Girl Travels World – Top Five Long Haul Destinations You Must Visit in 2018

If, like me, you like to pack for a month when you travel then THIS is for you my soul mates! Following on from Girl Travels World Top Five Places to Visit in 2018 where I rounded up must see short-haul destinations here is my long haul list to make your 2018 unforgettable. These treasured places made the cut because they offer travellers more than the average. A winning combination of freshness, culture and cuisine makes these places precious. There’s an elegance about them, which in my opinion, makes them worth packing your bags for.

Thank you all for joining my adventures in 2017. Here’s to happy long hauling in 2018!

1. QatarIMG_3793

Qatar started my love affair with the Middle East. It was the first place where I experienced a desert and the commanding beauty of the arid landscape captivated me. The Qatari desert boasts Khor al Adaid which is an inland sea in the desert. This rare natural wonder adds an undisputed uniqueness to desert travel.

An illustrious fine art scene in the capital Doha, multi cultural cuisine ranging from Qatar International Food Festival to Alan Ducasse’s first restaurant in the Middle East (Idam) at Muesum of Islamic Art makes for a fascinating place.

When the evenings draw in take a trip down to the market Souq Waqif and cross Doha on a Dhow (a traditional sailing boat) as you admire the skyline from a fresh perspective. Qatar is a rare jewel waiting to be discovered in 2018.

2. Abu Dhabi

4. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo Courtesy Mohamed Somji
Source: Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre has arrived in Abu Dhabi! Could any travel news headline top this in 2017? I don’t think so. This year, approximately 300 artworks on long-term loans from 13 key French institutions will be displayed here as well as the museum’s permanent collection. In addition, Sheikh Zayed Mosque was voted second place in the Travellers’ Choice Awards (2016) only beaten to the top spot by 16th century Inca citadel Machu Picchu in Peru.

If that is not enough, Abu Dhabi is home to six oases which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Al Ain, Al Mutaredh, Al Muwaiji, Al Jimi, Al Qattara and Hilli. Al Ain is the city that they belong to and is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements in the world.

Such a gilded combination is difficult to beat and makes for the most enriching travel experience. Place Abu Dhabi on your 2018 bucket list ASAP!

3. Bahrain bh3

Yes, this is the third Middle Eastern destination on a list of five. For me, the region’s freshness is its allure and each country offers a vastly different experience.

Bahrain is a group of entrancing islands in the Arabian Gulf. The country’s unique relationship with the sea and its tradition of pearl diving and trading is celebrated at the Sea Festival at the end of October and it promises to be as informative as it is entertaining. The festival is aimed at preserving and honouring the crafts which are integral to Bahrain’s culture.

Furthermore, Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort is a cultural landmark which is important in Bahrain’s history. It chronicles the life and times of the country’s ruling family offering a fascinating insight for travellers and tourists.

One of the most popular places with tourists is Al Dar Islands which are a beach lover’s dream offering a secluded resort of diving, chalets, beach huts and entertainment. With such rich and varied experiences Bahrain caters to the most ardent travellers which is the reason it made it to my list.

4. Iran

iran
Source: Architectural Digest

Iran has been trending amongst bloggers for a couple of years and it is easy to see why. The country’s architecture in particular, has played a pivotal role in promoting it in the era of Instagram and social media.

Iranian architects began the trend of designing buildings that would be easily recognised by the global media and they succeeded. Leila Araghian’s Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge in Tehran (pictured) won the prestigious 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture award. Of course, the country has a lengthy history of fascinating architecture. An example is Arg-e Bam, a city in southern Iran which is home to the world’s largest brick structure and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Iran offers discerning travellers a fascinating journey to a world that has been cloaked in mystery for many years. During this time when Iran’s doors are open I for one cannot wait to walk through them in 2018.

5. Fort Worth, Texas

The_Fort_Worth_Herd_Stockyards_Sign_7da7c9af-6bad-4c53-bfbf-30aff1890b0e
Source: Fortworth.com

The curve ball on my list is Fort Worth, Texas. It came up on my radar after a meeting at The World Travel Market held in London. The culture of cowboys has fascinated me for many years but I’d never done anything about it. So 2018 will be my year to change that.

Fort Worth offers a range of experiences from fine dining to cowboy cuisine and rodeos. The Fort Worth Herd is a cowboy cattle drive through the historic Fort Worth Stockyards on E. Exchange Avenue. It can be viewed along the route in any restaurant with outdoor seating.

Near Southside is an area of historic architecture, restaurants, music venues and galleries. Self-proclaimed Restaurant Row on Magnolia Avenue offers farm-to-table cuisine, working breweries and speciality wine shops. With a chance to sample award-winning Texan barbecues, burgers, vegan food, craft ice cream and locally roasted coffee Fort Worth offers an all-encompassing travel experience.

To wind down those long days there is also Fort Worth’s local hero Leon Bridges who is said to frequent local haunts Lola’s Saloon, The Grotto, and Magnolia Motor Lounge. Now where do I sign up?!

 

Iconic Musée du Louvre Arrives in Abu Dhabi

It was a historic day on 11th November as Paris’s iconic Musée du Louvre  opened its satellite in the Saadiyat Cultural District of Abu Dhabi. Louvre Abu Dhabi will stand as a symbol of accord and unity between Abu Dhabi and France.

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo Courtesy Mohamed Somji
Courtesy of the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Architecture

Designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel the building was inspired by Arabic architecture and culture. A series of 55 pristine white buildings consisting of 23 permanent galleries pays homage to the traditional Arabic medina and low-lying Arab settlements.

The project is also based on a prominent symbol of Arab architecture: the dome. The “museum city” sits under a low silver dome almost 180 metres in diameter. The design is constructed of four outer and four inner layers of stainless steel separated by structures of five meters high. A geometric pattern is repeated at varying angles and sizes forcing each ray of light to infiltrate the layers before it enters the building. Thus creating a “rain of light” effect which has been a labour of love and serves as one of the defining features of the building.  The result is a tranquil space to relax, socialise and enjoy.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be in good company. It’s the first of several planned cultural and architectural institutions for Saadiyat Island. We can expect a Guggenheim from Frank Gehry, a performing arts centre from the late Zaha Hadid, a maritime museum from Tadao Ando and a museum of the history of the UAE and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the driving force in the formation of the UAE) from Norman Foster; all are on course for the region.

4. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo Courtesy Mohamed Somji
Courtesy of the Louvre Abu Dhabi

What’s in the Collection

Louvre Abu Dhabi emphasises the shared human experience which transcends geography, national identity and history. In contrast to other museums the collections are presented chronologically. Objects from early civilizations as well as world religions are presented together thus illustrating the diverse and yet extraordinary affinity between people and places. 

In the opening year, approximately 300 artworks on long-term loans from 13 key French institutions will be displayed alongside the museum’s permanent collection. They include Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Claude Monet’s Saint-Lazare station and Edouard Manet’s The Fife Player and Henri Matisse’s Still Life with Magnolia (1941). 

Other notable artworks include one of the finest examples of a standing Bactrian Princess from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, Paul Gauguin’s masterpiece Children Wrestling, René Magritte’s The Subjugated Reader, a 1928 collage by Picasso titled Portrait of a Lady and the earliest known photographic image of a veiled woman. The museum’s own holdings which exceed 600 pieces includes a Piet Mondrian (Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black, 1922) acquired as far back as 2008 – 2009.

With such an exemplary collection, temporary exhibition space, a children’s museum, 200-seater-auditorium, restaurant and café Louvre Abu Dhabi promises to take visitors on an unparalleled historical narrative through art. What an exciting time for Abu Dhabi and what an incredible time for art lovers in the East! Does one need any further encouragement than this to visit Abu Dhabi?