Paris – Notre Dame

It is so tragic when historical monuments are destroyed, being from pure accidents or from cruel acts of history-challenged religious fanatics. Art and structures are a way to understand the past and, based on that, create a better and more informed future. Up through the ages all religions have something to answer to when it comes to demolition of history, but in these enlightened days, we really should know better.

I am so happy that I for instance visited the Museum of Cairo before looters destroyed mummies and smashed artifacts in 2011. I am also very happy that I, even if this was an accident during repairs, was able to visit the beautiful cathedral of Notre Dame.

Even if I am a full bred atheist, I do respect all religions and I am always interested in learning more about their ways. A part of understanding the different religions is to look back to the past in the form of written material, art and holy places, and I much enjoy visiting cathedrals, churches, mosques, temples and shrines in the quest of knowledge and perhaps inner peace.

New York – High Line Park

For several decades since its opening in 1934, the elevated rail line High Line was used to transport food into Manhattan (source: thehighland.org). In the 80-ies, however, parts og the track were demolished and led to the line being discontinued. As years passed, the tracks were covered in wild flowers and started to rust and people called for its removal. One og the former mayor Rudy Giuliani’s last acts in office was in fact to sign a demolition order.

Luckily the order was never executed and in 2009, under mayor Bloomberg, the old rail line had been converted into a beautiful elevated park above New York’s buzzling life.

Well worth a visit and (best of all) free of charge. Check out thehighline.org for info about access points to the park.

New York – Statue of Liberty

2012 was the year I first visited New York, one of the most iconic destinations for a Norwegian movie-buff. One day we signed up for a canal cruise around Manhattan and on one of our stops we god a great photo op of the Statue of Liberty.

Once a welcoming symbol of freedom and democracy for the millions of immigrants who came to America seeking a new and better life. These days, not so much..

Stratford-Upon-Avon: In the footsteps of Shakespeare

One summer I was bored, I impulsively jumped on a plane to London and took a train to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare. Don’t ask me why I ended up there of all places, but my fascination of his comedies in general and Much Ado About nothing in special, might have something to do with it.

I spent almost a week in the small, cozy English village, soaking up the atmosphere, admiring the thatched houses and visiting historical buildings, like Shakespeares birthhouse and his new house as well as the house of Anne Hathaway’s parents, where Shakespeare courted his wife-to-be. A week in totall stressless harmony, engulfed in historic poetry. I even ended up having a two hour excistential conversation with a catholic priest at the local church. Quite interesting, especially me being an atheist an all, but that is a story for another time.

Dubai – Madinat Jumeirah in July

Madinat Jumeirah is a luxurious resort located at the beach with the iconic Bur Al Arab as its nearest neighbor and consists of 3 hotels (Al Qasr, Mina A’Salam og Jumeirah Al Naseem) and several holiday villas og flere (Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf).

The place is inspired by «1001 nights» with its arabic-style buildings and at the same time you’ll get a Venice vibe from the canal meandering through the resort. As mentioned in an earlier post, Al Qasr is also the venue for our all time favourite Friday brunch in Dubai and after repeat visits we promised ourselves that we definetely should stay at the resort.

With an average room rate of minimum USD 650 per night it looked like it would take a while for our dreams to come true, but then we found a loophole…

In Dubai during summer, all expats and a lot of the residents flee the country due to the heat, which can reach temperatures in the high 40s C. Most hotel therefore lower their rates during summer and last July we were able to get a room for about USD 180 per night, which is more within our comfort zone (however close to the limit).m

So, what to do at a luxury resort in 40 degrees C. Well, we actually didn’t leave the resort until our final day. There are plenty of exiting indoor activities in Dubai during the hot summer months. But since we had been there several times before, we didn’t stress to get out. Instead we chose just to ‘lax in the luxurious environment.

The Beach

The beach at Madinat Jumeirah consists of fine-grained sand and shallow water and we spent our first day mostly lying oon comfy sun beds, under an umbrella with fantastic service provided by the hotel staff who brought us buckets of ice and cold drinks to prevent us from getting a heat stroke.

At one poit we figured we should go for a swim in the inviting water, and that was quite a surreal experience. It was like jumping into a gigantic hot tub the size of, well… an ocean. With other words, not very refreshing. But, no need for worrying, since all the pools were nice and cool.

Pools

Both Al Qasr and Mina A’Salam have their own, big, cool pools right in front of them. Jumeirah Al Naseem Has three, wereas one is an adults-only pool, which made it our favourite since we in fact were travelling without children. Guests at all the hotels are free to use all the pools in the resort. Mostly our days were spent (after my morning training session) unde an umbrella with a book and lots of pepsi max, although sometimes replaces by a frozen strawberry daiquery, or in the pool.

Must admit that the sanitary facilities by the pools were top notch.

Restaurants

One thing that is a bit of a bummer when visiting Dubai in the summer (=major low season) is that (beach restaurants excluded) all the restaurants are only servicing indoors due to the heat. We usually went for an outdoor lunch at one af the beach restaurants and did our best to work through the list of resort restaurants (50 and counting) for dinner. We were bot able to resist the Friday Brunch at Al Qasr either, which was spectacular, even if the whole arrangement took place indoors.

If you are looking for a romantic venue, look no further. Pierchic is the place. Pierchic restaurant (seafood) is located in the end of a pier out in the ocean with a fantastic view of both a spectacular sunset as well as of Burj Al Arab.

Training facilities

If you would like to keep the extra holiday weight in check there are plenty of training options to assist you. At Mina A’Salam you will find a well equipped training studio with lots of treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights. The center also offers lots of group sessions and even a climbibg wall.

The area also include an additional 4 km track for running, which I tested a couple of mornings.

Souk

Madinat Jumeirah also has its very own souk with a lot of small shops and restaurants and luckily (at least for me) a small kiosk selling diet pepsis to an affordable price.

The room

Since we had no intentions of spending any time in the room than for sleeping, we went for the cheapest one. Still, we got a great room (about 40 m2) with a large bathroom with both a tub and a shower. I was also very impressed by the minibar glass assortment…

Summary

If you suck at handling heated temperatures, maybe Dubai is not the perfect summer destinatij dor yoy. If you without problems are able to tackle a heaty Dubai in July, then you will be just fine. I for one, cannot wait to get back to Al Qasr and Dubai.