Dubrovnik, Croatia

I read an article recently that compared the southern portion of Croatia to the Italian and French rivieras. The article argued that the ‘Croatian Riviera’ was preferable to its more well-known counterparts: less crowded with tourists, less expensive, and just as (if not more-so) beautiful. After visiting Dubrovnik this past summer, I wholeheartedly agree.

I went to Dubrovnik with my roommate to celebrate her birthday. In late-June, the weather was perfect. We stayed at an AirBNB that was about a 15 minute walk from the city center, but had a terrace with a beautiful view of the sea. The city itself is small — you can walk around the whole square in about 20 minutes. But it’s beautiful, with stone buildings and little alleyways lined with cafes around each corner. Parts of it are very medieval looking, which explains why many movies & tv shows are filmed there.

By far my favorite part of the trip was our walk around the old city walls. I was stopping every 10 steps to take a photo, of either the beautiful city below, or the Adriatic sea that forcefully crashed into the city. Speaking of waves crashing… we got pummeled by the waves a few times, and once when we went to try & swim at the beach (Dubrovnik has mostly rocky beaches), waves kept throwing us down onto the rocks. It was pretty comical (and painful), but the views made up for it! Oh, and the olive oil….

I seriously adored Dubrovnik. It’s perhaps my favorite place I’ve been in a long time. Can’t wait to go back!

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Dubai

Dubai is a city of contrasts.

It is both modern & ancient; lively & peaceful. Its sights & sounds will transport you to another time, although which time depends on the part of town you happen to find yourself in. It’s a place where you can go sky-diving next to skyscrapers and take an elevator up the tallest building in the world. A place where you can see the world’s most expensive cars driven by people wearing the world’s most luxurious brands. But it’s also a place where you can ride a camel in an empty desert, or take a dhow boat across the water into a world of old markets (souks) with street after street filled with colorful textiles & fragrant spices. A place where you can hear the roar of speeding cars and music from all of the many (amazing) restaurants, and the Call to Prayer 5 times a day. It’s a city where, it seems, there’s something for everyone.

My parents moved to Dubai last summer for my dad’s job, so my siblings and I were ecstatic to have the chance to visit them. It was my first time in that part of the world, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never even been to the desert before, save some areas in Southern California.

The first few days we spent in ‘New Dubai.’ It is said that 1/3 of all the world’s cranes reside in this city, and once you’re there, that’s a statistic that’s easy to believe. What was an empty desert just 20 years ago is now a huge metropolis that has become an international capital of trade, innovation, and wealth — and it’s still growing. You can find just about anything in New Dubai!

The architecture and bustling city life is impressive, to say the least. But it wasn’t until we ventured out into the older parts of town that I really fell in love.

We went dune-bashing on the red sand dunes with no one else in sight, & listened to Arabian music at a campsite under the stars. We rode camels and drank Turkish coffee. We sampled spices & bought lamps at the Souk. We ate falafel & samosas from street vendors and had too many incredible meals to count (Buddha Bar was my favorite). We even met a man who offered to let us drive his Ferrari, no questions asked (our parents nixed that idea).

I loved this city, and I love the people I got to see it with. Until next time!

(Note: The last few photos are of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the 3rd largest mosque in the world with over 80 domes & 1,000 columns. It’s a stunning place!)

 

 

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