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

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