I haven’t done a honeymoon write up in a little bit – sorry about that everyone! I’m really excited about this one, remember that super cool bride back in May who had a freaking parade from her ceremony to her reception?? Yeah – well she also went on a super sweet honeymoon and was oh-so-kind to do a little write up about her trip (and provide some incredible photos!). Enjoy it here:
Honeymoon tip #1 – When your employer has a raffle drawing at the employee Christmas party for travel related prizes put all your tickets into the most expensive option. Even if that option happens to a location that might not be in your top ten-list. Because, if you win, you’ll soon experience a wondrous adventure and fall in love with a whole new part of the world! That’s what happened to us. When I won plane tickets to Abu Dhabi I was SO excited, and also a little nervous. Though we had other honeymoon plans we knew we had to change them to find out where it was exactly that Garfield always sent Nermal. Plus, telling people you are going to the Middle East on your honeymoon makes you sound cool.
Looking at a map you might be a little nervous about heading to the United Arab Emirates or Oman as they neighbor Yemen and Saudi Arabia respectively. But, both countries land on numerous ‘safest places to travel’ lists along with Iceland and Australia. We had a layover in Chicago on the way to Abu Dhabi and I felt more cautious on the ‘L’ than I did my entire 10 nights in the Middle East. Everything was safe and clean and everyone was friendly and polite. The only thing that was unforgiving in that part of the world was the sun. The heat was unlike anything we have ever experienced. And it wasn’t a dry heat either; every city we visited was right on the ocean. Granted we did visit in May, which is almost their summer.
Not ones to sit still we visited two cities in U.A.E. (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and two cities in Oman (Khasab and Muscat). U.A.E provided the world’s biggest mall, tallest building, most expensive hotel, and the world’s largest hand woven carpet. Oman, in contrast, provided incomparable natural beauty, fishing villages, and a capital city that puts height restrictions on its building to retain its traditional charm.
We did all of the things you’d expect of a Middle Eastern vacation: dessert safari by jeep, camel riding, smoking a hookah, window-shopping at the gold market, touring magnificent mosques that were beautiful and extravagant. But we also delighted in the unexpected experiences: some of the best beaches we’d ever seen with crystal clear water and soft sand, snorkeling, boat rides through fjords, mountain tours, eating a variety of global foods and being continually charmed by the service. Lounging by the pool is nice, but can you picture lounging by the pool and given fresh cut fruit, then a free Popsicle, then a rose scented cold towel? How about turn down service every night with a chocolate covered fig and poem on your pillow? If you enjoy being pampered this is the destination for you!
We cannot say enough good things about our experiences. The worst thing that happened was Brian walked into the ‘women’s only’ car on the subway and was told nicely to get back to the male side. Women, men, and families can ride together. But there are women only cars for those who are very devote. The cultural differences are what make traveling so much fun. And it also makes the world feel so much smaller.
So, looking back, even if the airfare wasn’t free I’d still have chosen the Middle East as our honeymoon. Plus, it’s good to do things that make you a little nervous, especially together as a couple! What a way to start a life together.
- Swim in the morning or after 4p.m. We tried to go to the beach once at noon and it was simply too warm. If you think going into the water will cool you down, it won’t. The water feels like a hot bathtub. You’ll enjoy it more once the sun starts to go down. After a long day of sightseeing we’d enjoy a cocktail on the ocean and a sunset swim.
- Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are not walking cities. Not only is it extremely hot but there aren’t really sidewalks. Plan on taking taxis or the subway system.
- Do take public transportation between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is reliable, safe and will save you a lot of money if you don’t hire a private ride.
- Bring lots of money if you plan on drinking alcohol. While generally prohibited, it is readily available in hotels and western restaurants. However, it is expensive and those used to the craft beers of Minneapolis will not be impressed with the beer selection.
- Consider your water intake. It is the dessert after all. I packed a camelback and was so happy I did. I sipped on it all day and never got thirsty. I can see sunstroke being a serious issue here.
- Likewise consider your clothing. While dressing modestly is recommended anyways I found wearing light cotton long sleeved shirts and linen pants kept me cool and I didn’t have to worry about wearing sunscreen.
- Friday brunch buffets in the U.A.E. are a thing. Do this! We ate for three hours straight, as did everyone around us. There was a whole room dedicated to cheese for heck’s sake!
- The service at all the hotels is amazing. When a hotel e-mails you prior to your stay to ask about your visit don’t blow this off! Indicate why you are traveling. We were showered with gifts once they found out it was our honeymoon.
- Check hours of operation. Many mosques are only open during certain times, and some of the high-rises are only available for tours during certain parts of the day