How I Spent My Weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

IMG_2729.JPG

I went to the mountains for my best friend Carlisha’s 27th birthday from November 16th to the 18th. The mountains we went to were the Great Smoky Mountains. This was my first mountain trip and I have to say that it was a great experience. I think November is a perfect time to go to the mountains if you ever decide to go. You get that “winter” feel but still get to enjoy nice weather. It wasn’t too cold at all, just a slight chill but the sun was shining so I was happy :)

FullSizeRender.jpg

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is where The Great Smokies are located and it’s on the edge of the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines. Driving time is about 3.5 hours. Driving up the mountain was interesting to say the least, I was terrified lol. I was driving so slow I wanted to make sure that I made it up safely to the cabin where we were staying for the weekend. 

IMAGE.JPG

I finally arrived with my sister and her boyfriend at about 2 am Friday night/Saturday morning (It was such a busy day with a series of events so that’s why my arrival time was late). We arrived at a beautiful cabin that Carlisha had booked through Airbnb. As soon as you walk in, the cabin opens up to a spacious living room with a fireplace, dining room, kitchen, and the master bedroom off to the side of the kitchen. Downstairs, it was split level. The middle level was the game room, a patio with a hot tub, and two bedrooms and bathrooms. The lower level had one big bedroom with multiple beds, one big bathroom, and a mini kitchen. By the time we arrived, everyone turned down for the night and went to sleep smh lol. But, I was able to introduce myself to a few people that were already up and was able to see my best friend Taylon and her cousin (another good friend of mine) Keya and then we all turned in for the night. 

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

We had a fun, packed day planned for Saturday. Everyone got up between 11:30 am and 12 pm and got ready for the day. We started our day off by going to lunch at Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Q. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with fries and green beans. It was really good and we had a great time fellowshipping and getting to know each other. After lunch, we went to Ober Gatlinburg to have some fun.

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

Ober Gatlinburg is an exciting place. It is a ski resort in the heart of Gatlinburg that has different shops, eateries, and activities. There is even an ice skating rink inside! To get there, we rode the tram up the mountain a little more for sight seeing and to get ready to go snow tubing. The slopes were made of man-made snow with about 6 lanes so more than one person can go at the same time. I had a great time doing this! I have never done snow tubing before and now that I have, it is something that I recommend everyone to do if they ever visit Gatlinburg. After snow tubing, we did ice bumper cars, rode the tram back down the mountain, and got dinner at this restaurant called Dick’s Last Resort.

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMG_2533.JPG
IMG_2532.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

I have to reserve a section about Dick’s Last Resort because this restaurant is a one-night-only experience, at least for me lol. The restaurant is very, very liberal and the staff at the restaurant are trained to be rude and sarcastic to the customers. I honestly did not know that was how the restaurant was ran until I walked in. There were napkins and straws all over the floor of the restaurant. We soon found out that they throw the napkins and straws over our heads as we were eating. We had to place our orders on a large piece of paper and I ordered the “sampla platter” which had fried pickles, chicken wings, cheese sticks, and chicken tenders. The food was excellent but the service I could really pass on. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. The longer we were there, the more uncomfortable I felt. The sacrcasm and rudeness was becoming too much for me. It started off cute and funny but then there were some things the staff did that took things a little too far. We didn’t let it ruin our night though. We had a great night planned :)

IMAGE.JPG
IMG_2605.JPG

After dinner, we headed back to the cabin and changed into our pajamas for Carlisha’s pajama party to bring in her birthday at 12 am. We had the drinks flowing, playing cards, just talking and having a great time. At one point in the night, we were outside around the campfire making s’mores and talking. Everyone was on the same vibe and we all had a great time for our last night being in Gatlinburg. My twinny won the contest for best pajamas with her onesie that had doughnuts on it :) We ended the night with a Circle of Death game that seemed to go on forever (lol) then everyone went to bed since we had an early check out the following morning.

IMG_2733.JPG
IMG_2734.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

Sunday morning came around and we ended our trip together with breakfast at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. The food was AMAZING and the service was impeccable. I had got the Crockett’s Breakfast Quesadilla which included Mexican rice and beans :))) It was literally night and day from the night before. At the end we sang Happy Birthday to Carlisha and then everyone parted ways. I ended up staying back with a friend of mine named Daryl and we ended up doing more exploring and some wine tasting. I had to buy a bottle of one of the wines I tasted because it was too good not to! It was called Mountain Paradise and it was a white wine that was very sweet and delicious. Who knows when I’ll be back in the Great Smokies :)  

IMG_2616.JPG
IMG_2618.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMG_2626.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg
IMAGE.JPG

Sometimes you have to do something different if you want something different. This trip was one for the books and something that I can definitely say that I would do again. This is my last leisure trip for 2018. I cannot wait to see what 2019 has in store for me and what other locations I can add to my travel resume :)

IMAGE.JPG

Until next time,  

Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile, 

 

IMG_0057.PNG

Experience the UAE: My Seven Day Trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

I recently took my first international trip to the United Arab Emirates, UAE for short. I visited the beautiful cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

At Dubai Beach :) 

At Dubai Beach :) 

Yes, I have been to Jamaica and the Grand Cayman via Carnival Cruise Lines but being in a different country for seven days is a true international trip for me. It was an amazing experience. Being somewhere outside of America is truly indescribable. It opens your eyes and ears beyond your own backyard. It opens up your mind to a different culture, different mindset, and you are able to experience something new that you never thought was possible or existed. 

IMAGE.JPG
DR3AM3RS DUBAI 2018!! 

DR3AM3RS DUBAI 2018!! 

I had went with my best friend via a travel group called DR3AM3RS which was hosted by two guys that I went to college with. It was a group of 27 total and we were all there to experience what the UAE had to offer in different ways. It was an all-inclusive trip paid over time with installments and when September 25th finally came, I was pumped and ready to embark on this new journey and be able to add this to my travel resume (haha).  Seven days is A LOT of ground to cover, and too much for this blog post BUT I am going to share with you some things that I experienced and learned while being in the UAE so just in case you ever get to go (and I hope you do), you have a small cheat sheet right here ;)

THE FLIGHT 

Emirates Airlines

Emirates Airlines

 1. I flew out of New York - JFK International Airport, and flew Emirates, which is the airline that’ll take you to the UAE. Your carry-on and two checked bags are free and you are offered two meals and a snack during the flight. (Think about how much an international flight costs alone! I’m sure you are already paying for that in the price lol). There is also free WiFi and a wide selection of movies for you to watch for free as well. 

Delicious Dinner! 

Delicious Dinner! 

The breakfast was okay, and yes there are beans for breakfast lol

The breakfast was okay, and yes there are beans for breakfast lol

2. The flight is LONG. From NY to Dubai, the flight was over 12 hours. The return flight was over 13 hours. Good thing they provide all of the necessities for you to endure a long flight lol.  Emirates Airlines provided every passenger with headphones, a blanket, and a pouch filled with ear plugs, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste kit, and more!

Headphones

Headphones

Blanket

Blanket

3. When we arrived in Dubai, we had to go through customs. That was an experience. While going through customs, I got my passport stamped for the first time (yayyy!), answered a few questions about my trip, and got my bags checked through security.  

IMAGE.JPG

 

DUBAI - (while here, we stayed at the Dusit D2 Kenz hotel)

IMAGE.JPG

4. Dubai is so MODERN. Fron the architecture to the streets, it really makes America look and feel behind.

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

5. Everyone in Dubai has a job, EVERYONE. You are not able to come to the city without one.  

6. Dubai is very clean. No litter, clutter, or trash on the streets. There were also no homeless people around. (We should take notes, America) 

IMAGE.JPG

7. Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world called the Burj Khalifa. You can pay to go all the way to the top and you could overlook all of Dubai. (I didn’t do it but I wish I had). 

The Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa

IMAGE.JPG

ABU DHABI - (while here, we stayed at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort)

IMAGE.JPG

8. Abu Dhabi is less modern than Dubai, but still a beautiful city.  It’s a lot more calmer

IMAGE.JPG

9. Abu Dhabi is home to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque - that place was very sacred and very beautiful. 

IMAGE.JPG

10. The fastest roller coaster in the world is here. 

IMAGE.JPG

11. We spent more of our leisure time in Abu Dhabi. 

Fast and Furious!! 

Fast and Furious!! 

UAE CULTURE

12. UAE currency is the dirham. I was able to exchange currency at the airport when we got to Dubai. You can also exchange currency before you get there, it is just what you prefer.  ($1.00 USD = $3.6 AED)

IMAGE.JPG

13. Public displays of affection are not allowed, even if you’re married. Holding hands is okay. 

14. Swearing is not allowed in public. You can get fined or arrested, even deported out of the country.  

15. There is no “dress code”; you can wear whatever you would wear at home. Certain places would like women to be more covered up (i.e in the mosque), but other than at the mosque, I wore my normal clothes and did not have any issues.  

Just one of the many outfits I wore

Just one of the many outfits I wore

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

16. If you are going either to the beach or pool, you are advised to stay covered until you get there, this goes for men and women. Ladies, wearing a bathing suit top with shorts is NOT ALLOWED. Walking around in just your bathing suit is okay once you get to the pool or beach. No thong bikinis or explicit bathing suits are allowed to be worn. Men cannot go topless until they get to the pool or beach.

IMAGE.JPG

17. When going to the mosque, women have to be covered from HEAD TO TOE. It is a very sacred place. I purchased an abaya from the market and was able to wear that over my clothes. It is a long robe/dress that closes in the front and covers my body. It also comes with a headscarf to wrap my hair in. Don’t purchase it in the US, it is way cheaper in Dubai. Hands and feet can be exposed. Tattoos of any kind need to be covered and that goes for men and women.  Men can wear long pants and long shirts or they can wear thobes, jubbas, or tunics and hair has to be wrapped in a scarf as well. 

IMG_0243.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

18. Dubai is one of the safest places in the world. Crime is really low. Still take the necessary safety precautions that you would take at home. 

19. Some of the things people do in the UAE may come off rude (not saying excuse me, reaching over you, etc.). Just remember not to take it offense to it. This is not America. The culture is different. 

20. Dubai is a melting pot; lots of different people live there! 

21. Bring a universal adaptor for the outlets! The American hotels have outlets to fit our plugs but just in case they don’t, its best to have one! I got mine from Wal Mart for $10. 

ACTIVITIES

Yall know I made sure I did plenty of things and activities while in the UAE! Here were some things I did and places I went: 

-The Market:

IMG_0287.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

-Dubai Marina:

IMAGE.JPG

-Dubai Beach:

With my sissy Brittany

With my sissy Brittany

-Dubai Museum:

IMAGE.JPG
IMG_0286.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

 -Zaatar w zeit:

IMAGE.JPG

-White Dubai:

IMAGE.JPG
Before White Dubai! 

Before White Dubai! 

The view at White Dubai

The view at White Dubai

-The Dubai Mall - via the Metro:

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

-Empty Quarter Desert - for the Desert Safari (I even got to ride a camel!!)

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
Bre and I on a camel!! 

Bre and I on a camel!! 

-Dhow River - for a dinner cruise:

IMAGE.JPG
IMG_0277.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

-Sheikh Zayed Mosque:

IMG_0289.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

-Jet Skis along the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea:

IMAGE.JPG

-Pool at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort:

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

I really enjoyed my first international trip. The most exciting part was getting my first passport stamp!! Plus, I was with my best friend, Breona, so we both experienced this together and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would I go back? Absolutely. I will definitely go with more money next time lol. Even though USD goes a long way, I would go back and do some of the things that I did not get a chance to do on my first visit. I will cough up at that extra money too and fly first class :)) The UAE was really good to me and a great ending to my three week break before starting my new travel nurse contract. Be on the lookout for a new travel nurse blog post coming soon! What passport stamp will I obtain next? Stay tuned for more!

Until next time,

Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile, 

IMG_0057.PNG