“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” Rainer Maria Rilke
New Year, new abode and new view on the world sums up my 2017 so far, hectic would be an understatement. We are finally back in the land of internet (I may have used my whole month’s data package already on my phone) so as I sit here still surrounded by boxes and without any curtains I can finally reflect back on 2016 and embrace the excitement of the year ahead.
Last year was yet another year of changes, our family of five was once again divided across the world as the teenager started her university adventure back in the UK, cue much lifting and shifting, Ikea visits and emotional goodbyes. While 2016 will go down in the history books as the year of Brexit and Donald Trump, I will remember it as the year blessed with more adventures that saw new countries and cities added to my travel journal as well as revisiting some favourite destinations.
The blog has continued to grow with lots of fabulous opportunities here in the UAE and some further afield that have included new hotel openings, staycations, reviews of fabulous new bars and restaurants and not forgetting new experiences at favourite haunts. Notable newcomers to the Abu Dhabi dining and nightlife scene in 2016 were Tamba and BU! both located at The Hub atop the World Trade Center Mall, who would have thought that a concept that you access via a mall would be so popular and successful. These rooftop stunners have shaken up the city’s entertainment choices, if you haven’t visited them make them both a priority for dinner and drinks this month. Don’t miss the capital’s best Indian inspired cuisine at Tamba, take it from me the vegetarian dishes and the The Break Up, which is hands down the capital’s best dessert, are worth the visit alone. Sip pre-dinner cocktails on the BU! terrace before sampling their South American fiesta for your tastebuds, the dulce de leche dessert is also a must try.
The opening of the new Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi will go down as the party of the year followed closely by the Tamba and BU! opening extravaganzas, I’m thrilled to have been part of them all. Another first was the Dine in the Dark experience at Circo and my most viewed post of the year featured Cryo and my first ever ice-cold facial treatment.
Travel wise we had ski trips to nearby Lebanon and then Italy which were both new countries for me. A real surprise was the beautiful Faraya just outside Beirut that was our first ski trip of the year followed by a visit to the stunning Champoluc in Italy that offered good skiing terrain, delicious food, coffees and loads of laughs. A mid-year trip to Thailand saw our first visit to Phuket, the idyllic Phi Phi islands and bustling Bangkok before a return trip to Koi Samui to attend the beach wedding of some good friends. I spent the summer months in Scotland, London, Liverpool and Brighton exploring my own country like a tourist and catching up with family and friends.
The transient expat life has never been more apparent than in 2016 as many more friends have left, either repatriating back to their home countries or started a new adventure elsewhere. Without doubt besides your children living in a different country probably the hardest part of this journey is saying goodbye to friends and readjusting to the ever changing day-to-day challenges that expat life throws at you. A very sad day was the departure of the other half’s much loved boat, this vessel gave us so much pleasure and many happy memories that we will never forget. While the bank account may be cheering we will miss cruising around Abu Dhabi’s waterways and mooring off secluded islands, the beach bbqs and the unadulterated fun that the boat brought to us, our family, friends and copious amounts of visitors.
My best bits of 2016…..
Beach Camping with friends
Ticking Italy off my must visit list
Trying my first Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) Class
Beach Wedding shenanigans in Thailand
Revisiting Edinburgh and my first visit to Liverpool
The teenager passing her A-levels and embarking on her degree
Abu Dhabi’s first ever restaurant month
Reuniting for a family Christmas in the sun
Looking forward to 2017…..
Explore more of the world – first stop this year is Sri Lanka at the end of this month followed by some exciting trips planned later in the year.
Explore more of the Middle East – start by travelling to the Emirates that I’m yet to visit. Slightly further afield Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are all on my radar too
Read more blogs – confession: I’m a blogger but I don’t read enough blogs, this year I intend to rectify this
Staycation at the Emirates Palace – been on my bucket list since 2009
Visit Zaya Nurai Island – so near but eluded me so far
Finish reading Shantaram – the fattest book I’ve ever tackled that’s taking me forever to complete
January is the month to set ridiculous goals, make promises to exercise more and eat healthier but I don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions so I don’t have to deal with the guilt and disappointment of breaking them thus saving myself the feeling of failure. This year I’m looking forward to more travelling, trying out more new restaurants, bars and beach clubs as well as focusing on continuously improving and evolving this blog. Thanks to everyone who has supported anexpatabroad to date, stay tuned for more fun this year but for now it’s back to unpacking boxes and rearranging furniture.
All the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2009 – 2017. All rights reserved.