I went to ACS today to see if I could schedule Isabella's assesment test. Unfortunately, everyone has left for the summer and won't be back until mid August. I will keep checking back to see when the test can be scheduled.
On another note. Start thinking about the gym options. While ADHFC is nice it seems to be the most expensive and kids activities are extra. For a family membership we are looking at about $380 a month and that does not include creche and/or kids activities.
The Armed Forces club, http://www.afoc.mil.ae/afoc/about.htm , is nice and 5 minutes away. The prices are reasonable and they seem to have a good play area and swimming pools for the kids. I dont know about creche services but I will check. The other option is if you work out before I leave to work or after I come home then we wouldn't need the creche.
The Tourist club would be about a thrity minute drive as it is down by the corniche and there is construction going on in that area.
Some other things to prepare you when you get here:
While I know you have heard horror stories about the driving it really is not that bad. Of course there are a good share of idiots on the road but no more than any other city in the states. If you stay out of the left lane except for passing you should be fine. I'll give you a few more pointers when you arrive.
Pedestrians don't always use the walkways and will cross a four lane highway at anywhere they see fit. Just be aware when in parking lots, whether driving or walking, to pay attention.
If you go out to eat an order diet coke just beware they will bring a can with a glass of ice. No free refills. If you order water, ask for cold mineral and they will bring bottled water. I guess you could get it warm if you wanted to. When you are done eating they won't bring the bill until you ask for it. Service for the most part is really good.
It will be a deifinite culture shock at first. I think the biggest will be how peopel look and dress. While you find people dressed in more westeern clothing at the malls for the most part you will see alot of locals dressed in dishdans and abayas. Especially at the local Carrefours. Which brings me to grocery shopping. Once the new mall opens I think we will probably do most of our shopping there but in the meantime you can pretty much find anything you need at Carrefours or another LuLu's. If you want pork products then you can venture out to Spinney's.
Shopping. Like I said before the malls are nice and you can find everything you need. Just beware that some of the coffee shops in the mall or anywhere for that matter still allow smoking. Strarbucks is smoke free as are the malls but you do see more smokers out here than back home. Most restaraunts are smoke free. I have not had any problems but just want to give you a heads up.
Gas is less than $2 a gallon. There are ADNOC stations all throughout the city. They are all full service, you just want to hit them at the right times since I have seen long lines and no lines depending on the time of day.
You will have 24 hour access to the embassy once we get you a badge. There is a no fee ATM as well as a section with books, movies, and magazines for the taking. The mail facility is also inside the embassy and operates 9-5, Sun-Thur. Of course I will probaly check the mail most of the time since I have to walk right by it. The health facility is also located at the embassy. They have two nurses and a PA on full time and an MD that rotates between embassies in the region. The PA can write presrciptions if you need anything.
Like I said, it will be a shock at first but once you get settled I think you will relaize its not that bad. The weather can get hot during the day but there are many things to do from swimming, bowling, ice skating, to Chuck Cheese like stores in the mall with rides and games. Once the winter months come and the weather cools down there are tons of parks for the kids.
The money is pretty easy to understand. They have 500, 200, 100, 50 , 20, 10 and 5 dirham bills. And 1 dirham coins. They have smaller coins but most places round up or down. There is no tax so the price you see is the price you pay unless you are at hotels which add a service charge.
If there is ever the need to take a taxi they are clean and cheap. You could also take a female only taxi if you wanted.
When you get here I will take the rest of that week off and show you around to all the important places and get you comfortable driving.
Thats all I can think of for now.
Cant wait for you to arrive!
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