Abu Dhabi

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Your PERFECT Dubai Vacation Itinerary!

Dubai! Dubai! Dubai!

 The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

One of the questions I get asked these days is recommendations of what to do while visiting Dubai.

Shortly after – I realized I never made a useful list of what to do when you decide to vacation in Dubai, which is really stupid considering I lived there for a year and a half.  The very LEAST I can do is help recommend what to do!

Just a heads up – Dubai is kind of spread out.  Dubai Marina is on one end, Downtown Dubai is on the other, and The Grand Mosque is in the nearby capital – Abu Dhabi

It’s VERY useful to plan your days accordingly.

1. Desert Safari –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

This is A MUST DO.  One of the more obvious MUST – DO’s, but I wanted to confirm it’s worth it & you won’t be disappointed. There are tons of companies that offer the Safari trip & both the ones I went on worked out well –  plenty of other tourists, affordable, they serve alcohol & you get the entire desert experience.  The whole trip usually takes half of your day, so plan an entire afternoon here. { This company is pretty popular.}

+ Extras:  Rent Quad Bike /  Upgrade your ride / Stay overnight

2. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is about 40 minutes away from Dubai Marina, but I consider it totally worth the drive. Rent a car for the day and take it out to the Mosque.  I can’t imagine traveling all the way to the Middle East, landing in Dubai for a couple days, and not taking the time to see this masterpiece. It’s indescribably grand & gorgeous. Absolutely something I would recommend.

This grand Mosque is one of many architectural reasons you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a GoPro before you go to Dubai. No excuses.

+ Extras:  Visit nearby Ferrari WorldYas Waterworld

3. Dubai Souk –


I’m recommending the Souk because it’s in the old part of Dubai & is more traditional looking than the rest of the city.  Having that perspective is always important. If you’re good at bartering you can get some great deals on Dubai souvenirs, scarves, spices, decorations, ect.

They really have it all, just be ready to barter.

+ Extra: Dubai Creek Cruise

4. Renting A Yacht –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Alright. This is my number 1 recommendation, hands down.   Worth every penny spent and an absolute must if you visit Dubai.

If you’re visiting with a group, this is perfect & shockingly affordable.  If you’re visiting alone or in a small group, at the very least go check out the options at a place that rents boats and see if there’s an option you can afford. (Check GroupOn! That’s how we ended up reserving ours).  You’d be surprised how affordable taking a Yacht out is in comparison to many other Dubai activities.

You can usually spend most of your day out on the boat and it offers the most spectacular views! An overall great time.  Pack food, drinks, music, swim suits, and you’ll have a fantastic time, I promise this is a MUST!

+ Extras: Drinks & Food at Pier 7 / Dubai Marina Mall

5. Dubai Mall –

 The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Shopping in Dubai is insane. Period.  And The Dubai Mall is where it’s at.  For obvious reasons, this is one of my recommendations.  You can really spend a lot of time and a lot of money in The Dubai Mall.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

PS. As far as eating in Dubai Mall.. Go to Texas Roadhouse. LOL! Unfortunately, I didn’t like many restaurants in Dubai Mall.  If possible, go outside and eat at the Souk Al Bahar next door. There’s some yummy options over there, shout out to Bakers & Spice!

Extras: Aquarium in Dubai Mall / Ice Skating Rink in Dubai Mall

6. Emirates Mall / Ski Dubai –

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Ski Dubai.. BUT, I know a lot of people can’t wrap their heads around the idea of a ski slope in the middle of the desert.  If that’s you, then here you go!  Emirates Mall will give you what you’re looking for.

I would recommend scheduling this a day or two early as the different packages fill up.  If you don’t want to go skiing, there’s always excellent shopping throughout the Emirates Mall. Either way, great spot to stop.


Extras: Gold & Diamond Souk

7. Burj Khalifa + Fountain –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and it’s such a wonder to gaze at.  Like I’ve said in previous posts, there was not a day I would see this mountain of a building and not be in awe.  You can take pictures from the bottom of the building, gaze from Dubai Mall, or walk around outside near the Fountain.

The fountain is gorgeous.  You can go every single night and not get bored.  If you’ve seen the fountain in Vegas –> this one will blow it away.  Breathtaking.

Extras: At The Top

8. Dubai Marina Beach –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

I decided to pick one beach for this list, and I’m going for Dubai Marina Beach.  There’s a new outdoor shopping mall, The Beach, that’s worthy of some time..

Plus the view from the beach of the sky rise buildings is pretty breathtaking. Also, there’s a lot of tourists, so you can feel pretty comfortable in your bathing suit 😉

Extras: Bike around the Marina

9. Burj Al Arab – 

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

I discovered this location late in my Dubai days and I remember regretting not taking visitors here.  The walk out to this restaurant offers PERFECT views of Burj Al Arab, which is an important landmark to see. As you walk out to the venue you can take your time gazing at the beautiful Burj Al Arab & luxurious Yachts that pull in.

Extras: Souk Madinat Jumeirah for souvenirs / Wild Wadi Water Park / Jumeirah Beach Hotel Day Pass

10. Dubai Atlantis –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Atlantis is a fun day activity. I recommend going to their waterpark – Aquaventure.  I really loved the architecture of the rides, the variety, and the beach it offered. {LOL the architecture, I hate rides! So I focus on other aspects of the waterpark.}  I had a great time and so did my ride loving friends. You can definitely spend a day, or even longer if you choose!

Extras: Spend a night at Atlantis /  Eat at one of the many restaurants

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

***Bonus: Sky Diving – I get scared even typing this as I have a very terrible fear of heights, BUT if there was ever a location I would love to jump out of a plane it would be over the Palm Jumeirah.

Guys, the photos and views are insane! First time in my life I was jealous of people acting so dumb.  PLAN AHEAD too! I think there’s a couple months waiting list to reserve, but if you do it right, this would be an incredible thing to mark off your bucket list.

 The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Ok guys, that’s what I would recommend to do while you’re in Dubai. I spent a lot of time there and can say with full confidence these are the things I would spend my time + money on if I brought someone to visit.

Next week I’ll share some outfit options for the ladies. That’s the second question I always get asked, what should I wear, and what am I allowed to wear. Don’t worry, I’ll cover that next week!

Anyone planning a trip to the Middle East? If so, I hope it’s not in the summer! LOL!

Let me know if you want any other Dubai posts covered… Sometimes I overlook obvious questions about the Middle East and forget to talk about things people want to know, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Talk soon!



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“Women are treated so bad over there”

I was mentally “there” and ready to come back to blogging. With a clear, positive mind. Time to rock and roll!

The day after I wrote my “Back” post I had an interview that threw me down the swirling toilet of negativity.


The Story:

I walked into an interview at a very prestigious company. Probably the most reputable company I’ve interviewed with. Ever.

Office was amazing. Walls with full glass windows on a high floor building. Not a speck of dust in sight. Business. Money. Boom.

I filled out a 3 page, formal application and shortly afterwords a cute blonde girl walked in to start the interview. She asked me your typical interview questions and then said her supervisor would be coming in to ask some questions as well.

Her supervisor entered with a strong presence. You know how some people walk in a room and you can feel their intense voice when they aren’t talking? They’re going to speak loud. And if you’re me, you prepare to do the same.

That was this woman. She screamed with her body.

I’m a woman power type of person. I appreciate a woman who comes in guns blazing. Ready to talk business. Get rough. So I was ready.

A long time ago I would have pooped my pants. But these days, I get excited.

Let’s do this.

She sat down and skimmed through my resume. Asking about me, to the other blonde girl. As if I’m not in the room. (Intimidation tactics, love it).

Then she said in a very unemotional, matter of fact way : “You went to Dubai.”

Trying to sound neutral: “Yes, I did. For a year and a half.”

“I’m surprised you picked Dubai considering how women are treated over there.”

This is where things went south. Toilet –> flush.

She went on and on and on telling me how women are treated in Dubai. They have to cover themselves <– was her main point of concern. I felt like what she said translated to:  “How stupid can you be, you dumb girl, to go to a country that treats women so terribly?! You must have not done your research”

PS. No, she’s never been to Dubai or to any country in the Middle East. (But she must have done her research?!)

My response after about 15 minutes of this was:

“(Pause). Some women do chose to wear an abaya, so in that way it’s not bad”

This threw her overboard. Wrong answer Katie. Wrong gosh darn answer.

She followed by saying that turning a blind eye to these poor women puts me in the same category as abusers (I guess). She proceeded to make some relation to slavery, uneducated people, and a whole bunch of other gibberish facts that in my opinion have nothing to do with the clothing choice of middle eastern women.


This is where I started questioning life.  While she was rambling I went through a full circle of emotions.

  • Dumb bitch dont know nothin
  • Was going to Dubai a mistake, did it ruin my life?!
  • Don’t say anything, don’t say anything, don’t say anything
  • There’s a million problems over there, but an abaya aint one.
  • Is this happening? Is she for real?

Well it was.

The problem is, my interview BEFORE this one went the same way. Women in the Middle East was the first topic covered. Why? I don’t know.

What happened in that interview? I blacked out. I was pissed off.

I blacked out while locking eyes with the man and then proceeded to correct his facts and educate him on the realty of my experience.

The rest of that interview was extremely awkward.

So my family and friends decided it was best if I don’t say anything when/if that happens again. Which is what I did.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Because not saying anything doesn’t feel like a solution either.

In no way will I ever say I regret going to Dubai. Because I don’t. After hearing this woman speak I’m actually really grateful that I went. That I will never sound like her.

I left feeling bad that there’s still Americans out there that are so judgmental.

I left wanting to take her to coffee, in a non interview setting, and discuss really loud and passionately all the good and bad of the Middle East. Maybe even wrestle or punch each other – if necessary.

Because let’s be honest. The Middle East isn’t my favorite place. I have enough negative things to say that I don’t need to make assumptions about problems that I didn’t see.  But I sure as hell hate when people disrespect ANYTHING in an uneducated, inaccurate way.

You want to talk bad about the region, I’m ready. But let’s do it in the right setting, where we can get loud, and be honest.

You want to talk great about the region, I’m ready. I would love to hear the stories and remember those parts too.


And my final note…

Why do American’s care SO much about women in the Middle East wearing an Abaya?

Think about it like this—>

Women in Dubai: They wear a black Abaya (maxi dress), with long sleeves, every day as their formal wear. To work or in public, or to a funeral or maybe a business meeting. It’s their formal dress.

Men in America: They wear a suit and tie to work every day. Long sleeves, sometimes with a jacket, in 100 degree weather, often including a tie around their neck that nearly chokes them at any given moment. It’s their formal dress.

Do all women in Dubai apply to the above statement? No. Do all men in America apply to the above statement? No.

But neither is weird.  Both are formal. Both are professional. If we make fun of men in suits and say they’re treated so terribly because of that God forsaken tie that nearly chokes them to their death, will we sound weird?

I know that’s a dramatic comparison.  I’m trying to somehow show that focusing on the clothing choice of women in Dubai is not that big of a deal. There’s so much more to talk about. Promise 🙂


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Yas Waterwold in Abu Dhabi

I HATE rollar coasters, water slides, and anything with heights. For many reasons -> the long lines, the risk of death, I don’t understand why people voluntarily enjoy fear. I mean just No.. No, No.


Wafiq and I won tickets to Yas Waterworld so we had to use them while we still could.  We had an agreement prior to going that I will not do any rides with him, but I’ll be at the bottom holding everything and taking photos. Yay.


I have to tell this story because I’m THAT ridiculous.  We arrived at the water park early, before too many people showed up and the long lines started. As soon as we put all our stuff away I told Wafiq to run and do the water slides right away – before the lines get long later in the afternoon. He agreed, so he took his GoPro to the slides. He walked up the stairs of the first slide we saw and I went to wait at the end.

As I was waiting, where people were finishing the slide, I noticed it looked like everyone just saw the face of God.  They died and came back to life. Hmmmm, then I tried to see what kind of slide this was. “The Jaw Drop”.   From what I heard, you stand in an incubator type thing and the bottom falls out from under you. And you drop. Far.

I panicked. He doesn’t know this is what he’s getting into! The hardest slide of the entire park! I tried to get his attention in line but I couldn’t find him. I saw a girl going down get stuck in the slide halfway and they had to come get her out and all I could think is that’s going to be Wafiq and it’s my fault because I made him go on the first slide we saw!

I finally caught Wafiq’s attention, he could see me. So I motioned large enough for the whole park to see that he’s about to go STRAIGHT DOWN. It’s a DROP! He seemed to get the message, but he didn’t get out of line. He either doesn’t know what I’m motioning or he’s trying to be brave and complete the mission.

I started to cry a little. I imagined myself and the drop and my panic and death and so many other things that must be racing through Wafiq’s mind. The fear is real!

Then.. about 5 minutes later, Wafiq came out of the slide laughing, excited, and pumped up ready for more.

Well this is awkward. Get over it Katie. Biggest bore of life award goes to me!

Here’s a video we managed to kind of put together. A little sloppy but better than nothing!

Also, side note. I’ve gone to both the water park at Atlantis and Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi.. I highly recommend the Atlantis one.  The rides are really similar at both but the set up in Atlantis is really cool, and I think there’s actually more rides there too. Just in case anyone was wondering 🙂

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A Small World

Another note by Juliana…


The world all of a sudden seems so small to me. I met a group of friends in Austin through Katie from a place called Bahrain that seemed so far away… then this past weekend we were actually there. It’s so much like Austin but all of sudden we were the foreigners and they were the locals. It just happened to be F1 weekend and we had a blast! After graduation everyone left Austin and it was so amazing to see everyone back in their own hometown.

Even on this small island of Bahrain they announce prayer time and people are not afraid to leave a room to take a minute to pray. I have felt so proud to be from the United States and love our American dream motto, but I realized there is a small portion of this middle eastern culture that I am jealous of. I am jealous that here people can openly pray and every tourist that steps onto this land knows the religion and culture they are willingly walking into. I wish that Americans could stand behind their religion the same way. I would be an even more proud American and even more ecstatic as an American Christian if our country wasn’t so willing to back down from a fight when some one challenges our rituals or mottos due to their own religious beliefs. I still stand beside the idea of an open mind and friendly smile to a foreigner in our country but some things have been a part of America since its very beginning and we should welcome new comers but not at the risk of losing sight of what our country stands on. Today Katie and I went to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and I couldn’t help but feel envious of such a beautiful creation that people are so proud of, and for good reason. This place is flourishing with artistic detail from floor to ceiling.



I imagined what it would be like on a religious day filling over with people pouring in for gender segregated ablutions and prayer. What an amazing and spiritual experience it would be no matter what your religion is. Then as beautiful and inspiring as it was I tried to imagine a Christian walking in and complaining because there are no crosses or that the multiple prayers are heard from the road. I think the government and leaders here would laugh in their face and I can’t blame them. I know The United Arab Emirates does not label themselves as a cultural melting pot as we do in America but it would just be nice to be as proud and public of our founding religion as they are here.


Take off your shoes before you enter...

Take off your shoes before you enter…







BY: Juliana Garcia




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Abu Dhabi + Katie = :)

I hit the road to Abu Dhabi today… But before I get started:

I’m 100% certain everyone reading this is super educated about the states and countries in the Middle East, BUT in the rare case that you need help mapping Katie in the world I felt it was time… to include a map.  There are 6 states in the United Arab Emeriates (UAE).  Abu Dhabi is one, Dubai is another one… Notice Bahrain over in the corner, I was there too awhile ago.


And in case you need serious help…

It's ok...

It’s ok…

Now that that’s settled. Lets get back to what I was saying. Abu Dhabi.. I have been wanting to go for two reasons.

1. The show Amazing Race went to Abu Dhabi this last season

2. Rihanna went to Abu Dhabi recently (I saw on her Instagram)

So it was time I made an appearance. Abu Dhabi… Here we come!

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We came in starving!! So on the way I looked up “good places to eat in Abu Dhabi”, and my homeboy Google recommended a few which were located in a shopping center called The Galleria.

Perfect. This will be like America. Houston perhaps?  We get to the shopping center.. and lets just say… I don’t think Abu Dhabi has such a thing as a middle class. From the looks of it, probably not even a middle-upper class. This shopping center had the most elite stores ramped up on a couple rounds of steriods. OMG. Every single person was dressed in a suite and tie nicer than I’ve ever seen in my life. Imagine this: The nicest/fanciest store in The Domain, or even the Mall Of America from the States. Now x that image in your head by 12 and you have = The cheapest store in The Galleria, Abu Dhabi. Wow.

But fake it till you make it right?  Luckily we found a super delicious, natural food restaurant with a fantastic view that had normal prices…

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After the delicious food and some store watching, we drove through Abu Dhabi. It’s a pretty neat place, not nearly growing as TALL as Dubai, but then again which other place in the world really is growing as tall is Dubai.

On the way back to Dubai we stopped at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  I can’t get over it. AMAZING. I’m sure there’s other really gorgeous and breathtaking architectural places in the world, but this was probably the most magnificent thing I’ve seen with my own eyes.

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Like everything here.. It’s BIG.  But also so beautiful and special feeling. The soft white colors with the golds and super sparkly chandeliers are just breathtaking. Really.

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I mean there’s no words, or at least I can’t think of the right ones to use in describing it. It’s SO fancy and posh, yet so inviting and comforting.  It’s largeness is intimidating but the quietness makes it calming.  If that makes any sense.  You must see it for yourself. Now if you want to see it… there’s a few rules 😉 😉


They can borrow you the proper clothes for women to wear before you enter so I was able to go in (Abaya and/or Burka I think they’re called, don’t kill me if I’m wrong with that)…  If we’re being honest here, after getting used to the outfit change  I must admit I was feeling pretty cool.

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I don’t think I was the only one feeling cool…

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Now I’m the worst person ever to talk about this Grand Mosque because I didn’t do a tour or anything to actually learn all about it.. We got there too late for one. But I’ll most definitely be back to learn more and be more confident and smart in explaining everything. I want to learn about it.  For example, I think this wall is symbolic in the sense that it has all the different names for God..

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Ok. I never claimed to be an educational blog.  But I promise I’ll work in educating myself and get back to you.

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This time I was so speechless and amazed at what I was looking at, that was enough to soak in one time around.

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After all, I live so close now, there’s no excuse not to come back and take another look at this masterpiece.  And if you ever visit the area, I highly recommend it 🙂

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And really?? This is me taking a million + 1 photos with my i-phone. This gem of a place deserves so much more than photo’s with an i-phone. It’s places like this that reminds you camera phones just aren’t enough… For 2014, I’ll invest in a real deal camera 🙂

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Ummmm, I could go on forever with pictures…

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I’ll leave you with this one… as we drove away

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