Travel Destination: Dubai, UAE

When you think islands and resorts and palm beaches, the first place in your head may not be the Middle East. But add the United Arab Emirates to your bucket list because it sure is on mine. 

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Photos courtesy of Issaq Gass who traveled this past summer to the UAE.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates is quickly rising to become one of the world’s fasting growing tourist destinations – equipped with warm weather, beautiful hotels, pristine beaches. In the 1980’s, Dubai Rulers focused on westernizing the region and furthering its dependency on oil in the region but instead investing heavily on real estate and land – where oil is only about 7% of it’s total revenue.

Dubai had a huge boom in 2003 with a large flux of foreign investors after the opening of Dubai Internet City. From this emerged places like  Burj Khalifa – tallest building in the world  and the Dubai Marina all of which have increased tourism revenue immensely in this city.

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Dubai Marina

  • Dubai is becoming one of the largest up and coming sports destination – hosting the Abu Dubai Golf Championship, Red Bull Air Race, and Formula One Grand Prix
  • Burj Khalifa is the tallest man made structure 
  • Make sure you go up (if you’re not afraid of hights) the Burj Khalifa and look at the 360 view of Dubai from this beautiful structure
  • Amazing shopping at the Dubai Mall
  • Spend about 3 hours at the Dubai Aquarium you won’t want to miss it

Dubai sits up with other large cities like London, Tokyo and Paris. So why not Dubai next?

Travel destination: Jacksonville, Florida

I’ve been going on and on about places to go around the world but it can easily be forgotten that you can have a great get away right here in America. Over the last week I spent time in Jacksonville, Florida visiting an old friend I made in London last summer. It was such a great time to reunite with Melissa on American soil and I couldn’t have asked for a better host!

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Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida – something that actually surprised me! It was not touristy and a beautiful city right on the northern part of Florida a little after the Georgia line. Melissa is a recent graduate from West Virginia University and chose to relocate to this gem of a city because of its weather and growing potential. She says its a perfect city for those looking to transition to the adult world post graduate. So why not take her word for it and visit? 

So me my three friends took for the roads and had a SPLENDID time.

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We hit the beaches immediately, and Jax beaches were really gorgeous for March. The weather was a solid 75-80 the entire week and that Florida sun was no joke! It was a great place because Jacksonville is more residential then touristy like other parts of Florida so it was nice to get away from so many people. 

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After spending a few days eating great (and cheap! lots of cute places to go to) we decided to spend the day at St. Augustine on Saturday. St. Augustine is the oldest town in America where you can find the oldest street and the first school building! There were lots of cute shops and pubs to grab lunch at with live music! I got to buy a few new headbands and a skirt and would absolutly recommend for anyone in the area to visit. It was only 30 minutes away from Jacksonville.

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Whats your favorite part of Florida? Would you ever move down or consider Jacksonville? Comment below!

Travel Etiquette – You do not want to be THAT jerk whilst traveling!

I came across this gem of an info graphic on Tumblr the other day and I figured it was time to make some very important points about traveling. You don’t want to be THAT girl or guy who has a horrible time. 

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There is nothing more irritating then spending months planning a trip of a lifetime and then you get on the plane only to find a crying baby or yourself in a new destination with someone making rude comments towards you. Most important thing to remember: Not everyone speaks English or know much english. Things will go wrong and not everything you plan will work out. Be to other what you would be to them. Making friends is a part of the experience and sometimes you may meet someone who will make a difference in your life forever. As I spent my summer in London, I became close with an American I met there. Now she is one of my best friends and I spent this past week visiting her in Florida! Traveling with someone will create special bonds.  That being said: here are some tips to not being a jerk and trying to have the best experience when you leave your home!

1. When on the plane – don’t take up any space that you don’t deserve. Planes are small and personal space is important. You already worked so hard packing up and making space for things you need – now realize that you are given a seat and some space above you for yourself. Be mindful of others. Unless you paid for more space or a first class seat – use the space allotted to you and only you. 

2. SHHHH. Control the volume of your voice. Some people want to nap and some people get nauseous when on plans. Help others be comfortable and watch how loud you speak. When your at your location – still keep this rule in mind. While in India I was told that I was being “american loud.” You may not notice it but depending on your culture you have a different perception on what constitutes for loud.

3. Be ready when its your turn. Airports are super stressful places to be in. Lines are probably long. Prepare while your in line for what you need next. If you’re going to have to take out your tickets and passport – your wait is your time! Utilize it. You don’t want to be the jerk that holds up the line. 

4. Recognize the difference in cultures. Do your research before you leave. This infographic above has a good chunk of information. From tipping to basic interactions with other cultures you don’t want to offend someone. If you’re going to Morroco for example know that it is unacceptable for a non muslim to enter the mosque if you wanted to visit one. Pick up a book or do a quick google search!

 

What rules or tips do you have to make sure you’re not a jerk?

Travel readers beware! A must read book recommendation.

Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz

There is no better experience then reading a book that reminds you of a city you have previously visited or reading a story that takes you to wherever the author wants to. Set in the 1940’s, Midaq Alley is a unique book allowing for readers to experience a transitional period  in Egyptian History. The title itself comes from the setting of the book, Midaq Alley a small poor street in Cairo with shops, cafe’s, and homes. This book can be used as a lens for readers to gain insight on the streets and life  of Cario in ways one can assume was only possible if you were there. Egypt has entered a period of history in the book where it is still trying to identify itself with progressive policies and modernization. This book allows the readers to see as Egypt begins to implement change specifically gender roles which are shifting as well.

Naguib Mahfouz wrote a truthful book, and utilized this little street called Midaq Alley to tell the tales of  Cairo in a truthful light. Many authors have not depicted or capture a time so real as Mahfouz did and it was a thoroughly enjoyable book to read. Upon picking up the book, I expected to see little shifts and moderanization but was truly suprised at each womans role in the book and story to tell. The authors tool to create a soap-opera-esque book painted the city of Cairo and its inhabitants in an intriguing light.

So all my faithful readers, please take a chance to read this book!

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