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Going back home to Aotearoa

“The thrill of coming home has never change” … by Guy Pearce

Perhaps some of you who is new to my blog are wondering where is this destination?  Is it a Country, a City or a Town?  AOTEAROA is a Maori name for NEW ZEALAND.  Nope NZ is not in Europe!! Some people asked me before where in Europe haha!  It is actually closer to Asia than in Europe hence a part of Oceania. It is a part of Australiasia where Australia is included.  But never ever say we belong to Australia or inside Australia.  There you go!

I have done my research as I heard that being a repats anywhere in the World will never be the same as coming back home after a long absence, rather it is the same feeling as being an expat in your own Country.  Anyway… my experience is so far it’s good the only complain I can say is all my friends are too busy since they are mostly working mom’s (as I used to before).  I miss the rush and being busy as it’s a different life here in NZ compared to the lavish mom’s of leisure that we can afford to in Abu Dhabi.

Here the reality now in Auckland you may be interested to know just in case you are wanting to relocate here or also like me as a repats.  It’s a mix of good and bad.

  1. The housing prices have gone up so high!! More demand less supply, unfortunately from an average $500K before 4-5yrs ago it is now $650- to a million $$$ based on average but good location and yes a brand new car is expensive too because of the taxes.
  2. Strictly zoning for schools as the population is getting bigger thanks to BREXIT and TRUMP.  I am sure you can figure it out.
  3. Schools are very RELAXED here for Primaries compared to other Countries.
  4. You don’t know your neighbors anymore as some are gone or sold their houses and those who stays have a boarder to afford the mortgage payments overcrowding the street now with cars parked off street that cannot fit in their garage or driveway.
  5. Road works everywhere.  When I left it in June 2015 they started to do the road widening and some sort of beautifying if you can call it that.  Then the Waterview TUNNEL to airport came into fruition last July 2017.
  6. The City looked less of a beauty with so much road works and reconstruction of some buildings.  Main train station was already beautiful before but now half closed for reconstruction.  I even got lost 2x walking around because I am looking for the Westfield Mall with a nice bench area outside for people on the go having a quick lunch or a chat with their mates.  It’s all closed for public and looked like a big mess!  Same with my own town, though more improvements and new establishments around.
  7. Speed cameras and from 50kmph for the main roads they are thinking to implement 30kmph in the City Centres and around which is ridiculous! (Motorway 100kmph). You don’t want to be caught up speeding in there haha! It can cost you your day salary.  Coming from the “fast and the furious City of Abu Dhabi”  which is a normal 80kmph for the main roads and from 120-140kmph for the motorway, it is harder to get adjusted to but necessary to learn how to be SLOW around NZ. (BTW… we drive on the left side of the road here, pls take note!).
  8. Some grocery food items gone up and some remain the same or even surprisingly cheaper because of competition.  If you are in the foodcourt BK can cost from $5 and that’s already a combo (didn’t change) to some food stores with rice meals with a drink costing from $16 combo which was $14 before.  BTW… some tourists says that our beef here is so much better and you can taste the difference in BK or McDo.  But you will be happy to find that SUSHI and other Japanese foods are cheaper compared to the UAE.  Thanks to some Japanese immigrants who established their restaurants and food stalls in the mall.
  9. Unfortunately, finding a job won’t be as easy as before.
  10. Some law changes and rubbish collections which we now have to buy a ticket per bin which is cheaper if you don’t have enough rubbish (you can wait to 2 weeks to fill up) and to those with large families, the bin may never be enough.

There you are…  so far this is what I realized coming back home. But hey, anywhere you go you will encounter bad politics, problems and inconveniences… at least here in NZ for sure this is the reality… RELAXED LIFESTYLES!!!

Queenstown, NZ; vinnevefoto

But if you can live simply and try to be content with what you have… NZ is a great place to live especially raising your children.  If you love sports there are some for you and your whole family to join.  Nature is at it’s best here so you will not be dissapointed how beautiful it is here better than a poster card.  Parks are everywhere in every town and Cities and yes it is free.  Hiking or trekking is of minimal fees just be sensible when doing it for the first time as some trails is not that easy especially if it’s damp.

Arrowtown, NZ; vinnevefoto

I live in the WEST so as what they say… West is BEST.  We are just  less than an hour away from the beach or the open sea as well as the Mountains.  We both have it all here.

WesternSpringPark, vinnevefoto

Nevertheless… I won’t discredit my life in Abu Dhabi as it was the most convenient and luxurious life I ever have in my life!  Though it’s a desert and it can get to 50 degree heat plus some limitations, still anywhere you go there is no perfect place.  There’s always something not to your liking.  I say I am happy to have experienced both Worlds.

AucklandZoo, vinnevefoto

I leave you now with Thanks for reading and let me know some thoughts that would be great to read your comments RE your experiences as a repats or as an expats.  Soon (I hope) I will post our brief holiday in QUEENSTOWN.  Please hang on.  Cheers!!

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Rush and a very busy days of March in Abu Dhabi.

As some of you may know that we are moving back to our home country New Zealand but are retaining our residency in Abu Dhabi just in case we need to move back to be whole again with the family.  

Anyway… life became so very busy last March and it seems everyday is a blur because of so many things to do and many people to meet to say goodbyes to before we leave temporarily.  I say temporary because I realized since becoming an expats the only thing constant is CHANGE.

So here are the ones you would like to try out for yourself when you get to Abu Dhabi.  We definitely did all these things before leaving.  Oh and we left at the right time as I heard it is now getting hot, early for Summer time!

  1.  Meet with some old or new friends and do BRUNCHING.  This is sort of like the normal thing expats do once in weekdays if you have time but mostly over the weekends.  You will be amazed how can you be greedy with foods and will love taking photos of it as they are so pretty for FB or Instagram not to post.
  2. If not brunching, then meeting friends or family in the coffee shops and they are tons of them around in and out of the Island.  FYI, in our area we have a mom’s group that meets once every week and it is actually enjoyable talking to each of them and seeing how they are after a week or two of challenging days if any!
  3. Attend some Women’s group or any other types of group as what they say “nobody will be left out alone!” it is easier to get depressed in the Summer heat of the desert and being with new people and mingling around would definitely HELP.  Of course you will get to find your long time friend even as an expats and you know what? I even stayed with one of them in Germany for a holiday!  See my old post.
  4. Go and buy yourself all the FUN things to do like Theme Parks in Abu Dhabi.  There are 3 to choose from:  Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and Warner Brothers.
  5. Go for a walk yes after the heat is gone in the late afternoon but when we did it was winter time.  Lot’s of parks in Abu Dhabi especially family parks like the Mushrif Park as per its old name or now it’s called Umm Al Emarat Park.
  6. Enjoy all the pristine waters of Abu Dhabi beaches or if you prefer a swimming pool as every hotel offers some family/ friends packages that includes food and a pool or other services.
  7. GLAMPING – this one we did in Ras Al Khaimah or better known as RAK for short.  It is one of the Emirates and also a beautiful place to enjoy beach resorts, water sports, hiking and camping or much better GLAMPING as per my previous post please click the link on the highlighted word.
  8. Sporting events there are abundant of this prior to Summer and you can actually join in even as a visitor.  Here are the photo from Al Hudayriat Island.
  9. And of course SHOPPING for your last-minute things to buy because it is double or triple the cost in your home Country!
  10. Do not forget the Cultural haven in Sadiyaat Island Louvre Abu Dhabi.  Please check my previous post about this as per highlighted link.  This is not the only one museum in the City so please do check them wherever you may be.
  11. I almost forgot … LADIES NIGHT!! Yep, it’s awesome for us women as we get FREE drinks and in some places there’s also a FREE food.  Two of my favorite bars/places to go are ECLIPSE inside Four Seasons Hotel they offer 3 free drinks and a plate of sushi!! and LOCA an award winning Mexican restaurant and bar offering 5 free margarita flavoured drinks!! Well the foods are great and you can share with your friends and have fun!  We all are momshies and our husbands were good enough to take care of our children.  Good eh? Cheers to that! 😉
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credit to LINK

 

 

 

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Destination: Louvre Abu Dhabi, beautiful architectural Museum

 

img_4978.jpgMy son and I went to Louvre in Paris when he was just 5 years old. He’s my travel buddy ever since and we both love the same things except shopping of course haha!  You may wonder what is the meaning of Louvre anyway?  Here as per Google meaning “overlapping strips in a window (to let in air but keep out rain)” first recorded 1550s. The form has been influenced by apparently unrelated FrenchLouvre , the name of the palace in Paris, which is said to be so named because its builder, Philip Augustus, intended it as a wolf kennel”.

Our love for Museum keep us together in every Country we have visited through the years. He is now 10 years old and this time it’s a must to go and see another LOUVRE but here in Abu Dhabi where we currently live as an expatriate and before we go home to NZ.  According to Google, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a beautiful architectural “Museum for arts and civilization”.  See below some beautiful arts and paintings.img_5064

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And some bizarre ones below… 

And that was ME,vinnevefoto

Beautiful scenery outside restaurant and coffee shop. There’s a lot to see actually in and out of the building. We thought we have seen it all but was surprised to enter another side of the building and saw another collections. If you have a kid with you there’s also a Children’s Museum and some extra activities for them to do. If you are an AD residents it’s better to buy an annual pass. They usually change some arts and crafts as well as featuring special arts or paintings from another Country every 3 months or so.  For Museum enthusiasts you can easily spend the whole day here.  Lovely calming scenery outside, to sit down at the stairs /benches with someone or just be by yourself facing the sea or even touching the water below.  Children must be supervised.

Cheers!

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Destination: RAK Glamping by the beach

 

RAK stands for Ras Al Khaimah. It’s one of the 7 Emirates of the UAE 🇦🇪. DUBAI is the most known Emirates but actually the capital is Abu Dhabi. RAK is one of a kind destination that perhaps not many of you know what or where it is.  Here is the LINK for you to browse about this part of the Emirates.

I had an older post on this LINK at our first time to this place, so please check this out to know more. For now… it’s about our last escapades outside Abu Dhabi before we go back home to New Zealand 🇳🇿 after living here for more than 3 long years without going on holiday back to our home Country.

We bought a family “glamping” package thru a Groupon website as mentioned by our family friend and seeing they cater to your needs complete with mattresses and other necessities inside of your chosen type of tent, we didn’t hesitate though hubby worry a bit about his back (he got some extra pillows though).  This is our first time being in a tent considering we live in Nz famous for hiking, beach and yes camping.  It’s a long story why. Anyway, the staffs we’re all attentive and glad that it surprised us that we didn’t have any problem or complaint at all throughout the 2 days we we’re there. We just enjoyed our family bonding with friends and used their facilities and free activities for kids.

 

Dining tables as per guest number, vinneve foto

 

Dinner (cooked meats & grilled seafoods) and breakfast with unlimited drinks were included and yes free alcoholic drinks from 7-10pm. Some people are so happy about it. We are a casual drinker so we don’t have to binged. We appreciated that we don’t have to worry about our kid asking for sweets or even popcorn as it’s also provided at the open air cinema as well as marshmallows for the many bonfires provided whether for everyone to use or for relaxing sitting beside with your friends or family chatting what to do in the morning.  My boy went crab hunting and swimming at the beach. He can do kayaking or paddle boarding but in a lake or around mangroves not in an open sea though there’s some lifeguard there… still I’m a bit protective alright. Adults were the ones eager to use it including jet skiing and so much more.

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Above water obstacle course should be on the water but because it’s a bit windy so it’s safer that the kids play on this on the land.

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They have petting zoo as well as per schedule only. Swimming pool is fun for kiddos especially the small ones.  They have another pool for all to enjoy.

RAK Longbeach campground is really a good place for family who want to experience catered camping.  We leave with good memories.  Cheers!!

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Places to Wander & Wonder in Switzerland

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So true!!  I think I don’t need to explain further on this one as most of you dear readers are traveloholic like me. 

To all my followers, you probably know by now that Switzerland is my favorite destination and it shows on how many posts I posted in the past.  I also like to go where the locals go so it is something new for some people who wanted to travel there and wanting to avoid crowds but still enjoying Zurich and around.  Here below are some of the places and try to visit these when you get there.  It is awesome and still full of nature.

In the City.

Zurich town, vinneve foto

Stroll around the City.  This was taken at the bridge.  Discover some alleys and around the lake you will be amazed that in even an unsuspecting alley tourists are there but sometimes not too crowded, enjoying a cup of coffee, ice cream or lunches. Awesome old architectural building around. You will know more of the places once you go walking or try to join a walking tour if you like that. 

Alley in Zurich township, vinneve foto

Discover other towns by ferry, you can do short or long journey at Bellevue station/ferry.  You can reach here by tram, bus or train depends where you are.  Please check my older post about cruising leisurely around Lake Zurich.  It’s not that expensive.  We hopped off to Kilchberg Station where you can walk to Lindt chocolate factory.  But mind you, you cannot enter the factory itself.  Just a discount store as low as 50% if you are right on time and they have a sale.

 

Parks, restaurants & other lakes.

Went for a walk at the Park located at Zurich-Hongg then enjoy their cafe house inside named Jagerhaus Waidberg Restaurant as below picture. They have a beautiful garden and yes you can bring your dog for a walk and a treat too!

 

The nature is abundant of berries but be careful there is a red berries that is a poison it is only for birds.  Locals know so if you are not familiar with it do not put it into your mouth.

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blackberries, vinneve foto

Lake Turlersee.  As you can see it is very pristine.  I say it is a rural located in Affoltern, a canton of Zurich.  There is a fee of SF5 only to enter and there is a restaurant inside and a food stand with sausages and ice creams for kids.

Lake Turlersee, vinneve foto

Falsenegg Restaurant LINK.   Again our families love to walk so we go to the Park again and a wonderful restaurant with a good view of Zurich was ahead of us.  Honestly, though perhaps some people come with their car or with a cable car, we went up hiking or sort of just to eat here and have a breather after, besides we are just a few minutes away from this place and also the Turlersee lake.

Falsenegg restaurant, vinneve foto

Triibhuus Restaurant, LINK .  It is a huge greenhouse restaurant.  As you can see full of plants everywhere.  It is for families, friends or couples on a date.  At the time we were there, there is a live Mexican/ Spanish duo singers entertaining the guests.  They also make you laugh and you can join in the dancing too!

Eglisau.  It is located in the district of Bulach, canton of Zurich.  It sits on the banks of the Rhine and yes another side of the famous Rhine river.  Be careful this river runs fast so not for average swimmer.  It can get you to Swiss-German border and to Netherlands and it empties into the North Sea.  There is a cruise ship that you can buy tickets to.  We just had a picnic and swim party here for birthday celebration and hired boats to go to a safer side for a swim.  We have children with us.

Eglisau, River rhine, vinneve foto

It can be a foodies haven! You will learn to appreciate salads as it’s so filling & delicious. Swiss people eat healthy foods. Not a lot of fast food around and if you see one the prices can be very expensive than eating in nearby cafes restaurants or food stalls around.  HINT:  Manor restaurant inside the mall offers good quality food and drink at an affordable prices around SF15-20 approx. for 1 adult and 1 child and you can still include a cake or pie but depends on your hunger.

Manor restaurant, vinneve foto

Alright, perhaps these are enough to make you hungry?  remember, Switzerland can be very expensive but if you know where to buy or eat out you can still enjoy all their foods and please don’t hesitate to ask some locals as they can speak english especially the younger generations.  Also more information at the Haupthbanhoff station.  You can buy tickets for trains and other tours and services.  Museums are nearby and as well as lots of branded shops around.  Do not forget to get a “Zurich in your pocket” brochure located at the train stations.  They have all the maps and information you will need.  Enjoy!  Tschuss!!

 

 

 

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Warmer Christmas 🎄 & a Chilly New Year!

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from readers digest

Yes that’s what we have around here in the land of the desert 🌵 the land of opportunity and multicultural society!

My first time to stay home in Abu Dhabi for Christmas and New Year my current City for the past 3 years but minus some months as I live in and out of the Country for personal reason. Some of you can only guess but maybe my loyal followers can understand. If you’re curious why don’t you read my recent post it’s a hint. I’m sure some can relate in every situation.

Christmas is the time of family celebration and here in my City it’s full of events! Most hotels have free events like X’mas lighting and if you’re lucky your kid can get free gift and parents can enjoy some nibbles & drinks. I’m sure some will agree going there before eating dinner. Consider it having an appetizers for free with shows etc. The malls have their free fun events for kids to enjoy like joining to make a gingerbread cookie and photo session with the famous man Santa 🎅 Yes, Abu Dhabi is a generous City! Even in the Parks lot’s of free fun things to do, including picnic at night with friends and family. Fireworks to gaze up in the sky and jugglers, magicians and even Alice in Wonderland grace the City.

free musical and dancing shows & other activities for kids.vinneve

Galleria mall outside.vinneve

X’mas Lighting @WestinAD.vinneve

You may be wondering how come a Muslim Country allows all these? It’s because UAE is a tolerant blessed Country. Where all religions can be practiced without any issues. In fact Pope Francis is coming next year in February to conduct a public mass! Imagine a Mosque side by side by a Catholic Church! One time I was inside a church having a mass and in time for singing you can also hear a song coming from the nearby Mosque. That is what called HARMONY!! isn’t it pun?!

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Corniche road, AD. vinneve

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!   Peace on Earth. 

 

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Day out in Luzern and it’s Castle on the hill

TIME spent with family is worth every second… by anonymous

LIFE is all about having a good time! … by Miley Cyrus

I make it a point to have a good time with my only son always! whether it be around our place or overseas.  Luzern / Lucerne is a good place for a day out and just only an hour away from Zurich where we are having our long holiday with the grandparents.  We have been here many times but those times it seems it passed by, perhaps it because my son was so young to remember it all.  Now that he is ten he will definitely remembers this. 

And what more to remember is to climb so many stairs up the hill that we cannot count anymore, to reach the top of Gutsch Castle which is now a hotel and restaurant.  I wasn’t aware that there is a funicular on the other side street to go up and for some reason people who I talked to about this Castle told me in the past that we need to go up to climbing stairs and I say it’s really a big task for both of us in the middle of the afternoon heat.  So now you know and so, will not have the same mistake as I, unless you really wanted to be fit and must be done in the morning instead… but it’s worth it isn’t it? Most of the sights you cannot see if you take a funicular though.  Look at the photos below and you can see lots of beautiful views only at the top and if you take the hard way of climbing the stairs up!

AROUND LUZERN 

People of Luzern loves music and that day we enjoyed having a free concerts and lot’s of sausage sizzles, beers and other foods whatever your budget.  They even have something for kids to play on while the parents can enjoy having their bratwurst or cervela and beer while listening to concerts which I believe are conducted by University students.  Of course one day is not enough so plan your day well to see as many sights and events you can do for your day out. 

We both love musuems but we only can go to one which is my son’s choice and will post next time, please wait for it.  For now please enjoy the photos, LIKE and do comment that would be great!!  Tshuss!