Comebacks and Second Chances

Would you like to know what is The Number One Question I get asked all the time? It is not “What’s this- water ?” (ok this was a crew joke and unless you’ve ever done a round of drinks you are not likely to understand it.) And strangely it is not “Where are you from?” (oh – how much has my life changed in just two years!). The one thing people always seem to want to know is how long am I “in it for and what’s next?”. How long am I gonna stay in Dubai and have I considered what I wanna do next? As if it is quite impossible to believe that I would want to stay in Dubai forever and fly until I can’t lift my cabin bag no more. 

Dubai is so conveniently located which is one of the reasons why the Airline I work for became so successful. It connects the East and the West, it makes travelling to and from Down Under so much more bearable and brings Asia to everybody’s doorstep. You can now take a flight that’s shorter than 6 hours from pretty much anywhere in Europe, spend a layover in the glorified Sandpit and travel on refreshed a couple of days later. Which is what everyone seems to be doing. The popular opinion is that none in Dubai is here for the long run. All of us expats have come for a more or less a layover that can sometimes last years – to have our fun, earn some tax-free cash, travel as much as we can whilst we have the rest of the world within our reach… and then eventually return back and start living the responsible life. Nobody moves to Dubai to establish themselves. Or do they? Having read back my latest post it occurred to me I could have left you feeling like I don’t particularly like living over here. Which would have been a very wrong impression. I love Dubai and my life here. I don’t love it all day every day. But I love it enough every day to consider it my home and staying here for as long as they would have me.  Not to mention the fact that -unlike many others- I don’t really have anywhere to go back to. See – I don’t do comebacks. When I left Czech all those years ago I always knew that was it. I was never to come back and live there. I do adore my country and I would proudly ramble on about its wonders to everyone who is or isn’t willing to listen. But it’s just not for me. Ever since I could remember I never saw myself actually spending my life in Czech – it was never even an option to consider. So I lived there for as long as I could take it or for as long as it was necessary to come up with a plan and then took off. I never looked back. I never doubted the decision to leave a respectable job in a respectable company where I was earning twice as much as anyone else my age that I knew (I was 22 then). My heart just wasn’t in it. My heart was in the hands of a guy I thought I loved then. So much I would have followed him anywhere in the world. Oh wait – I actually did that! Many years later this romantic affair has ended in a disaster but despite that or maybe just because of that I decided not to run back “home” and heal my wounds but to stay right where I was and make this new life work for me. And so somehow I found myself living in the UK and liking it. But me and the English don’t seem to agree with one another. My relationship with the country has followed the same pattern as the relationship with the guy – after being initially smitten with each other we started to see each other’s flaws in the everyday life’s light and slowly but surely we have come to a point where none of us could take it anymore. I was allergic to pretty much anything the country has laid my way and in return it seemed to have rejected me. I was ready to move on. The only issue was – I was much older than when I so carelessly thrown a great job opportunity away and followed my heart. I was worried. My life wasn’t going the direction I had wanted it to but I felt I was too scared to change it completely. And so I waited. And waited. And waited, For what I did not know. I think I was waiting for the brave 22 yo old girl to wake up in me and take charge of our live again. And as the time passed me by I started to realise that wasn’t going to happen. I was going to have to (wo)man up. And so I did and moved to the Middle East. When I told my family I didn’t get a single “Oh but..” not a single eyebrow was raised not even a little bit. They all knew just like myself that that’s the kinda person I am. The kinda person that takes “moving on” literally. And then up a notch. How was I feeling leaving the UK for Dubai? Relieved most of all. I have come to the end of the road and for all I knew I could never see myself coming back to live there. Because as I told you – I do not do comebacks. Ever. To anywhere. Or anyone.

And that’s where my job comes in. After more than 18 months of flying – it turns out not only do I do comebacks. I also give second chances. Who knew? I most certainly did not. August 2014 saw me give a lot of second chances. It had me coming back to many places I have visited and left behind before too. August 2014 has been one big learning curve, one big journey into the depth of my own self and mind you – it is still not over yet..

 

Exploring new places and flying to new destinations can be exciting… as much as it is tiring. Sometimes all I want from my roster is for it to be easy, short and familiar. And as Asian as possible. And my late summer roster has turned me into the Queen of Asia. Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong on top of Rome and Frankfurt. I could not have been happier or more familiar with any of them having visited all of these places at least 3 times before. Sometimes it is just so nice to know what to pack, where to go, what to eat and how to behave. It’s also nice to give another chance to a place I wasn’t too sure about. Like Singapore. It’s a great place no doubts about that. It’s just not the kinda place I thought I would ever want to visit again once I’ve seen it. Singapore is quite spectacular with its clean green and luscious streets, friendly people, big expensive cars and delicious food. It’s also a little too high maintenance for my liking. I feel like I should try hard and harder… like I can’t really let go and be myself in a place that has literally made it to the top of world’s capitols. I always feel a little lost when in Singapore. And as I was wondering and wandering in the SinCity I suddenly found the one spot I needed to calm my slightly agitated senses. I little beach bar on the Sentosa Island. A piece of heaven. A sanctuary. The Bikini Bar. Where they played good music, served mean frozen Margaritas and I could read my book undisturbed. And just like that Singapore and I became friends for life. Because as it turns out I don’t need that much to be friendly. Just a little time and space to be myself…

 

The Bikini Bar

                       The Bikini Bar

 

As for the other comebacks I have mentioned – well not much new has gone down in Bangkok and even less so in Shanghai. And I’m not about to bore you to death talking about my massages . I guess one very successful return I should tell you about was to the Friday Brunch at the Atlantis hotel – the crime scene of my mad birthday bash back in January which I have still not been able to blog about… Some stories should remain untold. There was no particular occasion to celebrate this time apart from Salma coming back to Dubai and with the pressure off we simply let go and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. And Saffron has not disappointed us.

Brunch in Jan

           Brunch in Jan

Brunch in Aug.. same same

Brunch in Aug.. same same

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OK- this post could go on for hours. Yes I indeed have so much on my chest about second chances and comebacks. But I’m gonna spare you this time since I also want to tell you about a few first times I have gone thru in the past month or so… Y’all just wait :)!

Lots of love 

G. 

Lost But Not Forgotten Vol II. -German F-Laying

So it’s official. I must be on the top of my Airline’s list of German speakers. At least one would think so by looking at my summer flying diary. Frankfurt. Zurich. Dusseldorf. Hamburg. And Frankfurt again… I know all of my German announcements backwards by now. As reserved and unimpressed as I was by frequent visits to Pretzel& Beerland to start with I have learned to really like them. I have started seeing them as my monthly grocery shopping trips. Honestly – living in the middle of a desert really teaches you to appreciate the beauty and taste of fresh produce and quality meat. Not to mention anything organic.

I don’t believe I have mentioned my first visit to Frankfurt yet – probably because there wasn’t much to talk about. The highlight of my layover there was (beside a 20-odd-hour sleep) making a friend behind the lobby bar in our crew hotel. I impressed him with my language skills and he impressed me with his knowledge of a good beer. And also with his cutting of my final bills to a ridiculous 10 %. We bid our farewells after an evening well spent chatting about life and love and I promised to look him up next time I was visiting. Little did I know that would happen in less than a month.

My second time around in FRA was much more exciting. Flight-wise, crew-wise, layover-wise. I was assigned a much better-timed flight which brought me to Germany fresh and ready to have some FUN. Yes- with a capital F and U and N. I happened to have flown with a few of the people in my crew before and knew them to NOT be the ones to skip on a party and even the rest has turned out to be just the right kind of people you wanna have around when you feel like a couple of bruskies. To my surprise my friend behind the lobby bar was working that night too! What a great reunion ! I decided on the spot to leave my sensible self locked in the heavy duty suitcase and let my party self loose. To cut a long story short – I ended up closing the bar that night. And boy what a night that was ! It wouldn’t be far from the truth saying that the only people flying to Dubai without a hangover the next day were the passengers.

Couple of weeks later I found myself Germany-bound once again. This time to Hamburg. I was just in the middle of my no-drinking no-junk-food-eating working-out-a-lot phase and Hamburg has turned out to be just the place! The hotel was situated right next to a beautiful lake surrounded by a park that just invites you for a run. And I never turn down an invitation this tempting. It was a brisk late summer morning and I and half of the Hamburg population decided to go jogging. Honestly I must have met about 200 people running my usual 5k. But I didn’t mind. The lake park (as I like to call it) was obviously designed with sport enthusiasts in mind. Or by one. Or both. It even had little workout stops where one could stretch and do work on the rock-hard (hahaha) abs:

Don't Twerk- Work out !

Don’t Twerk- Work out !
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Hamburg in general strikes me as a very health-concious place. They have massive stores with organic products, organic cafes on every corner and plenty of fair trade shops. I have enjoyed my time there so much that upon leaving I couldn’t remember for the hell of it – WHY exactly did I NOT want to come ? I’m definitely gonna try and go back – this time to have a proper browse in all the cool little boutiques I have only managed to see from the outside so far…

The Tale of Two Girls (and many Cities)

15 days, 4 countries, 3 airlines and many MANY many bottles of wine later and I’m finally back from my summer vacation.

There is so much – perhaps even too much- two young girls travelling around Europe can jampack into two weeks of holidays- but fortunately for you my dear readers I have just ordered a large soya cappuccino and have all the time in the world to describe everything Dolly and I got up to during our girly trip to Croatia. So why don’t just sit back, relax and enjoy the read ?:)

Chapter One – The Most Wonderful and Horrible Thing…

… that can happen to you when travelling stand-by is to miss or not get on the connecting flight you were hoping for. Like it did to us. We happily boarded the A380 bound for Munich and spent the few hours it takes to fly from Dubai to Europe watching films, drinking miniatures ( or as we liked to call it “sampling for future reference”) and chatting to our former batchmate who happened to be the operating crew on our flight.
We (still happily) disembarked and made our way to the check-in counter of our connection. And that’s when the fun started. I’m not gonna bother with the details and wonders of stand-by travelling. The important thing was that some 40-minutes later we found ourselves mentally exhausted and without a flight to board that day. The miniatures we haven’t managed to finish on board came in handy at that moment. We were stranded in Munich for 24-hours. It was horrible because thanks to the Octoberfest all the hotels were fully booked and there was no way we could find a last-minute accommodation. And it was wonderful because out of all places I’d have wanted to be stranded in Europe- Munich during the Octoberfest was the best of them all! We put our heads together and figured there was no harm in asking our batchmate if she would mind terribly letting us crash in her crew-hotel room for the night. Which she didn’t. The holiday had started right there and then. IMG_4253

Chapter Two – Octoberfest…

… is not your typical festival as you would imagine. I have always wanted to go. Just like everybody else I guess. I expected it to be crowded, chaotic and commercial. To my surprise it was none of the above. For such a massive event the whole place felt very intimate and so so soooOOO super friendly! It had everything – massive pretzels, foot-long sausages, roasted sugar coated almonds, music, drindls and leder hosen, amusement rides and THE BEER of course! And we tried all of it. If you ever considered going then DO IT ! It’s an unforgettable experience !IMG_4268 IMG_4279 IMG_4317 IMG_4327

Chapter Three – Dubrovnik …

… has very nearly taken over the Number One City spot in my heart that has been so far occupied by Prague. Well- when I say nearly I mean I still haven’t decided. It is a true germ – so stunning it makes you wanna weep. I scored a window seat on the way there and got the chance to enjoy the most beautiful approach and landing in my life (yes -and I have landed into Maledives before).

We checked into our approx. 100yo little stone-cottage B&B overlooking the Old City of Dubrovnik, downed a shot of something very strong offered to us by our friendly landlord and ventured out to savour the moment of our first Adriatic sunset. There is so much I would like to say about this amazing city starting by describing its white streets full of jewellery shops and ice-creams parlours and beautiful architecture and its morning markets with all kinds of fresh fruit and home-made products and the most fantastic wine bars on the city walls and all the painters and musicians on every corner and all the different smells from local restaurants  and… and… and are you still with me? We have fallen head over heels for this hidden paradise – so hard we decided to extend our stay from the originally planned two nights to full 5 days sacrificing the Venetian part of our trip. Yes- that’s how very awesome Dubrovnik is!

After having spent our first night gorging on seafood and wine we left Dubrovnik for a couple of days and returned for another overnight stay a few days later. This time around we have learned a lot about the history of the settlement and the importance it has had throughout the history of the Medditerranean trading. We have walked on the City walls and visited even more jewellery shops in preparation of making some very hefty purchases. And because we felt like that still wasn’t enough we returned yet another time right at the end of our tour of Croatia and stayed until we really HAD to go in order to return to work on time. But not before we treated ourself to some bling bling shopping and -you know it’s coming – yes even more wine!IMG_4403 IMG_4420

I will never get sick of taking pics of palms... never

I will never get sick of taking pics of palms… never

Morning fruit markets... fresh figs, dried figs, fig salamis, fig jams, fig liquers, fig brandy... but they also had some grapes...:)

Morning fruit markets… fresh figs, dried figs, fig salamis, fig jams, fig liquers, fig brandy… but they also had some grapes…:)

ahhhhhh...

ahhhhhh…

first evening in Dubrovnik - the City Of Stunning

first evening in Dubrovnik – the City Of Stunning

The view from our room

The view from our room

Dubrovnik from above ..and my Croatian ring

Dubrovnik from above ..and my Croatian ring

Just chillin' on the last day of our epic trip

Just chillin’ on the last day of our epic trip

One of many mouth watering dinners we have treated ourself to.. this one featured a lobster...

One of many mouth watering dinners we have treated ourself to.. this one featured a lobster…

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Croatia has it all... sun, wine, seafood, silver... rain

Croatia has it all… sun, wine, seafood, silver… rain

The City Walls and the two of us

The City Walls and the two of us

Ahhhhh

Ahhhhh

Having a glass of vino and watching the sunset on the City Walls.. my life is complete now

Having a glass of vino and watching the sunset on the City Walls.. my life is complete now

another day another breath taking sunset

another day another breath taking sunset

yes... it's happening

yes… it’s happening

and another one

and another one