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Having fun with Turkish old age penisoners

Posted by inka on Apr 18, 2014 in Day trips, Private trips, Travel tips, Turkey, Turkey Travel

Last year, I went on a two day coach trip to Cappadocia which was organised by an old age pensioer association in Didim where I lived at the time.

I didn´t know this as it was advertised in the window of my ususl travel agency, but it turned out that anybody who was preared to pay could go.

I was the only foreigner among them and they all were so friendly and protective to the `alemani`as they called me because they couldn´t remember my name.

And boy, did these people know how to enjoy themselves. The coach wasn´t even out of Didim when the food baskets and the tapes came out and they started dancing.

 

Enjoy the video.

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Where to go for your honeymoon?

Posted by inka on Apr 16, 2014 in Carribean Cruise, cruises, Florida trips, Jordan, miami, Middle East, Travel tips

The honeymoon trip is probably the most important vacation of your life. Wedding stress over, it`s a time to send your marriage off to a good start, to be remembered and cherished over the years, often to be repeated either to renew the vows or to rekindle romance when the marriage has hit the rocks. Get your decision of where to go wrong and it can have dire consequences not like any other trip where reality did not meet your expectations.

The choice of your destination depends (apart from the budget) entirely on the taste of the newly weds and their ability to agree. I have divided my suggestions in three ´themes´so to speak, Luxury and Glamour, Adventure and Romance. And I have added a forth, which, although often a favorite, can, in my very personal opinion lead to an early divorce.

Luxury and glamour

My favorite for that category is Miami in Florida. You can´t beat the glitz and glamour of South Beach, the plethora of clubs for entertainment at night and the fabulous shopping in Lincoln´s Road by day.

There is no shortage of 5 star hotels for the vacation of a lifetime in South Beach either, although my favorite remains the time honored Delano. There are less expensive hotels too , all along Ocean Drive with the added advantage that some of them are located in the famed art deco buildings.

When you have enough of lounging on the beach or dancing the night away, you may want to head for Downtown Miami, polish up on history at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in Flagler Street, visit the Bayside Market of the Mary Brickell Village and have the best  (biggest and cheapest) steak in Miami´s oldest pub: Tobacco Road near the Miami River.

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Talking about that, many visitors to Miami do not realize that there actually is  a river, a big and busy one at that. You can take a boat trip along the river and learn more about Miami history along the way.

Another trip not to be missed is  a ride on an airboat in the Everglades. And if you want to venture further afield, drive across the bridges with stunning views all the way to watch the sunset in Key West.

Adventure

The choice for adventure trips is huge, you could actually honeymoon all year long to catch them all. Few will have this luxury, so my suggestion is Jordan.

Not to be missed is a visit to Petra, the rose colored ancient city discovered by chance. Arrive early in the morning before the tourist buses descend, make your way on foot or horseback along the narrow gouge and alight with an ‘ohhh’ of admiration on your lips when you catch the first glimpse of the stunning treasury.

Petra

Petra

But there is more to Jordan than Petra. Rent a car and venture out on the highway leading through the desert, but watch out for wild camels which cross the road at their leisure. Visit the best Roman ancient site  and temples outside Italy in Jerrash and the castle of Ayun.

Temple in Jerrash

Temple in Jerrash

Dip your toes and cover yourself in healing mud at Amman Beach, a Dead Sea resort, or relive the stories of the bible by a trip to Mount Nabo where Moses first caught sight of the Holy Land.

Amman beach resort

Amman beach resort

If you want truly adventure, book a trip to Wadi Rum. This is something you cannot do on your own as guides and 4x4s are required to reach the wild, wild destination where you will camp and sleep under the stars. As you can see, a touch of romance is added to the adventure.

Romance

Why not head for Europe if you chosen honeymoon  theme is romance? In particular to Salzburg in Austria, city of Mozart and Sachertorte. Maybe my association with romance and Salzburg results from the fact that on my fist visit I happened upon a lavish wedding in one of the many parks, complete with sunshine and horse drawn carriage.

Wedding in Salzburg

Wedding in Salzburg

Salzburg invites to leisurely strolls through the old part of town rather than physical exhaustion unless  you decide to make your way to the impressive Festung Salzburg on foot. You can easily take the cable car and enjoy the view from the top.

And then of course, there is the world famous Café Sacher and the chocolate cake called Sachertorte. Sit  and look at the wall of fame and the river Salzach which flows at your feet.

Cafe Sacher

Cafe Sacher

Visit Mozart´s birth house and the museum and if you don´t happen to be there at the time of the Festspiele you can still listen to concerts  year around.

If you feel like an excursion, you might take the train to Munich or the Chiemsee to look at King Ludwig´s last (and unfinished) castle Herrenchiemsee.

The people of Salzburg have a soft spot for honeymooners. Just mention the fact and you´ll find that you´ll  get even better treatment  including a few extras than you would get anyway.

 The danger choice: cruises

I know that what I have to say about cruises will probably invite controversy. However, I am only expressing my personal experience and what I thought of this choice as a honeymoon destination at the time.

It sounds fabulous, gliding across the sea on a swimming palace, never to have to deal with luggage, food no end and at any time of day or night and your every whim catered for by countless  stewards and maids.

This is of course all true, but…..after two days I started to feel claustrophobic. By then you have explored every nook and cranny of the boat and there is nowhere else to go. Your ability to live together as a married couple is tested to the limit. The same applies to your co-passengers. It´s always the same people you happen upon, whether you like them or not. You share the same table  unless you opt to eat a la carte or use the self service facilities , gym space and deck space is also limited.

Sure, there are land excursions  but unless you decide to go off on your own, as I did, it´s guided tours and, again, the same people all the time.

Cruise ship in St. Thomas

Cruise ship in St. Thomas

From start to finish you are tagged and processed, there is little room for individual freedom and all of this may put a strain on a brand new marriage and, in the worst of cases, lead to an early divorce!

I´ll be interested to hear your opinion if and how I am wrong.

 

 

 

 

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Exquisite works of art made from Meerschaum

Posted by inka on Apr 15, 2014 in art, Turkey, Turkey Travel

Over the past couple of days I asked several of my friends if they knew what ‘Meerschaum’ is. Four out of five didn’t have a clue, but when I showed them pictures of my latest find and explained what it is used for and what it looks like, they went: Ahhh, of course! We have seen that. So that’s what it is called.

Let’s lift  the mystery. ‘Meerschaum’ is a German word which translated into ‘foam of the sea or foam of the ocean’. The name alone inspires the imagination. Also known as sepiolite, Meerschaum is a soft, white mineral, sometimes found floating on the Black Sea. The majority however is found in nodular masses in alluvial deposits on the plain of Eskisehir, a city half way between Istanbul and Ankara in Anatolia.

It’s mined there and worked into pipes and cigarette holders. The soft material hardens when exposed to sunlight and warmth and the white or grayish color changes to shades of yellow, orange or amber with use. What makes these pipes, which, at first glance can be mistaken for ivory, such amazing pieces or art is the elaborate carving. Modern pipes are a bit simpler, but, what I discovered in the Meerschaum Museum in Eskisehir, took my breath away.

The pipes on display are antiques and some of the pipes are so big, I suppose they were smoked resting on the floor or a table because you couldn’t possibly hold them up, leave alone between your teeth. The tradition of Meerschaum pipes dates back to the late 1700s and Meerschaum pipes are coveted and very valuable collectors’ items, whether you smoke or not. To give you an idea about the value: the pieces exhibited in the museum are of course not for sale, but the artists will be happy to make you a replica to order: at $5000 a piece!!! Luckily, small and modern pipes are a lot more affordable (and much less elaborate) and a small amount of jewelry and  boxes would make a very pretty gift or souvenir.

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It wasn´t easy to angle the camera around the show cases but I hope you get an idea.

 

 

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Traveling as `damaged goods

Posted by inka on Apr 13, 2014 in Travel tips

Six months ago, my life took a dramatic turn. For the worse. I suffered an absolute freak accident: I slipped in the shower and fell so unfortunately, that I fractured two vertebrae, my shoulder and a cheek bone. But, I must have had a whole army of guardian angels because my spinal cord was not affected.
For months I was first in a wheel chair because I couldn´t walk and had to wear an orthopedic corset, my arm was in a sling and my face looked like Frankenstein. Depression descended because I thought I would not be able to travel again.
After rehab I am happy to say that I can walk again (sans corset) although slowly, that I can lift my arm 2/3 of the way and that the face looks normal again.
I am however nowhere as fit as I used to be and will never be again. Adventure travel, climbing mountains and long hikes are out of the question, but there is a lot of world to see besides these things and I have worked out a few tips and tricks which allow me to travel again. I wanted to share them because I´m sure I am not the only one who has found herself suddenly confronted with a different life situation.
Travel light
I have always traveled light, but now I travel even lighted. What doesn´t fit in a carry on with wheels stays behind because I can´t do any heavy lifting. You would be surprised how little you really need. Firat thing to cut down on are cosmetics. I have yet to come to a country where you can´t buy toothpaste, shampoo and deo. I got a travel kit and fill the containers up with supplies for two nights, then buy what I need locally and leave it behind upon departure.
Next item are shoes. I wear trainers for support and comfort, pack a pair of sandals and, very important, bath room slippers. That´s it.
As I never travel to cold countries I just need a few items, color coordinated in black and cream. I brighten them up with colorful silk scarves and the odd bit of costume jewelry and I´m smart and comfy with a suit case which weighs very little.
Use wheel chair service
Many airports offer free wheel chair service which is a blessing. Don´t be embarrassed. I used to be, but not any more. Just in case, I carry reduced copies of my x-rays and anyone who sees them just goes: OMG!!!.
I don´t have to tire myself out with long hikes to the gates and an added bonus is that you are just whizzed through security and immigration.
Trains and long distance coaches
More and more I´m turning to these two means of transport rather than flying everywhere. If you are not in a hurry, both are a means of travel which are easy to negotiate if you are `damaged goods`. What´s more, you see a lot more of where you are going than on a flight, you have more space, can move around (in the train9 and enjoy the breaks (in the coaches).
I hope these tips are helpful and will allow fellow ´sufferers ‘to continue enjoying what we travelers like most: seeing the world.

Traveling light - Cartagena central bus station

Traveling light – Cartagena central bus station

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The pirate island of Tabarca

Posted by inka on Apr 7, 2014 in Day trips, Travel tips

Isla Tabarca – Spain’s smallest inhabited island

Spain’s Costa Blanca on the east of the Iberian peninsula, is often overlooked by visitors to Spain in favor of the more famous and popular Costa del Sol in the south.

Which is a great pity, because the provinces of Alicante and Valencia have a lot to offer, at more reasonable prices too. The coast got its name from a plethora of brilliant white beaches, intersected by mountain ranges, coves, caves and romantic bays as well as a sprinkling of islands of which Isla Tabarca is the smallest.

For many the Costa Blanca got a bad name because of the most well known tourist town of Benidorm, an example of tourist development which got totally out of hand. Sadly, nothing can be done about it now, but head further down in the general direction of Almeria, where, by the way, many a Hollywood western was shot because of its rugged landscape and you find idyllic villages like Altea, Santa Pola or Torrevieja.

Off shore  from Santa Pola lies  Isla Tabarca, all of 1700m long and 300m wide. With a count of permanent inhabitants of 68! Their main source of income is fishing and tourism and rightly so, because as small as the island is, there is a lot to do and see.

I stayed for a few days in Torrevieja and was delighted to discover a daytrip to Isla Tabarca by  ferry. The boat leaves in the morning and returns at sunset, but you can also go from Santa Pola.

Don’t be fooled by the smooth Mediterranean Sea, the crossing can get quite choppy, especially when the captain opens the throttle to full speed. Leaving Torrevieja behind, the first thing you see of the island  is the church. Dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul it’s one of the two landmarks. St. Paul supposedly disembarked here.

The other landmark is the lighthouse which you reach on foot through a surprisingly desert like wilderness. The waters around Isla Tabarca are extraordinarily clean and clear which accounts for the marine reserve, one of the things for which Isla Tabarca is famous.

The other, more romantic is pirates. Until the end of the 18th century, the island was a refuge for the Barbary pirates which came from Tunesia and the pirate motive dominates many a restaurant where you can enjoy excellent fish dishes.

Spend the rest of the day on one of the two pebble beaches, sunbath, swim or snorkel in the blue warm waters of the Mediterranean and enjoy the boat ride back to either Santa Pola or Torrevieja in the company of fellow travelers who more often than not will break out into song.

Approaching Isla Tabarca

Approaching Isla Tabarca

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

 

Wild landscape

Wild landscape

 

The pirate restaurant

The pirate restaurant

Typical seafood dish with rice

Typical seafood dish with rice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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