5 Must-Try Activities During an Evening Desert Safari in Dubai

If you want to witness the dazzling sunset in the Arabian Desert at night, and later catch a glimpse of  the stars high up in the heavens, go on an evening desert safari in Dubai. A desert safari is one of the best adventures you can experience in Dubai.

Exploring the beautiful topography of the Arabian Desert and trying out the different activities that come with the tour you choose will definitely make the safari truly memorable, and something that will be etched in your heart and mind forever.

By going on a desert safari in the evening, you will see the wonderful sights and enjoy all the must-try activities in the Arabian Desert under cooler, more comfortable temperatures.

Desert Safari in Dubai

Here are five activities you have to try when you go on an evening desert safari in Dubai:

1.    Dune bashing

A desert safari won’t be complete if you don’t go dune bashing. While onboard a 4×4, you will go on a thrilling ride to navigate the picturesque sand dunes of the Dubai desert.

With the sun setting in the background, you will have a more glorious, lovelier view of the desert as you go over the different sand dunes.

Since you will be going around the sparse desert wilderness when the sun is already going down, you will be more comfortable inside the vehicle as well. You can even open the windows a bit to feel the cool breeze if the driver allows you to.

2.    Camel riding

You won’t be going on an authentic desert safari if you don’t get to ride a camel during your tour as well. Riding a camel is quite a novelty while you also get to see the wonderful sights of the Dubai desert up close.

Whether you are riding on a camel or simply standing beside one, make sure you get lots of photos with the beautiful sunset in the background.

Desert Safari in Dubai

3.    Fire show

If you want to witness something truly exciting, you’re in for a treat at the camp.

After experiencing a heart-thumping fast ride up and down the sand dunes, you can look forward to relaxing and watching what’s in store at the desert camp.

A fascinating fire show is part of the night’s repertoire of skilled entertainers. Prepare to be amazed as the skillful fire showman manipulates different fiery implements complemented with his fantastic acrobatic abilities.

Everyone in the crowd would be in awe of the dazzling fire display from start to finish, so make sure to have your camera with you and capture the beautiful fire show.

Desert Safari in Dubai

4.    Get a henna tattoo

Once the tour is over and you arrive at the desert camping grounds, make sure you take home a beautiful souvenir by getting a henna tattoo.

Let a henna tattoo artist work his or her magic on your hands, arm or leg. In the end, you will have a unique work of art on your body which you can show off. Since the tattoo is only temporary, it will last for only two to three days.

5.    Enjoy a buffet dinner

One important thing that separates a morning desert safari from one scheduled in the evening is that the latter comes with a scrumptious buffet dinner.

At the end of the tour, you can treat yourself to a buffet dinner complete with a variety of mouthwatering barbecued treats. The buffet tables and stations also have an assortment of authentic Arabian and vegetarian dishes so there is an option for everyone. You won’t be disappointed by their dessert and beverage offerings as well.

The desert safari camp and clear skies will be the backdrop of the al fresco dinner you’ll enjoy in the company of other safari-goers. You can also try puffing a shisha or drinking a traditional Arabic coffee during the evening.

A nighttime desert safari will allow you to explore Dubai’s wilderness, however sparse, and try various activities more comfortably.

Best of all, at the end of the tour, you will enjoy a delectable dinner with the clear, wonderful sky and the Arabian Desert as your background.

If you’ve come to Dubai as a holiday-goer, be sure to make the most of your trip by booking your stay at a hotel accommodation which can also arrange for other unique experiences in the emirate.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Hafiz Umer Ali Zaib is the Social Media Specialist at Luxury Tours, a leading provider of tours, cruises and safaris across the UAE. The company’s top offerings include the Dubai Desert Evening Safari, City Tours, Dhow Cruises, Mountain Tours, Limousine Service, Discounted Tickets for theme parks, and a variety of many other excursions.

5 Exquisite Wine Routes in France

As Europe’s peak travel season winds down and most people are returning to work and school refreshed from their summer vacation, the sleepy vineyards sweeping the French countryside awaken for the annual harvest. Foliage begins to turn, days and evenings become pleasantly cooler. And the picturesque back roads call out to be traversed, beckoning in one of the best times to visit France. There’s no better time than autumn to channel your inner wine connoisseur and rent a car in France. The following list is a compilation of five lovely wine regions and scenic routes fringed with vineyards that beg to be explored. Each of these destinations is sure to make for an unforgettable experience.

Alsace Wine Route

Alsace Wine Region

The Alsace region is situated along a narrow plain, which is bordered by the Rhine River to the east and the Vosges Mountains to the west. Why not rent something special for your trip, like a Mercedes SLK Roadster in Strasbourg? Put the top down and leisurely make your way south along the Route des Vins d’Alsace (Alsace Wine Route). This 170 km stretch of roadway begins in Marlenheim and ends in Thann. Take your time and discover the Alsace vineyards, castles, and charming villages that dot the way.

Bordeaux Wine Route

Bordeaux Wine Region

Six distinct wine producing territories branch out from the heart of the Bordeaux region. The beauty of visiting this location is that you can create a unique tour of the wineries based on your specific taste. Sample the fine red wines north of Bordeaux, and the sweet or dry white wines south of the city. Offering an excellent array of grape varietals, colors, and tastes, you won’t be disappointed when visiting this southwestern area of France.

Provence Wine Route

Provence Wine Route

South of the Alps and north of the cliff-lined Mediterranean Sea is the Provence region, a part of France that is celebrated for its rosé wine. Start your journey by driving west along the coast with your rental car in Nice and making frequent stops to appreciate the villages and scenery, follow the 200 km course to Camargue, a town just east of Montpellier. The Provence vineyards are divided into eight appellations, and there are about 350 winemakers along the way.

Burgundy Wine Route

Burgundy Wine Route

A two hour car-ride southwest of Paris leads into the rolling hills of France’s Burgundy region. Renowned for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the vineyards here yield some of the country’s finest wines. Burgundy has five territories, and Route des Grands Crus (road of great wines) takes you through Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. It is the area’s most popular drive and is close to 60 km. Clearly marked road signs make this itinerary very easy to follow.

Champagne Route

Champagne Wine Route

Only 160 km east of Paris, yet seemingly worlds away from the city of light, is the highly regarded Champagne region. Sparkling wine can’t claim the name Champagne unless it originates from here. There are five circuits that wind their way through each of the appellation territories. The Coast Bar route is the longest at 220 km, and the shortest courses are Montagne de Reims and Massif of Saint Thierry, each of these is 70 km.

Before setting off on any trip in France, it is important to note the country’s new driving law, which requires every vehicle to have a breathalyzer on hand. Avoid the possibility of needing to use one of these devices by staying at a lovely Chateau when choosing to indulge in a few glasses of regionally produced wine.

Enjoy the wine and enjoy France!

Auto Europe Car Rental

Turkish Hammam Experience Is One Of A Kind

Turkish Hammam

You’ve likely heard of the Turkish hammam even if you have not traveled to Turkey. Hammam is a unique public bath and has been a part of Turkish social culture for hundreds of years. The concept was largely developed during the Ottoman Empire inspired by Roman baths. There are similar concepts in other cultures such as Finnish saunas, Russian baths or banyas but the Turkish hammam is unique in many ways. In Turkish hammams, the air is steamy. In hammams, you will be washed by washers called tellak who exfoliate, massage and wash you! Tellaks are usually of the same sex as the person being washed. While your tellak is preparing to wash you, you are given a hammam bowl to fill with hot water from marble sinks and pour it over your head to start your bathing experience. You can leave the rest to your tellak!

Turkish Hammam

The architecture of hammams is also very unique. A traditional hammam has three interconnected rooms. The first one is the hot room, then the warm room and finally the cold room. The hot room usually has a large dome with glass windows. There is usually a large heated marble table in the middle of the room and fountains in the corners. In this room, you get exposed to steam and get exfoliated. The warm room is for washing with soap and water after the exfoliation and finally the last room is to relax and perhaps sip a Turkish tea.

Going to a Turkish hammam is not only a unique bathing experience but it is also a social one. People of the same sex get together in Turkish hammams and share intimate stories. It is almost like a therapy session where the bathgoers open up to each other. An environment where people let their guards down and relax like nowhere else! Think about it, you are half naked with a group of strangers in a hot steamy environment wrapped in your Turkish towel also known as the peshtemal. Wouldn’t you let your guard down?

Turkish Hammam

This is a physical and a spiritual awakening. By the end of this experience, your body and your skin are rejuvenated and purified or, at least, that’s how you feel! The exfoliation and the massage are probably stronger than what you experience in North American spas and can sometimes be a bit painful but you can tell your tellak the intensity you prefer.

If you’re planning to visit Turkey anytime soon, you should definitely add the hammam experience on your list of things to do. Istanbul probably has the most gorgeous hammams you will find in Turkey but other cities such as Edirne, Bursa and Eskisehir also have renowned hammams to discover. Cagaloglu and Cemberlitas hammams in Istanbul, Saray hammam in Edirne, historic Eski Kaplica hammam in Bursa, Ferah hammam in Eskisehir are some of the most traditional ones but your hotel might even have a hammam within their facilities!

This blog post was provided by Shopping Blue. They share a passion for travel and  connect the Mediterranean with those who are passionate about this region and its products.

Texas Finest – A Franklin Barbecue Review

Texas BBQ

There are just so many great places in the world where you can eat. But if you’re a true culinary fan, you know that it doesn’t do to go to Italy, for example, and try ramen, or eat fish in Germany. Each part of the world has a specific cuisine that you should try. If you’re a barbecue lover, then you probably know that the “best of the best” is located in the United States. With the size of the U.S., there are differences in barbecue styles by region. This time, though, we are reviewing Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. According to many, this is the best barbecue joint in this part of America. So, is it worth checking out?

Franklin Barbecue – What do you need to know?

Before you head off to Austin to check out this great barbecue joint, you have to know certain things about Texas-style barbecue. As mentioned, there are different American barbecue styles by region, but the Texas-style comes with beef as their meat of choice and a spicy, tomato-based sauce with some sweetness.  Now, as you’re coming close to Franklin Barbecue, you will notice the tremendous line that’s always happening in front of the restaurant. Waiting for at least 2 hours (sometimes even longer) to get a taste of their dishes is a common thing, with many people waiting from early morning to be the first in line at 5 am. This is a BBQ joint that received two stars according to The New York Times and was featured in a TV show by the amazing Anthony Bourdain.

Texas BBQ

Why do they do this? Well, basically – once something is gone for the day, it means it’s gone, so it’s always best to come early and have a wide range of options to choose from. If you want the best case scenario, you should come during a weekday as the lines grow faster on weekends and during the South by Southwest festival in March.

Franklin Barbecue – What do you need to try?

Well, this is probably the most difficult question of them all, because no matter what you try at Franklin Barbecue – it’s worth it. Of course, everything depends on what will be left once you have your turn. Probably the most important things to try are the brisket and the pork ribs which are simply delicious. As far as the brisket goes, you have plenty of time to figure out just how much brisket you need. Don’t skip this, since it’s the foundation that Franklin Barbecue was built on. (The owner of the joint, even has a book called “Franklin Barbecue – A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” that you can read if you want to know something more about the history of this place and its brisket).

Texas BBQ

Their meat is wrapped midway through smoking so that it doesn’t dry out, and helps to give it that special taste that you will literally die for. Apart from that, you really want the pork candy, known as pork ribs, which are probably the best in Texas, and perhaps in the States. You can also try sausages and even smoked turkey – everything here is super tasty and good, but make sure to have your essentials first!

Texas BBQ

Franklin Barbecue – What to do afterwards?

After waiting for at least 2 hours to eat one of the world’s best barbecues, there’s no lingering – you should hit the road and let somebody else take your place and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience (if you’re not from the USA). Now that you’re probably full to the max, it would be a great idea to head a bit further down to the Zilker Brewing Company and enjoy a pint of their amazing beer. They work every day except Mondays, but you can check on their website for the exact working hours because they differ each day.

Texas BBQ

Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to eat at Franklin Barbecue and to drink beer at Zilker’s afterwards. If you love BBQ, you will remember it for the rest of your life.

6 Steps to Create High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

When running a restaurant, one of the essential aspects of promoting and marketing the business involves choosing what photographs to use. A high-impact image can engage the senses, making the viewer see, smell, feel and even taste the food without having been able to try it yet.

A professional food photographer can accomplish these, and more. Hiring the top experts in food styling and photography is key to generating appetizing images for your restaurant website and other marketing materials.

It takes years of experience to produce quality food images. To help you understand how the experts pull it off, here are a few steps detailing how they create tantalizing restaurant food photography.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

1. Gather the equipment

The tools used vary depending on the project. More often than not, you may find food stylists and photographers armed with more than just cameras and the dishes themselves.

When it comes to food photography, the aim is to make the dish as irresistible as possible. This often involves using techniques that focus on making the dish look good and deliciously tempting even when the food prop has been sitting out for an hour because of the shoot.

For instance, stylists may brush oil over the ingredients to make them glisten. Scoops of ice cream are replaced by mashed potatoes or shortening as they don’t melt under the light. As such, you may notice food stylists armed with brushes, toothpicks and other tools designed to make the dish look fuller and fresh.

2. Use natural light

Natural light has a way of making dishes look fresh and appetizing. As such, photographers will often schedule the shoot during the day. Plates, silver and other dining elements are shot outdoors or near a window to make the most of the natural light available.

At times, photographers will use flash and reflectors. When bounced off a wall or the ceiling, the light from the flash will provide additional light and soften any harsh shadows.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

3. Use props

Although the dish should be the focus of any image, at times, stylists and food photographers will add additional relevant elements to put the dish into context.

For instance, an image of a slice of cheesecake may include a fork and may be accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee and some small condiments. Peppercorns and herbs may be sprinkled all over a chopping board that features a large slab of grilled meat.

It is important to strike a balance between context and clutter. A few extra elements may help but there is no need to fill the photo with food or other objects.

Stylists and photographers also need to be aware of the colors and textures of the elements and props being included in the image. Contrasting colors and textures can help make ingredients pop out more.

Props need to be carefully inspected before being used in the image because the slightest imperfection will be magnified in the photo. Plates and utensils need to be spotlessly clean while the ingredients should look fresh and devoid of any blemishes.

4. Shoot from different angles

Perspective can change how the viewer may feel about the dish. Professional photographers will often try to take as many shots from different angles as they can for a single shoot.

A shot taken from directly above the dish can be used to include ingredients and other relevant elements. This type of shot illustrates what goes into the dish.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

On the other hand, a shot taken from the side can show how the dish would look when served. For instance, a shot of a slice of cake taken from an angle can show the different layers inside.

5. Shoot quickly

Stylists and photographers need to plan, experiment and practice the shots days before the actual day of the shoot. Unlike studio lighting, natural light changes depending on the time of the day and weather.

The look of ingredients and even entire dishes can also change in just a few hours, minutes or even seconds. Vegetables are an example. To make them look fresher, they are often undercooked.

When it comes to salads, the dressing can be put in a small bowl on the side. This is to prevent the dressing from covering the ingredients or making them look limp.

By practicing and experimenting with different angles outside the shoot, the team can also determine what they need to bring and how to set up the shot quickly. This is especially important in cases where several dishes need to be styled and photographed in one session.

If you’re taking a specialty burger photo, taking an angle shot from the side would be preferable to one taken from above as the side shot would highlight the burger patty itself while a shot from the top would have to accommodate other elements such as the sides, utensils, etc., else, you’ll be left only with the image of the top (sesame seed) bun.

 

6. Add steam

With the exception of desserts and other dishes served cold, steam is a popular element that can be added to an image. Steam emanating from the food gives it the impression that it just came off the stove, oven or grill.

Natural steam is difficult to produce. Most foods do not produce enough steam to be captured by the camera. Plus, food can get cold quickly, reducing the amount of time when the photographer can take the shot.

Food photographers and stylists need to be creative with steam, with some resorting to using garment steamers and microwaved sponges or cotton balls, or devising even more inventive ways to create it for their shoots.

Experienced stylists and photographers have several other techniques that they use to produce stunning food images. With this guide, you have a basic idea of the amount of work and effort it takes to create stunning and delectable food photographs.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Barry Morgan is the creative force behind Barry Morgan Photography. His passions are photography, food and family, although not always in that order. He believes you should love what you do, to do exceptional work. Cooking was always a family affair in his home so naturally, once his passion for photography took root, he was drawn to food photography. Barry Morgan Photography now works with hundreds of clients, turning their tasty dishes into mouthwatering visuals.

 

How to Make the Most of Your Hotel During a Work Trip

Work trips are often packed with numerous strenuous activities that happen one after the other. Usually, when you are on a work trip, the only time you can relax and get some rest is when you are already in your hotel.

 JA Resorts

If you are staying at one of the best beachfront hotels during a work trip, you can ensure you can stay productive and, more importantly, enjoy a break from your busy schedule by following the tips below:

1.    Check in early and check out late

To have a longer stay at your hotel, arrive early and leave late. If you are still booking a room, find out if you can check in earlier than the designated time. You will have a higher chance of having this request granted if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program.

By arriving early, you can get some rest before you start working. You will have time to refresh yourself and prepare for the day ahead.

If you are allowed to check out late, you will have some spare time to relax before your flight or your long trip back home.

 JA Resorts

2.    Know what comes with your nightly stay at the hotel

Before leaving for your work trip, make sure you know all the perks that come with staying at the hotel you’ve chosen. Find out what amenities and services are included in the daily rate and which ones come at extra fees.

By doing some research in advance, you will avoid being surprised by your bill when you check out.

3.    Take advantage of all freebies and perks

Once you know which amenities and services come for free, make sure you use them. Enjoy their free complimentary drink upon check-in. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet and coffee every morning, too.

If you are allowed free use of the hotel workspace or co-working space, get some work done in these areas. You will enjoy faster Wi-Fi connection and additional services including printing and secretarial assistance.

Lastly, create an itinerary of all the free, fun things you can do at the hotel such as cooling off in the swimming pool, visiting the garden or working out at the gym. If your work trip is in the UAE, don’t forget to take advantage of the wonderful spa deals in Dubai.

With an itinerary, you will be sure to enjoy all the pleasurable things your hotel has to offer.

 JA Resorts

4.    Get some work done in your hotel room

If you are more productive when you’re alone, then get your laptop out and work in your room. You will definitely be able to concentrate and be more productive in your room. If you love watching TV or listening to music while working, you will be able to do so without worrying about disturbing other people.

In case you need to get a lot of work done and you can’t spare time to go out to have lunch, dinner, or a snack, take advantage of the hotel’s room services. Aside from having a delectable meal or snack, you won’t have to eat in a rush to get back to your work.

5.    Don’t be embarrassed to ask for extras

Do you want an extra pillow, blanket, or robe? Call the front office.

 Most hotels do not advertise this, but you can enjoy certain small freebies and extras. All you have to do is ask.

You can also ask for extra shampoo, conditioner, lotion, razor, toothpaste, coffee, creamer, or sugar. Most hotels will be happy to accommodate your requests. Just make sure you ask for what you need.

6.    Use your hotel loyalty or travel credit card points

Lastly, if you are a member of a hotel loyalty program, check how many points you have. See if you have enough points to get a free room upgrade. If not, check what other perks you can have access to such as late checkout or a free drink at the bar or lounge.

 In case you have a travel credit card, see if you have sufficient points you can apply to the room. You can also use it for other services such as a hotel breakfast or to get a massage at the hotel spa. You may even be able to use your points for free laundry or dry cleaning services and avoid the task of hand-washing your clothes.

When you follow these tried-and-tested tips, you can go through your work trip productively and smoothly. You will be able to find time to get some much-needed R&R, too, even if you have a hectic schedule.

 JA Resorts

AUTHOR BIO

Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury.”

Favorite 5 American Inspired Restaurants in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Harbour
Photo by Nitin Sharma on Pexels.com

Hong Kong is one of the world’s great destinations and particularly well known for its food. You’ll visit new and exotic places and indulge in everything it has to offer. You’ll experience a different culture; visit historic monuments; see nature; and of course, try local cuisine. If you’re visiting Hong Kong, you’ll want to try dim sum. There are of course many places where you can find dim sum and other Chinese food in Hong Kong. If you feel more like an America-inspired meal, here’s 5 American inspired restaurants where you must go.

1. Butchers Club Burger

If you crave real burgers, don’t go to Burger King or McDonald’s on this trip. Try a Butchers Club Burger. Here, you’ll find authentic and delicious American burgers – arguably the very best burger that you can find in Hong Kong! Even though it seems very simple, making the perfect American burger is a tricky process. This restaurant has been Michelin-listed since 2016 and is one of only two burger joints with a Michelin listing in Hong Kong.

2. Big Sur

If you want to inject a dose of California into your Hong Kong restaurant experience, Big Sur is the perfect restaurant for you. You can choose from contemporary barbeque cuisine including ribs to healthy salads and tacos, and even delicious seafood dishes. Big Sur also has a perfect bar as well, where you can drink cocktails and craft beer. It’s an oasis in the sea of Hong Kong street restaurants. Check it out and take a break from HK food, and go to this California inspired spot for at least one meal. They are open from noon on weekdays so a perfect place for lunch; on weekends and holidays, you can opt for a brunch at 10 am.

3. Beef and Liberty

Another place for great burgers, or other American-inspired dishes, is the Beef and Liberty. This is the second burger restaurant in Hong Kong (after Butchers Club Burger) to be Michelin-recommended. The magnificent burgers here are made from hormone-free grass-fed beef. The Beef and Liberty is also well known for delicious chicken wings and offers other American dishes to suit different tastes. Desserts include a warm skillet cookie and cream, which is basically a huge cookie filled with chunks of great chocolate, and with cream on top!

4. BLT Steak

This restaurant is from the chain of BLT Steak restaurants in America, and is medium priced compared to other restaurants in Hong Kong. Apart from the delicious steaks and lunch buffet, the best thing about this restaurant is the fantastic view. It’s located just a couple hundred of meters from the pier and overlooks the water. The restaurant is spotless, and the service is impeccable. The lunch buffet is available from 12 and 3 pm on weekdays. On weekends from 12 to 4 pm, there is a great brunch buffet with all-you-can-eat roast beef and lamb, and a large selection of salads.

Hong Kong - BLT Steak

5. Grassroots Pantry

If you are a vegan or you require (or want) gluten-free meals, then this is the place for you. Grassroots Pantry is extremely authentic. By far the favorite thing of everyone who steps inside this restaurant are the hand-drawn menus which look fantastic. If you’re vegan, there’s nothing you won’t like; and each dish is a generous portion. You can choose vegan pancakes or salads for a starter, then move onto the delicious potato tofu croquettes, and finish off with caramelized apples or coconut brown rice pudding.

Hong Kong - Grassroots Pantry

People think that New York City is hectic, and it is. But you should visit Hong Kong – as one minute in New York is one second here. You can find literally anything to eat here. But eat smart! You can’t go wrong by choosing one of these five excellent Hong Kong restaurants!