Posts tagged travel
Posts tagged travel
One of the things that made me so excited to visit Cappadocia was the cave dwellings. Cave hotels are a common accommodation option in the region, although our choice, the Sato Cave Hotel, doesn’t really give the cave hotel a good name. Cave dwellings in Cappadocia date back millennia. Natural caves were settled as early as 4,000 BC. Even today, several churches can be found hidden in the cliffs.
Fresco in a hidden church, Ihlara Valley
The settlers started to fashion the caves into dwellings, with whole cities carved out of the rock, much like Petra in Jordan.
Cities carved out of the rock
Perhaps it is for this reason that the people had no problem living in underground cities. These cities pepper Cappadocia, and were used by the early Christians as strongholds when they came under attack. Several of these underground cities are now open to tourists. The largest, Derinkuyu, extends more than 80 meters underground and just 10% of it has been explored. The caves were extensive and designed for extensive stay. Chapels, kitchens, larders, even barns for animals were part of the complex. The underground cities were clearly used for defensive purposes, with evidence of traps and heavy stone doors designed to seal off entrances still visible today.
Underground cities; from newgoreme.com
The easiest way to see these attractions is to follow a guided tour. We chose the Green Tour, which covers the Derinkuyu underground city, the Ihlara valley, the Selima monastery, which is a monastery carved into the rock, and more. The tour cost 90 Liras per person and included lunch, all transport, as well as entry fees to the attractions. A clear advantage of the tour is that you won’t have to worry about getting lost and they have good English speaking guides. However, you will be taken to the obligatory jewellery-making factory at the end of the tour.
The closest airport to Goreme, the center of the tourist industry in Cappadocia, is Nevsehir International Airport. Turkish Airlines run twice-daily flights from Istanbul to Nevsehir. The airport is half an hour away from Goreme by car. Airport transfers can usually be arranged by your hotel, and cost 13 Euros.
Alternatively, you can fly into Kayseri airport, which is an hour away by car. However, airport transfers cost the same and there are many more flight options to Kayseri from Istanbul.
Located roughly in the middle of Turkey, Cappadocia is renowned for the natural rock formations that were formed as a result of three simultaneous volcanic eruptions a few millennia ago. The eruptions left behind three layers of sedimentation: the hardened lava at the bottom, the soft tuff in the middle, and the hardest basalt on top. Over the years, time and water have sculpted the landscape into craggy cliffs and some rather phallic fairy chimneys.
These rock formations have become a major tourist attraction, and one of the best ways to see them is via a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. On any given day, between 90 and 100 multi-coloured balloons can be seen riding the winds.
There are several hot air balloon companies in Goreme, with prices ranging from a 100 Euro “local’s” price for a basic flight to more than 200 Euros for a flight with the works, including champagne. The travel agent we spoke to in Goreme recommended Rainbow Balloons. If possible, try to book early as, depending on availability, you may be able to get a smaller basket with a 4-person capacity. Larger baskets take up to 20 passengers.
If you prefer to get up close and personal, Love Valley is within walking distance of Goreme. You will have to walk along a highway to get there, but it is safe, particularly if you do it in broad daylight. Do remember to bring lots of water with you. It is possible to hike to Uchisar via Love Valley. However, the trails are poorly marked so it may be best to return to Goreme. We did the round trip from Goreme to the Love Valley and back within 3 hours, although at least half an hour of that was spent trying to find the trail to Uchisar.
Fairy chimneys in Love Valley, Cappadocia
To be honest, I was hoping for more value for money than what the Sato Cave Hotel in Cappadocia provided. Being one of the cheaper accommodation options in Goreme, the centre of the Cappadocia tourism industry, I guess I shouldn’t have expected much. When you have a rather dark and dingy bathroom with a sign that cautions guests to place all toilet paper in the bin rather than flush it down the toilet, you know things are not going to get off to a good start…
Fabulous views though.
I remember a time when low cost airlines meant just that - low cost. For unbelievably low prices, one could jet set off to the Greek isles from London for the weekend, or hop from Kuala Lumpur to Cambodia to visit Angkor Watt. Not any more. Seems like all the low cost airlines are raising their fees, and the latest is Spirit’s attempt to charge $100 for carry on bags.
Surely what matters most to the airline is how much weight is on the plane. When will the day come when airlines will start charging passengers for total weight, including body weight and all luggage?
I spent a lazy afternoon wandering through the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris last weekend. Sprawling across 110 acres, the cemetery is the largest in Paris, with more than a million bodies buried there.
Opened in 1804 by Napoleon, the cemetery was not a very popular burial ground back in the day. Parisians considered it too far from the city and the Roman Catholics refused to be buried on unconsecrated ground. Desperate to boost “sales”, the managers arranged to have the remains of famous French personalities like La Fontaine and Moliere moved there. The bodies of Pierre Abelard and Heloise were subsequently transferred in 1817. The strategy worked as more and more people wanted to be buried with the famous.
Today, the cemetery houses such internationally renown personages as Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, and more.
Clockwise from top left: Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin
The Pere Lachaise cemetery is a veritable necropolis, a true city of the dead. There are wide tree-lined boulevards, complete with road signs; there are statues for decorations; and there are, of course, doors to keep the unwanted out.
Portals at Pere Lachaise
A tree-lined boulevard
You may even come across a faithful companion.
A cemetery may seem like an odd tourist destination in Gay Paris. But with its famous residents, it’s not surprising to find that Pere Lachaise is one of the most visited cemeteries in the world. If you need some peace and quiet, if you need to pause for a breath before diving back into the whirlwind of Paris, the Pere Lachaise cemetery is a great place to visit.
There is something very special about staying in a 600-year old French manor with views of sunflower fields and a castle in the distance. We have a suite at the Manoir de l’Abbaye in the Loire Valley, and at 150 euros per night for four people including breakfast, it is a steal.
Our rooms have two immense fireplaces, big enough to roast a pig in. There are huge, exposed wooden beams and an uneven stone floor. There is a four poster bed. There is a winding stone staircase. There is a pool outside. Fields of sunflowers are on the doorstep. Some of them have been carved into smiling faces.
For breakfast, there is home-made yoghurt, piles of croissants and pain au chocolat, baguettes, butter and jam, coffee and hot chocolate and juice.
This is the life.
It’s the new and improved portable travel pillow. It’s the cure for jet lag. It enables power naps anytime, anywhere. It’s the new ostrich pillow by Kickstart. Any takers?
La Recoleta cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Always wanted to visit Central and South America? These top 25 destinations in the continent, as voted for by TripAdvisor users, is a great place to start planning your itinerary. Of the top five, I’ve only been to one, Buenos Aires, but it’s definitely on my bucket list to do the rest! What’s your favourite place in Central and South America?
Lacking ideas on where to go on vacation? Perhaps the Tripadvisor’s 2011 survey of the best holiday destinations in the world can help. See the best holiday destinations in the world, or maybe just in your part of the world. Whether you’re looking for a ideas in a particular country or region or you’re thinking in a more global scale, Tripadvisor can help. I’ve been to 12 of the top 25 destinations, have lived in 2 and am now in a 3rd city. What about you?
Cities I’ve lived/am living in:
Guess which? :)
Photo by BrainWashers
I get the idea of a bidet. I think it’s an excellent hygienic idea that should be adopted around the world. The Japanese and Koreans have even taken toilet engineering to a high art form, with self-warming seats, built-in bidets and even a gentle stream of warm air to dry your bum.
What I don’t get, however, is bidets without any means to dry yourself afterwards. There was no toilet paper. Not even a flush. Just a hole in the ground and a bucket full of water. And a bidet of course. Soap for washing your hands afterwards if you’re lucky. Definitely no way to dry your hands once you’re done.
And this isn’t some public toilet in a far-flung village in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, I’m describing the staff toilet at the headquarters of one of the largest employers in Indonesia.
It’s a really bad day when someone takes away the bucket.
Why? How? I just don’t get it.