2018 The year that was: chaotic, fun, surprising, and painful at the same time. Hello dear readers, how have you been?
I honestly thought that my half-baked May 2018 post about Iftar, just before the NMC License has been implemented in the UAE, would be my last until something else (beautifully) happened thus this reflection sheet I've been drafting during the last days of the previous year but obviously failed miserably.
I've been on and off social media - especially in September when I was expected to be present at the most, flaunting off my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (I did on my Instagram, BTW. Too proud to be an ambassador for the 2nd time around). To be quite honest, with or without ambassadorship, I would be forever thankful that I met this mobile device. It made my life so much easier with easy access on everything that I am bound to do for my media activities (extended battery life included) and at the same time, it opened my senses to something else.
Where I've Been Last Year
With a lost wallet (including all my IDs, rent money and travel allowance to Rome in it) on the 2nd day of January last year, my first quarter started strong with a travel opportunity in Rome and a few magazine publication features such as Illustrado 100 MIFG, one full page feature on Dnata's World Traveller Magazine which was later on published online, and few other commentaries on WKND Bloggerheads and other countless publications where my name or photos would suddenly pop out.
Yes, one of my photos commissioned for Conde Nast USA
There were a few more actually, I was just too lazy recording everything and should've done it right - after all, I will be needing it for my future portfolio.
Another feature from American Express Essentials, check it out here.
Funny as it may sound, I would sometimes shy away with online interviews but gave Kabayan Weekly a shot. If you missed it, check out the FB live version here.
Of course, I also had some radio guesting back in October lol (feeling like a celebrity). I got invited once by Dubai Eye to talk about the article I wrote in 2015 where I have explored Dubai under 50aed. If you missed it, you can listen to the pod cast here.
Where I'm Heading
My last quarter and first few weeks of the year had a huge chunk of "plot twist" (as millennials call it) in it. You should know it by now (clues and gossips are everywhere!) thus the lack of content on my channels - because I'm being careful AND was asked to do so.
Too careful that I didn't realize that I am beginning to distance myself from the world that once listened to my voice, my writing, my thoughts, and my opinion. Too careful that I never realized there are people out there who are still interested to read some stranger's life because the things that I share are pure and true. Sadly, their response on how I see things are truer than those of the people nearest my radius who only play pretend that they actually care.
I didn't stop attending events and writing because I won't be able to handle it - the travel, long commutes, endless socializing etc. It was already in my system - I was wired to do it long before I left Manila or Boracay. I stopped because I was told I may lose something more precious; or because people actually made me feel that I shouldn't be joining on photos because "it's not yet time". And this made it more depressing because they are actually building barriers around me to limit the things that I can do for myself and P, the tiny Pebble inside me. And I'm not that person.
So here I am - not quitting blogging. In fact, you will see more of me spending time in this page, sharing our adventures and mishaps together, Pebble and I. Follow along as we continue filling this page with our own unique little story.
Ramadan season is here and you know what I have always been looking forward to? Iftars *tummy clap*! I've written countless articles about Iftars in Dubai on my blog for the past 4 years and likewise, I'm here to do another round-up - this time, for a list of the most reasonable Iftar selection around town!
Every year, lifestyle bloggers like myself get invited for these kinds of event not only to sample food but also to get acquainted with other influencers. And mind you, this is not just about endless eating - we provide the facility an honest feedback about their food because we get to try what they will be serving soon for the month of Ramadan. Shall we get started?
1) Iftar Buffet at Liwan Restaurant (Swissotel Al Ghurair)
You probably are familiar with Liwan, this was the same Liwan Restaurant from Al Ghurair Arjaan and Rayhaan Rotana before the hotel changed it's name. I have been a regular here so if you will be asking me if anything has changed at all, I would say yes but definitely in a good way. If they have changed their chef, I really don't know but I noticed that the way they served this year's lentil soup is better in a sense that a "character" was added to it (creamier and with more texture).
Liwan Restaurant's Grilled Chicken with gravy is one of the must try on their buffet menu
For most guests, lamb ouzi was the star of the night, biryani for some. Their meat selection definitely changed - their grilled chicken leveled up for some good reason and oh, what's not to miss is that beef medallion in mushroom sauce, cooked medium rare. Would definitely love a slice of that again. I've been missing their seafood selection and sushi, they haven't served it for Iftar since last year. But there are new desserts to compensate for it so i guess that's ok.
Price range per person: TBA Available promotions: TBA
From Asia to US/Canada and everything in between - you'll find the top resource from hotels, resorts, tourism companies, and airlines were all at the Arabian Travel Market 2018. This was my 5th year of attending the annual travel exhibition and every year, it gets bigger and better. Check out my latest video on YouTube (and don't forget to subscribe, lol):
The Thrift Trip Blog - Arabian Travel Market 2018 - YouTube
Getting to Dubai World Trade Center for #ATMDubai
Getting there is quite easy. There is a metro station right beside the trade center - World Trade Center Metro Station. All you have to do is to get off and take the exit towards the exhibition area and follow the sign that leads you to the registration booth. The first hall that you will see on your left is Sheikh Saeed Hall which is connected to all the other halls of ATM. They usually segment the halls by country to easily access destinations.
Pre-registration for the travel exhibition is free, and they usually send an invite a few months before the event. So if you are planning to go next year, mark your calendars and block the date for April 28- May 1, 2019 already!
Me, riding the metro towards World Trade Center
The Dubai Tourism Booth is always jam-packed with visitors
Arabian Travel Market, on it's 25th year! #ATMDubai25
Booths I Love During #ATMDubai25
Instaworthy booth at @citymaxhotels during the Arabian Travel Market
Well, do aside from the anti-gravity room of CityMax Hotels (which btw won me a 2night stay in one of their facilities), there are a few other booths that I loved during #ATMDubai25 .
Rove Hotels has this fun slide that made me unleash my inner crazy. They are an Emaar property so they are also attached to the rest of the hotels by Emaar Hospitality Group. And they have this sweet soft serve so... ^_^
One of my previous works (a Google 360 Virtual Tour with Dan Root) was also showcased there! Can you guess which hotel is this?
There are a few other booths that really wowed me at this year's Arabian Travel Market, see the video I posted on the first part of this post to explore more of it. Where we mostly gathered information and brochures for future trips are the booth of Seychelles, Thailand, Italy (because we seriously want to go back after that trip to Rome!), Sri Lanka, and India. We were also able to explore a couple of airline booths and as always, Emirates have shown an exemplary style of course assisted by their ever beautiful and gorgeous flight attendants.
Bloggers and Influencer Speed Networking
Me, checking out what's happening on social media lol
This is also my 3rd year of participating ATM's Blogger Speed Networking activity which usually takes place at hall 8 of the conference. It's an invite only event where us, travel bloggers, get to pitch to exhibitors and buyers and gather a few collaboration projects that will fit our channel.
Ended #ATMDubai25 with CebPac's Media Night at Crowne Plaza Deira
We also had a mini-gathering with Cebu Pacific's reps - an insightful and fun-filled karaoke night with my Filipino blogging family! They have announced many great news happening with Cebu Pacific like:
They will soon be expanding payment channel partners in the Middle East which will make it easier for #EveryJuan to book flights even without a credit card
They will operate more flights during summer (mid-May to July) for us, OFWs, to be able to visit our home country during the season
They are serving halal-certified menu for passengers, yay for our Muslim brothers and sisters!
They are offering 25kg baggage allowance to passengers, available until November 30, 2018.
And many others, visit their website for more details!
I had a very well-spent time at this year's Arabian Travel Market, I look forward to attending again next year!
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Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is the leading global event for the Middle East inbound and outbound travel industry. Visitor registration is free of charge when we have attended the exhibition, we were also invited to participate at the Blogger Speed Networking activity which happens every year. This post is not sponsored on any way but only for the purpose of sharing information. Photos and opinion are solely my own.
Welcome to the mini Greece of the UAE! Having friends who work in the hospitality industry gets me access to visit beautiful places like The Cove Rotana Resort in Ras Al Khaimah. But obviously, you gotta get a glimpse of the place first for you to know what I am talking about so here it is:
The Thrift Trip Blog - Gourmed Basilico Brunch at The Cove Rotana Resort - YouTube
Cove Rotana Resort Features
I can barely put into words how beautiful the resort is. A short walk through the pathway towards the beachfront will make you feel you're one with the nature.
There were hotel rooms and private villas (with their own pools) huge enough to hold a family or group of friends. Since it's located right at resort's hill, a majestic view of the ocean and manmade lakes sits right in front if you're viewing by the balcony.
Brunching at Cove Rotana - GourMed Basilico
Our group came in for Basilico's GourMed brunch which happens every Friday at Cove Rotana. The restaurant can easily be spotted at the left side of the resort near the receiving area.
The facility is a casual fine dining restaurant - they offer a variety of Mediterranean cuisine with bigger highlight on Italian selections. They have an open kitchen with live cooking station so if you are worried on what type of ingredients they are putting on you meal, feel free to take a sneak peek.
By the far the biggest selection of buffet I've ever tried in the UAE, their fresh seafood table was my go-to during our stay. Not to mention they also have several tables for cheese lovers - everything came all the way from Spain, Italy and France. They also serve several alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks but I will always opt for their sweet sangria.
Here are some photos to indulge and if you're feeling like it, have a look at their ongoing summer promotion at GourMed Basilico, on a limited time basis!
You can find The Cove Rotana Resort on these channels:
If you're thwarted by the scarcity of Saturday brunches and haven't tried dining at Sean Conolly at Dubai Opera, then this place is for you - they have this incredible (and ridiculously fun) Jazz Brunch at the Garden and I encourage you to go.
The Thrift Trip Blog - Sean Connolly Dubai Saturday Jazz Brunch - YouTube
A very chilled atmosphere for brunch
The famed restaurant is located at the top of the iconic building Dubai Opera in Downtown, Dubai. It was still breezy during the early spring we visited and of course, the foodie in me immediately requested for a seat with natural light - something that you can easily get at the Garden if the restaurant is not full.
Marble tables and countertops are all over the place so if you are looking at filling in your feed with whites and a grammable spot in Downtown, this definitely is the right spot.
Dance to the tune of jazz music
Every Saturday, they host a Jazz Brunch with live jazz music, very laid back and chilled atmosphere, and of course good food! Their band was so entertaining even I couldn't stop myself from dancing - I haven't seen a jazz band as lively as they are that no crowd wouldn't love.
Best seafood restaurant in Dubai indeed!
The restaurant is popular for seafood and steak and we tried some of it, they didn't fail. The brunch menu has starters, mains, sides, and desserts - everything to share.
We had a taste of everything on the menu: from green pea guacamole in lettuce boats, sashimi fish salad, lobster rolls, wagyu sliders, margherita and mushroom pizza, duck fat chips, garden salad in verjuice dressing, to beetroot & raspberry ‘Eton Mess’ for dessert. What left us drooling however is their house bread & ricotta (so fresh and sweet!) and their freshly grilled king prawns in green sauce.
With the hefty serving we consumed, Detox (AED 280 with non-alcoholic beverages) and Retox (AED 375 with alcoholic drinks) options are deal stealers considering its prime location and the quality of their food, all served on the menu. Will I come back for another round of Saturday brunch? Definitely!
You can find Sean Conolly at Dubai Opera on these channels:
Fujairah Rotana sure made it fun during their Easter Brunch at Waves Restaurant!
Whenever you feel like doing brunch in Dubai, ever thought of going somewhere nicer than the usual? That's how exactly I felt when I came over to Fujairah Rotana for their Easter Brunch at Waves Restaurant.
The usual brunch set up in DXB will sometimes make you feel sick and visiting the hotel facility for the first time is something new to me and so off with my blogger friends we explored another wonder in the UAE - Al Aqah Beach in Fujairah.
The Thrift Trip Blog - Fujairah Rotana Easter Brunch at Waves - YouTube
Family friendly seaside hotel with a great venue for food
Having a few good laughs with Lady at the beach side of Fujairah Rotana Hotel
Traveling to this part of the UAE is a breeze - all you have to do is follow the route on Google Maps and spot the area near Dibba or Al Aqah beach. If you are coming from Dubai, you are there in less than 2hours.
As we step into the hotel, I noticed that a lot of families of different nationalities were checked in - swimming by the pool or beach and having fun at the garden. Apparently, the hotel facility have a weekly activity for children so they can make the most out of their stay. The ones we were able to witness is the Easter Egg Hunting which I believe was enjoyed by many.
And of course, a wide selection of mouth watering food at Waves, oh yum! Freshly baked breads, selection of meat and kebabs, Indian and Arabic cuisines, Mexican delights like tacos and nachos, starters, sushi, desserts, and cheese - the choices are endless. And of course, what's a brunch without drinks? Here are some of my favorite photos, enjoy!
Massive thanks to Fujairah Rotana for having us over at Waves Easter Brunch, here's me and the Filipino bloggers squad:
Dubai Marina Street Festival 2018 near the Dubai Marina Mall
Did you say free entertainment for the weekend? Then this post is for you! As you know, the 8th annual Dubai Marina Street Festival once again kicked off last March 15 and every afternoon until the 24th, there are different performances happening across 9 pitches along the strip of Dubai Marina Walk.
#DMStreetFest Show Schedule
The shows usually start between 3:15pm until 10:30pm depending on the date. During the weekdays, shows start at 5:30pm to give way for those who work and students who go to school - yes, the show is free for all ages! Weekend show starts earlier.
Rome, Italy. Who would have thought I will be going this far? I won a photo competition via #gemsofitalia on Instagram and it took me a year to finally decide when I will be claiming my pair of tickets. Yes, a trip for two for me and the baby (our first trip out of the country together too!).
Although most people advised for me to take the trip in summer, we set foot to the mother land of pizza and pasta in mid- January. Why? It is during the winter season when the streets of Rome are not too crowded, we simply want to enjoy the city to our selves which obviously is not possible because it is another tourist destination after all.
So I Googled: 'photos of Rome during winter' in November and found the photo ideas that I was looking for. Empty streets along Trastevere Neighborhood. Domes. The Vatican. The Aventine Keyhole. A wall shot near the Colosseo. Piazzas. There's just too many.
Too bad we weren't able to experience snowfall in Rome - it would've been amazing. But alas, below photos weren't published on my Instagram yet so get yourself ready with some eye catching images.
This is just a preview of what's coming in the next couple of posts, so sit back, relax, and wait for it!
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I won this trip all expense paid trip in January 2018, sponsored by Peroni Nastro Azurro. Photos are (c) TheThriftTrip Blog unless otherwise stated, opinion are my own.
Hello blog readers! It has been a long long while weeee!!!! And I know you've been watching this page for too long (big thanks to you too stalker, you've been adding up on my daily and monthly sessions lol) so I'm just quickly letting you know that I'm still alive and kicking and I was out there, in the world, creating content.
Oh and this one too so please stay tuned:
I'M FINALLY ON YOUTUBE!!! (Channel Teaser shot on Galaxy Note 8) - YouTube
PS: The Thrift Trip is no longer solo traveling, the thought of going around with a travel buddy is just nice, isn't it? I will see you in my next grand travel post!