July 2017
  • Day2

    A week with family and friends

    July 8, 2017 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ 🌙 35 °C

    After leaving Singapore we arrived in Dubai where we were greeted by Sammy's uncle Ziad and met his uncle Issam from Italy who also arrived that day for a visit.. We drove to Al Ain to meet the rest of the family and stayed at Uncle Ziad and tante Hadia's home in the for above Sammy's grandma's apartment. It was the end of Ramadan: Eid al fatr and just like Christmas, it is a time of great celebration with family and wonderful food. Almost all of Sammy's cousins were there and e had a great time. Everyone was obsessed with Alex and because we were with family we almost didn't mind that it was 50 deg C° outside (literally a dry heat sauna).
    We also got to spend some time with some of Sammy's high school friends which are great: Shadi, Ahmad and Tarek. Over all it was a great trip and we enjoyed every minute of our 8 days there.
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  • Day1

    Paris and Fontainebleau Graduation

    July 7, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    After a pretty smooth flight, we arrived in Paris from Abu Dhabi. It had been a long night/morning as we left Sammy's grandma's house at 3:30 am and arrived in Paris 11 hours later. We managed to get to where we were staying: a simple, inexpensive but quite spacious and clean apartment in the 13th district. So we wouldn't miss what had been our home too much, it was surrounded by Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restIaurants (ahh the nostalgia... Sniff sniff). After resting for a bit, we went to an amazing French steakhouse and met two of my old college friends from my time in Canada: Camille and Julie. It's funny, the last time I stayed in Paris almost 12 years ago I had come to visit them both and now I got to see them both again! (Again with the nostalgia... LOL)
    It was wonderful catching up and enjoying amazing wine, food and company.
    The next day we set off to enjoy the streets of Paris. Walking really is the best way to get to know the city, and walking we did.
    After an hour's worth of walking we had lunch at a very nice crepe place and then got to Luxembourg gardens. The place is beautiful and it is a great place for kids. Alex had a blast running around and trying the different rides in the massive playground. Afterwards we had fun just vegging out on the lawn and enjoying the beautiful summer day. We then walked to the Eiffel tower where we stopped again on the surrounding grounds to take in the view and then stopped at a Lebanese restaurant on Champes Elisee where Alex had a bite and we charged our phones, (food wasn't too bad either). Finally we walked to the Tulleries Gardens and the Louvre before ending up in a quaint restaurant close to Notre Dame.
    It was a jam packed day that we thoroughly enjoyed although our feet were dying by the end of it.

    The next day we met Cris, my sister, at the gare de Lyon train station and then head out to Note Dame. We had a lovely light supper at a cafe across from the cathedral where we strolled around and then headed back to the hotel to pickup our bags and take the train to Fontainebleau. The train took a lot longer than expected and we arrived quite late.
    We had a lot of luggage with us and there wasn't a taxi in sight at the station. Of course the elevators to use the underpass to get to the other side of the station weren't working. Fortunately, we got some help from a weird looking guy (kind of scary) and then walked for 4 min to the hotel.
    In the morning, it was time to get ready for the big day ahead; the reason we had come to France in the first place, the INSEAD graduation!
    The ceremony took place at the majestic Fontainebleau castle (or chateau) and it was a beautiful (but very long) event.
    It was wonderful to meet our friends one last time, but heart-wrenching having to say good bye yet again. Tears of joy and nostalgia couldn't be stopped as we said or final goodbyes that same night and the following day.
    The day after graduation, my sister flew off to London and Sammy, Alex and I headed to the INSEAD campus to see what our lives could have looked like, had we decided to not stay in Singapore for the entire 10 month program. The campus is very big and very beautiful! It has a collegial charm that makes you feel like you are in a university, unlike the campus at Singapore (still no regrets, singy forever!)
    The town itself wasn't at all what I'd expected; it was very charming, not as small as I'd thought, and you could walk everywhere. (I was expecting a repeat of Coopersburg as it had been described to me as a tiny town in the middle of the forest).
    In the evening of our last day in Fonty we had a wonderful picnic with our friends who were still in town. We sat on the chateau's garden grounds by the pond. Not only was it breathtaking and peaceful but also extremely yummy! Too our flight we didn't even need music add there was a jazz festival taking place right next to us. We couldn't have planned it better if we tried! We got our supplies from a local grocery store where I went a little crazy with the options of cold cuts, pathes, wine and amazing bread and veery decent prices.
    It was the perfect close to a perfect year. Now or INSEAD adventure was truly over. Sniff sniff, thanks for the memories INSEAD!

    The next morning we flew to London to start our final trip in Europe: our 2 week cruise in the Mediterranean.
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