2015 | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Dec 29, 2015

Christmas Staycation in Centro Sharjah

'Twas the day before Christmas. Almost everyone I know was busy whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, wrapping gifts, and sending out some virtual Christmas love on Facebook. Ed and I, on the other hand, went off to a non-traditional celebration.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the first time in Sharjah. Perhaps you're wondering why we wanted to be there when all the yuletide fun is in Dubai. Well, we both have been very busy lately. Ed even spent half of his holiday at work, hence quality time was the best Christmas gift that we could ever give to each other. 

So, we gleefully agreed to a Christmas staycation in Centro Sharjah.  

Centro Sharjah
Centro Sharjah

Dec 21, 2015

Turkey: Night Bus from Cappadocia to Pamukkale

Ed and I bid goodbye to the surreal fairy chimneys of Cappadocia before our third day in Turkey ended. And on our fourth day, at dawn, we said hello to the snow-white travertines of Pamukkale. There are flights between two tourist destinations, from Kayseri (Cappadocia) to Denizli (Pamukkale), but we opted to take the most economical way - via Suha Turizm night bus.

Suha Turizm office in Goreme Otogar
Suha Turizm office in Goreme Otogar

Dec 14, 2015

Turkey: Where and What I Ate in Cappadocia

Whenever we travel, deciding where to eat is just as important as choosing which tourist attraction to visit and to skip. It may be too obsessive-compulsive, but it pays to do a little research on food especially if you're too keen on your travel budget, or if you're simply a foodie who doesn't want to miss the town's specialty.

With only three days to eat my way around the town of Goreme, I wrote down two restaurants to tick off on my travel list and the rest of the meals I left for some surprises along the road. Here are the foodie spots I discovered in Cappadocia:    

My Foodie Destinations in Cappadocia
My Foodie Destinations in Cappadocia

Nov 26, 2015

Turkey: DIY Walking Tour in Cappadocia

Pulling off a DIY tour is hard. A lot of research is needed, map reading skill must be on point, and misadventures are inescapable. However, the joy of reaching a destination on your own is beyond compare! So, despite of being haunted by the thought of losing our way in a land we haven't set foot in, Ed and I fervently made a Cappadocia DIY walking/hiking tour itinerary.

Here are the attractions we explored on our own during our 3days-2nights trip in Cappadocia. Caution: Travel mishaps ahead! :) Follow our route with discretion. Hahah! ;)

Self-guided Tour in Cappadocia

Nov 21, 2015

Turkey: Off The Beaten Track Guided Tour in Cappadocia

Ed and I were quite eager to go on a full DIY Turkey trip, so I did a lot of research on how to go from here to there. Halfway through the planning stage, I got alarmed on the thought of being lost in the deepest underground city in Cappadocia. Although I found some testimonies in the web saying it's possible to explore the multi-level Derinkuyu underground city without a guide, it's a risk I couldn't take. 

So, I went searching for tours and I found Turkish Heritage Travel's Undiscovered Cappadocia Tour which includes the underground city that I wanted to visit, plus four off the beaten path attractions. Discovering the undiscovered sounded like an adventure to me, hence I decided that if we're going to spend a whole day following a tour guide, that should be it!     

Discovering the Undiscovered in Cappadocia

Nov 13, 2015

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

I'm such a scaredy-cat. I would excuse myself from the adrenaline rush that my husband greatly enjoys most of the time, but the moment I saw a photo of hot air balloons flying above the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, I told myself that one day, I will not let my fear of heights get me. I will hop on that basket and have a magical adventure in the air! 

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon

Nov 9, 2015

Turkey: What's So Special about Kelebek Special Cave Hotel?

A lot of "firsts" happened in Cappadocia. It was where we first discovered Kahvalti; THE breakfast of all breakfasts. It was where we had our first hot air balloon ride and our first long hike together. It was also where we slept in a cave for the first time! 

Cappadocia region in Central Turkey is every inch mystical. Fairy chimneys dot the dreamy landscape, some of which have been turned into houses, churches, and hotels. Hence, when we were deciding where to stay during the first leg of Turkish holiday, we couldn't settle for anything other than a cave room in the heart of Goreme.

And, we found something special.     

Kelebek Special Cave Hotel
Kelebek Special Cave Hotel

Nov 7, 2015

Travel Video: Sweet Escapes In Turkey: Cappadocia

Hi guys! We just got back from the BEST trip we've had by far!

Ed and I filled our memory banks to the brim with loads of adventure (and misadventure) in Turkey! It all started in Cappadocia - the land of the beautiful horses which I would rather call the mystical land of fairy chimneys and hot air balloons! 

I know a lot have been waiting for us to spill the trip details. We are so excited to share our travel stories as well, but let's start with a little teaser. ;) Thank you, by the way, for following our #SweetEscapesInTurkey on Facebook and Instagram.

Ed and Lady in Cappadocia
Our days in Cappadocia were captured on video! :)

Oct 24, 2015

Turkey Tourist Visa Application for Filipinos in Dubai

At the time of writing, Ed and I are living the life of Fred and Wilma Flintstone in a homey cave room at Kelebek Special Cave Hotel in Cappadocia. Yes, we are in Turkey! :) 

Flashback to three weeks ago, this Turkey trip was merely a dream we hope to fulfill.  It was a foggy Monday morning when we made our way to the Consulate General of Turkey at the 8th floor of Dubai World Trade Center to secure a much-needed document for this sweet escape – a Turkish tourist visa stamped on our Philippine passports. 

Turkey Tourist Visa
my Turkey Tourist Visa 

Oct 18, 2015

Peruvian Dinner at the Garden in JW Marriot Marquis

Tucked in the 5th level of the world's tallest hotel is an authentic Peruvian restaurant that has just been launched recently. I missed the grand opening celebration sad to say, but I'm glad that I had the chance to try out the much-talked about vibrant Peruvian cuisine at the Garden during our anniversary staycation at JW Marriot Marquis last week.

I haven't been to Peru, yet the thought of dining at the Garden excites me. A good friend, blogger Doc Gelo, just came back from South America with wonderful travel stories hence it was a joy to have a little taste of the Peruvian cuisine and culture he has been talking about. 

Garden: Peruvian restaurant at JW Marriot Marquis
Garden: Peruvian restaurant at JW Marriot Marquis

Sep 26, 2015

Skydive Dubai: Extreme Adventure over The Palm

This post was written by my husband. He blogs about his exhilarating adventures, mostly about the activities I would never dare to try, once in a blue moon! Let's give it up for my dearest Ed - a loving husband, a thrill-seeker, and a sporadic blogger! :) xoxo, Lady    

Birthday = Adrenaline Rush.

I personally think that turning a year older is a valid reason to do something epic, something that encompasses my passion and would make me feel thankful to be alive! So, I always reward myself with an adrenaline rushing activity every September.  

Last year, I parasailed over the Indian Ocean with my wife who happily obliged to my birthday request though it's way beyond her zone. Two years ago, I slid in the first 360-degree looping waterslide in the region. And way back 2011, bungee jumping in Macau Tower served as my late birthday reward. 

This year, I jumped off a plane and skydived above Palm Jumeirah!

Skydiving above Palm Jumeirah
Skydiving above Palm Jumeirah 

Sep 24, 2015

Boat Ride and Sunset in Fujairah

A few weeks before we went to Fujairah, our lovely host at Aparthotel Adagio Fujairah sent me an email about a possible boat trip at Fujairah International Marine Club. I immediately confirmed that we're up for it while hoping she could successfully book for an afternoon trip on a weekend. 

And we're so glad that everything went according to plan! :) 

boat trip in Fujairah
Cruising' along the coast of Fujairah

Sep 21, 2015

Friday Brunch at iL Centro in Ibis Fujairah

I happily stared at the restaurant banners in the hotel lobby and, for the nth time, thought about how awesome Fujairah is in every aspect. With the commodity prices on the rise, I never though that in this day and age, a 95 AED Friday Brunch and a 100 AED dinner buffet in a hotel can still exist.

I love Fujairah... from the stunning landscape to the friendly weather, from the low cost of living (according to the residents we have met) to the budget-friendly hotel restaurants! Dubai, please don't be jealous. I love you so much, but I just couldn't help but adore Fujairah more and more. :)  

iL Centro at Ibis Fujairah
iL Centro at Ibis Fujairah

Sep 8, 2015

Dubai Budget Trip: Where to Stay, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Dubai and Budget are two words that may not seem to go along very well. People have associated Dubai with ultra-luxurious lifestyle, the 7-star hotel and the world's tallest skyscraper that it scares the budget savvy travelers.

I've been here for 7 years and I can say that Dubai is not a cheap travel destination if you want to experience the glitz and glamour that it is famous for. But, there are ways on how you can appreciate its wonders without breaking the bank.

Dubai on a budget

Sep 4, 2015

Aparthotel Adagio Fujairah: Our Home in the East Coast

Fujairah has always been a delightful destination. We have fallen in love with the rugged Hajar mountains and the pristine sands that we make it a point to visit at least once a year. So, on another glorious sunny weekend in the desert, when the temperature soared to 40 degrees Celsius, Ed and I couldn't be happier that we were in a bus heading to the beautiful east coast where the summer weather is much friendlier.

During our past trips, Ed and I guiltlessly wasted our days unwinding in beach resorts. We would go home knowing that we have a lot more to discover in the city; hence I instantly embraced the invitation to stay at Aparthotel Adagio Fujairah although it meant I must squeeze it in my one and only day off!

Novotel, Ibis and Adagio Aparthotel Fujairah
Novotel, Ibis and Aparthotel Adagio Fujairah

Aug 27, 2015

Flavours on Two: The Perfect Friday Brunch at Towers Rotana

Weekends in Dubai are made for waking up late, lazing in bed a little longer and skipping breakfast for a bigger and better meal called Brunch! They say, nobody does Weekend Brunch as good as Dubai. And I'm out here to prove it right one brunch at a time.

A few weekends ago, Ed and I were thrilled to try out the brunch offerings at Towers Rotana; a towering skyscraper along Sheikh Zayed Road. Towers Rotana houses two weekend brunches - a pub style brunch at Long's Bar and a family style brunch at Flavours on Two. Since Ed and I always prefer to have a wholesome weekend meal, we chose the latter.    

Flavours on Two at Towers Rotana
Flavours on Two at Towers Rotana

Aug 20, 2015

Weekend BBQ Buffet at Horizon in Amwaj Rotana

I love meat as much as I love seafood! I'm a true blue carnivore who couldn't live without beef, pork, and chicken... and I love 'em grilled! :) That's the reason why I drooled over the thought of smoky juicy grilled meat when an invitation to check out the Weekend BBQ Buffet at Horizon in Amwaj Rotana popped in my mailbox. 

Beyond the barbecue, I heard nothing but praises about Amwaj and its restaurants from friends who have stayed in the hotel! So, without a doubt, I gave my big fat yes to the invitation and scheduled a lets-not-talk-about-diet date night! :)    

Horizon restaurant in Amwaj Rotana
Horizon restaurant in Amwaj Rotana

Aug 17, 2015

EnVii Ladies Night at Vii Dubai

I'm not a bar/club person. As you can see in this blog, my only way of chilling out is a good proper dinner in a quiet restaurant with my husband. Hence, I have never enjoyed the infamous "Ladies Night" in Dubai, not until I discovered Vii Dubai in Conrad Hotel.

Vii is something special. It has a lush secret garden tucked in the 7th floor of Conrad in Sheikh Zayed Road. I have never seen anything like it before, so when I heard about EnVii - Vii Dubai's exclusive ladies night, I spontaneously sent an sms to one of my blogger friends. It was merely a day before Tuesday, and I'm sooo glad she was intrigued with Vii Dubai as I am!  

Vii Dubai in Conrad Hotel
Vii Dubai in Conrad Hotel

Aug 13, 2015

Crab Tavern: The Newest Seafood Place in Dubai

Calling all seafood lovers! A new seafood restaurant has opened its doors in Media One Hotel! 

You know me, when it comes to seafood, I'd be the first in line especially when the restaurant has a unique concept. I was excited when I first heard about the opening of Crab Tavern Seafood and Bar which was first launched in London. Although "crab" is very much highlighted in its name and menu, Crab Tavern has an American surf and turf concept, and that simply means it's a delight for both carnivores and seafood fans!   

Crab Tavern Dubai in Media One Hotel
Crab Tavern Dubai in Media One Hotel

Aug 10, 2015

3 Years in the Blogosphere + 3 Fantastic Foodie Giveaways

My little pink blog turns 3! 

Gosh, where did the time go? It seems like it was just yesterday when I published my very first blog post which is more of a boring photo essay rather than a helpful hotel review. I was really shy when I started blogging and I felt like a weirdo talking to imaginary friends; hence I photo dumped grainy pictures and wrote a little. What was I thinking? Hahah! Yes, I always laugh at myself whenever I get the chance to read my first few entries. :)
This blog has helped me more than you can imagine. Putting feelings into words is a therapeutic tool whenever I'm so stressed out, learning how to communicate better is something that I really need in this crazy big city, and of course, receiving love and support from the people I haven't met yet is very humbling. I am SUPER grateful!

So, let's celebrate Lady and her Sweet Escapes' Year 3, shall we?

Lady and her sweet escapes blog
"Lady and her Sweet Escapes" through the years

Aug 7, 2015

Minato: Sushi and Teppanyaki Buffet in Radisson Blu

Last weekend, I rediscovered Minato

If you have been with me since last year, you'll remember that I crazily raved about this Japanese restaurant in Radisson Blu Hotel during Eid Brunch. It was one of the grandest brunch I have ever been to as it was participated by five renowned restaurants. And out of the five, Minato turned out to be the superstar! So, I was ecstatic to finally have a weekend dedicated to Minato alone.  

Minato at Radisson Blu Hotel
Minato at Radisson Blu Hotel

Jul 29, 2015

Benjarong: Royal Thai Restaurant in Dusit Thani

Last weekend, I felt like I traveled to Thailand and back! And it wasn't just an ordinary trip, it was grand! 

Ed and I had our weekend dinner in Benjarong; a highly commended Thai restaurant at the 24th floor of Dusit Thani in Sheikh Zayed Road. It's actually a dream come true for me. I have been eyeing the uniquely shaped Dusit Thani hotel in my travel guide book before I came to Dubai seven years ago, so during our first wedding anniversary Ed took me to the hotel for a dinner date. It was because I dropped hints non-stop of course. Heh. But it was at The Californian - Dusit Thani Dubai's international buffet restaurant. 

The Californian is lovely, yet I couldn't help but notice the restaurant adjacent to it. I came to know that it is Benjarong - the hotel's signature restaurant which has won various restaurant awards! So, I wrote it in my long foodie list, and I happily ticked it off last weekend!      

Benjarong in Dusit Thani Dubai
Benjarong in Dusit Thani Dubai

Jul 25, 2015

100 Things To Do in Dubai

Dubai is where east meets west, where traditional and contemporary jives along, where almost everything is made possible.

So, how will you spend your days in a city full of surprises? If you ask me, I got thousands of things-to-do running in my head. The city is known for its diversity; hence experiencing the culture and traditions, sampling authentic and exotic cuisines, and exploring the cosmopolitan metropolis are on the top of my list!

100 things to do in Dubai

Jul 19, 2015

Jollibee: Langhap-Sarap Goodness in Dubai

"Jollibee is open!"  "Let's go to Jollibee!"  "I miss Jollibee."

My husband sounded like a broken record on the day Jollibee opened at The Dubai Mall. And there I was, pretending not to hear a thing or saying "Ok, I'll try to wake up early this weekend." when I sense that he is about to say something about Jollibee again.

Don't get me wrong. I was excited to go to Jollibee too, but I had no plans of getting my Chicken Joy on its opening day, not even on its first month of operations! Why? Well, you all know why! I hate queues, and queuing at the first and currently the only Jollibee in the UAE is no joke! A friend told me she waited for 4 hours. Another said she went home with nothing! So, my plan was to wait until the hype dies down. 

Jollibee at The Dubai Mall
Jollibee at The Dubai Mall 

Jul 15, 2015

Dubai DIY Tour: Attractions on Route D94 (Jumeirah Road)

Our Dubai DIY Tour via the Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram, and the Old Dubai Walking Tour have been well-received by tourists and residents alike. My heart overflows with joy every time I receive an email or a Facebook message on how this blog was able to help!

The messages and inquiries are my sources of inspiration; hence, I am happy to share another DIY tour. This time in a road lined with magnificent attractions - Jumeirah Road or Route D94

Jumeirah Road attractions
Explore Jumeirah! 

Jul 10, 2015

Giveaway: Dinner for Two at Channels

I'm always happy to share new restaurant discoveries and foodie finds, but I'm the happiest when I can literally share the experience! So, today, I am excited to launch a giveaway which entitles a lucky blog reader to dine with a loved one at Channels in Media Rotana!

Channels is a chic and casual restaurant with an extensive buffet of specialty dishes. The hotel restaurant is popular for daily theme nights wherein each type of cuisine is masterfully prepared by a chef. 

The English Chef takes over the kitchen every Sunday. The Oishii Sushi Chef is on every Monday,! Say Hola! to the Mexican Chef every Tuesday. Experience the richness of the Mediterranean with the Mediterranean Chef every Wednesday. Take a culinary trip to Asia with the Asian Chef every Thursday and Friday. And seafood lovers will be delighted to meet the Pacific Island Chef every Saturday!  

Know more about Channels' theme nights at Media Rotana's official website. If you haven't read the blog post on my dining experience at Channels, here's the link: Iftar Dinner at Channels

Buffet at Channels in Media Rotana
Buffet at Channels in Media Rotana

Jul 8, 2015

Ramadan Iftar at Channels in Media Rotana

Residents and tourists alike are spoilt for choice in Dubai's dining scene. Ramadan season is no exception! For those who are not fasting, some restaurants serve food discreetly during the day. And when sundown comes, thousands of Iftar options are being offered. 

Last weekend, Ed and I were invited to experience one of the thousands of Iftar buffets in town. It was my fifth invitational Iftar for this season, but I was excited like it was my first because of the venue. It is in Channels - Media Rotana's all day dining restaurant!

Channels is a casual dining venue which is already quite popular for themed buffets on regular nights. This Ramadan, Channels harmoniously combines Arabic and International specialties. So, I was expecting an extra-special Iftar buffet in which I can have a glimpse of the Themed Nights.

Iftar at Media Rotana
Iftar at Media Rotana

Jul 3, 2015

Special Iftar at Liwan in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana

On the sixth day of Ramadan, I went to a special Iftar for the press and bloggers in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana. My husband and I, together with a fellow Pinoy Blogger Doc Gelo, were the first guests to be welcomed. We wanted to take photos of the untouched banquet; hence we were in Liwan restaurant 30 minutes before Iftar time.     

It was one of the moments when I had to give myself a pat on the back for being an early bird caused by not having a wardrobe dilemma! We didn't just manage to capture the beautiful food presentation, but witnessed how a glorious sunset signified that it's time to break the fast! 

Liwan is a glass-clad all day dining restaurant where guests can watch the world go by through the tall glass windows while having a sumptuous feast. This Ramadan, it is where family and friends can gather, watch the sunset over the horizon and experience the true meaning of the season. 

sunset at Liwan in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana
sunset at Liwan in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana

Jun 30, 2015

Iftar Buffet at Dusit Thani Dubai

Ramadan Mubarak! 

The holy month of Ramadan has set in. It's the season when work time is reduced and social time is increased. A Muslim friend once told me that Iftar, a meal taken at sunset, is best when shared with family and friends. That is why in this auspicious occasion, Ramadan tents have been built, restaurant promotions have been announced, and numerous invitations have been sent and accepted.

A few days before Ramadan, I received a couple of Iftars invitations organized by colleagues and by outstanding hotels in town. I am humbly blessed. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience the true essence of the season and to discover the interesting Iftar offerings that is as diverse as this cosmopolitan city.     

Iftar at Dusit Thani
Iftar at Dusit Thani 

Jun 26, 2015

Ginger All Day Dining at Park Rotana

During our recent staycation in Abu Dhabi, Ed and I had five consecutive meals in the same restaurant. You may think it's boringly monotonous - same ambiance, same food for three days, but it was definitely NOT! 

For 3 days and 2 nights, we had our meals in a culinary powerhouse that managed to transform its ambiance and offerings from laid-back, to lively, to lavish in matter of hours. Ginger, Park Rotana's all day dining, is as versatile as the aromatic spice it was named after! 

Ginger All Day Dining in Park Rotana
Ginger All Day Dining in Park Rotana 

Jun 24, 2015

Long Weekend in Park Rotana Abu Dhabi

I have been singing praises for Rotana Hotels and Resorts since the very first time Ed and I had a staycation in a Rotana property. It was at The Cove in Ras Al Khaimah two years ago that we experienced sweet escape in its truest sense! From then on, the word staycation became synonymous with Rotana in our world. We became such big fans that we often search for a Rotana property every time we plan for a weekend trip.

It is amazing and pretty much a delight for us to find a hotel brand that we trust near the places we wanted to visit; like Yas Island Rotana near Yas Waterworld, Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa between the Hajar mountains and the Indian Ocean. It's definitely an icing on the cake! :)

And recently, we discovered Park Rotana; another Rotana property near a prime attraction! It is adjacent to Khalifa Park, a short drive from the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and just a few kilometers away from Sheikh Zayed Bridge - a gateway to the capital of the UAE. 

Park Rotana in Abu Dhabi
Park Rotana in Abu Dhabi

Jun 19, 2015

Ultra Brasserie: Ultra-Chic and Ultra-Healthy Cafe in Dubai

One weekend night, in Marina Plaza, Ed and I walked away from the crowd to find an interesting cafe that was quite new to us, but already popular to healthy eaters. Most people headed straight towards Dubai Marina Mall and Pier 7, while we turned right and took the stairs to Marina Tower, to the terrace of Ultra Brasserie. 

The stairway and the terrace were dimly lighted that night, making the cafe a hidden spot. From the outside, it seemed a little less inviting, but Ultra Brasserie was able to shoo off all my apprehensions the moment we arrived on the doorstep.               

Ultra Brasserie in Marina Plaza
Ultra Brasserie in Marina Plaza

Jun 16, 2015

#WhyNotPortraits: Portrait Photography by Mark Wilson

Ed and I were introduced to Mark Wilson a couple of months ago by a common friend. He is a fellow Pinoy expat in Dubai; an accountant by profession and a photographer by heart. His admirable passion for photography, particularly for portraits, gained him a large number of followers on Instagram.  

Ask him "Why portraits?" and he'll answer "Why not portraits?" without uncertainty. 

Mark's chosen genre has made him a visual storyteller. His Instagram gallery is a treasure trove of emotions and precious moments! So, the moment we met him personally, I secretly hoped he would ask if he can take a photo of me and Ed. Oh please set narcissism aside! Hahah! I simply want to have a new set of really good photos (not selfies and date night shots) that Ed and I can browse when we're old and gray. 

#whynotportraits by Mark Wilson 1

Jun 5, 2015

The Art of Brunch at Movenpick Hotel Bur Dubai

I haven't been to a city that takes weekend brunch as seriously as Dubai. Here, the breakfast-lunch merge is such an institution. Extra-special buffet is laid out. Bubbly is overflowing. People dress to the nines! 

Brunch is offered in almost every hotel in town. Each, being far from the ordinary, has its own style and concept. And last weekend, Ed and I have experienced a very interesting one at Movenpick Hotel Bur Dubai. The hotel takes the famous Dubai Friday Brunch to a whole new level by serving an artistic brunch buffet where food meets art! And they cleverly call it The Art of Brunch!

The Art of Brunch at Movenpick Hotel Bur Dubai
The Art of Brunch at Movenpick Hotel Bur Dubai

Jun 4, 2015

Moroccan Iftar at Medley in Pullman Dubai

The holy month of Ramadan is about to begin. I am not a Muslim; hence Ramadan used to be a month of difficulties for me especially during my first year in the UAE. I can say I kinda got the hang of it after seven long years, but deep within is a sincere appreciation of the culture. 

Now, I see Ramadan as a season of respect, generosity and togetherness. 

Togetherness is best seen during Iftar; an evening meal after the sunset. It is a special time when family and friends gather at home or in a restaurant. It is a religious observation that even non-Muslims look forward to. 

Iftar invitations started to arrive in my inbox as early as mid-May. I am honored! If only I can be in every Iftar event, I would. But since I have a full-time job, I'll be missing some. In fact, I already missed my first Iftar preview invite. Fortunately, the people behind the event were so kind to reschedule my visit. So, on the first day of June, Ed and I got a little sneak peek on the Iftar offerings at Medley restaurant this Ramadan 2015.

Medley Restaurant in Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre
Medley Restaurant in Pullman Hotel

May 28, 2015

Junsui: Pure Asian Restaurant in Burj Al Arab

"If I were to dine at Burj Al Arab, I'd dine in Junsui." That's the thought I've been keeping to myself for several years just in case the husband would ask me out on a date to the 7-star hotel. :) 

Although the Afternoon Tea at the Skyview Bar is well-recommended and Al Mahara is the most popular for date nights, I'd still go with the Far-East Asian buffet that Junsui caters. With the staggering prices, I honestly think buffet-dining offers the best value for money!

So, when Jumeirah Restaurant Week 2015 came, my husband and I agreed to book a weekend dinner in Junsui; an Asian restaurant studded with thousands of Swarovski crystals at the Ground Mezzanine level of the world's most luxurious hotel!  

Date Night at Junsui in Burj Al Arab
Date Night at Junsui in Burj Al Arab

May 21, 2015

Burj Al Arab: The World's Most Luxurious Hotel Inside and Out

2008, I came to Dubai with three things in mind: to work, to grow and to see Burj Al Arab.

According to my guide book, Burj Al Arab is only for the rich and famous. Hence, my only intention was to gaze at the sail-shaped hotel from the shore, on the same angle that I have seen in magazines, in a Filipino film and in refrigerator doors. But a few months after my arrival, a friend excitedly called to tell me she has special passes to Burj Al Arab and I can tag along for free! Of course, I did. I wouldn't miss it for the world! 

Burj Al Arab is exclusive for the hotel guests; people who can spend thousands of dirhams for a hotel stay or a lavish meal. It would be so unreasonable for Ed and I to spend our hard-earned money for a single night, so it was clear to me that it was my first and last opportunity. Unless, a kind soul would offer us special permits again.

And then, Jumeirah Restaurant Week was launched. It is an annual 10-day culinary event in restaurants of Jumeirah Group, restaurants in Burj Al Arab included. Ultimate dining experiences are offered at almost 40% lesser than regular! Still expensive, yet already reasonable! JRW started on 2012, but it was only this year that I felt I rightfully deserve the special treat! :)                 

the world-famous Burj Al Arab
the world-famous Burj Al Arab

May 17, 2015

My Five Favorite Water Parks in the UAE

Summer, the scorching hot season, is in full swing! So, how do you cool off? In the desert, this season can be so notorious that you might want to lock yourself in the room, turn the AC in full blast and lounge in the sofa with a scoop of ice cream. No sweat but poooff... there goes all your summer weekends to waste!  

In the UAE, summer means surprises (sale in shopping malls) and splashes (fun in water parks). And I'd choose the latter at any given day. As they say, collect moments not things! :) This country has the finest water parks. In fact, two of which are among the world's top 10 according to TripAdvisor!

Here are my five favorite water parks in this sunny side of the globe:

water parks in United Arab Emirates
ultimate summer destinations in the UAE

May 13, 2015

I Found SALT: The Food Truck at Kite Beach

Finally, I found SALT!

Well, I actually found it four months ago during my parents' holiday in Dubai. As we were constantly out and about, I never had the time to share that I finally found the much talked about food truck. I was introduced to SALT on Instagram by a blogger friend; Kenneth Surat - the awesome guy behind Surat Journals and The Traveling Journal Project. Since then, I wondered what's behind all the hype. I was smitten by the food truck concept and the location by the beach is definitely an add-on. 

So, one winter evening, my family went to Kite Beach with a mission. And that is... to #findSALT!  

SALT food truck at Kite Beach
SALT food truck at Kite Beach

May 5, 2015

Chez Sushi: Fresh and Funky Japanese Dishes and Custom Built Rolls

Ed and I jive along in so many things, but when it comes to Japanese food, we're worlds apart! He'd go for ramen or teriyaki as I unleash the maki monster in me. Whenever I tell him that we're going to a sushi restaurant, he would always ask if there are offerings other than sushi. He wouldn't be happy if there's none, yet he'd eat whatever I eat anyway. No choice! Haha! I'd feel a little guilty though; hence, I was really hoping I could find a good sushi place where I could meet him halfway.  

And we discovered Chez Sushi

Chez Sushi is the casual counterpart of Sho Cho - a renowned fine-dining Japanese restaurant and lounge in Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa. Both created by the same people, Chez Sushi offers excellent Japanese food that mirrors Sho Cho's finest cuisines, but in a more laid-back atmosphere.     

Chez Sushi in Dubai Marina
Chez Sushi in Dubai Marina

Apr 26, 2015

Friday Brunch at Original Wings and Rings

What can make a lady who's never ever into sports and who can live without alcohol spend a couple of hours inside a sports bar? Food! Good comfort food! :) 

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to dine at Original Wings and Rings. The name of the restaurant made me accept the invite in an instant. It sounds like a casual American bistro serving one of the best comfort food ever created... Buffalo Wings! It was only after I gave my big fat yes that I turned to Google for a little research. The info that Mr. Google gave me caught me off guard. Original Wings and Rings is a sports bar in Liberty House in DIFC with a tagline "Eat. Drink. Talk Loudly."

Of course, I was elated with the eating part. But the drinking and talking loudly? Uhmm. I have to be honest that I was scared I'd be a little out of place. 

Original Wings and Rings in DIFC
Original Wings and Rings in DIFC

Apr 17, 2015

El Sur: Spanish Tapas Lunch at The Westin Dubai

Dining out is my only refuge when my body is in dire need of another adventure. While waiting for the perfect time - sufficient funds and vacation leave approval, I'd let my taste buds explore a part of the globe by sampling a certain cuisine. And last weekend, I had a gastronomic journey to Spain without leaving the comforts of Dubai; inside a Spanish Contemporary restaurant at The Westin Dubai in Mina Sehayi called El Sur.   

El Sur at The Westin Dubai
El Sur at The Westin Dubai

Apr 9, 2015

Gourmet Burger Kitchen: Fresh Handcrafted Burgers in Dubai

During a spontaneous lunch in a seafood restaurant with a friend, she casually told me how much she adores Gourmet Burger Kitchen and asked if I have already tried it. When I said "no, not yet", she went on with recommendations which made me think of juicy burger patties instead of the grilled squid I was munching. It was a wonderful coincidence because on that very same day, Ed and I were invited for dinner at GBK Dubai Marina Mall branch. 

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, or simply GBK, was established in London by three gentlemen from New Zealand on 2001. They created an upscale burger joint with a Kiwi theme. Most people may already have gone tired of the typical burger from fast food chains and wanted something beyond the ordinary; something like the handcrafted, made to order, prime burgers loaded with fresh and interesting ingredients! So, GBK became a hit! Now, there are over 60 branches in the UK, Greece, Oman and Dubai.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Dubai Marina Mall
Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Dubai Marina Mall

Apr 6, 2015

Special Ostadi Restaurant: A Special Iranian Eatery in Dubai

I used to hate it when Ed calls to tell me he must go to Computer Street in Bur Dubai after work. I'd be stuck at home while he's running errands or else I'd go with him while wishing he'd find the right techie stuff in an instant. But, recently, I found a reason to patiently tag along every single time. 

It all happened when we took a wrong bus from Computer Street one night. We were supposed to go to an Italian fast food restaurant along Bank Street for dinner, but the bus took a left turn in Al Fahidi and halted at the bus stop near an unassuming Iranian restaurant I have heard so much about. 

Too hungry to walk to our supposed dinner venue, we found ourselves entering Al Ustad Special Kabab, also known as Special Ostadi Restaurant, for the first time. And five days later, right after Ed bought another I-don't-know-what-it-is-called piece for a computer, we happily walked to Al Fahidi, to our newly discovered gem! 

That's how good USK is, two visits in 5 days! :)  

Special Ostadi Restaurant in Dubai
Special Ostadi Restaurant in Al Fahidi

Mar 31, 2015

Itzza Pizza: Best Wood Fired Pizza in a Humble Pizzeria

Last Saturday, I discovered one of the best wood-fired pizzas I have ever tasted in the UAE... not in a shopping mall, not in a hotel restaurant, but in a humble neighborhood pizzeria called Itzza Pizza. 

A week before the discovery, Itzza Pizza was the center of a foodie conversation between me and my blogger friends. The name rang a bell; it's not new to me as I have been stumbling across that catchy sound since my first month in Dubai. But, honestly, I thought Itzza Pizza is just another pizza chain that I can live without. Well, not until my blogger friends crazily raved about it.
And so, I read and drooled over their blog posts and excitedly looked forward to the time that I can prove it myself. 

Itzza Pizza in Dubai
Itzza Pizza flagship store in Umm Suqeim 1

Mar 29, 2015

Sushi Counter: Sushi with a Twist in Dubai

I'm such a big fan of Japanese Rolls; those artfully presented, delicately tasteful, bite-size goodies! It is one of the non-Filipino dishes I can have on my plate for consecutive days! So, when an invitation to a sushi roll tutorial and sushi tasting session popped in my inbox, the maki monster in me excitedly said yes.

So, on a Friday afternoon, I learned the art of sushi-making and devoured freshly made rolls at Sushi Counter in Sheikh Zayed Road. 

Sushi Counter is a casual dining venue with eight locations in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi - the one in Al Raha beach is up and coming. It is where Japanese cuisine receives a distinct touch. The team's passion is to reinvent the traditional Japanese dishes by creatively infusing various cultures around the world. They launch new collections annually and introduce fresh creations based on current trends; hence diners discover something new to love each year!  

Sushi Counter in Sheikh Zayed Road
Sushi Counter in Sheikh Zayed Road

Mar 27, 2015

India: Golden Triangle Trip Itinerary and Expenses

What better way to cap off our Incredible India blog series than with an answer to the question that I often receive after our trip: How much did you spend? 

I brought my travel journal with me to write down my thoughts. It helped me a lot as a blogger, but little did I know, I was still making a Blogger booboo by not documenting our daily spending. All I know is that Ed and I did not spend more than 6,000 AED in total for a 5-day trip at the Golden Triangle of India. Whenever somebody asks, I usually reply with an estimated price for flights, tours and food; hoping it would be enough to help them on their trip. 

Recently, I got an ample time in my hands to check the receipts (Thankfully, I kept some of them.) and over a thousand photos that we had during our trip as few of them are snaps of ticket counters and food menu. So, now, I can finally share a more detailed summary of our India-Golden Triangle tour expenses along with our complete itinerary.

5 Days in India
5 Days in India

Mar 25, 2015

India: A Night in Clark Shiraz - the Oldest 5-Star Hotel in Agra

Our last night in India was spent in one of the oldest 5-star hotels in Agra, Clark Shiraz. The hotel stay with breakfast is a part of our Golden Triangle tour package from Gets Holidays

Whenever we book a budget-friendly tour package, I usually don't expect much on the accommodation as I don't want to spend the night with disappointments. I have always thought that if the tour is good and complete, then the accommodation would be compromised. I think it pays not to have high expectations as I was caught in a pleasant surprise when we were ushered to Clark Shiraz's lobby.     

Clark Shiraz is an old yet well-maintained hotel in Agra. It has been awarded as the Best Leisure Hotel in North India Travel Awards 2014. Location-wise, it is in the heart of the city; close to souvenir shops and restaurants. The Taj Mahal, the main tourist destination in the country, is only a few kilometers away. 

Clark Shiraz in Agra India
Clark Shiraz in Agra, India

Mar 23, 2015

Dampa Seafood Grill: Fresh and Unique Seafood Restaurant in Dubai

I'm seafood-crazy!

I honestly think Dubai needs more affordable seafood restaurants and, lo and behold, a new one just popped up. I bet you've all heard about Dampa Seafood Grill, the latest Filipino seafood restaurant in town. I went crazy when I heard about the unique concept that I didn't stop bugging my blogger friends until they agreed to meet and dine on a Sunday night.

What made me more excited is that Dampa is located in the heart of Deira, a few steps from Deira City Centre metro station and just a stone-throw away from our new place! Yay! 

Dampa Seafood Grill in Deira Dubai
Dampa Seafood Grill in Deira (photo taken at closing time)

Mar 22, 2015

China Grill: Asian-inspired World Cuisine at The Westin Dubai

Saturday night, Ed and I were introduced to one of New York's finest restaurants that has just arrived in Dubai: China Grill at The Westin in Mina Seyahi. It is not a "Chinese" restaurant. It is a culinary destination where East meets West. NYC's award-winning restaurant, now the freshest and the hottest dining spot in Dubai, serves Asian-inspired World Cuisine; a beautiful combination of international recipes and Asian touches.  

The ambiance at China Grill is beyond compare. The feel is upmarket; from the elegant red elevator that whisked us to the trendy lounge to the sophisticated main restaurant located a level below. We were invited to have some drinks at the bar before we proceed to dinner, but we politely declined as Ed was nursing a cold and I don't drink. But I guess that's how dining at China Grill should be; commence with a few drinks at the lounge, then head to the main restaurant once you've succumbed to the chill vibe.   

China Grill at The Westin Dubai
China Grill at The Westin