 years and 8 months now but during the two “”Mr & Mrs’s only” ” post-parenthood trip his mommy and daddy have planned, my dear hubby has taken care of the offspring solo as I was away on both occasions…When 17 months Aboudi’s parents went to California, I was on a prescheduled trip to Japan playing geisha dress up with a few girls friends🤷🏻♀️
A year and a half later, same scenario: when 3 years old Aboudi and 9 months Sama’s Mommy and Daddy took off to NYC, the teta was in Bhutan doing the Druk Path Trek…
The least I can say is that the abuelo was up to the responsibilities with a relish and a rare merit…During the first trip, he used to come home early in order to accompany Aboudi to the nearby park and petting zoo..
During the second one, he took baby Sama to the pediatrician because her mom was worried after one of the daily WhatsApps with the nanny….the redness around her mouth? Hand, foot and mouth disease!!
So yes, technically it’s the first time I’m going to practice the loving role of the teta -babysitting -the -grandkids but how can I compete with “a man with experience “?! Yes, while I was busy typing this in my room, Aboudi was sleeping soundly in my husband’s….