Posted in armenia, asia, autumn, europe, getaway, itinerary, kebab, nature, republic square, the wine house, travel, travel diaries, travels, winter, yerevan

Getting Around in Yerevan

November 16, 2018

It was my first time to visit Armenia and I fell in love with the place. Plus, it was a perfect timing because of the combination of autumn and winter season.

We arrived by noon in Zvartnots International Airport and an airport pick-up service fetched us for 3,000 dram only to bring us in our hotel.

By the way, visa on arrival fee for Filipinos was 3,000 dram only, it is equivalent to 6 US dollars.

I booked our room in Yerevan Deluxe Hotel for 389 aed for 4 nights.

It is not actually in the city center but Barekamutyun metro station is 15 minutes walking distance from this hotel. So, if you would like to go to the city, just take the train and go down at Republic Square metro station.

Around 4:00 PM, my boyfriend and I went to Republic Square to explore the city center.

There is a lot of places in this area like the Cascade Complex, Swan Lake and Freedom Square. There is a compound of shopping centers and restaurants as well.

We had our dinner at The Wine House along Abovyan street. It was a relaxing, romantic and cozy place. It was my co-worker who recommended this restaurant and I didn’t regret going there because their kebab and wine were superb.

I am not a fan of wines but I can say that because of the cold weather in Yerevan, a glass of wine will help you to relax.

After our dinner, we went to Sas Supermarket to exchange our US dollars to Armenian dram. Their rates there are better than the other shops and for those who have UAE dirhams, they are accepting also there. I recommend travelers from UAE to bring US dollars instead of dirhams because of the higher rate.

After strolling around the area, we took the train from Yeritasardakan metro station to go back to our hotel in the late evening. Train ride was 2 dram only per person and it was really cheap!

There was a supermarket near our hotel which we had some beer. I was surprised that they have a large variety of alcoholic drinks more than the food. We just tried the Kilikia beer and it tasted good. This is the best way to have a very relaxing night during cold days.

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Posted in asia, dolmabahce palace, europe, getaway, istanbul, itinerary, palace, solo, star holiday hotel, sultanahmet, sultanahmet koftecisi, travel, travel diaries, travels, turkey

Istanbul – The city between Europe and Asia (2nd Day Tour)

October 28, 2018

It was second day of my tour in Istanbul and I had a short tour to Dolmabahce Palace before my flight.

It is located in Besiktas, Istanbul and known as the largest palace in Turkey. From my hotel, you have to go at the last stop in Kabatas tram station. It is opened from 9:00 AM and it gets crowded easily because even the locals are coming there too. The entrance fee was 60 lira without the harem.

Along the European coast of the Bosphorus, this palace served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman empire before.

This is the best place that I visited in Turkey. I fell in love with its landscape and European interior design of the palace especially when I saw the crystal staircase inside. I feel like I am Cinderella. Haha!

Unlike Topkapi Palace, it is not allowed to take photos inside maybe because they are maintaining the privacy of each room.

My favorite spot was the gates of the palace.

Gate of Treasury

Gate of Bosphorus

I definitely enjoyed this trip! I love my experience in Istanbul and I am thankful that I was able to go for a solo trip even for a very short time. I will go back to Turkey next time and I want to visit Cappadocia to experience hot air balloon.

Posted in asia, blue mosque, europe, galata tower, hagia sophia, istanbul, itinerary, kebab, kizilkayalar hamburger, kumpir, mosque, museum, sirin kumpir, solo, star holiday hotel, sultanahmet, sultanahmet koftecisi, topkapi palace, travel, travel diaries, travels, turkey, wet burger

Istanbul – The city between Europe and Asia (1st Day Tour)

October 26-27, 2018

I had 3-day vacation in Istanbul last October because of the free roundtrip ticket from my bank in UAE.

It was my second solo travel actually. First one was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 2014 before I work in Dubai.

I was so excited for this trip! When I received my visa, I booked for a standard room in Star Holiday Hotel within Sultanahmet area for 345 aed thru http://www.agoda.com for 2 nights.

I was so lucky because when I arrived at the hotel, they gave me a triple room! I chose this hotel because of the good reviews and it is accessible to many attractions in Istanbul and Sultanahmet tram station.

I had a nice view from my room. You’ll gonna see the beauty of Blue Mosque.

I had my breakfast in the rooftop restaurant of the hotel. Then, I went to Blue Mosque at 8:30 AM.

Some parts of it were under construction that’s why you will not gonna enjoy it that much. You should visit the mosque if it is not their prayer time to avoid the disturbance. You can check the timings from their website.

By the way, the entrance is for free!

I stayed around 15 minutes inside Blue Mosque and walked towards Hagia Sophia, it was just 3-5 minutes walk.

Hagia Sophia is such a nice attraction in Istanbul because of its interesting history. It was before an Orthodox cathedral then became a mosque, and now a museum.

It has an excellent architecture as you can see the symbolization of both Catholic and Islamic religion inside the museum.

You must visit this place directly after Blue Mosque before it gets crowded. It opens at 9:00 AM and I spent around 1 and half hour including the long queue for the tickets.

I actually bought combo ticket which has an access to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Istanbul Archeological Museum for 135 lira. It is quite expensive but you will save time because you’ll no need to go for the long queue in Topkapi Palace.

The Topkapi Palace is a large museum in Istanbul. In the 15th century, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the sultans.

The palace complex has hundreds of rooms, but only the most important areas are open for the public. The museum collection also includes Ottoman clothing, weapons, armors, religious relics and manuscripts.

This is one of the best part of Topkapi Palace for me where you can enjoy the view of Bosphorus (left side), Asian side (middle) and Sea of Marmara (right side).

After 2 and half hour of exploring Topkapi Palace, it’s time for lunch! I went to the famous Sultanahmet Koftecisi (just beside the hotel where I am staying), it’s a Turkish restaurant known for their kebab. I tried their lamb kebab for just 20 lira plus iced tea for 4 lira.

After my lunch, I went to Grand Bazaar and it’s time for shopping! From Sultanahmet tram station, you have to go down at the second stop which is Beyazit-Kapalicarsi.

You can buy and load your metro card at the small store near the Sultanahmet tram station. I bought mine at 25 lira and I was able to use it also until the following day.

Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It is always crowded and usually having more than 200,000 visitors daily.

In my opinion, it is more expensive here compared to the souvenir shops along Sultanahmet area. I bought the following so that I can bring to my friends when I go back to Dubai:

* 2 boxes of Turkish delights (Yayla Spices) – 50 lira per 1/2 kg

* 2 boxes of Turkish delights (Hazer Baba) – 30 lira per box

* 6 small boxes of Turkish delights – 30 lira

* 3 refrigerator magnets – 10 lira each

* 6 keychains – 10 lira per 3 pieces

You have to be careful while paying there because I read some blogs that sometimes there are scams. Like, when you are going to pay by card, the currency that they will punch should be in Turkish Lira and not in USD. You also have to count your money carefully when you are paying and accepting the change.

The thing that I didn’t like there was the vendors are too demanding that you should buy from them if you will inquire for the price. Well, for buyers like me, I would like to ask for the price first and compare it all before buying.

In the late afternoon, I go back to my hotel to drop the items that I bought from Grand Bazaar and I went to Galata Tower. I took the tram going to Kabatas. From Sultanahmet, it was the 4th stop which is Karakoy and it was 10 minutes walk going to Galata Tower. The queue was crazy, I waited for more than an hour to be able to get in.

Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in Karakoy. It is a cone-capped cylinder shape observatory deck that dominates the Istanbul skyline. I am not a fan of observatory decks actually but still I enjoyed this place. It costs 80 lira for the entrance.

After that, I went to Taksim Square to have my dinner. I took the underground train from Sishane to Taksim which is one stop only.

I tried the famous wet burger of Kizilkayalar Hamburger, it was a recommendation of my co-worker who’s a doctor. I ordered 2 pieces for 10 lira.

Around late night, I went to Istiklal street, it is known for shopping areas. I found the clothing store, Koton, and the price was much cheaper than Dubai. So, I took this opportunity to do shopping! I got 2 ladies’ sweaters, 1 men’s polo and 1 men’s jacket for 160 lira, equivalent to 110 aed only.

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Istiklal street is really crowded at night. I didn’t stay longer after I bought the things that I want. My last stop was to try the famous baked potato named as kumpir. I ended finding this Sirin Kumpir and Waffle.

This food is a must-try once you visited Turkey. For this dish, huge potatoes are baked in the oven, split open, and the middle part is mixed with butter, salt and cheese.

Then, it will be filled by toppings such as corn, pickles, cabbage, salad, sausage, mushroom, etc. You will be the one who will decide what to put on your potato. I just told the kitchen staff to put whichever is nice since it was my first time to try it. It costs me 20 lira on my total bill.

I actually had a hard time finding this place because it was located down the hill near Istiklal. I just trusted my Google Map but when I reached the area, I cannot find any kumpir shop. I asked some locals to lead me the way.

After trying the kumpir and because I was too tired of walking, I took a taxi thru Taxify app. It was a really nice app like Grab Taxi or Careem. So, from Sirin Kumpir, the driver dropped me to Tophane tram station and I took the tram going back to my hotel in Sultanahmet. I highly recommend Taxify app to avoid taxi scams.

This ends my first day of tour in Turkey. I can’t believe that I was able to visit many attractions alone. It was an enjoyable day because I found it easy to explore Istanbul like I know this place before.

Posted in Abra, beach, boat, burj al arab, dubai, jumeirah hotels, new dubai, souk madinat, travel, travel diaries, travels

A Glimpse of Souk Madinat Jumeirah Dubai

September 8, 2018

I met my old friend, Sherilyn, to post-celebrate our birthdays. Mine is July and hers is August. She was my friend since high school and she is working here also in Dubai. We are usually meeting each other once in a while whenever we have time.

We went around 4:00 PM in Souk Madinat Jumeirah, this place is an outdoor mall with traditional Middle Eastern style. We chose this place because it’s little far and unique from the typical city of Dubai.

We had an abra ride which costs 85 aed per head. It’s a 20-minute ride where you can see the magnificent view of Jumeirah hotels: Mina A’Salam, Al Qasr and the most famous 5-star hotel Burj Al Arab.

I love this abra ride even though it is overpriced in my opinion. Anyway, despite of expensive price, you will be able to enjoy sightseeing of the charming architecture of this place.

We had our dinner at Perry and Blackwelder’s, a cozy American restaurant in Souk Madinat. We tried their chicken wings and Nach-Yo pizza and I love it!

We had a conversation for four hours like the old times and we enjoyed this night together.

Posted in al seef, creek, dubai, dubai creek, getaway, jumeirah hotels, new dubai, old dubai, travel, travel diaries, travels, yacht, zabeel mini house

Holiday in Al Seef Dubai

August 24-25, 2018

It was a long holiday in UAE because of Eid Al Adha for muslims, it’s their Feast of Sacrifice. We were off from our work for four days so we decided to go to Al Seef Dubai.

There is a new hotel, Zabeel Mini House which has a catchy and cute interior designs as what you can see from their advertisment. We booked thru http://www.agoda.com for a cost of 222 aed for one night. This price was actually cheap compared with other hotels.

Here’s the hotel lobby. It’s cute, isn’t it?

The standard room was small but has an excellent and lively interior design.

Even the bedside table is so unique! That big red lips is not just a decor, it’s a telephone.

Dubai Creek and Al Seef Mall are just outside the hotel. I love this place because there are two parts of Al Seef. The area where our hotel was located is also known as New Dubai and the other area where you can see old buildings is the Old Dubai.

I appreciate more the Old Dubai because you will feel that you flew back to Dubai’s old time.

We had our dinner at Al Fanar Seafood Market. It’s an authentic and traditional Emirati restaurant. We ordered sea bass and Arabic rice. The fish was freshly prepared and yummy!

The following day, our breakfast from the hotel was light. There is no rice but they have a good variety of bread and we requested for pancake and omelette. Yummy!

It was a great stay in this hotel. If I will come back next time in Al Seef, I will try to book the hotel in Old Dubai, it’s also under Jumeirah group of hotels.

Posted in anantara the palm, beach, dubai, itinerary, maldives, pool, solo, sunburn, thailand, travel, travel diaries, travels, waves

Dubai’s Maldives and Thailand in One

July 26, 2018

It’s two days before my birthday and I was on vacation leave as I explained in my previous blog. I was surfing the internet and I found this Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort so I decided to book for day tour which costs 199 aed for beach and pool access. It’s a Thai-style luxurious hotel in Palm Jumeirah but for me, it’s more on a combination of Maldives and Thailand.

I didn’t avail the spa package because I just had the massage two days ago.

The weather was extremely hot so I didn’t stay that much in the beach. But of course, I love these water villas. It looks like I’m in Maldives!

In the mid-afternoon, I ordered some snacks from the pool bar and they brought it to my beach bed. There were four types of sauce for my french fries. I loved it!

The resort has two pool lagoons. In the late afternoon, I moved on the other lagoon because it’s more peaceful and less people.

This water lagoon is actually exclusive for the in-house guests but it’s not that crowded so it was open for the day tour guests. I highly recommend this resort to those who will be visiting Dubai because it was clean and the staff were nice. It’s also ideal for couples and families.

I enjoyed my visit to this resort and for sure I will come back.

Posted in beach, dubai, getaway, heavenly spa, itinerary, jacuzzi, pool, sands, sauna, solo, steam, travel, travel diaries, travels, waves, westin mina seyahi

Day Tour in Westin Mina Seyahi Dubai

July 24, 2018

It had a one week leave during my birth month and I was planning to go to Taiwan but no one was available to go with me because of their work. Even my aunt was not free. So, I decided to go somewhere in Dubai alone. I booked a day tour in Westin Mina Seyahi Dubai for resort access and 60 minutes full body massage at Heavenly Spa. It costs 310 aed for the package. It’s cheaper than other resorts in Dubai but the facilities were nice and clean.

I arrived at 2:00 PM and I had my lunch at Bussola, it’s an Italian restaurant and I loved it!

After my lunch, I went to Heavenly Spa which has the indoor jacuzzi and sauna. It’s great that no one’s there because it was weekday. I enjoyed both alone! Hahaha!

Before the sunset, I went to the beach to have some refreshment. I didn’t swim there because there was an ongoing construction on the other side.

I had fun on their lap pool and olympic pool for an hour. After swimming, I returned to the spa to have the 60 minutes full body massage. The Indonesian masseuse did the massage for me. It was relaxing!

I finished around 8:00 PM and they served hot tea and nuts after the massage. I’m glad that I discovered this place. Even though it was quite far from my place, it was worth visiting.