Yesterday my friend Michelle and I decided to spend our day off doing something a little different (and very British!) by going for afternoon tea. After a bit of research online I chose Rhodes in Residence at Grosvenor House in the marina. Created by celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, it’s the first Michelin starred afternoon tea in Dubai!

We chose the “Classic Afternoon Tea” which included a free flow of soft drinks, fresh juices, and of course multiple pots of tea. We started off with some fresh orange juice and I went for some classic English Breakfast tea. Our first course was a beautiful array of finger sandwiches. Our waitress actually presented each course to us, and we had smoked salmon, roast beef, cream cheese and cucumber, lemon chicken, and quail’s egg and cress. As well as that we were served some melt-in-your-mouth mini cream cheese and herb croque monsieurs, and a duck pastry. 

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Just as we thought the savoury part was finished, we were given the special of the day, some delicious hot salmon and potato balls!

After that came the part I had most been looking forward to…scones! We were a little bit disappointed when they arrived as neither of us had expected them to be quite so small, but in hindsight this was probably a good thing! Onto our second pot of tea by now, we devoured them with jam and cream.

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Next came the cakes. Chocolate muffins, honey dundee cake, lemon and blueberry cake, victoria sponge, buttered raspberry crumpets, and Eton mess. All served warm and deliciously fresh. 

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We were both struggling by this point and didn’t manage to finish all the cakes, so they very kindly boxed them up for us….and we forgot to take them with us! 

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I just had to put a coupe of pictures of the bathroom on here as it was so pretty, even with a special seating/mirror area to re-do your make-up! 😉

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Full to the brim, we popped over to the Observatory bar at the Marriot (52nd floor!) for a cocktail, only to discover it was happy hour! Success!

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I had a lovely girly day catching up with Michelle and eating lots of sandwiches and cakes, and we shall definitely be doing it again!

P.s. sorry for the awful quality of the pictures, I only took my iPhone with me as my bag was too small to fit my camera in as well, ha ha!

 

P.p.s. If you want more regular day to day updates of what is happening in my life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rachelwwilson!

 

 

My most recent trip took me to Taipei. After a 7 hour flight and a looooong bus ride, we finally arrived at our hotel. A group of us arranged to meet for dinner in the hotel (50% off the buffet, yes please!) and had a delicious dinner trying all the local food (as well as some pasta and pizza of course!). The best dish was by far the sashimi, so fresh and delicious. We had a couple of drinks in the bar then headed up to bed to get a good nights sleep, ready to do some exploring the next day. 

Bright and early (well, does 9:30 count as early? I think it does) four of us met in the lobby. Whilst on the flight a crew member travelling as a passenger had given us a few tips of places to go and we’d decided to start by going to a shopping area/market that she’d recommended. What she forgot to mention (along with the concierge who explained how to get there) was that it didn’t open until the evening! So that left us a little stumped and we carried on walking around that area until we saw some signs for a temple. 

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We spotted the temple from afar and walked over. It’s called the Ciyou Temple and was built in 1753, and has an impressive 6 stories. While we were walking around inside a very sweet Taiwanese man came over to us and explained a little bit about the temple as well as showing us around some of the different areas.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageWe weren’t completely sure what they meant, but throwing down these two wooden semicircle shapes was (I think) supposed to be some kind of symbol of good luck. One had to land one way up and the other one in the other direction, so it took a few tries before they were the right way!ImageAfter the temple we walked behind to see the Rainbow Bridge which is on the Keelung River. It wasn’t particularly special by day, but I’ve just read that at night it lights up makes a rainbow reflect onto the water.

ImageImageAs you can see it was pretty windy!ImageImageWe were all feeling a little peckish after lots of walking, so decided to head over to the Taipei 101 Tower and have some lunch there. There’s a shopping mall connected to the tower, and we found a place serving teppanyaki. It was my first time trying it and I’m definitely sold! You order a type of meat (I went for prawns, fish and pork) and they cook it on a huge metal hot plate in front of you. As well as the meat you get a bowl of soup, rice, and veggies to go with it. They pile it onto your plate as it’s ready! I did try and use the chopsticks but in the end we all gave up and had to ask for a knife and fork!ImageImageImageUnfortunately we didn’t end up going to the top of the tower which I would have liked to have done, because two of the others didn’t want to pay! (Boring!)

ImageImageAnother love sign outside the tower, I wonder if these were left over from Valentine’s day or if they are always there?ImageIf I get a chance to go back to Taipei I’ll definitely be going up the tower. Anybody who has read my blog before will see that somehow I almost always end up going up some kind of tower in all the places I’m in, I love having a great view of the city!

 

P.s. If you want more regular day to day updates of what is happening in my life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rachelwwilson!

 

Just a short and sweet blog post today with a little update on my roster for March. I was supposed to be going on another trip to São Paulo at the end of February but unfortunately fell ill and fainted in the briefing room so that didn’t happen! Very disappointed as I’m losing out on a lot of flying hours and also missing the Brazilian carnival!

Somehow though I managed to skip my “reserve” month in March and got a nice roster with only one turnaround. So I’ll be heading to:

  • London Heathrow
  • Manila
  • Taipei
  • Perth
  • Osaka
  • Lahore (t/a)

Most people hate London flights as they are always so busy, but I like it as it means a chance to go to Primark (always needing more tights for work!) and also have a good stock up on English food at the supermarket!

I’m also very excited to have 3 new places – Manila, Taipei and Osaka magnets shall soon be added to the fridge! I originally had a Paris instead of the Osaka but when somebody sent me the swap I thought I may as well take it. Hopefully I’ll be there for the cherry blossoms although I think it may be a week or two early.

So that’s my roster for March! I’ve got some leave at the beginning of April and I’m trying to find somewhere nice (and not too far to fly) Joey and I could go for a few days – any suggestions would be appreciated!

 

P.s. If you want more regular day to day updates of what is happening in my life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rachelwwilson!

A couple of days ago I got back from my very first trip to Brazil, as you can probably guess from the title….São Paulo! I have to admit when I initially got my roster I was a little bit annoyed, because I’d bid for Rio and instead they gave me 3 São Paulos. In the end somebody sent me a swap for Zurich and although I’ve been there before I accepted it as it is a nice layover and it gave me the weekend in Dubai, so the other day was my first time going to Brazil. Everybody I’ve spoken to that has gone has said something along the lines of “oh, there’s nothing to do in São Paulo, I just stayed in the hotel and sunbathed”.

However I was determined to make the most of it and when looking up what to do there I happened to stumble across a website advertising a free walking tour of the city every Wednesday and Saturday. As luck had it, I was going to be there on a Wednesday, and I’d done a couple of free walking tours (you just give a tip at the end if you want to) whilst backpacking in Europe with my best friend. I had time on the flight (14,5 hours!) to persuade a few of the other crew to join me. Once we landed safely and finally got to the hotel it was definitely time for bed, so I hung the breakfast menu outside my door and set my alarm in time to meet the others the next morning. 
I woke up pretty early (around 5am) and I’d ordered my breakfast for 8 so spent a few hours lying in bed getting very hungry and not being able to sleep! I was up in time for the sunrise though, which was very pretty!Image

Once we were all ready to go, we walked to the train station down the road, managed to buy tickets with none of us speaking a word of Portuguese and nobody at the station speaking a word of English and headed down to the platform hoping we were going in the right direction. With one change onto the metro we managed to make it into the city and found the meeting point for the tour. We had a little bit of time before it started so wandered around and got a quick bite to eat. (Breakfast was a long time ago by this point! :D)
Once we got back to the meeting point quite a big group of people had gathered there for the tour. The tour guide was a girl called Fe and she really knew her stuff. She took us around the downtown area of the city and explained a lot about the buildings and areas we were in.

ImageImageImageImageImageThis was I think the 3rd tallest building in the city. There’s an observatory at the top which is only open from 3-4pm every day, and it’s free to go up!

ImageThis building is so big that apparently it has its own postcode! ImageImageThere were so many little stalls on the side of the road selling fresh fruit, I wish I’d bought some!

ImageImageImageThese little things are actually telephone booths, although apparently they aren’t very easy to use as you have to buy a special card to make calls and you can’t use coins!

ImageImageImageImageImageAround this area we stopped for some lunch in a typical little restaurant. I had rice and beans and chicken and it reminded me so much of what I used to eat almost every day when I was living in Costa Rica!

ImageAfter lunch the others decided that they’d had enough walking and were going to finish the tour there and go back to the hotel to sleep. Boring! (And yes, I did tell them it was a walking tour. What can you do!) I carried on and they definitely missed out on the best bit, the Sé Cathedral.

ImageImageImageImageIt was really beautiful, and the street leading up to it was so pretty with lots of palm trees lining it. There were however a lot of homeless people living around that area and we were told to keep a tight grip on any cameras/phones/money etc!

ImageImageAfter the tour finished I joined a few other people who were going to go back to the tall building we started off at and go up to the roof. The view was incredible, and you don’t realise when you’re walking around such a small area of the city how huge it actually is!

ImageImageAfter the tour I safely navigated my way back to the hotel on the metro and train and only got a little bit lost walking from the train station to the hotel! Once I got back I realised I’d managed to get more than a little bit sunburnt on my face and shoulders…woops! I popped down to the pool for a last bit of sunshine to write some postcards and read my book for a bit. After a very quick nap it was soon time to get ready for the long flight home. 

São Paulo, I’ll be back! (And please, somebody remind me to buy a magnet next time!)

And something I forgot to mention….Pelé the Brazilian football legend was on my flight there! 😀
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P.s. If you want more regular day to day updates of what is happening in my life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rachelwwilson!

 

So yet again I have managed to go way too long without updating my blog….woops! As I was importing my pictures from my most recent trip to São Paulo I realised I had a whole load of pictures from my flight to Shanghai in January, and I haven’t even written a post about it! So São Paulo will have to wait a little, and first I’m going to write about my wonderful time in Shanghai.

The flight going out is not very long (compared to the way back), lasting around 7ish hours. However it leaves Dubai at around 3 o’clock in the morning, which generally makes me feel very tired and confused as to what time it is when I arrive at the hotel! I can’t actually remember what we did in the evening, so I think I must have just fallen straight to sleep!

The next morning a group of us headed down to enjoy the breakfast buffet which surprisingly was smaller and had less choice than the time before! But who’s to complain, full up and ready to go we split into 2 taxis and drove to the Underground Market. What we hadn’t really thought about was that it was Chinese New Year’s Eve and almost all of the shops were shut! Not to be stopped by that though we all managed to come away having haggled for our money’s worth with some new handbags (the other girls) and a new purse (for me, after nail polish leaked all over my last one)!

Two of the girls decided shopping was far too tiring and headed back to the hotel, so I and the other two hopped in a cab again to go and visit the Yu Gardens.
When we arrived we were greeted by some beautiful temple-style buildings and hundreds of people! I guess everyone was off work for the holiday and they were out in full force with their families. Everywhere was filled with awesome decorations for Chinese New Year which made it a little bit more special!

ImageImageImageImageThe whole square area before entering the actual gardens was filled with decorations.ImageImageImageTo get to the gardens you have to go over a bridge, and all along the water they’d put up scenes from different films etc, there was even one with the Seven Dwarfs!ImageImageImageInside the gardens there were lots of different pathways and secretive holes in the wall that you could go through to find other parts.ImageImageImageImageImage

After the Yu Gardens we headed back to the hotel to have a little power nap before getting ready for the flight home (about 10 hours). As I was getting ready there were fireworks going off all around the city, and whilst flying as it was approaching midnight the whole city was lit up with hundreds and hundreds of fireworks, definitely one of the most amazing things I’ve seen from the sky!

There’s so so much more I want to explore in Shanghai, but at the moment I’ve still got a lot of destinations that I haven’t been to that I’d like to go to as well! I’m just waiting for my March roster to be published, I’m supposed to be on reserve (a month of not knowing where you’ll be going!) but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll skip it! 

 

P.s. If you want more regular day to day updates of what is happening in my life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rachelwwilson!