Not all of the mosques in Istanbul are open to non Muslim visitors. But fortunately, the most beautiful and famous mosques in Istanbul around the historic core of the Sultanahmet area can be visited by tourists during the non prayer times of the day.
A prime location, amenities like its own water park and aquarium, elegant yet whimsical decor and award winning restaurants made my holiday to Atlantis Dubai in the United Arab Emirates a truly unique experience. It has become one of my favorite resort stays anywhere.
It is no secret that I love the work of master glass artist Dale Chihuly. So I will admit that the Palm Atlantis Chihuly sculpture in Dubai was, in part, one of the reasons I wanted to stay there. The combination sculpture-fountain is about 30 ft. tall and is made up of 3000 individually hand blown glass pieces. The sculpture took about two years to complete. It certainly is the show stopping centerpiece to an otherwise stunning hotel lobby.
London has Big Ben. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Chicago has the John Hancock building. For the city of Dubai, its iconic symbol has become the sail shaped Burj Al Arab hotel. Staying at this luxurious and ultra exclusive hotel is out of reach for most of us. But an afternoon tea or high tea at Burj Al Arab was one experience that was a doable splurge for my pocketbook.
Dubai’s Burj Al Arab has become the city’s most recognizable icon, which is saying a lot considering that this city has an abundance of uniquely shaped buildings. The sail shaped hotel sits on its own little island, and is the only (self proclaimed) seven star hotel in the world. The only way to experience the inside of the hotel is with a reservation for a room, a meal, or afternoon tea (which is what I did – more about that later).
At sunset, it looks like it is ready to set sail into the distant seas.
When I quickly stepped into the Library of Congress Great Hall for the first time this winter, I was stopped short in my tracks. I expected a dull space with floor to ceiling books, or maybe something like New York city’s Public Library. I did not expect such a bright and subtly colorful space. Despite its grand scale, it has a delicate and airy feel. There is art and color and design everywhere. From the elaborately carved grand staircases, to the many paintings on the walls, to the murals on the ceiling, to the stained glass ceiling, to the mosaic floors. Yet despite the extensive ornamentation, it actually all comes together beautifully in a harmonious and even calming whole.
Next time I will stay longer and sign up for some of the tours.
Politics in Washington DC may be gray at times, but the city photographs beautifully in black and white, especially in winter when there isn’t much natural color anyway. On a recent visit, armed with a new camera lens, I challenged myself to shoot Washington DC in black and white. Hoping that my Washington DC photography will inspire your next winter visit.
This story was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the 2018 North American Travel Journalists Association Competition in the Photography, Photo Essay-Online category.