Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Travel Inspiration: Ayesha & The Koala Experience

What seems like a lifetime ago, I used to work in an office. Riveting, I know. Working 9 to 5, I would take my six weeks holiday every year and travel here and there – Greece for a week, Amsterdam for the weekend – a couple of times I freaked my friends out as I hopped over to Bahrain and Beirut.
But when my older sister Ayesha decided to set off on a yearlong wanderlust tour of the Far East, Australia and New Zealand – it made me think how amazing it would be to jet off to the other side of the world, breathe new air and tread new earth. I itched to shake off the dust that seemed to be ever-gathering on my shoulders as I twirled endlessly on my swivel-chair, churning out magazine feature ideas like a machine. I was running nowhere on a treadmill of a career that seemed to only build stamina to ensure I could stand it a bit longer (in other words, too many beauty freebies held me in my job).
I distinctly remember hearing my sister’s story where in Brisbane, Australia, she “cried from cuteness” as she held a furry little koala bear, and felt his squidgy soft arms on her shoulders.
Instant travel inspiration!

When I made my dream come true, and stepped off the plane in Brisbane, I had an action plan in mind with a mere two-point checklist:
1. Hold that koala like he’s never been held before.
2. Get acquainted with a couple of kangaroos.

And so I proceeded to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, in the grassy, beautifully rural suburbs of Brisbane. I caught a bus early in the morning, and sat buzzing with energy inspired by anticipation. I am going to hold an. actual. koala. bear.

On arrival, I beelined it straight to the enclosure which allows weirdos like me to get up close with the bears. Feeling like the female equivalent of David Attenborough, wishing I had my own animal TV show and imagining how ridiculous I might sound on TV, I waited in line to hold my koala.
And then the moment when the squishy little guy was plopped into my arms and my hands disappeared against his furry little bum...
Without the slightest exaggeration, this is something I recommend everyone do at least once in your life. It is a must. Yes, okay, it’s a must that lasts 10 minutes and happens to be located at the other end of the world, but for those able – DO IT. DO IT NOW!

Having completed mission one and successfully stalked one poor bear out of his eucalyptus tree, I then marched into a field full of kangaroos, armed with edibles, and ready to make the acquaintance of an unsuspecting (or rather, totally suspecting, will-take-pictures-for-food type) kangaroo.

I can only thank my amazing sister for inspiring the idea above.

Here’s the evidence that I made it to Oz!

Evidence I’m definitely not stuck in an office any more!

Evidence that free beauty products do not inspire more than real experiences.

And evidence that I love my career change.  It was the best thing I ever did.

Love from Aussie Dolly x

Monday, 6 January 2014

10 Bright Ideas For A Winter Weekend in Lyon

Airport codes are silly and confusing. Especially when you plan your working duties (i.e. sightseeing) around the wrong one. 
I was enthusiastically planning my trip to LYS.
Lisbon. Portugal? No?
Lyon. France?
So there I was in Lyon, with a loose travel guide to the city thanks to a whatsapp conversation with my sister and a timeout article screenshot on my mobile. I had less than 24 hours to explore so I got to it.
Following my surprise trip to Lyon, here are my tips to enjoying your stay in southside France… in winter. Enjoy!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year: 4 Resolutions For 2014

Okay, so I can't claim to have taken a blogging sabbatical. I have instead been busy earning a promotion over the last six months. Free time has been taken up primarily with writing reports, sleeping and eating. And occasionally I squeeze in my so-called social life. A little while ago, I was offered the permanent position of senior flight stewardess for the world's no.1 airline.  Hard work having paid off, I can now return to my first love - travelling the world, and consequently, writing about it.
With 2014 underway, the usual resolution rigmarole has hit me. Being a girl who loves a gimmick, I do like making resolutions. It goes in with my other indulgences, such as stationery, writing lists and packing. Don't judge.

So here are my resolutions.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Ramadan in Dubai – Where To Break Your Fast!

Ramadan in Dubai is a beautiful month. Perhaps not for those who can’t suffer the place without its nightclubs and sparkler-topped giant champagne bottles, but for those who wish to enjoy the meaning of a month-long detox and deepen their spiritual relationship with God, this is, by all accounts, the best month of the year to do so.

From sunrise to sunset, food, drink, cigarettes and shishas are stashed away, hidden and forbidden.
But come Maghrib, the sunset prayer, the daylong restraints are abandoned and Iftar comes as a spread of dishes, delicacies and intricately prepared salads, meats, and finger foods… That is if you’re fortunate enough to be invited to Iftar at an Arabic family home. If not, despair not, there are plenty of amazing brunch-like buffets to attend to your face-stuffing fancies.  Here are my pick of the best Iftar meals (in Dubai)…

Thursday, 21 February 2013

World Catwalk: Destination Sao Paulo, Brasil

It was my first time in Sao Paulo, first time in Brasil and first time in South America altogether, so last week I was supremely excited to get myself out of bed, and into a brand new city to explore.
As with most first-time destinations, my ideas of Brasil were clouded with stereotypes. From music videos, magazines and the like, you get the idea that the girls are going to be beautiful, and the people are going to be dancing on the street wearing green, yellow and blue. From newspapers and movies, you imagine that on every turn your life will transform into a Denzel Washington ‘Man on Fire’-style kidnap thriller. 
In an interview regarding Sao Paulo, artist Tracey Emin recently said of the city’s crime-rate issues, “you can’t wear a f*&king watch”. And I’d have to agree. I mean, I literally had to scope the place out every time I wanted to whip out my camera for a quick shot. I deliberately dressed down and my mobile phone stayed out of sight for the entire trip having been pre-warned of venturing alone by hotel staff, crew, locals… so, pretty much everyone then.
The constant apprehension of one’s own safety somewhat tarnishes what is an otherwise pleasant place with people who seem to hold no airs and graces, and who are refreshingly down-to-earth compared to Dubai.
Getting into town involved a train/metro connection and then I was slap-bang in the middle of Republica (pronounced Hepublica, apparently). I found myself mixing with market shoppers, rasta-style Marley fans and tons of post-high-school types discovering themselves with the help of too much sun and Cachaça.

Whilst doing what sightseeing I could, I tried to soak up some of the atmosphere and style of the city, without looking like a complete tourist. The half Lebanese-half Scottish mix helps but my hilarious attempts at Portuguese might have betrayed my true identity – “tudo bem!”

The somehow continental feel of the streets was splashed with sticky sun and old/new architecture combines the city’s history alongside its recent developments. A Miami-like palm-lined approach leads to the Sao Paulo Cathedral Sé Metropolitana. It stands majestically in front of a square filled with a cocktail of cultures and calamities; beggars, Brasilians and tourists alike flock to say their prayers.
I scanned said square, hoping to find some blogworthy street style a la Sao Paulo, but I found myself struggling somewhat. There was way too much lycra, lots of 90s throwback tributees and too-tight t-shirts were pressing their way around too many tanned Paulistas. Colour was everywhere, but not in that cool I'm-a-hot-blooded-Latino way I was hoping for. It was more of a brightest-thing-in-my-wardrobe-caught-my-eye-this-morning look.
Despite my slight disappointment, I kept a lookout for any surprises that might just be waiting to feature in The Trolley Dolly’s World Catwalk… and then I bumped into Sabrina with her lovely friend Rodrigo (pronounced Hodrigo) and with the help of Rodrigo’s translation, I got to know that there definitely is some street style in Sao Paulo, but of course I was in the wrong area for it. Oh well, there’s always next time.

Sabrina’s outfit caught my eye with its accessorised simplicity. In contrast with the world’s recent fashion weeks, I love her ready-to-wear realness – printed tee tucked into a belted maxi skirt. It’s a look I really should work harder to pull off as it’s perfect for Dubai. Add to that bright red nails, lots of eyeliner and quirky accessories. Don’t you just love it? I do.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Afternoon Tea in The Burj…

When Mum comes to visit, I like to show her Dubai at its best. When you live in a place, all too often the shine fades and every once in a while, when a visitor presents the opportunity, it’s nice to put on those rose-tinted oversize glasses. To return to the glamour that first sparked a love affair with the place when I arrived. And to whole-heartedly embrace the frivolity and over-indulgent luxury that is one of the world’s newest super-cities.

I can think of no better way of doing so than treating Mum to a glorious seven course afternoon tea, in the world's most famous seven star hotel. The Burj Al Arab.

Seven star hotel, seven course afternoon tea… I suppose it makes sense. But in reality, I found my eyes were (as ever) bigger than my stomach.
Never fear, I won’t bore you with mind-numbing details of all seven courses in a food-envy-inducing frenzy, but I will tell you why this really was an afternoon to remember.
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