My Trip to Global Village in Dubai

One of the best things about living in Saudi Arabia is being able to travel to destinations I otherwise would not have been able to travel to. Traveling from the states can be very costly.

Since I had a break, which was not at all long enough , I decided to travel to Dubai, UAE. And what’s not to love about it? Dubai literally has something for everyone no matter what you may fancy, you’re likely to find it in Dubai. And I was ready to explore.

Because my break was short, I didn’t want to waste any time, so I checked into the hotel and I was off. First stop, the Global Village. It’s an attraction that everyone visiting Dubai should visit. If you’re interested in learning more about the world and its peoples and cultures, this is the place for you. The colors, the sounds, the food. Ahh, it was awesome. It was so awesome that I went again before I left.

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Around every corner you are sure to see something you’re interested in. For me, I found myself even more interested in seeing some of the countries represented. Can’t go to China? Visit China at the Global Village and enjoy.

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I found myself wanting to buy buy buy, but I did not want to spend all of my money and also didn’t know how I’d carry all the things I wanted.

All in all, I really enjoyed my time at Global Village and should I find myself in Dubai again, I’m sure I’ll visit again.

Don’t miss it!

 

Newbie Kayakers at Spencer Glacier

After a wonderful experience seeing Columbia Glacier in Valdez, we were back in Anchorage. The official Alaskan holiday was over, but we spent a few more days there to relax and enjoy Alaska just a little bit more.

On July 11, my parents took a scenic train ride and my husband and I took a train from Anchorage to Spencer Glacier. We set out at 6:30am and were treated to a very different view of Seward Highway. We were quite fortunate that day also. It was cool, but that was okay. The best thing was that it didn’t rain and the water was nice and calm.

Once we arrived to Spencer Whistle, we had a kayaking adventure with Chugach Adventures. We had met our guide, Corey, on the train and were ready to go. Corey was a big help and seemingly made it easy for us to get through the experience. This was our first kayaking experience, and I hope it won’t be the last especially since it was by all accounts a success story. Hey, we didn’t tip ourselves over, so that is most definitely a win.

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Being new to kayaking, we were in a tandem kayak. And it was definitely the best thing for us. Also, since I was in the front when we canoed in Canada, it was only fair that my husband be in front this time which he enjoyed. We got somewhat close to a fairly sizeable iceberg and all I could think about was just how big it really was. A lot of people may not know that the ice we see above water is only 10-15% of the ice. The majority is under water. We were able to move across the lake and even had a chance to walk on the glacier. It wasn’t something I ever imagined myself doing. But, I also never imagined myself in a kayak.

Once we got back across, we had lunch and then a scenic train ride before heading back to Anchorage by motorcoach.

Lessons learned from this trip? Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid of a little adventure. And if you live in North America, even if you don’t, Alaska is worth every penny and the time and energy spent to get there.

Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez

On July 9, we set out on our last trip/activity for our Alaskan tour. And it was the third and final cruise. The night before it rained non stop. It was real nippy out, and I really didn’t know whether anyone would want to go on the cruise. I told them all that they could stay in the hotel if they didn’t want to take this last cruise. I was afraid they were sick of cruises, long cruises. I have to say, we saved the best for last. I can honestly say that I enjoyed all three and they were all special in their own ways. But this was really different.

First of all, this cruise was operated by Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises. All crew members were actually living in Alaska unlike the other cruises we had been on. The boat wasn’t full so we had a more intimate experience as the captain, Alan, invited passengers to come talk to him and ask questions or just to get a better view.

Second, we didn’t see as much wildlife as the first cruise. We did see the ever-elusive porpoises, stellar sea lions, birds and seals. I guess we DID see a lot.

One of the most amazing things about this cruise was watching how the scenery changed from, “I can’t believe this is Alaska” to “Oh, I’m really in Alaska.”

I can’t believe this is Alaska.

 

Now THIS is Alaska!

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On this cruise, we got to see more ice. Sure we had seen glaciers and seemingly small icebergs, but this time we got to see much more floating ice. Larger icebergs and the ever impressive Columbia Glacier. Once we got closer to the face of the glacier, I felt like that was the Alaska I had been dreaming about. We were freezing and it was spectacular. I stayed outside a lot because I just couldn’t resist the scenery around me. Seeing that towering mountain of glorious ice was an experience I won’t soon forget.

And now more of Columbia Glacier…

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Phillips 26 Glaciers Cruise

After spending the night in Anchorage, we headed to Whittier for another cruise through Prince William Sound with Phillips Cruises & Tours. This cruise was also supposed to be 6 hours. I was almost afraid to say anything about the 6 hours for fear my mom would complain. But then she asked, so I had no choice but to tell the truth.

This cruise was different. The weather wasn’t much different though. Of course I’ve mentioned before that for such cruises/trips, you really shouldn’t worry about things like rain as long as it’s not a deadly storm. We didn’t see whales on this trip, but we did see sea otters and steller sea lions along with tufted puffins and other sea birds. We also saw porpoises, but I gave up on trying to get a shot of one. They’re just too quick. I also managed to get a shot of a bald eagle, shown in the featured image, though he’s far away. At least it’s proof that I was there and saw it with my own eyes.

And on this cruise we also saw more ice dotting the waters closer to the glacier. And speaking of glaciers, we were able to see different types of glaciers and little waterfalls making their way down the mountains. What I learned on this trip is that I have become fascinated with glaciers and icebergs.

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We visited a glacier that calves a lot. Guess what? It calved, and I missed it. So close! What could I possibly do? I have an idea though. I need to make more trips like this one.

 

Bye bye, Denali

When we got back from our Denali adventure, we were finished. And by finished, I mean we were completely out of energy. We were hungry and tired. It was 8:30pm and all we wanted to do was eat and sleep. We ate, but when we wanted to sleep, my husband asked about the activity for the next day. I was sure it was a free day to drive back to Anchorage at our own pace. So, I decided to check the itinerary and lo and behold, we did have a scheduled activity for the next day. What?! That’s all I could say. What was worse was that it was an early morning activity which might have been interesting had we not been so tired. We all agreed that we simply wouldn’t go. It was paid for, but we were willing to take a little hit to get some rest. And so we did. And then the next morning we got a call from the front desk reminding us that we had a trip. My husband calmly said, “We canceled it. We all canceled.” We were a party of four and not a single one of us could be bothered. We decided to sleep and then get ready to head back to Anchorage.

Even though we didn’t go on our scheduled river float down the Kantishna River, we most definitely enjoyed the views on our way back to Anchorage.

We saw a moose along the roadside as my dad zipped by. There was no way to stop. But, it wasn’t a problem because I did get shots of one in Denali NP. So, by this point just seeing one was enough.

After 4 hours, we stopped at a Wal-Mart and made our way to the hotel which was the same hotel we stayed in when we first arrived to Anchorage. Funny thing was that my husband and my parents didn’t seem to get that fact. My parents both said, “I’m sorry but I liked the hotel we stayed in when we first arrived.” And it took everyone a minute to realize that it was in fact the same hotel. From that moment forward I had to start watching what everyone was drinking :).

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Denali: I don’t mean the car

After a trip to Bar Harbor, Me a couple years ago, I’ve become a fan of national parks. And if you’re in the states, it would definitely be worth it to visit one if you can.

This summer we had the chance to visit Denali National Park on the Denali Kantishna Wilderness Tour with my parents. It was a long day, but a great experience. We saw a couple grizzlies, one quite a distance away and the other quite close.

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When we saw this one in the picture, everyone was excited. Too excited in fact. We were reminded often to keep it at a whisper, but we are human. Each time this sleeping bear moved, the “ooohhs and aaahhs” would start. But can you blame anyone? It’s not everyday we get to see a grizzly bear up close.

We also saw caribou, moose, ptarmigans, ground squirrels, pika, and some humans. I didn’t take pictures of the humans because I see humans all the time ;).

We were also lucky enough to get some wonderful views of Denali. I still want to call it Mt. McKinley, but I am working on it.

Even without Denali as a backdrop, the other mountains were a sight to see as well.

All in all it was a great day though it was quite long. If I had the chance to visit again, I’d probably opt for a different trip. Thirteen hours? Easy it was not. And of course that time can be longer when you stop for wildlife which of course we did. We left at something like 6:30am and got back around 8:30pm. All we could think about was rest. The next day we were supposed to take a river float trip. It was not to be. But I’d be happy to share what we did instead.

Kenai Fjords: Part 2

As we headed back, I was definitely satisfied with the trip and the time seemingly flew by. We had a nice meal on board and met interesting people. I was asked several times to take pictures of people and their families. You see, I’m really good at “looking” like a photographer, lol. And each time I was approached someone said, “You have a nice camera and look like you know what you’re doing.” Isn’t that great? I look like I know what I’m doing. One man asked me about my website that does not exist. And it’s a good thing or else he would have discovered that I am not a professional ;).

Apparently we had a really good trip because we saw plenty on the return trip as well.

We saw several whales. Have I mentioned that I love whales? I love seeing them. We saw one that was super close to a fishing boat. I could only imagine what it must have been like as a whale swam around them. They were mere feet away from that whale.

 

Afterwards we saw another pair of whales that seemingly waved in the water at times. Unfortunately due to my over excitement, the shots I got quite simply aren’t fit for this post 😜.

 

I’m sure that everyone that was on that boat was more than satisfied. We sat down after some time and I watched my dad in his Cincinnati Reds hat check the photos he got.

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The Kenai Fjords cruise is an absolute must for anyone visiting this part of Alaska. Ah, one trip down, more to go!

Kenai Fjords: Part 1

Sea life, glaciers, waterfalls, mountains and more! Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. First of all, I have to say that this was one of the best cruises of this type I’ve ever been on. It was 6 hours and I had my concerns. Would I get bored, cold? Would my mom complain that it was too long or too cold? By the time we got started, I didn’t care. But please don’t tell my mom that.

We took the MMT Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Even before we boarded, I was happy. It was cloudy and it looked like there was a 100% chance for rain. There was no need to worry which I knew from a previous experience in Malaysia. It was sprinkling. It was super cloudy. There was fog. It was everything that had the makings of a potentially miserable trip. But with an enclosed area, we knew we’d at least be warm and dry.

 

Sitting on the boat waiting to get moving, I snapped pictures of boats. What a shock! But as we sat there waiting, we also saw sea otters. I think they were sea otters. Or maybe there was one sea otter and one seal. Honestly, they confuse me at times. Not to worry, there would be plenty of wildlife I did actually recognize. For example, bald eagles. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a shot of a pair of bald eagles because there were just too many people to compete with. I do believe my dad got one, but he did not share it with me.

As we moved through the water, we alerted to any wildlife that was spotted. And one of the first we saw was the puffin. I managed to get a few shots of them, but I am much too embarrassed to post those here because the pictures suck :). But we also saw steller sea lions, porpoises, and whales. And it was magnificent. The porpoises were much too quick for me to catch though I may have a picture of some water they splashed in. But the whales, oh the whales! We went on two different whale watching trips in the past couple of years and managed to see one whale on each trip. We saw at least seven humpback whales on this one. I was so excited. Though I enjoyed our previous whale watching experiences, this was definitely on a whole other level. Most of the whales we saw were in pairs as seen below.

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We also got to see glaciers and one in particular which often calves. The blue hues in the glacier were brilliant. I didn’t know that “ice” could be so mesmerizing. As we moved closer to the glacier, glacial ice seemingly hopped on deck. People were grabbing ice, taking pictures. We could hear the ice moving which was surreal. Looking at it, you’d never imagine that the ice is actually moving. And it calved! Twice! And all I managed to see was the movement in the water because as my dad said, “By the time you hear it, it’s already in the water. I present to you “Holgate Glacier“.

 

 

You know what? I was really liking this Alaska trip at this point. And this was only the first part of the cruise. It doesn’t include the trip back to Seward.

Heading to the land of the midnight sun

We left Banff for Anchorage on June 30. It was bitter sweet as I really wanted to stay. But it was time for part 2 of our vacation.

We arrived to Anchorage around 11:30 at night. I really liked the airport. I liked that there was a simple way to call hotels for shuttles. There was a digital board with names of hotels and a two digit number you could call to reach the hotel. This was one of the nicest things I’ve ever seen in an airport. It saved me the headache of having to make an international call while roaming from my cell phone. It’s a convenience that should be found in all airports.

The photo was taken around 12:30am. Though it’s something I’ve always known about, experiencing it in real life is something different. 

The days and nights caused us lots of confusion. We live in Saudi Arabia and Alaska is 11 hours behind. It meant that we’d have some difficulty adjusting which I will mention in another post.

It was great to be in Alaska and our first stop was in Seward. 

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