#TravelDiary: 2015 On a high in Dubai

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Call me weird, but I seem to believe that odd years have been the most fruitful for me oppose to even years. Since I entered the world in 1991, your girl has thrived in every odd year since lol. Aunty Lorna (my mum) says that it is down to the seasons of life but I just believe it is down to the year. To have a better understanding of my trip to Dubai, I need to give you insight into where I was in my life during that time.

It was the year 2015 and my mindset was so focused on experiencing a turnaround. After a turbulent end to 2014, I was keen to see things do a swift 360 and they did. I landed my first graduate job as a Research Assistant at Kings College London University. Following a sudden illness, I made some lifestyle changes that resulted in me overcoming some major health challenges. Blessings were flowing and everyone was receiving something. I played in the Notting Hill carnival that year and I was so high on life. Things were finally looking up after being upside down for so long.  So a trip to Dubai at the end of the summer (September 2015) was literally the cherry on top of all the goodness that I was experiencing.

I had been fascinated with Dubai for many years and I always wanted to go. I am not sure why, but Dubai was the place on everybody’s lips. If you had been to Dubai, you were saying a lot. When I uploaded my first batch of Dubai pics, I was sure to drop my location and let everybody know that your girl was in town. However, going to Dubai for me was much more than just showing off on the socials with bigger than life captions.

A year before my trip to Dubai, I was in a place of turmoil. I was drowning in Postgraduate depression, something that is so common but sadly not spoken about enough. In addition to this I recovering from an unexpected illness and questioning whether God was real or fake. Now those are just some of the things that I was going through that I am now willing to open up and talk about. To the outsiders looking in, me flying to Dubai and posting all over the gram, I just looked like an over the top show off.  However, that was far from the case. If you have ever been through a storm in life and you make it out on the other side, alive, you just shine differently.

My trip to Dubai will always remind me of how God miraculously made a way for me. I don’t know how but he did it. My Dubai trip felt like a gift that I received after passing all of those obstacles and challenges. Have you ever had so many doors close in your face, that when the right door finally opens it makes sense why the others didn’t? Yeah, that’s just how I feel about that whole experience.

Dubai was so long ago, so with what I can remember I broke my trip down in different categories, enjoy.

The Hotel

I stayed in the 5-star hotel chain the Sofitelon Jumeirah beach on a half board basis. One thing I didn’t know prior to checking in was the 20 dirham a day tourist tax. I was young in the travel game back then, so things like that didn’t even cross my mind to check before travelling. If you plan to visit Dubai, spend some time doing some travel planning and research, visitdubai.com is a great place to start, so do check it out.

The Sofitel did not disappoint, as you know I am such a sucker for a luxurious, nice, clean hotel with all of the trimmings and it served me just that. The location of my hotel was so ideal and I couldn’t have been happier. It had absolutely everything within walking distance. I would highly recommend staying by Jumeirah Beach as it closely connected to most things.

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The food

I ate a lot of junk food in Dubai, it wasn’t intentional but fast food was very convenient. On my first night, I had KFC and it was nothing to write home about because we all know that Jamaica has the best KFC in the world. People have told me that Trinidad KFC could give Jamaica a run for its money, but I am yet to try it, so Jamaica still stands at number one, lol.

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Panda Express was my go-to for lunch because the food was tasty and cheap lol. Chinese food is always a good idea and I rinsed this place out on a daily basis. However, for me, The Cheesecake Factory was hands down the best food that I had in Dubai on my trip. From the main meals right down to the desserts, The Cheesecake Factory was truly about that life. Please, please please it is not possible to visit Dubai without giving this place a try.

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The Mall

The Dubai mall felt like an adventure playground, with lots to see and even much more to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any major shopping. I was more focused on booking activities and making sure that I had money to eat and pay my share for taxi trips. I loved the mall, but I was super conscious about what I wore and how I conducted myself. I was not interested in getting arrested abroad for my family to be making sad appeals on Good morning Britain. I was on my best behaviour because I really didn’t want any problems. I am not sure how much things have changed now, but whenever I go away I make it my duty to adhere to the customs of that particular culture.

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The Transport

Dubai is not an easy place to travel around like London. It is filled with too many highways and one way systems that make short journeys 10 x longer. The taxi system was a bump back then. I disliked using the taxis because most drivers were rude and obnoxious. Especially to us Black women. It was just a complete nightmare. Hopefully, they now have Uber, but I wouldn’t even trust that either. The trains ran a much better service. It was efficient, clean and very easy to use. Although men, women and children were required to go into separate carriages or be at risk of getting a fine. I always recommend for travellers to use the local transport systems, as it allows you to get a real feel of the country that you are visiting.

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The Nightlife 

The Nightlife in Dubai was pretty decent. Most of the clubs were situated in fancy hotels. Everything was plush, boujee and proper, just how I like it. Raving in Dubai never gave me that trashy feeling, everything felt expensive, lol. The clubs were strict, Ladies don’t think you can take your heels off and leave them in one corner, security will put you in check.

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I found that there were more men than women in the clubs, but I kind of expected that. Men of all ages who made sure their money did all the talking, without any introductions. I received a few offers in Dubai, all of which I nicely declined. I didn’t fancy being pumped out for a few labels as it has never really been my thing, lol. The only downside to the Dubai nightlife is that ravers were allowed to smoke in the clubs. It was the worst thing ever, we had to wash our bundles daily just to get rid of the stench. YUCK.

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My best clubbing experience in Dubai was at Cirque Le Soir. A boujee, circus theme nightclub, filled with burlesque dancers, fire eaters, an indoor funfair and multiple DJs. I had never experienced anything like it prior, but I would definitely recommend it if you want an unusual raving experience. The Dubai nightlife was pure fun, I even unexpectedly bumped into my sis @Mybreakingviews. We both went to secondary school together and it is amazing to now see where God is taking us on this Travel & Lifestyle blogging journey. Check out my sis, she has some great content out and even much more to come.

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How did I forget to mention that I had a dance-clash with one of the local dancer girls at one Dancehall/Reggae party? I couldn’t believe she actually challenged me, lol the poor thing didn’t stand a chance. I wiped the floor with her but I felt so bad after so we ended up hugging it out. If you have ever seen the film Dancehall queen you will know exactly what I am talking about. If not, click here lol

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The Activities

I did the Dubai Bus tour and I hated it. I felt like we wasted a day driving around getting fried in the sun. It is a great way to learn about the history of Dubai and do some sightseeing, but it just wasn’t for me.

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One activity I did enjoy was the Desert safari  it was so sick and I am pissed that I lost most of my Dubai footage. The Desert safari package was definitely worth it, I did so many activities in one go. I got a chance to ride a camel again, see belly dancers, try on a burka and hijab and have dinner in the middle of the Desert. This activity comes highly recommended as it was great value for money, which I would like to experience do again.

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I am not sure if I had mentioned this before, but I do not know how to swim. The time that I have been worried about being 26 & never been on a Bae-cation… I need to learn how to swim, lol. I will eventually, but whilst I was in Dubai your girl was clueless about swimming. It didn’t stop me from going on the Jet skis though. Sometimes you have to feel the fear and do it anyway and I did just that.

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On my last night in town, I went to visit The Burj Khalifa and it was nothing short of amazing. How can you visit Dubai and not go to see one of the world’s largest skyscrapers? Once I got to the top, I watched a lovely firework display and it truly was a sight to remember. What a good way to end such an amazing trip. I felt so proud that I was able to take myself to Dubai and be able to see such a major landmark. Below is my favourite picture from this trip, I was sitting inside of the Burj Khalifa admiring the view. I uploaded this on Instagram with a caption saying “Hello Burj Khalifa, I am just a little black girl coming from Myatt’s field estate, now as a Young Woman, I am exploring different parts of the world”.

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One thing for sure, I have stayed true to that statement and I won’t stop travelling. I pray that God will spare my life to allow me to go out into the world and see much more of it.

DUBAI is an amazing place and if you haven’t already book a trip and get out there ASAP.  I can’t wait to go back to explore and see all of the new developments since my last visit. Dubai will always be a yes for me and it is one of those places that I will always be up for going back to again and again.

My Next Travel blog post will be about my 2016 trip to Miami and you really don’t want to miss that.

Anyways my Loves, you can find me on all the socials @Jennasworldview

Please keep reading, liking and sharing.

Stay Blessed

Lots of love

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Jenna

xoxo

When in Rome, do Shows

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I am no stranger to Italy it is an amazing place with lots to see and even much more to explore. I once visited the beautiful city of Florence the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region on a school trip. Even back then I wrote a vivid travel diary about my time in Florence and I was only 14. I randomly stumbled across it a few years ago and let’s just say reading it to myself as an adult was ridiculously awkward. The kind of awkwardness you feel reading your Facebook statuses from 2009, lol.

Looking back my time in Florence was enjoyable as I did so many great things. I climbed the Leaning Tower of paisa all the way to the top and even ventured out on a mini day trip to Rome. Where I got the chance to toss coins into Trevi Fountain and make a wish. I can’t recall what I wished for, but I do remember making a bold promise to return to the city and as the saying goes “so said, so done.”

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The opportunity to retrace my steps was presented to me by my cousin, who wanted to celebrate her upcoming graduation from her Maters (yasss Girl) with a quick trip. Without any reluctance, I accepted the invitation to return to Rome after 12 years and this is how it all went down.

Destination: Rome for 5 days
Travel Partner: The Lovely_Tiff♥
Mission: To sight see,fine dine,make memories & SLAY

British Airways had the pleasure of flying us to Rome from London Heathrow Airport. As we were booked on a midday flight, we had a chance to grab some pre-flight breakfast. BA is a ‘Boujee’ airline that feeds their passengers on both short & long haul flights. As good as this sounds, I never take such risks with plane food. I always eat before I fly just in case the food doesn’t tickle my fancy. Being as this was my first flight of 2018, I felt hella presidential paying £8.95 for my vegan breakfast (I am not a real Vegan, so please don’t judge me lol).

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The flight was 2 hours 30 mins and it was easy like Sunday morning. We kept busy with a Netflix film (The man in 3B) and slept for the duration of the flight. We arrived at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in no time and I must say it is one of the nicest airports that I have been to. The airport was super clean, modern and easy to navigate around. In saying that, the weirdest thing happened to me in the airport on our way out to grab a taxi. For the FIRST time in my life, I was stopped by airport security and it is safe to say that your girl was shooketh.

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The only words that I can say in Italian are Ciao bella so I wasn’t too keen on getting detained before even stepping out the airport. I frantically started showing them my passport and it was obvious that I wasn’t fluent in Italian, so they let me go with no further questions, whew. We slid right up out of there just in case they changed their minds. Luckily we manged to secure a group taxi for 20 euros and made our way to the hotel.

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After a multitude of drop offs we finally arrived and was able to check in to our new home for the next 5 days. The building hotel is a Chic 4 star establishment located in the central part of Rome in Via Montebello. Fully equipped with all the essential travel amenities:

  1. Welcome drinks
  2. Wi-Fi
  3. 24 hour Gym
  4. Spa facilities
  5. Breakfast  package
  6. Pay as you go restaurant access
  7. Easy travel links

I must say that the hotel was intact and filled with well-mannered attentive staffs, who were willing to be our on sight camera crew. There were a few annoying things that we didn’t enjoy, but with the good always comes the bad. For example, the poor lighting in our room had us struggling to beat our faces. The limited supply of toilet tissue and bath towels required us to call reception daily just to request a re-up*Side-eye*. In saying that though, they were minor issues that didn’t overshadow the hotel’s great qualities. I give this hotel is a strong 7 out of 10.

Check us two out below looking all Christmas gift wrapped. 

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Time to hit these Rome streets

On our first full day in the city there was no time to waste, so we grabbed a map and headed out to do some sightseeing. The first stop was the Colosseum as it was the closest to the hotel. The trains in Rome run on a proper system, nothing like the shenanigans that I see back home in London. We decided to head to the local train station Termini and get a train as it was only a few steps away. Termini station is humongous and is filled with great retail and food shops, similar to Grand Central in New York or Kings Cross in London.

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There were some things significantly noticeable and not so easy to ignore at Termini station. It was the large groups of black males trying to sell us things. Men young and old, from the shores of Senegal right through to Nigeria. Many have their own reasons for coming but for the majority, it is the chance of having a better life.

I admired their determination so I couldn’t knock their hustle or turn up my nose when they called out to us. We were approached many times and some even had the courage to strike up witty conversations. Often referring to us as “my sisters” and even though we didn’t buy anything from them, they were so kind enough to gift us with handmade bracelets. Those small acts of kindness were a gentle reminder to me that I must strive to do good by others without expecting anything in return.

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 I always try to blend in with the locals when I travel, but somehow I end up sticking out like a sore thumb. I get noticed and especially by tour guides it is as if they can smell my blood in walking distance. Within seconds of being in view we were approached by tour guides and had all sorts of offers being thrown our way but we didn’t cave in. The bottom line is this, tour guides have one job and one job only and that is to finesse you by any means necessary so stay woke.

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We arrived at the Colosseum, in no less than 15 minutes, the atmosphere was electrifying and the streets were filled with people. From buzzing tourist trying to capture the best pictures or the local street vendors trying to haggle chargers for 25 euros that I secured for only 5 lol.

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 I truly felt the buzz of the people and became overwhelmed with excitement. Only to then realize that the Colosseum was closed to visitors for the day. To think that we got dressed up, told everyone on Snap-chat only to arrive and find out it was closed after 3.30pm. Two very important lessons were learned here, always do research about a place before you go and never speak on things prematurely. At this point all we could do was laugh and of course take a few pictures just in case we didn’t come back before the end of our trip.

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Since the Colosseum was closed, we weren’t going to let the day or our outfits go to waste. So we flagged down an open people carrier, jumped in and got strolled all the way down to Trevi Fountain. Riding through the town had us feeling like the women from The Real housewives of Atlanta when they take a girls trip during the season. I felt like we were filming scenes for our own reality show, we honestly couldn’t stop grinning the entire time. The ride through the town gave us the chance to really admire the great architecture of the city, untouched and authentic in every way, shape and form.

Look at us two below Doing it for the culture.

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Trevi Fountain gave me heavy nostalgic vibes and I couldn’t contain my attitude of gratitude. In the 12 year gap since my first visit so much has taken in place in my life. Despite everything that I have been through, I knew right there and then in that moment, I was exactly where I needed to be.

So for that reason Trevi fountain will always be a special place to me. If you ever get a chance to check it out, go early in the morning to avoid hundreds of people trying to snap a bomb ass Celfie. Just so you know it is free to visit at any time and the surrounding area have some great shops where you can purchase some authentic Italian goods.

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This is what we served up on our second night in the city. Be sure to stay tuned and look out for #JennasWorldView’s Travel glam look book.

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As we were running on limited time we had to keep the ball rolling to ensure we did all of the things, that we set out to do. Setting out early on a Sunday, we purchased a travel ticket (7 euros only) and headed straight to Vatican City. The day was beautiful and as the sun shone you could feel the peace of a Sunday morning, lingering through the streets.

I ran into some of the Gal-dem on the square and had time to pose for a quick pic. Check out my girls serving major looks, I couldn’t keep up lol.

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We had to choose between visitingSistine chapeland hearing the pope speak. It really was a no brainer, so with only 5 minutes left to get in we rushed to queue up. The pope was scheduled to recite the Angelus prayerat 12pm overlooking the beaming crowd of visitors and this moment couldn’t miss us. Once granted access, we sprinted out into the square, eager to get an unobstructed view. When I finally heard the voice of the pope, I lifted my head in total amazement. The uproar of the crowd echoed in my ears and all I could do was saturate myself in the atmosphere to fully take it all in.

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The WOW factor didn’t stop there, as soon as we stepped foot into St Peters Basilica church it was safe to say that our edges got snatched, AGAIN. Being one of the Catholic Church’s holiest temples and an important pilgrimage site, it was nothing short of amazing. I can only commend the creativity of the genius’s behind the masterpieces that stood before our eyes. I was truly blown away and my excitement nearly got me kicked out, because I was going to extreme lengths to take pictures.

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Be sure to follow us on our official Instagram page @JennasWorldView to check out rest of the pics. Follow us, like, comment and share.

Vatican city was better than we expected and it was FREE so what better way to celebrate then to break out into praise and worship, African style.

Look out for the cameo appearance at 41 seconds 🙂

We gave the Colosseum another spin, after Vatican City. This time around though it was a success that only cost us 12 euros for entry without a tour guide. We used the internet and had our own history lesson, thank God for Wikipedia lol. I even snapped a decent panoramic picture using my iPhone 7Plus

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The transition from our day to night looks was everything and more. Take a quick peak at our evening wear from the penultimate evening of our trip.

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We finally used the spa facilities on the day before we went home and yes we payed extra for it *sigh*. My spirit was sensitively receptive to the calm energy in the spa. There was a sense of peace that was so undeniably soothing. It is a really bad habit of mine but I always book hotels with spa facilities. I am such a sucker for luxury and these types of hotels are far from cheap lol. I truly wish that we could have spent more time at the spa but time was of the essence.

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We didn’t plan to shop in Rome we just accidentally ended up shopping, lol. If you ever plan to shop on holiday, you have to ensure that your coins are right. If you’re a sucker for a good bargain like me, you will never let a good deal pass you buy. We grabbed some exclusive pieces and of course some good ole key rings for family and friends. Ask yourself this, if you don’t buy key rings or fridge magnets on holiday did you really go on holiday? lol

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Our trip was drawing to a close when it suddenly hit us that we haven’t even tried any authentic Italian dishes.  In saying that Tiff and I mutually agreed it would be outrageous to come all the way to Rome and not taste a real Italian Lasagne.

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Please believe I asked for garlic bread to accompany our Lasagne and the waitress at Caffe Pasticceria U. Giuliani looked at us as if we were crazy, LOL. I don’t exactly know where the garlic bread combination came from, but the Italians don’t get down like that.

I thoroughly enjoyed it but did feel like it needed a touch of scotch bonnet pepper. I guess you just can’t take the Caribbean out of me lol. I do now have an even higher level of respect for the way other cultures prepare their food. I guess we can learn how to do something, but no one can slay it like the people it originated from.

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Our love for Italian food didn’t stop there because we were on a quest to fine dine. With our heels on, elaborate dresses and no dinner reservation we made our way to the exquisiteHosteria La Stazione.

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We were welcomed into the restaurant with a smile by the owner who offered to give us full access to dine privately. With no negations or prior words exchanged he gifted us with an act of kindness at no extra cost. Inside the décor was chic, moderately lighted, with bottles of vintage wines placed perfectly in the surrounding cabinets. It looked like a romantic scene in a movie, but in the reality there was not one Bae in sight, just the lovely Tiff and I. Our food was definitely 10 out of 10, from the starter’s right back down to the serving of our drinks.

Gelateria La Romana, was an unexpected gem that we randomly came across thanks to the help of  google maps on our first night. It is a fresh ice cream and dessert place that will have regular dessert places back home in London looking like a Novice. I have never encountered such sweet flavors in all my days and by this point our edges were holding on by mere strands.

You other ice cream and dessert places whats good?

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The Last Lap

#Travel Tip: On the last night of your trip, it is your duty to go out with a bang. You must put on your  best and bring forth your SLAY.

Here at #JennasWorldView  we call that closing the show: the Last Lap.

For our last night in Rome we spent our evening at the popular European hotel chain the NH Collection Roma. The dining experience was 100% but our outfits were the most important element of the night.

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The lead up to our final dinner required efficient team work and of course strategic preparation. Everything was done according to precision, right down to the amount of highlight we applied to ensure that our faces stayed popping.

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It was a long gown affair because we aimed to showcase elegance, class & sophistication. Red was our theme colour as it is bold and it spoke on our behalf without needing any introductions. Of course to seal the night we did what we do best and thats take some bomb ass pictures, lol.

Please believe that we hijacked the piano bar at our hotel and conducted a mini photo shoot courtesy of the hotel staff. Not to mention the live performance with the pianist to accompany our live show.

and tonight Ladies & gentleman Jenna & Tiff will close the show. Lights, camera, action!

Our trip to Rome ended on a high, we laughed, we smiled, we explored and we came through with the SLAY. We managed to do so many things in Rome without spending lots of money.

This trip has set the tone for my travel trips that are yet to come in 2018.  I am more than ready to embark on my next travel adventures and of course I look forward to sharing them with you here are @JennasWorldView.

Who knows I might get a chance to return to Rome in the near future. You know what they say, the third time is always a charm.

Thank you ever so much for reading my FIRST ever blog post, I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Please follow @JennasWorldView, comment, like & share.

Lots of Love

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Jenna

xoxo