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Five Beautiful Reasons to Visit Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a land of enchantment. The name alone conjures up images of fancy resorts, stunning desert landscapes, and mythical stories. The capital and second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi sits along the coast of UAE, with several of its islands jutting out into the Persian Gulf.

With a population of over 1.5 million people, and a cultural center that’s teeming with activities and attractions, Abu Dhabi is a growing and expanding metropolis. It is a popular tourist destination as well, with upwards of 3.5 million tourists visiting its shores each year. People who come to visit Abu Dhabi come for the glamour, the culture, and the scenery of the city.

visit Abu Dhabi

But travel to Abu Dhabi need not be restricted to the high end variety. There are plenty of things to do in the city that doesn’t require a lot of money. In the leaf titled, “Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,” LeafCanoer, nitabulati, shared one of their favorite places to visit in Abu Dhabi.  In addition to the mosque, there are dozens of other affordable attractions for travelers to see as well.

Whether you are a budget traveler or a luxury traveler, here are five beautiful reasons to visit Abu Dhabi.

visit Abu Dhabi

The sunsets
The desert sun burns hot during the day. But as evening falls, the night time coolness brings a welcome respite to the desert heat. Since the city of Abu Dhabi faces west into the Persian Gulf, sunsets in the city are a spectacular sight. There are several companies that offer sunset cruises, but if you are not interested in spending money, you can simply walk along the Corniche, a long coastal road in Abu Dhabi, to observe the beautiful sunsets.

visit Abu Dhabi

The water
A perk of Abu Dhabi being a coastal town is its close proximity to water and beaches. Some of the best beaches in Abu Dhabi include Yas Beach, the beach at the Ritz-Carlton, and Saadiyat Public Beach. In terms of water sports, travelers to Abu Dhabi can enjoy jet-skiing, kayaking, fishing, kite surfing, and paddle boarding, and essentially every kind of water sport imaginable.

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The architecture
Abu Dhabi’s splendid architecture ranges from traditionally inspired designs to more modern and avant-garde concepts. Traditional architecture in Abu Dhabi was heavily influenced by the tribal groups that originally inhabited the land. These structures were simple in design and material, but were greatly suited for the hot and arid climate. As the country experienced a boom in its economy due to oil, traditional architecture soon was replaced by sleek sky scrapers and buildings with more modern designs. These days, some of the most popular buildings to admire are the Sun and Sky Towers on Reem Island and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Building.

visit Abu Dhabi

Etihad Towers
Another example of Abu Dhabi’s more modern architecture are the Etihad Towers. Consisting of five uniquely designed buildings of varying heights, the Etihad Towers are a collection of office spaces, apartments, and a hotel. One of the buildings, Tower 2, is the second tallest building in Abu Dhabi, and features an observation deck that lets visitors see stunning views of the city and water.

visit Abu Dhabi

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is a popular place to visit among travelers, and is also a great example of Abu Dhabi’s beautiful architecture. Completed in 2007, the mosque is the largest in Abu Dhabi and features more than 1,000 columns, 82 domes, and chandeliers gilded with 24 karat gold. With its grand architectural design, it is a place that is both spiritual and opulent. Yet, thousands of worshipers come to the mosque every day, and the mosque is a space of spiritual importance to the people of Abu Dhabi.

There are a number of reasons to visit Abu Dhabi. The above listed are just a few. For more information on Abu Dhabi, or to get inspiration for other places to travel, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Eight Reasons to Road Trip Through Oman

Few countries can spark the imagination much like Oman. Located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a land of vast deserts and beautiful beaches. It’s also full of friendly towns and lush oases. Leafcanoer, blogfromtheblue, recently posted about their travels to Oman in the leaf, “A scenic drive along the coastal road from Muscat to Sur.” As any visitor to Oman can attest, one of the best ways to see the country is by car. Here are eight reasons why you should road trip through Oman.

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The coastal scenery
Oman’s coastline stretches across over three thousand kilometers of beaches and rocky shores. There are a handful of beaches to visit and take in the scenery. Al Bustan Beach, located in Muscat, overlooks the mountains, while Dhofar beach has a number of lagoons filled with flamingos.

Al Mazara

The surreal landscape
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Oman is also home to the largest expanse of desert in the Arabian Peninsula. This desert is known as “The Empty Quarter,” and stretches out over more than 400,000 kilometers of land. Other notable areas of desert include A’Sharqiyah Sands, as well as Ramlat Tawq, an area filled with beautiful sand dunes.

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The wadis
Scattered throughout Oman are small oases, known as wadi in Arabic. These areas consist of small patches of greenery surrounding fresh water. Driving through Oman, you are sure to come across a wadi during your travels. Wadis worth visiting are Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, located near Muscat. Another wadi to visit is Bimmah Sinkhole, which is connected to the sea through an underground tunnel.

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The towns
From the capital of Muscat, to the southern city of Salalah, taking a road trip through Oman lets you explore the vast diversity of towns throughout the country. The bustling city of Muscat is filled with white buildings, palm trees, and well-tended gardens. The coastal town of Sur, on the otherhand, has a more laid back beach town vibe.

Sur

The camping
One thing to keep in mind when embarking on a road trip through Oman is having a place to rest your head for the night. Aside from nature reserves, private establishments, and military bases, it’s easy to camp anywhere along the road. If you are interested in more specific camping areas, one such place is the A’Sharqiyah Sands, which stretches out over tenthousand kilometers, and is known to be one of the most beautiful camping areas in Oman.

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The people
Unlike traveling through a country by plane, taking a road trip through a country really gives you a closer glimpse of the people of that country. The majority of Omanis are of Arab descent, but there is also a large South Asian as well as African population within Oman.

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The pace of travel
Traveling across a country by car forces you to slow down the pace. Rather than jetting from one city to another, you can take your time and enjoy the places that you come across on your travels. This gives you a chance to get to know the tribal culture of Oman, as well as its rich maritime history.

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The lure of the open road
Oman’s roads have gone through a number of renovations the past few years. Many of the country’s roads are paved, which makes it easier for cars to traverse through the area and explore. Many travelers to Oman opt to road trip through the country, so you will undoubtedly be in good company.

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Whether you are taking a short jaunt from Muscat to Sur, or traversing through the whole coast of Oman, there are plenty of reasons to take a road trip through Oman. To get you started on your own road trip, download the LeafCanoe app and check out blogfromtheblue’s leaf.

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Six Reasons to Visit the Ancient City of Petra

The ancient city of Petra has long held the intrigue and imagination of many intrepid travelers. From the allure of its architectural beauty, to the opportunity to play archaeological explorer for the day, even the most jaded of tourists can find something to inspire them in Petra. Leafcanoer, grassrootsnomd, recently shared her visit to Petra in her leaf entitled “Petra“. It’s full of interesting tips and insight about the ancient city. For those interested in their own adventure, here are six reasons to visit the ancient city of Petra:

The city of Petra

Its Rich Cultural History
Petra was established around 312 B.C. as the capital of the Nabatean kingdom. The Nabateans, a people of Arabic roots, had settlements throughout the Middle East, but most were centered around Jordan. Early mention of Petra can be found in ancient Egyptian texts, as well as references to the city in the Bible, particularly in Exodus. Over time, Petra has been influenced by many different cultures, including Egyptian and Greek cultures. The city has fallen under both Roman and Byzantine rule, which also greatly influenced the architecture of many of its buildings.

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Its Structural and Architectural Marvels
The city of Petra is best known for its architecture, as it is one of a few cities in the world that is carved directly into the side of a cliff. The city is also famous for its system of pools, dams, and water channels, a technology that was extremely advanced at the time of the city’s establishment. The most well-known structure in Petra is the Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh, which was carved directly into the sandstone rock that surrounds it. The architecture is heavily Greek influenced, and was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt. Petra has been called the Rose City, due to the distinctly red color of its sandstone.

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An Opportunity to Visit a World Heritage Site
Though the ruins of Petra were known during the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until the 1800’s that the first European actually visited and described the city of Petra in great detail. This was in 1812, and the European was a Swiss traveler by the name of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Due to its importance in ancient history, Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. As a way to preserve the structural integrity of the ancient city, the Bedouin communities who lived near Petra were resettled elsewhere around Jordan. However, despite these preservation efforts, Petra continues to be considered a threatened landscape by UNESCO, mainly due to the sheer number of visitors who flock to it on a daily basis.

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Petra at Night
One of the most beautiful ways to view Petra is at night. On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, the city is adorned in over 1,500 candles. For a nominal fee, visitors are welcome to walk through the city as it is illuminated by candlelight.

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A Chance to Channel Indiana Jones
Perhaps one of the most well-known facts about Petra is that it was featured as the backdrop to the final scenes of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you’re a film buff, you can reenact the scene in person as you walk through the Siq, the winding narrow passage that leads you to the Treasury. Though many of the interior scenes were filmed in a soundstage, the exterior scenes of the movie were filmed on location. Petra has also been featured in other films, such as Arabian Nights, The Mummy Returns, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

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Bragging Rights
Arguably the best reason to visit Petra is for the bragging rights. This city is rich in history, and is equally fascinating and breathtaking to see in person. Though the Middle East can be a relatively unstable region politically, the country of Jordan is a safe place for tourists to visit.

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For ideas of what to visit in Petra, or to find inspiration for travel to other places around the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Historical Sites in Turkey - Perge

Time Traveling At Historical Sites In Turkey

Not many countries have as lengthy or prominent a history as Turkey. Since the Paleolithic era, the area now known as Turkey has been inhabited by people in some way or another. In ancient times, the famous city of Troy occupied the northwestern part of Turkey. Later, the area became a part of the Greek Empire, then the Byzantine Empire, and finally the Ottoman Empire. With so many historical sites in Turkey, the country, which officially gained its independence in 1923, holds a unique place in world politics because it straddles the line between Europe and the Middle East. Turkey shares many cultural influences from both of these regions.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Antalya Old City

This amalgamation of cultures is evident in the diversity of historical sites the country has to offer. Leafcanoer, Daijie, recently shared her experiences in Turkey in her leaf titled, My Favorite Spots of Our Turkey Trip. Incorporating highlights from her trip, below is a list of historical sights in Turkey worth visiting.

Derinkuyu Underground City
The Derinkuyu Underground City was said to have initially been built by the Phrygians in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C. It was later occupied by the Christian Greeks, and was expanded to incorporate chapels and Greek inscriptions on the walls. By the time of the Byzantine era and after, the city of Derinkuyu served as a place of Christian refuge from the Muslims. Nowadays, visitors to Derinkuyu can access approximately half of the city’s underground tunnels and rooms.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Derinkuyu Underground City

Aspendos Theater
The Aspendos Theater is a Greco-Roman amphitheater in the Antalya province of Turkey. It is considered one of the best-preserved theaters of antiquity. Built in 155 by a Greek architect, the Aspendos Theater is still currently in use, with productions held there annually by the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Aspendos Theater

Hagia Sophia
In Greek, the name, Hagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom”. This museum, which was constructed in 537, was initially a Greek Orthodox church, then a Roman Catholic cathedral, and then later a mosque. The museum’s structure, with its prominent dome, is a prime example of Byzantine architecture.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Hagia Sophia

Uchisar Castle
In the Cappadocia region, Uchisar Castle served as the main point of defense, occupying the highest point of the region. Built by the Byzantine army in the 15th century, the architecture of the castle is indicative of the architecture of that region, utilizing natural materials and consisting of rooms carved directly into the rock. The castle is most known for its breathtaking panoramic views of the Cappadocia region.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Uchisar Castle

Topkapi Palace
This palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans from 1465 to 1856. These days, it serves as a museum of the imperial era, holding Muslim holy relics, including the Prophet Muhammad’s cloak and sword. Due to its historical importance, Topkapi Palace is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having been given the distinction in 1985.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Topkapi Palace

Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is named for the blue tiles that line the interior of the mosque. Built in 1609 by Sultan Ahmet I as a means to showcase Ottoman power, the mosque continues to be in use to this day. Visitors to the mosque come to marvel at the ceramic tile designs inside the mosque, as well as the over 200 stained glass windows.

Historical Sites in Turkey - Blue Mosque

There is no denying Turkey’s importance and influence in the history of human civilization. In the ancient world, Turkey’s prominence was exemplified by the influence of the city of Troy. And now in modern times, Turkey serves as the bridge between Europe and the Middle East. With so many historical sites in Turkey, a trip to that country is almost like a trip through time. No matter how old you are, Turkey is most certainly worth a visit.

For more insight into Daijie’s trip to Turkey, as well as travel destination suggestions and tips from other travelers around the world, check out and download the LeafCanoe App.

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