Two Cities of Love

Two beautiful cities, both beginning with V, and only 75 miles apart, 1 hour and 20 minutes by train. Two cities synonymous with romance and epic love stories, each filled with magical and mysterious tales. If you are staying at the nearby Lake Garda and you are interested in culture and city sightseeing they are the perfect addition to your visit whilst holidaying in the region.

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I first fell in love with Venice when I visited on a school trip. I love the water, so to be able to explore a beautiful city literally floating on water was a dream in itself. With countless bridges, the lapping of water against stone walls and the beautiful balconies, there’s a vibe about this city that is so mysterious and magical. There is also a peacefulness that lingers over the city. Masks loom from independent shop windows and little pathways between tall houses break open into courtyards home to beautiful, pristine churches.

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“Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.” – Frida Giannini

The main difference between my first trip and my second, almost ten years later, was the full on tourist trap that is has become. I would say it’s a shame, but not for the people of Venice who of course would welcome tourism as a vital source for the economy. Whilst there is the odd tourist with a shiny new selfie stick looming on bridges and in gondolas on the canals, there is also a calmness and to even take one turning off the tourist track leads you to the serenity of residential Venice. For those who want the unique Italian experience, even just for a weekend, this would be the place to go.

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“What about damp? What about flooding? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a little lawn or garden as a sort of buffer zone between the house and the water? But then it wouldn’t be Venice, said Connie’s voice in my head. Then it would be Staines.”- David Nicholls, Us

More recently I visited the gorgeous city of Verona. This ancient walled city was one that I had only briefly thought about visiting and now I am so glad that I had the opportunity. I am a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet, so to be able to visit Juliet’s balcony was a dream come true. It was truly incredible to see just how many names and padlocks were there, as well as the number of people that can fit in one courtyard! There’s so much love in the world but it seemed like it had all accumulated in this one place!

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“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

I was amazed at the stunning architecture of the city. Walking through the walls of the city it was amazing to see the cobbled streets and the huge Roman amphitheatre, Arena di Verona, towering over the city and its citizens and visitors, famous for its opera which fills with over 15,000 spectators per performance.

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I was pleasently surprised by Verona and plan to return to this beautiful, intriguing city soon to explore it further. Would love to hear about any particular places you have explored in Verona! I’m looking for some more places to adventure to which are off the beaten track. Feel free to tweet me @prettyandpetit

Have you visited the cities? Did you have a preferred city? Let me know in the comments below!

Becky

Pretty & Petit

 

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Dreams of Dubai

“Dubai, with all of its glitz and glamour rose in the heart of the desert.”

Soroosh Shahrivar, The Rise of Shams

Personally, I find the city of Dubai one of the most fascinating destinations in the world. With its contrast of old and new, historical and modern and it’s merging of a variety of cultures that use the destination as a gateway to the rest of the world, it is the ultimate city of dreams. When I was a little girl I first discovered the city of Dubai in an encyclopaedia (with the rise of the internet I’m not even sure they still exist!) At school I would create collage after collage of research in the form of images of future designs of architectural magnificence that Dubai was looking forward to, in any other city these would have stayed pipe dreams. Not in Dubai.  Most of these mesmerizing structures have now come into fruition or are certainly under development.

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The city of Dubai. Image from Tumblr

When the opportunity arose to take part in Travelbag’s blogger competition with a prize of a trip to Dubai came up I was beyond ecstatic. It took me back to those school days where I would be cutting and sticking images of a destination I could only ever dream of visiting and I had to get involved.

There are two sides to Dubai, and it is these contrasting sides that I would absolutely have the pleasure in exploring. The history of Dubai as a small fishing village; growing, developing and expanding into the metropolis it has become, a symbol of the modern UAE. A symbol of a prosperous future for not only the city but the country as a whole.

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History of Dubai. Image from Viralnova.com

On the first day we would start with a day of visiting historical Dubai. We would enjoy a historical tour, savouring the cultural aspect of Dubai, marvelling at the fashions, savouring the tastes and smells of the souks. We would visit the food souk, the spice souk and the gold souk exploring what each of these had to offer. This would be followed by a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque. I find mosques absolutely beautiful and fascinating. They are such a peaceful environment as well which provides a calmness and sense of wellbeing.

Jumeirah Mosque. From Flickr.com

Jumeirah Mosque. Image from Flickr.com

In the evening we would escape the hustle and bustle of the city to the desert on a Desert Safari. Enjoying the surroundings of the bedouin camp we would enjoy belly dancers and arabic henna painting into the night.

The desert of Dubai. Image from 99traveltips.com

The desert of Dubai. Image from 99traveltips.com

Rising early, the second day would take an intense look at the architecture of Dubai. This is a city which has a landscape that looks like something out of this world. We would start the day by taking a visit to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, standing at 829.8m tall, venturing to the dizzying heights of the 125th floor to view the landscape around us. We would marvel at the World’s largest the fountains of the Burj Khalifa lake as they perform their daily shows, at night sending beams of light into space!

The Burj Khalifa - Image from Harpers Bazaar.

The Burj Khalifa – Image from Harpers Bazaar.

After coming back down to Earth we would visit the Dubai Mall. We would have some retail therapy, before exploring the other attractions the Mall has to offer, such as visiting the DubaiDino, a dinosaur that has been transported all the way from the USA and Sega Republic for some video gaming fun! No doubt we would also end up in the candy heaven that is Candylicious!

The most beautiful candy in the world! Image found on valentinadepertis.blogspot.se

The most beautiful candy in the world! Image found on valentinadepertis.blogspot.se

We would take in the beautiful city scape, including the many towers that dominate the skyline. My favourite would have to be the Twisted Tower, the Cayan Tower standing at 306m high.

Cayan Tower. Image found on skyscrapercity.com

Cayan Tower. Image found on skyscrapercity.com

Ending our exploration would be a visit to the manmade islands of the Palm and The World. These fascinated me as I was growing up, a playground for the rich and famous, these are located in the waters of the Persian Gulf and as the name suggests are in the shape of a Palm Tree and all the countries of the World. 

The second day would end with a trip to Burj Al Arab, the most luxurious hotel in the world. It was this architecture that first drew me into want to learn more about Dubai. This is the ultimate icon of Dubai and an architectural wonder. We would enjoy cocktails in the sky bar looking over the beautiful coastline and city of Dubai as the sun sets.

Burj Al Arab - Image found on homedit.com

Burj Al Arab – Image found on homedit.com

After two days of absorbing the architecture and the cultural aspects of Dubai Day three would be time for some fun in the sun! Ironically, the first activity of the day would not be in the sun and would involve a visit to Dubai’s Indoor Ski Park located in the Dubai Mall. A faux winter wonderland, this ski park is 22,500 square meters with a variety of activities available including skiing and snowboarding.

The Dubai Ski Park. Image  found on thechive.com

The Dubai Ski Park. Image found on thechive.com

After a couple of hours skiing we would head to Dubai’s Miracle Garden, the world’s largest natural garden full of the most colourful displays and breathtaking landscaping I have ever seen! When I was researching more about these gardens I was absolutely convinced to put them on my bucket list and I’m sure after seeing the images below you will too!

Dubai Miracle Garden - Image found on travel.cnn.com

Dubai Miracle Garden – Image found on travel.cnn.com

Dubai Miracle Garden. Image found on icosnap.com

Dubai Miracle Garden. Image found on icosnap.com

Our final day would end with a trip to the Atlantis resort. Located on The Palm, this breathtaking hotel is a reflection of the Atlantis in the Bahamas and plays host to rooms surrounded by an aquarium so you can literally spot stingrays and beautifully coloured tropical fish from the comfort of your own bed! Aquaventure Water Park is also part of the resort with some of the best water rides in the world and we would spend the afternoon zipping down water slides and relaxing in the sun. After enjoying a fun filled afternoon of meeting sea lions, visiting Dolphin Bay and enjoying the sights of the Aquarium we would visit one of the 23 fantastic restaurants to choose from for the most delicious meal before sorrowfully heading back to the UK.

The Atlantis Dubai. Image found on telegraph.co.uk

The Atlantis Dubai. Image found on telegraph.co.uk

“Pilgrims from all over the world were making their way to the place deemed the pearl of the Middle East. The city was reminiscent of a modern-day Persepolis. Its buildings, like towering pillars, tested the sky’s limit. The evenly paved roads belched with the smell of new tarmac, as if a million masons woke up every morning and by hand lay asphalt one grain at a time. People of all colors, ethnicities, creed and social statuses came bearing money, knowledge or experience in order to build their legacies in the new kingdom, sprouting out of the desert.
Dubai had arrived.”
Soroosh Shahrivar, The Rise of Shams

Becky at Pretty & Petit