Friday, 25 February 2022

Padel galore!

Making the most of the beautiful February weather, this morning I had organised an Americano tournament for 12 players for the first time! Three courts, three hours of play, 11 games in total. Full on!

We are playing now at the brand new courts at Yas by the Park Inn, our new favourite spot. Perfect for those of us living off-island, but we have also been so well received and included in the A-Team community - today we got coffee and pastries for our mid-tournament break! Likey likey!

Our group is growing every week, and getting more and more international - but the Argentinian dominance is strong! Valeria, Marina and Alexia took the three top spots today.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Swedish Ladies at Qasr Al Hosn

I have almost exclusively only worked at the Louvre Abu Dhabi this season. It has been a conscious choice of mine, to actually say no to many tour requests. This for a couple of different reasons.

At one stage it felt rather unsafe to spend a whole day in a bus together with a bigger group of guests having traveled in from many different countries, or coming straight off a cruise ship. That might not be the case anymore, but I still prefer the smaller groups and shorter interactions of the museum tours.
I also very early in the season had enough of all the changes of restrictions, or more to the point - all the different interpretations of the restrictions. It seemed like there was never really any reliable straight forward instructions on what was needed in terms of PCRs, vaccinations records and so on.
But the main reason for mostly doing the museum tours is of course - that is what I LOVE! That is where my passion lies. Easy as that.

I've done a few exceptions though, for the Swedish and Danish communities here in Abu Dhabi. I've given a few tours of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, of Wahat al Karama and of Masdar City. This week it was time for another sightseeing highlight - the Qasr Al Hosn.

A group of 16 ladies had signed up for the tour, and it really surprised me that even though they all live here, some already for quite some time, only 4 had previously visited this site! Personally I think, whenever you have visitors - this is where you start your sightseeing, they symbolic birthplace of Abu Dhabi! Then you dazzle them with all the luxury and glitter!

I was a bit apprehensive before this tour, because it had actually been quite a while since I last gave a tour here. I visited the fort myself last week in preparation, and brushed up on all the details. It was nice to share all the exciting stories about the long history of the fort. I love these tours so much, when you get to really open the eyes and minds of people for what's right in front of them!

We also visited the House of Artisans, just next door in the same block. It had got a revamp since I was last there, the exhibition had been enlarged and covered more handicrafts; some interactive displays had been added and the overall impression was great.

Finally I showed the ladies the photo exhibition outside the fort, which illustrates the timeline of the construction of Qasr Al Hosn and the evolution of Abu Dhabi during the 1900s. It is really fascinating to see!

Roles reversed

Lucas has been driving a lot lately, both cars, with both of us. He drove us all the way home from Dubai and the Expo2020 last week and wherever else we have gone together.
Yesterday he took Linnea to school and back by himself, as both Nathan and I were home with no plans and we didn't need both cars at home. He had been dying to do that, so good to get that out of the way!

We have also sent him on some smaller solo expeditions, and - have finally got some pay back for all the times we have been running taxi-business... getting him to drop us off and pick us up from nights out!

The other day I was at a birthday celebration (by the way, isn't it the sign of the times when the party invitation reads '48h PCR required'..!?) and coming home, it was totally roles reversed in our WhatsApp convo... ha ha! Love it!

Hi ho, hi ho - and off to work we go!

Having started working recently within the Educational Department at the Louvre Abu Dhabi as one of their Art Mediators (yay me!), I have spent a lot more time at the museum lately - and I LOVE it!
Obviously I love, love, love delivering tours and the interaction with the guests, the art, the history and the many stories we tell; and I also love being part of a team, having a workplace and the sense of belonging it gives me. I love that I feel like I am right where I should be.

I have also realized that an added bonus with working more, is getting to get dressed up, put on a bit of a face and some dazzle a bit more often, ha ha! Love it!

The other day Nathan and I were actually heading off to work at exactly the same time, and looked all matchy-matchy in our white shirt/black gilet outfits. (Although his not really by choice, that's his uniform.) It's really, really cold inside the museum, so two layers is minimum for me, the gilet has proven a favourite so far.

Ha ha, one of us is looking slightly more happy than the other about having another 8-hour work day ahead..!

Take-away galore

One day two weeks ago there was a knock on the door and a whole team of handymen stood ready outside to all of a sudden, without notice, fix our "swollen" floor. About time really, our front door has been sticking forever, leaving us to rugby-tackle it to get in; and the kitchen floor has been like a rolling hill.
They got right onto it, and it didn't take many hours before we realized - we would be having take-away that night...

- and the following night... and many more...

Ha ha, what a sight to come home to! It felt like we were squatters in some abandoned house about to be demolished. We walked around with shoes on inside trying to keep out of the way, and there was that fine layer of dust covering everything, both downstairs and upstairs.

But eventually, new tiles were installed and the door could open properly again. I wouldn't say the floor is completely 100% level (...), but it's much better, and after a good afternoon family session - the house was also clean, and all our living space reclaimed again!

Now I hope there will be a while before the next early morning handyman invasion..!

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

More Expo2020 exploring

We wanted to return to the Expo2020 and explore some more pavilions together. I had saved some of the big ones to do with the family, so those were the main targets, but we also did a bunch of small ones along the way. I was actually surprised when I tallied the visits up at the end of the day - as we had managed to see more than 40 pavilions! Not many left to go now, and I've seen them all..!

So today we saw for example Eswatini, where f.e they produce glassware from 100% recycled glass sourced mainly from old drink bottles; and Laos:

Niger, who presented Neolithic rock art and Tuvalu, who called out to protect their islands against sinking:

Nauru, one of the smallest countries on earth made us giggle, as they had one of the biggest stamps for our passports!

In Croatia we got to learn about the Tesla super car:

Paraguay presented the strategic potential of water, in generating renewable energy; and in Jordan we worked together to create an atmospheric sound composition:

Then it was time for Japan! Japan is so popular, you can only visit this pavilion with a Smart Queue-pass; and they only release the time slots for booking, every morning at 9 am. Guess who were right on it that morning?! I got our four slots, so we were very excited!

The whole experience is a once-only experience, thanks to these devices that pick up what you are interested in, which parts of the exhibit you look at, move towards etc. The data that is collected during your experience creates an experience personalised just for you.
For example, we all got greeted with single stems of (different) flowers, as a sign of Japanese hospitality, mine was Hitorishizuka:

The whole experience in the Japanese pavilion lasted about 45 minutes. We got introduced to the story of Japan, looked back at it's history and culture but also looked forward and got to explore Japanese innovation. My absolute favourite part was theses miniatures (called mitate) created with every day objects.

The theme for their pavilion is 'Where ideas meet', so in this 360-degree room, the technology put together real-time generated graphic art - based on our individual experiences in the pavilion. S-u-p-e-r cool!

We also visited Sierra Leone, who presented lovely art, and Fiji, one of the happiest pavilions!

I enjoy the more handicraft and artsy pavilions the most, here Guatemala and Congo:

Cyprus, who showed a (replica of a) clay sculpture from the Middle Bronze Age; and South Africa, who had focus on their fashion of different kinds:

More art and sculpture in Burundi; and in Nigeria:

Bosnia and Herzegovina showed us a glimpse of their rich heritage; and so did Myanmar:

When we reached Vietnam it was time for lunch:

We had some yummy noodles, Vietnamese spring rolls and pho on their roof terrace, super delicious and just what we all felt like, mmm!

We learned about the history of Malawi by this wall; and that Ghana is a major producer of cocoa:

Armenia presented some historical finds, a tablet with cuneiform inscription amongst other things; and Guyana a colourful outfit:

Another favourite amongst the small pavilions was Tonga! We walked through both a forest with magical (motion sensor) flowers that bloomed when we came passed, and saw a bunch of sea creatures in the part that was designed to look like the Tonga coral reefs. So pretty!

Next up followed Tunisia, with a display of traditional dress; and Liberia, which showcased wooden sculptures:

I must admit, many of the small country pavilions sort of all merge together by now. I really do try to make an effort while visiting, to find what's unique in each and every one of the pavilions, but there are a lot of exotic animal sculptures, coffee- and cocoa presentations, masks and weapons on display.
Like in Solomon Islands, and Zimbabwe:

Another one of the "big" ones that we did, was United Kingdom. The pavilion design is fantastic, made by Es Devlin (who also designed 'The Seed'), and the theme of the pavilion is inspired by an idea from the late scientist Stephen Hawking, highlighting artificial intelligence.
We were invited to consider what message we would like to send out in space, as a planet, and each contribute one word to that message. Our words were then displayed both inside, and on the front of the pavilion; and we each received a personalised short poem, including our chosen word.

Honduras became another favourite, fabulously colourful interior; and I also enjoyed the artwork in the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines pavilion:

Eating at the Expo2020 has been a great experience so far. I've tried to make an effort to always eat in the country pavilions, to try and create a feeling of actually being there, traveling.
This time we had the famous Polish twisty ice cream as a snack, well needed after being so efficient; and right before going out to the parking, Linnea and I made a stop at the Danish pavilion for one last sugar kick. Probably the most expensive 'spandauer' I have ever had (45 DKK/65 SEK!), so I made sure I enjoyed every mouthful of it!