Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Burj Khalifa in Dubai

If you don’t have Dubai on your travel list yet, you should add it today!  Dubai has so much to offer to tourists including unique and breathtaking architecture, fine dining, cool attractions, various types of shopping, lovely beaches, outdoor activities….. and the list goes on and on!

Burj Khalifa in Dubi

One of the attractions that you should visit in Dubai is the tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa stands tall over the city.  At night it sparkles like a huge diamond and at 160 stories tall you can see it throughout the city.  As you travel in the elevator up 14 stories, your ears pop and you feel a bit light-headed.   Did I mention that the elevators go 600 meters per minute?  According to our guide,  the elevators are thought to be the fastest in the world.  It took us just a little over a minute to reach the 124th floor…..that’s fast!  It feels like you’re in the movie, Star Trek. The views from the top are breathtaking.

As you scan the horizon from 2,722 ft. above ground, you can appreciate the vision of Sheikh Mohammad.  It’s a big-picture achievement and truly larger than life.  The Burj project was designed to move the city from its emphasis on oil to that of tourism.  Glass, steel, aluminum and concrete are everywhere to see.  It looks just like a movie set, but it’s not…..it’s an ultra sleek and modern city. According to Wikipedia, the building’s cost was $1.5 billion to build in US dollars.  Construction in 2004 and was finished in 2009.

Bubbly Horse visits Burj Khalifa in Dubai

There is a connection between the Burj Khalifa and the US.  The architect that designed the Burj, happens to be from Chicago.   His name is Adrian Smith and he studied at the University of Illinois and also Texas A & M University.  He’s designed many buildings in the US, including the Trump Tower in Chicago.  Obviously, he’s a specialist in designing tall buildings.

We had a great time at the Burj and we couldn’t resist being super touristy.  They have a giant green screen that you pose in front of for fun commemorative photos.  Some people were confused and thought that I was really walking on the beam over the top of the building when they saw it on Facebook.  Now that’s a great optical illusion!

Bubbly Horse having fun at the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is part of a mixed-use development in the middle of downtown Dubai.  According to Wikipedia, “the development includes 30,000 homes, nine hotels (including The Address Downtown Dubai), 7.4 acres of parkland, 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 30-acre artificial Burj Khalifa Lake.  Dubai borrowed at least $80 billion for construction projects.”

Bubbly Horse visits Burj Khalifa

As I mentioned, the development includes the Dubai Mall.  Even if you aren’t a mall shopper, the malls in Dubai offer so much more than just shopping.  You really have to see it to believe it!  We discussed the souks of Dubai in a previous post, which are a totally different shopping experience.  But no trip to Dubai is complete without visiting the shopping malls.  Even if you’re not a shopper, you can find something to interest you at the mall.

At 3.77 million sq. ft.,  the Dubai Mall is the 2nd largest in the world.  There are over 1,200 stores!  The mall attracts over 54 million visitors a year.  According to Wikipedia, “the Dubai Mall was the most visited building on the planet in 2011.”  The Dubai Mall is definitely a tourist destination and you should plan on visiting it when you are in Dubai.

One of the first things you notice when you walk into the mall is the giant Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo.  The tank is 10-million litre (2641720.52 US liquid gallons) and is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world.  The aquarium has more that 300 species of marine animals, which also includes a variety of sharks and stingrays.  My photos don’t do it justice!  You could watch all the fish swim for hours.  It was so cool.

The aquarium includes a walk-thru tunnel where you can get a first-hand view of the tank, as well as glass-bottom boat rides.  If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can snorkel in the tank or do a shark dive.  Talk about an up close adventure!

The next section of  the mall is called Fashion Avenue.  This branch of the mall is home to brands such as Bulgari, Valentino, Brioni, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier….. and the list goes on and on.  There’s an entire wing devoted to high-end shopping.  Even if you aren’t into couture fashion, the window shopping is great fun.

Bubbly Horse goes shopping in Dubai

As you keep walking, you see more and more things to do, that don’t include shopping!

The mall has a giant ice skating rink.  It’s as large as an Olympic-sized rink!  It is massive, and starts on the ground floor and extends to the second level of the mall.

Bubbly Horse visits the Dubai Mall Ice Rink

Art is very prominent throughout Dubai.  There are public art installations in most areas of  the city.  I believe public art really makes a city stand out and makes it much more interesting.  The mall has a “human” waterfall with beautiful sculptures.  You can see how large it is from my photograph.  The wall goes from the top to the bottom of the mall and can be viewed from each floor.  It’s quite unique and amazing!

Bubbly Horse visits the Dubai Mall water wall

Gelato stores and candy stores were peppered all around the mall.  You couldn’t walk very far without seeing one.  The largest candy store in the world is located in the Dubai Mall.   Candylicious is over 10,000 sq. ft.  That’s a lot of candy!  The people of Dubai definitely have a sweet tooth.  The store windows have the boxes of candy nicely wrapped like beautiful little presents. Presentation is everything in Dubai.  From the buildings to the candy, Dubai is top-notch!

One unusual candy that is actually made in Dubai is camel’s milk chocolate.  According to an article that I read in Reuters.com,  “The company Al Nassma was established in Dubai and plans to produce 100 tons of premium camel’s milk chocolate a year.  They have 3,000 camels on the Dubai farm and the farm is controlled by the Dubai government. Our aim is to be the Godiva of the Middle East, according to the company.”

Bubbly Horse visits the desert in Dubai

The Reuters article goes on to say, ” All chocolates are produced without preservatives or chemical additives with a range of locally popular spices, nuts and honey, according to the company. Camel milk contains five times more vitamin C than cow milk, less fat, less lactose and more insulin, making it a good option for diabetics and the lactose intolerant.”

I tasted the chocolate and I really liked it.  It is not as sweet as the milk chocolate that we are accustomed to here in the US, but it was really good.  The fact that it may be a little healthier than most chocolate you find made it even tastier!

Bubbly Horse visits the Dubai Mall Camel's Milk Candy

When you travel to Dubai, make sure you bring your tennis shoes.  You’ll need them for walking around and experiencing the mall and other beautiful destinations in Dubai.

Thanks for reading BubblyHorse.com. xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Souks of Dubai

Souks of Dubai

Bubbly Horse visits the gold souk in Dubai

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.”

Bubbly Horse visits the Souks of Dubai

 

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.

Bubbly Horse visits of the gold souks from Dubai

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.

Bubbly Horse visits the Meena Bazaar souk in Dubai

 

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.

Bubbly Horse visits the Meena Bazaar textile souk in Dubai

 

 

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!

Perfume souk in Dubai

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.

Bubbly Horse visits the souls in Dubai

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

 

 

Book’Em!

Book’Em!

Memorial Day weekend means the beginning of the summer is here.  After the winter that we had, I’m ready!  But the beginning of summer also means that vacation travel is here.  I have a few ideas that will help you save big $$ when you are planning your trip.

Whether you are staying close or traveling far I have a site that can save you money on your trip.  I have been using TopCashBack.com for a while.  When I checked my balance the other day, I have $60 just waiting to be transferred to my Paypal account.  I bought a dress for Derby from Neiman Marcus and got 12% back, I bought my mother a gift from Saks and got 10% back and I frequently purchase items from Ebay and got money back.  I even bought Alexa and got money back.  She’s pretty handy.

So when I was looking at the site I noticed quite a few hotels offer cash back.  It’s really simple, just go thru the site and book your hotel as normal.  Some of the offers I saw included Marriott 7% back, Hilton 10% back, IGH 8% back and Expedia is 12% back.  If you are going to spend $1000 (or probably more for a week) you would be crazy not to get money back!   Especially from doing what you normally do anyway.

https://www.topcashback.com/ref/bubblyhorse

So let me know what you think!  With all the money you’ll save you can shop more!  xoxo

Photo by flicker.com

Totally Awesome!

Totally Awesome!

Last week we went to a new store opening in Lexington.  It was called Total Wine & More.  This is their second store in Kentucky, the other one is in Louisville.  According to their website they are located in 20 states.

I’m a big Costco fan and Trader Joe wine fan.  They have great wine available for a great price and are always very knowledgeable.  To be honest with you, if I’m at home I’m going to drink a $10 or less bottle of wine.  There’s plenty of wine that is really good for that price point.

Total Wine & More was totally awesome!  They had such a big collection of wine, beer and spirits.  For example, I’m a big Cava fan and other places may carry one or two brands of Cava.  I’m not kidding there were 20 brands at Total Wine!  I was in heaven.  I couldn’t fit them all in the photo.

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When you go, be sure to look in the glass cases.  That’s where the really good stuff is that you will want to check out.  It’s not everyday you see a $1,000 bottle of champagne in a fancy bottle!

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Total Wine is a great store.  On site they have a cigar humidor, a classroom, free wif-fi and a growler station (that has something to do with craft beer).  The coolest thing I saw was a wine chiller, in case you need a cold bottle FAST!

Be watching for wine classes.  This is totally going to be fun! xoxox

 

Satin Dreams

Satin Dreams

How many of you use satin pillowcases?  Well if you don’t, get some ASAP!

There are so many reasons to use satin pillowcases.  The first reason is that when you are a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper the satin lets the skin glide easily across the pillow.  This is good for preventing wrinkles and also for preventing hair breakage.  Both of these are super important!

The second reason is that satin pillowcases don’t absorb oil like cotton does.  Cotton pillowcases will dry out your face and your hair.  It sucks the oil right out.  We don’t want that!  We need to keep all the natural oil we have in our skin and hair.

And the last reason is that satin pillowcases are so pretty.  They come in a variety of colors.  Nothing says fancy like satin.  Here’s to looking good!  xoxo.

This post contains affiliate links.

Bourbon Thoughts

Bourbon Thoughts

Today I was doing one of my favorite things which is shopping at Costco.  I love walking around all the aisles and looking at all the items.  I never knew I needed so many items and gadgets!  Not to mention that it helps me get my steps in on my fitbit.

After my shopping I always visit the liquor store.  Did you know that Costco is the world’s leading wholesale buyer of wine?  The prices are great.

Today in addition to buying champagne and wine I was looking at all the spirits.  Costco has a good variety of bourbons.  They have the usual suspects, Woodford Reserve and Makers Mark, but they also have a good selection of select bourbons.  One of our new favorite bourbons is Rabbit Hole.  Not only is the packaging awesome but it’s a great bourbon for the value.  Read all about it below.

Home

However, the bourbon that caught my eye was the bourbon below.  It’s so exclusive I can’t even find anything about Lincoln Bourbon on the internet.  Be sure to check out the price tag.  At Costco!  Does anybody know this bourbon?

What’s your favorite bourbon? xoxo

Sold Out

In honor of The Royals returning to tv this weekend I wanted to share with you a recent Princess Meghan style moment.  I enjoy watching the young royals and their style.  Because Princess Meghan is American it really makes it fun to follow her.  Recently she donned a coat from JCrew.  The bad news is the coat is sold out, but I’m sure they will restock soon.  The great news is that the coat is only $300!

Photo Getty Images.

 

 

Hairy Subject

Hairy Subject

Some of you may know that I am active with the Lexington Humane Society.  I was on the board for 8 years and truly believe in their mission.  I wanted to share a story with you.

I love my Chihuahuas.  I had Lucy and then I rescued Lilly.  Both of the girls are adorable but I always wanted a little, long-haired, white Chihuahua.

So I signed up for the First Contact Service from LHS.  You list a certain breed a dog and when they get one in they will call you and you get first dibs before the animal is placed on the floor for adoption.   What are the odds that they ever get in my dream dog?

2 days later they called me.  They had dogs that had been in a hoarding situation from New Albany, Indiana.  There were many more but all the rescue organizations had divided them up.  There were Chinese Crested, Chihuahuas and Yorkies.  I was in shock.  I really wasn’t ready to have another dog (I thought it would take years!).  I didn’t even return the first call.

I gave in and Gina, Brent and I went to see the dogs.  They were such a pitiful bunch.  20 dogs running around skinny and just about hairless.  One dog grabbed onto my leg as if to say, “Please take me!”.  So, I went home and cried all night.  I knew I had to get the dog.

So I brought Lola home.  She’s the sassiest dog I’ve ever seen.  I guess to live in an environment with 40 other dogs you have to be pretty self-sufficient.  The only problem was that she didn’t have any hair.  A hairless Chihuahua was not really what I had in mind.  She didn’t have one hair on her hind end!

I spoke to LHS and they could not assure me she would ever grow any hair, so I started doing research.  Every recommendation I saw said Omega 3’s were the best for hair growth.  Long story short, check out the difference it’s made in Lola.  I highly recommend a few squirts on your pet’s food each day.

Best.Shopping.Ever

Best.Shopping.Ever

Recently I went on a girls trip to Ft. Lauderdale.  The purpose was primarily for a little retail therapy but also to get a little sunshine.  Snow and cold temps are ok around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but after the holidays I’m ready for some sunshine.  Being stuck inside is a bummer.

So four of us decided to take a little break and fly down to Ft. Lauderdale.  We got a super cheap airline ticket and headed down south for a couple of days.  We also fit in a little fine dining and fun, but I’ll share that later in a separate post.

Have you ever visited the Outlet at Sawgrass Mills?  I had been there but it was several years ago.  Wow has it grown!  It’s like a whole city of nothing but high-end shops and restaurants!  Trust me I know how big it is because I walked the entire mall to get to a particular store.  There’s outside, inside, back and front shopping.  Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off Fifth, Bloomingdales Outlet, Century 21, Gucci, Valentine, Prada Hermes, Montcler, I could go on and on and on.  Here’s a link if you’re not familiar http://www.simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

You may know that Neiman Marcus Last Call is my favorite store.  It’s like a treasure hunt every time I visit.  Sparkles from across the room caught my eye.  If I was a fish I would probably be caught about every day!  I walked over and saw the most beautiful dress.  It was absolutely something to behold perfect for the Oscar ceremony this weekend!  Have you ever seen an $19,000 dress?  It was over the top and awesome!  The dress was 65% off the lowest price which made it certainly more reasonable.  Unfortunately, it was a size 4, which was absolutely a no-go for me! Check it out.

The photo doesn’t do the dress justice.  It was fabulous. Even though I wasn’t able to squeeze into the above dress I was able to find some great things.  You might see one at Derby this year!

Happy Shopping! xoxox

Face Magic

Face Magic

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews lately of jade rollers that you use on your face.  Jade rollers have a long history and have been used in China since the 17th century.  They are supposed to be really amazing and help to reduce fine lines, de-puff your skin and increase collagen.  Sounds good to me!  Also, the rollers push your product deeper into your pores, therefore getting more benefit from your product.  They are so inexpensive, I’m giving it a try.

 

To receive the best benefit from the roller be sure to place it in the freezer for at least 2 hours prior to using.  Do the following steps:

  • Cleanse your face
  • exfoliate
  • apply serum or moisturizer
  • start rolling for around 2 minutes
  • wipe your face to remove product
  • apply fresh product

Here’s to looking younger!  xoxox