5 things you definitely CANNOT do in Dubai.

There is no denying that Dubai has successfully transitioned from oil rich emirate to metropolitan tourist hotspot. Tourism is now it’s no. 1 source of income. While it may not be for everyone, shopping, restaurants, unparalleled luxury and opportunities for economic betterment attracts tourists and a workforce from all over the world. As the saying goes, “If you want to meet the world, come to London”. Well, as a Londoner who recently visited Dubai, I can tell you the same felt true of Dubai. It’s workforce in particular – hotel staff, shop staff, restaurant staff, drivers add sparkle to what might otherwise feel like a super shiny, playground.

It’s global workforce is one of the most interesting aspect of this desert turned (man-made) oasis. Conversations and interactions were enriched by each person I met who added an interesting perspective to my experience. And they came from all over the world – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Laos, Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal and South America bringing an old world quaintness to a city so determined to appear modern.

Whenever I refer to visiting the Gulf states, I am asked the same questions by eager travellers who would like to get the most out of their trip without breaking the rules. So, here are 5 common travel questions about Dubai answered:

  1. WHAT do you wear?

    Well, if you’re within the confines of your hotel or resort wear ANYTHING – bikinis, strappy tops, shorts, mini skirts, long skirts, sheer tops, ball gown and tiara if you so wish. However, you will need to be more conservative and mindful in public spaces such as malls, souks and public transport. Opt for short sleeved tops instead of strappy tops and keep your skirts and shorts knee length or below. You maybe walking around in a desert but avoid wearing anything too sheer in public spaces. When in doubt my secret weapon is a scarf. Carry one in your handbag and pull it out to cover your shoulders if you feel your attire maybe causing mild offence. It shows respect for local customs and will be received well.

  2. PDA

    This is short and simple – NO. A peck on the cheek is as far as you should go and only with people you know well. Goes without saying – please don’t do this with strangers, especially if they are female! Save your amorous displays of affection for when you’re within the privacy of your hotel room.

  3. Getting Around

    If like me, you love to explore a new place on foot then Dubai is simply not the place. It is far too hot to do so during the day and people seem to love driving. Everything is ostentatious so luxury cars are everywhere. However, I have it on good authority that the Metro system is fantastic – clean, safe and gives breathtaking views of the city. So, don’t forget to hop on a train.

  4. Consumption of Alcohol

    All hotels serve alcohol and are fairly relaxed about this. In fact, Dubai is known for its boozy work brunches. However, outside of the hotels alcohol is not readily available and you should avoid trying to buy it. If you decide to eat at a restaurant that is not attached to a hotel it is very unlikely that they will have a licence to serve alcohol.

  5. Visiting during Ramadan

    During the holy month of Ramadan everyone you meet will be fasting. It is not mentioned or discussed but you can safely assume that they are. Be especially mindful if you happen to visit during this time. It is forbidden to eat and drink in public during the day. Hotels and restaurants have designated areas for visitors offering dining facilities (usually hidden from the public with curtains or blinds). Small places such as coffee shops are all closed until sunset. However, when it’s time to break fast (Iftar) you can feast like a sheikh. Most hotels offer traditional Arabian buffets which break the fast. Be sure to join in!

 

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11 pictures to prove that Paris is the undisputed city of love.

What can be said of Paris that hasn’t been said a thousand times? Of it’s beauty, food, fashion, culture? A city immortalised by the murmur of a thousand words.

On this, my 11th visit to Paris, what can be said that is not an echo of words past? What’s to ”see” in Paris? As I breathe, move, talk, laugh, eat and smile…I wonder. How many words will I need to express a feeling? Paris is infectious, like love.  As love travels through your being,  as you would surrender, so you do to Paris. Some things cannot be seen or heard. They can only be felt from the heart.

 11 pictures to prove that Paris is the undisputed city of love:

  1. This icon of eternity.
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Meet me here.

 

2. These love locks on Pont d’lena (Jena Bridge).

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Be mine.

 

3. This beaming bride on Pont d’lena.

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You make me so very happy 🙂

 

4. The Seine and The Marne.

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The Yin and Yang.

 

5. These beautiful ones slaying it in the park.

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Adore me.

 

6. This rainbow bubble in Jardin des Tuileries.

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Rainbows and bubbles.

 

7. This invitation of love.

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Call me.

 

8. This place to meet.

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Talk to me.

 

9. This blushing rose.

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You make me blush.

 

10. This place you cannot miss.

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I will wait for you forever.

 

11. This utterly beautiful Parisian sunset.

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Kiss me in Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 pictures to make you reconsider life and move to the French country side.

 

  1. This fromagerie in the sun for all your cheese related needs.

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2. A walk through these fields towards blue skies.

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3. This cheerful little cottage.

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4. This quaint little car park complete with flower beds.

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5. This crumbling restaurant that’s up for sale. I am SOLD!

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Five ways to power nap like a pro when you’re travelling

When a major part of your life is getting on planes, trains or tuk tuks one thing you take for granted is your lack of sleep. However, If I don’t sleep I am less productive. In fact I’m downright miserable. I am the worst company when I haven’t slept. No fun AT ALL. You get the picture?!

Sleep is integral to our well-being. This is particularly true if we are on the road for long periods at a time. Any regular sleep pattern is obliterated after your third flight. Late schedules, time zones, varying temperatures, crying babies and crying parents can wreak havoc with sleep.

In a recent interview, Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution, offered some great advice on sleep and wellbeing for frequent travellers. It got me thinking about my own sleep hacks which I hope you too find useful in your travels:

1. Have a sleep-kit at the ready

I can never fall asleep if my toes aren’t toasty. So my sleep-kit consists of a pair of socks, ear plugs and an eye mask. I roll everything up in my socks and have it in an outside pocket of my carry-on luggage. This works well whether I’m on a plane, train or car. You can also add a neck pillow to yours.

2. Wind down with a book

Pack a Kindle. There are hundreds of great books available as downloads at a fraction of the cost of a paperback. Kindles weigh nothing and can hold a library of books and fit into your handbag or backpack easily. Reading for a little while before your nap will help you wind down for it.

3. Carry your own snacks

After your third fight on a single journey there’s only so much airline food you can stomach. I always carry my own snacks and where possible, water. Adjust your snack pack depending on the length of time you will be in the air; more snacks for a long-haul and fewer for short-haul. I rarely wait for meals to be served on a flight. I’d rather sleep instead. Inform the stewards that you do not want your meal, fasten your seatbelt and SLEEP!

  4. Schedule a nap in to your day

If you don’t manage your forty winks on the flight try to plan some sleepy time for when you arrive. Power naps are great for pacing yourself and slowing things down. Ask for a quiet room when you check in to your hotel. There’s nothing worse than a party next door when you’re exhausted and trying to rest. I’ve been there too many times to mention!

5. Put away your electronics

I prefer not to wake up to an alarm when I’m travelling. I always book a wake up call if the service is available which means I don’t need my phone next to me. So before I sleep, whether it’s a nap or I’m down for the night, I plug my phone and laptop away from my bed. This means I resist the temptation to scroll social media while I’m trying to fall asleep.

Happy napping!