This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

Or maybe you want to go from sea to ski? Either way, you can do both in a day because IT’S DUBAI!

I have never before been someplace where you can do the best of the extreme weather sports in the same city no matter the date. Imagine staying at a Swiss style chalet where the view from your bedroom window is of the slopes you have been skiing or snowboarding down. Then imagine after breakfast the next day, you decide you feel like warming up on the soft sands of the gulf coast beaches or a dip in the beautiful water. Well, it is all possible through Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.

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Ski-Dubai

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Spend the day on the slopes at Ski Dubai. You don’t have to come to the desert prepared for the snow since they include everything that you need from gloves to a snow suit, boots and even winter sporting gear. Not a ski bunny? That is OK, neither am I, with my cold weather triggered asthma. You can still bundle up and have the most incredible encounter with penguins with Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai. I think Mona Lisa, the King penguin, was over our visit by the time it was my chance for a hug and a kiss, but being that close to such an extraordinary animal was amazing in itself. The trainers made it clear that the safety and comfort of the animals was first priority and gave us a very detailed briefing before we were allowed to interact with Mona Lisa and her friend, Lucifer, the Gentoo penguin. All funds from the Peng-Friend encounters support their penguin conservation, education and research partners.

Snow-Penguins-Ski-Dubai

If summer fun is more your thing, Dubai has water based activities in spades. Because our time was so booked with little tastes of all this city has to offer, we only ended up with an hour to spend at Aquaventure. Part of The Atlantis on The Palm (reclaimed land development in the shape of a palm tree), this waterpark is a playground of epic proportions! I could easily see myself and my water loving family spending two or more days at Aquaventure alone! In fact, it might take me that long to build up the courage to tackle The Leap of Faith. Since we only had that one hour to play, Lisa from Couturing and I spent the time on some more tame rides and taking photos in the gorgeous early evening Dubai light. Bringing my Olympus TG-3 waterproof camera was one of my best ideas for this trip. It really makes vacation photos extra special when you can take them where your regular camera and phone camera can’t go. 

aquaventure

aquaventure
 So penguins in the morning and “mermaids” in the afternoon, Dubai has it all.

aquaventure

At-the-end-of-the-palm

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I came home from this trip so inspired. It wasn’t simply a getaway for bloggers to share what amazing things Dubai has to offer, but also our annual Bloggerati meeting. While I can’t go into details about anything we discussed, I can say that I left this trip with even more confidence in my agency and their vision as well as twenty new blogging tribe members who will help collaborate and inspire to move this industry forward in fantastic ways for not just us and our readers, but all who consider this a career. I’m so proud to be even a small part of these exciting times.

That means so much for my blog in the new year. There will be MANY more ways to help my readers photograph their daily lives simply and beautifully as well as encouraging more to share through visual storytelling. Over the Christmas break, I will be working on a new project as well as releasing my tiny tips for taking better shots with your phone cameras. That is just the start. When we throw real life out there and open our hearts, the good just expands outwards like ripples in a pond. That is what Sesame Ellis is all about.

What-Sesame-Sees

Luckily we landed home from Dubai on a Thursday morning so that I only had two weekdays to navigate through the fog of jet lag. Despite taking All. The. Naps. I was just completely depleted on Saturday morning. The family has been amazing with me and encouraged me to get as much rest as possible. The weekend started with my little alarm clock, Kieran, coming in at 6 something with my childhood copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends. For the next nearly two hours he read the book to me in its entirety. This little boy who could not read a year ago was nearly performing the poems.

What Sesame Sees

I got a bit more napping in before washing the contents of my suitcase and hanging it all out to dry in the glorious summer sun. Parking myself on the lounge on the back deck, the three kids played and I got a little taste of the days we will have when school ends on Friday. They are going to be awesome.

what sesame sees

Has summer started for you? Maybe it is winter where you are? I’d love to see what your life looks like this weekend.

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  • valentina - Hi Rachel :)
    welcome home! i’m from italy and is winter here!

    xoxo from Verona (italy) CIAOReplyCancel

This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

I am not really a bucket list kind of girl. I always thought that it was just because the concept was a bit too morbid for me. I don’t want to think about running out of time to do things, I just want to do them. Now I know that avoiding contemplation of my own mortality wasn’t the reason at all! I just never knew about the things out there worthy to strive for on a list until the other night. Of course I was aware of various travel experiences, but never having gone on one before, I would toss them all into the “too hard” basket and never make them a priority to plan on our holidays. Someone was always too tired to be bothered.

All that changed a few nights ago when I was booked into The Desert Safari Experience provided by Platinum Heritage here in Dubai. The promise of a real live camel ride was enticing, but I had no idea what sheer delight awaited me that evening. If you have a bucket list, pop this into the top spot. If you, like me, haven’t got a list, you do now. Even if it only has this one thing on it.

The guides who picked us up at the hotel ended up being with us the entire evening. They were hilarious and knowledgeable which is a combination that destroys any doubt around participating in a group tour. Even the 45 minute drive to the desert was fun and we had not even started our experience yet.

Platinum Heritage set the scene right at the gate of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve so that despite having just turned off a modern day highway, we felt like we were in some sort of a mid-twentieth century movie. Upon arrival they helped cover our heads with traditional wraps, keffiyeh and invited us to sit in open 1950’s jeeps. As it was early evening when we began the adventure, the sun sat low on the horizon bathing everything in golden light and defining the vast desert into waves of sand. We split into smaller groups and I was in a car with Emily from Melbourne Girl, Dani from The Home Journal, Khalil from Food Porn as well as Dom and David from Nuffnang Australia. Apparently we picked the fast car and our driver was awesome. He zipped expertly over the dunes stopping for us to view the wildlife as well as giving us a fantastic explanation of the various trees we saw. I now know what tree is poisonous and which ones camels eat for water in case I ever find myself stranded with a thirsty camel in the Arabian Desert. The cinematic scenery coupled with the sheer thrill of simple doing something forbidden in our regular daily lives like riding around without a seatbelt in the back of a truck was pretty intoxicating… Which is good since they don’t serve alcohol.

The little jaunt through the desert was just the start. At sunset we found ourselves on gorgeous carpets and cushions in the sand to watch a falcon trainer and his falcon, Insect. The full moon came up just as the gorgeous sunset faded and we were off once again to the main event, dinner in a bedouin inspired camp under the stars. We even got quick camel rides before the fantastic Middle Eastern feast. My favourite was the traditional lentil soup that began the meal. I could eat that every day!

While we ate, dancers entertained us, a henna artist decorated anyone interested and anyone who wanted could smoke shisha under the stars. 

As dinner ended, the last of the dessert was offered and we climbed back into the jeeps for a final ride back to the gates. I didn’t want the night to end. I can’t believe I started my bucket list and crossed off the one thing on it the very same night.

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This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

One of the advantages about documenting this adventure in Dubai with so many bloggers is that we could sample a selection of the hotels that Dubai has to offer! I am staying at The Address Dubai Mall and with its proximity to the largest shopping centre in the world as well as the tallest building on earth, it is a popular spot.

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

So popular that it was completely booked out the day we landed so our rooms were not immediately ready when we arrived. I can see why this would be a top choice for visiting families as the kids club in the hotel is huge and open from 10am to 10pm daily. There is a fitness centre as well as a beautiful spa for the adults. But outside is the real gem. Under the grand shadow of the Burj Khalifa, there is a massive pool and Cabana for poolside dining that the entire family can enjoy. 

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

Upon our arrival we were welcomed with a traditional Middle Eastern drink of jallab juice. A beverage of the most delicate magenta colour, it is a sweet and refreshing mix of carob, dates, grape molasses and rose water. Checking in at the impressive reception desk under the portraits of the three most powerful sheikhs in the UAE is an experience that highlights the certain and specific majesty of being a guest in Dubai. It is certainly for me, a whole other world than what I am used to back home…and isn’t that what you want when you are travelling to another country? I want to feel like I am where I am, not just any hotel that could be in any country anywhere. While I admit to still ordering a latte with my breakfast, I am determined to try the camel milk that is on offer at least once before I go home. It is all the little details of The Address Dubai Mall that constantly feed your senses to remind you that you could only be one place, Dubai. 

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The room has been so peaceful. Despite facing this constantly busy city, my bedroom is nearly silent and very calm. I can see the world by going outside, but I can’t hear a thing. The big arm chair has a view of the Burj Khalifa so you don’t even need to go out on the balcony. Again, even simply reading a magazine inside the room at The Address Dubai Mall, you can’t forget that you are in Dubai. While it would be a great hotel for families, it has been an excellent office on the road for me. I have been able to concentrate on my work and editing pictures without interruption and there is even complimentary WiFi so I can keep up with all the internet things. But the best part…the bath. The tub is so deep and long. A true luxury item even in their most simple room. And when I got in the bath the other night, I figured out I could see the television from it. Unfortunately I did not have time to indulge for long, but it was a real treat to have even just a few moments of alone time.

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

I know that I will be back to my own beautiful reality in Melbourne soon, but for now, I will appreciate the magic that only Dubai has to offer.

The-Address-Dubai-Mall

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  • Nor - Glad to see you’re enjoying Dubai, just a little heads up before you try fresh camel milk for the first time it might make your GIs go a little bit crazy for a day or so…
    There’s this wonderful restaurant that you must go to, a great spot for brunch called The Farm. You should also check out Dubai skydive, they’ve got plenty of nice activity but usually they’re fully booked so check ahead. One more thing, you must go to the global village. Must. Enjoy the rest of your vacationReplyCancel

  • valentina - wow Rachel :) i love this post and these photos!! love the place!!
    xoxo from italy!ReplyCancel

  • Amy @ Eat Pray Workout - Hey hun,
    Lovely shots! Looks like you guys had a great hotel too! Quick question – do you put two images together via photoshop or is there a quicker way? PS have some great shots from this morning! Love AmyReplyCancel

    • sesame - I used to do all my blog story boards in Photoshop, but now I use BlogStomp and it is super easy!
      Very nice to meet you on this trip!ReplyCancel

  • Jasmin - I love these photos Rachel!
    Enjoy xReplyCancel

  • Laney - So many things to photograph. It’s great that you’re getting a strong sense of place – it’s always disappointing when hotels seem homogenised and you could be anywhere.ReplyCancel

  • sonia stackhouse - Your photos are stunning Rachel. You make me feel like I am still there. It was brilliant to meet you you talented chick you xxReplyCancel

  • Mel : One Crafty Mumma - Wow, your hotel was really beautiful – love that pretty cactus in the gold jar. It was lovely to catch up with you again xxReplyCancel

This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

We landed in Dubai as the sun rose over the desert and hit the ground running. The first order of business was to get settled into our hotels. Because we arrived so early in the morning, I had some free time before my room was ready to go and get a local SIM for my phone. WiFi has been easy to access so far, but since we were going to be spending our first day in old Dubai city, I wasn’t sure it was going to be as readily available. Luckily I am staying at The Address Dubai Mall and as you can imagine from the name of the hotel, I am literally adjacent to the largest mall in the world. I strolled on over and picked up a SIM with 1GB of data. After a shower and quick change, I was off to tour old Dubai city. 

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I was worried that jet lag would prevent me from being a good tour participant, but this was not just a regular walk-around with a guide being talked through the sights. 1001 Events put together a really fabulous way to see and interact with everything with an adventure game on iPads. From the Dubai museum, through the souks and even across the water in an Abra (water taxi) we explored and searched. We had to really pay attention to our surroundings so we could learn about things and answer the questions correctly. I felt like we were in a movie. I know my kids would have really loved it too. What a wonderful way to bond with new friends and experience a new place!

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mydubai

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As the sun set, we quickly switched gears from historical Dubai to the brand new China Grill for dinner and it was amazing. I wish I could have lasted a bit longer, but jet lag finally won and pulled me back to bed!

mydubai

Luckily my internal alarm clock has reset with just one night’s sleep and I was up at 6AM and ready for our next adventure, ‘At The Top!’ Shooting up an stealth-like elevator (seriously, everything in Dubai is either shiny or sleek…mostly both) 125 floors to the observation decks of the Burj Khalifa was as exciting as I had hoped. What a view! Being in such a busy metropolis, it is easy to forget that you are surrounded by dessert on most sides and the Persian Gulf on the other until you have a vantage point like the one from At The Top! 

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It was hard to top the morning’s experience, but the Dubai Mall has a lot to offer with more than 1,200 shops, KidZania, Sega Republic and the wonderful Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. I think I could spend a year here at just the mall and still not see everything. 

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KidZania

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And to think, this is just the start of our trip!

mydubai

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  • Michelle Osborne via Facebook - These photos are stunning Rachel! And all from one day. The shot from the top of the tower makes the old city look like coral!ReplyCancel

  • Laney - Amazing! It’s like an exotic crime/thriller where you’re racing through the streets trying to solve the mystery. Can’t wait to hear more about it.ReplyCancel

  • Janice - Absolutely stunning photos Rachel.ReplyCancel