July 21, 2017

Currently...

I'm back from a fabulous trip to Croatia (and Munich, which wasn't planned!) and I'm recovering from jet lag, fighting a cold, and sorting through all of my pictures. I can't wait to share all of the details from our trip! In the mean time, here's what's going on:


Feeling... under the weather. I've had a sore throat since we got back and it's been a long week at work. I'm hoping to take the weekend to recover.

Reading... "Songs of Willow Frost" by Jamie Ford. Ford's book, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" is one of my favorite books of all time and I'm excited to read his next book. I picked this up in the Clearance section at Barnes & Noble, so I hope it's good!

Thinking about... my fall race schedule.

Watching... "Friends from College." The Pilot and I started watching this when we got back. It's pretty funny.

Working on... uploading all of my pictures and pulling my blog posts together. Croatia was incredible and I'm so excited to relive the trip through my posts!

Needing... to go for a run. I didn't run the whole time we were in Croatia. I couldn't believe how hot it was there. It was definitely the hottest place I've visited in summer, beating both West Africa and India! By 8 am every morning, it was already over 90 with high humidity and with slippery streets and major hills, I decided not to risk it.

Wanting... to go to yoga this weekend. I'm hoping I can fight this cold and get on the mat.

Loving... how much fun we had on vacation. This may have been our most fun vacation yet!

What's on your list?
If you're waiting for my Croatia posts, you can check out my Instagram to hold you over!
Don't forget to link up for next week's book club to discuss "The Cirlce!" 


July 10, 2017

Exploring Dubai's Al Fahidi Historic Neighorhood

Last week, I shared with you all of the details for our latest trip to Dubai, well, almost all of the details! When I stumbled on the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, I absolutely fell in love!


Al Fahidi is located in Bur Dubai, Dubai's Old City and is a complex that, from the outside, really doesn't look like much, but once you start wandering down the laneways in and out of the shops and galleries, the entire place comes to life!

Every time I thought I had seen everything, another door literally opened. At one point, I tried working in a partially opened door and the shopkeeper rushed over to me and welcomed me in. He explained that everyone had their doors closed to keep the air conditioning in but to please, open any door I wished!





One of my favorite places in Al Fahidi was the Majlis Gallery which, among many other things, featured works by a Syrian calligraphy painter, Khaled Al Saai whose work was mesmerizing. I would have loved to have become a true collector in that moment and purchased one of his pieces but at 120,000 AED (roughly $32,000 USD) that just wasn't going to happen!


I had set out for my day, not in search of Al Fahidi, but in search of the Dubai Coffee Museum, which I eventually did find but didn't spend much time there. It's more of an experiential coffee house where you can sit and have a conversation and learn about the history of coffee. I was getting hungry so I just browsed all of the old percolators and inhaled the fresh aroma of coffee beans and made my way to lunch!


We happened to be in Dubai during the Sikka Art Festival, which runs every March and had started the week we arrived. The Art Fair features live music, works of art, performances, and films by local Emirati artists. 


I loved exploring all of the galleries in the festival! The works of art were incredible!

We actually bought one of these pieces! Aren't they incredible?!


If you're in Al Fahidi,  you absolutely shouldn't miss the Arabian Tea House where I cooled off with Morrocan Mint Tea, a grilled halloumi sandwich, and out-of-this-world date cake.


Another spot not to be missed is the AlSerkal Cultural Foundation, an art gallery, cafe, workshop (where you can learn crafts from local artisans), bookstore, and shop, where you can cool off with some tea or camel's milk ice cream.

Exploring Al Fahidi was the absolute highlight of our Dubai trip and I couldn't say enough things about how much I loved this area! I think I could go back to Dubai a dozen more times and never tire of all of the sights and sounds in this wonderful area!

If you go to Dubai, definitely prioritize this spot and come back and tell me all about it!

July 7, 2017

Next Stop: Croatia!

That's right! This month, The Pilot and I are headed to sunny Croatia! I'm so excited. Croatia has been on my bucket list for years. I fell in love with the Balkans when I spent time in Bosnia and Serbia a few years ago and I'm so excited to explore more of the region, this time on the coast.


We'll be there just shy of a week and I thought I'd share some of what we have planned to hear your suggestions for anything else we should do and maybe even inspire you to take your own trip to Croatia!

We'll be staying in two cities, starting in Dubrovnik.

I've heard that Dubrovnik gets packed with tourists during the day from the cruise ships that dock each day, something that really made me dislike Santorini, but I've heard that the evenings are lovely and quiet so we'll try to save most of our sightseeing for after things have quieted down.

We're planning to rent a car and drive up the coast from Dubrovnik to Trogir, about a 3-hour drive. We made the hard decision not to go to Plitvice National Park while we're in Croatia because it's too far and I think we have about one less day than I think we would need to venture out that way. Instead, we're planning on taking a detour north on our drive to Trogir to stop at Krka National Park.

Trogir is just outside Split. We decided to base ourselves there because it's quieter and less expensive (from what I've heard) but we definitely want to take a day trip to Split to explore the city and check out Diocletian's Palace! We might also take the ferry out to Brac for a day to spend on the island and get in some beach time.


What I'm most looking forward to is delicious Balkan food and a lot of time relaxing on the beach. We might rent kayaks and explore either of the two cities from the water. Either way, I want to spend as much time in the sun as possible and I want to come back feeling wildly relaxed!

Have you been to Croatia?
What do you think of our itinerary? What would you add to this list?

July 5, 2017

3 More Days in Dubai

I'll be honest, I didn't love Dubai the first time we went there. To me, it felt like Vegas. I was this giant, cosmopolitan city in the middle of the dessert full of gorgeous hotels and shopping malls. The Pilot loved it. He had been trying to convince me to go back for awhile and earlier this year, I finally caved.


We landed at about 9pm on a Saturday night and by the time we got to our hotel and checked in, it was close to 11. My legs were stiff from the long haul flight, so I headed straight to the hotel gym for a quick run to shake out my legs. After a quick dinner in the hotel bar, it was time for bed. 

Day 1: 
Sunday morning, our first full morning in Dubai, we met up with some friends who had recently moved to Dubai for breakfast and coffee and a cute little spot called, The Sum of Us. After breakfast, we went down to the Marina and strolled along, browsing the little shops and stands and soaking up the sun. It was snowing in DC and I was very grateful to be in a place the locals already considered was getting too hot!


Our next stop was the Dubai Miracle Garden. I had wanted to go to DMG when we were in Dubai the year before but it had already closed for the season. (It's only open for a few months throughout the year). Lucky for us, it had just opened.


The DMG is located in this complex called Dubailand which was supposed to be a metropolis of amusement parks, think Ferrari World, Universal Studios, etc. all of which fell through in the aftermath of the financial crisis. It was pretty desolate aside from DMG and you could still see signs for where Universal was going to be.

The Miracle Garden was really cute. I absolutely loved the Emirates plane (so did The Pilot) and all of the little houses, plus, the flowered archways were gorgeous! We spent a few hours there strolling the grounds and looking at all of the flowers.



Day 2: 
I was up early again on Monday morning and a little bit at a loss for what to do. Eventually, I decided to head to the Al Fahidi neighborhood in search of a small coffee museum I had read about. I hopped on the metro and made my way to the furthest stop I could before getting out and walking through a neighborhood full of textile shops. On my way to Al Fahidi, I stumbled on the Dubai Museum and decided to stop in. It was a fascinating museum that shows you just how far Dubai has come in a remarkably short period of time. The Museum has artifacts dating all the way back to the first century!


I learned so much about Dubai! Dubai has always been a center of trade in the Middle East but preserved it's Bedouin tradition and reflected the "Old Arab" world until almost the 1960s when Dubai invited the British to trade and started the path toward becoming one of the world's most significant metropolitan areas in the world.


The museum is a really fascinating way to see that growth and change. It was really well done but I would caution against the giant tour groups that made the experience a bit less than enjoyable.

After the museum, I went in search of Al Fahidi. I had a hard time finding it at first because what I didn't realize is that, it isn't a neighborhood in the sense I'm used to. The Al Fahidi Historic District is more like a complex.



Surprisingly quiet and seemingly hidden, it looks like an area with a bunch of quiet, empty laneways until you discover that beneath every hidden door is a new gem waiting to be explored...art galleries, museums, artisan workshops. I got lost in here for hours, continually discovering more and more. I've decided to dedicate a whole post to Al Fahidi, which I'll share next week! (Promise! It's already written!)

Eventually, I got hungry and made my way to lunch before heading down Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street to explore the Hindi Market. This was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. While walking through the market, the call to prayer sounded and men in dishdashas rushed out of nowhere to the nearest mosque to answer the call, scrambling to take their shoes off and stumbling up the steps to make it in time. Just behind the mosque, I stumbled one a celebration of Holi with celebrants laughing and throwing powdered paint at one another.


I spent some time wandering along the water and taking in all of the sites from Bur Dubai. This was a neighborhood I had walked through on our last trip to Dubai but hadn't explored at all and I loved it. This, to me, felt like the real Dubai - the preserved history hidden among the rising construction (which is everywhere!) - and tall, gleaming buildings make Dubai the fascinating place that it is.




For dinner, The Pilot and I headed to the Madinat Jumeirah Resort and took in the stunning view of the Burj am Arab changing color in the moonlight.


Day 3: 
Tuesday was our last day in Dubai but fortunately, our flight wasn't until after midnight.

Our first stop of the day was the Burj Khalifa. We had missed out on this last time we were in Dubai but decided not to skip it this time. It is very pricey ($55 during prime hours) and we only opted to go to "At the Top," the lower of two levels but the view was still incredible, not simply because it's the tallest building in the world but because you can truly see what Dubai has become in the middle of the desert. You can even see into one of the neighboring Emirates, Sharjah.



If you're wondering what the difference between "At the Top" versus "At the Top Sky" is, this photo below shows you just how much more of the building there is. We were on the 125th level. "At the Top Sky" takes you to the 148th.



Once again though, the experience was made somewhat less enjoyable by the buses of tourists with selfie sticks that unloaded as we had arrived, making it impossible to see anything without being hit in the face with a selfie stick. I recommend getting there as early as possible. We had booked "off-peak tickets," which I thought would prevent that, but apparently not!

We left the Burj Khalifa and wandered around the mall for a bit before heading back to Al Fahidi. We had planned a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding for one of their Cultural Meals. On our last trip to Dubai, we had done a mosque tour through the Center but I had been disappointed to miss the Cultural Meals. These include a traditional Emirati meal shared in a group with an Emirati host about the UAE's culture, traditions, and religion. It was fascinating. The food was wonderful and I loved the opportunity to learn about Dubai from a local. Our host was a Tunisian woman who has lived in Dubai for the last 20 years. It was so interesting to hear her thoughts on the ever-changing Dubai. Not to mention, the food was remarkable.


I hadn't realized this the day before but the Sheikh Mohammed Center is in Al Fahidi. We had learned the day before that Sikka, Dubai's Art Festival was going on but had been there too early in the day to experience it. It was just starting when we finished lunch, so we wandered in and out of galleries, exploring even more of Al Fahidi then we had seen the day before!



Our last stop of the day was a rooftop gallery/museum/bookstore/coffee shop that I loved, called the AlSerkal Cultural Foundation. We were the only ones up there and it was so quiet except for the mosques all ringing their calls to prayer, a sound that, Every time I travel to a Muslim country, I fall even more in love with.


Our plan was to take a ferry back to the Marina but as we were walking, it started raining and the ferry for canceled. I was really bummed because it had only rained for about 5 minutes but I guess it doesn't rain that often in Dubai so when it does, people are at a loss for what to do!

So that wrapped up our trip! We took the metro back to the hotel and packed, I got in a quick run, grabbed a quick bite, and then took a nap before heading to the airport to catch our flight!

I'm so glad I gave Dubai another chance. I really loved it this time around and it has really opened up the possibility for me to revisit some other places I haven't exactly loved. I would go back to Dubai again in a heartbeat, only this time, I'd like to explore some of the other Emirates too!

Have you been to Dubai?
If not, is it on your list? I hope it is now!

July 3, 2017

June Recap .

This June had a theme: escape. I've mentioned before that I've been going through a lot lately and, once June rolled around, I just needed to get away. 

I've always been accused of running away from my problems but, in reality, I feel like it's the only thing that helps. You're so absorbed in the sights and sounds of a new place, and caught up in the experience of just being away, that it's easier to find your new normal when you get back.


I mentioned recently that I've just started running again after a lot more time off than I've taken in years and, those first few runs back felt impossible, but after three weeks, I'm finally back to a place where running feels good. 

Here's a look at how my month of June went;

Miles Run: 20

I'm actually surprised I ran this much. I'm just easing back into things but it feels good. I'd still like to run a fall marathon but training starts relatively soon and I'm not sure if it's smart to ramp up from 0 miles in 6 weeks to the 25 miles/week I need to kick off training. We'll see how I'm feeling though. I know I need to balance things with yoga and strength training to get there so I might start adding some barre classes to my routine.

Minutes of Yoga: 0. 

I finally went to yoga for the first time in almost two months yesterday and it felt so, so good. I took a 75-minute yoga class and, even though it wasn't a great class, I realized just how badly I needed to be in a place to just quiet my mind and focus.

Books Read: 3

Trips Taken: 2
New Recipes Made:

Cooking isn't at all something that has been a priority for me these last two months. To be honest, eating hasn't either. I haven't been eating well at all and have been eating out mostly because I haven't felt like shopping or cooking but my bank account felt the effects of that, so I finally made a meal plan last week and stuck to it. My favorites were Caprese Farro Salad from the Runner's World Cookbook and a Burst Tomato Linguini from Run Fast, East Slow. 

Blog Posts Written: 4!

Sadly, this is the most I've posted in a month since March. I know I've said this before, but this month, I really am committed to bringing my blog back. Call it a Half Year's Resolution, if you will. I've drafted some posts this weekend and am excited to start blogging regularly again.

The Month Ahead:
This month, I want to take care of myself which means, eating well, running regularly and balancing running with yoga and strength work, but also incorporating some meditation into my daily routine and learning to just breathe.

I want to make a serious effort to post on my blog regularly, starting with catching you all up on my Dubai trip in March (which was seriously amazing), and the two baseball stadiums I've crossed off my list! 

Lastly, vacation. Yup, a week-long European beachy vacation is just around the corner for me and I can't wait! I've never needed time away like this and I'm so ready to pack my bags and take off!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...