Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Part 2

Following on from a post I wrote last year, The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai, (which still gathers quite a bit of interest from you guys!) I thought I would hit you with a Part 2. I'm often asked for recommendations as to where my favourite places for a photograph are in Dubai so I thought I would list a few more of them in this post today. 

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai

Al Barari

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Al Barari
The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Al Barari

If you're looking for a lush, green oasis in the middle of the desert, then you need to head to Al Barari. The peace and quiet of the landscaped gardens and lakes makes for an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Head to The Farm restaurant for a bite to eat by the water or book a Nature Escapes picnic and wander the themed gardens with your basket of treats. Al Barari is definitely one of my favourite Instagrammable spots in Dubai. 

La Mer

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - La Mer
The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - La Mer
The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - La Mer

The expansive beachfront development opened in October 2017 and is home to an ever-growing collection of stylish restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. The surf-themed decor features bright beach huts, driftwood signposts and colourful wall art installations. 

Dubai Creek Harbour 

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Dubai Creek Harbour
The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Dubai Creek Harbour

If it's stunning skyline views you're after then a trip to Dubai Creek Harbour is a must. New meets old at the historic Dubai Creek, with plans well underway for a number of huge developments, including the new Dubai Creek Tower set to be complete in 2020. The multi-billion Dirham tower will take the title of the world's tallest building, knocking the Burj Khalfia off the top spot, so to speak. 

Global Village

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Global Village

Want to shop for souvenirs in China Town, tuck into a kebab from Turkey or snap a photo of a rather questionable Queen's Guard - then look no further than Dubai's Global Village. The shopping, entertainment and leisure complex showcases pavilions from around the world and also hosts a series of festivals and concerts to add to the fun. It opens seasonally so check the dates before visiting. 

Mall of the Emirates

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Mall of the Emirates

With its huge, glass, domed ceiling and marble floors, Dubai's Mall of the Emirates is one of the most aesthetically-pleasing shopping malls in the city. Head there for the stunning architectural views and, if you're feeling adventurous, to hit the slopes in the infamous Ski Dubai resort. 

Al Fahidi Historical District

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Al Fahidi Historical District
The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Al Bastakiya

Also known as Al Bastakiya, the historical district is a stunning heritage site that dates back to the mid-19th century. Here, you can catch a taste of old Dubai, before the towering skyscrapers. Wander through the labyrinth of alleyways and small passageways and soak in the charm of this cultural neighbourhood.

The Penthouse Lounge at FIVE Palm Jumeirah

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Penthouse FIVE Palm Jumeirah

Located on the 16th floor of the FIVE Palm Jumeirah hotel, this contemporary rooftop bar and lounge offers some of the best views of the city. The glass-walled terrace provides uninterrupted views of Dubai's skyline and beaches. Day or night, this is a spot that will certainly take your breath away. 

Ruben Sanchez Mural - JLT

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Ruben Sanchez Mural JLT

I call this the 'Liquorice Allsorts' wall because it reminds me of the sweets. This massive mural was painted by Spanish artist Ruben Sanchez and you can find it at V3 Tower, Cluster V in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. 

If you liked this post and want to see more of Dubai, please follow me on Instagram @Lifeinexcess_ 

The Most Instagrammable Places in Dubai - Part 2


Sunday, 26 August 2018

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia

Situated south of Russia and bordered by Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgia and its capital Tbilisi offer up a unique and alternative destination for a European city break. Popular for its locally produced wine, excellent food and warm summers, Tbilisi is must-visit for anyone looking for somewhere new to scratch off their travel list. Unlike some European cities, Tbilisi is extremely affordable to visit and prices for food and drink are very reasonable, making this an ideal destination if you're on a budget. 

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia


We visited in mid-June this year and experienced temperatures in the high 20's to low 30's (degrees Celcius) Summer in Tbilisi ranges from June to August and along with the higher temperatures, you can expect increased humidity and some rain - we had one huge downpour whilst we were there but the rest of the time it was dry. 

Here's my list of 10 Things To Do in Tbilisi:

1. Ride the cable car 

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia

Hop on the cable car at the station situated in Rike Park and take the short car journey over the Mtkvari river and the rooftops of the Old Town, up to Narikala Fortress. The ride costs around 2 Lari (approx. 60p or AED3) and offers you unparalleled views of Tbilisi from above. You can ride the cable car back or choose to walk down, which is what we did, but beware that the paths are steep and often uneven.

2. Explore Narikala Fortress 

Narikala Fortress Tbilisi Georgia

Situated high up on a steep hill and overlooking Tbilisi are the remains of the ancient Narikala Fortress. It's one of the most striking landmarks in Tbilisi and from the top of the hill you get panoramic views of the surrounding area. It's a must-see when visiting Tbilisi. If you decide to take the steep walk back down, I'd recommend stopping off at Restaurant Citadel en route for a cooling refreshment.

3. Taste the local wine 

8000 Vintages Tbilisi Georgia

Georgia is known for its wine and it was one of the main reasons for our visit. Noted as one of the world's oldest wine regions, the traditional method of using clay pots or qvevri, filled with grapes, left to ferment and then buried in the ground to age, lends the wine a unique flavour and unlike any that I've tasted elsewhere in the world. There's also huge significance regarding the grapes grown in different regions of Georgia and I'd highly recommend participating in local wine tastings to learn more. One of my favourite spots was Vino Underground. The underground bar and tasting rooms focus solely on natural, organic wines and the girl that served us was extremely knowledgeable. I'd also highly recommend 8000 Vintages and G.Vino.

4. Eat Georgian food

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia

If you love carbs and cheese, Georgia is the place for you. My absolute favourite dish was Khachapuri, gooey, cheese-filled bread - trust me when I say I ate plenty! Another traditional dish is Khinkali, a soup-filled dumpling that's meant to be eaten with your fingers. Grab it by the twisted top, bite a hole in the pudding and suck out the filling.

5. Eat at Barbarestan 

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia

I know, I covered food already but a visit to the small, family-owned restaurant Barbarestan is an absolute must. Each recipe is taken from a 1914 cookery book by feminist writer, poet and chef, Barbare Eristavi-Jorjadze and the waiters (although I begrudge calling them that because the service feels so much more personal) are happy to walk you through the menu should you need some guidance. The restaurant is small and intimate, the food is top-notch and the service faultless. I could not praise this place more.

6. Walk across The Bridge of Peace 

Bridge of Peace Tbilisi Georgia

Opened in 2010, the glass and steel pedestrian bridge spans the Mtkvari river, connecting Rike Park to the Old Town, and is a popular tourist spot - with many people stopping to photograph themselves on the famous bridge. It has an unusual design, with many claiming it looks like a ladies sanitary pad. Either way, it's an impressive structure and one that is well worth viewing.

7. Visit the Sulphur Baths

Gulos Thermal Spa Tbilisi Georgia

If you're looking for an unforgettable experience in Tbilisi, I recommend visiting one of the famous Sulphur baths. Lying at the foot of the Narikala Fortress in the Abanotubani District, you'll find the domed roofs of the bath houses. There are a number of community spas you can visit, although I believe that you're expected to remove all of your clothing, so if you don't fancy stripping off with the locals you can do as we did and book into a private room at one of the bath houses. We chose Gulo's Thermal Spa after reading several positive reviews online and opted for one of the larger rooms that also came with a sauna attached. It was definitely an unique experience.

8. Visit the Botanical Gardens  

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia

Located not far from the thermal hot springs is the National Botanical Garden of Georgia - an enormous botanical garden featuring over 4,500 plant species and covering 161 hectares or 1,610,000 square meters! Admission fees for adults are 2 Lari (60p or AED3)

9. Wander around the Old Town 

Old Town Tbilisi Georgia

Tbilisi's picturesque Old Town is made up of cobbled streets, narrow lanes and interesting architecture. Within the maze of streets you'll find small cafes and bars as well as street-sellers with stalls of fruit and souvenirs to buy. It's an integral part of Tbilisi's charm and a must-visit when in the capital.

10. Visit Freedom Square 

Freedom Square Monument Tbilisi Georgia

Freedom Square is the central square in Tbilisi and is where the Old Town meets the Sololaki District. At the heart of the square is the towering statue of a golden St George atop a tall pillar. 

Hotel Recommendation:

We stayed in the boutique hotel Shota @ Rustaveli which is located in the centre of Tbilisi, just off Rustaveli Avenue - Tbilisi's main high street. The hotel is situated in a quiet area, despite its central location and the Old Town is a 10-15 minute walk away. I would highly recommend staying there if you visit Tbilisi as we really enjoyed our time there and the location was superb.

Shota Rustaveli Hotel Tbilisi Georgia

10 Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia


Sunday, 10 June 2018

5 Shopping Mistakes I Used To Make & How I've Learned To Shop More Successfully

Ahh, shopping. There are fewer things that I feel more qualified to talk about than spending coin on my wardrobe. My husband would perhaps describe it as a problem but I see myself as more of a clothing connoisseur. 

Barf. Let's scrap that last sentence. Truthfully though, I've made plenty of mistakes in my years of shopping and wasted more money than I care to imagine, but I finally feel like I've come out the other side, older, wiser and ultimately with a better wardrobe to boot. 

In today's post, I thought I would share some of the shopping mistakes that I used to make and the rules I now try to live by to enable me to shop more successfully and save money on unnecessary purchases. 

5 Shopping Mistakes I Used To Make & How I've Learned To Shop More Successfully - Life in Excess Blog

Mistake 1: Sales  I  have a pretty blanket rule now that I do not shop sales. In store, it's a total no-go. The sales rails are almost always a tangled mass of spaghetti straps and hangers, (which makes for a rather stressful shopping experience) and are crammed full of stuff that failed to sell at full price. There's a reason it's still sitting on the rack. As for sale shopping online, I try not to get roped into the endless 'Black Friday, White Monday, Purple Thursday, have a discount because it's a day ending in 'Y' day' marketing ploy. You inevitably end up buying things you don't really need and will more than likely never wear because let's face it, you probably wouldn't have purchased it full price anyway. Instead, I habitually browse shopping apps on my phone and save anything that I like the look of to my wish list, that way, whenever a sale does come around and I'm feeling spendy, I can go straight to my wish list and pick up the things I genuinely want should they be discounted. 

Mistake 2: Not understanding what you actually like  One of the most beneficial exercises I ever did was taking the time to do a thorough wardrobe evaluation, which involves pulling absolutely everything out and scrutinising it piece by piece. It sounds tedious but I promise you it was worth the effort. The questions I asked myself were:

  • Do I wear this - if so, how often?
  • Does it make me feel good about myself - is it flattering, does it suit me?
  • If I don't wear it, why not? 

I considered the style, shape, material and quality of each item and came to some valuable conclusions:

  • I actively avoid wearing most of my polyester items. Polyester is notoriously sweaty due to the fact that it's not breathable and traps moisture against the skin - not the best when I live in such a hot climate. Don't get me wrong, there are some polyester items in my wardrobe that I love, but on the whole, it's a material that I now try to avoid. 
  • I don't suit certain sleeveless styles - not strappy designs but those that look like the sleeves have just been chopped off. I always avoid buying anything in this style now. 
  • I prefer light, neutral colours and I get bored of patterned fabric very quickly. 
  • Comfort is key. This is probably one of the more significant revelations that I had. If something is too tight-fitting, is made from itchy material or has an annoying strap that keeps falling down, I never reach for it. If I try an item on and even the slightest thing annoys me about it, I always put it back. 

Analysing your wardrobe will really help you to see where you have been going wrong and will highlight where and what you should be spending your money on moving forward. 

Mistake 3: Not thinking about the bigger picture  In the past, I used to shop piece by piece. I'd see something I liked and would buy it straight away without considering how I would incorporate it into my wardrobe. Now, I try to see the bigger picture and will usually only buy something if I can pick out a couple of items in my wardrobe to pair it with - this is part of the reason why I love online shopping so much, it's a great way to try something on with various items in your wardrobe to see if you will get good use out of it. A new piece of clothing should slot into your current wardrobe, rather than your current wardrobe having to adapt (i.e. buying more stuff) to accommodate your new purchase. Of course, there are exceptions and if I really can't live without something then I'll make it work but it's a rule I always try to keep in mind when I'm shopping. 

Mistake 4: Putting too much emphasis on sizing.  Ahh, sizing. Nothing quite pisses on your chips like going into H&M and realising you've jumped up two dress sizes in the course of an afternoon - or at least it used to bother me. Now, I try to take sizes with a pinch of salt. Everyone's shape and size is wildly different and there are such discrepancies between retailer's sizes that I hardly ever think about 'my size' when I shop these days. I usually grab 2-3 different sizes and without paying attention to the labels, I pick out whatever fits me the best. There are so many items of clothing that have ended up unworn in my wardrobe because I've bought them based on what my size ought to be rather than how they actually fit. This also goes for buying things to, 'slim in to' just don't do it! By the time you fit into it, you'll be over it, I guarantee you. 

Mistake 5: Investing too much into trends and not having enough classic pieces  This is something I've definitely been very guilty of in the past. I was the girl that shopped every week and never had anything to wear, largely due to the fact that so many of my purchases were trend-driven pieces that ended up stuffed in the back of my wardrobe once Instagram had moved onto something new. Also, a lot of trends can be pretty impractical outside the realms of social media and harder to style on a day-to-day basis. Whilst it's fun to try new trends, I don't allow myself to get carried away, preferring to invest in more classic items and basics that will take me from season to season. If there's a trend I just can't resist, I will try it out but I limit myself to how much I'm willing to spend. If I don't tire of it after a few seasons, then I'm happy to invest in a better quality, more permanent addition to my wardrobe. 

As with everything I put out here on my blog, these are my thoughts and the rules that I like to live by. Of course, like clothing, these aren't a one size fits all and there will always be exceptions to the rule. Successful shopping is all about taking the time to find out what works for you and being stricter with yourself on what you allow to take up space in your wardrobe.

Remember, your time, money and closest space is too valuable to fill with things you don't fully love. 

What shopping rules do you like to live by? Do you have any tips and tricks you like to use when you're adding to your wardrobe?

5 Shopping Mistakes I Used To Make & How I've Learned To Shop More Successfully - Life in Excess Blog

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Back to Basics

It's been so long that I should probably start with an introduction... or at the very least, an explanation. 

At the end of last year, I decided that I was done with blogging. The joy had slowly been slipping away. Sitting down at my laptop every day had begun to feel more like a chore than a hobby and the same thought kept circling around my head - is anyone still reading blogs these days anyway? It was when my laptop decided to crash, burn and delete hours worth of work that I finally decided to throw in the towel, and I guess that up until now, I'd never really looked back. 

But here I am, six months later with a renewed interest and a restored faith in the process. If blogging is over, I'm fine with it. I've come to realise that it was never really about anything more than having a place in which I could talk about... well... whatever the hell I fancied anyway, and I guess I'd lost sight of that. 

It was time to take things back to basics.

Forgetting numbers and statistics, spending money on the latest products just to have 'content' and feeling like I was forever chasing my tail just to keep up, I'm ready to strip it all back and really focus on producing content that I'm happy and proud of putting out there. 

Scott and I have a really exciting year of travel ahead of us, we're heading to Georgia this month to drink all the wine and eat all the carbs and cheese. We're also in the throes of planning a 3-week long road trip around America in September and we've booked another mini-break to the Maldives early next year. I want my blog to revert back to what I hoped it would be when I started out all those years ago - a diary. A place where I can share highs and lows, travel experiences and document my progress as I set about completely overhauling my wardrobe. 

Sidenote: I feel like since I hit 30, I've had a bit of a style epiphany, (or a very early mid-life crisis) and barely any of my pre-30's wardrobe continues to spark joy so it simply must be revamped. Is anyone else with me on this one? 

So what next?

I've come up with a whole bunch of content ideas and starting from today, I'll be sharing a new blog post once a week, every Sunday. You can expect to see lots of travel content, Dubai posts, fashion features and food. Oh, and the occasional chatty post thrown in for good measure. 

I do hope you stick around. 

Thank you. 

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