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The Intriguing Charm of Abu Dhabi

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The Intriguing Charm of Abu Dhabi

Fusing breath-taking skyscrapers, cosmopolitan scenes and luxury shopping, Abu Dhabi has an air of grandeur. Like many major cities around the world, this stunning location offers you an array of exquisite attractions, whether you’re searching for tranquillity, excitement, or elegance. If you’re planning your next escapade or have a layover, relish the opportunity to explore one of the most decadent places on earth and consider visiting these Abu Dhabi landmarks.

Things to do

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, adorned with marble, semi-precious stones and chandeliers could easily be the eighth wonder of the world. Holding space for 40,000 people, the mosque offers self-guided walks alongside free tours in both English and Arabic. The dress code is Arabic dress or you can loan an abaya on entrance. This magical experience is even more beautiful at night.

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Yas Island

For thrill-seekers, look no further than Yas Island. This exhilarating, adventure land promises attractions that you’ll find nowhere else in the city. Live concerts, formula 1 racing and the world’s largest waterpark are some of the key attractions to visit. Alternatively, head to a haven of serenity with a spa day or dine in one of the 90 restaurants. The stunning beaches and sensational hotels like the Yas Viceroy make the island an idyllic setting for a vacation.

The Galleria Mall

Located on Al Maryah Island, The Galleria is undoubtedly the home of luxury shopping in Abu Dhabi. Featuring the crème de la crème in designer fashion, brands like Balenciaga, Dior, Gucci, and Lanvin are just a handful of notable names occupying the mall. Grab a coffee at Magnolia Bakery as you explore the finest in retail, or partake in a dining experience at Rosewood or Cafe Milano located inside of the four Seasons Hotel next door.

 

Art & Galleries

Art is a popular pastime in Dubai so the N2N Gallery is the perfect place to visit. Combining art collections from Abu Dhabi and Europe, the gallery showcases over 170 pieces from 13 artists. As well as viewing sculptures, contemporary art, and paintings, N2N also offers art classes, providing a pleasant opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the local art scene.
And The Louvre Abu Dhabi, opening in 2017 is a universal museum in the Arab world. It’s  intended to be a place of discovery, exchange and education.

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Where to stay

The Emirates Palace

A regal, seven-star hotel, the Emirates Palace is set in 85 hectares of lush greenery and is the world’s most expensive hotel. Decorated in marble, silver, and gold with Swarovski crystal chandeliers, the 200 fountains, 114 domes and 2000 staff members make this hotel one of the grandest locations in the city. The world-class caviar bar (all though I don’t like caviar) serves a traditional caviar menu with champagne, set against a backdrop of live music, while each room boasts 24-hour butler service, iPad mini, and wi-fi of course. Experience fine dining at one of the 14 restaurants, or relax in the spa and swimming pool.

 

What to wear

The culture of Abu Dhabi is rooted in Arabic traditions. While nationals of UAE wear traditional dress, visitors are welcome to wear liberal clothing. However, any short or tight clothes may be deemed unwelcome so dress appropriately and respectful.

img_4930Btw. This is what not to wear to the Mosque (but for shopping perfectly fine)

 

xoxolisa

 

 

Featured Lifestyle Travel

Ferrari World – Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi

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Speed, Thrills & Fun: Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi

Nico Rosberg’s Championship victory and final race at Abu Dhabi last week wasn’t the only thing that travelled 100+mph. With some time off pre-race, I visited the ‘Middle East’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ and no, it’s not the Burj. Nestled on Yas Island, just 30 minutes by car from the city centre, Ferrari World is the world’s first and only Ferrari branded amusement park.

What is Ferrari World?

The park opened in 2010 and has quickly become a ‘must-visit’ for anyone travelling in the Middle East. The park is roughly the size of 7 football pitches and boasts not only the largest space frame structure ever built but also the world’s fastest roller coaster. The ‘Formula Rossa’ is the crowning jewel of the park with an exhilarating top (and world record holding) speed of 149 mph.
The park is quite surreally magnificent, mainly because everything you see, touch and ride is traditional racing car red with the iconic Ferrari stallion emblazoned across it. Everything is pristine and stylish in design as you would expect from a super-brand like Ferrari. Fortunately for me, on Grand Prix weekend the entire park access, so I was able to enjoy the park to quell my sorrows that Lewis Hamilton didn’t win the championship. Maybe next year…

Lionel's Show at Ferrari GP Formula 1, Abu Dhabi

Lionel’s Show at Yasalam After Race concert, Abu Dhabi

A theme park for the whole family

If you’re after even more speed (as if a Formula 1 race wasn’t enough), Ferrari World has enough rides to satisfy all thrill seeking needs. If you want something a little slower, the park is surprisingly excellent for toddlers and teens with rides, shows and attractions to suit all ages and heights (be aware that height restrictions are strictly enforced so do some planning in advance to avoid waiting in a queue and being disappointed).

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Ferrari World’s Best Attractions

The park really has something for everyone, regardless if you even care about cars or not. My top attractions in no particular order were:
Galleria Ferrari – a Ferrari lover’s dreamland, this exhibition showcased a wide selection of classic and modern Ferraris. I can only describe it as somewhere between an art gallery, a motoring museum and a fashion show.
Tyre Change Show – this might not sound particularly glamorous but it was one of the highlights of my trip. This is an entertaining show with some Italian comics combined with a cpit stophance to try your hand at a F1 pit stop For the record, don’t wear heels when trying to change a formula 1 tyre!
Mamma Rossella – a lovely open-air trattoria for a relatively reasonable cost for lunch/dinner. There’s a wide range of Middle Eastern, African and European food available
Driving Experience – the highlight of the entire trip was a chance to get behind the wheel in a Ferrari California (in red of course) with a trained Ferrari driver. Family can sit in the back so you’re not on your own as you revel in the sheer beauty and opera of a 4.3 litre monster supercar.
Overall, the park is one of the best theme parks I’ve ever been to and had enough to keep everyone entertained.

 

Ferrari World - Abu Dhabi UAE

Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi UAE

xoxolisa

Featured FOOD Lifestyle Travel

Top 5 Tea Houses in London – UK

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Top 5 Tea Rooms in London

 

The great scone debate ‘jam or cream first?’ is not over for many Afternoon Tea Enthusiasts. Some prefer to spread the jam first (the traditional way), while others like to get started with the cream, like butter on toast. Well, here’s something we can all agree on – tea. Scones must be accompanied by tea.

The great British tradition all started in 1840 when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford got too hungry in-between lunch and dinner. Thanks to her, the tradition is still popular today but is more of a luxury treat than a daily routine.

Whether you’re a lover of Afternoon Tea or have never tried it check out our Top 5 Tea Rooms in London…

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1. The Royal Opera House

The world famous 5-star Ritz Hotel offers an unforgettable quintessential, British afternoon tea experience. Tea is served in the majestic Palm Court, conveniently located at Piccadilly. The beautiful detailed ceilings, birdcage chandeliers, metal flowers, mirrors and authentic monuments make the salon a must visit! The Ritz is known for its impressive personal care and attention to detail. You will be made to feel special without a doubt.

If you like dressing up in fancy clothes you will fit in perfectly at this formal venue. Expect to pay £50+ per person… Well worth the money! Delicately homemade finger sandwiches (smoked salmon are the best), apple and raisin scones and a selection of impeccably made cakes are served on pretty chinaware. Not only are there 18 different types of loose leaf tea to choose from but an Epicurean afternoon tea tasting experience is also on offer. To top off this luxurious experience, a pianist and harpist play modern and classical music in the Palm Court.

ritz carlton high tea london 2. The Ritz

The world famous 5-star Ritz Hotel offers an unforgettable quintessential, British afternoon tea experience. Tea is served in the majestic Palm Court, conveniently located at Piccadilly. The beautiful detailed ceilings, birdcage chandeliers, metal flowers, mirrors and authentic monuments make the salon a must visit! The Ritz is known for its impressive personal care and attention to detail. You will be made to feel special without a doubt.

If you like dressing up in fancy clothes you will fit in perfectly at this formal venue. Expect to pay £50+ per person… Well worth the money! Delicately homemade finger sandwiches (smoked salmon are the best), apple and raisin scones and a selection of impeccably made cakes are served on pretty chinaware. Not only are there 18 different types of loose leaf tea to choose from but an Epicurean afternoon tea tasting experience is also on offer. To top off this luxurious experience, a pianist and harpist play modern and classical music in the Palm Court.

 

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3. Fortnum & Mason

Tea enthusiasts this is the place for you! Fortnum & Mason serve over 80 different types of rare, exotic tea from all over the world. They also offer their own traditional blends and have lately introduced a new range of green teas. F&M even have a tea-tasting service where staff members guide visitors through all the different blends and combinations. Exciting! Of course, they serve a great selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes too.

The Diamond Jubilee Tea salon is where it all takes place and was not long ago opened in 2012 by the Queen! Visit for a relaxed and sophisticated afternoon of tea sipping.

 

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4. Shangri-La

Tuck into your scones with an amazing view of London at the Shangri-La. The most exclusive afternoon tea experience of them all…

The view from the Shard is incredible, so along with afternoon tea you really are treating yourself. Booking a birthday surprise or celebration here would never fail to disappoint a close friend or relative! Over 30 different teas are offered and the option of English or Asian-inspired afternoon tea can be selected. Both choices are £54 or £62 with a glass of champagne. If you’re feeling adventurous and go with the Asian alternative, you must try the Ube Macarons and the Lemongrass Rice Pudding!

 

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5. Sketch

Mayfair’s quirky Sketch gallery is a food, art and music hang out that does its own funky spin on afternoon tea. Not as traditional as The Ritz and The Royal Opera House, Sketch goes for a more contemporary menu (£45 pp). Mozzarella and pesto paninis are served in addition to classic salmon sandwiches, although, these can also be ordered if preferred.

The fun vibe of the gallery is aimed at children as well as adults; kids can order afternoon tea from their own special menu (£27 pc) which includes ‘sweet treats’ like Malabar marshmallows and fresh meringue. Making Sketch extra original is the mixture of music genres on the playlists – expect to hear reggae, jazz, electro-pop, house and many more…

Visit Sketch for a colourful, vibrant afternoon tea and something a bit different to your average tea and scones.

Now it’s time to choose the afternoon tea of your taste… If you are anything like me, you will want to visit them all!

Guest Writer: Charlotte Lillington

Featured FOOD Lifestyle Travel

Grotta Palazzese – Most Romantic Restaurant

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Grotta Palazzese

Be enchanted as you enter the magical cavern at Grotta Palazzese, nestled in the cliffs of Polignano in the sublime Italian region of Puglia. With its classic Trullis, its simple land, and Mediterranean feel, Puglia offers a rich, diverse and inspiring experience in itself. However, a visit to Grotta Palazzese will elevate your experience of Puglia to new heights. Create memories and magic alike at this restaurant with a difference.

Grotta Palazzese is like nowhere else on earth. A traveller’s dream, and a truly unique find await you. Dining here happens literally on a cliff edge, whilst nestled within a cave, chiselled in to the rocks, and both exposed and cocooned in Adriatic glory. Having spent your days exploring the Heel of Italy, you will be rewarded with a dining experience that simply cannot be matched.

Winding down the 64 stairs to the restaurant itself, you will realise that your dining experience was just elevated to the incredible and awe-inspiring. Whether you choose to enjoy the hues of dazzling blue contrasting with the cave’s lush green reflections during a daytime visit with the bustle of Italian summer heights, or the spectacular sunsets at twilight mirrored off the sea, or a moonlit after-dark experience with ambient lighting, you simply won’t be disappointed.

 

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Grotta Palazzese is a dining experience of a lifetime. You won’t forget the magical memories made here, they will be etched in your recollections for ever. Open only for the summer months between Easter and October, this is a truly stunning location which is steeped in history. If you’re in Puglia during the summer season then make sure you make time for a visit here, you won’t be disappointed.

Whilst you revel in awe at the setting and views, the dining experience itself is not to be missed. With a diverse range of local seafood such as fresh cod, tuna, mullet, mackerel, salmon and shrimp, paired with the finest local seasonal vegetables, the food here is divine, enhanced only by the incredible setting. In addition to the fruits of the sea there are heartier options of lamb or beef, as well as Puglia’s renowned pasta and rice dishes. Puglia, the ‘breadbasket of Italy’ is the Italian heartland of pasta, so this is an opportunity not to be missed. Finish off with a classic Tiramisu and an Italian coffee as you absorb your last moments in this elegant restaurant.

 

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The menus here are served with true Italian service and Puglian flair. The dishes are presented with an elegant twist that strives to compare to the natural cave setting. There is a tasting menu should it simply be too difficult to make up your mind, and the serving staff are ready to pair the very best wines with your choice of meal.

Without a doubt, Grotta Palazzese is the romance capital of Puglia, if not Italy. Your soul will be moved as you experience the stunning scenery with a vista spreading out over the Adriatic. It is obvious why many travellers choose Grotta Palazzese as their wedding venue, a unique, never-to-be-experienced-elsewhere natural haven of romance and desire. The backdrop of this divine location lends itself to wedding photography that is inspirational, remarkable and one of a kind. For an ocean wedding with a difference, Grotta Palazzese is the place.

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After dining to the sounds of the waves crashing hauntingly on the rocks below, and whilst breathing in the salty sea air, then make your way back up and out of the cave to the enclosed dramatic Sea Lounge. With magnificent windows overlooking the Adriatic, you gain a slightly different perspective than from the cave below. The Sea Lounge is a perfect place to enjoy an after-dinner cocktail and allow yourself to continue your enchanting adventure before relinquishing your experience to memory.

Grotta Palazzese is a truly beautiful dining experience, touching the heart, spirit and soul of every traveller who enters its cavern. No two experiences here are alike as the blend of weather, seas, and light all come in to play to provide a memory and experience that is as unique as you are. Puglia holds a restaurant gem in its hand: be sure to experience it.

 

Ciao !

DYI ENTERTAINING Featured

How to Set a Table for a Dinner Party

How do you set your table properly?

I assume you know how to set a table, but lets say you didn’t because some of you maybe rarely host a dinner… 🙂 I received an email with the question on how to set a table properly, so I thought I would answer it here!

Beautiful, you have made it this far, invitations are out and your guests are almost here.

Food is cooked, wine is chilled…  It’s time for a dinner party!

Remember the famous scene in  “Pretty Woman”, when Julia Roberts says “slippery little su@#%!” (watch it)
as the escargot flies from her plate… for some reason I just thought of that.

Anyway… so you’re ready to set the table. Take a look below for the perfect layout.

The graphic below is pretty self explanatory (oh, and the napkin goes on your left!) You could also place the napkin in the center of the plate with a napkin ring or just nicely folded. Try a fancy napkin fold to surprise and delight your guests. And of course, don’t forget your napkin etiquette during the party!

In case you want to print out: download here!

To add a special touch to your table, add flowers and candle. I personally don’t like large flower arrangements on the table during dinner, because it blocks the view to your guest and it’s sometime hard to have a conversation while looking through the plants :). However, simple flower arrangements are always and elegant way to add a touch of color to your table setting and highlight the theme of the evening.

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formal seIf your a perfectionist, can you spot the little mistake on the picture above…? Happy dining.

xoxolisa

TECH TALK

Order a Doctor Housecall like “Über”

I am so exited to share this app with you guys… The app that delivers doctors to your doorstep.

“Heal” is the smart phone app that delivers a doctors to your door within 30 minutes, similar to the on-demand car service Über.

But instead of only a car, a doctor shows up at your doors step. Basically, a traditional doctor that does house calls. After downloading the app and adding credit card info to your profile, you are easily set up and ready to go. Simply request a doctor, and a family doctor or pediatrician will arrive shortly. You can check his ETA on the app the same way you would do it on the Über app.

The service is available for a flat fee of $99 per house call. The doctors are available from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. I know… I are probably thinking how genius is this?heal app blog post ddd

Heal started in Los Angeles in February and expanded to San Fransciso and it’s planing a roll out it in a total of 15 major cities across America this year.

The roster of doctors affiliated with HEAL are associated with respected hospital such as University of California in Los Angels, Columbia, and others.

For an additional $19 the doctors will pick up the prescription for you and will just file the paperwork with your insurance.

Heal is one of the few new applications and services responding to the growing patient dissatisfaction with access and wait times at doctors’ offices.

For more information about the app, visit getheal.com. 

How brilliant is this new service? Doctor House Calls for $99, with just the click of a button.

I think it’s a game changer of the health industry.

What are your favorite apps?

Featured Travel

The Home of Van Gogh: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Home of Tulips and Van Gogh

I would love to introduce you to one of my favorite cities in the world, the home of Van Gogh: Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Sometimes “Holland” is frequently used to refer to the whole country of the Netherlands, all though it’s in theory only an area in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities in Europe, a city of tolerance, diversity and creativity. Similar to Venice it’s one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world.

Canal cruises are probably the most exciting and popular ways to see the city. Or obviously using the traditional form of transportation in Amsterdam, the bicycle. Although I will say it’s pretty dangerous.  There is lots of traffic and thousands of bicycles so it can get very overwhelming.

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One of the main attractions in Amsterdam is probably the museums. With a selection of over 50 museums, there’s no way to get bored. From the Van Gogh Museum, to the Stedelijk, which is one of the worlds greatest museums, the coffee shops and the Flower Market, there’s so much to explore.

In the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam you will find an extensive collection of more than 800 works including Rembrandt and  Vermeer. Definitely a must see!

At the Van Gogh Museum you will get education on the life of Vincent and why he cut off his ear. The only downside, there are just too many people inside of the building and there is a huge line outside. Try buying tickets in advance online to get in without an extended wait.

Trivia: did you know Amsterdam is the home of Heineken and Amstel Beer?

The Amstel brewery was founded in 1870 in Amsterdam and was named after the Amstel River that runs through the city. Well that’s actually interesting because I don’t even drink beer… 🙂

My tip is  to rent a bike and take a beautiful bike ride through the vondel park. There are beautiful restaurants and local cafes to stop and smell the flowers. vondel park amsterdam

If you’re a little bit more adventurous you can drive (by car) about 20 minutes outside of the city to visit the windmills, learn how to make cheese and buy some high heal shoes I mean wooden clogs of course!

My Vavorit Places are :

Van Gogh Museum
The Vondel Park
Rijksmuseum
ARTZUID
 I amsterdam LETTERS

Happy travels! How was your experience in Amsterdam?

xoxolisa

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