After a 7 hour ride, we arrived at Assisi. It was late but we were not going to let that stop us. Plus, I never explored this Italian pearl after sunset. So I was already filled with energy.
We got out of our hotel, into the dark gem. I was surprised to see how beautiful this city was at night. European cities have a different appeal compared to American cities. There’s a level of sophistication that American metropolitans lack.
I started walking around until I got distracted by this beauty up above. The castle is called the Rocca Maggiore. I saw this during the day on my last trip. Seeing it at night gives a whole new perspective. It’s intimidating, the castle makes you think of how invaders must have felt. When they tried invading at night.
Walking the streets at night something was slightly off to me. After living in New York City for such a long time, seeing empty streets at night gives me anxiety. It’s usually an indicator to find another street to walk or you might get robbed. However, that is totally different here. There’s a sense of peace in the atmosphere.
It felt so liberating to walk around without a worry in the world. The narrow alleyways can be explored without fear. No random stranger that could be a criminal waiting for you at the end. I truly wish I could live here. It was just the first night here and already I was loving it.
To escape the heat, I decided to go and see what the Dubai museum was about. Took the metro to get there. It was a little bit of a walk away from the nearest station. So much for escaping the heat.
When I got there, I was surprised to see the price of the tickets. It was about 3 USA dollars to go around. I’m not much of a museum person. However over my travels, I’m slowly becoming one. Plus my local friend kept telling me to come here.
The entrance to the museum is very interesting. It’s made like a 1500’s fort. The entrance of the museum truly made me felt that I was in the Arabian Peninsula. I never seen this type of structure before in person. The fort is made out of coral rock. In fact, besides the Spanish forts in Florida and California. I never seen an actually fort before. Especially, not one made out of coral! Also, the fort is believed to be the oldest building in Dubai still active. The fort is called Al Fahidi.
Once inside the museum, you get to see the old fashion homes. They are called Arish and are made out of palm fronds. The homes are actually very small. Only really containing a place to sit, a kitchen and a bedroom. It’s crazy to think that the emiratis once lived so humbly. The large amounts of money a country gains, can really change its people’s culture.
Got to see an armoury right past the entrance. I heard the armours and weapons were collected from all over the world. I could only imagine how hot it would had been wearing mental armour in the Middle East during summer. I would rather choose 2nd degree burns over cuts caused by swords and arrows any day.
Funny thing about the homes, you get to see the old fashioned “air conditioning.” They were called wind towers. It was a gap in the ceiling of the Arish, as seen in the picture below. It was brutal for me to even walk around in this structure. The heat was still slightly unbearable. I couldn’t picture living in a place with no artificially-made cold air. Where the average temperatures in the summer is about 106 degrees to 86 degrees. For those who live outside of the usa, 41.1 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Not to mention the 70 percent humidity.
The further I got into the museum, I found a door that lead me inside a walkway. That walkway would eventually take me to the main attraction of the museum. I was about to learn how Dubai was before the discovery of oil. Couldn’t wait to see what was in store me.
After exploring around the neighborhood near where my airbnb apartment was, I saw this beautiful building from a far. I started walking towards it and I found out it was an Iranian hospital. Little did I knew, I stumbled around a Persian neighborhood.
For those who don’t know, Persian and Iranian are similar. Iran was once a part of the Persian empire. That is something, I did not know at the time of me stumbling across this beautiful piece of art. Found out later while doing research. Walked towards this interestingly patterned building. From outside looking in, I figured out it was a mosque. I could tell by the shoe cubby and chants of the Qur’an.
Saw someone come out of the mosque. Asked if it was okay for me to enter. I got the clearance to explore. Once inside the gates to the entrance, I was in awe towards the attention to detail. The colors made the building look so majestic. The patterns and the designs are so beautiful. Couldn’t wait to see how the inside looks like. Put my shoes in the cubby and I was off.
The inside of the mosque was truly foreign and new to me. The colors matched the outside with a touch more of green. To make sure it was okay, I asked one of the mosque’s operators if I could take photos. He gave me permission of course.
I got to see some of the followers pray. Similar to how it was during my time in Cairo, the mosque was sectioned by gender. I was not allowed to go on the women’s side. Still, I enjoyed the part I was given access to.
Sometimes, it’s hard to picture how close United Arab Emirates is to Iran. It’s literally less than a two hour flight from Dubai. Makes sense why there’s a strong Persian community here. Glad I got to see in person.
As I was looking at the Muslims praying, I started to think a little to myself. The differences between this mosque and the mosque in Cairo. They both practice different types of Islam. Egypt is Sunni majority and Iran is Shia majority. They are similar and very different at the same time. Similar to Catholics and Protestants, the houses of worship look very different. It’s almost the same here. Expect, Sunni is the majority branch of Islam at about 87% to 90% of the Muslim population. While, Shia Islam is about 13% to 10%. Here is the link for those who want to more read about this.
Also, I remember something funny at this time. I was wearing the cross my family gave to me for my travels. This whole time I was exploring this mosque, you can clearly tell I was a christian or came from a Christian family. Yet, not one person gave me a second look nor hostility. To think how, I was once so scared about going to a Muslim majority country. I can only laugh at myself now. I grew so much as a person throughout my travels. With every new country, I was becoming a person. Someone with more understanding to others who are different than me. Truly believe, we can stop more wars from happening, if we just understood each other better. We all have similarities despite our differences. Hopefully, we get to see that in our lifetime.
After about an hour of looking around, I saw pretty much all of the mosque. That was my sign to walk back into the heat. Thought about staying until the sun went down. However, I didn’t want to take advantage of the friendly welcome I was given.
My whole childhood I wanted to do this. Today, I would be going to the top of the world’s tallest building. I was filled with so much excitement. My palms were sweaty and my body kept shaking. Had to conquer a big fear today.
Went to the entrance of The Burj khalifa at the Dubai Mall. There’s been a lot hype about this building. All my friends back home told me that I had to see the view from the top. You get to see the sun set twice. Too bad I forgot, I was scared of heights.
On the elevator up, they give you a history about Dubai and the making of this mountainous building. My ears popped several time. Didn’t even want to think how high we were. Just kept thinking about my ears. The pressure was strong. Eventually, my ears drums stopped hurting. Now I was hoping, I don’t end up with a nosebleed.
We got out of the elevator and into a viewer deck. The whole time, my hands were numb and my gut kept giving me that butterfly feeling. Taking that selfie was like walking on hot coals. For some reason, my mind kept picturing me falling off the edge. Even with all this protective glass, that fear of falling consumed me.
Fighting through my fears, I went closer to the edge. I wanted take a photo for you all to see. It was gut-numbing work. My fear of heights was difficult to overcome. Defeating it made this moment that much memorable. This was my childhood dream. Funny how I found out that Dubai is in the middle of constructing an even taller building.
After my trip to the top was done, had to go back to the ground level. Exited out into the Dubai mall. Saw a pizza hut and decided to chow down on some pizza. My eyes couldn’t roll harder. There was waiters at this pizza hut. Im sure, there was probably a five star rating somewhere. Just felt weird to be eating at a fast food place that gave me the five star treatment. Tend to forget, American brands sometimes have more value outside of the United States. Either way, I enjoyed my day. Couldn’t wait what tomorrow had in store.
As when I was heading towards the airport, it was dark. Like completely dark to the point, it did not look like 7 in the morning. Had to google the local time a few times just to make sure. Thought I miscalculated the time differences. One of the biggest issues for a traveler, make sure you have a local SIM card. It changes the time on your phone automatically. Or at least, having a service plan that gives you International data. To be upfront, it’s cheaper getting a local SIM card.
I was waiting for the airport shuttle, when the sun was starting to rise. It’s still really hard to believe that I’m so far up north. I thought it would be like some parts of Alaska, where sunlight is only out for a couple of hours. However, this country only gets dark in the early morning and after 3 p m. So there’s about 5 hours of sunlight here during the winter. Which is about a few hours less sunlight than New York City in December. Iceland still amazes me.
After about 15 minutes in the cold, the airport shuttle arrived. The crazy thing about Iceland’s shuttles, they have free wifi and USB ports to charge your electronics (I was definitely not in Cuba). Sat down for the 45 minute ride to Kavilf Airport.
Got to the airport, passed through customs with ease. Eventually, got hungry and walked to one of the airport stores. I was talked into buying some local chocolate. I did not regret the choice. It had an interesting flavor. Imagine the sweet milky chocolate taste with a little hint of salt. It was definitely something worth remembering.
Icelandic chocolate bar photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
After some time passed, I kept thinking about my experiences in Iceland. Still surprised I haven’t came back with a cold or some flu. The fact that humans can live in such extreme temperatures, it really opens your eyes. Humans are very adaptable. From the bitter cold of Iceland to the heat of the Sahara Desert, humans will find a way to live. Im really lucky to have experienced this island all the way up North. Can’t wait to see the next country and what it had to offer.
As I walked to the pathway to board the airplane, I was excited about going to my next country. It would be a complete 180. This place will be warm with a Caribbean coastline. A new experience was waiting for me. As I took my sit, I sat there in excitement. Central America, here I come!!
Thank you for reading. Much love and safe travels!
Vatican city, the home base of the Catholic Church. A country of about 1000 people and the place where the Pope lives. Do not let the name confuse you, it’s actually a country.
Although, it’s not recognized by the United Nations as an actual country; Vatican city is self-governed. Besides speaking Italian, the Pope’s home is not apart of Italy nor Rome; even if it’s in the middle of Italy’s capital.
Entering this country feels more like an airport than immigration. You have to go through a metal detector. If someone acts up, they will have to deal with these guys.
To be honest, these guards I think are just for show. They aren’t really frightening nor to be taken seriously. Just look at those colors!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Much love!! Have an awesome weekend and stay healthy! Next time we will be exploring more of Vatican city.
The more we explored Rome, the older the man-made structures got.
Taken by Hugo Morel edited on Instagram
Rome is such a beautiful city. However, there’s a part of Rome that makes the human life span feel inferior. To see these thousands of years old structures is something everybody should experience.
Taken by Hugo Morel
The energy of the Colosseum was out of this world and slightly dark. To know that many people and animals had died for entertainment, left me with a sour taste.
taken by Hugo Morel
We eventually went to where the battles for survival took place. It really made you think as to how far we came as people and a society. These battles to the death were truly barbaric and savage. Gladly, we replaced this violent entertainment with sports (Pun intended).
taken by Hugo Morel
Regardless of what I felt, I really enjoyed my time. Experiencing Roman history first hand, is a memory I’m proud to leave with.
Thank you for reading our post! We love you all! Stay healthy!!