Friday, November 28, 2008

Gobble Gobble!

I haven't been home for Thanksgiving very much since graduating from Wake. As any American knows, travel over the Thanksgiving holiday is a nightmare, so while living in DC, Kara and I would have our own Turkey Day celebration and then in Copenhagen we would scrounge around trying to find proper ingredients. So, it was fantastic to start out my "relocation" to the USA with Thanksgiving at the Lake.
After breakfast, Kel and I went on a run to enjoy the gorgeous day. Later we went for a walk with Mom.
Then it was time to shoot the Parker 2008 Christmas card!
And finally, the main event! Everything was fantastic and we of course all ate too much!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Answered Prayers

Before I left for Copenhagen, I prayed that God would use that time to deepen my faith and show me His glory in new ways. In typical "God fashion' He did this in powerful ways that I could have never even dreamt of.

He put me in some trying situations at work that broke down my dependance on myself and showed me that every success is a gift from Him. Yet, He also put me in work situations that let me shine using the talents He has given me.

He gave me a church home filled wth believers of more nationalities than I can count, each of whom has shown me a new dimension of faith in and worship of God.

He enabled me to pursue one of my true passions - travel. I saw so many facets of His hand over creation. The beauty and diversity I have seen is truely breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

He has shown me His character of steadfast love and provision and "proven" to me that letting Him direct my path reaps far greater benefit than anything I could ever come up with.

He has surrounded me with compassionate and supportive people - some of whom share my faith and some of whom do not, but all have enriched my life deeply.

So now, as I prepare to leave this windy city for the Windy City of Chicago and start a new chapter of my life, I can think of no better way to begin than by repeating that same prayer that God will strengthen my faith and show me His glory...and extend that prayer to all of you as well.

Last Day in Copenhagen

I cannot believe that it is already my last day in Copenhagen. It was a packed but very fun day...
1. My last morning training class at Charlottehaven...Brian of course made it a workout I will not soon forget...ouch!

2. The movers were to come at 8...but when I got back to my apartment at 7:30 some movers had just arrived, so I introduced myself. We had gotten all the way up to my apartment and I had explained what needed to go, when we discovered that they were actually moving Maggie, my neighbor who also works for Maersk, one floor below! My movers showed up about 30min later and were amazingly done in less than 4hr.

3. Then I headed, by foot since I packed my bike, to meet my LEAP team for lunch. Thanks for the great Dansk design voltives and Pilgrim neckalce!! wink wink ; )

4. After taking care of some administrative things I needed to do, I headed to the Lakes for a coffee. It had just started to snow, but I sat outside under the heat lamp with a blanket...along with all the babies!5. Then I stopped by the Skeltons to say goodbye to some fantastic friends!

6. Lastly it was over to Cecilia & Gutavos where I am spending the night. They were the proud recipients of lots of my "leftovers" it was almost like Christmas. ...tomorrow it is lunch with Katie and then off to the Windy City!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hej Hej Kobenhaven

On Friday I had my going away party at Cafe Sommersko. Thanks to all of you who came, it was GREAT to see you...hope to see you soon in Chicago, Copenhagen, or anywhere else!

Xioayen....Thanks for the Dansk design gift CENSALBPO!!
Lawrence and Alister...Kati, Mattias, and Niels...
Asa, Katie, and Jason...
...and then my camera died... :(

Big Boy!

I went to visit my main man Bo Skelton the other day. I haven't seen him in about a month and now he is 4months old...crazy how time flies!No question about it...he is not the milkman's baby!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jumeirah Jane for a Day!

For my last day in Dubai I decided to pamper myself...not that I hadn't be doing this already throughout the trip...but I decided to go out in "Jumeirah Jane" style. Jumeirah Jane is the nickname given to women who spend their days at the spa, pool, beach, shopping, etc.

After seeing Virginie and Cesar off to work, I headed down for breakfast for the "taxing" day ahead...omelette with fresh herbs, latte, and a banana-honey shake while reading the paper outside. Then I went to the gym and worked out for an hour, followed by a quick steam room, and 45min at the pool. From there I went to Vanilla, the spa in Virginie's building, and got a manicure and pediure. And then it was next door to the Fairmont Willow Stream Spa. I got a 2.5hr "Time Out" treatment -
A cleansing and rejuvenating experience, Elements in Harmony draws from restorative powers of fire (self-heating mud), earth (spa peeling massage cream), air (relaxing serum) and water. After a gentle stretching and pressure point massage, the body is brushed using loofah to stimulate blood circulation and to remove dull surface skin cells. An application of marine self-heating mud along the spine and feet, enable a deep detoxification and relaxation of stressed areas, followed by a therapeutic body and scalp massage. A reviving eye mask will bring radiance and freshness and reduce the appearance of fine lines, dark circles and puffiness. Cleansing, toning, and exfoliation of the face, including a facial massage will complete the experience.
It was fantastic! Afterwards I relaxed in the relaxation room for a while before getting a light lunch at the hotel.

Then it was back to the Madinat Jumeirah (where I had been taken my second night in Dubai).
I sat on the terrace of Bahri Bar and had a coffee as the sunset. Then took the abra over to another part of the hotel to meet Virginie for our haircuts.Looking good post haircuts!
We met Cesar after his Arabic class for dinner at Centimeter, a fabulous outdoor restaurant at the Madinat Jumeriah.
A completely unposed pic...
Lastly we went to Qd's at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club for sheisha. TUSIND TAK Virginie, Cesar, & Josh for an amazing trip to Dubai, I hope to be back soon! 6

On Tuesday I started the day at the Jumeirah Grand Mosque for their "Open Doors, Open Minds...Creating Ambassadors of Peace" tour. It was excellent and I highly reccomend it. I was very surprised to see how similar Islam and Christianity are. Islam religion is extremely tolerant and peaceful with other religions, some of the more interesting things I learned:
- Once a Mosque, Church, or Synagogue has been built it is considered a House of God and cannot ever be moved or torn down, no matter what development is taking place around it.

- When Muslims say the name Muhammad the follow it with "peace be upon him" - they do the same when they say Jesus or any of the Prophets.

- They believe in much of the Bible (i.e. Adam and Eve) but they believe Jesus was prophet, not the Son of God.

- The 5 pilars of Islam are:

1. Profession of Faith (there is one God and Muhammad was His prophet

2. Ritual Prayer (they pray 5 times a day, we were explained what they are saying and what the different movements mean)

3. Alms giving (2.5% of their earnings are given to those in need)

4. Fasting during Ramadan

5. Pilgramage to Mecca once in their lives

The women in this region typically wear black simply because they can use really thin black cloth and it will still be opaque wheras if they wore white they would still need to cover up with more cloths underneath. Women do not have to wear the "coats" or burkahs, except in the mosques, it is purely an individual choice. Some women in the Emirates region wear mask type things, this historically was done both a form of "sunglasses" in the desert and they also put a special clay underneath that gives them a daily facial.
I absolutely loved the Mosque tour, it was incredibly intestesting and helped clear up a lot of the misunderstandings I had. Please visit the Center for Cultural Understanding for more information, it is really well done.To get around the Dubai Creek area you take Abras...each ride is 1dirham (aobut 30cents) and they function essentially like a metro system...though a little more chaotic!
Souqs are market places, there a special souqs for different goods. First I went to the Textile Souq...The Gold Souq...
The Spice favorite, all the great smells and spices of every color.
About a month ago I went to a lecture by our Legal group regarding the US Export laws and learned that basicaly the US and "US persons" (if a Dane is in the USA, he is a US Person) can have zero interaction with Iran. Hope that Josh and I aren't breaking any laws...
Despite the fact that we had ordered the platter for 3 instead of 4, Cesar was still a little nervous about the quantity of food...
After dinner we went for a long walk on the beach and checked out the ever-growing skyline of Dubai. 5

I woke up shortly after Josh left for work and headed to the beach (only 10min from Josh's apt) for a wonderful run. Then, after a quick shower and a stop at Starbucks, I was back on the beach. While swimming I thought I saw fish jumping a little bit off shore, so I swam out to where a surfer was sitting on his board watching the show. It turned out to be two wild dolphins playing...SO COOL! We were about 50feet from them and were sad when they finally got bored with us and headed off.
After a very relaxing day at the beach, I met Virginie at the Grosvenor House for a drink. We were headed to Buddha Bar, but it did not open until 8, so first we had blueberry martinis on the terrace. Then it was off for a great lemon mint and apple cocktail (or "mocktail" as they call them) at Buddha Bar - you need to look at the website for this place, amazing!
Then we went to the Dubai Marine for a great Thai dinner on the patio. Another fantastic day in Dubai!

One & Only Royal Mirage

I decided that it was definitely a must to spend 1 night in a posh Dubai hotel and my friend Amy from WFU works for the company that does the financing for Atlantis and One & Only Resorts. Amy got me a great deal on a room at the One & Only Royal Mirage's Arabian Court. Cesar dropped me off once we got back from Oman and it was time to slip into the lap of luxury.
After working out and running on the beach, I headed to an amazing breakfast buffet. View from my breakfast table...
Then it was off to the pool to relax and also take a water aerobics class. The other guests, mostly Aussies and Russians were super nice and friendly and there were lots of adorable little kids with dads doting on them - so cute!
I also went over to the pool at the Palace, the other hotel in the Royal Mirage.
Then it was off to the Oriental Hammam that Amy insisted was a MUST do...and she was right! Read more about it on the website, but the short version is "Resting, fully relaxed, on a heated marble slab, an expert masseur attends to every need of the body, rejuvenating the skin and invigorating tired muscles" - the pic below is from right after, do I look like I have new skin?Then it was back to the beach for a late lunch...I arranged a super late check out and did not leave until 4:30! From there I went over to Josh's in the Dubai Marina...we watched Step Brothers and then met another friend for dinner at a great Moroccan place called Momo' tea I have EVER had!


We awoke to a beautiful day in Oman and were able to see the amazing fjords all around us. A little different than Norway's fjords, but gorgeous nonetheless. We were in the city of Khasab in the govenorate of Musandam which is sepated from the rest of Oman and is a penninsula at the top of the UAE. Instead of going on one of the many tourist boats, Cesar got some fisherman to take us on a private tour of the fjords.
We stopped at Telegraph Island, which the British set up as a telegraph relay point in the late 1800s to relay messages from England to Kuwait. We got out and explored...and then went snorkling, which was really cool for about 10min...lots of goregous fish. Then I looked to my right and the water was all brown and opaque. We all started quickly swimming back to shore as the Red Tide engulfed us. Apparently, this happens once a year..."how lucky" that we were able to witness it.Then we toured a very well preserved and extremely informative fort that was perserved from the Portuguese occupation of Oman.Lastly, we went off roading and up to Cesar's favorite overlook in Khasab.On the way back, Gina drove and I sat in the front seat which is VERY odd for Omanie tradition when there were two "able-bodied" men (that is debatable!) in the back seat. So we got a lot of stares!