Off to Abu Dhabi

Posted by Mark

It’s currently 3AM right now and I’m at the airport waiting to board a flight to Abu Dhabi. A couple of weeks back I got an email from the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority inviting me to visit Abu Dhabi for their Formula 1 weekend and enjoy all the activities they had lined up. They sent me my weekends schedule and it includes kayaking in the mangroves, sand surfing, tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Jay Z concert, the Muse concert, Ferrari World, Waterworld and best of all, I get to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend from the paddock club suite followed by the Depeche Mode concert! I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi so this is probably the best way to experience it. I’ll be posting pictures on my Instagram to add me if you aren’t already following me @mark248am


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In London this Eid? Visit Scalini

Posted by Mark

If you’re still in London then you should stop by Scalini before you get back to Kuwait. Scalini is supposedly Signor Sassi’s direct competitor here in London and it’s also supposed to be better. I tried both out and even though I preferred Scalini they’re both really very similar. Scalini have a great seating area with a skylight which I loved since it brought in a lot of natural daylight into the place.I also enjoyed the food at Scalini a bit more than at Signor Sassi. I had the fresh clams linguini at Scalini and the spaghetti lobster at Signor Sassi and between the two I preferred the fresh clams linguini just because I hadn’t had clams in years and thought the dish was delicious.

Price wise Scalini and Signor Sassi are very similar. The bill at Scalini for three people came out to just over 200 pounds but nearly half that was for the wine. So, it’s around KD15-20 per person without the wine but including two shared starters, three main dishes and three different desserts. Scalini is located walking distance from Harrods at 1-3 Walton St. You need to call and book in advance.


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In London this Eid? Visit Princi

Posted by Mark

Princi is a beautiful bakery and restaurant located in the Soho area of London. A large section of the place is dedicated to the bakery which displays freshly baked goods and you buy what you want and eat it in a large cafeteria like dinning area where everyone sits down on the same long tables. On the other hand they also have the pizzeria with its own private dinning area and à la carte menu. Since we got there early we decided to sit in the dinning area which usually has a long waiting list. We ordered the heritage tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella to start with, 3 different pizzas and the wild mushroom linguini. We then followed lunch with dessert from the bakery which included tiramisu and a pear and chocolate cake.

Everything was delicious even though the pizzas were a bit on the heavy side. My favorite item was the pear and chocolate cake which I thought would be a strange combo at first only to be surprised by how moist and yummy it was. Pizzas cost around 10 pounds each which like everything else in London is not cheap.

Princi is located on 135, Wardour Street. Get there really early if you don’t want to wait. [Link]


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In London this Eid? Visit Burger & Lobster

Posted by Mark

If you’re going to be in London this coming week then make sure you pass by Burger & Lobster. They have only 3 items on their menu, lobster, a burger and a lobster roll. Whichever item you choose it’s 20 pounds. You NEED to have the lobster roll, it’s crazy good. It’s so good I actually can’t decide if I loved the bread it came in more than the lobster or vice versa. Try to go early if you do, there usually is a line and it could take up to two hours to get a table. Here is a link to their website [Link]

Also make sure you try Bubbledogs, a place that serves only hotdogs and champagne.


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Long Term Parking at Sheikh Saad Terminal

Posted by Mark

Since FlyDubai started flying out of the Sheikh Saad Terminal I’ve been getting emails from readers asking if they have long term parking. So I called the airport and found out they do have long term parking but it costs KD5 a day which is more than double the cost of long term parking at the main airport. The reason for this probably has to do with the fact there are a lot less parking spots available at Sheikh Saad Terminal.

Back when the airport was serving Wataniya Airways they had valet service who charged KD1 a day to park your car. An affordable alternative to parking your car yourself. But, I checked and there is no longer any valet service at Sheikh Saad Terminal so long term parking is your only option if you’re planning to take your car.


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Ultimate Lebanon Summer Guide for 2013

Posted by Mark

If you’re going down to Lebanon next week for Eid then below is my personal recommendation list:

The Gärten by Uberhaus
They’re only open Saturday night from around 8PM to 6AM and it’s my favorite place this summer. It’s an outdoor club that’s open just for 16 weeks with a large green garden filled with bean bags on one side and a huge open dome which is the dance floor on the other. You need to pass by and if you’re flying out on the morning MEA flight just head from The Garten straight to the airport. The place is easy to find, its right at the entrance to Biel (near Skybar). Here’s a video I shot the last time I was there [Here]

Tawlet
This is a very popular and a great Lebanese restaurant. They bring a new chef daily (usually a grandma) from a different part of lebanon to cook home made food. (01-448129)

Radio Beirut
Arguably my favorite pub this summer located in Mar Mikhael. I don’t think I’ve ever sat inside since the sidewalk is where everyone hangs out and drinks.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Live Love Beirut

Posted by Mark

Lebanon. Lose Yourself. from Wissam Abdallah

The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism should hire this guy. Watch it in full screen and in HD.

via BlogBaladi


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Zahed Sultan’s Travelogue

Posted by Mark

Travelogue is a new short film travel series by Zahed Sultan. It’s a fast-paced video diary that captures the little moments Zahed gets to experience as he takes his music to different countries and cities around the world.

I was just thinking the other day of a cool way to document all my traveling and I think local musician Zahed Sultan cracked it. All I do at the moment is Instagram pictures with the hashtag #markinsomewhere. Some people collect shot glasses, some people collect fridge magnets and I’m collecting hashtags I guess. So far this year I’ve collected the following:

#markinjapan
#markinrotterdam
#markinamsterdam
#markinparis
#markinprague
#markinbarcelona
#markinbasel
#markinmilan
#markinmanchester
#markinliverpool

Zahed Sultan’s video diaries (I think he is going to be doing a bunch of these) is a fantastic way to document all his traveling. I love it. [YouTube]

Note: You can’t view my Instagram photos unless you’re following me @mark248am


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Next time you’re in Lebanon, visit the Baatara Gorge

Posted by Mark

This past weekend I was in Lebanon and up in the area Tannourine so I decided to pass by the Baatara Gorge. I had only seen pictures of it before and really wasn’t expecting it to be so huge. The gorge is around a 5 minute drive off the main road and then around a 15 minute hike down a valley. There is no tour guide there or any fees you need to pay its just there for you to see and explore.

During the spring there is a large waterfall that flows down through the gorge but when I was there it was just a small stream of water dripping down. Still it was a beautiful sight to see and since it’s in the middle of nowhere it was very peaceful. There are no fences or any kind of safety features so it wouldn’t be recommended to go with children. I took a bunch of pictures but they really don’t do the place any justice.

You can check out some great photos of the gorge [Here]

While in Tannourine I would also recommend you visit the large Cedar Reserve (pictured above), it’s a great hike on a trail with beautiful views as well. [Link]


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Aloo ISDN by Fasttelco

Posted by Mark

A couple of weeks back Fasttelco hooked me up with a product they have called Aloo ISDN. Aloo ISDN is a phone line to use when traveling which will allow me to make and receive unlimited calls to and from Kuwait for free. It’s a really great simple product but a bit complicated to explain so I will try my best to be very clear.

– When you sign up to Aloo ISDN, Fasttelco will provide you with a local number, in my case its 22200XXX (XXX because I don’t want everyone to have my number)

– Once you get the number you then need to download the free app “Media5” from the app Store and follow Fasttelco’s setup instructions. I am personally using the application “Bria” instead of Media5 but it isn’t free. Both these apps work on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

The product requires the internet to work so your device needs to be connected to WiFi or 3G/4G LTE. I used Aloo this past weekend while in Lebanon and I thought it was great.

Before I left Kuwait I forwarded my Viva number to my Aloo number so that any phone call I receive while in Lebanon I would get to answer using my Aloo number. You don’t have to do that but I found it easier than giving everyone my “travel number” and that way I also avoid getting calls on my regular number and paying roaming charges.

The product works. I didn’t have access to WiFi while in Lebanon but I did have a 3G connection. I used the Aloo number a bunch of times and only on one occasion did I have a connection problem but at the time I was driving on a mountain road so my guess is the 3G connection was dropping. Using the number is fairly easy. When you get a phone call the app would pop up and ask me if I want to answer the phone call. To make a phone call I just launch the app and either dial the number or find one from my contact book. I was actually surprised I was able to use the service with a Lebanese 3G connection since the connection in Lebanon isn’t that fast. If it works in Lebanon it should work even better in European countries or the States.

If you travel a lot and pay a lot of roaming charges then this product could save you a lot of money. For a regular number is costs KD70 the first year and then KD60 every year after that so unless you make and receive over KD60 worth of roaming calls a year Aloo is not worth getting. They also have more premium numbers, the number they gave me for example is a silver number and costs KD120 the first year, gold costs KD200 the first year, platinum 500, diamond 1000 and royal 5000. All the numbers then cost KD60 a year after that. If you’re interested in signing up or getting more information you can call Fasttelco on 1838485.


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