Tofino, BC, Canada is a fabulous destination for a family vacation. Visit our full blog post to see what fun is waiting for you and your family in this beautiful part of the world. To help with your planning we have provided a few tips we learned along the way.Read More
The Camel Racing season starts mid-October and ends mid-April here in Dubai. If you are in the area, it's worth taking a trek out of the city to witness this event at the Marmoon Camel Race Track off the Al Ain Road (Exit 37). What's best, it's completely free. You won't find many tourists watching. Actually, on the few times we have brought friends and family, there were only a handful.Read More
When asking our tween/teenage children what their favourite family vacation has been, they will unanimously declare "Tofino!" (with a close second to Biarritz, France.) I will admit Tofino ranks at the top of the list for my husband and me too. It was strange to think of all the places we have traveled trying to find unique experiences and interesting cultures, the one that made the biggest impression on our family was waiting for us in our home country of Canada! If you have active kids (children, tweens, or teens) and are craving breathtaking nature, interesting excursions, unique culture, delicious food, chilled out people, and total relaxation...head to Tofino, Canada. It is truly one of the most underrated places on Earth for a fabulous family vacation.Read More
My latest completion on Audible, is the inspiring life story, Notorious RBG, The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At 85 years old, RBG is a current US Supreme Court Justice. In her high position in the US court system, Bader Ginsburg continues to be fierce in her quest for gender equality and civil rights. The audiobook moves along at quite a good pace (only 5hrs) but at times gets heavy with US references to past court cases. However, the overall message about this immensely intelligent, strong woman is so inspiring. I had many conversations with my husband and three sons, recounting in detail, the life of RBG. Nothing better than reading about women who are killing it. I'm ordering my Notorious RBG t-shirt today!Read More
Look where the New York Times declares you must travel in 2018! These lists always leave you feeling proud when you can happily declare "I've been there," and a travel underachiever when you have to admit "nope, have not been there." :-) It's equally satisfying when you can see your home country on the list!Read More
If you are looking for assistance in finding accessible hiking paths in UAE then you might enjoy the wikiloc app. Wikiloc has prerecorded maps of many trails throughout the UAE. These trails include hiking, cycling, and offroading. We have used it a few times and it has worked brilliantly. On our latest hike, the Shawka Camel Farm Hike, we veered off the path, were alerted by chimes from our mobile, and easily found our way back on the trail using the trail map wikiloc provides. The cost is approximately $5 USD for a one-year subscription. Worth it in our opinion. Trail maps are also available for other countries but fees apply. It's a super useful app if you are looking for a way to get out and explore nature in the UAE but nervous about getting lost.Read More
If you are looking for a fabulous European vacation, Croatia should be on your list. It's perfect for all ages (we traveled with grandparents, parents, young children, tweens, and teens on our trip.) There was something for everyone! Below is a list of beautiful stops to make and inspiring eye candy photos. Click on the titles to be directed to our posts on Rovinj, Split, Mlini, Dubrovnik, Lokrum Island, Croatian Vineyards, and Plitvice Lakes. Go, you will love it!Read More
My love of hiking and exploring different areas grew just a bit more this season. With such great weather, I was able to seize many opportunities to get outside and go hiking in the UAE! One hike I found and really loved was the Camel Farm Hike near Shawka. The hike itself, at approximately 4km in and 4km out, is not that difficult for most adults and children to handle. However, you are walking through an uneven wadi which can be surprisingly tiring on your legs (knees especially.) Family and friends have joined me many times and everyone says the same thing "I can't believe this is only an hour from Dubai and we never get out to enjoy it." The Camel Farm Hike has interesting scenery, the right distance for a half day hike, and my favourite feature-seeing camels!Read More
Traditions and culture give character to a place. Personally, delving into the history, food and customs is the most fascinating aspect of travel; even if it's returning to my home country with my two boys for a weeks skiing. Raising the boys abroad means they miss out on many Swiss traditions throughout the year. In February, the biggest celebration in the Kanton of Fribourg is the Carnaval de Broc.Read More
Every year I try to focus on introducing more meatless meals into our weekly rotation. Some months I'm moderately successful and some months are pretty pitiful. But I continue to try ;-) 2018 will be my best effort! Hopefully.Read More
At this time of year in the UAE, the statement coming out of everyone's mouth is "wow, can you believe how beautiful this weather is?" With only a few short months to enjoy the milder climate, we need to be outside as much as possible because before we know it, back into the oven we go.Read More
We have all, upon visiting some places of history, walked away with a lasting impression. It takes the form of a story, an object or even a person of that place and we carry it within. We conjure it affectionately when that time or place is mentioned or remembered.Read More
Has an African Safari been on your dream list of vacations to do? Not sure how to go about it? Where to go? What to expect? Should you bring your children? The only thing I can recommend to you is...GO! We chose Tanzania and it was an experience like nothing we could have imagined. Honestly, your senses will be on overdrive the whole time. Imagine a herd of elephants walking right in front of you, a lion hunting down its dinner, walking through lush forests, eating things like banana soup, and meeting local tribe people that you have only read about in books. For us, Tanzania was an experience that we will never forget. Below is our trip broken up by location, Kilimanjaro, The Serengeti, The Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. Click on the location name, have a read and take a look at the photos. I'm sure you are going to be inspired to go yourself. Do it!Read More
It was time to leave the Ngorongoro Crater and make our way, by car, to the last stop on our journey. Tarangire National Park. So far, our stays in Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Crater were so much more than we had ever imagined. We couldn't wait to see what Tarangire National Park had in store for us.Read More
Tribe Vibe is so fortunate to have one of the best cooks around. Seriously, Carmen is a fabulous cook of all things, but especially Middle Eastern cuisine. I make hummus quite often, and its ok, but after tasting Carmen's, I immediately knew our dishes were two different things. Seriously, hers is that good. So here you go, the recipe for the best hummus ever! NB: Like all great cooks, Carmen doesn't go by any set measurements - she adjusts by look and taste. We've done our best to give you the best measurements we can, but please feel free to experiment to customize to your own liking if needed.Read More
I'm not sure where "Everywhere" is or what "Everything" is, but we are up for it! 2018 is going to be another year of experiencing as much of the world as we can and enjoying all the moments right at our fingertips close to home. This quote sums it all up!
Finally, after months of baking in an oven in Dubai, we can get outside and enjoy the fresh air. I love the thought of being out of the A/C and taking long trail walks soaking up the scenery, but where do you do this in the UAE? Unfortunately, trails are not well groomed and marked here like they are in other countries so it is a bit overwhelming for me to know where to begin. I was happy to come across UAE Trekkers who helped solve this problem by offering a range of organized hikes around the region.
Nicole and I happily signed up for the "Tuesday Ladies Hike" in Ras al-Khaimah. It was only an hour drive from Dubai to our meeting point in RaAK and then a bit of an off-road journey to the trailhead. We spent the next 3 glorious hours, outside, climbing over rocks, chatting, and taking in the spectacular scenery in the UAE's rocky mountains. What a great break from the city life of Dubai. We will definitely be going back!
A little added bonus was finding a few beautiful doors along the way. Can you imagine if your garden gate looked like this? Gorgeous.
There are so many layers to Dubai. The old, the new, the modest, the extreme... Dubai has it all. But why do we sometimes feel like there is nothing authentic to do in this modern city? Possibly because we don't often take the opportunity to venture beyond our comfort zone to explore the unusual or unfamiliar. Now that the weather is pulling us outdoors, it is especially the time to seek out all the nooks and crannies of this world-class destination. Our suggestion is to start with a real genuine spot bursting with culture, foods, and energy - Bur Dubai!
Heading to Bur Dubai, Nicole and I had three major goals on our agenda. The first was to experience the differences the area has to offer versus the Dubai everyone sees in tourist brochures. Second, we wanted to see the area sparkling with lights at night (we went during Diwali). The last goal was to visit the Bur Dubai Hindu temple. With cameras ready, it was time to feel the lively, energetic vibes of this interesting part of Dubai's diverse cultural landscape.
Fantastic Shops to Peek Into
Fabulous Food & Drinks
Bur Dubai has many restaurants serving food from the local region and from India. They range from fast window type service to full sit down dining. The options are yours to explore!
In need of a cold drink, we tried the Mumbai Masti Juice Bar. On a hot evening, the air conditioning inside felt so good. The waiters brought a few things to sample, I'm not sure what they were, but I can guarantee I have not had them before. The food was really tasty and not killer spicy (which often is the case for a Canadian eating Indian food :-)) But I'm not going to lie, Nicole and I were not keen on the drink we chose - Falooda. It looked very pretty, but I couldn't get used to sipping cold noodles through my straw. Maybe it is one of those things that requires a couple of tries to truly enjoy.
The Hindu Temple
With food and drinks out of the way, we headed towards the Temple. One of the things that makes Dubai so special, is the way that a wide variety of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs can live harmoniously together. It really is very special. Life in Bur Dubai is a perfect example of this. The Hindu temple and the Mosque sit back-to-back with each other. Muslims and Hindus going to pray peacefully amongst each other. It's a beautiful thing.
Once you enter the "streets" leading to the temple you must take off your shoes. The streets are not really streets, but more like smaller alleys. Walking through these alleys in your bare feet, looking at all the stalls full of religious items, flowers, and plates of food and flowers for offering is so magical. It really felt like we were exploring somewhere beyond Dubai.
Back stairs led up to the very busy, main worship area of the Temple. I don't think it was hard to tell that Nicole and I didn't have much experience in this setting but people were very accommodating and quickly pointed us in the areas we were allowed to go.
The Streets Come Alive at Night
It was daylight when we entered the Temple but night when we exited. The evening in Dubai is when everyone comes out to gather and Bur Dubai was no exception. The streets became more congested and the sidewalks full of activity. Add to this all the lights from Diwali and you have a very stimulating atmosphere to enjoy.
Take the Abra Down the Creek
We walked past the textile souq to make our way to the Abra station. I have taken an Abra from the textile souq to the spice souq before but only in daytime. I highly recommend trying it at night. It has a completely different feel with the lights from the buildings reflecting on the water. Instead of cruising directly across the canal to the spice souq station, we floated further down the canal. Beyond all the beautiful lights and the boats quietly passing by, I saw a new development that I didn't even know existed. Al Seef is a new area by Meraas and looks super. From what I understand it is partially open now with the rest opening in the new year. You can be sure I'm definitely coming back for a visit of this area.
Have you ever thought about where the boats fill up with petrol? Having only gone the short distance back and forth between the two souqs before, I had never really thought how the boats fuel up. Lucky for me, on this night, our driver made a detour for petrol and we got to watch as he filled his boat. It wasn't that this was a super interesting thing to see but just more a moment where you connect the dots on how things happen. I really enjoyed this pit stop :-)
Our Final Stop - Personalized Perfume
By the time we reached the Spice souq on the Deira side of the canal, it was almost time to head home. We quickly walked through the Gold Souq and made a pit stop at one of the perfume shops. Here we had a quick lesson behind the scent of Oud. Living in Dubai, this is a fragrance you become very familiar with. It was interesting to learn where it came from and to see how the scents can be mixed to come up with your own personalized perfume. After perfume shopping, it was time to call our Uber and head home (another reason to use a taxi or Uber and not your car, is so that you don't have to start and stop your tour at the same location.)
We were only gone for 5 hours but it felt like we had been on a mini vacation miles away from the usual. I highly recommend exploring this part of Dubai. When it comes time for you to leave Dubai you will surely regret not experiencing it!
1. Our Route
Below, is more or less the walking map of our route that may help you out. Do not follow it exactly. Instead, take your time to meander the lively streets and sample the local food of this lively district. My only warning/recommendation is not to drive here. From what we saw, there is limited parking and the traffic is very congested. We took an Uber to Al Fahidi metro station and started our walk from there. Do yourself a favour and take an Uber, Careem, or metro. (The red line on the map below is showing how far down we took an Abra ride before turning around and heading to Deira Old Souq station.)
Looking for Something to do in Dubai this Weekend? Visit Dubai Design District.
Dubai Design Week is back again this year. If you haven't had a chance to stop by yet, you still have two days left. Design week ends November 18 and is well worth a visit. There are plenty of exhibitions, installations, talks, and workshops to participate in. Check out the programme for the latest and greatest in the design world. There is still plenty of events to take in. And if you don't feel like attending one of the organized events, just come and see some of the super cool installations that are on display in the public areas. There are a few very Instagram worthy attractions! See what 1000's of Swarovski crystals wired together to form a Dubai sun look like, get your children to count how many sheep they can spot, find the mesh installation that looks as cool from the outside as it does on the inside, and have your photo taken with a modern twist by the Dubai skyline. Top it off with a stop at one of the many restaurants, cafes, or ice cream shops-even eat under an olive tree! Dubai Design week is definitly worth, at minimum, a stroll through.
A Short Getaway From Dubai
When planning a trip, I often overlook some of the great locations that are close at hand here in our region for more grander sounding destinations. This year I decided I would make an effort to try and search out some of the gems closer to home to explore. First on the list was a visit to the beautiful Jebel Shams in Oman. Lucky for me, I have a friend (Nicole) who is also an adventure seeker who happily jumped at the idea of Jebel Shams as well. We decided on a three-day camping "Lite" trip at the top of Jebel Shams, the highest point in Oman. The highlight would be the "Balcony Hike" on the inside rim of the canyon at 3000m. The two of us packed up 6 tween/teen boys and headed for the mountains!
Being from Canada and Switzerland, Nicole and I have some experience being on a mountain but no experience on the inside of a canyon. We also had no experience being the lead camper. No experience driving up the side of a very steep mountain with hairpin turns. No experience leading a hike at the top of a canyon. Lots of "no's" :-) However, the thought of a super adventure with our boys outweighed any negatives and before we knew it we were fully packed and on the road to Oman.
Getting to Jebel Shams from Dubai
From Dubai, the drive is fairly straightforward. Drive to Al Ain and head to the Mezyad UAE border crossing to Oman. Warning-there are a few border crossings to Oman in Al Ain. Make sure you use the Mezyad crossing. I made the mistake of thinking there was only one crossing and wasted an hour trying to locate Mezyad. Once through the border, you stay on Highway 21 for three hours until you reach Amlah-Kubarah Rd. Here you turn off and make your way to the base of the mountain.
As we drove along, we eventually left the desert behind us and saw the landscape change into a very rocky, vegetation-free terrain. At the base of the mountain, we turned one corner and were amazed to see the abandoned village at Wadi Ghul right in front of us. We quickly pulled over to take photos. Next time, we will have to stop and take a closer look. The farms at the bottom were amazing.
Driving to the Top of Jebel Shams, Oman
Next, it was time to start the drive up Jebel Shams. The road was much steeper, had more bends, and longer than I had expected. For much of the drive, you are really on the edge of the mountain with no guard rails. It is partially paved, partially not. Needless to say, I was quite relieved to reach the top. We stopped for a much-needed stretch and walk to take in the view at the top before heading to our camping destination.
Setting up Camp on top of Jebel Shams
When I say Nicole and I opted for "Camping Lite" this is what I mean. We wanted somewhere with bathrooms, a shower, and a safe place to pitch our tents. I had heard it was very windy at the top of the mountain and I had visions of our tents, with us in them, being whisked off the side. When we found out it was possible to camp inside the walls of the Jebel Shams Resort, we thought it was worth investigating. We found out they had bathroom facilities we could use as well as the option to buy breakfast and dinner at the resort. It was a no-brainer. This is where we would "camp."
The kids happily got to work setting up all the camping equipment. They had so much fun figuring out where everything would go, how things worked and what they were for. They did a great job.
After the set up was complete the boys were happy to go burn off some energy. They were thrilled to see a volleyball net and a soccer ball ready to take some abuse. The six of them instantly formed teams and made up some version of volleyball/soccer that kept them occupied for hours. Literally, hours. Nicole and I went for a small walk behind the resort to watch the sunset. To say it was spectacular to see the sky change colour multiple times would be an understatement. Just amazing.
The Balcony Hike, Jebel Shams, Oman
The next morning we woke up early, had a nice breakfast at the resort, and were on our way to accomplish what we came for - The Balcony Hike on the inside rim of Jebel Shams at 3000m. Finding info about this hike is a bit difficult. Basically, from the resort, you drive around 3km to the VERY small village of Khateem. Here you can park your car and walk to the trailhead. We were focused on starting our hike so we didn't spend too much time looking at the village - we saved that for after the hike. When you first walk to the edge it's a little intimidating on where you should take your first step but then you see the trail flags and the path is easy to spot. The views are absolutely stunning. You will take a few minutes before you start walking just to try and take it all in. You feel like you are on another planet. Spectacular.
We set off at around 9:30 am and it was already starting to heat up. Warning - You must wear a hat, sun protection and bring lots of water with you. I'm not sure how far we walked before we took our first break, but probably not that far. There was a lot of stopping for photos, chatting, and admiring of the landscape.
As a last minute thought, we threw in a slingshot from home that never gets used. On a rest stop, the boys pulled it out and had fun learning how to use it. What better time could be had than to launch stones off a canyon at 3000m??? Some had had more practice than others but all the boys got the hang of it by the end.
Finally, the slingshot was put away. We had some more hiking to do. The distance of the hike is not extremely long but it takes time to climb over rocks and carefully make your way around some very steep ledges. If I was giving my recommendation, I would say that ten years old and above is a good age to attempt this trail.
After a few hours of hiking, we made it to our turn around point at the Hanging Village. The abandoned village literally looks like it is hanging on the side of the mountain. I have no idea how people lived here, but it was really fascinating discussing how we thought it might have been. We spent some time investigating and eating our lunch at this mysterious place.
Time to turn around and head back to the start. The walk back is uphill most of the way so make sure you have some water to get you to the end. There is a different perspective of the canyon on the way back so expect to stop again for photos. I promise it is near impossible to take a bad shot in this setting. Every single one will be beautiful.
The final uphill climb.
We did it! I would say the total hike took about 5 hours but that is including lots of breaks for snacks and photo taking. Make sure you bring your camera, the photos will be spectacular.
The Village of Khateem
At the end of the hike, we took some time to walk around the tiny village of Khateem. It consists of a few small, stone buildings. While everything in this landscape is a very neutral grey/orange hue, including the buildings, the doors popped with colour. Nicole and I, like many, have a love of doors and windows. This was right up our alley. Of course, all the friendly goats just added to the entertainment.
Late Afternoon at Jebel Shams Resort
Nicole and I had thought that the boys might be tired after a long hike in the sun. Wrong. Tired no. Hungry yes! The boys pulled out the camping stove they had learned to use the day before and became master chefs of the deliciously awful, Ichiban noodles. They were in heaven cooking up these salty treats, laughing at the ingredients, and relaxing while they ate.
Now that the boys were fed, we thought they would rest. Negative again. They proceeded to play, the volleyball game they made up the day before, for the next 6 hours straight!!! Nicole and I decided to leave them and go for a nice walk. The trees in this almost Mars-like setting were very interesting. Some looked like they had hands wrapping around them.
After dinner, we made our second campfire of the trip. The boys tried a flint to start the fire to no avail. Matches and paper were required to get our little fire going. It was really fun to sit around the campfire with the boys, roasting marshmallows and hearing their conversations. You find out some surprising things just by listening :-)
Our final morning came quickly and the boys did a great job helping us pack up the cars. We had some carrots left over so we went to find some goats to feed. You definitely don't have to look hard for these funny little creatures walking about. And with carrots in your hand, they will find you! The goats were great fun to watch, interact with, and photograph, and photograph, and photograph... :-)
After the goat feeding, it was time to drive back down the mountain. Happily, this turned out to be easier than the drive up. We decided we would make a quick stop at the Bahla Fort before heading back to Dubai.
Bahla Fort, Oman
The Bahla Fort, in Bahla, Oman, is a United Nations World Heritage Site. You wouldn't know this by visiting it as there isn't any information about it on the premises. It is the biggest fort in Oman and has been beautifully restored but don't expect to learn anything about it there. You will need to read up on it before or after your visit. The entrance fee is very little and well worth it so take a bit of time to go and have a look. The boys were less keen to see this site. I think they had the evenings social engagements back in Dubai on their minds. They didn't give us any grief as we walked through but I don't think they were as impressed as they were the day before with the hike. We even had to remind them at the end of the tour what the name of the fort was :-0 Regardless, it was really enjoyable to walk through.
The Original Fort
The rebuilt fort.
If you love doors, windows, and passageways, you would like a visit here.
This gentleman followed us around the fort pointing to everything he helped build. He was so proud of his work, and rightfully so. He also took great care to make sure no one bumped their head on the short door frames.
Like I mentioned, the boys were not as into this part of the trip. It was a combination of being a little tired, hot in the sun, and wanting to make it back to Dubai to go to a very anticipated social engagement. But they were not annoying or bothersome as we walked through. They just followed along. I loved taking their photos as they patiently waited for Nicole and me to finish the tour.
There is something very regal about the Omani. They always look so dignified in their attire and are genuinely friendly, nice people. I was so happy that these men allowed me to take their photo at the end of the tour. The perfect way to end a fabulous trip in Oman. If you are looking for something a bit different to do with your family, I strongly recommend a visit to Jebel Shams. A great adventure is waiting for you!