Europe

Beach Resort vs Traditional Town: Where to Stay in Turkey?

Looking at a guide book of Turkey you might be tricked into believing that your only option for accommodation is in an upmarket resort or seaside town however Turkey is also has many small villages and traditional towns which lie inland from the Aegean and Mediterranean sea and offer a slightly more cultural experience. If you plan to visit some of Turkey’s many ancient ruins then one of your first choices may be between staying in Kusadasi, on the Aegean Sea, or in the mountain town of Selcuk, just 18 km inland.

Reasons to Stay in Kusadasi:

For Excellent Location…

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Kusadasi lies on the southwestern shores of Turkey’s Aegean sea, within an hours drive of Izmir’s international airport and just a stone’s throw from the Greek Island of Samos. This seaside resort has regular bus connections to sites and towns of interest along the coast including Bodrum, Fethiye, Pamukkale and Izmir and daily ferries to Samos. If you’re interested making daytrips then Kusadasi has an abundance of sites in the area, you might want to hop on a Jeep Safari to the Dilek National Park or take a bus to the shopping outlets at Soke. Agencies offer guided Ephesus tours or excursions to Didyma and Pamukkale on a daily basis so there’s no need to have your own transport if you choose stay in Kusadasi.

For the Beaches…

Kusadasi is one of the few coastal resorts to have a beach right in the centre of town, so if you choose to make this spend your vacation in this harbour you can be sure that it will only be a short stroll to white sand and transparent water. Aside from ‘Ladies Beach’ – don’t be fooled by the name because it is open to both men and women – on the outskirts of town are 4 privately owned beach clubs. If being served cocktails as you lounge on a shaded sunbed is you style you can head to any one of these. Alternatively take a national park bus to Guzelcamli and relax on the town’s more quiet and scenic beaches.

For the Nightlight…

Kusadasi is one of the top spots in Turkey for dining and nightlife, second only to the country’s party capital, Bodrum which lies further south on the Aegean coast. Start your evening with a glass of wine in an elegant rooftop restaurant as you watch the sunset over the sea. When you’re ready for dinner take advantage of the excellent Aegean cuisine, which will undoubtedly include fresh fish and sea foods. Then head to the Old Town to enjoy live music and quirky bars in the maze of streets before heading to the modern ‘Bar Street’ where you can party through the warm summer night until sunrise.

Reasons to Stay in Selcuk:

For a Little Ancient History…

Visit Turkey

Unlike its seaside neighbors Selcuk had retained much of its Ottoman architecture

and examples of its Roman/Byzantine heritage. Just wondering about the town’s old streets you’re sure to notice the remaining pillars of an aqueduct which once supplied the town with clean water. Or you might notice the Byzantine fortress which sits upon a hill overlooking the town. Selcuk is also just 3 km from the 2nd largest city of the ancient world and UNESCO world heritage site of Ephesus. Walking through colossal theatre, well preserved library and marble pillar lined entrance way, far away from modern buildings and technologies, is sure to give you a feel for life over 2,000 years ago.

For Old Trains and Famous Caves…

While most of Selcuk’s visitors have come to for Ephesus Tours and other sites such as the Temple of Artemis, House of the Virgin Mary, St. Johns Basilica and Isa Beya Mosque, the town is also the host of some uniquely interesting sites. Even in the centre of the Old Town there is some exploring to do as one of the country’s first steam locomotives sits between the streets, waiting patiently as tourists and locals aboard for photos. Travelling further afield there is the Camlik Outdoor Museum and the mysterious Cave of the Seven Sleepers, where 7 young Christians hid from persecution and allegedly awoke from a deep slumber 180 years later.

For Family Guesthouses and Homemade Cuisine…

Much of the accommodation offered in Selcuk is in family run guesthouses, built into traditional Ottoman homes, each of which has its own story to tell and it’s own host to tell it. You will probably find yourself dining on a delicious Turkish buffet breakfast of olives, cheeses, fruits, pastries and homemade jams and benefiting from the local knowledge of your host. Far from the modern chain hotels that you would find in coastal resort towns, Selcuk accommodation give visitors the opportunity to experience real Turkish hospitality, taste homemade Turkish dishes and maybe even learn a few words of the local language.

So Where to Base Yourself?

Whether you choose to base your holiday in stylish beach resort or a tranquil mountain town you’re sure to find plenty to do, Selcuk and Kusadasi are actually close enough together that you can easily travel between the two. Stay in Selcuk and take a Ephesus to Samos day tour to visit the beach and Greek Island or check into a hotel in Kusadasi and take a day trip inland to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the village as well as the lively atmosphere and parties of a Turkish beach town.

Top Things To Do In Newcastle

The Top Things To Do In Newcastle mentioned in this post will make this underrated city your favorite place in the UK

Me and my buddy Haris Ahmed

went traveling throughout Europe last year and in particular it was the UK that I really fell in love with. My favourite city in the UK was not London, something which many are surprised at, but rather Newcastle, the north east city where I was fortunate enough to pass much of my time whilst I was in the UK.

Newcastle does not have the glitz and glamour of the likes of London, nor does it have the musical and cultural history of the likes of Manchester and Liverpool. What Newcastle does offer however is a city that is filled with welcoming people and plenty to do and if you can spend some time up there in the old north east air, here are just some of the things that you need to tick off the to-do list.

See a Football Game

Newcastle’s stadium is St.James’ Park and it is here that the city looks towards on a Saturday afternoon when their team is playing at home. The stadium sits right in the centre of the city and it becomes a hive of activity when the ‘toon’ are playing and 40,000+ fans turn out to cheer on their side. The atmosphere inside the stadium is truly electric and if you want to do something fun during your time in Newcastle, this should be top of your list.

Party

You may think that you can party in any city in the UK and you would be right, but nobody parties quite like they do in Newcastle. In fact, I bumped into many people from all over the UK who came to Newcastle just for the nightlife and after spending some time partying in the bars, pubs and clubs in the city, it is easy to see why. If you want to seriously party, this is the city in which you ought to do it.

Bridge Jump

In the centre of Newcastle is the River Tyne, the heartbeat of the city and there are numerous bridges which straddle the water. The most impressive of these is the Tyne Bridge which was actually used as the prototype for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These bridges make for some fantastic photos but if you really want to take things to the next level, why not take a bungee jump off the top of the Tyne Bridge. There is a company who occupy the bridge each Sunday that will strap you on to a bungee cord and watch you as you fly head first down to the river below. Looking at the bridges is all well and good, but if you truly want to experience the bridges in style, bungee jumping is the way to go.

Newcastle has so much more things which you can do from art museums, science exhibitions and the range of markets available throughout the city, why not cut a few days from your London trip and head up north to the wonderful city of Newcastle.

7 Places you Need to Visit in Italy

Italy is an enchanting country with a rich culture that is fascinating for people to explore. More than 45 million people visit this exciting country that combines history and modernity perfectly. The food is delicious, the wine is fabulous and there are so many things to do and see. Here are 7 of the places you need to visit in Italy.

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Rome

Rome is one of the most fascinating and most beautiful cities in the world and you can visit some of the most iconic landmarks of the world and enter a separate country. The Colosseum has stood for more than 2000 years and this iconic landmark is a must see. The Vatican City is filled with artefacts, glorious art and rich history. You can join tours that beat the lines and see these places at your own pace.  There are many glorious beaches that are less than an hour by bus from the city. This is a great way to beat the heat in the summer and get some people watching in.

Tuscany

A vacation in Tuscany will provide you stunning landscapes, beautiful seaside villages, wine production, and exciting cities like Pisa and Florence. It is known for as the birthplace of Renaissance and you can visit works by the famous artists Donatello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo de Vinci in the city of Florence. Pisa is known for the Leaning Tower of Pisa and visiting this iconic landmark is a must for all who visit the area. Tuscany is famous for its wine production and Chianti is the most popular wine.

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast needs to be experienced by driving the scenic roads and by taking a boat trip along the coast to explore all of the inlets as well as the gorgeous scenery.  You must stop in the beautiful towns of Positano, Ravello and Amalfi and see the many wondrous churches, beautiful gardens and villas.  Make sure that you take the time to relax in the sun and drink Limoncello, a lemon drink that the area is famous for.

Sicily

Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and it was the centre of many trade routes during the medieval era. It has been influenced by the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantine Greeks, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards and it is a great place to learn more about history. You can join walking tours that explore the historical centres or focus on the food and wine of the area.

Umbria

Umbria is located in central Italy and it is known as the “green heart” of Italy. It is a network of small intimate lovely towns with many historical locations to visit. There are plenty of charming villas situated in the peaceful countryside, which are perfect if you like walking, horse riding or cycling. In the capital city of Perugia you can find Etruscan, Roman and medieval monuments in its historic centre. Assisi is an area in Umbria that is known for religious pilgrimage and millions of people visit annually. It is the birthplace of St Francis who was also buried there in Basilica di San Francesco.

Naples

Naples is the capital of the Italian region Campania and it is the third-largest municipality in Southern Italy. Be sure to make time to visit Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Cappella Sansevero, and take a guided tour of Teatro San Carlo.

Venice

Venice is built on a series of islands that are all connected by bridges or canals. Be sure to take a romantic gondola ride down the famous Grand Canal that this city is known for. Be sure to make time to visit the beautiful Basilica di San Marco. Venice is known for its hand blown Venetian glass and you can pick up many treasures to take home.

The Best 4 Ways to Explore the UK

The UK is an exciting country and there are so many different things for you to explore. You can see ancient artefacts, bustling metropolitan cities, stunning landscape, and iconic landmarks and there are so many ways to travel around the country. Here are the best 4 ways to explore the UK.

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Take The Train

You can easily take the train to visit most popular tourist destinations in the UK. Taking the train is brilliant as you can get immersed in a good book, enjoy a picnic, look at the beauitful scenery, and then before you know it you will have arrived at your destination. Trains are usually punctual and the schedules are easy to find online and you can plan your whole trip in advance. You can also download apps to help you. There are different rail passes available that can save you money so it is best to do research beforehand. Some of the passes must be bought in your country of origin and some of them can be bought in the UK.

By Canal Boat

For something quite different you can explore the canals of the UK by narrow boat.  There are many companies that rent canal boats and you can get them in different sizes. The canals take you past beautiful scenery and small towns and you can get out and explore wherever there is a dock to tie the boat to. In England the Thames has plenty of locks for you to explore and you can easily visit places like Bath, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, and even the capital city of London. You can also explore Northern Ireland by heading out on Loughe Erne which is a labyrinth consisting of 150 islands. You can travel along the River Erne from Lower Lake to Upper Lake. The route is dotted with historic castles, monasteries, beautiful scenery, that you can watch from the boat or get out and explore.

Cycle

Cycling is a great way to get in shape and it allows you to eat a lot of great food without being worried about gaining weight. There are plenty of cycling routes in the UK and you can join a guided tour or set your own course. You can choose challenging hilly routes or stick to flat lands if you prefer. You can also find roads with less traffic on them so your trip is peaceful. You can ride your way past charming villages, Roman ruins, stop in historic towns, and visit castles, historic churches, and many other sites. You can stay in bed and breakfasts, give glamping a try or stay in 300 year old houses. There are lots of different great foods that you can indulge in to keep up your strength.

Drive

You can easily rent a car right from the airport and drive throughout the UK. Rental cars usually come with GPS or you may be able to use the GPS on your phone so you can drive without the headache of getting lost.  There may be discounts available online or in less busy seasons. You could get a self-drive holiday package; tour operators like Great British Trips offer a  tour planning service where they can help you organise your holiday before you get there so that you don’t miss out on anything.