Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jen Does Doha!

After giving Jen the Dubai tour we were back to reality in Doha.  Obviously the usual school routine and Junod household carried on as usual but we added some fun stuff all week long since we had a visitor. 

Monday we picked Barrett up from school, met Nick for lunch and introduced Jen to our favorite Middle Eastern (lebanese) restaurant.  She didn't hesitate and loved it!  At a girl! 
Georgia adored Jen!
Later that afternoon we attempted to drive down to the Corniche to catch the sunset but totally got stuck in traffic so we stayed closer to home and enjoyed a little scooter time at Aspire park. 
Of course we do live in Doha and the park was closed for no apparent reason. Georgia wasn't happy about it. 
Tuesday morning we hit Hong Kong Beauty Center for a Chinese massage.  Not super swanky and lets just say the spa atmosphere is lacking...but we got some great massages! 
Next up was (hole in the wall) Thai Snack for lunch, one of my favorite restaurants in Doha. The most delicious pad thai, fried shrimp, spring rolls, etc.
  Once again, it was Jen's first Thai experience and it was successful. 
Tuesday afternoon we left the little people at home and enjoyed afternoon Tea at the Ritz.  If you think that's a normal activity for me, YOU ARE CRAZY.  The English influence of tea is serious in Doha!  They don't mess around so why not join in!  
My dear friend Dede Jackson joined us because Dede and Jen's mom are friends from Dallas.  Jen and Dede have always known of each other but had never actually met until Doha.  After tea we popped by to see Dede's beautiful apartment on the Pearl with a stunning view!
My mom has always said that when someone loves your kids they love you too.  Isn't it the truth!  Aunt Jen was so playful and thoughtful of my babies.  And she didn't have to be!  She's was on a mommy break!  But she just jumped right in to the Junod house and everyone loved her for it. 
Wednesday morning we did some shopping and hit the Souqs.  
Recently they added camels to the Souq area for a little ambiance, I guess.  Don't mind the usual Doha construction.
And Wednesday night Lindsay and hosted a jewelry party for Jen to sell some Stella and Dot.  We totally had to talk her into doing it.  And now she understands how desperate American expats can be for a little something from home.  We had a lot of fun, plus I got to wear her jewelry all week long!   Jen got to meet some of our sweet friends and she easily sold some jewelry! 
The day had arrived...Jen's only ride a camel!  We took a little drive, enjoyed the desert scenery and got that girl on a camel! 
oops...i forgot to tell her to hold on when the camel gets up.
Georgia and Jen riding a camel for the first time 
Thursday night we all enjoyed dinner at the Pearl
eye candy pix for Jen's hubs, Mark
Friday was departure day.
We spend the day just hanging out together.  We went out for lunch and then back home to lay by the pool for the afternoon.   Dinner at the Harris's and then sweet Jen took off for her long journey home at 10:00pm.
I am so thankful for not just Jen's trip to Doha but our time together and how refreshing it was!  We haven't spend that amount of quality time together in a very long time.  Our circumstances may keep us from seeing each other but I think they've tied us together in a special way that we could have never had otherwise. 
Thank you Jen for every bit of sacrifice and effort it took to come see this place we call home.  You blessed me in ways I didn't know I needed!  The timing of your visit and your specific friendship was divine.  I will always treasure the memories we shared together out here in the sand.  Who in the world would have ever guessed it??  I love you precious friend! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jen Comes to the DESERT

Sixteen years ago a mutual friend set Jen and I up to be freshman roommates at Baylor.   For 16 years we have been growing up as teenagers, college students, singles, friends, daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and displaced Texans. By now its really obvious that I miss my people back home A LOT!  Jen is one of them and I don't always get to see her on visits back to the States because she now lives in California.  She's always been such a faithful friend to keep up with our Doha life and details of living away from home.  She has a God given gift of sensitivity and thoughtfulness but she also has a deep understanding of what it means to pack up and move your life to some place totally different.  She and Mark moved from Dallas to California 6 years ago to own and manage Arista winery.  I think I could get used to the winery business pretty easily but when you're away from Texas life's just not the same.  We've definitely shared some similar challenges since moving away from home. 

The most accurate word to describe how I feel about having visitors is humbled. Jen flew from CA to Doha with 3 layovers plus a 2 hour drive from home.  Seriously...that's 30 hours of travel.  Not to mention she left her 2 precious boys and supportive husband for 10 days! = Happy and so thankful Wendi!
We threw Jen right into the mix by spending a little quality time at Villagio Mall on Friday night.  Lets just say its incredible people watching and also INSANE.  We don't go to the mall on the weekends in Doha, unless a visitor needs the experience!
And we completely refused to let jet-lag effect any plans, so we threw Jen on another plane and headed for Dubai.  Lindsay, Jen and I were Pi Phis at BU so it was little girls weekend reunion getaway!
First stop...PF CHANGS! Thank you very much.  
We ordered way too much food, we were so excited!
These two are so Dubai!
After shopping we headed back to our hotel for a little poolside sun and one of the best cupcakes I've ever put in my mouth.  Reece's cupcake by Lindsay Harris! 
View from the pool of the tallest building in the world, Burj Kahlifa
Couldn't get the whole thing in my camera. 
Cleaned up ready for the night out.  Hot mama...careful with those heels!
We had sunset reservations at the AT.MOSPHERE Bar. Incredible view from the 123 floor. 
Looking down at Dubai mall and the fountains. 
After enjoying the view we headed over to Zuma (DIFC) for sushi.
We let Jen visit with the wine specialist...obviously they're both experts!
They were tired of me taking pictures.  
This was Jen's first experience with sushi. She was excited and so were we...
Too bad dinner was a flop.  Zuma had great reviews but we weren't impressed.  After dinner the waitress mentioned that she wouldn't have suggested what we ordered...pictured below.  huh?  thanks a lot! Zuma was super swanky so we had great atmosphere and wine.
The next morning we slept as late as possible and headed over to Emirates mall to catch a few runs!   Look who was at the slopes.  Cuties! 
The decision to ski was very last minute and absolutely a blast.   We skied in the middle of the desert, inside a stinkin' mall.  Who does that!?
There's basically one lift and 2 runs.   They provide everything but hats and gloves.  Somewhere between paying and skiing we decided we were fine without them.  That makes tons of since since its like below is real snow.  Not sure why were so cocky about the cold. 
We survived with freezing fingers and had the best time.  We all ski on the same level which worked out perfect. 
We were in and out of there in about an hour.  I love that Jen skied accessorized!  We stripped our boots, pants and coats and popped right back into the mall.  
Here you can see the big silver bullet ski slope jutting out of the mall. 
Next up...Dubai Mall tour
The Aquarium
Every time I see these butterflies I'm fascinated.  
We're not in Kansas anymore, people!  POTTERY BARN, for cryin' out loud!  
Lindsay and I loved the Arabic monogram at PBK.  Georgia doesn't have a chair...she could always have a souvenir from our middle east experience.  Probably not. 
 After lots of lusting after American stores and things we headed to Baja Fresh to pick up some queso and DPs.  Then made a run for Texas Road house with our queso.
We just kept going and ordered the best fried pickles I've ever tasted.  You would think we starve in Doha.  Our entire weekend was planned around eating.  Can we say indulgence! Not only did we bask in the food, we enjoyed dining with 100% country music.  I seriously felt like I was in a dream. 
Little line dancing to make us feel at home.
iphone shot of the burj...still couldn't get the whole thing in the frame. 
shot of our hotel, The Rotana.
We grabbed our bags and made our last stop at Madinat Jumeirah, my favorite Dubai spot.
We turned our heads during this photo shoot to keep from cracking up.  Gotta get a sweet shot in front of the Burj Hotel, most expensive hotel in the world.  
We're so boring.  
One last Dubai sunset before flying back to Doha. 
Awesome memories that we wouldn't have dreamed of 10 years ago!  
We had such a great visit and enjoyed the break from Doha and kiddos. 
Thanks to friends, husbands and babysitters everyone survived just fine.  While I do think Dubai is dreamy, I still prefer Doha.  I like the simple, less dramatic and less liberal place we currently call home.