Terri’s Travels: Get your kicks on Route 66! – Cross Timbers Gazette | Southern Denton County | Flower Mound | News

“Terri’s Travels: Get your kicks on Route 66! – Cross Timbers Gazette | Southern Denton County | Flower Mound | News” https://www.crosstimbersgazette.com/2021/01/29/terris-travels-get-your-kicks-on-route-66/

Terri’s Travels: Amazing Central Arizona – Cross Timbers Gazette | Southern Denton County | Flower Mound | News

“Terri’s Travels: Amazing Central Arizona – Cross Timbers Gazette | Southern Denton County | Flower Mound | News” https://www.crosstimbersgazette.com/2021/03/03/terris-travels-amazing-central-arizona/

TULSA’S GATHERING PLACE

Are you looking for something to do this summer? Well, I have a great idea for you and its just north of us Texans in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Gathering Place has been named “America’s Best New Attraction” in the country by USA TODAY. And awarded the “World’s Greatest Places” by Time Magazine in 2019. And what a beautiful,  creative and fun place it is!!! We have been countless times and still have not seen everything.  You really need to see this new innovative and very unique FREE Park!

This brand new riverfront park was designed as an inclusive green space where residents and visitors alike can relax and engage with one another. The expansive park makes use of more than 6 million gallons of water and 80 tree species, with attractions like multi-story fireplaces, an adventure playground, boathouse, restaurants, coffee shops, sensory garden and a reading tree. There’s something here for everyone.

The amazing architectural design and use of wood is exquisite! Its mission as “A Park for All” is rooted in ideals of diversity and equality. Every child, of any size or ability, should be able to find a spot on Swing Hill, slide down some giant blue herons, or crawl through paddlefish or life-size blades of grass.

There’s even a 120 foot suspension bridge. Every adult should be able to paddle a canoe through the pond or enjoy a meal in Picnic Grove. It almost seems like someone dropped a theme park in the middle of the city. It’s truly amazing as you can sit back and relax in the luxury seating in a ski-cabin-esque lodge overlooking the 100-acre park on the banks of the Arkansas River.

As stated… everything is free including parking. The main parking lot is located along John Williams Way near Williams Lodge and ONEOK Boathouse. There is additional parking adjacent to Riverside Drive on both north and southbound lanes.

Most parking lots have parking attendants to assist you and answer any questions. The entire park is very well staffed!

The Gathering Place is centered on the east bank of the Arkansas River south of the Downtown area and immediately west of the historic Maplewood Historic District, an upscale residential area. Largely the brainchild of Tulsa multibillionaire and philanthropist, George Kaiser, “The Gathering Place” was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. This public-private partnership covers approximately 100 acres of land and as of September 2018, has cost about $465 million to construct.

Groundbreaking on the anchor project for phase two, Discovery Lab, occurred in February of 2020. The $47 million dollar, 50,000 square foot Discovery Lab will be a hands-on museum also featuring classrooms, a café, grand plaza and 300-seat amphitheater. It is expected to be completed by the late summer of 2021.  Also in the works is a new pedestrian bridge that will connect the west and east banks of the Arkansas River at 29th Street and Riverside Drive.  

And if you want to bring your dog, they are allowed every Wednesday on all grassy lawns and pathways throughout the Park. Pets are allowed, leashed, on the Midland Valley and riverfront trails daily. No pets other than service animals are allowed in Park buildings and play areas unless otherwise authorized. 

If you are not sure how to navigate your visit – you can download the official Gathering Place app for free access to an interactive Park map, daily activities and schedules, exclusive Park facts and much more! To view printable maps go to https://www.gatheringplace.org/faqs

The future for The Gathering Place looks very promising as the Kaiser Family Foundation also created a $100 million endowment to support maintenance of the park for the next 99 years. Every city should be so lucky!

Fortunately, our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons live here so we visit this wonderful park as often as possible and always find new things to discover. It’s definitely a park like none other. Go and see for yourself…you will be glad you did!

OHHH OAHU!!!

Our 50th state, Hawaii, is truly a unique paradise! From east to west Hawaii is the widest state in the United States. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii all in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

If you’ve never been to Hawaii, you need to add it to your bucket list. I would suggest starting with Oahu, it is a great island to begin your Hawaiian experience!

Oahu is home to the state capital, Honolulu.

Honolulu is known for its uniqeness. It is the largest city in the middle of Pacific Ocean with a populatiion of over one million people. Honolulu is known for Waikiki Beach and the dormant volcano, Diamond Head, that is next to Waikiki. Honolulu is the home of the Mai Tai drink and Hawaiian luau.

Waikiki Beach is famous for its beach breaks, making it a popular haven for surfers. It is no wonder that the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the person credited for making surfing popular as a modern sport, is among the most visited and photographed landmarks in Waikiki.

High-rise hotels line the shore in Waikiki, a vibrant neighborhood known for its popular surf beach. Designer fashion stores line Kalakaua Avenue and nearby streets, and the area buzzes after dark with waterside cocktail bars, fine dining and Kuhio Beach hula shows.

International Market Place is in the heart of Waikiki. It is a retail, dining and entertainment destination, attracting residents and visitors alike. The revitalized International Market Place features shopping in an open air environment and opportunities to experience a unique “Hawaiian Sense of Place” through the celebration of the history and culture of Waikiki and its people.

Water features and Hawaiian landscaping, including an iconic banyan tree, are featured throughout the center and the Grand Lanai offers a varied selection of outdoor dining venues under the stars. My favorite are live music, lei-making workshops and a free hula/polynesian shows.

Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu and known to Hawaiians as Lēʻahi. The Hawaiian name is most likely derived from lae plus ʻahi because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds. 

Hanauma Bay  is a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring and located along the southeast coast of the Island of Oʻahu. Hanauma is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Island. In 1956, dynamite was used to clear portions of the reef to make room for telephone cables linking Hawaii to the west coast of the US. 

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a Polynesian-themed theme park and living museum located in Laie, on the northern shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The PCC is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and dedicated on October 12, 1963 and occupies 42 acres of land belonging to nearby Brigham Young University–Hawaii.

The PCC encompasses eight simulated tropical villages, in which performers demonstrate various arts and crafts from throughout Polynesia. Visitors may also take a free shuttle tour of the university and see the LDS Church’s Laie Hawaii Temple and its associated visitors’ center. Seventy percent of the PCC’s approximately 1,300 employees are students.

The USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oahu led to the United States’ direct involvement in World War II. The memorial, built in 1962, has been visited by more than two million people annually. Accessible only by boat, it straddles the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it.

Historical information about the attack, shuttle boats to and from the memorial, and general visitor services are available at the associated USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, which opened in 1980 and is operated by the National Park Service.

Photo Credit:National Park Service

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. Iolani Palace represents a time in Hawaiian history when King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, walked the halls and ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Palace complex contains beautiful memories of grand balls and hula performances, as well as painful ones of Liliuokalani’s overthrow and imprisonment.

The Banzai Pipeline, or simply Pipeline or Pipe, is a surf reef break located in Hawaii, off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea on O’ahu’s North Shore. A reef break is an area in the ocean where waves start to break once they reach the shallows of a reef. Pipeline is known for huge waves that break in shallow water just above a sharp and cavernous reef, forming large, hollow, thick curls of water that surfers can tube ride. There are three reefs at Pipeline in progressively deeper water farther out to sea that activate according to the increasing size of approaching ocean swells.

Ala Moana Beach Park is a free public park on the island of Oahu, U.S. state of Hawaii, located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. This 100-acre park has a wide gold-sand beach that is over a half-mile long. Protected by a shallow reef offshore, it is one of the most popular open ocean swimming sites in Hawai’i, with an estimated 4 million visitors annually. And I am one of them! I walk through this park on every trip and love the fantastic views. However, there are sharp corals, so most people prefer the east end of the beach where the ocean bottom is sandy and has no reef or rocks. There are lifeguards, showers, restrooms, phones, tennis courts, picnic tables, food concessions and a music pavilion. Ala Moana Beach Park is a favorite among Honolulu residents. 

The Hawaiian Alphabet, only consists of 12 letters: Vowels: A, E, I, O, U; Consonants: H, K, L, M, N, P, W. This is the alphabet used to write Hawaiian. It was adapted from the English alphabet in 1822 by American missionaries to print a Bible in the Hawaiian language.

Try your hand at speaking Hawaiian – here are a few words and phrases to try!

Aloha – Hello or Goodbye

Pronounced a-lo-ha

Mahalo – Thank you

Pronounced mah-hah-loh

‘A’ ole palikir – You’re welcome/ No problem

Pronounced ah-oh-leh pee-lee-kee-yah

A hui hou – Until we meet again

Pronounced ah-hoo-wee-ho-oo-uu

Howzit? – How are you?

Pronounced how-zit

‘Ono grinds – Delicious food

Pronounced oh-no grinds

Waina – Wine

Pronounced wy-nah

A ‘o ia! – There you have it!

Pronounced ah-oy-yah

To wrap this up, I will say,  A ‘o ia! And until next time…Aloha!

AMAZING AMSTERDAM!

Amsterdam is a compact, historical and very charming city that is a blast to explore! It’s actually one of my favorite cities in Europe and is one the most popular travel destinations in Europe. Amsterdam is well-preserved and is appealing with its 17th-century architecture that provides a quaint backdrop for a city famous for its modern, progressive attitudes. From the city’s world-class art museums to its colorful flower markets, from cannabis-selling “coffee shops” to the racy “red light district”, there’s something exciting and unique to discover in Amsterdam at every turn.

The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning. In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals. Amsterdam is home to more than one hundred canals and more than a thousand bridges. Actually, even more than Venice! The canals are home to some 2,000 houseboats. Tour operators offer a variety of cruises and excursions. I would highly recommend a canal tour during the day or an evening dinner candlelight cruise. It’s pretty romantic and a great way to see this historical city.

One of the busiest places around is Amsterdam Central Station. It is the city’s main train station and is a stunning, iconic building.  This transportation hub is also an international railway station. From the station there are regular services to destinations such as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. We’ve taken several fun train trips from Amsterdam. It’s easy and safe!

One our favorite day trips was to Lisse to see Keukenhof an epic botanical garden where 7 million flower bulbs, mostly tulips, are planted annually. It is one of the world’s largest flower gardens and is a feast for the eyes full of colors and designs. An important note: Keukenhof is only open from March – May. So remember as you fly in or out of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam look for the numerous tulip farms. The aerial view is a spectacle to see!

The oldest section in Amsterdam is DeWallen. It is home to several historic buildings, including the city’s oldest church called Oude Kerk. Oddly enough right around the corner is Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District, the city’s designated area for legalized prostitution. I’ve never seen anything like it and found it rather shocking but also somewhat fascinating. More than one hundred one-room apartments are rented by a variety of sex workers who entice onlookers from behind windows illuminated with red lights. It is all very organized and tightly regulated…as we learned in our walking tour of the Red Light District. A strong police presence keeps the neighborhood very safe. Visitors are welcome to stroll around this area that is always full of onlookers…but taking photos of the sex workers are absolutely forbidden.

The Famous Anne Frank House is actually Amsterdam’s most visited attraction. This is the structure that once hid Anne Frank, her family and four other Jewish people from the Nazi authorities during World War II. Anne’s father published the diary that Anne wrote while they lived hidden within the building. Oddly enough Mr. Frank, in an attempt to protect his beloved family, moved them from Germany to Amsterdam in 1933 in hopes they would be safe in Holland and away from the Nazi’s and Hitler. The building opened as a museum in 1960. Visitors can view the rooms where Anne actually lived and wrote her diary that chronicles her all-too-short life. It’s truly a heart wrenching story and a sobering experience!

Koninklijk is the Royal Palace located at Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam. It was built during the “Dutch Golden Age”. My daughter Codi and I loved visiting this opulent site which is one of three royal palaces in the Netherlands. The interior is extravagant and is a premier example of the elaborate Empire style of the early 1800s. The palace is still used by the Dutch Royal Family for Royal events but is also open to the public.

Photo Credit: Royal Palace Amsterdam
Photo credit: Royal Palace Amsterdam

We also loved going to the Van Gogh Museum which is located at Museum Square, or Museumplein. This museum is home to the world’s largest collection of the artist’s paintings and letters. There is also information about Van Gogh’s troubled life and efforts taken to restore his paintings. It’s quite a story about this world renowned artist from Amsterdam that died penniless.

Also in Museum Square, is the famous Rijks Museum. This jewel is arguably the most important of the nation’s and the world’s art and history museums. The total collection numbers more than one million artifacts dating from the 13th century onward.  This gorgeous museum opened in 1885. The most famous are paintings by the Dutch Master Painter – Rembrandt van Rijn. His masterpiece, The Night Watch, is absolutely worth the price of admission. Rembrandt Square is one of the busiest squares in the entire city and really comes to life at night. It’s a great place for shopping, dining and entertainment. The focal point of the square is an enormous sculpture of Rembrandt overlooking a bronze-cast representation of his most famous painting, The Night Watch. It really comes to life with these life size sculptures in 3-D.

On our last trip to the Netherlands we actually got to tour Rembrandt’s home and art studio. It was surreal but such a treat. It’s where he taught art classes and painted all his masterpieces. The picture below is me by Rembrandt’s bed. It was very short because in the 1600’s they slept sitting up as it was believed if one slept completely lying down all the blood would go to your head and you would die.

And one last thing I love about this city are all the bicycles! It’s truly amazing to see, there’s nothing like it! Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world. There are about 1,200,000 bicycles in Amsterdam outnumbering the amount of citizens in the city. Bicycles are used by all socio-economic groups because of their convenience, there’s actually 249 miles of bike paths. I was intrigued to see policemen, professional men and women all cycling in their professional clothes to work. Women are often wearing dresses and heels, I cannot imagine that balancing act. Grandparents or young families can pile on the kids with all kind of innovative, original contraptions they connect to their bikes. On our last visit we saw an entire wedding party on bicycles, it was adorable. No matter the weather, from the very young to the very old, everyone rides a bicycle! It’s their tradition and a wonderful way of life.

The people here are friendly, welcoming and most speak perfect English. There is so much to explore and see. As I always say…Amsterdam is truly a city with a whole lot of personality!!!

UTAH’S MIGHTY FIVE!

In my opinion, Utah may just be the most beautiful state in the nation. As I travel the globe and see the world’s most famous paintings and buildings, I realize that our national parks are the earth’s greatest masterpieces…and none of them were made by human hands, they are God’s handiwork. These are all museums of ‘Ancient Art’ and five of them just happen to be in southern Utah. Explore the colorful, canyons, and iconic arches of all five of Utah’s unbelievable national parks!

This southwestern state is a top destination for skiers and hikers, history buffs and adventurers. With outstanding geological formations and ever-reaching landscapes, its natural wonders (which tourists can either climb over or drive through), are unparalleled, from salt flats to red rock canyons, on to the desert and Rocky Mountains.

Utah’s “Mighty 5” National Parks are variations on a theme — petrified Jurassic sediments sculpted by wind, water and time — but each one is very unique in its own way. To my surprise, all five of the national parks in Utah are within a stone’s throw of one another — in fact, you could literally drive through them all in a busy single day. You could… but you shouldn’t. That’d be like sprinting through the Louvre!

Over 150 million years the soft stone sediments in these five spots relented in, beautiful and fascinating ways, cutting open a color spectrum of reds, pinks, yellows, grays and whites, and dusted with green. It’s a photographer’s dream!

Arches →

There are 2,000 named arches in Arches National Park. (An opening in the rock earns a name and an “arch” designation by stretching 3 feet in one direction.) Forty-three are known to have fallen since 1977. Fortunately, humans didn’t cause any of them.

Canyonlands →

This area is a result of years of slow work of determined rivers and is located near Moab, Utah (just 30 minutes from Arches National Park). You will see carved-out canyons, sheer drop-offs and body-wide footpaths that slice through red rock. Exploring Canyonlands National Park is intense. The whole park is red rock that has been engraved and chiseled by years of endless wind and water.

Capitol Reef →

It’s 100 miles long and is named for what it looks like white rock domes (like the U.S. Capitol) and rocky ridges (like marine reefs) — but isn’t — because it wasn’t like anything anyone had ever seen. Capitol Reef National Park is a pinch in the earth’s crust and is overloaded with geological, cultural and sensory aspects.

Bryce Canyon →

Your first view of the park is a dramatic unveiling! Wind through groves of pine trees until they break at the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park, revealing a magnificent panorama of goblins, towers and a hue of colors. One fun way to see it is by horseback.

Zion →

Zion National Park is the oldest and most visited in Utah. Millions of years ago, ancient iterations of the Virgin River started carving out southwestern Utah. It’s a reddish-orangey-pink swath that’s eroded in spectacular ways. You can witness amazing desert geology firsthand, where ancient rock is shaped by the powerful and ever-changing flow of water.

If you want to add a little extra adventure and incredible scenery, hike up the Virgin River Narrows a mile or two. Know that the trail is actually the shallow river and you are walking on slippery rocks. You will need special equipment, like water-hiking boots and a walking stick. At an outfitter store they we help you prepare and provide an educational short film to watch so you know what to expect, becausethis is not a typical hike. I think The Narrows is one of America’s coolest, scenic and most unique hikes!

Our National Parks are our American Masterpieces. You can easily see the beauty of the Mighty 5 by driving through parts of these parks; it is probably the most stunning drive we’ve ever seen. Many of these parks are unique because you can see so much by car. It’s perfect for those who do not want to hike, are handicapped or for the elderly. But for those who do want to hike – it’s an awesome adventure!

Experience what southern Utah is all about as you travel through “Canyon Country” and work your way up the Colorado Plateau to some of the most incredible and diverse sights in the nation. There’s one iconic site after another. This trip promises to be unforgettable and will allow you to see and witness some of the most scenic and epic national parks in America!

A FUN DAY ON 30A!

In 1981, as newlyweds, we were thrilled to move to northwest Florida. My husband, Ron, had his first Air Force assignment at Eglin Air Force Base flying F-15 Eagles in an operational jet fighter squadron. It was very exciting! It’s still a common sight today to see and hear fighter jets fly over the Gulf of Mexico as you play on the beach. My first job was at the Destin Chamber of Commerce and then as a radio news anchor at WFTW. This piece of paradise is a treasure and is our second home.  It holds a very special place in my family’s heart as we go there several times at year. That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorite places on 30A – a very scenic two lane road that is filled with charm and natural beauty!

Santa Rosa Beach: Gulf Place is a great stop. Cruise through the Art Walk and listen to live music through the gulf breeze.  Our favorite – The Forrest Williams Band, plays weekly in this area.  Shunk Gulley Oyster House is just across the street and has a fabulous upstairs bar, coastal view and live music! Or, for a dressier place, drive nearby to one of our favorite restaurants, The Vue on 30a.  It has amazing beach-front dining. We love their early-bird specials and fiery sunset views.

Blue Mountain: Head over to For The Health of It. It’s an organic food and produce market where you can fuel-up with fresh juices or smoothies. It’s also a great place for a body massage. There’s actually large hills so be prepared to take stairs down to the beach. The is a great place to also have a bonfire. You must get a permit from South Walton or hire a Beach Bonfire service. They will set up and tear down everything. It is well worth the money!

Grayton: The Shard Shop is a trendy make-your-own-art boutique. They offer classes in ShardART.  This is a place where you can create an original art piece. Or buy a piece of original art from artist and owner Mary Hong. The classes are a fun and therapeutic. I’d recommend Chanticleer Eatery while in the area. They have fantastic salads and foods with a French twist served at this comfy joint with an outdoor patio & a casual ambiance. And now there’s AJ’s nearby that has nightly live music, a great place to eat and dance.

Seaside: This is such a picturesque little village. Bud and Alley’s is great for waterfront dining and the rooftop bar is a local favorite. Nearby there’s lots of great shopping.

I love stopping at Modica Market, a quaint gourmet grocery. They have an eclectic mix of cuisine, libations & culinary essentials.  If you want to learn to surf attend Austin Magee’s Surf School at Seaside. It’s his mission is to provide each student with a safe, creative, and fun surfing experience. Austin is our cousin and is an awesome international and professional surfer.

Watersound:  There’s always something happening at The HUB! From Funk and Jazz, they have nightly live music on a huge outdoor stage. Or, watch family-friendly movies under the stars. Another option is a burger and beer, relax and watch sports all season long on the 25’ outdoor jumbotron. This is a great bike ride destination!

Rosemary Beach: Spend the day in this scenic area – we love The Pearl Hotel. The breezy rooftop, reminiscent of a European villa, has an awesome open air patio. Have a cool drink and take in the views of the glistening gulf.  Ladies, don’t miss the many great boutiques here. Bike rentals are popular on 30A so consider riding from Rosemary Beach and travel west into Alys Beach to see stunning architecture. This area is my favorite… really chic and beautiful!

Fun Fact – Coastal Dune Lakes are arare and natural phenomena that only occur in a handful of locations around the globeOn Scenic Highway 30A it has 15 named coastal dune lakes, the only in North America. 

South Walton’s coastal dune lakes are said to be as much as 10,000 years old and were formed by winds that redistributed sand and created the shallow basins, surprisingly…most lakes average only about 5 feet deep.

There are miles of things to discover along the 24 mile stretch of 30A crowned by the pristine sugar sand beaches.  It’s always a great family vacation or a nice romantic getaway!

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DISCOVER DUBAI!

The first time I went to Dubai, all I could think about was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz saying, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates and is a very unique. It’s known to be one of the most interesting and fastest growing cities on earth.

Over a very short period of time this desert city has transformed itself from a humble pearl-diving village into an international hub for tourism and trade, and is now a gateway between the East and the West. The official language is Arabic, although English is the most commonly used in this city of over 3 million people.

The following are some things we did that I would highly recommend:

Tour “Dubai Creek” in an “Abra” and see outstanding views of the city’s futuristic and traditional architecture.  Abras look like an ancient wooden row boat but are now powered by diesel engines and can seat about 20 people.

Shop ‘til you drop and stroll through the endless maze of Souks and Malls. The Spice and Gold Souks are not to be missed. And amazingly, there’s over 50 shopping malls in full operation and many more under construction. My husband Ron has even gone “snowboarding” inside the Mall of the Emirates at their ski resort. It features a 200 foot tall “mountain”, five slopes of varying difficulty – including the world’s first indoor black run.

It’s fun to just walk around Dubai and see people smoking ‘Shisha’. Another local name for it is ‘Hubbly Bubbly’ and it has a sweet, fruity smell. Shisha is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco through cooled water. The tobacco is heated by charcoal at the top and inhaled through a water chamber at the bottom. Shisha pipes date back over 500 years in the Middle East.

No trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to “Burj Khalifa’, the tallest building in the world. There is an observation deck on the 124th floor called ´At The Top´ and on a clear day the views over the city are spectacular. While you´re in the area, visit the Dubai Fountain and see the spectacular water and music show. There are many wonderful coffee shops and restaurants nearby. We enjoyed dinner at Sammach, an excellent Lebanese seafood restaurant that had a fantastic view of the ‘dancing fountains’.

Everyone has heard of Dubai’s ‘Artificial Islands’ but we had to see it to actually believe it. In the Persian Gulf there are three man-made islands which are in the shape of palm fronds and consist of luxury hotels and residences, restaurants, water parks and sports facilities. Our favorite spot is the stunning Atlantis Palm Hotel. It features guest rooms with floor to ceiling glass views of their fabulous Lost Chambers Aquarium, from your bed you are surrounded by an enormous aquarium where you can watch sea creatures swim around until you fall asleep.

Consider a day trip – we went on a really fun Desert Safari Tour. I don’t know when we’ve laughed more. We really enjoy an exhilarating drive over huge red and gold sand dunes, camel rides and a Bedouin Camp for an evening feast while being entertained by belly dancers. Our daughter Kelsie got “temporary” henna there that is very popular in the UAE.

Dine at sunset in one of the many excellent restaurants on the waterways in the shadow of the magnificent ‘7-star’ Burj Al Arab Hotel. On my next trip I will be having High Tea there.  As a hotel guest, you can be picked up at the airport in a Rolls Royce or perhaps,  a helicopter. It is the self-proclaimed most-luxurious hotel in the world. The Burj Al Arab is also one the world’s tallest hotels and is designed to look like a sailboat. When guests arrive, they are presented a gold plated 24-caret iPad worth $9,000.

This Arabian oasis is clearly an exotic place with enormous wealth. Dubai is safe with almost no crime, a good education system, up-to-date healthcare facilities, modern infrastructure…and everything is tax-free. I can certainly say Dubai is a great destination and is well worth a visit!