Alternative Orlando - Blue Spring State Park
Adventure

Alternative Orlando: Florida State Parks

Almost 90 million people visit Florida every year with Orlando and Disney World the most popular destination. Of the 1 million Brits who descend on Orlando each year and it’s entirely possible that 999,999 people love it, but I know one person doesn’t and that’s me. I have been to Florida for the last 6 years running and I just couldn’t give a rat tail about seeing Mickey Mouse and Disney world.

To be fair, there is lot to do in Orlando. Universal and Disney do have some great rides and I imagine it’s absolutely magical if you’re a family with young children. The fireworks are always fun and the weather is certainly better than anything we have back in England.

But this year we decided to try something new, Alternative Orlando if you will, and visited a few of Orlando’s State Parks in one day.

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The Colosseum
Day Trips, Europe, Italy, Itineraries, Our Weekends

Our Rome Itinerary, The Wonders of the Colosseum

In November we did a weekend in Rome with some of our American Friends. As per our travelling style we raced around the City trying to take everything in and attempted to double our body weight by eating as much delicious pasta and Gelato as we could into our ever aching faces.

In our two day break we managed to squeeze in the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps, the Pantheon, the villa Borghese, the Roman Forum, a whole load of Piazzas and the casa del Pope itself, the Vatican.

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360 Bar at Sunset
Review, The World Beyond, Ultimate Layovers, United Arab Emirates

Drinks with a View over Dubai

I know it seems like I keep going on about the views in Dubai – surely there is only so much you can look at in one city? Wrong. The Dubai skyline keeps captivating you, from all its beautiful angles and I would keep urging you to find new places and ways to view the city. I do have a slight obsession with views and once made Tim climb up to the top of every tower we found on a trip to Italy (and there are a lot of towers there!) but that’s a different story.

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St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna
Itineraries

An hour in Vienna 

Some people travel for pleasure. Some people want to explore the natural and man-made beauties of our planet. Some people want to connect with new cultures or the histories of our civilisations. Some people travel to escape, some travel to find themselves.

And sometimes we travel because we have work to do.

Last weekend I took a short slingshot of trip to Vienna, the capital of Austria, to complete a training course and attend a conference. As the two events were to run back to back it looked like I would be trapped in a conference centre for the whole day before my dawn flight home.

But then a crack appeared in the agenda and it began to grow until I could see a whole hour’s worth of time nestling in between my two commitments. I laced up my metaphors and ran out of the conference centre in slow motion like an action hero running from a building about to blow up.

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IMG_2720
Food, Review, The World Beyond, United Arab Emirates

Signature Shangri-La Dubai

On our first evening of our trip we were invited to the Shangri-La Dubai Hotel for pre-dinner drinks at their ikandy lounge and dinner at their traditional Vietnamese restaurant Hoi An.

We stepped out of the elevator and onto the neon pink bridge that connects the iKandy lounge to the hotel. It was quite a surreal experience with everything bathed in a warm pink glow.

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Our "First Class" Car
Airports, Relax, Review, The World Beyond, Ultimate Layovers, United Arab Emirates

Arriving in Style with Blacklane

Let’s face it, most people enjoy “travelling”, but no one really enjoys travelling. The long journey to your paradise, that starts by getting to the airport, checking in, being searched at security, the flight, waiting in line at customs, finding your baggage and then trying to fight your way to a taxi or public transport before finding your way to your final destination. It is not something that I would call relaxing or therapeutic.
Since this trip was all about relaxation we decided to pre-book a transfer to remove the stress and also start the trip as we meant to go on, in style.

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The Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates
Destinations, Relax, Review, The World Beyond, United Arab Emirates

Relaxing at The Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates

As soon as we stepped foot into the cool, marbled grandeur of the lobby of The Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, it was evident that today would be a morning of five star pampering.

We were met by the Softouch Spa Director, Doctor Sheloob and made to feel special from the get go. He took pride in showing us around the facilities, which are all decorated to complement the five elements. The tranquil atmosphere in each of the six treatment rooms, including two couple’s rooms and a beauty room, set the tone for the rest of the morning.

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About to board
Food, Review, The World Beyond, Ultimate Layovers, United Arab Emirates

Dubai by Dinner Cruise

After having sampled the delights of Dubai from the Sea earlier in our Babymoon long weekend in the United Arab Emirates, we couldn’t resist going back for one more night on the Persian Gulf aboard a luxurious Dinner Cruise with Xclusive Yachts.

Whilst the sunset cruise was an option, we decided to sample the dinner cruise from 8:30pm to 10:30pm. At this time the waters were slightly quieter with only a few boats on the water and the sea was a thick inky black.

Usually this dinner cruise is far from a quiet affair. On a typical night there may be 75 people on board this luxury yacht taking in the sights of the Dubai and enjoying the fine food and drinks included in your ticket. Luckily for us, there were only a handful of people sharing our experience.

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The Cityscape
Review, The World Beyond, Ultimate Layovers, United Arab Emirates

Is This the Best Way to See Dubai?

There are many ways to enjoy Dubai, but maybe none are as stunning and awe inspiring as watching the sun set over the city from your own private boat in the Persian Gulf.

Dubai is a city seemingly at war with the sky. Every year new skyscrapers are built in brave attempts to invade it and push it every higher away from the city. The Burj Khalifa stands out alone as a massive sword trying to puncture the heavens.

The view from the sea is the best place to watch the city’s titanic struggle with nature. It’s both relaxing and exciting to look out across the water at the sun setting on the city.  The reflection of the city in the water makes you feel like you are floating on a water painting.

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The Blue Jade Courtesy of http://www.ritzcarlton.com/
Rest of World, Review, Ultimate Layovers, United Arab Emirates

The Jewel in the Crown of Dubai’s Restaurant Scene, The Blue Jade at the Ritz Carlton

The Blue Jade at the Ritz Carlton, Dubai is one of the most decorated restaurants in Dubai and recently was awarded the Best South-East Asian Restaurant in Timeout. Our expectations were high but the restaurant surpassed these by providing a great all round experience: the atmosphere, the beautiful menu and most of the personal touches that made our experience so special.

We arrived at the Ritz and were immediately met by Hai, our waiter for the evening. The Blue Jade or “ultimate dream stone” signifies peace and serenity.  The restaurant is minimalist yet stylish. The atmosphere is relaxed with subtle lighting and soft ambient music was playing in the background.

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