Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

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Day two: I hopped outta bed at 8am, ready to take Abu Dhabi day two by storm. Although jet lag had kicked in the previous night (and was not working in my favor), it was overpowered by my shear excitement to explore more of the city the next morning. After getting ready and having a quick breakfast, I was introduced to my driver at 9.30, and we were already on our way to the Grand Mosque before 10am.

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The Grand Mosque- there really aren’t words to describe it. Definitely one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. Breathtaking. The pure white in contrast with the pure gold detailing and bright blue tiles, it looks so clean and refreshing. The driver had brought me an abaya to put on, as women are made to cover everything except for the face. He then gave me about 45 minutes to explore the religious site. Now, I could bore you with details about the architecture and the history, but I’ll spare you and skip all that.

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So next we were off to the date market. I freaked out when the guide informed me of this, because strangely, I LOVE DATES. Most people I know hate them or think they’re gross, but I don’t know what on earth they are talking about. They’re seriously delicious. I was maybe the happiest girl to have ever visited the date market, because they let me test out the different kinds- did you know there are over 90 types of dates? Yup. And they all taste so different. Anyways, I was really really enjoying myself at this date market.
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Once a sugar rush had hit due to date-overload, we headed over towards the Historical Village. This is an area of the city which depicts how the Arabs used to live, prior to the industrialization of the UAE. Honestly, I’m not sure quite how they did it because, although beautiful, it was so darn hot. Like, 110 Fahrenheit, and that’s on an average day. There were all types of artisans at work (glass blowers, carpet makers, to name a few), an agricultural community, and living quarters. The end of a tour and a trip that I will never forget.

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Xx,

Tash

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Arabian Desert Safari

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Update: I’m moving to the desert. I love it. Its beautiful simplicity intertwined with the Arabian culture is absolutely breathtaking. The colors of the sandy dunes shining off of the bright blue skies without a cloud in the sky is one thing that everyone needs to see in their lifetime. Oh, and also, this place is made for Instagram. Everywhere you look, every angle you position your camera- BOOM! Quality insta right there. I had a fantastic experience on my desert safari, and so I’ll give you a little recap.

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I was collected by my guide at around 4:30pm, and after picking up another family of mother, aunt, two young children, and a friend (who all live in Abu Dhabi), we drove 45 minutes out into the isolated area of clear skies, camels, and sandy hills. First thing on the menu was the safari around the sand dunes. This consisted of about 15 safari cars speeding and bouncing up and down the dunes. The vehicles were doing all sorts of things that I thought vehicles shouldn’t be able to do. Terrified? Yes. Having the time of my life? Yes. On the way back we stopped at one of the camel farms just to watch them gaze and do their thang for about 15 minutes.

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“No pictures, please.”

 

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the two little boys!

 

Then, we were headed back to the desert camp. Here, all groups from the 15 cars joined in a big area with access to refreshments, henna painting, smoking from the midkwah (Arabian tradition), sand boarding, camel riding, and just about every cool Arabian cultured activity that comes to one’s mind. This is where I really connected with the family I was on the trip with- I felt like they had adopted me into their little family for the day. I enjoyed their company and they enjoyed mine as we bonded over the different areas of the world that we came from- each so fascinated by the other’s culture (I learned so much about the UAE from them!). At around eight o’clock, we were greeted with a vast buffet of Arabian classics. I’m talking hummus, barbecued meats, more barbecued meats, different types of rice and salads, all topped off with a local rice pudding, muhalabia.

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Henna art

 

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Traditional Arabic food

 

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Muhalabia (Arabic rice pudding)

 

Post dinner, meaning post food coma, was the entertainment of the night: Belly dancing! I had never before seen a professional belly dancer, and she was amazing. She balanced swords in places I didn’t know possible, moved her stomach in even stranger ways, and ended with a traditional Arabic dance. Winding down this spectacular evening, all lights were shut off, and all guests laid on their backs for star gazing. It was truly the perfect ending to the most perfectly imaginable day in the Abu Dhabi desert.

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my adopted family for the day 🙂

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Xx,

Tash

Arrival in Abu Dhabi

This past week, on route to Australia, I stopped in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days. So it was me, for two days, in Abu Dhabi, ALONE. Pretty cool. The closest I had come to Abu Dhabi before this trip was the Dubai airport when I was traveling to Tanzania a few years ago. And man, even that airport was like a mini vacation in itself!

Since the moment the flight attendant told me to open my window blinds in preparation for landing, I was astonished at how beautiful this place was. I mean, I had no idea the sky could be so many shades of blues, oranges, pinks, and yellows, all at once! My eyes were paralyzed on the view for a good 75 minutes— no joke.  (due to amazing view + me being delirious from the 13 hour flight) I landed at about 7:30pm Abu Dhabi time (8 hours ahead of NY), sped through customs, security, baggage claim, and met my driver for a short 20 minute drive from the airport.

On my arrival I was greeted by a multitude of gentleman and was treated like a Princess. After being checked in, I was brought up to my room, where I was given a mini tour and settled in. At this point I was in utter awe at how amazing this place, this hotel, and these people are. I felt as if I was literally in a whole different world. Men and women walking around in their traditional Arab dress with the headpieces and everything. Of course I have seen Sex and the City 2 a million times, and it was actually just like that (to give you a better idea). Let’s just hope I don’t pull a Samantha and get kicked out of the country.

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Amazing lobby

 

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Quick shower, and an ever quicker unpacking job, I was starving and ready for my first bite of Arabian cuisine. Who knew that a hotel could have so many restaurants? I mean this one has at least five— all different and all delicious. So I ordered a seafood salad with some of their local dressing, cuddled up in bed with an (unknown) movie, popped a sleeping pill, and that was the end to my long first day.

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View of the Grand Mosque top right corner!

 

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This morning (day two) I woke up to my alarm at 9am. First thing I thought was this is just not gonna happen— I hit snooze, and fell back asleep until 11am. I rushed out of bed, went to the gym for like a minute (have you ever been to a gym with the perfect view of the Grand Mosque? I have!), then laid out by the pool. When I say “laid out”, I mean sat there uncomfortably drenched in sweat after 2 minutes because it was 100 degrees. No exaggeration. I then came to a sudden realization that i hadn’t had my morning brew yet. What! It’s already 12:15, and I haven’t had a sip of caffeine (even with this jet lag)!? So I headed to the oh-so-fancy Chocolate Lounge where I had a couple (or a few) cups. And that’s that.

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Where the chocolate-making magic happens

 

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Lounged there while writing 🙂

 

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This afternoon I am going on a Desert Safari organized through the hotel. I don’t know why it’s called a “safari” because since it’s in the desert, we will be seeing absolutely no animals (except Camels!). But, even better, I will be camel riding, sand boarding, watching belly dancing, henna painting, and feasting on an Arabian Desert- Barbecue. I literally can not wait! More to come…

Xx,

Tash

The Best Dressed at Coachella ’15

 

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Coachella (aka the world’s biggest music festival) took place over the past two weekends. Basically a fairytale make-believe land full of the world’s best music, the best food, the best rides, and what seems to be every-single-celebrity that exists. While my roommate was lucky enough to snag a ticket and a tent to experience the second weekend (ugh, bring me next time, @Olivia?!), I just got to experience from the sidelines, through the overwhelming celeb coverage on social. Well, there’s always next year, I guess?

Although Coachella is primarily a music festival, it’s also a time when the spring and summer trends are shown off by the world’s top supermodels, stylists, and artists for the world to see. The whole vibe is a pretty boho-chic atmosphere, and people attend dressed in some wild (and sometimes questionable) looks. Personally, a lot of the outfits (even those of my all time favs— ie. bff’s Gigi and Kendall) are not my favorite (just not my style). But, here are a few looks that I loved at Coachella ’15:

Kate Bosworth

Kate Bosworth

Kristina Bazan

Kristina Bazan

Jourdonn Dun

Jourdonn Dun

Jasmine Tookes

Jasmine Tookes

Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung

Alexa Chung

Alexa Chung

Julianna Hough

Julianne Hough

Alessandra Ambrosio (and possy)

Alessandra Ambrosio (and possy)

Alessandra Ambrosio Weekend 2

Alessandra Ambrosio Weekend 2

Rosie Huntington Whiteley

Rosie Huntington Whiteley

P.S. Another Coachella post coming soooon!

Xx,

Tash

A Day at the Pier

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As I mentioned in my previous post, during my stay in LA, my brother and I adventured off onto the Santa Monica pier for an afternoon of childish fun. Here, I rediscovered my love for cotton candy and kiddie rides. No lie, I probably wasted $20 trying to knock a few blocks down for the reward of an oversized Scooby-Doo stuffed animal. And was shaking and wining while waiting on line for the roller coaster (where I was by far the oldest, most nervous person there). And yup, I cried, and there’s video to prove it.

Here are some shots of the day below. And regarding my outfit, every single item from head to toe (literally) is from Zara. Wait I lied! Exception of my sunglasses, which are by Asos.

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Me and my little brother 🙂

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Me and my little brother pt. 2 🙂

Xx,

Tash

LA Getaway

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Malibu

 

Last week, over my spring break, my family and I (with the exception of my older brother) took a trip to LA. My dad was going out there for work, so my mom, younger brother and I thought we’d tag along for the ride. I had never been to LA, and had always dreamed of strolling down Rodeo Drive and dining at the celebrity hot spots. As you can guess, I was super excited and had a very lengthy list of things to do and places to eat (based on celebrity Instagrams, duh!). We were there for 7 days and 7 nights, and stayed at a hotel in Santa Monica. I won’t go into the trip in too much detail, because I could honestly write a novel about how much I loved every little detail, but I’ll talk about the things and areas that stood out in particular. Also, I’ll mention the really amazing restaurants and cafes that I highly recommend.

I started each morning with a fun workout at Soul Cycle Santa Monica which just happened to be across the street from my hotel. Therefore, I was up bright and early each day before 8am. You might be thinking, no way that’s a relaxing vacation! But I was determined to see as much of LA as I could in the short time that I was there, so there was absolutely no time for sleeping in!

The first day we arrived we headed out to Malibu. And what a great first impression of California! Clear skies, bright blue waters, and swarms of surfers, I loved the city (and state) from the start. We drove around the residential area, dined at Malibu Farm (yum…!), and took a pit stop at Zuma Beach. Later, we headed back to Santa Monica for some delicious Mexican cuisine at Mercado.

On day two or three (I forget- they all kind of jumbled together), we spent the day in our temporary backyard, the Santa Monica Pier. My brother and I decided to let out our inner-child, and rode the roller coaster and the ferris wheel- SO much fun. When we were dizzy enough from all the rides, we left the peer and had another amazing lunch right across from the pier at Ivy at the Shore.

The Wednesday (midway through our trip) was spent window-shopping on Rodeo Drive and awing and ooing at all of the possible items I could never afford. It was so beautiful and the nicest day. After getting a little bit lost and starstruck around the streets in Beverly Hills, I was on a mission to find Urth Cafe (thank you, Kylie Jenner!). We arrived, we waited (yes, very long lines), we ate, and WOW was it amazing. No words to describe it, actually. The next day we went back to the same Urth, and got it as take out, eating it in a beautiful courtyard just off of Rodeo Drive.

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Nobu Malibu

 

To foster the greatest hunger for Nobu Malibu (so we could try all of the artistically crafted delicacies), my mom, brother, and I headed up to Runyon Canyon for the day. We completed a hike on one of the paths (not very long), and I was pretty satisfied as the view from the top consisted of the one and only Hollywood sign (could I be any more of a tourist)! Post fun-celebrity-seeking hike, we headed to Urth for lunch for the third time (I swear, it’s an addiction).

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To end our trip on a high note, and to truly lose my Los Angeles virginity, the family spent the night at the Staples Center, to cheer on the Lakers! I wouldn’t say I was at the edge of my seat the whole time, but it was still so fun.

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Lakers Game

 

So basically, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much good food in such a short amount of time. Literally, I was never disappointed with anything I ate that whole week. Here are a few of the top places that I’m still craving, days later:

 

Soho House Restaurant

Katsuya (Brentwood)— Brussel Sprout Salad. Enough said

Malibu Farm— Vegetable scrambled eggs and any juice

Nobu Malibu— ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (But isn’t that obvious?!)

Urth Cafe— Went there not once, not twice, but three times. (would go every day for the rest of my life if I could)

Fig Restaurant (in the Fairmont Hotel Santa Monica)

Ivy at the Shore (Santa Monica)

Primo Cafe (Santa Monica)

Mercado (Santa Monica)

Xx,

Tash

Weekend Getaway: Chicago Outfits

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Going to Chicago was a really good excuse to wear some new items in my winter wardrobe that I never get to wear in Madison. It’s usually either too cold, or I’m in a rush to get somewhere and   I have gotten into the habit of just reaching for my coziest sweaters and most durable jacket (I try to avoid frostbite at all costs). I had some coats and winter accessories that I was scared wouldn’t make it out until next winter season! But thankfully, while we were in Chi-town, yes the weather was cold, but it was definitely bearable, so I got to make some use of these pieces during the trip.

Here are some pictures of my outfits (backdrop being the bean ~ we were feeling touristy), and descriptions below of where the items are from (all of it super affordable!). We got a little carried away taking silly pics of me with my kiddie hat!

PS. You can totally figure out what my favorite stores are considering everything I wore was from basically the same three stores. Ha!

I paired faux leather skinny pants (H&M) with a white cropped sweater (Zara), and topped it off with a light pink trench coat with an amazing fur neckline (Zara). Accessories consisted of heeled beige booties (TopShop), aviator sunnies (CWonder), and a simple black tote bag (H&M).

On day two, I wore a chunky knit turtleneck (Zara), black and white checked cigarette trousers (TopShop), and a lightly embellished moto-style jacket (Zara). I finished this look off with a fun beanie (Zara Kids), Illesteva glasses (Illesteva), that same black bag (from day one, H&M), and black suede booties (TopShop).

Xx,

Tash

Weekend Getaway: Chicago

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This past weekend, my bff/ roomie and I took a mini vacation to Chicago. Last week, after being swamped with midterms and it being really, really cold (I’m talking -20’s), our stress levels had hit the fan. Feeling a little (jk, a lot) spontaneous, we booked ourselves into the W Hotel City Center for two nights as a little girls get away. The thought a king sized bed, some really good eats, shopping, and just a little bit of pampering sounded just what we needed.

So, I’d never been to Chicago before— and all I knew coming into this trip was that it was known as the windy city (of course this means I packed my best, and warmest, jackets!) And for my roomie? Well, she was born there. But that doesn’t say much, as she moved before she could walk. Don’t worry though, because my mom (sorority mom! aka biggie) is from Chicago, so she gave us an insiders guide to the best restaurants, the best shopping spots, and tips on how to be a tourist without being such a tourist (if that makes sense).

On day one (Friday), we hopped on a bus, conveniently a block from our dorm, and drove 3 hours straight to Chicago. Arriving in at around 5:30, we checked into our room, did some hotel exploring, and then it was about time for dinner. We called an Uber to La Taberna, where we would be dining that evening. I had done my fare share of research on Open Table during the bus ride, and Liv and I decided that we were in the mood for some Spanish culture and tapas, so La Taberna seemed like just the place. We certainly got our share of culture, as there was a Hispanic band as entertainment for the night. The food was also great ~ we ordered two grilled octopus dishes, an olive platter, and chicken skewers. Overall, the tapas were on point, especially the grilled octopus. Post dinner, we hung out in the room with some TV, exhausted from a day of traveling and excited for the weekend ahead.

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On Saturday morning Olivia and I woke up full of energy and ready for an eventful day. After getting ready, we left the hotel and started wandering towards Millennium Park. On the way, we stopped at a restaurant called Seven Lions for brunch. It was delicious (so delicious that we went back the next day!). I got scrambled eggs and berries, Olivia got poached eggs and the most perfect grapefruit I’ve ever seen. We were enjoying ourselves so much that by the end of our meal we had had about 6 cups of coffee each ~ we were buzzed. Next, we were headed to the bean for some obligatory pictures and potential Instagram’s. Due to the freezing weather, we were in search for shelter ASAP, so we cabbed it to the nearest Garrets popcorn shop. I could go on about this popcorn for hours (literally), but I’m just going to keep it short and sweet and say it is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. It left me in a food coma, but I still needed more (guilty- we went back again later that day…). To walk off our fullness, Olivia and I did a little shopping in Neiman Marcus and Zara. Before we knew it we were headed off to our 7pm reservation at Sunda. An Asian restaurant recommended to us by my big, it was excellent (but, I still couldn’t stop thinking about Garrett’s) We were soon back off to the hotel to watch a movie and finish off our share of popcorn.

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Sunday morning arrived before we knew it, and was very productive: woke up, packed up our stuff, and checked out of the hotel all before 11am. We headed back to our new favorite spot, Seven Lions, for the same exact brunch, and then off to Union Station to catch our bus back to Madtown!

Overall, this weekend was so much fun, super relaxing, and just what Olivia and I needed to get back on track. It exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait for my next trip to Chicago, and my next trip to Garrett’s popcorn!

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Trip #2 to Garrett’s!

 

PS. Blog post on my outfits from the weekend is coming soon!

Xx,

Tash