From Qatar to Egypt – Highlights of 2017

If someone had told me in December 2016 the following year we’d be living in a new country, with new jobs I don’t think I’d have quite believed them. At that point we weren’t sure if we were leaving Qatar and Egypt wasn’t even on our radar. So, here we are December 2017 and I’m writing this sat in my little garden in New Cairo, proof that you should always expect the unexpected……Looking back 2017 has been a funny, challenging, exciting, crazy year. If you ever want any tips on how you should relocate to a new country feel free to DM me but I’ll give you some tips.

  1. Try not to move to a country which has cut diplomatic ties with the country you’re moving from. It means you, your husband, your dog and your shipping can’t get there directly!
  2. Try to avoid moving during Eid (especially when moving from and to a Muslim country).
  3. Make sure the Air B n B you’re going to stay in when you arrive actually exists.
  4. Don’t put your dog on a flight with a connecting flight – you may panic when you’re told he missed his flight in Jordan.
  5. Don’t cry in the car of an estate agent you’ve only just met.
  6. Don’t let your dog meet the ‘friendly’ cat which repeatedly will attack him until he’s so scratched you have to put him in a T-shirt as you still haven’t found a vet.

Now the dust has settled and I can just about laugh at how stressful the move was, here are 2017’s highlights.

Once we knew we were leaving Qatar we decided to spend the Easter holidays there completing our bucket list. One of our most memorable parts of the holiday was our stay at Regency Sealine Camp about 1hr south of Doha. A luxury camp right on the seashore we loved how relaxing it was, the tents were incredibly comfortable and the sea was wonderfully clear. If you read my post you’ll know our last morning was a bit of a let down, but I would have loved to go back and stay there again. I definitely recommend a visit here, it’s family friendly too.

The second hotel stay to mention was my solo staycation at the Kempinski Royal Maxim Palace, New Cairo. I’d had a tough couple of weeks and my stay here gave me some much-needed ‘me time’. I loved the sleek design of my room and the huge pool, plus it does a great staycation rate. I recently went back for a massage and made use of the indoor spa facilities which were very good.

One thing I miss desperately about Doha is having so many bars, restaurants and cafes on our doorstep. Cairo has been better for our waistlines and wallets, but I have found it hard to find consistently good places. I miss having the Marriott Marquis literally over the road for breakfast at Quickbites and sliders at Champions. On reflection, one of my most memorable meals of 2017 was at New York Steakhouse’s during their ‘chocolate menu experience’ with this venison dish. Their Ramadan tent was fabulous too.

In Cairo I’m so happy to have found Kazoku. Offering modern Asian food we’ve been several times on a Friday afternoon and never been disappointed with the service or the food. If you haven’t been you’re definitely missing out!

We also found Casper & Gambini’s is consistent and offers a wide-ranging menu. We often pop into the one at Cairo Festival City for brunch.

Pub wise we like to go to the Tap East in New Cairo for food and drinks. I think we’ll make more of an effort to go and listen to some live music here next year.

My New Year resolution for 2017 was to get more exercise and I started by walking 10,000 steps every day. This was mostly done walking along the corniche every afternoon with my headphones in listening to podcasts. I love being by the water and every day I noticed something different and enjoyed watching the weather and landscape change. Since moving to Cairo I’ve joined Fibers Gym but some of the classes have been a bit disappointing, hopefully they’ll improve in 2018.

I have loved having a garden and seeing Dyson playing on the green spaces that we have where we live, it’s so pretty. He’s such a good dog and manages so well moving from country to country. After saying goodbye to his Doha dog friends he’s made a new friend, our neighbors dog Zoe!

One thing I will never forget was the first time we saw the pyramids. A couple of weeks after moving we were driving around on a mission and trying to work out which direction the pyramids were in. We thought they were miles away but, literally seconds after discussing it, we drove up a flyover and, as we turned a corner, they were there in front of us. I nearly crashed! On our official tour there recently we were blown away by how big the pyramids actually are and the skill and ingenuity that went into building them. I think what I love even more is that there are still so many unknowns and so much still to be discovered.

I enjoy being by the water and one evening I went on a boat trip along the Nile. It was so special sailing along, listening to the call to prayer, watching the sunset and the realization I live in Cairo! It’s a lovely way to spend an evening.

It’s strange looking back at 2017, it feels like we’ve lived two separate lives this year – the familiarity of Qatar and the brand new experiences of Egypt. For us 2018 is going to be an exciting year. I turn the big 40, we have an epic summer trip planned and we are looking forward to exploring more of Egypt and Africa. Thank you to everyone who had read my blog, followed me on social media, messaged me with advice and tips – it really is appreciated. I wish you all a wonderful holiday with family and family and friends.

See you in 2018!

My Doha, Bloggers Link Up

My Dream, My Doha

Doha for me is where my dream to live overseas turned into a reality. I have always believed I was born to live in warm country and from a young age been drawn to the Middle East. I started to visit Dubai and Qatar about 12 years ago when my friend worked for the Ritz and I loved it. For many reasons my plans to teach abroad never came to fruition but all that changed in February 2014 on a dark, wet, miserable, gloomy Tuesday. After a tough day at work I said to my equally fed up husband ‘let’s apply for jobs overseas’. He looked at me like I was crazy (Greg will admit he isn’t very adventurous) and I thought no more of it until a few days later when he told me he’d written a CV and filled in application forms for Qatar, Dubai and Spain. I was gob smacked but over the moon. Fast forward 3 months and we had both resigned from our jobs in the UK and secured jobs in Doha, two months after that we had sold our house and we were on a plane. It was like a whirlwind but I was so excited and even though Greg was pretty terrified we knew it was the best thing for us both.

 

Leaving our Sheffield home

 

Packing the essentials!

 

Barely room for poor Dyson

 

My main memory is of landing and being driven along the Corniche and pointing out things to Greg I remembered from previous visits, being in awe at how much development had taken place. I also remember  waking up the next morning and looking out of our apartment window to the view of West Bay, the view we had looked at so many times online was now on our door step. Goose bump time!

The view from our gym

 

The view from our lounge

Life here is good;  very good. I think Doha is a bit of a marmite place but we feel very settled. We are both happy in our jobs, we have a fantastic home, we get to travel regularly and on  weekends we get to go to the desert, the mangroves, eat at 5* hotels, grab a 6QR shawarma, go to the Souk,  watch world class tennis, laze by the pool……the list goes on.

 

The Inland Sea

 

Quad biking at Sealine

 

MIA Park

 

Al Thakira

 

My Blog, My Doha

Doha is also where I developed my confidence enough to start a blog. I have always loved food ( I am by nature very greedy) and in the UK we ate out quite a bit but nothing on the scale as we do here. I often found myself recommending places to eat and following other bloggers such as Pinay Flying High, Life on the Wedge, Quest and Mark, Follow your Sunshine, Lemon and Mint and Boulangerry among others, but never felt I knew enough to write my own.

My site

However, with technical support and encouragement from Greg, in May 2015 I got my site up and running, ventured into the (sometimes scary) world of social media and started to write about places we ate. I am keen to highlight that I am not a food critic, I cannot suggest that a dish would be improved by the addition of some rare spice or an extra dash of truffle oil, I am not always able pick out flavours – but I do love reading the reviews of people who can. For me it’s about the whole experience. Was it easy to get a reservation? How comfy were the chairs? What was the ambiance like? Was the food well presented / cooked/ flavoured? Was the service good? How much did it cost? And, more importantly,  would I go back / recommend it to others? My reviews all follow this theme. I also write my blog so I remember where I have eaten, a record of our foodie exploits! I was a bit embarrassed the first time I clicked the ‘publish’ button. Was my English terrible? …….had I repeated myself? …..would a friend ( or even worse an English teacher colleague) read it and think it was rubbish?……to be honest those doubts are still there at times but many people tell me they like my reviews as I write like I speak and it’s just me!

Melia Brunch

 

Choices at the Oryx Rotana

We have lived in Doha for 18 months now and have no plans to move on just yet. If and when we do move to pastures new Doha will always be special to me as the place where I realised my dreams and lived a fantastic life with Greg. My main issue is if I do move on what will happen to Doha Dinners, something I didn’t consider when I chose the name!

Thanks for reading!