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Hiking the UAE

As the temperature dips and landscapes get a bit greener (and I see just how much weight I’ve gained over the holidays), I often find myself hunting for nice day hikes around the UAE and Oman at the start of a new year. So far this year, I’ve taken on two. In previous years, I’d head out to a location, drive around for a bit, maybe kinda-sorta find the hiking location but all too often, it would end up cut short due to lack of proper direction or simply reaching a dead end. Now that I have a Garmin GPS device (frustrating though it may be to set up) from when we trekked Turkey last year, it’s helped immensely in actually being able to locate and follow certain walks.

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interesting little stone structures on the mountainside at Wadi Shah – for shepherds?

First, we headed to Wadi Shah in Ras Al Khaimah (near Jebel Al Jais) for a walk through and then up and out of a wadi to a mountainside. (Details and GPS coordinates can be found here.) Continue reading

Confluence of cool

I recently had the pleasure of doing a little representing for my home town of Pittsburgh, PA, in the current issue of Conde Nast Traveller Middle East. I was so pleased to be able to write a story about it, and though it’s not much, I definitely wanted to share it.

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And, earlier this month, I had the even greater pleasure (sorry, Pittsburgh) of spending some time in Chalet Husky in the French Alpine ski resort of Val d’Isere. Continue reading

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Weekend trip: Banyan Tree Al Wadi

If you’re a resident of the UAE and you find yourself thinking, “I could really go for even. more. sand. this weekend”, the Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah is a pretty ideal choice. Nestled within a desert nature reserve, the pristine rolling dunes are home to both native wildlife – Arabian oryx (saw them), desert foxes (didn’t see; but did see at RAK Banyan Tree’s beach location last year), snakes (only saw tracks), gazelles (saw them) – and some pretty plush pads.

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We stayed in an Al Khaimah Tented Pool Villa. Inspired by Bedouin tents, it really makes you think: if Bedouins were living like this, why in the world would you ever want to build a city? The villa was split into two equally-sized wings, one of which was just the bathroom. Nothing else. Just the bathroom. It was like something out of MTV Cribs (does anyone even remember that show?). In short, it was decadent.  Continue reading

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Antalya & more ancient stuff

After trotting along the Lycian Way (despite the fact we didn’t fully trek it as we had intended to), I thought I deserved to indulge myself a little, so booked one of Antalya’s best boutique hotels. Located in the old town (Kaleici), I was pretty excited to check in at the Alp Pasa Hotel.

The good: The hotel, made of renovated 18th-century mansions in Ottoman-style, is truly stunning. It’s beautifully decorated, feeling historic but with all the modern comforts, and I get the impression that each room is individually styled. Mine (the Attila room, if I remember correctly – all rooms are named, not numbered) was on a top floor with a nice balcony looking over old town’s rooftops towards the Taurus Mountains. The bed was cushy, the bathroom with a Jacuzzi a total luxury (especially after 1.5 weeks of pansiyon bathrooms) I loved the draped chaise longue and the industrial-esque lighting was a great touch against the rustic wooden ceilings. The pool area and al fresco seating on the street was lovely, but the pool was very small, and the loungers filled up quickly each morning, so if you just want to sit in a pool all day, this may not be the place for you. Aesthetically, I could find no fault with Alp Pasa – it is really gorgeous.

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the seating area in my room

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