Souks of Dubai

Souks of Dubai

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You may be asking, what exactly is a souk? Well, the answer is that a souk is the name for a bazaar, stall or marketplace, primarily found in the middle east. In Dubai you can find souks nearly everywhere. It reminds me of a giant flea market with really interesting items and people.

There are certain parts of Dubai that have souks for textiles, perfumes, spices, or even electronics. According to Wikipedia, ” Evidence for the existence of souqs dates to the 6th century BCE. Initially souqs were located outside city walls, but as cities became more populated, souqs were moved to the city centre and became covered walkways.”

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When you are planning a trip to Dubai you certainly want to visit the various souks that the city has to offer. It’s a form of shopping that isn’t much different than shopping at a small boutique, or a flea market here in the US, except for the haggling and bargaining.

Now, I know what you are thinking. A lot of people don’t like to bargain or haggle over items and prices. Here in the US, that’s viewed as tacky or distasteful. The price of the item is as marked. Sometimes items are on sale, sometimes items are the full price.

In Dubai, haggling is an accepted and encouraged form of doing business. Now, you can’t go to restaurants and haggle over the price of your meal, or try to wheel and deal with your hotel bill, but it is a traditional practice in the souks.

The best time to shop the souks is the first thing in the morning. Our guide told me that  it is thought to be bad luck for the shop if the souk cannot make a deal on the first potential sale of the day. I experienced this one day while shopping, the shopkeeper was desperate to sell me a belt! After you get used to haggling, it’s sort of fun! You get the hang of it.  In fact, while I was haggling for a purse, another shopper asked me if I would help him negotiate for a watch.  I guess he noticed I was an experienced shopper!

In Dubai, there are a variety of souks to choose from. There’s the gold souk (which is unbelievable!), the Khan Murjan souk (it sells mainly arts, crafts and textiles), the spice souk, the Meena Bazaar (sells men’s and women’s clothing), and the perfume souk.

The first souk that I visited was the gold souk. It is unbelievable the amount of gold that you see. Dubai is known for its gold jewelry. You see, most Dubai gold is 18, 21, 22 or 24 carats, not the usual 14 carat like we see here in the US. The government of Dubai tries to be very transparent in the selling of their gold and has many rules and regulations. The difference in the gold is, according to Dubai Online:

• 24k- is pure gold
• 22k- alloy with 22 parts of pure gold and 2 parts of other metals
• 21k- alloy with 21 parts of pure gold and 3 parts of other metals
• 18k- alloy with 18 parts of pure gold and 6 parts of other metals

So, you get the drift, most of Dubai gold is really high quality. The price for gold is set internationally, so you can haggle on the sticker price in the souks, but they don’t have control over the commodity base price. The jewelry pieces that I saw were true works of art. The craftmanship of the pieces of jewelry was amazing. The higher the gold content, the softer the metal so it makes it easier to produce such intricate styles of jewelry.

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A lot of the jewelry is designed in Pakistan, and they are known for their craftmanship. Our guide told us that Indian brides often come to Dubai and purchase their jewelry not only for the bride and groom, but also their wedding party.

There is gold everywhere you can see. There are elaborate pieces of jewelry in the window and on display in the store. You can actually pick up the jewelry and look at it in the store. In the US there would be guards posted everywhere, but not in Dubai. Dubai is a very safe place both to visit and to do business.

The Meena Bazaar was the next stop on our shopping excursion. This souk, as I stated above, is the textile souk. They have men’s and women’s clothing, as well as fabric that’s for purchase. You really have to see the fabrics to believe it. The richness in the fabric in both the color and the workmanship is something to experience. Vibrant colors of pink, yellow, orange, blue and gold are everywhere you look.  The beading on the garments was really elaborate.

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In Dubai, there is a tremendous Indian population. The Meena Bazaar is comprised of many Indian goods. From traditional Indian jewelry to textiles and furniture, the Indian influence is in many, if not most of the souks. There are two Hindu temples located in the area that are lovely.

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The next stop is the spice souk. All I can say is WOW! There were large barrels of saffron, frankincense, cinnamon, turmeric, chili, curry, cloves, and the list goes on and on! The spice souk sells these spices and herbs in bulk. The colors and the smells of the market were truly amazing. It is definitely something to see. Saffron is so expensive here in the US, and in Dubai, there are barrels and barrels of it everywhere!

Photos by Expedia.com

 

Right around the corner is the perfume souk. There’s not really any signs that direct you to these souks, you just run into the different sections. You could walk around for hours looking at all the different merchandise. Trust me I did!

Frankincense is probably the most popular item in the perfume souk. There’s also a huge variety of incense available. Incense in sticks, powder, crystals, as well as numerous other forms are available. You can purchase perfume oils, lovely atomizers and bottles at the souk.  You can experiment and combine different oils to create your own fragrance. The possibilities are endless!

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The last stop on our souk shopping tour was the Khan Murjan. We stopped in before we went to high tea at the Burj Al Arab hotel. We were a little early so we stopped in the souk to do a last bit of shopping. The Khan Murjan souk has a variety of souks that carry arts and craft items. From lovely woven carpets and rugs, to mosaic furniture and jewelry, there was so much to see! Each section of the souk was inspired by Egyptian, Moroccan, Syrian and Turkish architecture. It’s so beautiful.

We found some lovely pillowcases with that looked very Turkish with sequins and beading. We got some really nice items to bring back to remind us of the trip.

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Photo by Dubai-online.com

Dubai certainly has many things to do and see when you visit. Visiting the souks is a great way to learn the culture and to meet friendly people. But be sure to practice your haggling before you go! xoxo

 

 

Meydan

Meydan

No trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to Meydan.  Dubai and Kentucky share a mutual love of horses so it made sense that we visited the horse track.  Being a  travel blogger, this was right up my alley!

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Meydan is the vision of His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  Or, as he is referred to in Lexington, Sheikh Mohammed.  Sheikh Mohammed is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.  He is a big-picture thinker.  According to Wikipedia, ” his goal is to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world by 2021.”  He has launched many large enterprises including Emirates Airlines, Burj Al Arab (the hotel we discussed for High Tea), Palm Islands and Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.  Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  His vision is truly remarkable.

Sheikh Mohammed is also a very active in Lexington.  He owns Gainsboro Farm in Versailles, Kentucky and is an active participant in horse sales, breeding, and racing.  Darley Stud is a global breeding operation owned by the Sheikh.  It stands stallions at stud in six different countries. According to Wikipedia, “Darley currently stands more than 50 stallions around the world.”

According to Darley Stud’s website Sheikh Mohammed is quoted as saying, “Breeding and racing horses is one of my great joys, and a challenge that I relish sharing with my family and friends.  I wish you good luck with the horses in your life, and thank you for considering the Darley stallions.” A true gentleman.

Darley Stud is also very active in charities in Lexington.  The Markey Cancer Foundation has received significant donations from the organization in the past.  His wife, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya bint Hussein is very active in the horse world as well.  You might remember that she was president of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) during the World Equestrian Games that was held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010. Princess Haya is also an accomplished equestrian who has competed in international show jumping competitions.

Sheikh Mohammed’s horse farm is in the middle of the city.  We visited and toured the farm, prior to going to Meydan.  It was definitely a treat as not very many people get to experience this.  The facilities were beautiful and the horses were well taken care of.  The horsey spa was nicer than a lot of the spas I’ve seen for people!  Not to mention more high-tech!

Following the trip the farm we went to Meydan!  Meydan is a world-class horse racing track (they also have camel racing) and also a luxury hotel that the Sheikh built.  It’s located just 15 minutes from the heart of Dubai and can be reached easily by highway. Dubai has a first-class highway and road system.  There’s quite a bit of traffic, but at least the infrastructure is there. Racing starts in November and ends in March.

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The last Saturday in March is the Dubai World Cup, which is the richest day in horse racing around the world.  According to the web site, the Dubai World Cup is a $30 million dollar race day.  That’s quite a payday! All the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the world race on that day.    It’s hot during the day so all the races begin at 3:45pm.  More than 50,000 people attend this event, including many international and national celebrities.

My birthday always falls around World Cup day so a group of us get together for breakfast (the time difference) to watch the races. It’s always cool to watch since I’ve been there.  It’s interesting to see jockeys from all over the world that we never see here in Kentucky.  The same for horses and trainers.  I usually don’t have much luck betting the races, but it’s still fun!

During the World Cup they even have a fashion show! Dubai ladies love fashion.  There is a reason why they have the largest malls in the world.  Best Dressed Lady, Best Hat, etc.  I’ve seen many photos on Instagram and they really go all out.  Beautiful fashion and hats.

Photo by Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

We were able to tour the private room that the royal family watches races from during the meet.  It was a beautiful room with gold, brightly colored enamel and Swarovski crystals adorning the room.  But don’t look for the betting windows, because gambling is against the law in Dubai and the UAE.  This is in keeping with Muslim law.

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Photos of all the past winners are located on a wall within the viewing room. The photos don’t do the wall justice, it’s really beautiful.  You may recognize some of the past winners.

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Meydan Hotel is built-in the form of a wave in motion.  The lines and the architecture of the building are amazing.  It’s the first (and probably only) 5-star trackside hotel in the world.

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When you walk in you are amazed by the sheer size of the lobby of the hotel.  It’s very modern, just like the city.  Lots of glass and gleaming steel.  Everything in Dubai sparkles.

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The paintings of the UAE rulers are so large, you can see the comparison with the people.  Everything is bigger and better in Dubai!

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The bar area in the hotel is lovely.

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Just think, you could sit by the infinity pool, get a tan and watch the ponies.  That sure gives a new meaning to “winning”! And, according to the website all rooms have balconies that overlook the race track as well.  The hotel website says they are currently updating the infinity pool.  Looks pretty good to me!

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Dubai is an absolutely wonderful place to visit.  The people are very welcoming.  In the recent Travel & Leisure’s The World’s Best edition, Emirates Airlines was ranked the #2 best airline (I can attest to the quality!), and the Dubai International Airport is ranked #3rd.   Dubai is a tourist destination, they appreciate visitors, and make them feel very welcome. It should definitely be on your bucket list!  xoxox

 

 

High Tea in Dubai

High Tea in Dubai

When I went to Dubai I really enjoyed the trip.  Some of my friends were a little hesitant to travel there due to concerns over safety and culture.  I am here to assure you that there isn’t a safer place to travel!  The people were lovely and very hospitable.  Dubai is a tourist destination, so they are welcoming and appreciative of guests.

Granted it was hot, but you didn’t really notice it because you are too busy looking in awe at the buildings.  Modern, sleek and high-tech is the best way to describe today’s Dubai.

I’m sure you all have seen the Burj Al Arab hotel on television or in photographs.  It’s the 5-star hotel that looks like a sailboat and it is magnificent.  I remember Matt Laur and Tiger Woods playing golf on the helipad…..there’s no getting those balls back!   The hotel is so tall I couldn’t even fit all of it in the photo frame.

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Tourists aren’t allowed thru the gates without a reservation in the bar, restaurant or for high tea.  If I were staying at the hotel, then I’m not sure I would want to see tourists traipsing in all day thru the lobby.  It’s a privacy thing.  It’s a very exclusive hotel.

During our trip to Dubai, a group of us decided to go for high tea.  We thought it would be a great way to experience the luxuries of the Burj Al Arab hotel.  High tea was served from 1-3:30pm and the charge was $138.86 US dollars. High tea at the Burj has 7 courses.  It was truly an adventure of a lifetime.

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We arrived at the hotel and had to show our reservation at the gate to be let in.  We were allowed to go thru the gates and proceed to the hotel.  It was like going to Wonkaland.  Very exciting!

When we were seated for the tea we were served a glass of Louis Roederer champagne to begin.  You know how I love champagne!  Off to a great start.

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The next course was a berry tart.  It looked almost like a culinary work of art.  Almost too pretty to eat!

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No high tea would be complete without finger sandwiches.  The course included combinations such as goat cheese with pomegranate seeds, tomato and cucumber on whole wheat, cucumber and cream cheese, and lastly smoked salmon and cream cheese.  Smoked salmon and cream cheese was my favorite.

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Chef’s carving came next.  Kobe beef tenderloin so tender it was like butter.  A little dollop of mashed potatoes completed the serving.  But wait, there’s more!

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Next they brought out a tray of scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream.  I had heard of clotted cream but wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but it was really tasty! According to Wikipedia Devonshire Clotted Cream is:

“Clotted cream (sometimes called scalded, clouted, Devonshire or Cornish cream) is a thick cream made by indirectly heating full-cream cow’s milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and forms “clots” or “clouts”. It forms an essential part of a cream tea.”

The tray was completed with an assortment of French pastries.  I found that people of Dubai love sweet treats.  Definitely my kind of people!

At.Mosphere-Afternoon-Tea Photo courtesy of Burj Al Arab

Did mention that in the ladies restroom they provided toiletries by Hermes?

If you ever get the chance to travel to Dubai, DO IT!  The people are lovely and it is the epitome of luxury.  You have to see it to believe it.  xoxo

 

 

No Bones About It!

No Bones About It!

This post is in collaboration with Bone’s Restaurant.  All of these opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting businesses that are partners with Bubbly Horse!

When you arrive at Bone’s, the building is very unassuming. With a simple awning and a small front drive, you might just pass it by. Trust me, you will be sorry if you do! But, as most fine dining restaurants, be sure you make a reservation.

There is a reason why Bone’s Steakhouse in Atlanta is always listed as one of the best restaurants in Atlanta, or for that matter the US.  The place oozes an old school vibe.  You almost expect to see the Rat Pack sitting in the corner drinking martinis!

 

I was in Atlanta for business recently, so my parents went along with me.  A small family vacation, and it happened to be my mother’s birthday!  There’s not a better birthday dinner than celebrating at Bone’s.  They really make you feel special and important.  Check out how they decorate the table below.  So cute!  I haven’t seen any other restaurant do this.  Very cool.

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I have been a customer at Bone’s for a long time, so I even have a profile on file. The General Manager just happens to have a connection with Kentucky so I contacted him before we arrived in Atlanta.  He was so nice.  He greeted us warmly at the door and showed us to the table.  Our table was in the Dog Room, that’s where I like to sit.  Portraits of regal dogs adorn the dark paneled walls.  Glass wine cases and low lighting complete the ambiance. Everybody looks better in low light!

 

 

It was time to order dinner.  For my appetizer I ordered the lump crab cocktail.  The cocktail was served with both a cocktail sauce and a remoulade sauce.  You can’t believe how firm and delicious it was.  Fresh off the boat!

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Soon after the starters were taken away and the crumbs were swept away,  our main course arrived.  Bone’s is a steakhouse, so I ordered steak.  I can grill a good steak, but I can’t get the crust to turn out like professional grills do.  The filet arrived, cooked perfectly and already portioned out for me (dad and I always split a steak).  It was so tender I really didn’t even need a knife.  The outside of the steak was perfectly crusted.

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A birthday dinner wouldn’t be complete without a birthday cake!  And at Bone’s they give you about half of a cake.  Great for sharing, and it’s ice cream!  Delicious!

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The last part of the birthday celebration is my favorite.  I’m sure you have gotten the connection between the name Bone’s and dogs by now.  When you are leaving the restaurant you are presented with a cute little box to take home.  Guess what it is? A box of cookies, shaped like bones!

Thanks to Bone’s we had a great birthday celebration for Mom.  I would tell you how old she is, but I would have to kill you. Ha!  xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia on My Mind

Georgia on My Mind

Recently my parents and I went to Atlanta for some business.  We love Atlanta.  It’s only a 6-hour drive and it’s a major city.  The people are nice and the dining and shopping are great!  I’ll tell you about some more Atlanta adventures next week.  Stay tuned!

One of my favorite things to do on way back is to stop at a little road side stand and get some peaches.  Nothing is better than Georgia peaches!  I prefer them to South Carolina peaches.  Georgia peaches are sweet and delicious.

I was looking for some creative ways to use my peaches.  I found a great recipe!  You’re going to love this one.  Be sure to pick up some ice cream, angel food cake or pound cake.  Top these items off with these peaches and you have a world class dessert that is easy and delicious!

Fireball Peaches:

  • Fresh Peaches (I used three) sliced
  • Fireball (use to your taste)
  • Sugar and Cinnamon mix (I used 1/2 cup sugar and at least a tablespoon of cinnamon)

 

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Put the peaches in the bowl and pour the Fireball into the fruit.  Do it to taste, but I think I used about 1/2 cup.  Place mix in a ziplock bag and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Please be aware that because the alcohol isn’t cooked out the Fireball will still contain alcohol.  This dessert isn’t appropriate for kids.

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Take the peaches out and pour the sugar/cinnamon mixture in the bag.  Shake to coat.  Spoon mixture out and ENJOY! xoxo

Summertime Bites

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Sometimes bites that you share on the patio are great, summertime mosquito bites are not so good!  If you are like me, the mosquitoes just can’t wait until I come outside.  I know that you can hire a mosquito team to spray chemicals on your yard and trees.  The spraying works great, but I just don’t want all that poison out in the yard.  My dogs eat a lot of grass and I don’t think that it’s healthy for them.

So, I’ve tried several different things that has really been working for me this summer.  My friend Tracey sells Avon.  Did you ever use Skin So Soft back in the day?  It really works well as a mosquito repellant, without putting pesticide on your body.  They have a body wash, lotion and a skin oil.  It works great, but remember you need the original recipe.  If you need any Avon, let me know and I’ll send you Tracey’s contact information.

The second mosquito remedy is a homemade cocktail that I mix and spray on my yard and trees.  It’s all natural so you don’t have to be afraid for your pets.  Mix it up and try it out.

The recipe for the mix is as follows:

  • 1 big bottle of cheap blue mouthwash (you can get at Costco)
  • 3 cups of Epsom salt
  • 3 stale 12 oz. cheap beer (stale beer has no bubbles, leave the opened beer out for 24 hours)

You can buy the sprayer at Walmart for less than $10.00.  xoxo

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Delicious Little Nuggets

Delicious Little Nuggets

I have been patiently waiting for cotton candy grapes to arrive.  I LOVE cotton candy (it is super good in my champagne) so I knew I would like these grapes.  They are only available at certain times of the year, and they do sell out quickly.

Run, don’t walk, to either a Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Kroger, Sam’s Club or a Trader Joe’s to get some of these babies!  These grapes are so good.  They are so sweet, they taste better then a lot of candy I’ve tried.  That’s big, because candy is my JAM!

Cotton candy grapes are distributed by a company called Grapery.  They are actually produced in the USA.

In an article recently in Real Simple magazine they stated,  “distributed by the Grapery since 2011, a California-based company that cultivates table grapes, cotton candy grapes are juicy green spheres that naturally taste like the pink dessert. David Cain, a horticulturalist, developed the grape in an effort to give consumers more varieties of the bite-sized fruit, similar to the way that there are multiple kinds of apples, he told NPR in 2013. Without genetic modification or including artificial flavors, Cain made the grapes taste like cotton candy by hybridizing two different species of the vine-ripened fruit that highlights its naturally sweet taste.”

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So, I have a great idea for you.  Why not freeze the grapes and use them in your drinks like little ice cubes.  Especially wine and champagne!  Just wash and freeze and you’ve got a delicious, sweet ice cube!  Mine are freezing now.

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Cheers xoxo.

 

Dining Delight

Dining Delight

This post is in collaboration with The Charleston Grill and The Belmond Charleston Place. All of these opinions are entirely my own.  Thank you for supporting businesses that are partners with Bubbly Horse!

Charleston is definitely a foodie destination.  Southern cuisine at it’s best!

Trip Advisor ranked The Charleston Grill in the Top 2 places to eat in Charleston.  I had read all the reviews and decided to make reservations for us (my parents and I) during our recent trip to Charleston.  My aunt and uncle had visited The Charleston Grill over the New Years’ holiday and have raved about it.   I didn’t realize that the restaurant was located in our hotel, The Belmond at Charleston Place.  How convenient!

When you arrive at The Charleston Grill you are greeted by a professional staff and ushered into a lovely dining room.  There’s dark paneling and luxurious fabric as well as soft lighting.  Candlelight and muted lighting makes us all look and feel better!  The lounge had a jazz combo playing softly.  It’s truly a beautiful space.

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Photos courtesy of The Charleston Grill

The menu had several options that caught my eye.  At home, I don’t get the chance to have super fresh seafood, so I opted for the scallops.  The scallops were sautéed perfectly with a golden crust and had a piece of morcilla (which is a blood sausage from Ecuador) which was accompanied by pea puree.  The dish had a chili-chorizo vinaigrette to top it off.  All I can say was WOW!  I’m not even a huge sausage fan and I could have licked the plate!

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As a side dish we ordered the roasted baby carrots.  They were so tender and delicious.  Sweet carrots accompanied by feta cheese, fresh mint and pickled Fresno chili peppers.  The feta cheese gave them just enough saltiness.  They were almost too pretty to eat.

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throughout the evening, from the hostess to the sommelier to the server, the staff was knowledgeable and the service was top-notch.  To be honest, these days it’s hard to find a restaurant with high quality service standards, but The Charleston Grill trains and educates their employees, and it shows.  The wine list was extensive and had a wide variety of wines and price points.

No meal would be complete without dessert!  That evening the dining room had a special dessert.  It was a chocolate tart with a graham cracker crust and a poached pear.  The chocolate was warm and sweet and it was drizzled with a raspberry sauce.  Hello treadmill!  It was delicious and I ate every bite!

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The evening was so lovely.  I would advise that you visit The Charleston Grill on your next trip to Charleston.  You won’t be disappointed!  Cheers xoxo.

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The Belmond at Charleston Place

The Belmond at Charleston Place

This post is in collaboration with The Belmond Charleston Place.  All of these opinions are entirely my own.

Recently I took my parents to Charleston.  We wanted a family vacation, but we didn’t want to fly, so our options were limited.  Problem solved.  Charleston was only an 8 hour drive from Lexington.  One of my favorite shows on TV is Southern Charm on Bravo so I was really excited to visit Charleston!

We wanted to have the entire Charleston experience.  I compared all the hotels, locations and distance to places we wanted to visit.  The hotel that stood out to me was The Belmond.  I had read recently that Travel and Leisure voted the hotel chain the best in the world. The hotel was in a central location. My parents are older so they don’t walk as much as they used to.  I booked it.

On the way down we stopped in Asheville to break up the trip.  Asheville is a cool place, I’ll post more about that in a future post.

We arrived at The Belmond Hotel and it was lovely.  As we drove in we noticed the large columns and the beautiful horse fountain.  This was the place for us!

We checked in and went up to the room.  I had heard that the rooms were large, but wow! They were awesome.  There was a knock on the door and a bellman delivered a nice bottle of Chardonnay and a cheese/fruit plate.  They really know how to welcome you at The Belmond!

After we unpacked we went exploring to check out the surroundings.  The lobby was busy with people and there was a fun looking lobby bar.  A jazz combo was playing and there were lots of people enjoying happy hour.  The name of the lounge just happened to be The Thoroughbred Club!

Charleston Place has some great shopping available.  Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Bahama and St. John to name a few.  That’s all located in hotel.  You don’t even have to go outside and brave the heat and humidity! But, if you want to go out of the hotel you just go out the back door and you’re right on King Street.  King Street is where all the action is in Charleston.

The Belmond at Charleston place has a rooftop swimming pool.  It is so beautiful.  The glass rooftop is retractable for summer and is also ready for cooler temps or star-gazing.  The windows around the pool give a view of the downtown area and the building landscape.  Stunning at night!

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After exploring and shopping was time for dinner.

Stay tuned!  Tomorrow I will discuss The Charleston Grill at the Belmond.  You don’t want to miss it!  xoxo.

Featured image of the hotel and pool provided by Belmond Charleston Place.