Salalah For Eid

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Ask anyone living in Dubai for suggestions on places to visit in Oman and they will probably list one of three destinations.

The capital city of Muscat is reputedly a must-see, with its fabulous Souk and impressive historic architecture. It’s on our list. Or they might mention Khasab in the Musandam region, a mountaneous peninsula with a jagged coastline, within driving distance from Dubai. We enjoyed dolphin spotting on board a traditional dhow there so much we’ve done it twice. Those really in the know will also mention Salalah, the capital city of southern Oman’s Dhofar province, a two-hour flight away. (more…)

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Happy ever after in Santorini

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When it comes to travel, the Badley family have a pretty decent track record. Members of the clan have at one time or another, lived an expat life in Australia, Germany, the USA and Ecuador. One of our own currently resides in France and here we are in Dubai.

Even those that are at home in the UK are either planning the next overseas trip or returning from it. So when Matt and Nicole decided to tie the knot, it was an even bet that it might involve a flight somewhere. The nice surprise was that they invited us along to the festivities – in Santorini. (more…)

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What’s cookin’ in Kiev?

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My dinner has arrived and I’m nervous. It’s Chicken Kiev. I am dining at one of the city’s best known traditional Ukrainian restaurants and I have ordered a dish I last ate in London in the late 70s. The recipe is well known and comprises a chicken breast, flattened to accommodate a garlic butter and parsley stuffing before being rolled and sealed with an egg and breadcrumb coating. The flavourful butter ensures the meat stays moist during deep frying.

Someone should have warned me back then that chef has a tendency to overdo the garlic butter stuffing. My knife went in at just the right point to release a volcano of foaming fat. I just had time to notice the garlicky aroma before around 250 ml of boiling butter sprayed onto my chest, completing its journey down my front in meandering rivulets. Nice. No wonder Chicken Kiev makes me nervous. (more…)

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A break in Bulgaria

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The Eid holiday that follows Ramadan offers an opportunity for a few days away, but where to go? Bulgaria, it has to be said, wasn’t our first choice.

We thought about North India but at the start of the rainy season maybe this wouldn’t be such a good idea. A Korean colleague of Tim’s encouraged us to consider Seoul but again, the potential for heavy rain there at this time of year put us off. On paper, a five hour flight from Dubai to Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, ticked a lot of our boxes. (more…)

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Tales from the Riverbank

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Back in Dubai, after a two-week, high octane visit to the UK and France it’s no wonder I’m feeling discombobulated. You what? Until this week, ‘discombobulated’, meaning ‘disconcerted or confused’, is a term I have only ever heard used in a comic context.

Listening to a heart-rending exchange on BBC’s Radio 4, the presenter chose this word to describe an interviewee’s state of mind following a particularly harrowing experience as a child. It jarred with me, as being merely ‘discombobulated’ did not come close to covering the situation being recounted, so I am now appropriating the word (thanks Woman’s Hour) for my own use.
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Three days in Budapest

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With elegant cafés, stunning architecture and history around every corner, there are a million reasons to visit Budapest. Our visit to Hungary’s esteemed capital city was a chance to catch up with old friends in a fabulous destination. By good chance, flight times to and from Dubai and the UK worked out, giving us a three-day window to get a flavour of what makes Budapest special. We knew we wouldn’t see it all but we could give it our best shot. (more…)

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Visit to Kerala (Part 2)

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Kerala’s herb and spice trade dates back hundreds of years and even today the international market for these ingredients is a key driver of the regional economy. Locally grown pepper, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, tamarind and curry leaves are highly prized both for their flavour and beneficial medicinal qualities.

Everywhere we went we had to reassure anxious waiters that, contrary to popular belief, many Europeans do like spicy food, so please bring it on! Tasty, with spice, rather than hot with chilli was our experience of the Keralan vegetable and seafood dishes we tried. (more…)

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On the Indian food trail

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Dubai is full of glitzy, expensive restaurants but there is another side to this food-loving city that is easy to overlook. Old Dubai, is crammed with Indian street food sellers, artisan food producers, family–run restaurants and ethnic grocery stores, offering authentic regional specialities at bargain prices, but where to start? We have made tentative inroads to this other world but knowing where to go and what to order requires some serious insider knowledge. Enter Frying Pan Adventures, a small, local tour company started and run by two food-loving sisters, Farida and Arva Ahmed. (more…)

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