Explored

United Arab Emirates

 

photo 4The United Arab Emirates is culturally rich. It’s a tourists and shoppers paradise with pristine beaches, stunning architecture, and exotic cars driven as the family vehicle! The desert climate is toughest to manage from June to September, when it’s unbearably hot…which is why I chose to go in February! My advice to tourists is to do thorough research before a trip to the UAE, as their rules, laws, and dress codes are taken seriously. I learned this valuable information from my Uncle Tony, who was on assignment in the UAE as one of the top architects from the United States.

Burj Al Arab is a 7-star luxury hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship and at 1,053 feet, is the fourth tallest hotel in the world.

Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure in the world at 2,722 feet, and maintains half the amount of steel used in the construction of the Empire State Building.

 

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The Omega Dubai Desert Classic offered a $2.5 million prize fund with an additional $2.5 million purse for a hole in one on the par-4,17th. The prize went unclaimed, despite many golfers driving the green. I wanted to hit a few off the tee but settled for relishing in the beauty of the perfectly manicured course with the towering downtown backdrop.

 

 

 

 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

 

Inside the Mosque, the ceilings are lined with one-of-a-kind Swarovski Crystal chandeliers. This is the largest chandelier in the world and weighs approximately 12 tons.

 

Floors and columns are made of marble with hand painted gems etched as leaves and flowers with the tops covered in gold.

 

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There are many strictly enforced rules that each guest must adhere to at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to honor customs and show respect. Women must wear a traditional robe (abaya) and headscarf (shayla), and men have to wear long pants and button down shirts. This is the same mosque where singer, Rihanna, was asked to leave after posing for pictures that didn’t conform to conditions put in place to protect the sanctuary of the religious monument.

 

UAE Architecture
The UAE is notorious for indisputable originality in structure design. I’ve never seen more interesting pieces of art that are actually office buildings! Capital Gate Tower in Abu Dhabi is “the most leaning building on Earth.” The designers achieved the goal of outdoing the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort inside the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world. It features an 85-meter-high indoor mountain with five slopes of varying difficulty, including the world’s first indoor 400 meter black run.

 

The Fountain at Burj Khalifa
This was my view from atop the World’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Each night, there’s a luminous fountain presentation with 6,600 lights, 25 projectors, and water that shoots nearly 500 feet in the air. My vantage point was from floor 124 of 163. The elevator reached 22 mph to get me to the 124th floor…over 1968 feet in just one minute!

 

Ferrari World

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Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi features world class exhibits, roller coasters, interactive theaters, racing schools, and a paddock resembling the Ferrari set up for F1 races.

Wonders of the World

I’ve visited three of the seven modern wonders of the world…Chichen Itza in Yucatan Mexico, The Colosseum in Rome, and Petra in Jordan. Additional lists are categorized to represent modern, medieval, natural and ancient wonders of the world. Of those four lists, I have also visited the CN Tower in Toronto, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, Pisa, the Panama Canal and the Grand Canyon.

 

Chichen Itza photo

Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people. The archaeological site is located in the Mexican state of Yucatán.

 

 

The Colosseum

Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum or Coliseum, is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. Built of concrete and stone, it was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman engineering. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

 

 

Petra

Petra, Jordan

Petra, also called the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved, is an historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan.

 

Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia | Church of the Holy Family
Construction of La Sagrada Familia began in 1882 in the city of Barcelona and is still underway. It is expected to be completed in 2041. Funding for this church is based completely on donations, which is why it’s taking decades. As I walked around this beautiful structure, I could clearly see the different aesthetic of each architectural designer. While the uniqueness of each facade represents the chosen designers who’ve passed away during construction, the common theme of faith is evident throughout. La Sagrada Familia is a massive centerpiece in the culture of the city. It was incredible to see in person.

 

Italy

I may have consumed my weight in Margareta pizza by the end of the trip. Italy has fantastic food, breathtaking views, and unforgettable shopping. The shoe shopping was particularly impressive, which is no surprise, given the country is shaped like a thigh high boot.

Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is the coastline on the south of the Sorrentine Peninsula. There are eleven dramatic towns that hug the rugged terrain of Amalfi Coast, providing a beautiful, yet unnerving drive in a European vehicle! Next time, I will be on a yacht.

 

Venice
The man made city of Venice, also known as “The Floating City,” is in northeastern Italy. It’s on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. Venice is renowned for the romantic beauty of its setting, architecture and artworks.

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I was in Milan for Fashion Week and Pharrell performed at the Calvin Klein after party. Milan is where local men take their wardrobes seriously. It’s where fashion, history and gelato meet!

 

Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano is the cathedral church of Milan. The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It’s the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory.

IMG_2112Duomo’s Massive Door

 

The Last Supper
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. It’s one of the world’s most famous paintings, and one of the most studied and scrutinized. Viewing the Last Supper with my own eyes is beyond memorable. I noticed the preservation of the painting is exceptional, given the variety of environmental factors which have reduced the quality of the original painting.

 

Florence

FlorenceNeptune Fountain, Piazza Della Signoria

Florence is famous for its history, but as a center of European trade and finance, it’s one of the wealthiest cities today. I strolled through the streets of Florence and enjoyed a gelato (or two) while appreciating the vast and varied art collections in the Firenze Museum.

 

Pompeii

The city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman community destroyed and buried under as much as 20 feet of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

 

Monaco
Monaco is located on the French Riviera in Western Europe, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, yet renowned for its gambling and night life.

 

Lake Como

After taking the train from Milan, we navigated a paddle boat around Lake Como to enjoy the breathtaking beauty for hours. Lake Como reveals many elements that make it a magical place, including its unique position in the center of the lake, brightly colored houses, narrow stone streets and steep staircases. George Clooney’s home is behind this mass of greenery.

 

Vatican City

Vatican City is a walled enclave within the city of Rome. The population is 840, making it the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world. The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome—the Pope.

 

Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City attracts attention for its intricate architecture and artwork that was carved and painted by some of the greatest artists of all time. I could’ve gazed for hours at the 12,000 square foot painted ceiling by Michelangelo.

Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, best known for the world famous Leaning Tower. Those who come here with their mind already made up that the Tower is the only thing to see may miss the rest of the architectural and artistic marvels of this beautiful city.

 

Switzerland

In 2006, I was at FIFA World headquarters in Switzerland, enjoying dessert and the World Cup Finals. While I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside the headquarters, I did manage to capture two photos at FIFA and some of the beauty of Switzerland. Zurich is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited.

 

Japan

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As television host of SplashTV, I was in Fukuoka and Osaka to cover the 2001 FINA World Swimming Championships. It was an honor and privilege to work with some of the most incredible athletes in the world, including Americans Natalie Coughlin and Michael Phelps and Australia’s Ian Thorpe.

 

South America

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Uruguay

Uruguay is a South American country known for its beach-lined coast. The capital, Montevideo, revolves around Plaza Independencia, presenting a unique mix of old world and art deco. This community has it all….Mercado del Puerto, an old port market and La Rambla, a waterfront promenade. The people of Montevideo were welcoming and the food and wine was spectacular!

 

Argentina

Argentina is a massive South American nation with terrain encompassing Andes mountains, glacial lakes and Pampas grassland, the traditional grazing ground of its famed beef cattle. The country is known for tango, steak and soccer…and I experienced all three!






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