Mama Mia!

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in America. I love both my parents for always encouraging me to be my own person. They gave me the freedom to believe in my own ideas, supported my pursuits and are both loving, generous, funny people. Also they sent me to Norway when I was 16, so only have themselves to blame for me living halfway around the world. At least I never joined a cult!

I was so happy this past winter vacation that my mom came and joined me for some traveling and to see my life in Dubai. For months I was looking forward to meeting my mom in Rome. She had never been to Europe and can now say she has traveled to Europe and Asia.

We met at the Rome airport and I took her to my own favorite ‘Budapest Hotel’, called Panama Garden. It was the 3rd time in 2014 that I stayed at this illustrious location, my favorite. The little shops nearby had awesome Christmas displays in the window, that reminded my mom of Dayton’s Department store in downtown Minneapolis, before it was bought out by Macy’s. The windows were showing off their Christmas cookies in lovely tins, beautifully decorated green and red cakes, bursting with gift boxes, bows and holly.

Christmas Windows

I enjoyed being able to confidently show her around and navigate the city. Okay, I still totally got lost, but I know the layout of Rome much better now. We went to the restaurant Ginger and I love, Mangiafuoco, for fried olives, pasta, pizza, and waiters who know me now. My mom could not believe Italians each order their own pizza, but it’s true. Two people at a table = two pizzas, ten people at a table = ten pizzas, and so on. She also belatedly learned Campari soda is bitter like gin, because it’s a liquor and not a sweet Italian soda. Hilarious.

I discovered new things too, like the Quartier Coppede, which is the art nouveau district that surrounds Hotel Panama.

Quartiere Coppede

Quartiere Coppede

There is the frog fountain, which The Beatles famously jumped in, at the center of whimsical buildings sprouting leaves, flowers and faces.

frog fountain

frog fountain

We toured the old Roman ruins and stumbled across shops and cafes. We walked, a lot.

Colosseum

Colosseum

For Christmas, we went to Venice, where we stayed in an incredible hotel, just of the Grand Canal. Venice was still touristy, but quite emptied out. Past the throngs around Piazza San Marco, it was quiet, serene, and while cold, quite a nice time to explore its meandering alleys. We got lost on the winding back streets and would refresh ourselves with coffee at the myriad cafes.

Canal land

Piazza San Marco is of course incredible, but almost everywhere you look is a thing of beauty in this Renaissance city.

Churches everywhere

Churches everywhere

The shops get a bit repetitive, each one with Carnival masks and Venetian glass, though we lucked upon some unique places too. My mom said Venice was her favorite. Also looking Italian. My mom loved that people thought she was Italian. And it’s true, we brunettes fit right in.

Italian mama

Italian mama

After two weeks, we left the cold of Europe for the perfect winter warmth of Dubai. I wanted to show my mom everything!

My mom compared the city to living in the future, something out of Blade Runner, without the rain or Japanese. This city really must be an architects dream, because you are allowed to try all these crazy things. Even buildings that at first look very normal, will have some interesting detail.

The highlight for me, was the camel ride. Driving for about 30 minutes and suddenly you are completely out of the city. We rode in group consisting of a German family and their friends. On the typical desert safari, you get about 5 minutes or less on the camel. We got to ride for about an hour. I also enjoyed eating at Karma Cafe, with its awesome Dubai fountain views, and afterwards, going to Burj Khalifa’s viewing deck, ‘At the Top’. My mom pointed out, it should be called ‘At the Middle’, since the 124th floor, is not the top. I don’t care, I love Burj Khalifa.

Look Up!

Look Up!

If I had to guess, one of my Mom’s Dubai highlights would be her pool day at the Westin Hotel. The Arab hospitality of the hotels is off the charts. You don’t have to stay there, but can get a day pass and they will make you feel like a Queen. It’s indulgent and relaxing. She totally deserved it!

A big, super Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely, amazing Mom! I hope we can travel together again someday. Maybe Dad too. Love you both so much.

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