This summer we went on an incredible trip to Dubai. We spent 5 wonderful and extremely hot days in Dubai. Oh my was it hot! The average temperature was 48C degrees (about 100F) but as everything, there´s a silver lining to it... there were no crowds, which is a rare exception since there´s roughly 14 million of visitors per year in a relatively small city. Dubai is as extreme, opulent and luxurious as it looks in all the pictures and Pinterest boards I saw while planning our trip. At first, you are not sure in which country you are since only 5% of its residents are UAE national citizens and the remaining 95% are expats from all over the world which I thought it was soo cool and unique.
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton Dubai located in the Marina and it was a great location! Another good thing about visiting during the summer months, the hotels have great deals. This is a beachfront hotel and had amazing views of the coast and the Dubai Eye Ferris Wheel which will be completed in a couple of months. We only ventured out to the beach before it got impossibly warm around 7 am but they told us that in the winter months is very pleasant to be outside.
We were a big group of 7 (my entire family!) and we had a blast. I feel that 5 days was enough for us to see the City and of course there´s always some other nearby attractions that you could add to your itinerary or more time at the beach in the winter months. Below are the highlights of our trip, tips & tricks and of course restaurant recommendations.
On our last day in Dubai, we took a private tour to Abu Dhabi with the same company Dubai Private Tours. We didn´t want to see a lot of the touristy attractions in Abu Dhabi so the private tour was a great choice. We were able to pick departure time and what we really wanted to see. We mainly wanted to see the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. The one hour trip to Abu Dhabi is totally worth it! The mosque is magnificent! yes, it is a bit of a pain having to cover yourself from head to toe in the blazing heat but it is so beautiful! Every architectural detail was thought through.
Tips and tricks:
If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I´ll make sure to address those. I love to travel and plan trips so I would love to be helpful
The last leg of our spring trip to Europe was Ireland. We´ve seen so much before arriving here that we could have easily been let down by the Emerald Island but it was the complete opposite! I was blown away by Ireland´s people, music scene and beautiful landscapes.
We divided the trip in three: city life in Dublin, nature & nightlife at Galway and R&R at Kinnitty Castle. As usual, we crammed as much as we could see in 4 days and I feel that we got a pretty good taste of Ireland by visiting these three different areas. Ireland is pretty big so it takes a while to drive from point A to point B so we couldn´t make it to the Ring of Kerry because it would have taken a good chunk of our time since it is about 4 1/2 hours drive from Dublin and driving the ring itself takes about 5 hours so we left it out for our next trip.
We started our trip in Dublin, where we stayed at Dylan hotel that it is tucked away from the hustle and bustle but still within walking distance from most of the attractions, we found this hotel through Tablet Hotels one of my favorite booking websites for boutique hotels, you can read more about it on earlier post with 5 tips for travel planning . Here what we did in the two days we where in Dublin:
Jameson Distillery: Be sure to book your tickets in advance because it gets sold out. The distillery was recently renovated and it is so cool! The tour starts with a glass of Jameson and Ginger Ale which I was a bit skeptical at first since I´m not a whiskey fan but turns out I do like Irish Whiskey, I guess it is due to my 2% Irish heritage LOL! The tour was short, fun and informative. At the end of the tour, we ended up staying at the bar and ordering another round of cocktails since the place was so cool and had live music.
Temple Bar area, this area is filled with bars, shops, and restaurants. It was already getting dark by the time we got here so we did what the Irish do best; eat and drink at a pub, There were so many to choose from and they all had live music so it was a blast.
Guinness Tour: This is Dublin´s most popular tour so expect crowds. If you are short on time buy one of the tour bus tickets and you´ll get a discount on the entrance tickets. It wasn´t my favorite activity but it was definitely worth a visit. My favorite part was the end of the tour when we got a beer and drank it at the rooftop.
Trinity College and Books of Kells: Be sure to buy the tickets online so you can avoid the long queues. It was fascinating to read the history behind the elaboration of the books.
We also visited: St. Stephen's Green, St. Patrick Cathedral, Grafton Street ( the 5th Avenue of Dublin) where we window shopped and stopped for irish tea and biscuits.
Where we ate: Awesome Shepperds pie at Boxty, Casual dinner at Miss Sue, seafood at The Seafood Bar and delicious french food at Dax
After two days in Dublin, we headed off to Galway! Our driving skills on the opposite side of the road improve drastically (once we got an automatic transmission car LOL) and our journey to Galway about 2:30 hours was a breeze!
We stayed for two nights in Galway at a beautifully decorated B&B owned by previous gallery owners who transformed a 1930´s house in a contemporary design heaven! I highly recommend staying here when in Galway, the owners are amazing, they gave us great tips on what to do, where to eat and shop. They have a fantastic eye for design and all the shops they recommended were super cool. Besides all of the above, their homemade breakfast is to die for! hands down the best breakfast we had in a long time! The Stop B&B is a 5-minute walk from the city center.
Galway´s streets are filled with musicians, pubs, shops, and restaurants. I really like the city´s vibe. On our first night, we walked around listening to several bands, popped in for a pint at a pub while we worked our appetite for our dinner reservations at Aniar. Aniar has one very well appointed Michelin Star and it´s focused on serving food that´s autochthonous from Ireland so everything they use is source locally. I really liked the Scandinavian contemporary look of the restaurant. The food was AMAZING!!! our best meal in Ireland! The Pre Fix Menu won´t break your bank and each course will linger in your senses for a while. The restaurant is very small with about 8 tables so it is very intimate and cozy. A must when in Galway. It takes Irish cuisine to another level.
On our second day in Galway, we drove 1:30 hours to see the famous Cliffs of Moher, We made sure to hit the road early as we wanted to avoid the tour buses that will start arriving after 11 am and I´m glad we did this! We arrived around 9:30 am and there were only a few other cars but like a clock after 11 am the tour buses started to poured in by the minute so the park started getting crowded pretty quick, After seeing tons of pictures of the Cliffs before our trip all I can say is that they don´t do justice to how pretty and impressive it is!
Thanks to our B&B host we made a few pit stops on our way back to Galway, first at Hazel Mountain Chocolate an artisan chocolate factory where we sample some freshly made chocolate, yum!! and later on at Flaggy Shore where we walked around the beach and saw some impressive views! and lastly, we stopped at Dungaire Castle that was also on the way and took a few pictures and hopped back on the car.
We took a quick shower and changed into warmer clothes and went out for a Gin and Tonic at a local pub where I had the most delicious rose water infused G&T! After this, we went to an Italian restaurant il Vicolo that was delicious and packed with locals which is always a good sign!
Make sure to have some extra room in your luggage because Galway has tons of cool little stores that sell cool art, clothing, house accessories and comfy throw blankets.
After two nights in Galway, we started making our way back to Dublin and stop at Kinnitty Castle that dates back to 1209! It´s in the foothills of the Silver Bloom Mountains where you can hike right up from the Castle´s front door. The Castle is magnificent and it checks all the boxes of what I thought a real castle should look like. We wandered around the castle discovering tons of cool nooks and rooms and stopped for afternoon tea at the drawing room. We ate in the dungeon bar and it was marvelous!
The day after we hiked a 5k trail located on the back side of the property that offered great views of the rolling hills and nearby mountains. The grounds of the castle are very well kept and has very nice wild gardens. It was the perfect place to just sit down, read and enjoy the peace and quiet as our trip was coming to an end. Kinnitty is right in the middle between Galway and Dublin so it was a good way to split the journey in two.