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Parisians: Is What They Say About Them True?

June 27, 2017

Parisians have quite the reputation around the world and sure enough, when we booked our flight to France, the warnings started coming in…

Don’t let them think you’re from the UK – be sure to tell them you’re Kiwis.

Start with as much French as you can – they won’t like if it you speak in English.

Could the French really be as closed-off as we’d been lead to believe?

With our bags packed and my basic-high-school-level French almost certainly about to let me down, we set out to find out.

Our first interactions with locals came as soon as we left the airport.  Straight off an early morning flight and look anything but fresh, we found our way onto the train and started studying the map above the door to figure out how many stations would pass before we were to get off.

Imagine our surprise when two ladies jumped straight into our conversation to help us.  Not only were they keen to share information with us but they suggested we follow them off the train as we’d be sharing the same stop.

Where was this Parisian attitude we’d heard so much about?

Surely it was on the way – we’d just struck it lucky?

Throughout the day we happily meandered through Paris, making purchases in shops and navigating the metro without any worries but before it was time to head to a specific spot for a booking we’d made.  Needing to be in a certain place, at a certain time, in a city we’re unfamiliar with whilst speaking another language?  Surely a recipe for disaster, right?

Wrong!

Lost and looking for the metro, we asked two burly policemen to point us in the right direction and before we knew it they were complimenting me on my French (which of course couldn’t be further from the truth) and chatting to us about where we were from.

Maybe it was that we led with French but a simple Excusez-moi, bonjour was all it took.

Headed in the right direction, we found our way to the home of Jean Yves to learn how to whip up a batch of world-class macarons.  Jean Yves opens his kitchen to locals and travellers alike, teaching them the tricks of the trade and who better to learn from than the winner of Masterchef France?!

Throughout our visit, Jean Yves was patient, kind and very generous with his knowledge – everything you’d hope for but potentially not what we’d been told to expect of a Parisian.

By now, we were beginning to think we’d got it all wrong about the French and for the remainder of the trip, that’s exactly what we found to be the case.

Our encounters were, for the most part, very welcoming and we experienced no shortage of locals willing to converse with us in English… to the point where I found myself almost a little disappointed not to practice my French more!

The icing on the cake though?

As we approached the Eiffel Tower on a sunny summer’s day we realised we wouldn’t last long outside without our trusty sunscreen – unfortunately though, we’d left it back in Abu Dhabi and had struggled to find any earlier in the day.  We made one last-ditch effort to track some down and approached a vendor to see if he had any available for purchase.

Though he didn’t, you can imagine our surprise when he pulled two tubes out from behind the counter, offering up both face and body cream at absolutely no charge.  No he couldn’t sell us any but he was more than happy to ensure we were taken care of.

I don’t think I’ve been that well looked after anywhere in the world!

Of course we came across people that were less than pleasant but that’s life.  You’ll always encounter people having bad days or those that would rather keep to themselves than help – it’s certainly not something specific to Paris.

I assume this stereotype must be founded on the back of genuine experience but we personally found it to be anything but the case!

Though the French we encountered were incredibly helpful, it’s always nice to try your hand at the local language whilst travelling.  Not only do they appreciate it but it’s all a part of the experience.

The following basic phrases should get you started on your trip to Paris, but remember, if you do your best and approach your interactions with the right attitude, the Parisians really will look after you!

French 101:

Hello/Good day – Bonjour

Good evening – Bonsoir

How are you? (How’s it going?) – Comment ça va?

Things are going well – Ça va bien

My name is SarahJe m’appelle Sarah

And you? – Et Tu?

Please – S’il vous plait

Thank you – Merci

Thank you very much – Merci beaucoup

Excuse me – Excusez-moi

Sorry – Pardon

In English? – En anglais? Or even better, en anglais s’il vous plait?

Do you speak English? – Parlez vous anglais?

Goodbye – Au revoir

With some basic French under your belt and a great big smile, we really do hope you’ll have the same experience that we did in Paris.

Though it was a city that wasn’t top of either of our European wish-lists, we came away having had a ball in the City of Love and have a completely new appreciation for the French.

Isn’t it fabulous when expectations are blown out of the water?


Have you visited Paris?  If so, what was your experience of interacting with the French?  We’d love to hear from you!

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We were warned about Parisians before we even flew into France - is what they say about them true though? Find out our experience here...

Are you looking for an amazing place to stay whilst you visit Paris?  We absolutely fell in love with Adèle & Jules, finding the staff to be the epitome of the welcoming Parisians we met elsewhere.  We couldn’t recommend them enough!

Abu Dhabi Accommodation Luxury Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

The Most Luxurious Desert Hotel in the World: Qasr Al Sarab

June 23, 2017

Located on the edge of the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert, Rub Al Khali, Qasr Al Sarab delivers absolute luxury in a bucket-list location.  We visited to find out if it really could live up to the high praise it receives and we left every bit amazed.  Read on for our review of this spectacular Anantara property…

Since moving to Abu Dhabi almost two years ago, Qasr Al Sarab (“the Mirage Palace”) has been top of our wish-list.  This incredible property really is the incarnation of an Arabian dreamscape.

Can anywhere really live up to that level of hype though?  Though it’s hard to believe, yes!

Luxury in the Desert

Located approximately two hours from Abu Dhabi City (or three from Dubai), Qasr Al Sarab has been providing the very best in luxury (and the UAE sure knows how to do that right!) since it opened in 2009.

With a design that clearly mirrors its surrounding and gives a nod to the desert fortresses that once would have been prevalent in the area, there’s no denying where you are when you approach Qasr Al Sarab for the first time.

Everything about this hotel is beautifully considered – from the genuine Arabian antiques generously scattered throughout the property to the locally hand-crafted furnishings, this resort oozes warmth and romance.

Every room and common space offers expansive views out over the ever-changing sand dunes and let’s face it, it’s precisely those views that will spur your desire to visit Qasr Al Sarab.

As you would expect of any five star property, Qasr Al Sarab has a superb range of leisure facilities including a 24-hour gym, tennis, basketball, yoga, volleyball, spa services and of course, that bucket-list-worthy swimming pool.  When the sun goes down at night and the pool starts to glow, you’ll pinch yourself – it’s hard to believe that a place as beautiful as Qasr really exists!

If you’ve got a family to entertain there is both a kids and teens club and a wide range of organised activities that are designed to engage every single member of the crew.  Archery, nature walks, dune bashing, horse riding, fat biking, sand boarding and more – the resort is perfectly equipped, allowing you to be as active (or relaxed) as you like.

The resort offers a range of room types, from the beautifully appointed Deluxe Garden Rooms to the Royal Pavilion Villas, each serviced by private butler.  Should you opt for a villa, you’ll be treated to your own private pool, taking your bucket-list accommodation to the next level again – is that even possible?!

Why not take it a step further?  The team at Qasr Al Sarab can can even arrange a private helicopter offering a door-to-door service.  It’s all in a day’s work when you live in the lap of luxury!

Don’t worry though, if your budget won’t quite extend to private swimming pools, butlers and tailor-made chef tastings, they can also arrange a private chauffeur to transfer you from the city to the resort, or do as we did and drive yourself out in a rental car.

However you get there and whichever room you settle on, you’ll enjoy the facilities, service and views that make this undoubtedly the best desert hotel in the world.

Eat Like a King (actually, make that a Sheikh) 

With a number of restaurants and bars onsite, there’s an option to suit every occasion.

From the sumptuous but casual breakfast buffet, served each morning in Al Waha (including live cooking stations and donuts!) to the gorgeous fine-dining restaurant, Suhail, guests are able to treat themselves throughout the day.  We also enjoyed a lunch and casual dinner pool-side at Ghadeer – it’s a great place to unwind whilst making the most of the beautiful outdoor area.

Everything we ate during our stay was delicious and, as expected, the service was second-to-none.  You wouldn’t expect anything less at a resort like this.

Sunset Camel Trekking

Though we’ve rode camels on a number of occasions now, our experience in the Liwa Desert was by far the best.

Never ones to turn down an adventure, I must admit, we went in without particularly high exceptions – we are after all, a little bit spoilt by now when it comes to camels!

Not only have we ridden camels along the base of the pyramids in Cairo and through the towering valleys of Petra, but there was something special about this trek.  It felt more authentic than the rides that we’d been on in the past – almost as if we were trekking through the desert with our newfound bedouin friends.

Surrounded by massive dunes (literally, the biggest we’ve ever seen), we wove our way around and up through this sandy paradise, reaching for one of the highest peaks.  As we did so, we relaxed, soaking in the sights all around us, whilst listening to our guide impart his knowledge of the area to us.  He knew the desert inside out and was more than happy to explain the history of the area and share what he knew about the indigenous animals and plants.  Most of all, we enjoyed learning more about Islam through him – never in a forced manner, only ever sharing what we asked of him.  

It was such a pleasure connecting on a personal level and really did sum up our entire experience at Qasr Al Sarab; the team there care deeply about their guests and it shows in all of their interactions.

Back to the whole reason we were there though – to catch the unset in the most authentically Arabian of ways.

As we slipped over the crest of the huge dune, we were greeted with tea, coffee, fresh juices, dates and fruit kebabs along with cushions and stools from which we could perch and enjoy the slowly setting sun.

The more energetic amongst us decided to climb higher still, summiting the very top of the sand dune to catch the sun drifting below the horizon.

If you’re ever visited the Middle East, you’ll appreciate that there’s nothing quite like a sunset here.  The sun feels just that little closer here than it does elsewhere, glowing the most gorgeous shade of crimson – it has to be seen to be believed and where better than in the depths of the desert whilst being treated to the most luxurious of adventures?

With the last of the daylight fading away, we all pulled off our shoes and raced directly down the steepest bank to the awaiting 4WDs for the trip back to our Arabian oasis.

Why Do the Dunes Look So Different?

You’ll notice that the dunes look significantly different in each photograph.  In person, the colours change frequently, with the only real consistency amongst dunes being their inconsistent colouration!  This is due to the varying mineral compounds and the way in which they interact with the environment – iron-oxide, for example, gives much of the desert it’s obvious red/orange colour – it is quite literally, rust.

With the different colours of the dunes, the stunning Arabian sunshine and the winds constantly repositioning the sand, you’ll be sure to see a different desert-scape at each different time of the day, so don’t hide yourself away in your room – get out there!

Save Your Pennies – Qasr Al Sarab deserves to be on the top of your bucket list

Qasr Al Sarab is special, there’s no two ways about it.  Without doubt, this remote hotel will remain one of the most unique and memorable places we’ll ever stay.

Sure, you’ll need to reach into your pockets to book a room but we assure you the experience will stay with you long after the pain of looking at your bank account is gone.

If you have the opportunity to visit Qasr Al Sarab, snap it up!


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Qasr Al Sarab is the best luxury desert hotel in the world. Located in the Liwa Desert it offers world class restaurants, activities, relaxation and the ultimate in luxury. Don't visit Abu Dhabi or Dubai without heading out into the desert!Qasr Al Sarab is the best luxury desert hotel in the world. Located in the Liwa Desert it offers world class restaurants, activities, relaxation and the ultimate in luxury. Don't visit Abu Dhabi or Dubai without heading out into the desert!

Thank you to Anantara for inviting us for the purpose of this review.  As always all thoughts are our own.  We had the most amazing stay at Qasr Al Sarab and every single person we know that has visited has absolutely sung their praises.  A word of warning though – you’ll probably be ruined for all future accommodation – it’ll have a hard time living up to this!

Accommodation Dubai Mid-Range Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

Dear Leisure Travellers: Why a business hotel might be your best move yet

June 12, 2017

Though a beautiful resort might be at the top of the wish-list for most leisure travellers, we urge you not to rule out a stay at a business hotel just yet.  Why?  Read on to find out…

Business hotels aren’t typically on the forefront of a leisure travellers mind but if you’re looking to save some money whilst packing in the facilities, we’d encourage you to consider one.  They tend to prioritise the most essential services, forgoing the ones that travellers can happily live without and cutting down your bill in the process.

These hotels are targeted as business travellers (not exactly surprising, right?) who expect the basics to be done perfectly and who doesn’t want that?

Comfort and Class without the Cost

Each business hotel will vary slightly in the facilities that it offers but they all operate with a similar premise – to cut down on unnecessary expense whilst providing a quiet and comfortable place to unwind (and obviously get some work done, should you choose).

We’ve stayed at a number of business hotels now but the our favourite would easily be the Centro Barsha in Dubai.  It’s perfectly located, comfortable and best of all, it ticks all of the boxes without costing the earth.

Dubai can be an expensive place to find a room so when you find one that treats you well, you return time and time again.

What Makes the Centro Barsha Special?

We had a fantastic weekend away at the Centro Barsha for a number of reasons – food, rest, welcoming smiles – considering the price of the rooms, they really punch above their weight!

Whilst there isn’t room service on offer, there is an in-house restaurant that consistently makes delicious food (seriously, it’s that good!) and should you choose, you’re welcome to take it up to your room.

If you’re looking to save even more money in Dubai, some of their rooms include a fully-equipped kitchenette which makes the preparation of a tasty home-cooked meal a breeze (assuming you can actually cook of course – no hotel can work miracles!)

Whilst you’re in the UAE you really have to check out their brunch culture at least once though and the Centro Barsha is the place to do so if you’re keeping an eye on your spending.

Each Friday from midday, the hotel runs an orange themed brunch (aptly named the BubbleOrange Brunch) and, without doubt, it would be the best value brunch we’ve been to in our two years in the United Arab Emirates.  Though the selection was smaller than many of the brunches we’ve attended, every dish we tried there was tasty and with the choice of premium a la carte options (at no additional charge), our tummies couldn’t have been happier.

If you’re new to Dubai, be sure to try their um-ali, a delicious Middle Eastern bread and butter pudding – easily the best version of this I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

When you’re ready to sleep off all that food, you’ll find that the rooms are nicely sound-proofed and because of the clientele they attract, you’re practically guaranteed a good nights sleep – say goodbye to noisey neighbours and hello to sweet dreams.

Fast WiFi?  You bet.

A great selection of TV channels?  Of course.

So what if you won’t be able to book an in-hotel massage?  Pop down the road and you’ll find a local spa offering them at a significant discount to most resorts.

And whilst you’re there, check out The Mall of the Emirates – what used to be the biggest mall in Dubai (now only surpassed by The Dubai Mall) – and hit the slopes at the largest indoor ski-field in the world (in the desert, no less).

If you’re looking for ways to relax on-site, there’s a roof-top pool, a lively bar and a well-equipped gym – after all, business people like to take a bit of time out too.

Dubai has so much to offer and though there’s plenty of free/low cost sightseeing to be had, the paid activities soon add up – whatever you do, don’t blow your entire budget on a resort and leave yourself saying no to those once in a lifetime activities on offer.

What to Consider When Booking a Business Hotel

Though business hotels tick lots of boxes, regardless of your travel style, there are a few things to consider.

Is the location close to the tourist activities you want to see?

Is local transport easily accessible from the hotel location?

Do you require services that will likely be found at a full-service hotel?

As long as you’re happy with the answers to those questions then a business hotel really could be a serious contender for your next vacation.  Consider what really matters to you and think about the alternative accommodation options on offer to you – you may find yourself having the trip of a lifetime with the money you save!


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Business hotels can be a great option for leisure travellers. Save money, sleep comfortably and maximise your travel budget. Find out why we love business hotels when we're on vacation!

Thank you to Centro Barsha for inviting us along to review their brunch and learn more about what makes their business hotel special.  As always, all thoughts are our own.  Since returning, I’ve spoken to a number of friends in the UAE that have returned to the Centro time and time again for weekend Dubai trips so it’s clearly a local favourite! 

Activities Adventure Dubai Middle East United Arab Emirates

Take a Break from Reality in Dubai – The Void

June 8, 2017

Dubai‘s known for pushing boundaries so where better to introduce a new form of hyper-reality.  Combining digital and physical worlds, guests are transported into Ghostbusters: Dimension – the question is though, is it worth your time?

Located on the shore of The Beach at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence), The Void is hard to miss – brightly lit, perched on the edge of the sand, it doesn’t give many clues away as to what’s hidden inside.

The Void – What’s it all about?

THE VOID uses Hyper-Reality — a combination of physical sets, real-time interactive effects and virtual reality — and its RAPTURETM hardware to create sensory and emotional immersion. The RAPTURE series includes a head mounted display, a vest with 22 points of haptic feedback, a BACKTOPTM gaming computer, and the multifunctional Mark IV gun. Each stage is modular and built for experiences that are mapped digitally over the physical space.

In layman’s terms, guests get geared up in digitally-connected vests and helmets (that incorporate both headphones and digital virtual-reality goggles and make their way into a world that merges the physical with the digital.

As soon as the headsets are dropped, your friend standing beside you takes on a new form.  Each player pops up on the display as their chosen avatar, moving in time to their real actions.

When you reach for a door handle, you’ll feel yourself really touching one – only you’ll see a digital version of it (and a digital version of your own arm).  It takes a few minutes to adjust to the sensation, but once you do, you’re in for a great time!

With a vibrating proton blaster in hand, players make their way through this bizarre new world completing challenges as they go.

We weren’t certain of what to expect going into The Void.  It was our first experience of fully-immersive virtual reality and due to the secretive nature of the experience, there’s not a great deal of information available online.  Cameras aren’t allowed in the game itself and even if they were, it would be impossible to photograph the imagery you’d see through your headset.

We were pleasantly surprised by just how easy it was to move around through the experience – the gear itself was light-weight and the VR experience was well matched to the physical elements around us.  We were warned that some people feel a little disoriented or dizzy at the start but nobody in our group of four experienced this so I think it’s fair to say that most people will be unaffected by this.

 The challenges themselves were entertaining and though I won’t give too much away, there’s a part of the experience where the (digital) wall of a skyscraper falls away, leaving players afraid of heights clinging onto the handrail for dear life.  The scene felt incredibly realistic and was a real highlight of the game for me.

Hyper-Reality – The way forward?

Our experience at The Void was unlike anything we’d tried before and for that reason alone, it was absolutely worth doing.  The technology they employ is beyond belief and to step into the future for fifteen minutes was a real treat.

As we left, Nathan commented that he’d have loved for the experience to have run a little longer, which I think says it all.

The Void is a great addition to The Beach and a must-see stop on your visit to Dubai, the city of the future.


Should you want to visit The Void in Dubai, tickets are available online for AED110 per person.  Advance booking is suggested.  Guests must be 12 years of age or older and 120cm tall to participate.

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Virtual reality steps it up with hyper-reality in Dubai. An exciting tourist activity, make sure to plan a stop at The Void as you sight-see in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.Virtual reality steps it up with hyper-reality in Dubai. An exciting tourist activity, make sure to plan a stop at The Void as you sight-see in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Void had us along to review their hyper-reality experience.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Activities Athens Food Greece

Alternative Athens: The Tastiest Way to Get to Know Greece’s Capital!

June 6, 2017

Jade and her husband, Mark have decided that there’s practically no better way than to get comfortable with a city than to do so on a food tour – we couldn’t agree more!  Read on for their review of Alternative Athens and to gain a little insider’s foodie knowledge about this incredible city.

Walking to meet our guide outside the perfectly distinguishable Public store in Syntagma Square, I couldn’t help but marvel at how fond I had become of Athens and its quirks in just a matter of days. I found a new juxtapose on every corner. There is an undeniable scent of fresh Mediterranean air in an obviously overpopulated city, deposited from trees growing through narrow brick footpaths. Footpaths that were backed by the exterior of new and ancient buildings, none excluded from the marvellous jumble of spray-paint tagging and street art.

Remembering the countless times I had read comments similar to ‘you only need one day in Athens’ online made me contemplate the reason for this. I wondered if the Acropolis overshadowed mainstream tourists from looking past the city’s centrepiece. Or was it time-limited cruise ship itineraries favouring the islands, that tried to justify such an intense focus solely on their ancient structures? Perhaps something else?

Either way, by the time we reached our meeting point, my belly rumbling for it’s morning portions, my expectation grew. We’d been on a food tour before so with an idea of what awaited us and a hungry tummy it’s fair to say I couldn’t wait for our gastronomic exploration to begin!

Love food tours?  Check out our review of Wake Up Reykjavik in Iceland and Eating Italy in Rome too.

When I had found the Delicious Athens Food Tour online my attraction to the tour description was instant; specialty foods, all time Greek classics yet unknown to me and a chance to explore the ‘belly of the city’ with a local? Sign me up! Backed up by Trip Advisor Certificates of Excellence, glowing reviews and mentions in top media and publishing companies I knew this was how I wanted to see Athens.

What better way to explore a city than by its best cuisine?

Returning a smile from a new arrival nearby who fumbled in her bag for a laminated sign, I knew we had found our guide. Tania was quick to introduce herself with a warm and heartfelt ‘welcome to Athens and the morning tour’.

To our surprise and delight Mark and I had Tania to ourselves for the morning. We set off immediately, quickly chatting like old school friends catching up after travels.

Tasting Athens – Why Food Tours are the Best Way to See a City!

Not holding back, I endeavoured to sample everything offered.

Up first: Greek Coffee.

Sitting in a local’s favourite restaurant run since the 1960’s (and for the second time in my life) I had a mug of coffee. Surprisingly, I liked it! Brewed in a traditional Biriki made of Copper, I opted for the sweetest version (I hate to think how much sugar…) while hubby indulged in the full bitter flavour of a traditional coffee.

Tania explained how the drink was more often referred to as being Turkish; due to the 400-year Ottoman ruling in Greece many culinary traditions were now shared between the countries, their true origins lost in time. Guiding us on taking the last sip, Tania explained the ancient art of coffee fortune telling and helped us give it a try.

Our next stop saw us wander through an indoor gallery of upmarket restaurants before turning and stopping roadside at one of the many bread carts found around the city. We sampled a mid-morning Koulouri, mirroring local habits.

Reminding me of something between a pretzel and a bagel, the sweet, firm bread, looped in a large circle was tasty and easy to eat on the run. No wonder this was the Athenians mid morning go-to.

While discussing local Athenian lifestyles and sharing our own eating traits and favourite foods our adventure continued.

Stopping at a well loved whole foods and organic store we were taken to a table waiting with all sorts of treats ready for our inquisitive mouths. We sampled tasty cold pressed olive oils, a delicious vinegar made from sour cherries, feta served with olive oil and again with thyme honey (oh so rare and flavoursome) along with a beautiful smooth wine made from an ancient Greek grape, thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1970’s.

Before leaving we had a chance to look around the store. Check out these fantastic seasoning postcards I found. If only I could send them home to New Zealand!

Loukoum, the Greek version of a Turkish delight was up for trial for us.

We made our way to a store dedicated to products made from mastic; a resin gathered from a mastic tree produced on the Greek island of Chios. I loved the buttery texture of this Greek sweet (nothing like the chocolate covered Turkish delight produced by mainstream confectionary companies) but I am still unsure if I liked the flavour of mastic. It was unlike anything I had tasted before; one of those flavours where you need to go back to it another time (or more) before making your final decision.

Have you ever indulged in traditional handmade baklava?

Our next stop displayed trays full of different kinds of baklava sprawling through cabinet windows in an unsuspecting bakery. Layers of paper thin pastry and finely chopped nuts soaked in just the right amount of sweet honey to give a gooey bottom and crisp crunch on top. I wanted to pocket a handful of each tray! there were so many options to choose from – check out that chocolate baklava.

Incredible!

Having had our morning coffee boost, carbs, cheese and pastry it was time to get serious.

Our next stop was hyped by Tania as we walked; no matter what time of the day there could be a queue because the food was so good, an Athenian favourite. Souvlaki.

The best in town came from a relatively inconspicuous store, mid-block, fronting a pedestrian walkway with simple seating out front.  Able to purchase the meat sticks from the window on the street it oddly reminded me of a school canteen.

That souvalaki though! Beautiful tender bites of pork perfectly seasoned and the squeeze of lemon just topped it off. Had there not been more of the tour to go I would have gone back for seconds… and probably thirds.

To help burn off some of the food we had consumed before our next stop we diverted down a back alley to check out the meat, fish and veg market in Omonia.

Tania warned us before entering that it would penetrate the senses and boy was she right. It was loud, wet (so be careful underfoot) and it had all the expected odours. She also gave us a heads up that the traders might catcall young ladies who walked through, explained that is was harmless but checked we were comfortable to continue (of course we were). Now I can’t understand Greek but I could tell the difference between prices and products being yelled and the catcalling, I could only guess what they were saying, but we had a laugh about it and carried on our merry way looking at everything on offer.

Up next, my absolute favourite from the morning, we had a serving of bougatsa. Freshly made in the café we visited, we were lucky enough to see the chef’s effortless skill building the next batch for the oven. A custard, cream and semolina mix (flavoured perfectly with orange zest) was parcelled in crunchy, icing dusted pastry, I couldn’t get enough of it!

As full as I was, I ate it all and wanted more. Impressed with the dish, Mark and I grabbed a piece of bougatsa several times later in our trip, but none rivalled our first taste of this delicious pastry from that beautifully decorated café in the back streets of Athens.

Our final stop was at a local taverna where we sampled a beautiful honey soaked baked cheese dish sprinkled with sesame seeds and a platter of traditional dips. The baked cheese was gone in seconds (it was so tasty) and sampling the dips, I really enjoyed the tzatziki (yoghurt dip), but found the fava (puree of fava beans and olive oil) and melitzanosalata (eggplant salad) were full of flavour but not so much to my taste.

Walking Athens

Over and above tasting all the amazing food, we got an insider’s understanding of the underbelly of modern Athens. We discussed recent history and local practices as Tania confidently navigated us to each stop. Walks between stops were short and easy, occasionally dodging a cat, bike or car along the way.

As we walked we heard how internal migration patterns in Greece were changing and tired areas were becoming reinvigorated as new trends came and went through the city. Tania shared her love for all things Greek and what she liked about guiding – she had such a passion for sharing her culture with others that it was hard not to be moved.

During our journey there were other gems we saw along with way, like the tiny shop from where all of the bread carts selling koulouri were stocked. We walked through Euriopdies street and ogled all the dried meats, spices and herbs displayed in the shops, ducking in to take a closer look and smell. We meandered through Psirri and the Square of the Heroes, hearing about its Mafia-like history and recent gentrification. I desperately wanted to return for dinner at one of the quaint restaurants under the trees. We stopped for photos with a decorated Greek music cart, commonly featured in older Greek movies.

Tania enlightened us on just how much more there was to Athens than the ruins it was famous for and I was left wishing we had more time.

Ending in Monastiraki, a great place to explore, people watch and browse the bustling shops it was time to say goodbye. At our last stop Tania gave us a helpful map of Athens and promised to email us recipes so we could try our hand at making some of what we had sampled. As promised we received a easy to follow PDF by email and bougatsa is on there. I can’t wait to give it a go!

Needless to say our morning with Tania lived up to the hype and I have been recommending this tour to others wholeheartedly ever since.

Best done at the start of your trip so you can orientate yourself easily through the best parts of the inner city, I implore you to join Alternative Athens on their Delicious Athens Food Tour.

Mark on a map all of the restaurants and areas your fantastic guide will point out so you can continue your gastronomic adventure on your own.

I only wish we had more time to do so – there was just not enough room in my tummy to sample all of the food we wanted to pocket on the way!

Honestly, if you miss this tour you are missing out on some of the best secrets, tastes and gems Athens has to offer… and nobody wants that, do they?


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Check out the best food tours in Athens, Greece. Find the best restaurants, cafes and foodie secrets. Food, travel, architecture, great company, this sight-seeing trip has it all! Are you hungry for adventure?Check out the best food tours in Athens, Greece. Hidden hotspots, food, travel, architecture, great company, this sight-seeing trip has it all! Are you hungry for adventure?

Thank you to Alternative Athens for hosting Mark and Jade to review their Delicious Athens Food Tour.  As always, all thoughts are their own – as you can see though, they had a ball!

Accommodation Activities Dubai Expat Life Mid-Range Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

Stopping Over in Dubai – A Newbie’s Guide

June 4, 2017

Dubai truly is the epitome of luxury, the cars, the buildings, the hotels and the attractions.  It has so much to offer! If you haven’t visited or you are planning to visit read more to find out how to spend a weekend in Dubai.

Living as an expat in a different country is exciting but just like any other country, you get caught up in daily routines and life in general.  In the end, a lot of things are the same as they would be if I was still living in my home country.  I still spend the last day of the weekend frantically trying to get my lessons planned (only the day has changed from a Sunday to a Saturday), I still spend every day after school battling myself to get to the gym (only now the gym is in my building and I don’t really have any excuse – regardless though, I’m the queen of making them), I still spend the evenings cooking dinner and getting lunch ready for the next day and I still binge watch My Kitchen Rules.

Even though I live in an exciting and exotic location, life still goes on.

Every now and again though, I’m reminded of what an amazing place I do live in.  These moments are sporadic but they energise me and remind me to count my blessings.  In those moments, it strikes me just how lucky I am to be living this awesome life!

Dubai is one of places for me.

Every time we start to approach the Marina area and the high-rises emerge from the plains of sand I think how cool is it that I live in the UAE?!  It’s amazing that in around an hour and half I can drive to Dubai and experience all that this amazing city has to offer – people from all around the world dream of visiting and I’m lucky enough to have it on my doorstep.

Regardless of what brings you to Dubai, whether you live locally or are stopping off on the way somewhere else, this guide is for you.

Have fun, soak it all in and, when you’re done, waive the city goodbye, knowing that in a few years it will look substantially different – there’s nothing quite like it.

What to do in Dubai

Dubai is not short of fantastic things to do.  To some, this city is a shopping paradise but look beneath the surface and you’ll find it’s so much more than that.

The following are just some of my favourite ways to while away the time in this incredible city.

Sightseeing on the Water – Splash Tours

Splash Tours is a fairly new company based out of Dubai Marina that offer jet boat tours around the Palm and Dubai Marina – and man is it fun!  Before embarking on our journey we had imagined a tame, leisurely round-trip sightseeing tour.  The only thing we managed to get right was the round-trip part!

It was a thrilling adventure that had some of our fellow passengers white-knuckling the seats in front of them.  With the boat traveling up to 30 knots (around 55km/h), at times we felt like we were flying through the water.  If this doesn’t sound exhilarating enough, the twists, turns and 360’s definitely got the blood pumping!

The best part?  Not only were we jetting around The Palm but we were soaking up all of the iconic Dubai sights too.  With stops in front of JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence), Atlantis the Palm, and the Burj Al Arab (the first seven star hotel in the world), a speedboat tour from the marina is the perfect way to tick all of your touristy boxes.

Not sure what all the buildings are or have questions along the way?  Don’t worry, they’ll have you covered with their knowledgeable onboard tour guide.  Ours was more than happy to provide us with facts and interesting information along the way – we’ve never had so much fun learning before!

Most importantly, we didn’t feel in danger at any time.  The crew were professional and we felt safe and secure every step of the way.

My only advice, apart from booking this tour immediately, would be apply sunscreen before setting out as the Middle Eastern sun is strong and there isn’t a lot of shade on the boats.

Dubai Museum

Dubai hasn’t always been 100% glitz and glamour – far from it in fact.  To gain an insight into life before the Emirates discovered oil, head to Dubai Museum.  There you’ll develop a surprising understanding of the emirate all housed inside the oldest building in Dubai, Al Fahidi Fort.

The displays recreate the way in which people would have traditionally lived and worked in Dubai and also explore the previous uses of the fort.

It’s informative and interesting to see how Dubai looked before all the high rises – it certainly didn’t always look as it does now!

Souks

Dubai is known for its luxurious hotels and expansive shopping malls but to your average person, not so much for its traditional souks.  If you’re visiting this amazing metropolis, you’ll no doubt want a taste of Arabic culture though and there’s no better place to get it than at one of their traditional markets.

Located across from Dubai Museum, you will find the textile souk which is a little like stepping back in time.  This is a great place to pick up presents and souvenirs for your family or just to peruse the colourful and vibrant displays.  The textile souk is still full of fabric shops and tailors ready to create a masterpiece, along with stalls selling beautiful pashminas, bright glass lamps and your typical tourist souvenirs.

Friendly bartering is expected and the way to ensure you get the best bargain.

From the textile souk you can catch a long boat across Dubai Creek (they are frequent, inexpensive and leave once the boat is full).  Once on the other side of the creek, you will find yourself in Deria, the oldest residential area in Dubai.

The short walk from the docks had us questioning if we were still in Dubai!  This is a side to the city that is rarely seen – the buildings are run down, the markets sell various wares (trinkets, school bags, material, abayas and an assortment of goodies) and, unlike in the malls, the shoppers aren’t locals – chances are they’re either tourists or some of the many expats that you will find living and working in Dubai.

After passing the markets crammed with what feels like a thousand different ethnicities and being hounded by the shop assistants to snap up their best deals, you will find yourself at Al Souk Al Kabir.  Here there’s a perfume souk, spice souk and the infamous gold souk, so plenty of opportunities to test out your new-found bartering skills.

Pro tip – if you’re not interested in making a purchase, a friendly but firm la, shukran (no, thank you) will see you left in peace.

While I wasn’t in the market to purchase any jewellery (it was slightly out of my price range) it’s a great way to spend some time  If you are looking for something shiny to take home, you’ll want to note that each jewellery piece has their weight written on the tag – this will determine the price depending on the gold prices for that day.

Burj Khalifa Fountains

A trip to Dubai isn’t complete without a visit to the Dubai fountains!  They put on an incredible show every half hour from 6pm, at which time the fountains burst to life, dancing in time to the booming music.  The tunes normally alternate between English and Arabic.

The back drop of the Burj Kahlifa is nearly as mesmerising as the fountains themselves and it still astounds me how talented the technicians must be who create the sequence and how much time they must put into planning out these phenomenal shows.

The fountains get very busy and, at times, finding a good spot can be challenging, as everyone vies for the prime spot with the Burj Khalifa in the background.

Pro tip – Head into Dubai Mall where on the second floor you will find several restaurants that have fabulous views overlooking the fountains.

Brunch

This is one of the favourite past times of western expats living in the UAE and though you may think you know what brunch is, you may just find yourself surprised.  The term brunch is significantly different in the UAE.

Brunch here is an all-you-can-eat affair that lasts for around 4 hours and generally falls only on Friday afternoons (our weekend).  The hotels that host these events are often the epitome of luxury.  The food is  usually so incredible that it’s hard to hold yourself back and with an amazing selection of top-notch international cuisine, why would you?

If you find yourself in Dubai on a Friday I would recommend trying out this favourite past time for yourself.

More Time up your Sleeve?

If you have more time in Dubai there is a plethora of activities for you to explore, including but  by no means limited to the following:

  • No trip to the middle east would be complete without participating in a desert safari, you will find yourself absolutely enthralled or terrified while dune bashing in 4WDs, once at your desert camp you will have the opportunity to dress like the locals while eating Middle Eastern cuisine and participating in whole array of different activities.
  • For nature lovers, check out Green Planet or Miracle Garden – both might take you by surprise within the concrete jungle that Dubai is.
  • If shopping is more you thing (and let’s face it, this is Dubai) check out Dubai Mall (which has a huge aquarium in the middle of the mall), Mall of the Emirates (which also houses an indoor ski slope) and head to Outlet Village to try and get high quality brands at discounted prices.
  • Or for a dose of excitement, there are countless possibilities with Skydive Dubai, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Aquaventure, Wild Wadi Waterpark and Aventura just being the tip of the iceberg.

Getting Around

The fastest and most convenient way to get around Dubai is by taxi.  They are well priced but be sure to enquire if they know how to get to your location before departing – if not try another taxi.

In other parts of the world, it might be surprising to find taxi drivers unsure of their own routes but buildings shoot up so quickly here, roads change in a flash and many taxi drivers are new to the country, so allowances certainly have to be made in the UAE.

Uber is another option but this will be dependent on your internet access in order to book one.  I’ve found Uber to be just as fast and often cheaper so it certainly is a good option.

Whatever you do, try to avoid the unregistered taxis at the airport – jump in one that’s sign written as they’ll always use the meter and you’ll be sure to pay a fair fare.  That is, assuming you picked someone that knows where you’re going.

During peak traffic times, which can be hard work in Dubai, it may be quicker to take the metro.  Dubai Metro is made up of two lines and covers an extensive part of the city.  Make sure you purchase a ticket before boarding as these driverless trains don’t have ticket conductors onboard.

Where to Stay

For this weekend staycation we opted to stay at the Amwaj Rotana.

I have a soft spot for the Rotana brand as on moving to the UAE I was housed in the Park Rotana for just over a month.  It was my first taste of the luxury that you grow accustomed to in the UAE and the customer service blew me away.

I was very eager to find out if the Amwaj Rotana would live up to the exceptional customer service I’ve come to expect from the Rotana brand and they didn’t disappoint.

Location, Location, Location

The Amwaj Rotana is located in the heart of JBR (Jumeriah Beach Residence) which is a stone throw from The Walk – a beautiful part of Dubai.

The Walk is a stunning outdoor area with plenty of al fresco dinning, boutique shopping and a beautiful promenade that has plenty to offer with parks, carnival games, a free public beach and even an outside gym facility.  It’s a great place to spend a day or an evening, provided you don’t start to melt with the heat and humidity that Dubai is known for in the summer months.

Checking out the Amwaj Rotana

Amwaj Rotana was built in 2010 and is one of the largest hotels located in JBR.  It has 301 rooms and suites spread over 25 floors, with each of the modestly decorated rooms being bigger than your standard hotel room.  The enormous beds are so comfortable that you will find it hard to get up in the mornings and, incredibly, every room has a balcony with unobstructed views of the stunning Arabian Gulf and Palm Jumeirah.

The hotel facilities will ensure that you have a memorable stay.  Aside from the standard facilities offered by hotels, the Amwaj also offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to popular shopping malls in Dubai, a car rental service, an on call doctor and a hair and beauty salon.

Recreational activities include a fully equipped gym (with 24 hour access), a jacuzzi, sauna, spa, steam rooms and for the little ones, Flipper’s Kids Club.  My personal favourite was the pool which I was absolutely fell in love with.  Not only was the water perfectly refreshing but with its location on a bridge that spanned the road, you were literally swimming above Dubai’s traffic!

Without doubt though, the highlight of my stay was the level of customer service.  The staff were amazing, so friendly, professional and went above and beyond to make our stay a memorable one.  It was impressive how we were greeted by name everywhere we went in the hotel and in a city as big as Dubai, it’s a small touch like that that makes a hotel feel a little more like home.

How do you really judge a hotel though?  Everyone looks for something different in their perfect stay but I’m a real sucker for hotel slippers.  I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with them – I really need to stop collecting them as I have far too many knocking around home!

The first thing I usually do on arriving at a hotel is locate the complementary slippers, kick of my shoes and slide my tiny feet into them.  For this reason I’ve decided to accompany any accommodation reviews with Sarah’s slipper rating.

With that said, Amwaj Rotana slippers come in at 4 stars (out of 5).  The only factor letting them down is I have tiny feet (UK size 4) so the slippers were swimming on me.

Everything about this hotel hit the spot for us – from the comfortable rooms to the high-pressured showers and everything in between.

Did Someone Say ‘Food’?

Within the Amwaj Rotana, there are plenty of options for fine cuisine.

For our visit, we settled on Rosso, an authentic Italian restaurant.  Being a bit of a foodie, I was very impressed with the menu and the gorgeous outdoor setting, made all the better by a portable air conditioning unit.

Aircon outside – don’t we live in an amazing time?!

The wait staff were attentive, knowledgeable and eager to make sure our evening was one to remember. Their suggestions on what to order were spot on and the only disappointment we experienced all evening was not having enough room for dessert.

To start we shared a traditional antipasto which was absolutely gorgeous and included a selection of Italian pork cold cuts (hard to find in the UAE), mixed grilled vegetables, olives, melon, figs, and bocconcino cheese. This all came accompanied with parmesan, pesto and a scrumptious focaccia.

After our generous starter I was feeling full but with a mushroom and truffle risotto truffle I found it in me to push on through – someone’s got to do it, right?

I love truffles and can’t get enough of this tiny-but-expensive mushroom.  I usually find restaurants to be a bit stingy with the truffle but not in this case!  The risotto was full of rich flavour; it was creamy and cheesy and had truffle mixed throughout the whole dish – not just served on the top as many places do. I would wholeheartedly recommend this dish to anyone dining at Rosso’s.

I can’t wait to head back again to experience their scrumptious food, outstanding service and relaxed setting.

Dubai – Stop Over or Fly Through?

Is Dubai somewhere you should consider visiting?

Absolutely!  Whether you live locally, are on holiday or are making a quick stopover, Dubai has something to offer for everyone. It has glitz and glam that will wow you, inviting beaches, high end shopping and theme parks that rival some of the best in the world.

Above all where else can you experience a modern city with a traditional twist?

It’s a truly vibrant city that knows how to put on a good show!

The best time to visit is in the winter months where you can really experience everything the city has to offer without those hot rays beating you down.

So, next time you are flying through this international hub, think about making a stop to explore fascinating Dubai!  You might just surprise yourself.


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Dubai: Your guide to the City of the Future. Iconic sight-seeing, delicious food, culture and the best places to stay - if you've never visited the UAE, this guide is for you!Dubai: Your guide to the City of the Future. Iconic sight-seeing, delicious food, culture and the best places to stay - if you've never visited the UAE, this guide is for you!Dubai: Your guide to the City of the Future. Iconic sight-seeing, delicious food, culture and the best places to stay - if you've never visited the UAE, this guide is for you!

Thank you to the Amwaj Rotana and Splash Tours for hosting Sarah for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Dubai Hatta Middle East United Arab Emirates

Exploring Hatta: Dubai, but not as you know it!

May 26, 2017

What do you think of when you think of Dubai?

Towering skyscrapers, architecture that defies engineering, larger than life lifestyles and infinite glitz and glamour?

You’d be right but, as with many places, there’s much more to Dubai than meets the eye.

For a start, Dubai itself is just a small part of a much larger emirate, home to people to a much more down-to-earth way of life.  As you approach the Omani border, you’ll find Hatta, a quiet mountain town where warm welcomes are abound and the bright lights of Dubai feel like they’re a lifetime away.

What to do in Hatta

Abuzz about Hatta

If there’s one thing we love about travelling, it’s trying out new things.  So when we were given the chance to suit up and check out Hatta’s hives up close, of course we were the first ones to put up our hands!

Feeling quietly-confident under our protective gear we enjoyed learning about the bees and the process the beekeepers go through to breed new queens, all whilst they buzzed around us.

As any good bee-visit should, we finished by tasting some of the locally produced honey (delicious) and their royal jelly too (not so tasty, but with plenty of health benefits we were assured) and bee pollen (pretty dreadful if I’m honest but again, healthy).

It was surprisingly relaxing listening to the drone of the bees – the sound filling the air whilst we stayed safe under our suits – and altogether a great experience that we’d have missed out on had we stayed tucked up at home!

If you too would like to get up close and personal with Hatta’s bees, drop the JA Hatta Fort Hotel a line and they’ll help organise a trip out.

Hatta Dam

Located just past the old town of Hatta, you’ll find Hatta Dam.  This reservoir serves not only to service the area with fresh water but so also a great spot for getting active.

You can rent a kayak or paddle boat from Hatta Kayak and enjoy a dose of fresh, cool air out on the water and soon hiking trails will be open, allowing visitors to check out the nearby mountains by foot.

Hatta Heritage Village

If you’re new to the United Arab Emirates or are just stopping by on a visit, you’ll want to learn more about the more traditional life of yesteryear.  Though Dubai city is a buzzing metropolis now, it hasn’t always been that way.

The Hatta Heritage Village is built around the original Hatta fort and its accompanying turrets and the village itself provides an interesting history of the area.  Here, visitors learn about how Emiratis lived, work and survived in such challenging environments.  Entrance is free and all tours are self-guided so you can take your time and explore at your own pace.

If you’ve explored other Emirati heritage villages, this one probably won’t add a lot in the way of new understanding but the fort is gorgeous and well worth a visit, even if only in passing.

Mountain Biking

Although we didn’t have a chance to take to the tracks, Hatta is becoming known for its unique trails that cater for all levels of riding ability in the lower Hajar Mountains.  Bikes are available to rent and there are toilets and basic camping/picnic facilities available at the start of the trails.

Where to Stay

Though Hatta is a comfortable drive from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, there’s enough to do out there that you’ll want to book in an overnight stay.  Plus, with the JA Hatta Fort Hotel offering so much in the way of attractions, a trip to Hatta wouldn’t be complete without paying them a visit!

JA Hatta Fort Hotel – Mountain Views in Dubai

The resort itself is a bit of a Dubai institution, known by some as ‘the Peacock Hotel’.  This is the type of place that families return to year after year, looking to reconnect and take a break from everyday life.

The recent renovations bring a beautiful breath of fresh air to the property whilst the hotel manages to retain its old-school charm.  Having visited ourselves, I can absolutely appreciate why return time and time again.  The staff treat you more like family than guests and the moment you pull into the front gate, all your worries get left behind.  In a place like Dubai where it sometimes feels like places are out to one-up each other, there’s something comforting about a place like the JA Hatta Fort Hotel.

As you would expect from a property that is finishing off their renovations, there are still nods to how the resort used it be.  The JA Hatta Fort Hotel being what it is, nobody really minds though – if anything, it almost adds to the charm of the place.

Set on 80 acres of manicured garden and lawn, this hotel is like an oasis rising amongst the mountains.  When we first arrived we couldn’t help but kick our shoes off and take a little walk along the lawn.  It’s fair to say that fresh grass is one of the things we really miss from back home so soaking up their expansive lawns was a real treat for the senses!

The chalets themselves have been tastefully redecorated and provide ample space to make yourself at home.  With complimentary tea/coffee facilities, bottled water, WiFi and satellite TV, along with a mini bar for those times you can’t bare to leave the comfort of your bed, there’s not much the rooms don’t take care of.

You’ll need access to refreshments in your room too – the bed was amongst the biggest we’ve had in the UAE and a haven of comfort that was hard to leave!

Plenty to Keep Everyone Busy

For some, a holiday is an opportunity to kick back, relax and do very little but eat, sleep and swim and whilst we can appreciate why some would want to do that, it’s not for us.

We like to strike the balance between relaxing and finding plenty to do.  In reality, we’re normally pretty busy on holiday.

The JA Hatta Fort Hotel was a dream come true for us in this regard thanks to the wide range of activities they offer onsite.  With two pools, tennis courts, archery, target shooting, mini golf, a jogging track through the mountains and an array of animals, guests are spoilt for choice, no matter how they prefer to unwind.

Delicious Dining Options

A little unsure of what to expect of the food at JA Hatta Fort Hotel, we went in with open minds and very quickly had them made up for us – the food there is top-notch.

With two main options on site, there’s Cafe Gazebo, a relaxed pool-side restaurant where breakfast and lunch are served and the swanky (and newly renovated) Jeema where evening diners are really treated to incredible food.

Though we enjoyed all of our meals at the hotel, it was dinner that really stood out for us both.  Nathan opted for the buffet whilst I ordered from the al a carte menu – both options were superb.  My butter chicken was incredible and came with the most delicious parathas and Nathan commented that although the buffet was amongst the smaller ones he’s seen in the UAE, it was also one of the tastiest.  It was certainly a case of fewer dishes done incredibly well.

How to Get There

Hatta is located near the border that joins the UAE with Oman and because of its distance from the city, requires a car to get there.

The drive itself is easy, taking less than 1.5 hours from the heart of Dubai or approximately 3 hours from Abu Dhabi.  In the process you’ll pass through towering sand dunes and mountain ranges but be careful not to take the road from Dubai whilst you’re checking out the views around you!  Only GCC Nationals are granted permission to pass through Oman at this check point so pay careful attention to the map below.

Our visit to Hatta was refreshing and a little surpising.  So close to Dubai’s buzzing city, it feels like a world away.  A calm, humble town, ready to take visitors in and show them another side of the UAE.

What more could you ask for?


Looking for an awesome Dubai staycation? Pin this post!

Exploring the other side of Dubai - calm, relaxed and humble, Hatta is the perfect staycation in the UAE. Find out what we recommend doing there with this guide to activities, accommodation, food and transport. Exploring the other side of Dubai - calm, relaxed and humble, Hatta is the perfect staycation in the UAE. Find out what we recommend doing there with this guide to activities, accommodation, food and transport.

Thank you to JA Resorts & Hotels for hosting our weekend and for the use of some of their photos.  We had a fantastic stay!  As always, all thoughts are our own.  To find out what others think, check out Trip Advisor.

Falkland Islands South America

A Practical Guide to Visiting the Falkland Islands

May 22, 2017

The Falkland Islands remain a real untouched gem in the South Atlantic Ocean.  A true nature lovers paradise, wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element in this southern archipelago.

If you’re well versed on the top reasons for visiting the Falklands, no doubt you’ll be wanting to book a trip there for yourself! But before you go brandishing your credit card, here’s everything you need to know about visiting this serene and spectacular island destination.

When to Visit the Falkland Islands

The summer months of December to February are the most popular time to visit the Falkland Islands. The weather at this time of the year is mild, there are longer daylight hours, and the island’s wildlife is at its peak.

As always though, travelling in the shoulder season also has its benefits. It’s generally cheaper, there are fewer people around to compete for that perfect photo op and there’s still plenty to see and do!

Seal pups start appearing on the beaches from September and consequently, this is also when Orcas are spotted offshore. October is the height of the elephant seal breeding season and a great time to watch these massive mammals congregating on the beach. From October you can find baby ducks and geese, and the the penguin chicks which start appearing in November.

I visited in March – at the end of the prime season – but there was still an abundance of wildlife on the islands.

Migrating birds don’t leave until April, and I spotted many seal pups still clinging to their mother’s sides. It was also a great time to see the penguins. Large colonies stood around moulting and waiting for their plumage to renew, while King penguins were busily looking after their young.

How to get to the Falklands

There are flight two routes you can take to visit the Falkland Islands – one via the UK and the other via Chile and for those looking for a quick introduction to the islands, cruise ships also stop off in this unique part of the world.

The UK flight is a Ministry of Defence* charter flight from Brize Norton near Oxford in the UK (this is how I travelled). Flights leave the UK twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays. Returning flights leave the Falklands on Tuesdays and Fridays. The flight takes about 18 hours including a quick refuelling stop on Ascension Island.

The Chile flight is operated by LATAM airways and leaves Santiago every Saturday – returning from the Falklands on the same day. Flights stop at Punta Arenas, and occasionally (once a month) at Rio Gallegos, Argentina on the way.

All flights arrive at Mount Pleasant international airport which is approximately 56kms from the country’s capital, Stanley.

For your onward journey, you can take a shuttle bus or taxi into town.  It’s best to organise your transport with your travel agent or accommodation provider before arriving in the Falkland Islands if possible.

*Don’t let the military aspect of this flight put you off! Apart from the fact you’re flying out of a military base, the flight itself is like any other commercial flight. There are movies playing and an in-flight service to make the journey comfortable.


You can also visit the islands via a cruise ship, with many boats calling into the islands as part of their southern tour. The only downside to this method of travelling is that you usually don’t get too long to explore and enjoy the islands to their fullest.

What to do in the Falklands

You won’t be short of things to do in the Falkland Islands, but you may be short on time to do them all!

Obviously, watching the wildlife in their natural, unspoilt habitat is an amazing activity that is somewhat unique to the Falklands. From visiting the King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point to watching giant elephant seals battling on the beach – there are opportunities at every turn. But that’s not all the islands have to offer!

Brandish your binoculars for a spot of birdwatching, learn about the Falklands War on a battlefield tour, get creative with your camera, go for a hike to a deserted beach or mountain peak, visit the war cemetery at San Carlos, take a flight to the outer islands with FIGAS or drop into the Historic Dockyard Museum for an insight into the Falklands through the ages.

The Falkland Islands have a lot to offer, especially if you’re happy to go exploring.

Which Islands to Visit

When you arrive, you’ll land on the largest of the Falkland’s 700+ islands, East Falkland. It is well worth spending a few days here, as you’ll be able to visit the King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point, the stunning Gypsy Cove with its resident Magellanic penguins, the lighthouse at Cape Pembroke, the historic settlements of Darwin and Goose Green and will get to know the capital of Stanley.

The most important thing to note when planning which of the outer islands to visit is that very few currently offer visitor accommodation.

The ones that do – Weddell, Sea Lion, Carcass Bleaker, Pebble and Saunders – all welcome guests with friendly island hospitality. They all offer intrepid visitors something unique – from Weddell Island’s resident reindeer population and war remains littering the landscape on Pebble Island, to the masses of seals and sea lions that flock to (the aptly named) Sea Lion Island each year.

Getting Around the Islands

From Stanley airport you can catch a flight to many of the inhabited outer islands or even just hop on a ’round robin’ scenic flight!

FIGAS is the government owned flight service that operates on demand, flying locals and tourists around the islands, whilst stopping off to pick-up and drop-off passengers on the way. Most islands have a grass airstrip and the people who own/live on the island are in charge of hanging the wind wand, and meeting the aircraft on arrival.

Flight schedules are determined the night before the flight and are dependent on demand and flight conditions. From my experience, most flights around the islands left around 8-9am. Although my flight from Weddell was delayed until after 11 due to a passing storm.

Flying experiences don’t get more unique than on the Falklands!

Where to Stay

There are plenty of options to stay in Stanley, from intimate guesthouses to large full-service hotels.

Elsewhere in the Falklands, the choice is limited – often to only one establishment per island. These B&B’s and lodges are checked every year to make sure their accommodations are up to scratch, so you don’t need to worry about quality!

All of the hotels and guesthouses I stayed at were very comfortable. Warm and inviting, with knowledgeable and helpful staff or owners, who would go out of their way to make sure my stay was enjoyable, or to offer advice about what to see and do in the area.

When you stay on the islands, you feel a little like a local exploring – everyone treated me with warmth and made me feel incredibly welcome.

Food & Dining

Something caught me off guard in the Falklands – the high quality of the food offered. I’d read that ‘traditional British fare’ was the norm when it came to eating out, but what I experienced was much better than Yorkshire puddings and mashed potato (although those are good too)!

Everything from the delicate flavours of a Moroccan tagine at Malvina House, to homemade vegetable ravioli in a herby tomato sauce at Pebble Island and a delicious Indian curry made from homegrown vegetables at Weddell Island. Every dinner was a sumptuous surprise.

You’ll find that accommodation providers on the outer islands offer a full board option for good reason – there is nowhere else to buy food!  Fortunately though, in my experience, what you are offered is spot on.

The only supermarket in the Falklands is in Stanley, so stock up there if you’re planning on self-catering.

Internet Access

Most of the hotels, both in Stanley and the Islands have WiFi hotspots.

You can purchase a card from your accommodation to use the internet. Prices vary and can cost as much as £10/hour on the islands, to £15/12 hours in Stanley.

The only island I visited that didn’t have a WiFi hotspot was Weddell Island, but Jane and Martin were very kind in allowing me to use their internet connection in the lodge – as long as I did so sparingly.

Essentials to Pack

  • Camera gear – You’ll need lots of storage for all the photos you’ll take – so make sure to bring backup memory cards for your camera. A 200 or 400 mm lens is ideal for capturing wildlife from afar, and a wide-angle lens will do justice to the amazing uninterrupted scenery.
  • Warm clothes. This is a must, regardless of which season you’re visiting, as the weather can be wild and unpredictable at any time of the year. Make sure to bring plenty of layers so you can layer up/down as needed. There are, as they say, “four seasons in one day” on the islands.
  • Good walking shoes. The best way to explore the Falklands is by foot, so make sure to bring good walking shoes/boots. Waterproof is best for exploring the coastal areas and boggy fields.
  • Medicines. This isn’t the place to get caught out without any of your regular prescribed medicines. There is a pharmacy in Stanley for simple items such as painkillers or cold remedies.

A few last things to know before you go!

All visitors arriving in the Falklands must have accommodation booked and a return ticket paid for. You’re also advised (although it’s not mandatory) to have adequate travel insurance that will cover you should you need to be airlifted out of the islands for medical care. You don’t want to be left with a hefty bill should trouble arise!

Certain nationalities will need a visa to enter the Falklands. To see if your country is exempt, check the Falkland Islands government website. Remember to also review visa requirements for any countries you plan on having a stopover in (i.e. Chile or Ascension Island). Also, as the RAF Airbridge operates out of the UK Ministry of Defence facilities, unfortunately, people of certain nationalities are restricted from flying on this service.

The Falklands also have strict biosecurity regulations to ensure their environment is protected. Things to watch out for include food and outdoor equipment (fishing gear, hiking shoes) so be sure to brush up on the restrictions before you begin packing.


The Falkland Islands are wild, unique and an amazing insight into life as it was many years ago when we all knew our neighbours and help was readily on hand.  Locals are friendly and wildlife is abundant.

It’s just waiting for you to explore!


Everything you need to know to organise a Falkland Island trip. Flights, accommodation, transport, food and more - don't visit the Falklands without reading this!

Thank you to Blogilicious and the Falkland Islands Tourism Board for making Nadine’s trip possible.  All thoughts are her own.

Europe Norway Oslo

48 Hours in Oslo: An Insider’s Guide to the City’s Quirkiest Spots

May 17, 2017

It was a rainy and cold day in London when the plane took off – Oslo bound.

I belong to a small group of travel enthusiasts who think “if I’m already cold, why not brave colder.” This little mantra rarely disappoints.

Armed with a wooly hat, pink gloves and a return Ryanair ticket (which cost less than a Hackney Cab from Heathrow to central London, priority boarding and all!) I landed in Oslo to a pretty sprinkling of snow and the cleanest airport train I have ever boarded.

First let me clear up a widespread misconception.

It’s really easy to have a great time in Oslo and nowhere near as expensive as people often say. It’s important to know that before being put off.

What follows is a fun way to spend 48 hours exploring not all, but certainly a good enough flavor of an incredibly pretty and frankly cool (weather pun intended) city – in an affordable and accessible way. The great news is, as summer approaches, Oslo becomes even more enjoyable and simply being outside in the gorgeous public spaces will prove it is a perfect city weekend break.

Must Do’s in Oslo

Buy an Oslo Pass

I can’t stress this enough. You can get 24 hour and 48 hour versions (the 48 hour one proves the best value for money) and best of all, you can download the app to your phone, which makes everything super easy.

The pass not only gives you FREE travel on all public transport (including island hoping through the fjords on the public ferries!) but it also gives you free entry into more than 30 museums and galleries, free walking tours, decent discounts on so many attractions (including ski rental, climbing and concert tickets!) invaluable special offers in restaurants, bars and shops and in the summer, free entry into the outdoor swimming pools.

Discovering this pass made Oslo more affordable than staying at home in London for the weekend!

Get up early and go to bed late

As soon as the summer months come around this is made even easier with up to 18 hours of daylight in a given day. If you don’t dilly dally you can see an awful lot of Oslo in a small but concentrated period of time.

Relax

Even if you do take the above advice and decide to get busy, make sure you also enjoy soaking up the moment. There are many places in Oslo where just sitting on a bench or in a café/bar can be the best hour you will spend in your day.

Get a bit silly

If you have an opportunity to don a Viking helmet, just do it. It’s fun.

If you’re off to Oslo and looking for some inspiration, check out what we got up to in this magical Norwegian city…

48 Hours in Oslo, Norway – The best quirkly little finds around!

Friday Evening

Ice, Ice, Baby

I arrived and made my way quickly into town thanks to Norway’s efficient train system.  After ditching my bag, I went straight out for a proper cold drink at the Magic Ice Bar, where glasses are made of ice and they lend you giant overcoat to keep you warm.

I don’t think it is possible for a vodka based drink to taste better than when it is drunk directly from ice!

The ice bar’s theme this year is in celebration of Edvard Munch so all of the sculptures were based on his paintings and I couldn’t resist creating my own version of the Scream taking a selfie through the ice wall!

Sweet Surprises

We decided to take a stroll through this incredibly walkable, safe city which led to the discovery of a great little bar, Bar Lardo.  This bar specialises in natural wines served with delicious meats and cheeses (the meat is sliced in front of you upon order) which proves the perfect compliment to the wine you will inevitably have one too many of.

I tried a Sicilian orange wine and a natural red which was just a little fizzy, a curious but excellent discovery. The atmosphere here was buzzy, friendly and utterly local – exactly what we were looking for!  It was impossible to feel like a tourist sat at this bar.

There is no-nonsense, no-pretence, no-airs-and-graces feel about the place – just good honest knowledge of what will surprise and delight you mixed with a perfect Friday night atmosphere.

I highly recommend it.

Warning:  It is very easy to while away hours here, luckily walking home a little tipsy isn’t a bad thing and can lead you to discover that in Oslo, even the pavements have existential thoughts.  There is art scattered all over this city. It is a joy to behold!

Saturday

Soaking up Oslo’s Culture

I was up early to make the most of the glorious sun streaming in through my window.

Off I went, straight to the harbour and the brilliant Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. Split across two buildings at the very end of the increasingly hip and trendy harbour area, you not only get a great dose of art but also a pretty spectacular view. In the summer there is even a tiny but glorious beach where you can sit or bathe depending on your inclination.

You can take your pick from the multitude of bars and restaurants on the harbour-side, many of which will welcome your Oslo Pass. I stopped into Døgnvill where I had one of the best vegan burgers I have ever had – order the Vegan Viking – you won’t be disappointed.

See Oslo Like a Local (only better!)

Once fuelled, my next stop was to the wonderfully named Viking Biking where I embarked upon a 3 hour bicycle tour of Oslo. This is a really fantastic way of getting your bearings on the city, and with Oslo aiming to be car free by 2020 this bike tour feels like you are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Our guide provided an unbelievable array of brilliant information whilst we enjoyed pedalling and taking in the vast array of sights.  Patrick, our Oslo-born touring mastermind was a fountain of knowledge and even pointed out (what was to become one of my favourite things from the entire trip,) the City Hall bells.

These ring on the hour but they were not playing boring old scales – they play real songs! At 3pm, when I was there, the played the ‘80’s classic, Twist in my Sobriety by Tinita Tikaram – a somewhat random, but delightful sound!

Best of all, the tour gives you plenty of time to stop and explore once you get to many of the destinations and if like me, you arrive on what seemed to be international ice cream day (in spite of the cold, everyone seemed to be eating one) you’ll even have time to enjoy a Cornetto whilst admiring the art scattered amongst the Vigeland Sculpture Park.

Whilst on your tour, it is also possible to wear a safety helmet with Viking horns on it. Do it. It casts a magnificent shadow on the pavement and where else can you pedal around a gorgeous city looking like a modern-day viking?

Post cycle I felt a little righteous, so where better to go than to a cocktail bar ranked one of the best in the world – Himkok.

Moonshine Magic

The enjoyment of this bar with its own distillery begins before you even get there – seeking it out is part of the fun. I will say no more other than look for a sign that gives away one of the building’s former incarnations and push the unmarked door.

If you need a little more guidance, keep a look out for an old fur shop which reads ‘Pels Pels’ in Norwegian.

Once inside you’ll see where they make their own gin, vodka and aquavit and if you explore further (which we’d certainly recommend doing) you will discover it is like the Tardis; there are outside drinking areas, a cider only bar, a taptail bar (they put their best house cocktails on tap so that everyone can enjoy a cocktail without the wait!) and a barbers no less.

For pure indulgence, sit at the bar in the cocktail lab; explore the beautiful menu (a piece of art in itself), watch the cocktail makers create their seasonal cocktails with grace in front of you and then sit back and taste.

Each one I tried was frankly sensational.  I took advice from one of their knowledgeable bar staff (Tomas) who recommended each of my cocktails and didn’t let me down once.

If you’re lucky you will be shown their special collection of unusual and interesting spirits from around the world – it is behind lock and key, but even just pressing your nose against the glass case is good enough!

They have live music on weeknights and a blanket ban on electronica (so as to not put off the older clientele).

The lack of pretension in this bar was an absolute delight – everyone was genuinely there for a great time.

Somehow, with all of its fancy drinks and hipsteresque qualities Himkok ultimately is a bar to welcome one and all. Pretty much how I am feeling about all of Oslo at this point.

Sunday

Diminutive Delights

When you have spent an evening sampling cocktails you wouldn’t necessarily think that surrounding yourself with tens of thousands of miniature bottles of spirits would be ones first port of call the next morning, however the Minibottle Gallery proved to be the most wonderfully surreal hair of the dog!

The museum has a total of 53,000 bottles, most are guarded in a safety vault (?) but 12,500 are exhibited in over 50 unique installations. This museum is so fantastically curious that I don’t really want to give much of it away, suffice to say there is a slide to get to the basement installations and a fascinating erotic parlour where you have to tweak a nipple to enter!

I don’t think my eyes have ever witnessed so many ‘things’ in one viewing, unless you count grains of sand on a beach. And I don’t.

This place should be on everyone’s visit list. What began as a 7 year old boy’s collection has become a man’s enthralling obsession, and I’m glad it has!

Ice in Oslo – Year Round

Next, following a short boat trip I arrived at one of my nerdy pilgrimages. The Fram Museum. The whole building is built around Roald Amundsen’s polar expedition boat and for someone that always dreamt of visiting the biggest white wonderland, it was always going to be a hit with me.

Having recently returned from Antarctica I felt an overwhelming desire to stand atop another boat that had been there too.

It is a deeply fascinating and well thought out museum, whether you have an interest in Polar expeditions or not  There is an Antarctic simulator where you can experience what it must have been like to be trapped in the ice (basically, if it’s a hot day you can really cool down in there), an area where you can test out your strength and artifacts galore – that’s not even mentioning the two gigantic ocean-going ships housed inside.

Setting Sail for Warmer Climates

A hop, skip and a jump away and you are in the Kon-Tiki museum – another building housing a vessel which has survived the Planet’s seas, only this time it’s a raft!

This hand built raft was used by Thor Heyerdahl to demonstrate the way in which ancient people could have made long sea voyages and contacted different cultures.  With his crew, they used it to sail 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. Successfully!

Norwegian mariners are clearly a curious bunch and I felt terribly ordinary simply boarding the public ferry back to the city centre.

Golf (with a Twist of Lemon)

With a few hours before the flight home there was one more pit stop on my list. The Oslo Camping Bar.  I had no intention of pitching a tent, but every intention of playing a round of mini golf whilst sipping another brilliant Norwegian local bevvy. This time, beer.

This bar is awesome!  The mini golf course threads its way under, over, behind and between tables, upstairs, downstairs and finally up and over the bar. There are 18 holes, a maximum 7 par policy to keep things moving smoothly and enough variation to keep you on tenterhooks throughout.

If I could have teleported a bunch of my friends here to help me while away a lazy Sunday afternoon I am pretty certain I would have missed my plane. As it was, I found myself leaving Oslo with an absolute certainty that this was a city I would visit again and with each season so distinctly different.  I know I will experience it differently each time and that’s a great thing.

If you crave the endless summer sun or the glittering majesty of a city blanketed in snow, Oslo will not disappoint you. It encourages you to be outdoors no matter the weather and there are more statues and sculptures per square metre than I have seen anywhere else on my travels.

It’s grown up and eco conscious, sophisticated yet decadent.  It has just the right amount of Scandinavian oddness and is a fantastic way to spend 48 hours.

I highly recommend that you go! Go, go, go to Oslo!


Oslo's quirkiest, most memorable attractions all in one easy-to-read guide. 48 hours in Oslo have never been more interesting with mini-golf bars, secret entry pubs, viking cycling and more! Find out what makes Norway's capital the place to be...

Thank you to VisitOSLO and each of the spots that Zena visited for making her feel so welcome.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Abu Dhabi Food Luxury Middle East Reviews

Abu Dhabi Eats: Todd English’s Olives – A Taste of the Mediterranean

May 15, 2017

With our time in Abu Dhabi coming to an end, we’re on a mission to try out all of the amazing restaurants in Abu Dhabi.  Well, maybe not all of them but certainly the ones that have been waiting patiently on our list.

First up?

Todd English’s Olives – a gorgeous restaurant that absolutely shone, keeping both Nathan’s adventurous palette and my significantly-plainer tastes perfectly happy.  With service that rivals any in Abu Dhabi, Olives may just become your new favourite restaurant.

Just Like Home – Only Better!

Once you’ve had your car complimentary valet parked (this is, after all, Abu Dhabi), you’ll find Olives within stumbling distance.

The restaurant itself is stylishly decorated with big comfortable seats and generously sized tables (which you’ll need for all of the food they’ll bring out to you!).  Alternatively, guests are welcome to sit outside in the open courtyard, only metres from the canal.  Even with the weather warming up, we enjoyed sitting outside with a light breeze so that would be our recommendation before we hit the peak of summer.

The staff are friendly and the atmosphere inviting so we instantly felt at ease.  Yes, this is a fine-dining restaurant but the team do a superb job of welcoming everyone in and making them feel at home.

If only we had food like theirs on tap each night!

A Thirst for the Finer Things in Life

The right drink can start a night off perfectly and our night out was to be one of the best we’ve had in a long time, so I suppose, the writing was on the wall.

Throughout the evening we enjoyed a range of drinks and each and every one blew us away.  At most we normally have one mocktail and then move onto soft drinks but drinks menu at Olives was too tempting to resist!

With options like the lemon cloud (Bacardi White, Limoncino, white chocolate, cream and sour mix), slingback (raspberry vodka, passion fruit puree and nectar, raspberries and mint), bubbly scarlet (my personal favourite – fresh raspberries, raspberry and almond syrup, ginger ale and lemon juice) and passion mangolada (passion fruit nectar, mango juice and coconut syrup), how on earth could we settle for a Coke?!

Let’s Get Started!

As all our meals out are, the dishes served to us are a tale of two opposing tastes – my more down-to-earth preferences and Nathan’s love of the finer things in life.  With that in mind, let’s get down to business…

The Basics

Let’s start by saying that my starter really was anything but basic – it was literally up there as one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten.

The Bronx Bomber flatbread (which I ordered in starter size) came loaded with a garlic tomato sauce, the most tender beef pepperoni, caramelised onions, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil.  It was so delicious that I genuinely had to hold myself back from eating it all before my main arrived!

The flatbread teamed perfectly with the homemade wedges and their accompanying sauces and though I shouldn’t have eaten quite so much of the bread starter, the rolls were impossible to put down.  The garlic scrolls were amazing.  Honestly, those alone made it worth visiting Olives.

Fine Dining

Though my food was delicious, most of you will be here for the fine dining review and I don’t blame you for a second.  Stick around as it didn’t disappoint.

In a bid to try as many things as possible, Nathan was presented with the chef’s tasting menu that was chock-full of all sorts of incredible dishes.  Not only was each presented beautifully but the produce was clearly top-notch and a lot of skill had gone into cooking each item perfectly.  Though most of Nathan’s dishes were beyond my limited (alright, fussy) palette, I couldn’t help but admire the creativity and eye for detail that went into each of them.

First up was the beef and tuna carpaccio – a beautifully balanced plate, both figuratively and literally.  Served as two dishes in one, the beef carpaccio peeked our from under a cocktail glass whilst the tuna sat on top.  Both components hit the spot with the beef nosing just slightly ahead thanks to its perfect combination of ingredients.

Following on, Nathan tried the chef’s variation on scallops vol-au-vent.  His version was a treat for the eyes with perfectly browned scallops sitting atop beds of squid-ink risotto and cauliflower puree.  The seafood was the standout of this dish so would be high on Nathan’s list of recommendations when paired with the puff pastry cups and lemon butter emulsion of the standard menu.

To be fair, his recommendation list would run off the page.

Finally, the veal agnolotti al plin arrived at our table and though it didn’t present as well as Nathan’s other starters, it bowled us both over with its perfectly balanced flavours.  Braised veal ossobucco, fontina fondue stuffed pasta and black truffle essence combined to form what became both of our favourites for the evening.

If you enjoy hearty and delicious food, this is the one for you.  Don’t be surprised if you see us at Olives alongside you, both munching away on the veal pasta!

Time for the Main Attraction

Just when we were sure we couldn’t possibly eat any more, our steaks arrived and we were proven wrong.

Steak in Abu Dhabi can be a bit hit or miss.  To get a good steak is often hideously expensive (which is to be expected when you live in the middle of the desert.)

That wasn’t the case here though with both cuts being perfectly selected and cooked to order.  Nathan’s lean prime beef tenderloin was paired with a delicious cracked pepper demi-glace (which I may just have stolen) whilst my rib eye was close to the size of a dinner plate and marbled to perfection.

Both dishes were served with a selection of tasty accompaniments but we were so full by this stage that we couldn’t do much more than have a little sample of each.  What we did try though, was delicious.

Just Desserts

With tummies full to the brim, it would have been easy to turn down dessert but who in their right mind does that?

Instead of opting for a full dessert, we were presented with a tasting plate each which offered a little sometime to suit everyone.  From the smooth, creamy and deliciously citrusy panna cotta, to the moist red velvet cake and the coffee infused homemade ice cream and tiramisu, these light desserts finished the night off beautifully.  Nathan loved the tiramisu and I devoured the panna cotta, both of which were clear favourites for us, but when we return, my eye is firmly on the apple pie.

Olives – Something to Suit Everyone

We had a fantastic evening at Olives with the food, drinks, location and amazing staff all playing an equally important role.  We loved that the menu was so diverse, featuring a range of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, making it a restaurant that truly caters to all tastes.

Their current menu is available online so you can salivate over your keyboard before you make it into the restaurant.

Don’t move too fast though!

It will be impossible not to see up some potential options before heading along to the Venetian Village but try not to mentally preplan your dinner in its entirety – our waitress was spot on with her favourite dishes so it’s well worth listening to the expertise of the Olives team.

With a little over a month left in Abu Dhabi, both Nathan and I have vowed to return to Olives which I think says everything we need to say on the subject!


Don’t forget to take your Entertainer too to receive ‘buy one, get one free’ on your mains.

Pin this post so you’ll remember where to go on your next special occasion in Abu Dhabi.  

Todd English's Olives serves up amazing fine dining plates alongside more homestyle dishes - a perfect combination in Abu Dhabi.  Check out why this is one of our new favourite restaurants in the UAE!

Thank you to Sociate for inviting us to put Olives through their paces – they well and truely passed!  As always, all thoughts on Exploring Kiwis are our own.

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