3 Nights in Dubai

Have you been to Dubai? I feel like there are two sides to travelers in terms of their opinion about Dubai. Either it hasn’t crossed your mind or you’ve been and love it.

I have family friends in Dubai and a friend who grew up there and yet I didn’t visit until four years ago on my way back from Southeast Asia. I liked it so much I extended my visit a couple days.

This time it was a destination. My mother and I planned to visit Dubai and Greece (you’ll find out later why Greece didn’t end up happening). This was the first time visiting Dubai with my mother. After a long and aggressive drive to move down to Miami, my mother and I flew out a day after I moved into my new apartment. We had layover and only because I’ve flown the direct flight from Dubai to NYC, I actually recommend a layover in Europe. I think it helps to adjust to the time difference and whether it’s Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt or Paris, we can’t but have an additional opportunity for duty free shopping or coffee right?

While Dubai attracts many tourists for its shopping, my favorite thing to do in Dubai is walk around the historic area of Al Fahidi, formerly known as Bastakiya. Named after the Iranian town of Bastak, it was home to residents who earned their income from pearl diving. Its unique architecture is now home to galleries, museums, the Al Fahidi fort and some cute restaurants and boutique hotels. Spending the morning when its cool, and likely one of the few places you’ll go that’s outdoors, by walking around and visiting the coffee museum and galleries then taking an abra boat across the Dubai Creek to the area where you can find the spice and gold souks.

Historic Al Fahidi

Historic Al Fahidi

Other than shopping and sightseeing, eating out is another fun thing to do and if you know me, I love food. Persian, Turkish, Lebanese, Indian, Yemeni, Thai etc… There are many cuisines and places to choose from. Even the malls have fantastic options for dining! A lot of European and UK chains are in Dubai which is fun because its like the best of both worlds. You can have your favorite French chain but be in Dubai. I’m not a big fan of malls but in Dubai socializing is often about going to Emirates or Dubai Mall. Both have a range of places to eat. The best meals have been either home cooked meals at our friend’s home or at more low-key places. Eating out in Dubai has expanded my own culinary palette. Below are a couple recommendations for neighborhoods to go out:

  • Jumeira - La Mer Shopping center and the beach, Stomping Grounds Coffee (best cafe I’ve found thus far)

  • Al Fahidi- cafes to enjoy breakfast, Ostadi (Persian/Middle Eastern/Halal), Indian cuisine

  • Downtown Dubai- Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa

Dubai Mall and its pretty design

Dubai Mall and its pretty design

If you can, take a drive outside the city and into the desert. It’s breathtakingly beautiful at sunset. I haven’t been to the top of Burj Khalifa yet but the beauty of Dubai is that there are great views whether you’re on the metro, in a taxi or riding an abra.

Each time I’ve been fortunate to stay with dear family friends but Airbnb options looked great and surely luxury hotels are lovely in a city offers plenty.

Jumeirah Beach

Jumeirah Beach

From my first visit to Dubai in 2014

From my first visit to Dubai in 2014

Have you been to Dubai? If so, what is your favorite thing to do or see?

How 'Avo or Nothing' Came to be

Early this year I went to Mexico for the first time in my life. Not sure why it took me almost three decades but I'm so very happy that I went. A close friend of mine and I have birthdays five days apart so we decided the fall before to plan a birthday trip to celebrate our 30th together. Another friend who'd traveled with us before joined us as well. We flew to Cancun from three different states and boy did we have a blast!

After two weeks we each went home to our respective cities. Seemingly content after escaping the bitter cold of NYC for two weeks, I was in a cab on the way from LaGuardia Airport and had this sinking feeling that I was doing something wrong. Why was I back in NYC? Why did I leave Mexico and the Maya Riviera that I had enjoyed so much? I've flown quite a bit in my life and also since living here in NYC, but never have I not been excited to arrive home. Leaving a place you like and vacation can be sad but once you get to your destination you're usually happy to be home. 

Jump ahead a month and I'd left my job and booked a one-way ticket to Cancun to live in Tulum. That's right, someone who'd only been to Mexico once decided to live for a few months in Tulum. Crazy? Maybe. Invigorating and exciting? I think so. This might sound so cliché but on my return I could hear Mexico calling. It was telling me to return and continue the journey I'd started and to continue to explore. I loved the food, culture, weather and challenging myself with the Spanish language. Tulum's restaurants used such fresh and delicious ingredients too. 

Tulum is about an hour half drive south of Cancun which has, in recent years, been a destination for Europeans and Americans alike for yoga, the beach, parties and relaxing. I rented a bicycle and had essentially knew no one. I had thought to get a part-time job which eventually proved more difficult to achieve. A couple weeks in I encouraged myself to make a friend since I'm normally outgoing as I'd be unusually shy for my personality. I befriended a young Mexican woman who was in Tulum for work. I commented on a book she was reading and from there we started what has been a great friendship. 

I had suggestions of places to eat from a chef who used to have a restaurant in Tulum and now has a Mexican restaurant in Cobble Hill. Upon exploring various taquerias and local restaurants I had this epiphany that I should change my current (and now former) blog into a food blog. I bounced the idea off of my friend and her sister and they thought it was a splendid idea. In the winter I had also taken an online course about writing and my instructor encouraged me to pursue the idea as well. First I had to come up with a name right? Gosh did that take awhile. I was initially just going to focus on the region I was in Mexico but that would limit the type of posts I could write if I was eventually going back to NYC. 

It wasn't until I got back to NYC in May and shortly thereafter that I came up with 'Avo or Nothing'. Growing up I had a very strict diet, my parents were vegetarian and ate extremely healthy. No white flour, rice or sugar. Junk food didn't exist. Their lifestyle and eating habits only became more common or trendy a decade or so later (think miso, Japanese seaweed, juicing, brown rice etc...). I won't get sidetracked. My upbringing has a lot to do with why my love for food is so passionate. There I am as a baby and my parents feed me avocado as my first solid food. In Hawaii avocados grow in cooler areas. My hometown is full of avocado trees. Having an avocado tree in your yard was common. As a bonus they made great climbing trees- perfect for any child but especially an only child. Avocados have and remain to be one of my favorite fruits (you knew that right?). Mexico also has a lot of avocados. So, as a tribute to my first solid food, my hometown and my love for Mexico, I thought it completely suitable. There you have it, the story behind how my blog came to fruition and why I named it 'Avo or Nothing'. 

Thank you for reading. I hope to continuously write engaging content and improve my photography skills so that my pictures can improve.

What is your favorite fruit? How did your blog come to be?



Welcome to my new and improved blog! I finally got it together to change my blog platform.

I've been wanting to use Squarespace for quite some time however, due to to several factors- laziness being one- it took me a couple months. I was inspired to update it while I was living in Mexico this spring as I felt like my blog was taking a different direction and I wanted the design and platform to reflect that.

You can see all the entries from my old blog under the HapaVita page. Thank you for your support. Enjoy reading <3