New Year, New You – Essentials for Travelling Abroad

As part of my ‘New Year, New You’ series this month I’m asking bloggers to share their plans, tips and resolutions for 2016! 

Today is the turn of Cait from CaitsCozyCorner who will be sharing her essentials for travelling abroad! Such a useful post as I will be travelling myself in a couple of weeks time so have picked up on some handy tips for my trip!

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Hey everyone! I’m so happy to be a guest blogger here at Pretty & Petit!! Today I wanted to chat about 4 essentials you need when traveling abroad. I don’t consider myself an expert of course but I have been to Europe several times ( and planning another one this October for Munich and Germany ) so I wanted to share some tips that have helped me! Whether its your first time abroad or your hundredth, these will ease your worry and make the trip as smooth as possible.

1. Passport case. Believe me, with all the stuff you’re packing in your suitcase, you want something fun and durable for your passport. After all, it’s what helps you get from country to country. If you’re feeling fancy, Kate Spade or Coach has adorable prints to keep your passport safe but if you don’t feel like splurging, your local convenient store should have some!
2. Durable luggage. I’m a suitcase girl. For me, a suitcase abroad means something with 4 wheels that I can push and turn in all directions. Those cobblestones you’re attempting to push your luggage over can be a pain so why not make it easy on yourself and get a suitcase that’s easy to push and pull.
3. Packing in layers. The one thing that took so much time was what to wear! Layers was the answer and simple ones at that. Don’t worry about the latest fashion because you want to be comfortable. A few pairs of jeans, leggings, tank tops, sweaters and a cute purse is all you need! You can mix and match everything! Be creative!
4. A Camera. You don’t have to have a fancy camera to make the most your trip. Our phones are so handy and easy to use at a moment’s notice that you’ll want to capture everything. Make sure you do because you’re in Europe creating memories! Enjoy every single second of it!
Cait is a 20 something blogger who loves writing about fashion, fitness, her family, and traveling. Follow her and her adventures on CaitsCozyCorner !
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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

A View from The Shard

On a warm September evening, we travelled over to London Bridge to visit The Shard, the tallest building in Europe. Watching this gradually being constructed over the last few years, it was amazing to be able to visit this amazing building. Especially as so many of the tallest buildings in London are predominantly housing or office blocks.

The View from The Shard

               The View from The Shard

We paid for our tickets, went through some security and had our photo taken. After being provided with an audio guide we were guided over to the lift. I felt a bit apprehensive prior to going to The Shard as I am afraid of heights but once in the lift this seemed to disappear.

To get to the top you are required to get in two lifts, travelling at 6m per second. They are ultra smooth and it doesn’t feel like you are travelling anywhere at all! The first stops at floor 33 where you head to a second lift to go up to floor 68. This was definitely one of the tallest buildings I’ve ever been in. I don’t think I’ve ever been higher than 8 floors!

Stepping out on the 68th floor (and walking up the stairs to the 69th) we were absolutely mesmorised by the sight before us. Every single part of London, North, South, East and West was laid out before us in a criss-crossing pattern of multi-coloured lights and beautifully lit architecture.

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We enjoyed some champagne and took so many photos of the different views available from the floor to ceiling windows in each angle of the building. Although a sprawling city, it looked so small from that height. The railways snaked across the city like rivers and the Thames itself was adorned by bridges spanning its width as far as the eye could see. It was truly spectacular.

Champagne on the 69th floor!

Champagne on the 69th floor! (It was dark up there!)

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Looking up into the night. Towards the spire of The Shard

If you’re thinking of visiting The Shard on a trip to London it’s an absolutely amazing thing to do! Certainly you pay a price for a view like that (concessions are available for students, senior citizens etc.) and there are some wonderful packages available too. However they have an affordable boutique at the end which is good value for money so handy for souvenirs on your way home.

Some key facts about The Shard!

The Shard is approximately 309 metres high.

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe.

A fox was found living on the 72nd floor during construction which staff nicknamed ‘Romeo’.

The Shard is home to Shangri-La Hotel, as well as multiple bars and restaurants and office space.

It takes 3 months to clean the windows of The Shard by some very brave window cleaners!

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Becky at Pretty & Petit