Ayesha Ziya 1 fragrance launch 

I’m sure you’ve all seen the iconic Ayesha Ziya perfume bottles all over Instagram over the last few years and more than likely smelt at least one of her fragrances. She started off with Irum (my favourite out of them all!) and then went on to release The Oud, Islah, Signature Oud and Royal Mirage. The brand has gone from strength to strength with the scents even being turned into candles and more recently refreshing towelettes. The signature black bottles with tassels and gold font have become synonymous with the Ayesha Ziya name but today I am bringing you something different from the brand; the new 1 fragrance.I recently received the new fragrance and the packaging has had a complete overhaul. The new bottle comes in polished glass with a textured gold gift box. This fragrance contains a combination of Sandalwood, Amber and of course Oud making this a very strong scent. One wee scoosh and I could smell it on me all day!I spoke with Ayesha about the inspiration behind this new scent and she said that she wanted to create something unique with a luxurious design that you can proudly carry with you wherever you go. You certainly can do that and I think this one will sit firmly in my handbag but I will definitely use it sparingly because like I said earlier, with this one, a little bit goes a long way. I believe that 1 marks the beginning of a whole new numbers collection so I wonder what 2 will bring us?

The bottle comes in 100ml, is priced at £99 and you can purchase yours here:

https://www.ayeshaziya.com/purchase-now.html

I absolutely love the new design and like the fact that Ayesha has moved on to using glass for her bottles. I remember her showing me a graphic for the new bottle at the beginning of the year when we she was in Dubai when it was just at the design process so it was really cool actually seeing it all made in person! Yes, the bottle is different but make no mistake; 1 is an Ayesha Ziya fragrance through and through. I look forward to seeing where she goes with her brand next and can’t wait to see number 2 in the near future.

Let me know what you guys think when you get yours!

Love,

Miss Mulberry 

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A summer holiday in Italy – part 4 in Venice. 

Finally, I bring you…VENICE.

This was the last stop on our Italy trip and it definitely didn’t disappoint. We took the train again from Florence to Venice and the journey lasted around 2 hours. Tickets cost around €70 each but depending on when you book them, you could probably get them cheaper too. This journey wasn’t as pleasant as the Rome to Florence one because the first hour or so was spent going through tunnels. A lot of dark tunnels. After a while I started to feel really anxious because there was nothing to see outside the windows other than pitch black darkness. Every so often the train would peep out into the sunshine and I would see green fields and get excited but alas there would be another tunnel to follow. Of course my husband was not bothered by this in the slightest and was sleeping soundly in the seat next to me. Just to make you aware of this if like me the whole tunnel thing would bother you. Download something on Netflix if you don’t really like being on a train going through a dark tunnel for an hour – it will keep your mind off it! Thankfully I had downloaded Ojka on to my iPad and it kept me occupied…such an amazing film, by the way! But that’s another story.

After the two hour journey we got to Venice and it was truly something special. As the train pulls into the station you can see this great big canal right in front of you; a sight that you don’t see every day as you walk out of a train station. I’m used to Glasgow Central Station which has the Bank of Scotland opposite it. Wild.

Because of where Venice is geographically located it is pretty much surrounded by water which means there are no roads with cars. Now, I knew this before I went but it wasn’t until I got there that I thought about it practically. The main form of transport in Venice is by water. A private taxi boat or the public water bus. When I got there and saw the canal in front of me it sort of hit me then – oh wait, I have to sit on a boat. GULP. I should insert in here that I can’t swim therefore hate going on boats. I will go on them if they are quite big but small boats literally freak me out so I’m sure you’ve guessed that this caused a slight issue later on in this story. But, let me start with some practical advice about Venice!

As soon as you come out of the train station you will find an ACTV ticket kiosk right in front of you which is super handy. The ACTV is a vaporetto water bus which is the equivalent of buses and subways on dry land! You could also get a private water taxi to your hotel but they are absolutely extortionate. I had already found this out whilst looking up prices on the internet so we had decided that the vaporetto would be fine. Now, let me tell you that if we thought Rome was busy – Venice was twice as congested with tourists everywhere. We realised this within the first ten minutes! We bought a two day ACTV pass which allowed us to go on any of the water buses for 48 hours including the boats that go to other islands such as Burano and Murano! The 24 hour pass is €40 and the 48 hour was for €30. This genuinely was the best money we spent because we went to Burano and back and went all around Venice loads during the two days that we were there.Once we bought tickets we took the ACTV to St Mark’s Square (St Marco) stop as our hotel was just a 5 minute walk from there.

Few things to note about this experience:

· We had to wait around 45 minutes to get on to the water bus because of just how many people were waiting to do the same. I’m assuming it’s not like this when it’s not peak summer holiday season.

· It was absolutely roasting and we were all squished up together in this little hut that serves as the water bus stop. Kids crying, mothers screaming and me and Atteeq standing there with our three suitcases sweating our wee faces off.

· Once we got on to the water bus we couldn’t find a seat as again it was just packed so it wasn’t ideal because we were super tired but because it literally is a water BUS you don’t feel it moving around or anything so I was quite happy with the fact that although I had worked myself up about getting on to a boat, it was absolutely fine.

· The private water taxis driving past were literally ZOOMING past and I thought I would rather wait in scorching sunshine to get on to a water bus than to get a private water taxi that would bob around and I would probably just die on the boat.

· The water taxi took around 40 minutes to get to St Mark’s Square stop and a water taxi probably would have taken half that time. No regrets though. Of course the water bus takes much longer wherever you are going so if you have a tonne of money and aren’t afraid of going on small boats then the private water taxi is for you.

Venice is all cobbled streets and bridges and like I said there’s no cars to take you place to place so book your hotel wisely so you don’t have to lug your luggage around. Thankfully we got on to the water bus right out of the station and when we came off our hotel wasn’t a long walk away! We had booked the Westin Europa which is literally in the best location in Venice in my opinion because you get the most amazing view.

This view.We booked this hotel because it had almost perfect Tripadvisor reviews and the place certainly lived up to expectations. It was very central meaning we could walk to all the main sites or walk to the water bus station and get around that way. We spent a little while exploring the hotel and then went off to see Venice.

There are so many narrow winding streets that it does almost get a little claustrophobic when you’re walking through them just because of the amount of people that are there during the summer months. Other than this, I absolutely loved Venice and it was the perfect stop to end our holiday. We spent our last night in Italy sitting on the Grand Canal watching the sunset and it was just pure bliss.

Outfit details:

Top and trousers – Zara

Shoes – H&M

Sunglasses – Aldo

Okay, so here’s the part about the boats that caused the problem. Our flight back to Amsterdam (on the way back to Dubai) from Venice was at 6.30am which meant that we needed to be there by 4.30am at the latest. We spoke to the Westin on the first night about how we could get to the airport and were told that the only way to get there from our hotel to the airport that early in the morning would be by private water taxi. Uh oh. Going on a super-fast boat in the DARK? Uh uh. Not happening. Other options were getting the ACTV back to the other end of Venice and getting a regular bus to the airport because there is a road there. BUT, the ACTV wasn’t running so early in the morning. I know it may sound silly but the thought of being on a small boat so early in the morning in the dark just freaked me out and it literally was the only way we could get to the airport at that time so we checked out of the Westin Europa after the first night and moved to another hotel in the Piazzale Roma area. It is right next to the bus station and it meant that we could wake up in the morning and get an actual car transfer to the airport on the morning that we left. We were gutted to leave the Westin Europa because it was such a lovely hotel but I was glad we changed because had I thought about the whole boat issue I would have booked a hotel in the Piazzale Roma area in the first place and just taken the ACTV to St Mark’s Square every day. Yes, it would have been around 45 minutes to get there every day but Piazzela Roma is the tiniest walk away from the train station. Hence, if you stay in this area then you are close to the train station and the roads to get back out of Venice via car or bus but if you stay in central Venice then you will be right in the heart of the city and won’t have to travel too far to get to the main places. FYI the private 30 minute water taxi from the Westin Europa to the airport would have been €180. Absolutely crazy right? The private car transfer from the hotel on the second night was €70.

My advice would be that staying near St Mark’s square is good if you’re there for a few days and want to be in the hub of everything. If you are there for a day or two then maybe it would be more sensible to stay near the train station or Piazzale Roma just so you can get in and out the city more conveniently.

A lot of you asked me about halal food too and let’s just say it’s again pretty much non-existent in Venice. We did however find a greasy kebab shop which was halal certified. I had lasagne on a disposable plate with a disposable fork and it was actually pretty good! Funny how normally I wouldn’t go near a place like that but after a week of Penne Arrabiata and Margherita pizza our hygiene standards dropped significantly. We needed MEAT!

I’m sure all those of you who follow me on Instagram and Snapchat know that I didn’t go on a gondola whilst I was in Venice. DUN DUN DUNNNNN!!!! I had absolutely every intention of going on one and getting that ‘sitting on a gondola on the Grand Canal’ picture but when I got there and saw those things rocking side to side I chickened out. I know, I know, I should have just faced my fear but I honestly don’t regret it. It looked so romantic but I was quite happy just watching other people sit in them.Overall, I loved Venice. It is exactly how it looks in pictures, if not even better.It’s quite an expensive city so prepare to spend a little more here than some other European cities. What I didn’t like about Venice was how water transport was the main form of transport and that if you’re staying in the centre of Venice and have an early flight, getting a car to the airport isn’t an option. It may sound silly to some of you but that is actually the main thing I didn’t like about the city. I know it’s silly because of course that’s just where it is located geographically so there’s not much we can do about it other than like it or lump it! I definitely liked it. Just next time, I will make sure we get a hotel at the edge of Venice next to a road where cars can drive around. On land.

Love,

Miss Mulberry

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A summer holiday in Italy – Part 3 in Burano

Hello everyone! 

Before I publish the piece on our final destination, I thought I would do a quick blog post on a little island called Burano just outside of Venice. We took a day trip here whilst we were in Venice and had so much fun! 

‘Ohhhhh this place’, I hear you all say to yourself! Burano is one of those places you’ve all seen on Instagram and thought I want a picture with that pink house! 

Quite frankly that is genuinely one of the main selling points of Burano. It’s a tiny island and there’s not much to do other than relax, eat food (lots of gelato of course) and then head back to Venice. It’s a must see if you are in Venice because of what a unique place it is though! We took a ACTV waterbus over to Burano and back (more on the transport of Venice in my next post!) and it was pretty easy to get there! 

The brightly painted houses are just so cute and my outfit on that day just happened to be bright yellow with flowers on it. Of course. Promise it wasn’t planned. 

Interesting fact about the houses; if someone wishes to paint their home, they must send a request to the government who will then respond by letting them know which colours are permitted for their particular house. We actually saw one of the houses getting a top up and it made me think it must be quite annoying for the people living there to not be able to choose the colour of their house and also that there’s thousands of tourists during peak times hanging off their doors trying to get the perfect Instagram shot. There were so many people there, some even queuing up for certain houses to get photographs! But then again, I guess tourism is the main way for the island to make money so it’s a catch 22.

Outfit details: dress – ASOS, Bag – Tory Butch 

I think these are the types of pictures I will look back at one day and think I was so cool im my 20s but really it’s the surroundings I tell you! 

On an aside, you can also visit the island of Murano which is famous for its glass making if you are in Venice.We didn’t get a chance but were pretty happy with Burano. 

Have you guys been here? Let me know what you thought! 

I leave you with some more photos of this beautiful island and hope you are all well!

Love,

Miss Mulberry 

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A summer holiday in Italy – part 2 in Florence! 

Hola amigos!

Let’s just say I have been watching Narcos for the last six hours and basically think I’m Colombian now and want to learn Spanish. Si. Right, so my last post was a bit of a monster so I’m going to keep it brief and to the point today. Okay, I will TRY to keep it brief and to the point today!

From Rome we set off early morning and got a train from Roma Termini Station which is the main train station there to Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence. We bookedout  train tickets from the actual station (about a 20 minute walk from Hotel Degli Artisti) the night before. We booked first class train tickets which only cost us around 40euros each which was pretty good. The train took around an hour and a half and was a really pleasant journey overall. The Venice one was a little trickier but will explain why in my next post! Getting the train from Rome to Florence is pretty easy but the only annoying thing for us was that we had three suitcases of luggage as this trip was on the way back to Dubai. Although, to be fair I’m pretty sure I would have accumulated that much luggage even if this was a trip straight to Italy. Hehe.

Because we were only in Florence for one day and night we set off pretty early for C-Hotels Ambasciatori. This hotel was literally OUTSIDE the train station. As in, step outside the train station and there it is right in front of you across the road. Super handy if you have luggage with you. We got there around 11.30am and the hotel were happy to keep our stuff whilst we explored as check in was around 2pm I think. Honestly, I can’t recommend this hotel enough because of how practical the location it was. The actual hotel was really nice too, very modern and just what you need for one day and night in Florence.

Everything in Florence other than Piazella Michelangelo is within walking distance. The Duomo of Florence was around a ten minute walk from the hotel so we set off with our maps! We wanted to go to the top of the Duomo which is the main thing to do there but hadn’t booked in advance and there were no more slots left. We were pretty gutted but it just wasn’t meant to be so we saw the Duomo from the inside, explored the area around the Duomo and took of course took some pictures of course. 


Dress – ASOS

Shoes – H&M

Bag – Charles & Keith

Watch – Daniel Wellington 

Sunglasses – Aldo 

Again, it was SO busy that you couldn’t even move half the time!

Florence is such a beautiful part of the region of Tuscany that you just end up staring at every building that looks like a work of art. The amount of detail that has gone into the buildings is unbelievable. We walked around all of the main sites including the infamous bridges and of course ate a lot of gelato whilst enjoying the Italian sun. Bellisimo!Florence is much smaller than Rome and you definitely don’t feel like you are in a big city like you do when in Romaaaa. One night was definitely enough here and overall Florence was probably the most relaxing part of our trip! We had decided that we would go and watch the sunset at the Piazzela Michelangelo which is on a hill and gives you a panoramic view of Florence. Lots of websites online comment on this and it is said to be a site not to be missed if you are in Florence. A taxi there from our hotel would cost around 20 Euros and then 20 Euros back so instead we got the bus which cost around 1.20 each for a return ticket. I kid you not. The bus although busy was absolutely fine and you will literally get it from outside the train station all the way up to the square. I would recommend getting the bus if you have time and don’t want to fork out 40 Euros for around an hour or so up there.This was an amazing experience and pretty romantic. Aren’t all sunsets? Especially so when you’re watching a Tuscan sunset.  

Until next time readers when I will take you on a journey to Venice!

Love,

Miss Mulberry

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A summer holiday in Italy – Part 1 in Rome! 

Hey girlies!!!!

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I did this. It’s been one crazy summer for me and boy has it just flown right in! The first three weeks of my summer was spent in the UK mainly celebrating my younger brother’s wedding. It was an absolutely amazing time but an extremely busy one also and the days just sort of blended into one another with us all busy running around for all the wedding events. I didn’t really get a chance to do normal things like sit in my PJs with my sister watching endless TV or lay down with my head in my mummy’s lap. That one I’m really gutted about to be perfectly honest. 

All in all it was an amazing three weeks with my husband joining me for the final week of my trip. After the wedding events were over we had one day to recover (it really wasn’t enough time whatsoever) before it was time to head off for a week’s holiday in Italy on the way back to Dubai.

Now, our summer holiday plan was something we had started working on months ago and the idea of going straight after the wedding was something we hummed and hawed about for weeks before we booked up. Sadly, Atteeq only gets a limited number of holidays from work a year and he had already used up the majority of this year’s holidays for two sibling weddings between us so we didn’t have many options in terms of the timing of our summer holiday. So, when we booked our flights to Glasgow we booked via KLM (they were actually a really good airline) which meant we stopped in Amsterdam on the way to Glasgow for a couple of hours but on the way back we changed the stopover to 8 days ahead instead. This actually cost the exact same as the two hour stopover and it meant that we were able to get very reasonable flights (also with KLM) from Amsterdam to Rome. Planning the trip in this way meant that rather than going back to Dubai and then going to Italy (much more expensive) we did the hour long flight from Glasgow to Amsterdam and then boarded another flight for Rome which was about 3 hours or so. This meant our flights to Italy and back to Amsterdam only cost us around 150GBP. The flights to Dubai and back were already booked anyway so because of this we saved a bit of money and booked better quality hotels for the entire trip.

Having said this, I must say I don’t know if I would do another holiday on the way back to Dubai again for two reasons. Firstly, we were absolutely shattered from the wedding period and at that point felt like we would have much rather have had another week with family. Secondly, when we got to Rome we were so homesick (this always happens after we leave family) for the first day or two and just in general felt a little down after the high that was Armaan and Saarah’s wedding! Nevertheless, by like day 3 we were absolutely loving our holiday and were glad that we did it.

Why have I just written such a long paragraph on the logistics of our flight bookings and timings? Well, a lot of people don’t seem to realise that if you book a flight that is a stopover flight anyway then you can extend the stopover for a week or even two weeks to explore there or onwards even. For example, the Emirates flight to Islamabad and Lahore from Glasgow isn’t a direct flight and stops off in Dubai anyway so say you wanted to fly into the Maldives (only 3 hours from Dubai) on the way back from a trip to Pakistan you could extend your stopover to a week instead of the usual few hours and book a flight from Dubai to Maldives or wherever else you wanted. It ends up working out very well financially, however, be aware these types of stopover holidays are a bit of a pain when you have a lot of luggage etc. and are kind of tiring but while you’re young you can do all these things eh! I know some people reading this might think this is common sense but a lot of girls were really surprised at the whole stopping in Amsterdam and going to Italy from there so thought I would share this little money saving tip. Would I do it again? I would definitely but instead of on the way back to Dubai I would do it on the way Glasgow or London so that at the end of the week long holiday we have our whole family to look forward to. This time that just wasn’t possible because of the dates of the wedding.

Right, how about I get to the actual Italy part? So, we decided that we would break up our week long trip in Italy in three parts with three nights in Rome, one night in Florence and two nights in Venice. We started off in Rome then took trains to Florence and Venice with a final flight from Venice back to Amsterdam to then head off to Dubai. This worked the best geographically because each place was between and hour and a half to two hours away from each other by train. More on the trains in my next post!

Where did we stay in Rome?

We used Booking.com for all of the hotels that we booked and honestly I really can’t fault them. I’ve been using them for years and there’s no other website I’d use for booking hotels to be honest! For Rome, we booked Hotel Degli Artisti which was just a short walk away from the Spanish Steps.

The location of this hotel was absolutely amazing and I would really recommend staying here if you are in Rome.

Some positives to note about this hotel:

-Super bright and airy, very modern and new with a nice lift. I say this because many hotels in Rome have very old, rickety and tiny lifts that you do not want to be in.

-The hotel had 3 pin socket points! A small point but very handy if you forget your two pin plugs. Don’t forget them though because our other two hotels were the European plugs and it was a constant battle between charging phones and wanting to plug in straighteners, the camera charger…you get the drift.

-The location was just everything. Most of the main sights are walking distance other than the Colosseum and the Vatican but there is a metro stop just a short walk away. The local Sephora is maybe a 4 minute walk away. You’re welcome.

-There’s an amazing rooftop that we sat on our second evening with a great view.

The breakfast is pretty basic and seems even more basic when you compare it to the breakfasts in the UAE with live omelette stations and what have you. Expect some fruit, some random pieces of bread and some cereal. That’s your lot! If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast then it might be an idea to just eat breakfast out before you begin your day. We added it on thinking it would be useful eating in the hotel each day and then starting the day but in hindsight I can’t remember how much extra we paid for the breakfast but it was so not worth it! It was the same in all of the hotels that we stayed in even though they were 5* so we realised it was just the standard in Italy. 

Anyhow.

On our first evening we just explored as we got into Rome around 6pm, had some dinner and went to bed so we would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the next day. We were still cream crackered from the wedding so had a good number of zzzzzzz’s that night!

A massive FYI by the way!

According to Italian law you are not allowed an iron in your hotel room. LIKE WHAT?! We thought reception were joking at first when we asked them to give us an iron and were told sorry we aren’t allowed to give you one because it’s the law. So, if like me you are OCD about wearing ironed clothes then please take your own small iron with you if you’re heading to Italy because it was a pain having to give things in and then waiting for them to be ironed by the hotel staff. I ended up using my GHD’s the majority of the time to iron my tops and stuff. Desperate times! I also ended up not wearing a lot of the outfits I had bought for this holiday because they were so creased that the GHD was no good and I’d realise I wanted to wear the super creased item in the evening when the ironing facilities weren’t available. Euch. 

Day 2

We spent most of the day visiting the Colosseum which is arguably one of the most famous attractions in Roma! After this you can walk over to the Palatino Hill and the Roman Forum where you will see landmarks such as the Arch of Constantine and also a bird’s eye view of the Colosseum from the top of the hill. We spent most of the day in this area. You could do more but we were super tired and ended up going back to the hotel to relax, shower and head out again for our two year wedding anniversary dinner! J Yes, we spent our two year wedding anniversary in Rome and it was amazing! Pictures coming up soon, I promise. This blog post is so long…

Just thought I’d stick a selfie in here…

Rome is absolutely heaving in the summer, is VERY hot and the queues for the Colosseum were insanely long. My advice is go for opening time but even then the lines are so long. Thankfully I had a special QR code through Booking.com which meant I could go to a much smaller queue and get tickets there using my special QR code. You can also book your tickets online before you head. My advice is if you’re going to the Colosseum and the Vatican then definitely book in advance. The Colosseum you will get into if you haven’t booked but prepare to stand in the scorching heat for hours on end. The Vatican genuinely gets booked up in advance and we tried booking the night before and couldn’t get anything so we ended up missing that out this trip. You can of course go with a tour guide but prepare to pay A LOT more if you go for this option.

Right, enough chatter! I think I have covered most of the main practical things I wanted to cover about heading to Rome.

Day 2 outfit:Dress – Asos Tall

LOVE this from ASOS! http://www.asos.com/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=7033547
They only seem to have a size 10 left girls!

Shoes – Charles & Keith

Watch – Daniel Wellington

Sunglasses – Quay Australia

I mentioned on Instagram how I have been buying midi dresses from the Asos Tall section and they literally end up being ankle length on me which is perfect if you’re wanting longer dresses without the hassle of having to wear tights. Such a simple idea but wish I had thought of it sooner!

Day 2 evening outfitA random one put together because of the no irons in your room situation but it turned out pretty cute eh!

Top – Boohoo

LOVE this from ASOS! http://www.asos.com/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=7588397

Jeans – Forever 21

Slides – A random shop from Deira (total Miu Miu rip offs but quite good ones I’d say!)

Bag – Tory Burch

Choker – AldoThe street vendors selling roses at the Spanish Steps do totally hound you and it can get a little annoying but of course when the husband said yeah okay I will take one I was beyond delighted and chose a white one since it matched my outfit better.We watched the sun set on the Spanish Steps which is absolutely amazing and just sat on the steps for a good hour people watching. I’d really recommend this! We finished off with dinner and then went for a walk to the Trevi Fountain which again is a must and I think we went there nearly every day because again it was walking distance!

Be prepared for A LOT of walking in Rome. Wear sensible shoes! The roads and streets are cobbled and there is just endless walking everywhere so your feet do end up wrecked. I had sensible shoes on most of the day but changed for photos. I was also carrying a floral backpack most of the day which didn’t go with my outfit whatsoever but it was handy for my camera etc. and again I just took it off for photos. I’m a pro style blogger/traveller now I tell you!

Day 3

I’m going to keep this short and sweet and show you my outfit. We literally went to 6 different landmarks on this day using our trusty map including the Pantheon and the Vittoriano building. I know I haven’t gone into detail about every single thing that we did but genuinely you will get a map in your hotel reception which will have 3 day itineraries all planned out on there for you. It’s one of those cities you can just get lost in and can decide each morning what you want to see next but just be prepared by booking the Colosseum and the Vatican tours in advance as I said previously. The rest you can figure out yourself because that’s the whole fun of Rome!

Day 3 outfit:Top – Asos Maternity (yes I buy things from Maternity by just going down a size when they are super cheap like this top which was like 4 quid?!…I am on it with the Asos tips tonight I tell you!)

LOVE this from ASOS! http://www.asos.com/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=7123772
Sorry, this one seems to be out of stock 😞

Trousers – Zara

Shoes – Primark

Watch – Daniel WellingtonOverall, Rome was absolutely amazing and definitely our favourite city out of the three that we went to! We definitely would have liked more time there. I would recommend between 4-5 days in Rome as there is enough to see. It’s very busy this time of year so maybe choose a time that isn’t so busy. One other thing to note is that halal food is very difficult to come across in Rome and is virtually non-existent other than dodgy kebab shops. No halal fine dining Italian places sadly but the food in Italy is AMAZING. The best pasta and pizza you will ever eat but you would expect that in Italy. Wouldn’t you?

Arrivederci for now ladies! In my next post I will talk about getting the train from Rome to Florence and how you can cover Florence in one day.

Hope you enjoyed this one!

P.S. it’s my sister Madiha’s birthday today so so wish her a happy birthday and tell her I sent you! 

Love,

Miss Mulberry 

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Jordan Part 2 – Petra 

Hey there!

Here is part 2 of the Jordan travel diary as promised! Petra was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and we really do wish we had another day there. We had 2 nights and one full day there but I felt it wasn’t enough for one of the wonders of the world.
The tour company I spoke about in my previous post had booked us a local guide to give us a three hour tour around Petra. We started at 7am because it was peak season and he recommended that we leave early if we wanted to see everything without a rush of other tourists. Despite this, there were still hundreds of people but when we left Petra there were THOUSANDS so we were so glad we left nice and early! The guide was great and explained all about the history behind Petra. It was just fascinating. He also pointed out the grave of Prophet Haroon AS which is also in Petra. We really wish we had done more research before we went out and organised to go and see the many places that are relevant to Islam. There is a lot of Islamic history in Jordan and I would love to go back to see some of these sites next time.

During the tour we saw many things including the Treasury; probably the most famous place in Petra! It was absolutely breathtaking.After the tour was over we decided to hike up to the top of one of the mountains to see the Treasury from above. This was one of the most difficult things we have ever done because it’s a LONG walk and I didn’t exactly choose the easiest outfit to trek up a mountain in. More on that later.

It was around a 2 hour return hike starting with very steep steps going upward to the top of the mountain. Beware: you will feel like they never end, but they do. At the top, there are great views of the Roman Theatre. We stopped at different parts of the hike just to sit and stare at the amazing views.FYI: there will be guys with mules constantly offering you a ride. It was bad enough walking up those steps using our own legs, I cannot imagine sitting on a MULE would make you feel very safe. The local guys also will say silly things to gain your attention. HEY LADY WANNA RIDE MY FERARRI being yelled at me as a parched looking mule looked on was probably one of the moments I struggled not to laugh. You know how Pakistani mums always say don’t laugh if men try and speak to you in Pakistan by trying to be funny in the markets and stuff? My mum would always say just ignore them and walk off with a serious face and then I would literally just laugh or snigger? I swear, I could never control myself and my mum would want to kill me. Well, I remembered her advice a lot in Petra and thought don’t laugh, these guys are just trying to be funny to get some cheap laughs so don’t give it to them. But, then I did. Atteeq didn’t even flinch. I wish I could control my laughter more. Anyway as you carry on walking, you reach a small abandoned building and then there’s a whole lot of climbing down rocks until you see a small shop (hut) run by some friendly guys drinking tea. We sat with them for a while and just enjoyed the view.We were sad that we didn’t get to see the Monastery; another must see in Petra. We were only there for one day and chose to do the hike to see the Treasury instead but I would really recommend going for more than one day!

Here’s what you need to know about Petra: There is a LOT of walking involved so take comfortable trainers. I did but took some other shoes to change into for these pictures. I was going to wear sensible hiking gear but then last minute decided that I wanted to wear something nice because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I didn’t want to wear hideous leggings that one wears when climbing a mountain. Sure, the dress flounced around here and there but I just wore trainers under it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you’re not bothered about pictures like me then please be sensible.I really hope that these things that I do in order to impress my future grandchildren do actually pay off. I always think that I hope one day my grandchildren will read this blog and think MAN, WE HAD ONE COOL GRAN.I got this amazing dress from Asos and it’s in the sale now! Here’s the link:

http://www.asos.com/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=6815012

On our final day we visited Mount Nebo and then relaxed at the Dead Sea which was also amazing but I’m in a bit of a rush so I better go now. I will post some pictures from there on Instagram over the new few days.

On a final note I just have one thing to say. If you get the chance, visit Jordan.

You won’t regret it.

Love,

Miss Mulberry

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Jordan Part 1 – Amman and Wadi Rum 

Believe it or not, Jordan has never been one of the places I have thought of as my ‘must go to’ places. I think this is probably the case for a lot of people because it’s not an in for your face all the time on social media kind of place is it? Last week I went there for a short break and I literally was blown away by the place. So, here I am writing about it and I can’t WAIT to tell you all about it!

This was actually our first proper holiday since our honeymoon in the Maldives in July 2015. Yikes! Time just flies in Dubai and although we have taken many trips around the UAE and have gone back home to the UK several times (weddings galore) we haven’t managed to venture out anywhere else. We decided on Jordan because we only had a limited number of holidays to take so the 3 hour flight was convenient. We did our research and decided that Jordan had lots to offer but it wasn’t the kind of place we could just turn up at and play it by ear like we normally would do in a European country. Hence, we decided to book with a tour company and it was honestly the best thing we ever did! I can’t recommend it enough. Lots of you asked about which tour company we booked with throughout my trip via Snapchat but I didn’t want to say until we were safely back home so I could give you an honest review of the experience that we had with them. Now that we are back I am happy to report that we went with Jordan Select Tours and they did the most amazing job planning our trip!

http://www.select.jo

Two separate groups of friends of mine had used them in the last year and recommended them so I went for them purely based on their recommendation. All Atteeq and I had to do was book our flight and the rest was all taken care of! They booked all of the hotels, sorted the entry tickets for the museums, organised local guides and included all of this in the total price we were quoted. Thus, other than tipping the odd person along the way and paying for food – we literally paid for nothing else whilst we were in Jordan. Hand on heart, the easiest holiday I have ever planned. That is way more than can be said for my summer plans which I am currently in the midst of finalising and it is the biggest logistical nightmare I have ever come across but more on that in another post I think!

So, back to Jordan Select Tours. I emailed them with the dates that we were intending to visit and they sent back a proposed itinerary with a price option for 3 & 4 star hotels or 4 & 5 stars. Couple of things to note here:

-The difference between the two options in terms of pricing really wasn’t much so we just decided to go with 4 and 5 star.

-The 4 and 5 star hotels of Jordan are not the 4 and 5 star hotels of Dubai. Do not go in there expecting flashy and overtly luxurious but all our hotels were conveniently located, clean and had everything that we needed. More on the hotels later!

We checked over the proposed itinerary and were happy with what had been suggested and then booked our flights. It was easy as that! We were told that we could pay beforehand or could pay when we got there at the airport which was handy.

Arrival in Amman

We landed at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman around midnight on Tuesday night. We got off the plane, walked through the terminal and were met by a team member of Jordan Select Tours who had my name on a bright orange piece of paper! No idea why I’m telling you the colour of the paper but just in case you wondered. From there, he told us that we would need to get a visa but as we had booked with a tour company it would be free. We went to a special counter with him which had no queue. He already had a document with him that the company had prepared to hand over to the visa officer and honestly it took less than two minutes to get us through the immigration. Made it so much easier having someone with us but to be honest even if you are on your own, it’s such a small airport that you would be absolutely fine. Next, we got our bags, paid for the trip and were introduced to our driver Ahmed who would be with us for the next few days taking us all around Jordan. He took us to the car which was modern, clean and even had wi-fi. Score! He told us about the plan for the next few days which we obviously already had an idea of from our itinerary and that we would start the trip nice and early the following morning.

He drove us to the Al Qasr Metropole in the centre of Amman which was about 30 minutes from the airport. The hotel was nice but to be perfectly honest, it was 1am by this point and all we wanted was a bed. We also knew we were only there for 1 night so it didn’t really matter what the hotel was like. My only qualm was that their plugs were the two pin plugs and we hadn’t taken any adapters. The other two hotels had three pin plugs so just something to remember if you are heading here. The other thing was that the bed was rock hard and I was kind of expecting to just plop in after a long day. Other than this, no issues!

 Amman Citadel and Roman Theatre

We woke up the next morning and went down for breakfast bright and breezy. Breakfast was included in all the hotels that were booked by Select Tours and by golly do you need breakfast on this trip! There is so much walking, you need to head out with some sustenance or you will nearly past out like I almost did on one of the days! The breakfast was actually really nice at the hotel because they had a live omelette bar so that was Atteeq made up for the rest of the morning.

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and met our driver Ahmed to head to the Amman Citadel as our first stop for the day. Here we were met by a local guide who gave us a 30 minute tour of the Citadel and then left us to explore for ourselves.

Amman Citadel is the highest hill in Amman and although there’s plenty to see, the Citadel’s most striking sights are the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. It’s a beautiful place and you could spend hours exploring! Tip: Wear sensible shoes here. It’s all cobbled paths on a hill that you have to climb. I’m sure you can imagine just how sensible I was on day 1 of the trip.The two giant standing pillars are the remains of the Roman Temple of Hercules. The only obvious remains are parts of the podium and the columns, which are visible from around town. There’s also a remnant of a stone-carved hand, because the guide told us that the rest of the statue had been stolen a few years back! You can walk around the Citadel for sweeping views of the downtown area. We spent about an hour and a half up here before heading back down to the driver to head to the Roman Theatre.The Roman Theatre was a short drive of about 7 minutes away from the Citadel and is a highlight for any tourists visiting Amman! The theatre is cut into a hill and has seating capacity of around 6000! The atmosphere here was absolutely electric with lots of school children on a trip showcasing an impromptu Dabke! I’ve heard that productions are put on here during July and August so something to think about if you are in Amman during the summer months!

After this we saw a little bit more of Amman, had the best Kanafeh the city has to offer and then started the long journey towards Wadi Rum. The drive was around 4 hours long and we stopped off for lunch along the way at a service stop. I changed out of my dress too and wore something more comfortable but I totally forgot to take out flip flops for the desert didn’t I! Thankfully the weather was absolutely perfect so although the sand was warm it was cool enough for me to walk on it bare feet when we needed to. My friend went during the summer last year and said she wished she had taken old trainers because her feet were burning as she walked on the sand in flip flops! 

Before I forget…outfit!

Dress – ASOS, Bag and shoes – Zara, Watch – Kenneth Watches, Sunglases and cuff H&M 

Wadi Rum 
After the long drive we finally started to see the Wadi. This part of the trip is something I can’t quite put into words. You need to feel it and see it for yourself but it was just absolutely breath-taking. It’s quite a bumpy ride when you get there and our driver stopped at a little petrol station where a Toyota jeep was waiting for us with another local guide who would take us on a safari through Wadi Rum for three hours. When he said three hours I thought to myself what on earth are we going to do in the desert for three hours exactly but the time flew in and it was just one of the best experiences of my life!Now, something to take note of here. Do not expect the jeep for the safari to be in great condition – we were warned by the tour company that the jeeps aren’t of great quality and since they don’t actually own them and just hire someone to take you on the tour at Wadi Rum it’s not really their responsibility. But, I think it made it all the more fun that we jumped on to the back of a small pickup truck which randomly had two sets of seats plonked into it. If you didn’t put enough weight on them they did slide around during the safari! It was so much fun! Be sure to take plenty of water with you and maybe something to wrap up with because although the weather was just perfect during the safari by sunset it did get a little windy and chilly!

The actual safari consists of being driven around the peaceful, blissful and mesmerising Wadi with stops every so often made by the driver to look at points of interest. Our favourite part was getting to climb a huge sand dune bare feet and seeing the most amazing view from the top.Wadi Rum was one of those places that it’s pretty difficult to describe exactly what it was like into words so I leave you with these photos in the hope that they will get you a little bit excited for part 2 of this post.Excited yet?

Love, 

Miss Mulberry 

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