You can find part 1 here.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
I’ve travelled to Dubai many times but never to it’s exotic neighbour. My Abu Dhabi story started out badly after I was placed in the hostel from hell. I didn’t feel safe and it was extremely dirty. I moved to a nice hotel for my remaining two nights. Abu Dhabi is charming but lacks the diversity of Dubai. I loved walking through the streets with the locals at night though and took local buses to see the sights such as the Emirates palace. It was 50 degrees one day and stupidly I decided to go for a walk to the beach. At first I was surprised to see no-one walking about but then I realised why, beacsue they weren’t insane like me. Luckily I survived to tell the tale after hailing a local taxi.
The Sheikh Zayed mosque was my main reason for visiting Abu Dhabi. I wore my best Arabian style makeup to try and take some interesting photos but it kept slipping off in the intense heat. I went on the free guided tour and it was definitely worth it. The Mosque felt so calm and serine. I really didn’t want to leave. It was magnetic.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
For my third visit to the Emirate I saw a different side of Dubai. I visited my friend from Windsor, (who I met in New Zealand, friendships get complicated when you are a traveller!) in her luxury hotel on Jumeirah beach. It was nice to catch up in such an exotic location and enjoy poolside smoothies and waiters serving ice cold towels hourly. After luxury I travelled up to Deirah where I stayed in an apartment near the gold souk. I didn’t feel safe but I felt uneasy with the large groups of men that would gather on the streets. For my remaining time in Dubai I saw all of my favourite sites again, ate at my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Bur Dubai and managed to catch the fountain shows at the Burj Khalifa.
Moscow, The Russian Federation.
I was on the move once again and accepted a job offer in Moscow to teach in a kindergarten. I arrived in Moscow when it was extremely hot and I was pleasantly surprised by the city that I continue to love. I spent the week before I started work wandering aimlessly around the gargantuan city, getting lost on the metro and drinking in a beer garden near the red square.
Saint Petersburg, The Russian Federation.
I had a well deserved week off work so decided to spend it exploring the so called ‘Venice of the North’, Saint Petersburg. I also had my first encounter with Russian trains when I rode the Sapsan to Saint Petersburg. I was surprised how luxurious and efficient it was, it was like being on a plane.
Although it wasn’t even winter Saint Petersburg was freezing. I bought a fur hat from a street vendor because I felt like my ears were going to drop off. I attended the free walking tour on my first day to orient myself. I was amazed by how beautiful Saint Petersburg is, it felt completely different to Moscow in so many ways. I would like to revisit in the summer during the ‘white nights’ when it barely gets dark.
I spent most of my days wandering around the city and eating amazing Russian and international food. Saint Petersburg is a lot cheaper than Moscow so I was able to splurge without going over-budget. I spent a day in the Hermitage and another day in the art gallery opposite. I’ve never seen so many works of Renoir, one of my favourite artists in one place.
My year ended with a not so exotic trip to Nottingham to catch up with friends that I met in New Zealand. We chose Nottingham as a base because of it’s location in the Midlands. Nottingham turned out to be a charming city and we enjoyed visiting a cat cafe, the castle, and even enjoyed a pint in the oldest pub in England, (probably in the world!).
How was your 2016? My life seems to change so much every year of my life. I never thought I would find love in Japan and I never planned to move to Russia, it just happened. I wonder what 2017 will look like for me?
I really want to visit more new and exotic countries, I miss the thrill of visiting somewhere new and forming an opinion on it. I want to visit North Korea in the summer but I’m putting m travel plans on hold until I know more about the volatile situation there.