What to do in Dubai

If I were to visit Dubai again, I would have planned some things differently. Our first two days in Dubai we spent frantically running from one activity to the next, not fully aware of what we really want. So it is our third day in Dubai and now we are finally in track and I’d like to share some experiences and recommendations.

First day should start with a city tour. We did an evening tour with Book Dubai Tour for about $110 USD (plus tip for the driver) which suited our needs perfectly. The tour gave us a quick overview of the city and we got to see places we would never have seen on our own.

From there, one can easily figure out what site one wants to explore in depth. For us it was Burj Kalifa, Madinat Jumeirah, and Palm Island. Ironically, we already went to Burj Kalifa and went up top. We went during daylight so we missed out on the fountains, which was fulfilled during city tour. We also went to Madinat Jumeirah to the Madinat theater and the Gold souk. Now we definitely have to come back there again.

The second day I’d go to Abu Dhabi for an all day tour, to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and do some sightseeing around the city. During the tour we were left at the Ferrari World Center for an hour, which would have been a complete waste of time, have we not found and amazing restaurant Al Fanar, serving Emirati cuisine. I especially recommend Samak Tanoor which is served with a large plate of basmati rice, as well as arabic coffee.

Day 3 I’d spend in the desert, doing some sand dune bashing, riding camels and enjoying some barbeque at the beduin camp setting. Sand bashing was by al’ means the highlight of our trip. Wear comfortable clothing, suitable for camel rides and sitting on the floor. Oh, and they do serve alcohol at the camp!

The rest of the days
I would dedicate to in depth exploration of the sights favorited during Dibai city tour and in the evening exploring some dining options.

I highly recommend not eating around the hotels in JBR, as the food was mediocre, overpriced and the atmosphere was lacking. The only two places I liked were Lebanese restaurant (name starts with J) off Al Mamsha road and Emirati restaurant Seven Sands. I became quite a fan of Emirati cuisine during our stay:)

There is also an amazing restaurant I want to point out – Local House restaurant in the Old Dubai, right next to the Dubai Coffee museum and in the proximity to Meena market and an abundance of the local shops. They serve a variety of burgers: camel, buffalo, ostrich… you name it. As well as amazing milk shakes made with camel milk. The burgers are around 50-60 dirhms and the shakes 30-35, based on what milk they are made with.

After dinner we had a cup of coffee at the Dubai Coffee museum, which was truly amazing. It is a must see place if you are a fan of coffee.

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Maldives day 2

Today we were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. I doubt we could ever top this celebration as we celebrated the whole day.

After breakfast we took a walk around the island.





On the way I found the same type of tree I saw in Hawaii


Later we stopped by the drivibg range to hit some golf balls. Jose Orlando turn out to be very good!

Then we went to the beach and spent a few hours swimming and just laying around in the sun. The sun in Maldives is not as harsh as it is back home or any other resort we’ve been to, which makes it easy to loose track if time. The water was amazing! One thing to watch out for is string currents.

After the beach we had lunch, took a short nap, had some coffee at the local tea house and headed for the sunset cruise and dolphin watching.

Normally there are not too many people around, especially in our part of the island. You can go for hours without seeing as many as 3-4 people. On the pictures the island appears uninhabited. Someone even asked me after seeing the pictures on the instagram “Are you guys alone there?”

But for the sunset cruise there were at least 50 people gathered at the pier, if not more.

Three boat came to get us and we ended up on a small one with about 12 other people. They say if you are lucky, you might even see a dolphin or two. I guess we were super lucky as we saw at least 15. It was a wonderful cruise overall, although few times the boat was shaken so badly, I was afraid to fall overboard.

At night we headed for the Hot Rock restaurant a la carte restaurant, for our annversary dinner. We selected some delicious beef sirloin, kanguroo and ostrich meat. The meat was served raw, on a hot metal plate and we were free to let it cook as long as we want. We chose rare – only one minute.

The sirloin was very good and we both loved kanguroo meat – our firsttime trying it. The ostrich was not as good but still, not too bad.

Then desert at a different restaurant and we headed back to the room where we found fresh fruit and champagne left for us by the hotel. “Happy wedding anniversary” was spelled out on our bed in palm tree leaves.

Maldives day 1

The flight was really long, about 17 hours in total plane time with layover in Dubai. The layover was supposed to be 2 hours, which we were planning to spend degustating local foods in the lounge, but since our flight was considerably late, we spend about 20 munutes, running through Dubai airport, accompanied by a stewardess and 3 other guests. Luckily we made it on time. The flight to Male was short and pleasant since we got plenty of leg room.

Upon arrival we picked up our only suitcase and headed outside where we were greeted by our hotel representative and taken to the boat.

The boat ride was about 40 minutes and was beautiful – surrounded by clear waters, sun and wind.

Once we arrived and checked in, we were driven to the far side of the resort, to where they had the over the water jacuzzi villas. It was nearly 6pm and it was not hot at all and the winds were pretty strong, walking on the wooden deck I had to take care not to fall overboard, to keep company to the variety of fishes, swimming back and forth under, feeding on some water bugs.

Our room was nearly at the very end of the deck – next to last villa in the lineup.

After dinner we headed straight to the room to rest up and were settling in to get to bed when I got a great idea – to put on my bathing suit and take a dip in the night waters.

The stairs from our jacuzzi room led straight into the waters beneath the villa.

One gotta take care as the very bottom of the steps is quite slippery. I was hesitant to swim far from the steps but the water was marvelous – felt like slightly warm milk. It also did not feel like an ordinary ocean water that leaves your skin a bit sticky, it felt on my skin no different than a tap water would.

The fish was swimming back and forth and we even saw a few large turtles and a small grey shark.

Packing for the beach getaway with two children

I usually let my husband to pack for himself his own clothes, which he does in just a few short moments – a pair of swimming trunks (we normally end up buying an extra pair at the destination. He must have a pair from all over the world.), 3-4 t-shirts, pair of long linen pants, one long-sleeve shirt, 2-3 pairs of shorts, flip flops, sunglasses, camera, phone charger – he is done. Then in the course of a few days I plan and stress over the vacation wardrobe for myself and our two children. Our last trip I feel I did not do such a goid job since it has been a while since we’ve been to Caribbean – since January 2014 to be exact, over 2 years. So as far as the boys go, I got a lot of unused shorts and catastrophically running out of t-shirts and tank tops. The reason is that bathing suits are often used as bottoms and all one need to change frequently are tops. So here is what I SHOULD have packed for 2 boys for the 8 days 8 nights trip:

-2 pairs of sunglasses
-2 pairs of sandals plus beach shoes for the baby, 2 pairs of loafers for evening outings
-2 swimming devices
-for each child 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of long linen or cotton pants, 3 t-shirts, 2 tank tops, 4 pairs of swimming trunks, 3 pairs of socks, 1-2 long sleeve shirt and 1 pair of sweat pants
-24 regular diapers for the baby plus 12 swim diapers
-band aid,children’s tylenol, sunblock, after sun lotion, children’s toothpaste, toothbrushes

As for me:

-pair of shorts
-short denim skirt
-capri pants or linen white pants
-shirtdress
-jumper
-2 tank tops, 2 sleeveless tops
-4 bathing suits
-heels, flats, tropeziennes






Is more than sufficient for 8 day trip

France part 2 – Louvre, Eiffel Tower and more

Originally both my husband and I were more interested in going to D’Orsay then Louvre but unfortunatelly, we had to leave it to another trip. Getting into Louvre was easy with the Paris passes we ordered before out trip and picked up after arriving to Paris.

My biggest thing about Louvre was seeing Mona Lisa, so i suggested we head there first thing, and only then we can pick what we get to see next. You simply cannot really see Louvre in one day and having only half a day we had to limit ourselves severely.

To be honest, Mona Lisa have disappointed me, perhaps due to my high expectations. the reality was depressing:

But as far as everything else goes, Louvre has surpassd my expectations in every way possible and we quickly lost track of time. Below are some highlights:








After walking Champ de Elysee back and forth, we headed over to Arc of Triumph to enjoy the view:




Breathtaking view fully justified a painful ascend.

Later, completely exhausted but happy, we met up with Tanya who found out about our whereabouts from Facebook. I must admit, earlier in the year I was planning on catching up with her but later it completely slipped my mind that she was living in Paris these days. After dinner and drinks (amazing fois gras!) Tanya presented us with unexpected surprise – made us run like the wind to see something exciting. I was not in the mood for running or even for seeing anything at all, all I could think of was a hot shower, cup of tea and a good night sleep. Few minutes later we arrived at a dark corner and I was about to ask what was so important that we could not have walked slowly, and then it happened – invisible in the dark Eiffel Tower suddenly lit up, making me feel like a kid at Christmas:

Aparently it happens at 10 o’clock sharp and many people, even the locals, gather to see it and take pictures.

Thanks Tanya, I will never forget the view:)

France part 1 – Parisian apartment

It has been almost a year since our lovely trip to France and I finally got a change to write about it. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure then reminiscing over every little detail, remembering our little apartment in Saint Germain, taste of escargot at the little restaurant downstairs, taking a stroll through the Luxembourg park or Tuileries, holding hands with my husband, watching yachts in St-Tropez, trying on Rondini sandals, or devouring those amazing eclairs at the L’ami du Pain cafe…

Our trip was so packed with experiences that I would have to break it down to a number of parts since it does not seem neither fair nor possible to jam it up together in one post.

When we planned our trip we’ve decided to rent an apartment in Saint Germain rather than get a room at the hotel. I found a nice little studio apartment on rue rue GrĂ©goire de Tours. Here is a glimps on what it is like inside a Parisian apartment:

apartment window

kitchen
Kitchen

living room
Living room/Bedroom

And of course a picture of Audrey Hepburn on the wall:)

view out of the window
The view

Apartments in France are very tiny, you cannot allow yourself to waste even an inch of space. I can see how one has to limit their wardrobe to suffice with a small closet space. Oh how I missed my huge walk-in closet back home!:)
The bathroom was so small, it allowed only one person at a time. As a friend of ours was telling us, in her apartment if she wanted some privicy she’d have to resort to a bathroom since it was the only place she could have a few moments alone.

But although tiny, the apartment was very cosy and had a lovely feel to it. The only real downside was an endless spiral staircase leading up the our third floor flat. My pregnancy was barely settling in, but I still found it quite difficult to get up there every night.

And this is us, enjoying a bottle of wine on our first night (although I only allowed myself a small sip due to my circumstances:)):

drinking wine

We found it was easy to get around, provided that nearest metro station was only short walk away.

metro

One thing that stood out to me the most was how openly couples kissed on the streets and expressed their affection for one another. My husband and I quickly adjusted to the local lifestyle and soon we were kissing like we did at the very beginning of our marriage:)

Both of us regard that trip as our second honeymoon. “If this this is not honeymoon, I do not know what is” as my husband put it. And although I missed my little one back home, it was nice to spend time just the two of us and to remind ourselves what made us fall in love in the first place.

eiffel tower kiss
And Eiffel Tower was our mistletoe…