Posted on May 21st, 2009 No comments
The highlights were the people of Turkey that we met and interacted with. Everyone we met on tour seemed genuinely interested in our presence and generous in giving to us whatever we needed, be it a glass of chai or directions to a shop. I came back with a deep respect for the people, the Muslim religion and its practices and beliefs, and the incredible story of this remarkable country.Most memorable were sailing the coast on our gulet, Cappadocia in all respects of the outdoor hikes and tours and experiencing the Turkish baths.
Turkey – Though only a small percentage of Turkey lies in Europe—about three per cent of the vast country—due to its political and cultural nature, many consider it more a part of Europe than Asia. Turkey has a long and fascinating history, as its roots lie 10 millennia in the past and it has been called home by at least half a dozen ancient civilizations over the ages; Persian, Roman and Byzantium to name but a few. For the traveller, this means a tour to experience a wealth and variety of architectural and cultural sights in a place that is in many senses a unique blend of West and East.
Turkey’s largest and capital city, Istanbul, epitomises the country’s meshing of cultures and is a tour destination not to be missed. The only city in the world that can claim to lie on two continents, Istanbul mixes modernity with antiquity and the bustling day-to-day activities of the culturally and socially advanced society in the major metropolis occur against the backdrop of majestic and well-preserved reminders of the past. After touring Istanbul’s numerous stunning mosques, palaces, cisterns and castles—or perhaps visiting some famous historical places, like the remnants of the great city of Troy—all dating from different eras and engineered by different civilizations, travellers can sample some of the delicacies on offer at a local café and can opt for either Turkish or Eastern cuisine.
Turkey holds among its treasures beautifully preserved Greco-Roman and Islamic monuments, geological wonders, and inviting cultures. Our tour of the western part of the country showcases some of the most spectacular Islamic and Graeco-Roman sites in the world, while our unique and exciting programs in the East reveal a mysterious and seldom-visited side of this incredibly varied and hospitable land.
Turkey’s population of close to 70 million enjoy a range of geographical differentiation and available activities. The Taurus Mountains serve as the ideal locale for hiking or mountain biking, where the Turquoise Coast on the lapping shores of the Mediterranean is the beach-lover’s paradise and perfect for a quick swim to cool off or a relaxing sunbathe to warm up.
Turkey remains the quintessential adventure, with the perfect blend of ancient mystique and myth, breathtaking scenery, awesome Greco-Roman ruins, sumptuous food, music and laughter, sun and sea. One could return over and over (and some of our travellers do!) and never experience the same thing twice. Go in spring–perfect temperatures and green landscapes festooned with wildflowers.
Sailing the Turquoise Coast: This special program features a salubrious 4-night cruise on a traditional Turkish gulet, along with an exciting, highlight packed land itinerary through Western Turkey. As we travel the coast, we have chances to sample stretches of the Lycian Way, stretching between Fethiye and Antalya through some of the country’s most spectacular coastal scenery. Lycia is an area steeped in history and with a rugged charm all of its own; our easy walks provide a way to escape the “usual” and take a look at the country that lies beyond the reach of the majority of travel companies. The route winds along mule paths on hillsides sometimes overlooking the Mediterranean-turquoise in the shadows, indigo or deep green further out. Tiny boats chug past far below, birds wheel far above. Cyclamen and other bulbs peep from dark corners; the scent of thyme fills the air. Turkey’s indigenous sea-going vessel, the gullet, blends practicality and tradition. Over the years they have evolved from traditional crafts for fishing to their present shape, equipped with private cabins, motors, as well as fully-functional rigging. The land portion of our trip also includes Bodrum, Antalya and Kusadasi, with a possible extension to Capadoccia. Codes TQ1 and TQ2.
With one foot in southeast Europe and the other in southwest Asia, Turkey has long acted as a gateway between the East and West. As a result, in addition to evidence of its own history whose roots stem from the Ottoman era, Turkey displays indications of both European and Islamic influences, giving travellers a variety and profusion of architecture and cultural attraction that few other countries can rival. So too is Turkey’s natural environment of considerable note, with the mighty Taurus Mountains offering striking vistas and the lapping waters of the Turquoise Coast beckoning water- and beach-enthusiasts alike.
Posted on April 14th, 2009 No comments
From Russia with Love
Perhaps owing to the until-recent inaccessibility of the country stemming from the domestic policies of the former USSR, Russia is often still associated within a negative framework by those who have never crossed into its borders: as an inhospitably cold environment, both in terms of weather and of people; a backward looking and thinking country whose best amenities lie worlds apart from the luxuries of the West; and an ideological enemy of old still bent on spreading its influence. Weather excluded Russia is the coldest country on the planet, though there does exist a variation in climate over the land nothing could be further from the truth. Our Russian trips are visits to lands of plenty in a tour destination not to be underestimated.
Some travellers may feel daunted about the sheer size of Russia, not knowing where to start or which sights to plan a tour to, but the Trans-Siberian Railway is the ideal answer to these concerns. Spanning across the Central Siberian Plateau from Moscow to Vladivostok, the railway is without doubt the best means for travellers on a deadline to see as much of Russia as possible. Passing lush green forests, long coastlines, wide sloping plains, beautiful lakes and colossal mountains, while periodically stopping at various towns and sights, our Russian trips promise a sensory delight and countless scenic photo opportunities with the diverse array of locals.
A Russian trip would not be complete without a visit to one of the main cities of Moscow or St. Petersburg. Moscow’s Red Square, St. Basil’s cathedral and Sculpture’s Park or St. Petersburg’s The Hermitage, St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Russian Museum are but a few of the outstanding sights that these two cities offer that let the traveller appreciate both the glorious past and the blossoming present of Russia.
Stretching over 11 time zones and two continents, Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of landmass and encompasses an area almost double the size of its nearest rival, Canada. Travellers, however, need not be daunted by the thought of planning a trip to so vast a country, as the Trans-Siberian Railway provides the ideal means to take in a good portion of what Russia has to offer; and this country’s bounties are considerable indeed. Delightful countryside brimming with gigantic mountains, shimmering lakes and verdant forests complements the plethora of splendid historic monuments in the urban centres and no tour would be complete without delving into the fascinating culture to discover the true face of Russia.