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Abu Dhabi

I have spent the last four days in Abu Dhabi recharging the batteries and boosting my vitamin D levels. My departure from Kazakhstan was a little teary but I will be back there in 12 weeks to show my parents around and pick up my bags. The flight down was uneventful apart from looking at the steppe with snow on it for the last time. I was super excited yet exhausted at the same time after finalising all the packing, catching up with friends and hanging out with my shadow B for one last day skiing before flying out on the Sunday evening.

My parents had left early the Sunday morning Kaz time and I knew from flight tracking websites that they would be arriving nearly 90 minutes late. This was not the news I wanted to hear considering that their arrival was 3:30am Kaz time and we would still need to get to the hotel. Thankfully, there is the new arrivals lounge in Abu Dhabi so I had a comfortable place to wait the 5 hours and also grab a shower and snack.

When I saw the announcement that their plane had arrived I made my way into the luggage carousel area to help them out by collecting their bags and of course the bike we needed to take to Kaz after our Africa trip. This was mum and dad's first time in Abu Dhabi and they looked a little lost and then surprised as they walked down and found me with everything. We made our way through customs, collected my bags and went to go to the chauffeur area to take a car to our home for the next couple of nights.

The Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi has been my go to place when needing a few days to chill out after a trip. It is more of an adults/business hotel which means that I am not listening to the yelling and screaming that all pools have when children are around. Working with children is great but when I am on a holiday I really enjoy the quiet.

Mum and dad have never experienced the "Etihad" treatment before so it was great to see them enjoying the chauffeur car. I always knew that this hotel would blow my dad out of the water. The reception is so grand and a real "wow" moment when entering the property for the first time. Dad didn't disappoint and exclaimed "Holy shit, this is amazing, look at this Sandra!" We finalised our check in with a surly and unhelpful hotel employee and made our way upstairs to our rooms on the 35th floor. Mum and dad's room had been decorated because I had notified the hotel that they were celebrating their wedding anniversary so a rose petal decorated bed and a lovely cake welcomed them. I wasn't hanging around so I bid them goodnight and headed next door to my room for a good sleep, reminding them that they had breakfast included in their room rate and they definitely didn't want to miss out on the extravaganza that would await them.

My parent's surprise at staying in such a lovely hotel was great to see. They were amazed at the breakfast spread each morning and the diversity on offer from various cuisines around the world, the impeccable service, huge rooms/beds and little touches like receiving fresh fruit each day, turndown service and incredible views whilst watching the Red Bull Air Race pilots practising each day for the upcoming competition. The hotel's private beach and three pools offer an oasis to relax and recover after their long flight from Australia and allowed us to chat about what we have coming up. There are plenty of restaurants to eat at to cater for every palate and price point. There is also a great Waitrose supermarket downstairs that offers fantastic salads, olives, cheese and biscuits to enjoy in our rooms. We particularly like these kinds of dinners so we don't feel as though we are eating heavy and unhealthy food when on the road travelling.

Abu Dhabi has offered the chance for us to do a couple of cultural/tourist things including a visit to the Grand Mosque and the Marina F1 Circuit. Both were fantastic experiences that I thoroughly recommend. The Grand Mosque is ideal to visit during the late afternoon around 5pm and by the time you have toured around you have been able to see it during the day and lit up in the early evening.

So now we are on our final countdown to our flight down to Jo'burg at 2am tonight. Bags are packed, carryon has been organised and check in down. I have arranged for a meet and greet in Jo'burg to get us through customs quickly so we can make our connection to the Livingstone flight which we can't afford to miss. Fingers crossed! I can't wait to touchdown in Zambia so our adventure can really start and my parents can start to understand my love affair with Africa. It also means I can get the cameras out and start taking photos which really relaxes me and reminds me that I too am on holiday...

Where We Stayed - Jumeirah at Etihad Towers


As soon as you walk into the atrium of this property you know you are somewhere special. The beach facilities and service were brilliant. The beach is not that great but the pool is lovely. Wonderful little touches like snacks accompanying the wine, ice lollies and fresh towels were much appreciated. Like other people the only issue I had was the noise factor from the neighboring construction sites whilst relaxing outside. I made a point of listening to my iPod or iPad to keep this distraction down. The Nahaam Restaurant was great for casual and tasty lunches.

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