Days 9 and 10: Pag and Zadar – they’ve set the bar

Hi everyone, I must apologise for being a bit lazy with uploading posts. To tell you the truth, the last few days have been pretty relaxed so I haven’t felt the need for a daily update, but it’s been a while so I’m sure you all miss me…

To fill you in: on day 9, we explored the town of Zadar. We departed from Split in the morning and enjoyed another scenic 3 hour bus ride north to our destination. Zadar is place steeped in history. The town is an open air museum in itself; an ode to the Roman Empire which once presided over the area for centuries.

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History in full display for the community to enjoy

At every turn you’ll find anything from relics to podiums to full blown Roman baths. 

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A full blown Roman bath

We were shown through the city by a local guide whose passion for her town was clearly evident. She had spent years researching the history of the place and was able to inform us of the story behind every nook and cobblestoned cranny of this delightful little town.

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Roman “shame podium” – you do something wrong and you get hoisted up to one of those hooks and hung so everyone knows what a hoodlum you are

Unfortunately (for me), this tour coincided with a very important event which landed me in a great quandary.

You see, this day was a day that doesn’t come around often. 

In fact, aside from last week, it has seldom been seen in the last 8 years. 

What day is it? You ask eagerly.

Well, my friends.

Today is a day that I can at last exploit my (1/4) Senegalese heritage and cheer them on in the Football World Cup! 

It just so happened, right as the lovely guide was showing us through this cafe into a secret ruin from times long ago, we happened to walk past a TV where Senegal were playing Japan. I had been covertly refreshing google every 10 seconds for the updated score, but it was too much to resist walking past an actual TV, particularly as the scoreline (at that point) was in our favour.

I lingered at the screen whilst the rest of the group went forward into a journey of historical enlightenment. I thought I wasn’t missed, but for some reason, a half African person with bright yellow braids and silver glitter love heart earrings seems to stand out in rural Croatia. Weird.

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I’m basically camouflaged I’m so nondescript

Subsequently, the hawk eyed elderly bar man spotted me. He didn’t speak much English but he spoke enough. He looked at me with a narrowed gaze.

“Senegal?” He enquired.

“Senegal!!!” I offered

“Senegal!!!!!! 2:1” He proclaimed

“Alles! Alles!” I chanted.

We high fived.

Football really is the beautiful game.

At that point the rest of the gang came out from the tour and I stealthily joined them. We then had a scrumptious dinner at Pet Bunara, which featured cuttlefish ink bread, Pag island cheese, and a beef and porcini cream pasta that was so incredibly rich and beyond creamy that I wondered what the hell else they put into it.

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Marbled cuttlefish ink bread, so tasty

 

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I was feeling so rat-chet after eating so much cream, I couldn’t stop thinking about this vintage Simpsons episode

The next day, we ventured over to Pag Island. 

I stopped at the same cafe to grab a “coffee to-go,” where my old mate from last night offered me his commiserations in a brief interchange that went something like this:

Haddy (to the younger guy on the till): Hi, can I have one white coffee to go?

Old mate (appearing from the side lines, arms up in the air in a flagrant display of dismay): Senegal?!

Haddy: That’s me, I’m so sad we drew

Old mate: Senegal! 2:2, is bad

Haddy (head bowed, brow furrowed): 2:2, is bad

We then share a solemn hand shake and I leave with my cute cup of coffee.

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Whatta cute cuppa?!

Getting back to it, I must admit, when I heard we were going to Pag, I had a vivid flashback to some really weird arthouse music video I once somehow saw when I was a kid by a band called Pag (here’s the shortened version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX5WNiWqh8k – watch at your own peril). 

For some reason, crazy old me thought in order to get to Pag ISLAND we would have to utilise a water based vehicle. In avid anticipation for this I planned the appropriate outfit which included one of those amazing hideous sailing hats and a shirt the colour of a jaundiced sun. Turns out there’s a bridge, so my whole curation was completely wasted and much to my dismay, we drove over into Pag.

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Devo on the inside

 

Pag is famous for being a barren hinterland devoid of greenery but with plenty of salt and sheep.

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So devoid of foliage 

The salty sheep make salty cheese which makes Haddy happy. After exploring the beach side town, we were treated to a real Croatian local lunch at Opg Kukovic, which consisted of the Pag cheese, veggies, lamb and the softest and saltiest potatoes you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. We were then shown where the magic happens, aka the cheese goes to age. It is an interesting and difficult craft and I had a lot of respect for the lady who so graciously invited us into her home to feed us and teach us about the art of cheese making.

We then left Pag and spent the afternoon chilling back in Zadar. The shoreline of Zadar is probably it’s main attraction. At the waters edge is the famous installation named Greeting to the Sun. This was created by architect Nikola Bašić in 2008 and represents the sun and the planets and the way they interact with the light. At night it is lit up from below with many different colours and is a sight to behold. The auditory accompaniment to Greeting to the Sun transcends above the hum of tourist chatter.

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I call it Feet-ing to the Sun

Intertwined with the sounds of the gentle waves breaking, floats the melancholy melody of the Sea Organ, its haunting song created by the swell as it skirts through the man-made organ pipes located below the water’s surface.

Additionally, the sunsets from here are apparently the best in the world, according to world sunset expert Alfred Hitchcock. 

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Legend has it, he was so messed up after seeing something so beautiful, he created Psycho… (loljks)

Although we paid for the tour yesterday (which was well worth it as the guide was brimming with local knowledge), I liked that the culture is free for all to enjoy. It really comes alive in the evening, and we spent our evening pizza eating, window shopping and people watching.

I liked Zadar but I can’t eloquently explain why. I’d visit again.

I’ve got a 5 hour bus trip tomorrow, so I’ll give you the lowdown on Plitvice National Park (providing I don’t get car sick). Ciao for now.

Haddy x

Day 9: Let’s Split!

Well, we high tailed it out of Dubrovnik before anyone had time to summon some sort of plague upon us and have begun the journey to Split.

FYI: It’s a 3.5 hour bus journey through the divine Croatian coastline. It costs 136 kuna and is the most picturesque (and cheapest) way to view the amazing scenery. Just remember to have your passport handy because you briefly pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina en route. It’s the kind of beauty that you just need to see and sear into your own memory, because the photos just do not do it justice. 

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Here is a photo attempting to do the view justice

In this country, the water seems to reach this deep blue colour that you just don’t see in Australia. It contrasts the pale buildings mounted on the evergreen mountains so perfectly. I really enjoyed cruising along with my strudel and my Jana Beauty water.

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I can’t stop drinking this stuff, mmm collagen

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Another insane Croatian snack which is a combination of ferrero rocher and Nutella. B-ready to know what heaven tastes like

Split is my cup of tea. It’s a pumping hubbub of activity which is some sort of cross between the gothic quarter in Barcelona and Budapest. I’m all about this vibe. There’s adventure and activity behind every alleyway. This place really conforms to the siesta culture, so everyone is up and about well into the night; the World Cup certainly keeps everyone festive. I really wish we were here longer.

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Chillin’ in the square under the stars

The reason we are going to Split, is because it’s where we begin our Intrepid tour. I’ll explain the agenda as we go each day because I think there will be a lot of transit time. We met the group who all seem great, and following a briefly incredibly awkward room allocation mistake (this one I’ll have to explain in person) we went out for an amazing dinner at Articok. I had the risotto and it was baller, followed by an ice cream at what we were told was the best place in Split called Luka – the recommendation was spot on. It was yum!

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They certainly didn’t cok this up!

We then headed out to explore the area more and make the most of the night, woo hoo! At some point we headed back to catch some sleep before we continue on our journey up the coast. 

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Split is (moon)lit!

I’ll keep this short and wrap it up here. Thanks for reading. Catch you tomorrow!

Haddy x

“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” – Charles Dudley Warner

 

 

Day 8: Nun the wiser

 

Trigger warning: this post deals heavily with content of a shameful nature, avert your gaze if you’re politically correct.

So we made it to Croatia! I’m currently writing this entry on a ~4 hour bus trip to Split, so excuse the inevitable confusion between past and present tense.

We spent the first two nights staying in a little hostel run by nuns. The room was bright and cheerful and it was close to the Old Town.

It’s worth explaining for anyone who hasn’t been to Croatia and may think it reasonable to assume that google maps will give an accurate representation of the topography of the country. It doesn’t. Places that appear close as the crow flies, or even as the crow walks, chills out, visits its side crow and then flies to the wife on maps don’t actually take into account just how hilly the country is.

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Not pictured: all the stairs

Our place was close to where we planned on spending the day. Yes. But they don’t show 235719420 stairs on the app because I’m certain it would put people off. Luckily for us we went blindly into the sunny alleyways, steps and cobbled paths and made it to Old Town Dubrovnik.

I am sure that everyone knows this is where Game of Thrones was filmed, and you can definitely tell this is Kings’ Landing the second you set foot inside the walls. It’s a very unique sort of beauty.

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King’s Landing

Each building is the same off white colour adorned with a terra cotta coloured roof. They’re stacked along the side of the rolling hills; occasionally there will be the crumbling ruin of a house from yesteryear, beautiful in its own right. At the next turn, you may stumble upon a glorious monument, fountain or church. In summer, it’s a melting pot of tourists from all walks of life, overpriced breakfasts, souvenir stores and the raw normalcy of the locals obtaining produce from the markets. 

 

We decided to do the walk around the wall, which costs 150 kuna. [Side note: whilst on the topic of money, most places seem to take euros and kuna interchangeably, but hardly any take card.] The views were amazing and you could picture Cersei on her walk of shame.

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Shame

We essentially walked all day. We checked out the area where the sailing tours departed and all I can say is thank god I’m not doing one of those. The smell of vomit and shame was overwhelming.

Speaking of shame, a fun little anecdote for you:

Have you ever heard the saying that there are three things you should never bring up in conversation (especially with someone who is a representative of a religious body) are money, politics and religion? Of course you have.

Anyway, it was boiling hot outside so there was definitely an element of heat stroke contributing to this conversation, but basically as part of an innocent conversation about bus timetables, someone in our traveling party of two managed to alert the kind nun to the fact that in Australia, religion isn’t really that much of a thing anymore. I won’t go into detail, but lets just say as the terrible interchanged continued and more verbal holes were dug, this kind sister’s facial expression transformed from open and welcoming to curt and stormy.

She must have some prophetic insight into the weather (or someone in our party of two really made god mad) because, I am being 100% serious when I say this, no sooner were we back in our room sitting in our room deciding what to do next, did the thickest blanket of dark grey clouds roll over and it started booming with thunder and pelting down rain. We were cowering under our crucifixes pinned to the headboards of our beds, praying we wouldn’t be struck by lightning.

It was at this point, one of us started repenting, and the other started googling evil nun movies. I’ll let you decide who did what.

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Coming to a cinema near you in September 2018

Haddy x

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before,” – Dalai Lama

Days 5, 6 and 7: Britain is Great

Apologies that I haven’t written anything down since my last rant. You should be happy to know things picked up considerably during our time in London.
To save this becoming even longer than my usual posts, I’ll try and be as brief as I can about the last 48 hours.
In short, both days were amazing.

Day 5 – Ritzy Reunions

So we arrived to our Airbnb without me murdering anyone (or getting murdered by cat calling guys outside the chicken shop) which was your typical English house – tiny. We were so exhausted that we crashed straight away, although neither of us anticipated just how hot two people sharing a tiny bed with the boiler on would be, so it was a bit of a fretful night.

In the morning, the clouds slightly parted and the sky refrained from drizzling, so we were cheery. We took the bus into the city for our highly anticipated morning tea at The Ritz. I can see why they made a song about this place – it’s classy!

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I brushed my hair, so ritz!

I was glad I wore my magenta socks, it was definitely the occasion for them! Tea was located in the most gorgeous room, and the sandwiches and cakes were so tasty. The clotted cream on the scones certainly clotted up my arteries, but it was worth it. I loved this experience, it was so quintessentially British.

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This blog seems to feature me faux pouring a lot of tea from some pretty ornate teapots

From there, we took a stroll to explore queen Liz’s digs at ye old Buckingham Palace. As you can expect, it was tourist central, although I don’t remember the police holding AK 47’s the last time I visited, but I guess that was in 2012 and times have changed. We did the usual tourist things here and then wandered back to the city via Carnaby.

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Pictured: The palace, Not Pictured: The guns and po po

Carnaby is cool! I’d never been there before but it was colourful and quirky and had a really interesting selection of shops. I had a 10/10 piccolo from a tiny hole in the wall cafe which was an unexpected delight. 

We spent the afternoon window shopping and people watching on Oxford street before dinner.

Dinner was a really special event because it was shared not only with my sister (who lives in England now), but also with some of my best friends who also happen to live in these parts. We shared far too much curry at Dishoom in Shoreditch and the food was absolutely incredible. The black dhal curry, the okra chips and the cheese toast were the stand outs. Our catch ups continued well into the night and it really made me so happy to see everyone doing so well.

The other thing that made me happy was this guy stopping traffic in his car to give me his business card for modelling, but that’s a story for another time (#humblebrag #wasprobablyatrap #hiswindowswereprettytinted).

By the time we made it back to the east end, we were completely knackered. Unfortunately for us, the place we were staying featured the guests from hell (not us) who were so loud for so much of the night that we ended up making a 2am decision to flee to a hotel. 


Day 6 – “Oh, I was gonna say…”

So basically at every point from here on in when we recounted the suburb we stayed in + having to bail, each audience said “oh, yeah, I was gonna say, why are you staying there?”

THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP AT THE TIME EVERYONE! 

Ha.

I jest.

Sort of.

Today was an even better day because it began at the Cereal Killer cafe. This place is a visual delight. It’s pretty neat seeing all the old cereal packaging from throughout the years and around the world, plus they had a Simpsons arcade game.

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More like Cereal Kool-er

I had the Unicorn Poop cereal, which was super sweet and very colourful.

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Have you ever seen sugar take so many different forms?! (NB- the shake wasn’t mine)

From here (for some reason), we worked out we were possibly still just shy of eating 29430852 calories this morning, so we headed to Camden markets with my sister to visit Chin Chin labs.

This place is famous for their dense marshmallow hot chocolates which they blow torch into oblivion for you to then attempt to eat without keeling over and dying from a blood sugar level well into the hundreds. Naturally, that’s my kind of challenge. It was a (relatively) hot day so I had the ice-cream which featured this uniquely textured marshmallow being spooned all the way into the very bottom of the waffle cone for you to enjoy after you’ve had the most deliciously rich ice cream. The whole idea of the store was pretty groundbreaking in the important world of ice cream, and it’s well worth stopping there whilst in Camden.

 

The rest of the markets you basically have to see to believe. There are food stalls from all over the world, and the gifts are niche and funny. There’s also a Gambian clothes store there (Jekkah) who make a pretty mean African printed jogging pant.

From here, if I’m to tell the honest truth about what we did for the rest of the day, it gets embarrassing. 

But I don’t want to lie, so please don’t judge.

Look, basically I’m not proud of this but we had planned our visit to London not by landmarks such as Big Ben (boring, half scaffold) or the London Eye (I’ve done it before), but by culinary experiences we wanted to enjoy. 

It just so happens that our bucket list outnumbered reasonable eating hours in a day, so we kind of had to eat amounts that were shameful in order to have no regrets.

Now I’ve got that off my chest.

Have you ever heard of www.yorkshireburrito.com? The only reason I can think of to explain why I have, is that my SEO algorithm is horrendously skewed towards roast dinners (leave me alone, we all have our vices). To cut a long story short, after eating a bagel for breakfast (ugh, like I said, I’m just trying to be honest with you about who I really am), unicorn poop for morning tea and an ice cream for no good damn reason, we all thought it was an appropriate next step to try the roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding wrap.

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We went halves because I’m not a complete monster

And it was like heaven came down to grace my mouth. So I’m not sorry.

From here, I said goodbye to my sister (boo hoo hoo) and we spent the rest of the afternoon pursuing various hobbies (me: hating myself and getting a massage, Ellie: Having a nap). 

It was then time for the ultimate dining experience ever which was visiting Sketch. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this place – google it. It’s an amazing restaurant/ art gallery/ art installation in itself. It’s also all pink. And I LOVE pink. I used it as an excuse to wear a dress of mine I have wanted to for close to a year. And the staff were pretty stoked. And given how fragile my self esteem was post this mornings gorging, that made everything better.

The food was visually interesting and tasted fabulous (like, really truly delicious), but if I may say something outlandish, the real highlight was the toilets. They’re these weird pod things and the mirror makes you feel like you’re in a submarine. It was bizarre.

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The mirror actually made it incredibly difficult to apply my $2 lipstick

From this wonderland, stepping out into the cold (still very bright) light of the evening made me seem hilariously out of place in my dress after losing the context of Sketch. I made a distress call to one of my best friends and we spent the rest of the day and early hours of the morning having a prolonged catch up.

I’m so very sorry to leave London. It gets better every time I go, and there’s so much more I wanted to do with this visit, not to mention have the opportunity to visit my family. I am seriously considering packing up my life in Australia and giving the NHS a go for a year or so (but that’s a conversation for later).

Day 7: Feeling peckish in Peckham

Ok so the only things to note from today were that I went down to the south of London, ate chicken from the chicken shop and got the most epic corn rows (yes, what a stereotype but I am who I am). I then flew to Croatia.

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Mug shot

Tune in later when I’ll give you the lowdown of my day in Dubrovnik. Thanks for being patient whilst I’ve been a bit slack with posting content. Also thanks for all asking when the new stuff is coming up, that means a lot!

Haddy x

Day 4: London, it’s on

So the Emirates Palace was dope.

We had an ace night dining on traditional Emirati food, and the breakfast buffet was devine. We couldn’t resist ingesting more inert material, so we capped off our stay with a gold flake cappuccino.

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More like MMMMirates Palace

There’s not too much to really write about, as today was basically spent in transit. I managed to finish a somewhat lacklustre miniseries (I presume by the BBC) on child abduction and race relations within the English foster care system called Kiri. I’d give it a 6.8/10. It tried. Mercifully the food was slightly better on this flight than the last, but I must admit, the coffee I drank in my economy class seat flying over Turkey seemed incredibly average, when compared to my gleeful coffee number one of the day. 

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The (briefly) mighty have well and truly fallen (back into middle class)

After a (thankfully) uneventful flight, we landed in Heathrow airport. We then stood in a queue for THREE BLOODY HOURS!!! SERIOUSLY!!! Anyone who knows me at least semi well, will be familiar with how much I love to put my grievances into angry, verbose prose, for no real reason other than to ventilate my minor inconveniences to unwitting Facebook friends. I have so much to say about how unimpressed I was, but I fear this blog will disintegrate into a tirade of curses so I’ll try and show some restraint. 

Whenever I come through the arrivals gates at Heathrow, I can’t help but imagine I’m in the last scene of Love Actually. I’ve got Hugh Grant’s delightful opening monologue stuck in my head but rather than cartwheel through the corridor in a pink dress to be greeted by Idris Elba like I was looking forward to imagining, I’m low level homicidal as I lug my bag to Boots to try and get a sandwich.

Ok.

Actually.

I take back my comment about showing some restraint… I need to write about my plastic bag gripe. 

To set the scene, British people love a good meal deal (this usually consists of a sandwich, snack and drink for a low price bought from either a pharmacy or a newsagent and most often consumed during a weekday lunch). I bought two (non-meal deal) sandwiches, proceeded to pay for them (please clearly note that the price of these sandwiches superseded the price of a single meal deal) using my Australian credit card (hello conversion fee) and then, foolish me, had the audacity to ask for a plastic bag. 

This is exactly what happened with absolutely no creative license taken with the wording, I swear:

“That will be 5p,” the nark at the counter told me. 

“I don’t have 5p. I have a $50 note, but you and I don’t want me to have to break that, do we?” I calmly replied.  

Nark: Use your card again.

Haddy (politely): Dear sir, the conversion fee is far in excess of 5p, it would hardly be worth the kerfuffle, do you not concur?

Nark: Sorry ma’am.

At this point, I picked up two bags and two sandwiches in my four arms. Okay that didn’t happen, and if I had four arms I promise you I would have just left it alone, but because I only have two, once I got to the perimeter of the scene, I couldn’t help it. I wanted vengeance blood the damn bag.

We resume where we left off:

Haddy: Hello again, kind fellow. I am sorry to be of a petulant nature, but I must urge you to reconsider and bequeath me a bag for these bread lined chicken vessels.

Nark: There’s CCTV here and I’m not allowed. The bags are only for the meal deal or they’re 5p.

Haddy: ….

Nark: ………

Haddy: …………………

Nark: Well, I guess there’s no audio on the CCTV so they won’t have to know.

Haddy (maintaining a veil of polite indignation): (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!) 

Nark: Gives Haddy the bag.

VICTORY.

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Too right plastic bags can be dangerous… to the soul

Seriously. I can’t tell you the damage 3 hours in a queue does to your psyche, but in my head this was playing out like a strategy scene from The Art of War. The victory felt meaningful. And that was enough to sustain me as I sit here on the underground writing this entry.

The accomodation we are staying in here is an Airbnb over in the east of London. The host is a Michelin starred chef and breakfast is included (yee haw). There is still at least an hour of transit time to go and I am thoroughly wiped out. I’m feeling a bit motion sick typing this right now, so I will leave it there.

Tomorrow we are starting the day with high tea at The Ritz, so I need my beauty sleep. Catch you in the morning.

Haddy x

PS – I’m starting to write a few fashion / beauty articles on the side if you’re at all interested! Bear with me whilst I try and expand my blog to get a look book section, it always seems to take much longer than I anticipate.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” – Hugh Grant, Love Actually

Day 3: Emirati Party

So, today is mega exciting because we are staying in the third most expensive building ever to grace this good earth – Emirates Palace! 

To start at the beginning of June 17th, firstly we checked out of our regular five star hotel (I jest, The Marriott Downtown was truly a fantastic stay and I recommend it to anyone visiting Abu Dhabi) this morning and headed to The Louvre Abu Dhabi. This building is a bit of an architectural phenomenon. It looks a bit like a beehive or my pores when I don’t exfoliate on the outside, but inside the design style resembles the sort of Swedish simplicity of a very high end Ikea. 

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The light really pores through, don’t you think?

It’s a cross between a museum and an art gallery, and I was happy to see original Picasso (my favourite), Matisse and Van Gough amongst many others. I had a bit of a fascination with ancient Egypt when I was younger, so I found the mummy bandage from 300BC inscribed with hieroglyphics particularly exceptional, in a macabre sort of way.

After coffee with a view, we headed onto The Emirates Palace.

I’m just going to paste the link from the website because I don’t think there are enough words to explain how baller this place is (https://www.kempinski.com/en/abudhabi/emirates-palace/). I pulled the now frayed it’s my birthday card and got us a free upgrade (no shame); he also threw in a red rose because these Emirati men know how to treat a lady.

Our room is humongous and gorgeous and my photos do not do it justice. We didn’t spend long there because there is just so much to explore in this suburb of a hotel. 

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Not pictured: Sea view and roses

The brazen display of wealth evident within the tapestries, stairways, artwork, chandeliers and guests themselves reminded me of the Titanic – which is funny because as I had that thought whilst sauntering through the gold plated corridors, a dainty little trio of piano, flute and cello materialised and began to play “My Heart Will Go On.” Spooky. 

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The thing I love about the palace is that nothing is off limits on the scale of “Extraness.” Don’t wanna walk? No problem, we’ll drive you! Don’t wanna eat food that’s not gold encrusted? Never fear – we’ll coat, you gloat!

(As an aside, I just learnt about the GIF feature on instagam story and have really massacred it. Additionally, I couldn’t get any other proper videos to upload on this wifi, so I’m sorry for the terrible insight into what I find genuinely amusing.)

Requiring a sweet intermission to rejuvenate us from walking the whole length of the hotel (like the intrinsic peasants we are, we foolishly did not realise we could be driven), we gingerly made our way to a conglomeration of luxury sofas where people seemed to be enjoying their afternoon tea. Thankfully, I did not have to entertain the notion I would be having a mediocre dining experience for long; soon enough I was chowing into 24 carat ice cream, as that delightful trio serenaded me with the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love.” For ice cream? It’s bottomless.

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I have reached peak Extra and I ain’t sorry

We’ve spent the afternoon lounging by pool one, as I had ridden enough camels yesterday. Tonight we are dining out on traditional Emirati food and I hope to catch a bit of the football and make the most of my last night here in the desert, so I’m going to sign off prematurely.

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I swear this is no filter, so beautiful

I’ve loved my time here in UAE. It’s such a clean, vibrant, friendly and welcoming country where manners cost nothing and everyone is smiling. I have found the minimal alcohol, maximal shisha culture invigorating. Next time, I want to visit Dubai, and hopefully spend a night camping under the stars.

Tomorrow, it’s onwards to my homeland, England.

Haddy x

“I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I want to feel you in my arms again” – Bee Gees

Day 2: It’s my Birthday!

HAPPY HADDY DAY EVERYONE!

So, I’m going to keep this short because it’s been a long one and I am exhausted, but I just wanted to drop a line to say TODAY WAS AMAZING!

It all began last night with a knock on my door at 10pm. There stood a waiter with a surprise birthday mud cake – um yes please! Naturally, this morning we had some for breakfast and it was absolutely delicious. 

Birthday Cake!

Please only ever knock on my door if you have one of these from now on, thanks

After that nutritious morsel, we decided to venture out to visit the grand mosque of Abu Dhabi. It was built by Sheikh Zayed almost 30 years ago. Sheikh Zayed was the numero uno ruler of the land. He was responsible for much of its development, infrastructure and healthcare. He also had the brilliant idea of building a striking white, mammouth Mosque to rest in after death (the sort of thing I’d do if any of my zany ideas would only gain some traction). The structure is phenomenal and definitely fulfils its brief of showing the world just how exquisite middle eastern architecture really is. It is the site of Friday prayers and has fed close to 40 000 people daily during the Ramadan.

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See what I’m talking about?!

On the topic of fulfilling basic needs, I must admit, the last place I expected to end up for my first coffee of 27 was at the Coffee Club, Sheikh Zayed Mosque (as an aside, I haven’t seen so many Coffee Clubs in one city since I was in Gladstone), but it did a top job of caffeinating me so I can’t complain.

coffee

Mmm, perplexing

We wandered into the mosque and it really was something. I have never seen anything so remarkable in all its grandeur. Here’s a few photos of me inside it.

mosque standing

Not sure why I’m looking so blue

closeup mosque

The HadMaids tale

The chandeliers, carpets, mosaics and gold gilded columns are beyond exquisite. I really think it’s a marvel and it’s worth visiting if ever you are in the UAE.

After lunch, we were picked up by a 4WD for our desert safari. I was really pumped for this as I’d heard it made for an amazing afternoon, and we were not disappointed. 

So, call me naive, but until now I thought an epic 4WD experience was driving around lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island (don’t get me wrong – it’s fun, but it’s tame). Four wheel driving here is a totally different kettle of fish. It is SCARY. If you read my entry from yesterday, boy did I harp on about how awful the rollercoasters were. I’m ashamed of what I said yesterday. I’m not that person anymore. I’m post-dune-bashing-twenty-seven-year-old-Haddy and nothing. Nothing. Is. More. Terrifying. Than. Desert. Dune. Bashing. 

Seriously.

Put me on Formula Rossa for an hour then vomit in my eye, I’d still prefer it…

pose

Halfway point, just holding my head onto my mangled neck

The fact that the driver decided to almost kill us to the sound of dubstep just made the whole thing more harrowing. I honestly thought I would do a Shakespeare and depart from planet Earth today. 

 

I’m glad we didn’t, because we somehow made it to a Bedouin camp which was stunning. I was treated to a birthday camel ride which was amazing! The camel was adorable, I loved its knobbly knees and immediately understood why its eyelashes were so long at an intimate level (the wind speed in this place rivals that of hurricane). 

camels

Get a guy who looks at you like these camels look at hay

We were dressed in hijabs, painted with henna, and given a mighty good feed. There was traditional belly dancing as entertainment and she really was an athlete. I never realised just how intense the dance is, and she was magnificent.

hijab

King Bin Chicken (left) and Hadhijabtou (right)

Dinner and a show was followed by a shisha sesh. Yum yum. I think the nicotine got to us because by the end we were a bit crazy.

 

We arrived safely back to the hotel and after the longest shower to wash away the mounds of sand from just about everywhere, I am well and truly ready for bed.

Today was incredible. I loved that it was a completely novel experience, and I hope to start the year of 27 as I mean to go on; to continue with more adventures, and to work on improving myself and my happiness. Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. I was overwhelmed by messages and I really appreciated you all taking time out of your day to touch base with me.

Sorry if this was a bit of a slapdash entry – I really wanted to get something down before bed but I am practically sleep typing.

Tomorrow we hit up Emirates Palace, and I can’t wait for that! 

Haddy x

PS – The company we went with for the safari was Extreme Tourism LLC (www.abudhabi-desert-safari.com) Highly recommend!

“The desert, when the sun comes up…I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.”  ― Tom Hanks