Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in the Sand

"You're not going home for Christmas?" is a question I've been asked each year that I've chosen to stay here in Dubai. It's usually followed by an aghast face and horrified sharp intake of breath when I answer no.

Everyone from work colleagues to friends to taxi drivers - so all races and religions, assumes that heading home is as natural as trawling round M & S on Christmas Eve and fighting for a turkey. Err, no thanks!

I've never been one for a massively conventional Christmas. I left home when I was 18 and moved 400 miles away. And although I did make some trips home I frequently preferred to fly the family to me, or spend it with my urban family and friends, wherever that was at the time. And bless my family, they never pressured me to go back. If I did, we never had turkey. Lobster, crayfish, scallops, duck, beef wellington, but never turkey.

Since I moved to Dubai, the urge to return to the UK has been even more depleted. YOU KNOW I love the UK for all sorts of reasons, but Christmas isn't one of them. Yes, Manchester has the German markets, crisp days and snow - but none of that appeals to me when you compare it to sunshine and beach. And let's face it: crisp days are few and far between (more rain than anything else) and snow is a death-trap/plain annoying after the first day. I just don't do the cold!

So what was Christmas like this year? Well for starters I was surrounded by my gorgeous family (grandma included!) and wonderful friends. So far, so very good.

Christmas Eve started off in the nail bar (I'm so Dubai) with a good gossip with the girls who I've been seeing for almost two years. They were so excited by the chocolates I'd bought them I really wish I'd taken more. Bless them. I also dropped off chocs for my complex's security guards and concierge so it was a thoroughly festive start to the day.

Then it was off to Atlantis. I think I've blogged about Atlantis before, and it is just as loud and brash as everything that I'm sure you've already read about it, so I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say we had a great time dodging the nine million Russian tourists, oohing and ahhing at the aquarium, and nosying round the Lost Chambers. Treated Grandma to a v swish glittery Atlantis shopping bag which I'm sure she is now rocking around a branch of Jersey's co-op even as we speak.

Then onto Barasti - I've mentioned this beach bar before. It's the place that journos go to interview 'boozed up Brits' when writing their 'Death of Dubai' pieces. Can be hideous in the evenings but lovely in the daytime. We nabbed a table on the terrace overlooking the beach and marina and enjoyed some scran. We mused over what we'd be doing if we were in UK and agreed we'd rather be in the sunshine.

The fun didn't stop there....we then headed to 360 (a circular bar in the middle of the sea)to continue a tradition of Christmas Eve sundowners. As we watched Santa Claus water ski past (only in Dubai) as the sun set behind the Burj, it really did feel very special being in Dubai.

And if you're wondering if it really does feel Christmassy here - yes it does! There were decorations and trees everywhere, and everyone we met wished us a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Day was the gorgeous Ritz. There was 15 of us in the end, the Harvardes, the Morans, and lots of other lovely friends who fancied a spot of festive luxury. Can you see how the blue the sky is in the photo! The food, the staff, the atmosphere, the sunshine, the beach, and the company all combined to make one wonderful day.

So, THAT'S why I chose to stay in Dubai for Christmas. The only thing missing was my lovely friends from home. Next year people, you are most welcome to join me in the sunshine!

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