I'm Candace and I'm a destination wedding & portrait photographer based out of the Washington, D.C. area. Chances are you won't find me in the DMV for too long. Come and explore my corner of the world with me!
Man oh man oh man! I remember the day that Andie told me she wanted to surprise her hubby Tony, for his 30th birthday. Tony is a car guy. Dubai is a luxury car kind of city. So of course Dubai was high on his hit list and Andie thought no better way to celebrate his dirty 30! She planned this entire trip and somehow maintained the secret for a year. She even added a hop over to India so we could check out the Taj Mahal. It was the perfect gift if you ask me. A surprise trip to another country will always be high on my list of best gifts ever.
Flash forward to the day it was going to go down…Andie wanted me to show up at a specific time and park in a specific place. All Tony knew was that he was going out to dinner because, well, birthday celebrations of course. He had no idea I was already in the car waiting ever so patiently. His first surprise, me of course haha. But for real, it was super funny to see his reaction to me yelling, TONAYYYY. When Tony is startled…. he just kind of blankly stares and then blinks haha Its comical. Now, we were off! Of course things started to settle in when we hit the Dulles access road. It only goes to one place. He figured out we were heading to the airport and then when we got to our check in counter. He knew he was off on a 12.5 hour non-stop flight from DC to Abu Dhabi! haha SURPRISE SURPRISE.
Andie had a bunch of things planned out for us. We had 4 days in Dubai so she stocked it with a day to explore the city and see the tallest building in the world (safely from the ground because aint no body going up that high in an elevator). We had some time at the beach, met up with a friend of mine who was stationed in Dubai who took us out for shisha and some delicious Mex food (the way to my heart). We even went dune bashing which was HILARIOUS and so much fun. But also kind of scary because you don’t realize how high up these dunes are until you’re coming over the top of them. Our Dune bashing experience came with some henna that Andie and I jumped on, fire dancing (who was totally into me), a falcon, camel rides (I opted to not do ride them), dinner and the best of them all, a very happy birthday song to a Mr. Tony. It was HILARIOUS. They pulled Tony on stage all by himself, had him cut his own cake and then fed him his first piece. I was dang near in tears. Turns out, we were also in Dubai during Ramadan which is the Muslim Holy month where things are bit more strict. In the Muslim culture, they fast during Ramadan from sun up to sun down. That means no eating or drinking at all. For tourists this means no eating or drinking in public as well! Restaurants were still open for business, they would just have curtains drawn so you couldn’t see. It was actually really interesting to see how dedicated they are to their faith. It was REALLY HOT. Like deathly hot in Dubai and they would still go without water or anything to keep them hydrated. They also have prayer 5 times a day. I think visiting during Ramadan added to the experience a bit because lets face it, Dubai is the most relaxed Muslim city in the world. They tolerate a lot of non-sense from the tourists that visit.
Now here comes the little wrench in our plans. We made our way to the airport for surprise number 3 for Tony (the dune bashing was suprise number 2). We were heading to INDIA!! Welp, we thought we were heading to India. Turns out the payment for my visa never went through or processed so my visa application was invalid and I had to re-apply. Downfall here is that you can only apply a minimum of 4 days before your departure. Not the day OF your departure. All of plans, the Taj Mahal, an elephant sanctuary, our luxury hotels…. all gone because I didnt check on my visa information before we left. Im still SO MAD at myself for ruining that part of the trip. Thankfully, my friend Justin who is stationed in Dubai is a saint and let us crash with him for a few days. We got to enjoy the best air conditioning ever, the pool and he even took us out to see the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Such a nice museum by the way. Im not sure where we would be if it weren’t for Justin.
Our final two days were spent at our resort in Abu Dhabi. We didn’t nothing but hang at the pool/beach for 2 days and it was everything I need to end this trip.
So tall I had to take 4 separate images and photoshop them together haha
This beaut. Easily the most stunning piece of architecture I have EVER SEEN. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Built soley to attract tourists but HOLY CRAY it was so beautiful. You must be fully covered to enter the grounds of the Mosque. No worries if you aren’t dressed to code as they provide Abayas for women and shirts or pants for men. We were rushed through our visit the first time because we arrived 25 minutes before it was closing. But we came back and I got to walk the entire complex for the most part. It was INSANE. I could sit there all day marveling in that beauty. Photos do NO justice to the size of this beast.
The day we visited the Mosque, we were determined to find us some dunes to take our own photos with. Turns out this is alot harder than you think. They pretty much have a gate that runs along every single road. Unless you make your way towards Oman or toward Al Ain, the dunes are fenced off. We finally found the perfect set of dunes on the other side of the road with maybe 5-10 minutes worth of light left and dang near got stuck in the sand. HOORAY for 4wd! We hopped a guard rail and frolicked in the powdery sand and it was 100% WORTH IT.
Now here’s a little peep into our dune bashing experience. I wish I could get the videos from the phone to upload but thankfully, I have some photos to show for it.
Precious babies. Im not sure how any animal could survive that desert life.
The Louvre was INSANE. One of the best museums I’ve been too. Now, Im biased and love the Smithsonian’s but this building was a stunner on its own. Filled with historic artifacts and art works. There was even a photography exhibit that was AMAZING. If you ever go to Dubai, stop in Abu Dhabi and escape the heat here.
On our last day in Dubai, we met up with a fellow Supra owner so Tony could photograph him and his car. Naturally, Andie and I had a little portrait session with his family (coming to the blog soon), but while we waiting, I had my own little photoshoot too!
I loved our little resort in Abu Dhabi. The air conditioning apparently was awful per Tony and Andie but I loved this spot. It would definitely be better if they weren’t building villas in the view of the Sea but thats something you just get used to when in the UAE. There a hundreds of cranes dotting the skyline because they are ALWAYS building something.
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