Sep 16

ISTANBUL: TOP 3 ACTIVITIES IN A ROMANTIC CITY BREAK

The best time to plan a city break in Istanbul is when you need an explosion of life and color – especially in the spring, if you want to open your appetite for Oriental experiences. Istanbul can be explored on a journey of three days and one of the first things you need to do to mingle along the city like a local, not a tourist, and that means using the public transport. Check if the hotel in Istanbul where will you accommodate is near the subway or ant bus lines that pass through the area. It’s good to know that taxis are quite expensive in Turkey.

 

Serve a delicious lunch among the Galleries on Istikal Street

If you like to walk around and observe people, but look for a special place where good things happen and at the same time enjoy the Turkish cuisine at its best, you must go on the pedestrianized Istiklal, where you will find everything you want, from cafes, to restaurants and traditional doner. So you can stay for more in the area for a delicious lunch. Anyway, the place is special in itself for its Art Nouveau architecture and 19th century European air – you will surely love it!

On Rue Francaise you can listen to live music, even in French, and if you want to flee two hours away from the crowds, you can invite your pair in a film, if you are both passionate about movies. You may walk on Istikal Street early morning after taking breakfast at the hotel.

From here you must not miss a ride on the nostalgic tram, where you can get down anywhere you want just to get lost together for a while. The Nostalgic Tram, as locals call it, begins its schedule on Istikal from early morning until late in the evening, at intervals of 15-20 minutes. In addition, the street is one of the liveliest places in Istanbul, so you will always encounter curious and friendly locals and tourists alike in this fascinating and lively area.

 

Buy a magic carpet from the Grand Bazaar

You will not see anywhere such an overwhelming explosion of color and diversity than during your vacation in Istanbul (maybe the Holi festival in India, when everyone is covered in vivid colors, but we will talk about it some other time). And one of the places where you could stop for a magical experience together with your partner is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul itself. If you are lucky, you can find a magic carpet.

What could you buy? If you think about it, you could even purchase the engagement ring, wedding rings or gold jewelry at prices that are more than convenient, if you still choose a city break in Istanbul. And if you cannot find a magic carpet, handmade carpets though are absolutely gorgeous; you could opt for handmade souvenirs such as shoes, carpets and cashmere scarves. Whatever you buy, remember to negotiate for each product in order to preserve the local tradition. If you don’t have this innate talent and don’t know how to do that, you can buy anything at a price that will delight you.

 

Take a romantic walk on aristocratic roads of Princes’ Islands

If you thought that only means Istanbul oriental music and belly dancing, a day trip on the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul will change your opinion. The Princes’ or Princesses’ Islands (as they appear in other sources) will make you feel that you transported yourselves into a place in Europe of the last century, and almost nothing reminds you that you still are at the Gates of the Oriental world, where you arrived at first.

If you choose a city break in Istanbul together with your pair, you could opt for one of the less touristy islands of the nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. The largest and most popular is Buyukada Island, which seems to be a European colony, where moving carriages and Art Nouveau houses rise all over the area, giving the place an air of downright bourgeois. Conversely, if you want to go on a one day trip to enjoy a little more privacy, you can stroll along one of the smaller islands, such as Heybeliada, where you’ll find many restaurants and shops, or on the Burgazada Island. Weekends in Istanbul are quite busy, so you better choose a smaller island if you want to avoid crowds in Buyukada.

Photo source:

Picture 1: lonelyplanet.com; Picture 2: tripadvisor.com; Picture 3: theguardian.com; Picture 4: atbholidays.com; Picture 5: oskartours.com; Picture 6: mayartravel.com; Picture 7: lonelyplanet.com
Aug 31

OLUDENIZ – THE PEARL OF TURKISH RESORTS (ÖLÜDENIZ)

Oludeniz is situated in south eastern Turkey, about 240 km from Antalya and 315 km from another famous resort, Bodrum.

It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and is at a stone’s throw from Greece (as the matter of fact, not long ago, it was Greek territory). Since we’ve mentioned it, you can go on a day trip to the Greek island of Rhodes.

In Oludeniz you soak up the sun on one of the most photographed beaches in the world.

Oludeniz resort is slightly expensive and is visited by English tourists in about 95 percent, so almost everything in the resort seems to be adjusted to the UK way of life.

At the hotels the products, such as water, ice-cream or even the menus, are slightly expensive, but things are different if you chose a bungalow – which seems to be more and more popular among tourists, as the wild scenery of the Mediterranean is stealing people’s hears.

Oludeniz has two beaches, Belcekiz and Laguna Beach, one most beautiful in the world! Beaches are located in a bay surrounded by mountains that seem to rise directly from the sea, and the water is blue, clear, warm and friendly.

If you want to change the atmosphere, you can take a Dolmus (minibus routs between resorts) and take a trip to Fethiye or Ovacik Hisaronu for shopping in bazaars or luxury shops (don’t miss Tuesday, as there takes place the big bazaar in Fethiye). Also, in Oludeniz, there is a main street filled with restaurants, bars and shops where you can buy anything (clothing, water, souvenirs etc.).

There are three beaches: Marina Beach, opposite to the hotel, Champagne Beach, in the center and Dolphin Beach, which has three slides ending directly into the sea. On beaches and on the bottom of the sea there is soft sand, but around the slides, you should expect small round gravel, so maybe you want to purchase a pair of special aquashoes. Each beach has its own bar, sun loungers and umbrellas in sufficient numbers so you do not have a problem finding a place at any time. There are also swings and hammocks strategically positioned in shaded areas, so everything is just perfect.

Every hotel has special entertainment and animation programs and in the morning there are various swimming pool competitions for children as well as older ones; in the afternoon you might enjoy a session of afternoon polo or soccer for adults and evening entertainment at the amphitheater. In the Agora, there is soft music playing during the day and during the night there is a band playing live music for the guests to be entertained.

There are a lot of free stuff that you can enjoy: Turkish bath, sauna, steam bath, whirlpool, fitness, aerobics, aqua aerobics, volleyball, basketball, mini-football, 6 tennis courts, table tennis, darts, billiards, archery, mini-golf, water sports, windsurfing, internet cafe, internet wifi in all the rooms, beaches and the Agora.

It’s plenty to talk about, but overall, to put it in a few words, you have beach party, music, animation, dancing, fireworks and the most stunning sights and blue waters, just the recipe for a perfect vacation. Hotels offer free shipping on their beaches, you only pay the access to the public beach.

In conclusion, for those who want relaxation in an oasis of greenery, silence and overall happiness, this place deserves its name as one of the best resorts in Turkey.

The area is a dream land, the sea is warm, the weather is sunny with 30 degrees every day, so we cannot but recommend Oludeniz.

Photo source:

Picture 1: clickundflieg.com; Picture 2: kardeslerboats.com; Picture 3: mirror.co.uk; Picture 4: comparetravelmarket.co.uk; Picture 5: heelstohikingboots.com; Picture 6: otelcenneti.com; Picture 7: huffingtonpost.com
Aug 08

THE TURQUOISE COAST OF TURKEY (TÜRK RIVIERASI)

If you are heading to southwestern Turkey, nearby the famous Antalya resort – to be more precise -, you have the chance to explore one of the most beautiful parts of the Mediterranean and Aegean coastline. From the idyllic destination named Cirali, to the historic towns of Kas and Dalyan, meet with the top attractions of a holiday truly unforgettable.

Cirali – is a coastal city unique. Nestled at the foot of Mount Olympus (not the famous one in Thessaly/Pieria, Greece – the land of mythical gods, but the one on the current land of Turkey – which used to belong to Greece not long ago, hence the onomastic similarities!), this place is full of hotels and pensions surrounded by fantastic gardens where red poppies grow, where you can indulge yourself with pomegranates, and the peacocks wander freely among the palm trees. Think of an alpine holiday resort plus benefits from the beach and you’ll understand about what to expect in Cirali. If you get bored to just sit on the sand in the sun, you only have to jump in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and experience one of the best swim of life.

Visiting the town of Olympos is mandatory when you are here – an ancient Lycian city, dating from the 2nd century BC, Olympos is placed in a lovely valley that leads directly to the sea. Admire the turtles that swim here and the poppies that grow among ancient Roman ruins. Chimaera should not be missed either – a group of flames burning on the rocks on Mount Olympus. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because the slope is steep and is 2 km long. The beginning of May is the ideal time to come in Cirali since the place is very crowded during the summer. While on your mountain ascent, make a stop at one of the restaurants in Ulupinar.

Kas – the quiet seaside Town is very popular among those wanting relaxation, and adventure. Divers, paragliding and kayak practitioners gather here during summer for water sports. You’ll love the meandering streets of Kas from the first moment, with their abundant jasmine and bougainvillea bushes and the cats dozing in the sun. The place is full of shops and restaurants, so you don’t need to worry. In the center there is a sandy beach, but you can rent lounge chairs at one of the many terraces of the hotels on the coast.

For a fun trip, take the ferry for a trip that lasts 20 minutes to the Greek island of Meis (Kastellorizo) to taste the moussaka and the grilled fish. A kayak trip to the sunken city Kekova must not missed, as well. Avoid the peak season when the high temperatures make Kas get unbearably hot. If you like interior design, antiques and jewelry, pay a visit to shop Uzunçar Turqueria, or 21 Street, and you will purchase a lovely souvenir.

Ölüdeniz – Get Ready to remain totally awed as you approach the Ölüdeniz lagoon. Located 15 kilometers southeast of Fethiye, this natural turquoise wonder is a very popular scenery that can be found in photos from around the world. It is not thoroughly arranged and the place is still rough, but it’s worth coming here to swim and take pictures. If you like walking and hiking, take a trip on the Lycian way, which begins in Ölüdeniz and reaches Olympos.

Dalyan – Located in the western part of the Turquoise Coast, Dalyan is a natural environment for the species of turtles that live there; but here you can enjoy the benefits of mud baths and admire vestiges left by the European forefathers since ancient history. Surrounded by mountains covered with pine forests and cotton plantations, this small town has a unique wild beauty. One-day trips aboard a boat ride up the Dalyan Delta. Among the attractions here, there are included the rock-carved tombs dating from the 4th century, the lovely and friendly sea turtles and sulfur baths (very good for the health if you can ignore the rotten egg smell of the sludge).

Along the way, you can find excellent accommodation locations in Istanbul and Ankara. You will definitely fall in love with this place and will want to come back again.

Photo source:

Picture 1: backpackerstravel.net; Picture 2: rotasenin.com; Picture 3: transfersx.com; Picture 4: dailysabah.com; Picture 5: shutterstock.com; Picture 6: worldalldetails.com; Picture 7: oteliletisim.com
Aug 02

THE GROTTO OF THE SEVEN SLEEPERS IN SELCUK (SELCUK)

Kusadasi resort, which is located on the Aegean coast of Turkey, is enjoying the advantage of being just a stone’s throw from numerous fascinating attractions. Among them, the historic sites of Ephesus, Miletus and Priene or the famous settlement of Sirince which produces the equally famous Greek wine. Do not forget Dilek National Park, a protected area in which there live numerous species plants and animals.

The beginnings of Christianity more than 1000 years ago have a strong connection with this region. Many historians say that the Roman city of Ephesus is the place where St. John wrote his Evangelic texts and furthermore, up on the green hills of Selcuk, is home to the Virgin Mary, which is believed to have died here. Nearby, but rarely mentioned in travel guides, lies the cave of the Seven Sleepers. Do you believe in miracles or not, it is impossible to miss this cave, once arrived in the area.

The seven sleepers were seven young men who believed strongly in Christianity and were brought in front of Decius, the leader of that time, to give explanations about their actions. Following their refusal to repent for deeds that they had been accused for, they were closed by force in a cave, hoping that the lack of food, water and natural light, will kill them.

But they fell into a deep sleep and woke up 200 years later; as they started to walk on the streets of Ephesus, they were amazed by the changes that have occurred in the city, especially the existence of churches and freedom enjoyed by Christians. They lived quietly and then they and died in the end, only to be buried in the same cave where they slept the sleep of long hundreds of years.

The Bishop of Ephesus recalled their legend for the first time in the year 481 B.C., but it appears in Islam – written in the Qur’an (Surah 18, verse 9-26). The story is different in the sense that there is also a dog who accompanied the seven individuals, who stood guard at the entrance of the cave, removing anyone who tried to enter inside.

Although it is now forbidden to enter the cave nowadays, visitors can see inside it and can visit the church built on land above the cave. Interesting artifacts are on display, including lanterns and stones with different notes, unearthed in excavations sometime around 1930. Here there are other graves, because long after the death of the Seven Sleepers, the cave was a place of burial for other Christians as well. Historians also suspected that the pagans have joined the Christian faith, thanks to the discovery of the miraculous artifacts.

In order to get to the cave, you have to go downtown the town of Selcuk and then just follow the signs.

Photo source:

Picture 1: panoramio.com; Picture 2: katolsk.no; Picture 3: ephesusprivatetour.net; Picture 4: panoramio.com; Picture 5: magical-steps.com; Picture 6: ancientephesus.com
Jul 28

THE TOWN WITH THREE NAMES, ITALIAN MAFIA AND ANCIENT HISTORY – ALL THIS AND MUCH MORE IN THE UNKNOWN CAPPADOCIA (CAPPADOCIA)

The name Cappadocia derives from the Persian word Katpatuka, which translates to “land of beautiful horses”. That is because, since the days of yore, people used to grow horses and use them on their daily tasks, therefore there is a very strong bond between the people and their horses. And today’s horses are probably the best natural guides to lead you through the canyons and legends which linger like the mists of time.

Göreme, the place with three names

It was initially called Avcilar, which would translate by “the Hunters”. Then the name was changed into Maccan. Göreme name I was given 30 years ago, as it was considered more suitable to promote tourism. Translated, Göreme means invisible or unseen. The town lies in a valley, a natural “bowl”, being hard even to spot it from a close distance. Another interesting fact from where it received the name is that during the Arab invasion, the Christians were retreating from their path and used to hide in this “bowl”.

Hotels carved into rock

Older Turkish locals use the word “kaya”, which translates to rock when describing the basket-shaped rock formations; the youth have another term: Peri Bajas, which means Fairy Baskets – the “official” title, which is really not sure why, considering that it can be said that they have a rather phallic shape. So, initially called kaya, but with the tourist development of Cappadocia, this new term that does not accurately reflect their image was given to them – a simple new name was needed and someone chose “fairies”, go figure!

Also, the hotels located in the natural caves had a similar mistranslation. “Kaya” word was used again, which would have effectively be called “boulders hotels”, so completely illogical: no one wanted to visit a boulder; however, everyone wanted to check in at a hotel placed in a cave.

Could it be aliens?

People say that the geological formations of Cappadocia are a mystery. They even developed a theory backed by a history teacher, that they were formed by aliens. Yet the scientific explanation is quite different: the region was formed 3-4 million years ago, when a series of volcanic eruptions changed the face of the Central Anatolia plateau, resulting the spectacular scenery, including the forming of the famous ”Fairies”.

Private Properties

If you go through Cappadocia you will find that most of the land is owned and represent private property. The state has bought the essential tourist spots including the Open Air Museum and Paşabag, it also possesses most of the rocky formations but the greatest part of the land is owned by locals. Yet no fences, so if you get through vineyards or land pumpkins, remember that you are on private property. Without this to be a problem, however.

Monastic Life

In ancient times, the region was a huge monastery. Lifestyle was imposed by Basil of Caesarea, who encouraged Christian monks to gather in monasteries and pray together.

Alarm system

Many of the buildings that are placed on high places of the Cappadocia region, such as Cavusin churches, and the highest rock formations were used in the past as part of an alarm system to warn of attacks invaders: local people lighting fires on the rock peaks when danger was imminent.

The friendly City of Roses

Gulşehir – which means the City of Roses – is probably the friendliest city in Cappadocia. It is 30 km from Avanos and, unlike the center of the region, it is not very visited by tourists, which is why locals are eager to have guests. In addition, there are many beautiful places to visit, such as the Rock Mushroom, St. John’s Cave Monastery (with ancient paintings older than eight centuries) and many other caves which are believed – according to the local legends – to have monastery a lot of treasures that have belonged to the Italian Mafia buried inside.

Old and extremely valuable paintings

The main place of worship in the area of Cappadocia was Byzantine church Tokali Kilise. It still keeps some of the more well-preserved paintings from the Middle Ages on the walls, and that’s not the only thing about it.  It contains the finest rock-cut churches, with beautiful frescoes, whose colors still retain all their original freshness. It also presents unique examples of rock hewn architecture and frescos technique. The Goreme Open-Air Museum has been a member of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984, and was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.

Photo source:

Picture 1: travel.india.com; Picture 2: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 3: gulsehir.bel.tr; Picture 4: panoramio.com; Picture 5: egirdirakingazetesi.com.tr; Picture 6: fairylandcave.com; Picture 7: goreme.com

 

Jul 21

THE TOP THREE SAUNAS IN EASTERN EUROPE

Europeans love tasty food, good wine and, at the end of the day, enjoying a great time at the spa. From Iceland to Estonia, spas are an integral part of European life (if we go back in history in Greek and Roman times, we will understand why it’s pretty much a part of collective mentality) and often one of the city’s major tourist attractions. But do not think about some New Age scenery that take place in luxurious spaces where you receive hand massages with chocolate and where you can drink Japanese tea. European spas are hot and are located in buildings dating back centuries ago. The great part is that you leave these places feeling rejuvenated and with the feeling that you took part in something special with great tradition.

These three spas that we classified in a top three in the Eastern European region offer not only treatment for body and soul, but also an essential insight into the cultural space where they are located. After all, what better way to know a place than sitting naked in front of the inhabitants? 😀

Szechenyi Thermal Baths – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest was officially recognized “the City of Spas” since 1920, but the hot springs downtown have been enjoyed including by the ancient Romans, whose bathrooms are still running nowadays. There are many options in the surroundings, but one of the best is the Szechenyi spa complex, situated in a grand building with 10 indoor and three outdoor baths. Here you also have saunas, hot tubs and turbulence tubs in which you can relax.

Kalma Sauna – Tallinn, Estonia

Estonians, just like their Finnish neighbors, have a cult of saunas. They are good for the heart, skin and also a great place for socializing. In any house having a sauna is mandatory, and if not, there are public ones, as it is Kalma Sauna, the oldest sauna in Tallinn, dating from 1926. Spend a few hours at Sauna Kalma, hopping between cold showers and even colder pools and then back in the hot sauna.

Cagaloglu Hamami – Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish baths are found in all major cities, but nothing compares to the experience lived in an authentic communal bathroom in Istanbul. The oldest and grandest spa is Cagaloglu Hamami, where you can bathe under an amazing Ottoman marble dome built by Sultan Mehmet I more than 350 years ago. You are here in a warm room, accompanied only by the person who takes care of you, and the relationships that you will established here will reach a few different levels, passing through the stage of relaxation to the one of domination, if you keep in mind that you will be massaged and rubbed with a thick glove that will remove more layers of dead skin than you ever imagined that you have. This entire operation together with the massage usually takes more than an hour, but you can linger there as long as you want, while you drink tea and enjoy the warmth around you.

Photo source:

Picture 1: istanbul.com; Picture 2: propertyturkey.com; Picture 3: ferretingoutthefun.com; Picture 4: inyourpocket.com; Picture 5: gotohungary.com; Picture 6: dopaminejunkie.org; Picture 7: isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu
Jul 04

ISTANBUL AND KUSADASI – TWO OF THE FAVORITE TURKISH LOCATIONS (ISTANBUL AND KUŞADASI )

Istanbul is the only city in the world that is placed on two continents. It is settled on the shores of Bosphorus, where the Black Sea waters meet the Marmara Sea. Istanbul seems to have been destined to become a capital city; we all remember that it was the capital of three former empires that left their mark on the world history.

Even today, the city still preserves the prints of these former civilizations and represents a harmonious bond between East and West, past and present, antique and modern, in all its splendor and mysticism.

Istanbul offers some of the most prolific and complex history and is one of the most beautiful charming and lively cities in the world. It has a life style and an atmosphere of its own because of the locals and the touristic attractions. So, when you get there, make sure you’re planning your schedule very wisely, as there are many things to do and see.

The old palaces, the ottoman mosques, the Byzantine churches, the bazaar and all the rest are wonderful and fascinating places that deserve to be discovered.

One of the most spectacular palaces is the Topkapi, on the shore of Marmara Sea by Suleiman the Magnificent. Also, Dolmbahce palace, built in the first half of the 19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit I; the Beylerbey palace, built in the same century by Abdulaziz and is entirely made of white marble; Yidiz and Gosku are two more wonderful palaces that will take your breath away.

Around Istanbul there are plenty of sights that will definitely impress any visitor; you must not miss the Islands of the Princes’ Islands, which is an archipelago of nine islands in the Marmara Sea, where the Byzantine princesses have been exiled by the ottomans. The Belgrade Forest, in the surroundings of Istanbul, is the widest forest in the area; here, you will find the vestiges of the aqueducts build at the order of Sinan Pasha. Also, you have the opportunity to visit the Birds’ Paradise and the Botanical Park in Bayramoglu-Darica (38 kilometers from Istanbul), which hosts numerous species of plants and birds from all over the world.

From Istanbul, you can continue your epic throughout Turkey. If you next stop is Kusadasi, you should know that it is one of the main resorts in the country, which will offer you unforgettable holiday memories. Kusadasi is located on the west coast of Turkey and is one of the most attractive places on the Aegean shore, being very close to important historical settlements such as Ephesus, Didyma, Priene, Zeus’s Tub 9other than the one on Olympus!!), Pamukale or Miletos.

The many beaches with warm and clear blue waters create the perfect environment for a perfect vacation; here you can windsurf, water ski or beach volley ball – just to mention a few of the possibilities for those who want to have an active holiday.

Besides the historical sites mentioned above, the city of Kusadasi have preserved many Ottoman mosques situated downtown: the Fortress Mosque, built at the order of Okuz Pasha in the 17th century is probably the most impressive. Hanim Mosque, erected in 1658 in the name of Haji Hatice Hatun, destroyed in 1922 and rebuilt between 1951 and 1957. Haji Ibrahim Mosque is another amazing example of spectacular Ottoman architecture, next to the Turkmen Mosque and Cami Atik Mosque, also found in the center of the city.

Kusadasi also follows the same pattern of the rest of oriental cities and it hosts a bazaar (not as big as the one in Istanbul), a modern city center with malls and luxurious shops, where you can find anything – from leather jackets to precious jewelries, souvenirs and food.

The place is packed with hotels that offer a wide range of conditions: from three to five stars, but regardless of the number of stars, they are all clean, welcoming and have great food.

Either way, you will love this experience!

Photo source

Picture 1: iffom.com; Picture 2: planetware.com; Picture 3: topdeck.travel; Picture 4: panoramio.com; Picture 5: stunningplaces.net; Picture 6: sf.co.ua; Picture 7: angelshomehotel.com; Picture 8: tripwow.tripadvisor.com; Picture 9: gotourturkey.com
Jun 02

FLYING ON THE BALLOON OVER THE WONDERS OF CAPPADOCIA (CAPPADOCIA)

Cappadocia is really a great experience; some say even more interesting and exhilarating than a visit to any other European capital. Because the trip is sticking out of any pattern: a balloon adventure at 650 meters above ground, walks through volcanic valleys that make up the spectacular scenery and accommodation in a hotel carved into the rock.

Whether you’re in the bubble, whether you walk on the ground through the valleys of eroded volcanic rocks, the scenery of Cappadocia is spectacular and unique in the world. It is an area of volcanic origin, and the unusual shapes displaying their splendor in front of your eyes are the result of the erosion caused by wind and snow through the ages. After the first human settlings, people begun shaping the grottos and caves to adjust them to their needs and the area was preferred by the fore father of early Christianity, as hiding places for the hermits.

The area is semi-arid, harsh winters and quite persistent snows.

But what you can see and do more precisely while visiting Cappadocia?

One of the best activities is take balloon trip. Wake up at 4 a.m. and catch the sunrise above the clouds. The beauty of the place is doubled by this daily phenomenon; the scenery is filled with the sun-rays and receives their blessings while being bathed in astounding shades of pink, orange, gold and all the variations in between. And on top of all, you can see other approximately 100 colorful balloons starting to float above ground, filling the valley and the horizon just like in a dream-like experience. This is an event that you should not miss.

The balloon flight lasts about one hour and includes transportation from the hotel to the departure. A trip costs about 150-165 Euro per person, but offers discounts for large groups (20 people).

You get on the balloon around 5 o’clock a.m. Forget about your fear of flight, forget that you will rise up in the air at 650 meters, this will be a unique sight that will take your breath away in the best meaning.

You have to keep in mind that balloon flight takes place only at sunrise. A balloon escapade will provide you with a dose of adrenaline that keeps you “high” long after the expired time travel. And don’t worry; the pilots have two-year training before getting the permit, so you are completely safe.

Also, the air is cooler up above, but not insufferably cold; If there are 17-20 degrees Celsius on the ground, up in the sky the temperature is slightly lower. However the flame of the balloon will warm up the atmosphere.  The only recommendation is to wear a wind jacket with a hood, and maybe some lip balm and sunglasses. And the photo camera, of course!

And once you get back on the ground, you will see the wonders of nature and geology and lose yourself in this other-worldly landscape.

I recommend you take a good local guide that will tell you the fascinating history of the place while walking through valleys and erosion cliffs of volcanic tuff.

The main attractions in Cappadocia are the erosion valleys, such as Pashabal Valley – where you will admire the Fairy Chimneys -, Pigeon Valley, Devrent Valley / Rose Valley, Zelve Valley etc.

One of the most famous monastic settlement is Soganli Valley  and the stone-carved monastery in Keslik.

Other carved settlements are: the luxury hotels in Goreme, Urgup, Uchisar, Ortahisar castle.

Also, don’t miss Kaymakli, the largest underground city in Cappadocia.

One of the most unusual places is the Mustafapasa village worth visiting for authentic Anatolian landscape; it also hosts the Ethnographic Museum of Dolls – Bebek Museum.

Cappadocia will definitely be a unique and unforgettable experience.

Photo source

Picture 1: projectinspo.com; Picture 2: adventureworld.com.au; Picture 3: http://1080.plus; Picture 4: http://wtop.com; Picture 5: http://www.cappadociacity.com; Picture 6: http://www.nstravel.ro; Picture 7: http://www.belvuhotel.com; Picture 8: http://www.indiatoturkey.com; Picture 9: http://www.gagdaily.com; Picture 10: http://archinect.com

 

Apr 25

HAGIA SOPHIA, THE EVERLASTING GREATNESS OF BYZANTUM (HAGIA SOPHIA)

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

The 1400 year old monument located in Istanbul, Turkey, is a magnificent structure of grand proportions, whose building is a proof of architectural mastery, considering that it has no steel structure and it completely functional after all these centuries of turmoil that have passed by, and is a living symbol of the greatness of the Byzantine Empire.  Another awing detail is the six-year span of the building process, compared to latter marvelous constructions, such as the Notre Dame in Paris, which, in Medieval times, needed almost a century to be finished.

http://www.bloggang.com/

http://www.bloggang.com/

The building began during the rule of Emperor Justinian I, in the year 532 A.D. and was opened to worship on the third day of Christmas, in the year 537. Its name means “Divine Wisdom”, but it was commonly known as “Megalo Basiliko” – the Great Church.

Hagia Sophia that we know today is a greater replica build after another great cathedral had been burned in a riot against Justinian I. The prior has been built by Emperor Constantine on the same spot, and Justitian I, who survived the riot, decided to make another one, greater and more outstanding.

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

The great edifice was made at tremendous cost, but it was meant to last over the ages, earthquakes, conquests and several alterations, including a transformation into an Islamic mosque (in 1453 by faith Sultan Mehmet) followed by a conversion into a museum (in 1935 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the progressive Turkish president), which is today.

The entire grandeur is topped by the central dome with a diameter of 31 meters, which stands 56 meters above ground and seems to be supported by an invisible thread coming from the very sky.

Mosaics made of gold, silver, terra cota, semi-precious stones, the polychrome green, pink, yellow and white marble, the upper windows stairs and the several strategic entrances – each dedicated to a certain social rank – prove that Hagia Sophia is one of the architectural marvels of all times. Emperor Justinian gave order that the greatest materials to be brought from all the regions of the empire, such as Anatolia, Syria, Ephessus and Egypt. It is said that Emperor Justinian I exclaimed upon the finishing of the oeuvre: “Solomon, I have outdone thee!” Modern architects say that no photography can comprise it’s grace and refinement and

https://ro.wikipedia.org/

https://ro.wikipedia.org/

The filigree mosaic representing Jesus Christ, Holy Virgin Mary, John the Baptizer and pendentives of seraphim images have been covered in clay at one point during the Ottoman rule, but they are still is visible, despite the carefully placed layers, which is an unexplainable, if not miraculous fact.

http://www.livescience.com/

http://www.livescience.com/

Besides the structure itself, there is a number of five tombs belonging to Ottoman Sultans and their family members. The Ottomans have added a madrasa (higher level school) and minarets to serve to the Islam assessment and four calligraphy panels stating Quran verses.

Currently it works as a museum, welcoming tourists from all over the world and its beauty and divine brilliance doesn’t cease to awe and fascinate the visitors.