Dubai Diaries Part 4: Desert Safari

 

You can’t go to Dubai without going on a desert safari! On my fourth day in Dubai I decided to be really adventurous and go out to the desert! This excursion was so much fun! There are many different safari companies to choose from and you can easily book your excursion ahead of time, in fact I’d highly recommend it. I booked mine through a personal contact but you can find desert safari packages online.

My excursion started around 3pm in the afternoon, typically a desert safari can last about 6-8 hours depending on what activities you select. We were picked up at our hotel in a range rover and drove about a 45 mins to an hour to get to the desert. Our first stop was a well known tourist stop where you could try out some ATVs, buy a souvenir or get dressed in a traditional Arabian headdress. I decided against the ATVs as it was raining a bit the afternoon of my excursion so the sand was a bit wet. Can you believe it, I actually saw the rain in the desert?!

Following the ATV stop we headed in to the desert for some dune bashing! This was the scariest and most fun part of the excursion. Dune bashing is like being on a roller coaster ride that lasts 30 mins or more! Here’s the part where your seat belt really keeps you from being thrown around the SUV. If you have a back injury or are prone to motion sickness then dune bashing may not be the best activity for you and you can choose to opt out of it when you book your excursion and choose a package that doesn’t include it. I typically never get motion sick or dizzy on roller coasters but this experience left me feeling a little disoriented. As some of my friends were feeling a little dizzy we decided to stop and take some photos in the desert. The fresh air really helped alleviate any discomfort brought on by the dune bashing. After that it was time to head to a nearby Bedouin camp for dinner.

Our third and final stop was the desert camp. There were a number of different activities at the camp including camel riding, dressing up in traditional clothing, shopping for souvenirs and henna tattoos. We settled in for a desert BBQ dinner followed by a Tonoura Show and Belly Dancing.

I really enjoyed my afternoon out in the desert and would recommend the desert safari excursion to anyone.

Pro Tip: You can opt for a private or shared safari excursion. I chose the private package and it was $300 USD which we split between 3 people. This price included pick and drop off at the hotel in a private SUV, dune bashing, camel rides and dinner.

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Dubai Diaries Part 3: Old Souk

I’d heard that the markets in Dubai were something I should not miss! On day three in Dubai I decided to check out the Old Souk or old market. I stayed at the Radisson Blu Deira Creek which is located across the street from the creek itself.  I went for a walk in Creek Park and noticed that there were water taxis going across the creek. On a whim I decided to grab a water taxi (called an Abra) and visit the Old Souk. The taxis are very inexpensive and the ride is very pleasant. The trip over to Old Souk reminded me a bit of a water taxi ride along the grand canal in Venice. I enjoyed the architecture and the older buildings in Dubai.

Once I got the to my stop it was time to explore the market. Old Souk is truly an experience. There are so many people walking along the narrow streets lined with vendors and shops. It’s a busy place with many vendors calling out to tourists to come see their wares. You certainly get hawked at and shouted at but it’s all part of the experience. The market has many different kinds of shops ranging from spice and sweet shops to souvenir and clothing stalls. There’s also a few places to grab a quick bite to eat.

I decided to dress more conservatively on the whole while in Dubai. For my day at the market I chose a black jumpsuit from Forever 21 paired with this trendy pom pom bag. I found these cute block heels at The Bay which complemented the jumpsuit perfectly. Although it was the Winter in Dubai the sun was still out and rather strong so I decided to bring a sunhat with me 🙂

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Dubai Diaries Part 2: At.Mosphere

Forever Rose – inspired by Beauty and the Beast

First Course – Beet Salad with Chocolate Soil

Main Course – Beef Tenderloin

Signature Dessert- Sauteed Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Lava Cake

 

I arrived in Dubai on my birthday (Feb 28) and it was quite late so I decided to have my birthday dinner on March 1st. I wanted to go somewhere special. I discovered a restaurant called At.Mosphere through an internet search. Located on top of the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world, this restaurant is on the 122 floor and is the tallest restaurant in the world!

The view from the top is truly spectacular as you look down on the night lights of Dubai.  At. Mosphere is a must do in Dubai (in my opinion). It’s literally the best view in Dubai. The restaurant contains a lounge and dining room and offers dining options for high tea, cocktails, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My birthday dinner was truly an experience to remember. The waitstaff at the restaurant are expertly trained and offer great recommendations regarding the menu options and things to look out for as you sit by the window. One thing to keep in mind is that the restaurant comes with a minimum spend. The prices are listed on the website and tables located near the windows have a higher minimum spend. A typical meal with cocktails and dessert will cost you around $300 but it is well worth the splurge. I chose a 3 course option for dinner but the waitstaff are very helpful in making recommendations according to your preferences. Our waitress had some great tips for us regarding the menu (you can choose from a 3, 5 or 7 course meal as well as a la carte options) options and even recommended a dessert that wasn’t listed on the menu. It was fantastic! She also took us around the front of the restaurant to see the dancing fountain show (located at the Dubai Mall).

At.Mosphere has a strict dress code of smart elegant and most diners were dressed in formal attire, although I did see a few gentlemen in short sleeved shirts. For my outfit I decided to go all out and wore this fabulous red gown 🙂 I figured it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed. The moment I saw this dress in the window I was reminded of Julia Roberts’ red opera dress in Pretty Woman 😉 I found the perfect necklace to complement this dress at Unique Accessories. It added just a bit of sparkle and didn’t overpower the dress. If you’re looking for a truly unique and elegant dining experience then be sure to check out At.Mosphere at the Burj Khalifa.

 

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Dubai Diaries Part 1: Dubai Miracle Garden

If you follow me on instagram you probably know I was in Dubai last week 😉 I decided to get away for my birthday this year and Dubai was a place I’d always wanted to visit. I was there for about 4 days but was able to pack in a lot of sightseeing. I’ll be chronicling my visit to Dubai and my outfits in this new series called Dubai Diaries.

My first stop in Dubai was the Dubai Miracle Garden. I’d heard so much about this place and was told it was a must-see in Dubai, and it did not disappoint. The garden was truly beautiful and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers. If you thought Mosaik in Ottawa was great well I’m sorry to say you haven’t seen anything until you see this garden. The exhibits were spectacular and there were plenty of places to grab a quick snack and rest as you toured the garden. One of the exhibits in the garden even set a Guiness world record. The exhibit in the shape of an Emirates Airbus A380 airplane is the  largest flower arrangement in the world.

I decided to play it safe and dress conservatively while I was in Dubai. For my visit to the garden I chose a midi length ruffle skirt  paired with my signature Weekend Fashionista t-shirt in white. I opted for a pair of Lucky Brand wedge heels as I would be doing a lot of walking and I wanted to be comfortable. I tied in the camel colour of my shoes with this Ellen and James rectangle bag. Although I visited during the Winter, Dubai can still get pretty warm during the day so I decided to bring a sunhat to keep cool during the garden tour 🙂

Pro Tip: The garden can get quite busy during the day so it’s best to go earlier in the morning if you want to get some nice photos free of other visitors. I visited the garden around 9:30 am right when it opened.

Admission fee: Admission to the garden costs 45 Dirhams which is about $15 CAD. Remember to keep your ticket as a souvenir.

 

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Travel Beauty Favourites

It’s vacay time!! I’m going on vacation again so I thought I’d share some of my travel beauty favourites. I used to travel a lot for work so I’m quite used to packing my beauty products in a clear plastic bag 🙂

Moisturizers

The recycled air inside a plane combined with high altitude can do a number on your skin so it’s important to moisturize when you fly. I like to pack some face cream, hand cream and lip balm with me. I find my face and hands get especially dry when I fly. My current favourite moisturizer when flying is Olay Classic Moisturizing lotion. I have combination skin so this works well for me. I haven’t been able to find a travel size Olay lotion so I usually just carry some in an empty container (hint: it’s in the circular Nivea container ;)). For lips I go with a generic lip balm like Blistex and for my hands I usually go with a generic hand moisturizer.

Pro-Tip: If you’ve ever been upgraded or traveled business or first class you usually receive an amenities kit which contains lip balm and hand lotion.

Makeup/Perfume

I don’t carry travel sizes of my makeup but I make sure all the makeup I take in my carry-on is 100ml or less. I usually take some foundation, my liquid eyeliner, mascara and a lipstick. I use MAC for my foundation, eyeliner and lipstick. I also like to pack some perfume with me just to freshen up between flights. Most perfumes come in travel sizes that fit perfectly in your clear plastic bag.

Here’s what I’ve got with me:

Foundation – Pro Longwear: NC42

Liquid Eyeliner – Boot Black

Lipstick –  Mac-Syrup

Mascara – Buxom Lash

Perfume- Dolce (Travel Size)

I carry some makeup removing wipes and a cleanser – for freshening up while in transit.

Pro-Tip: Most airports have paid entry lounges that you can use to grab a bite, take a shower and catch a few winks between flights.

After Flight Care

Getting some quality sleep on the plane always helps with jet lag so I like to bring an eye shade with me to block out extra light and help me sleep. A few years ago I discovered a product called Liquid Oxygen by O2Spa. Just a few drops under your tongue or mixed with water can help relieve jet lag and improve your energy. I purchased mine on Air Canada duty free but you can also purchase the product through their website. I also pack a gel eye mask to help relieve puffyness under the eyes as a result of lack of sleep. Gel masks can usually be used as a hot or cold option and they’re great for helping you relax post-flight.

Pro Tip: Drink lots of water while you’re in flight and try to avoid alcohol. The altitude combined with the alcohol will leave you feeling dehydrated and you’ll have a more difficult time dealing with jetl ag. Taking a quick stroll around the cabin (when the seat belt signs are off) will also help with circulation and leave you feeling more energized.

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Valentine’s Day Wish List

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and here are a few items that are on my Vday Wish list 😉

 

1. Something in red – This cute jumpsuit is the perfect for a Valentine’s Day date. It’s also a nice alternative to a red dress and provides a bit more coverage if you live in a colder climate like I do 🙂

2. Perfume – I love Dior perfumes. Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet is a light romantic scent perfect for Valentine’s Day.

3. Champagne truffles – Champagne and truffles are great on their own but even better together, and who doesn’t love candy?!

4. Heart purse – This adorable heart shaped purse from Kate Spade is the perfect accessory for Valentine’s Day. It’s also a great way to add a pop of colour to an outfit.

5. Red strappy sandals – I’m a shoe-a-holic and I’ll readily admit it. I simply love these red heels and the bow detail.

6. Tiffany bracelet – What girl doesn’t love something that comes in a little blue bag? This Tiffany heart bracelet is one of my ultimate favourites

7. Champagne – No special occasion is complete without a little bubbly! This rosé champagne from Moët et Chandon is made for Valentine’s Day 🙂

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Bed Makeover

 

 

If you follow me on Instagram you probably know I recently did a bed makeover! I love pink so I decided to revamp my room to reflect my favourite colour 🙂 I found this  adorable bedding set  from Hometrends at Walmart Canada. The set comes with: a comforter, 2 pillow shams and 2 decorative pillows. I wanted to off set the pink colour of the comforter set with a soft white so I opted for this simple white sheet set from Mainstays. The set I picked up came with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and 2 large pillow cases for a Queen Sized bed but there are lots of options to choose from.  To finish off this pretty in pink look I found this too cute to be true heart pillow at Quilts Etc.  I also found these cute pyjamas at Garage. They’re so comfy and come in black as well if you’re not as crazy about pink as I am 😉

I truly love my new bedding but the best part about this bedroom makeover is that I did it for under $250 including all the pillows! It just goes to show you that you don’t need to spend a tonne of money to  make something look pretty and professional 🙂

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Ladurée Yorkdale

This past weekend I was in Toronto and I got to check out one of my favourite places, Ladurée. Famous the world over for its Parisian flair Ladurée is a macaroon shop and tea room. Although it’s especially popular in Europe the company has made the trip across the pond and I’m thrilled that there’s one in somewhat close proximity to me. I simply love their macaroons and decor. To me this place is like every little girl’s dream – soft colours line the walls which are topped off by an elegantly carved out ceiling and of course there is the iconic green on the facade of the shop. Whether you’re stepping in for a peek or staying for tea Ladurée is a must do if you’re ever in Toronto! The Yorkdale shopping centre itself is quite glamorous in my opinion so it’s a perfect setting for this cute little macaroon shop.

As far as flavours go my personal favourites are the pistachio, coffee and vanilla. I also tried the rose flavour which I was quite surprised by. Ladurée offers a wide range of flavours to choose from and there’s really something for everyone 🙂 The shop also has a cute selection of gifts and souvenirs so if sweets aren’t your thing you can always grab a key chain, candle or gift box 😉

 

 

Vacay Style

As you probably know I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks so I’ve been a little slow with my posts. I’m totally loving the tropical weather here in Sri Lanka especially since there’s been a deep freeze in Ottawa lately. I thought I’d share some of my vacay style outfits with you since some of you may be planning a winter getaway to a tropical paradise.

When packing for this trip I wanted to add some tropical flair to my outfits.

Here’s what I’ve been wearing 🙂

Fairy Top – Chichwish |Jeans- Suzy Shier |Bag- Cult Gaia

Lace detail top – Suzy Shier | Soft Shorts – Dynamite

Hi-Low Skirt – Dynamite | Ballerina Top – Garage

Dress – Express (I’ve linked to a similar dress since this is no longer available)| Shoes – Schutz | Bag- Cult Gaia

Christmas Cocktails: Mulled Wine

 

Mulled wine is a drink that’s synonymous with Christmas. I like to think of it as Christmas in a cup. It’s a great warmer on a cold winter day. The thing I like the most about this drink is the way it makes your house smell when you’re making it. The blend of spices along with the wine gives off the best aroma and makes your home smell inviting and festive 🙂

Here’s my recipe for Christmas in a Cup -Mulled Wine

  1. 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine – I usually use a Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. 1 orange, sliced into rounds.
  3. 1/4 cup brandy – this is optional but it does add a bit more flavour to the drink
  4. 1/4 cup honey or brown sugar – I used brown sugar
  5. 8 whole cloves.
  6. 2 cinnamon sticks.
  7. 2 star anise

To make Mulled Wine combine the wine, orange slices, brandy, sugar and spices in a large sauce pan and simmer on a low heat for at least 15 minutes. Makes sure the heat is set on low as you don’t want the mixture to boil and the alcohol to evaporate. I like to let it simmer for about half an hour but you can allow it to set for up to 3 hours, if you’re that patient.

Once you get the aroma of the wine and the spices use a ladel and strainer to pour the wine in to glasses (you can also use mason jars for a more rustic look) and enjoy with a piece piece of Christmas Cake.