Scandinavian Adventure – Part 3 – Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden will always stand out for me as a great shopping city. I loved it! The shopping is awesome but what also stood out for me was Gamla Stan or ‘Old Town’ with its narrow streets.

Beautiful Sweden

Beautiful Stockholm

Went on a cruise to see the city from the water.

Sweden from our cruise

Stockholm, Sweden from our cruise

Cruising

Cruising

The Swedish Royal Palace

The Swedish Royal Palace

Then shopping!

Main shopping street.

Main shopping street.

Being a Sneaker Freak I had my eye on  a pair of original Bjorn Borg sneakers, seemingly only available in Sweden. I finally found the perfect pair in this incredible shopping street in Stockholm.

Yes I bought the shoes! Bjorn Borg Sneakers

Yes I bought the shoes! Bjorn Borg Sneakers

They are awesome and I’m wearing them today! I’m only sorry I didn’t buy another pair in a different color. Oh well that’s reason enough to head back to Stockholm one day.

We then visited the Vasa Museum – ah the ill fated Vasa ship, what a story! This magnificent ship took 2 years to build, is ornately carved with care and precision and sank only 20 minutes out of the bay, approximately 1300m out, on it’s maiden voyage! It was recovered only in 1961, 333 years on the bottom of the Stockholm harbor! As you enter the museum, this magnificent beast takes your breath away!

The ill-fated Vasa Ship

The ill-fated Vasa Ship

It’s so big you can’t photograph the whole thing!

Ornately carved life size figures

Ornately carved life size figures

They also recovered all the people that drowned when the ship sank and with modern technology they re-animated their faces which, let me tell you, is major creepy, but in an interesting way!

Actual people recovered and re-animated using their remains.

Actual people recovered and re-animated using their remains.

Gustav - actual remains recovered.

Gustav – actual remains recovered.

Lightening of the mood was then required and we headed of to the incredible Gamla Stan or Old Town. What an incredible part of Stockholm!

An open Square within Gamla Stan

An open Square within Gamla Stan

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Narrow Streets - Gamla Stan

Narrow Streets – Gamla Stan

Very narrow street!

Very narrow street!

Taking a break - somewhere in the middle of Gamla Stan

Taking a break – somewhere in the middle of Gamla Stan

We then went to, what was for me a once in a life time experience, the Nordic Ice Bar in Stockholm. This was the first one ever created and is truly a must-do experience when in Stockholm. It’s, as the name suggests, a bar made entirely out of ice, including the glasses. At first the constant temperature of -7 Celsius does not seem so bad,  but after a few minutes you start to lose feeling in your fingers and they give you gloves and a fetching poncho! Total fun! Being from Sunny South Africa, I’ve never experienced such cold! What fun!

Nordic Ice Bar - Stockholm

Nordic Ice Bar – Stockholm

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Icy cocktails - Yumm!

Icy cocktails – Yumm!

People placing orders at the bar

People placing orders at the bar

In my fetching poncho!

In my fetching poncho!

Hooded against the cold!

Hooded against the cold!

Was also lucky enough, one evening, to have the famous Swedish meatballs which were absolutely mouthwateringly delicious!

Swedish meatballs served with sweet/tart lingonberries - so delicious!

Swedish meatballs served with sweet/tart lingonberries – so delicious!

 

And so came the end of my epic journey through Scandinavia, I loved Stockholm!

Swedish flag with the Royal Palace in the background

Swedish flag with the Royal Palace in the background

In fact Denmark, Norway and Sweden are not to be missed and are incredible destinations. Must do on anyone’s #TravelBucketList.

Thanks again for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post!

 

Till next time…

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected till the end of my life” – Michael Palin

Cheers,

 

Wayne

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scandinavian Adventure – Part 2 (b) Norway

Firstly apologies to my myriad of readers for the delay of my blog – life sometimes gets in the way of adventure….

Norway is such an incredibly beautiful country but what stands out a lot are the incredible waterfalls we saw everywhere…

Incredible double waterfall

Incredible double waterfall

Near Odda

Near Odda

We had a lunch stop in the absolutely picturesque town of Odda – words cannot describe how beautiful this town was and the photo’s do not do it justice. I just got a pastry and sat admiring this view until it was time to leave. I could definitely live here.

The small town of Odda - with it's very own fjord

The small town of Odda – with it’s very own fjord

Odda

Odda

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We then stopped at yet another waterfall, each one more and more beautiful…

Norheimsund

Norheimsund

Norheimsund closeup

Norheimsund close up

You can walk right under the waterfall on a specially created footpath and not get wet!

You can walk right under the waterfall on a specially created footpath and not get wet!

We then arrived in beautiful Bergen – what an amazing city.

Bergen Wharf

Bergen Wharf

There are dozens of places to eat and drink on the wharf.

We also went up Mount Floyen via funicular where you can see the entire city – the view is incredible.

The view from atop Mount Floyen, Bergen

The view from atop Mount Floyen, Bergen

The entire Bergen

The entire Bergen

I could actually see my hotel from here and must say that the Scandic Bergen City is the best to stay in Bergen as it is within walking distance of everything, even late at night when coming from a wine bar!

Yes, it was a touch chilly up on the mountain!

Yes, it was a touch chilly up on the mountain!

The Funicular up Mount Floyen

The Funicular up Mount Floyen

Another incredible waterfall

Another incredible waterfall

Then we took a ferry in the spectacular Sognefjord – sadly it was rainy and overcast weather but the clouds lifted just long enough for me to capture this incredible photo. It shows how incredibly huge it is with these mountains towering over the water. Makes one feel so tiny and insignificant.

 

Sognefjord - Norway

Sognefjord – Norway

Then it was lunch in the village of Flam.

Low hanging cloud in Flam

Low hanging cloud in Flam

We then drove through the longest road tunnel in the world, Approximately 25km long.

Laerdal Tunnel

Laerdal Tunnel

It used to take over 2 hours of careful driving to get over the mountain but now, thanks to the Laerdal Tunnel, it takes approximately 20 minutes. An engineering marvel.

We then made a pit stop at Lillehammer – home to the 1994 Winter Olympics. We went to the ski jumping park which is still in use today and we were lucky enough to see the athletes practicing on the astro turf ski jump which was incredible! A once in a lifetime experience for me (Thanks Trafalgar!) as we don’t have Winter Olympics in South Africa.

Lillehammer ski jump

Lillehammer ski jump

Goodbye, beautiful Norway

Goodbye, beautiful Norway

I wish I could post all my photo’s of this incredible country but it would take too much time (I took hundreds) and it’s so difficult to choose.

Sadly it was time to leave Norway and conclude my Scandinavian Adventure in Sweden!

Until next time, hope you enjoyed this post.

“The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself” – Wallace Stevens

Cheers,
Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scandinavian Adventure – Part 2 (a) Norway

Apologies upfront for the (a) – there is so much I want to share that Norway will simply not fit into one post!

Everyone always wants to know the reason you travel to a certain country or region and while I honestly don’t need a reason to travel, Norway was definitely the reason I wanted to go to Scandinavia and boy was I not disappointed.

To say Norway is breathtakingly beautiful would be the understatement of the decade and my Trafalgar journey continues in this incredible country.

We arrived to an absolutely freezing Oslo, the capital city of Norway and headed straight to the harbor area (whatever you do, don’t call it a waterfront! This is not Cape Town!). I had to remove my K-way Barnacle down jacket from it’s tiny pouch and put it on quickly as it was really cold. Thanks to Cape Union Mart, this was perfect for travelling to a cooler region.

My K-Way Barnacle down jacket - perfect for Scandinavia and travel.

My K-Way Barnacle down jacket – perfect for Scandinavia and travel.

I love this photo of Oslo, so atmospheric with the grey sky.

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway

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I also found my very own coffee shop –  and no, they didn’t want to give me free coffee.

My own coffee shop - how cool is this!

My own coffee shop – how cool is this!

I then had the best pizza of my life at a restaurant called ‘Eataly’ (clever!). The restaurant had a roaring fire indoors, so it meant removing all my layers. This particular pizza has actually won awards so I simply had to try it and it did not disappoint. Seriously, the best pizza I’ve ever had and I’ve been to Italy!

Mascarpone, courgette (baby marrow) and Parma ham - indescribably delicious!

Mascarpone, courgette (baby marrow) and Parma ham – indescribably delicious!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet but Scandinavia was the most expensive region I ever visited. This simple meal of a pizza, 1 beer and two glasses of wine with tip cost me 550 NOK (Norwegian Kroner) which is just over 920.00 South African Rand! I could just about feed a family of four at a good restaurant with a bottle of wine for that price and you would most definitely not be eating a simple pizza!

Anyway….

The weather the next day was absolutely perfect, warm and sunny.

Oslo fjord

Oslo fjord

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We then went to the Vigeland Sculpture Park – the world’s largest sculpture park by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. It has over 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. The detail is unbelievable.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

The tall sculpture above is called ‘The Monolith’ it has 121 anatomically correct figures, is 17.3 meters high and was carved from a single block of granite, hence the name: mono: one, litho: stone.

Here’s a close up…

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One solid piece of granite

One solid piece of granite

Pile of babies

Pile of babies

Apologies for the Asian gentleman – he absolutely refused to move.

The angry baby

The angry boy – bronze

Two boys - for me the very definition of joy!

Two boys – for me the very definition of joy – bronze

We then went to the Viking ship museum – incredibly interesting!

Viking ship

Viking ship

A woman of high rank was buried, ship and all, under the ground in the ship above. Amazing that it was excavated perfectly. This is the original ship in all it’s glory

Another Viking ship

Another Viking ship

Intricately carved wooden animal heads - no one knows what they were used for. The workmanship is incredible!

Intricately carved wooden animal heads – no one knows what they were used for. The workmanship is incredible!

We then stopped at the Heddal Stave Church, one of the last remaining wooden churches in Norway. This one was built in the early 13th century and, constructed entirely out of wood, still stands in perfect condition today.

Heddal stave church

Heddal stave church

We then took a scenic drive past snow capped mountains to our overnight stop in the village of Vradal.

Buildings with grass roofs - found all over Norway.

Buildings with grass roofs – found all over Norway.

Snow capped mountains

Snow capped mountains

Coffee stop at a beautiful fjord.

Breathtaking scenery

Breathtaking scenery

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Who wouldn't want to wake up in this home - what a view!

Who wouldn’t want to wake up in this home – what a view!

That’s it for today, stay tuned for my next post continuing with incredible Norway!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust

Till next time, please comment and tell me what you think, I love hearing from everyone. Hope you enjoy this post.

Cheers,

Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scandinavian Adventure – Part 1 Denmark

I’m still finding it hard to come down from the epic journey I recently enjoyed in Scandinavia. An absolutely beautiful and wonderful region to explore and I still can’t believe I was there less than three weeks ago! Scandinavia consists of three countries namely, Denmark, Norway and Sweden and they are all kingdoms. This was an incredible Trafalgar tour where I met the most amazing people and had one of the best holidays of my life!

Flying into Copenhagen and seeing this amazing bridge was only the start of what was to be an incredible two weeks.

Oresund Bridge

Oresund Bridge

What my sad photography skills do not show properly on the photo above is that the bridge, which connects Denmark to Sweden, visibly ends at the island just under the planes wing. It then, remarkably, dips under the water and comes up again on the Danish island of Amager.  An engineering marvel if there ever was one!

I also visited the truly beautiful Amalienborg Palace – home to the Danish Royal family.

Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace

Thanks to the rainy weather there is hardly a soul in that photo! It is, however, guarded by these boys.

Guards of the Royal Palace - Copenhagen

Guards of the Royal Palace – Copenhagen

Obviously no visit to Copenhagen is complete without seeing the very unassuming statue of ‘The Little Mermaid’ – I’m honestly not sure what the fascination is for this relatively small statue but it is almost always overrun with tourists and the Danish are extremely proud of it.

The little mermaid

The little mermaid

The poor girl has, at times, had her head and arm lobbed off by vandals only to be reconstructed from the actual original mold each time and has even been to China for an expo!

Stopped for delish Danish’s – which, ironically are not called Danish’s in Denmark!

Yummy pastries!

Yummy pastries!

I then paid a visit to the impressive Frederiksborg Castle where inside they have the ‘Chapel of Order’,  shields presented to individuals and displays their unique coat of arms. I was truly humbled and so proud to see the shield present to Mr. Nelson Mandela. South Africa well and truly represented in Denmark.

Frederiksborg Castle

Frederiksborg Castle

The shield of Mr. Nelson R. Mandela

The shield of Mr. Nelson R. Mandela

We then drove to the small town of Odense, home of the world renowned Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author of such well known tales such as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling”.

Hans Christian Andersen's home

Hans Christian Andersen’s home

I wondered down this street with these pretty white umbrellas.

I wondered down this street with these pretty white umbrellas.

In Odense

In Odense

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen

We then made our way to the harbor town of Fredrikshaven as we would be taking a ferry from Denmark, to Sweden on our way to Norway! Yes, 3 countries in one day! Breakfast in Denmark, lunch in Sweden and dinner in Oslo, Norway!

Fredrikshaven - Denmark

Fredrikshaven – Denmark

The ferry waiting for us the next morning to take us to Sweden and then on to Norway for the next leg of my Scandinavian journey. Goodbye Denmark!

Ferry Denmark to Sweden

Ferry Denmark to Sweden

This particular ferry was huge with restaurants and shops and even had a duty free section like in airports!

Great views from the ferry

Great views from the ferry

The sun deck

The sun deck

Pretty Gothenburg, Sweden

Pretty Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenberg, Sweden

Gothenberg, Sweden

That’s it for the first leg on my Scandinavian tour. We left Denmark behind and crossed though Sweden on our way to spectacular Norway.

Hope you liked Denmark, up next time my tour of Norway which is sure to be filled with great scenic photos.

 

Until next time, the only fitting quote…

To Travel is to live” – Hans Christian Andersen

Cheers,

Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Go for the sights leave with memories

Isn’t travel funny? Well not funny haha, but more about what it does to you as a person.

Every year I nearly exhaust myself while trying to decide on a destination to travel to for that year. Sadly I’m not in a position to travel more regularly. Believe me it takes a while to make a decision as I want to go everywhere.

I pour over thousands of photo’s and read hundreds of articles on the internet and decide on what I want to see and do. Yes, for a first time traveler to a particular country it’s always the famous sights that you go for, but when you reflect when you get back it’s always the little things you remember most fondly.

I know people who find the Travel channel quite sufficient to sate their wanderlust. I, for one, am not one of those people, I yearn for the experiences, for the taste of the food and the smiles of the people and the buzz of the big cities.

So here’s my list of some of the things that made a destination memorable for me, besides the usual famous sights of course. And this, right here, is what the Travel channel lacks and what I need like air in my lungs.

  1. Walking the quiet streets of Burano Island in Venice, Italy. Away from the throngs of tourists that Italy is famous for. The pleasure of hearing Italian spoken by old ladies in their doorways and young children playing in the streets will stay with me forever. Or strolling the quiet, narrow streets of the tiny town of Assisi with a delicious lemon Gelato like only the Italians are able to make.
The Island of Burano - Venice, Italy

The Island of Burano – Venice, Italy

Narrow streets in Assisi, Italy

Narrow streets in Assisi, Italy

2. Drinking a giant stein of beer in the famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall in Munich while chatting amicably to an old German gentleman who comes to this rowdy, noisy and very full beer hall every single day for his one stein. For the uninitiated, a stein is 1 litre of beer! You simply join a table full of strangers and enjoy your beer.

A stein of beer, that's one liter of liquid deliciousness!

A stein of beer, that’s one litre of liquid deliciousness!

3. Eating copious amounts of the most delicious cabbage rolls on a dinner cruise in Budapest, Hungary. Yes the sight of the illuminated Hungarian Parliament building was surely one to behold, but those cabbage rolls will stay with me forever and will always be Budapest.

Hungarian Parliament building lit up at night as seen on a Danube River dinner cruise.

Hungarian Parliament building lit up at night as seen on a Danube River dinner cruise.

4. Meeting the most incredibly funny local guide in Prague, Andre, who had me in stitches in this beautiful city. He was such a funny and amiable man that what I remember the most is having the absolute best time walking the streets of Prague and how my visit was enhanced by this man. He had anecdotes and funny stories for everything, I was giggling constantly while in his company. Oh and he gave me extra pork on a cruise of the Vltava river, that’s me done!

 

Close up of Prague Castle

Close up of Prague Castle

5. Trying to get away from the maddening crowds in Salzburg, Austria, I headed in the opposite direction from everyone else. I found the quietest street café and enjoyed the local Stiegl beer. What bliss, watching the world go by, listening to many different dialects and just relaxing and in no hurry. Incredible! I remembering phoning my mom back in South Africa at that time, it was surreal.

Stiegl Beer in Salzburg, Austria. Yum!

Stiegl Beer in Salzburg, Austria. Yum!

5. Meeting this wonderful couple on their honeymoon in Zanzibar, from South Africa too. They had literally been married for like 3 days. We had a really fun day together exploring Stone Town and had lunch on top of a four storey building overlooking the bustling Zanzibar harbor. We had just gotten off a boat, walked up four flights of very narrow wooden stairs and had to wash our feet of sea sand before enjoying a delicious lunch with three local musicians serenading just the three of us!

Decked out in our gifts!

Decked out in our gifts!

6. The staff at the Zurich Hotel restaurant in Istanbul, Turkey. They made me feel like family and when I arrived for a meal they would bring me an Efes Turkish beer without me asking. They also always gave me a fruit platter for dessert for free after every meal. Sitting out on the street watching Istanbul pass you by is incredibly memorable. One word of advice, don’t drink Raki (the national aniseed liquor in Turkey) accompanied with wine. Bad idea!

Zurich Hotel - Istanbul

Zurich Hotel – Istanbul

7. After what felt to me like the hottest day of my life, 38 degrees Celsius, to sit by this hotel pool in Pamukkale, Turkey at the end of the day was incredible in so many ways. The gentle breeze coming off the hill behind the hotel, rustling the trees and providing much needed coolness. The absolutely iciest cold beer, even though it was almost three times more expensive that anywhere else in Turkey, really hit the spot.

Hotel pool - Pamukkale, Turkey

Hotel pool – Pamukkale, Turkey

I have so many of these wonderful memories that will keep me going for years and years, but I still want more. And yes, I do realize that a lot of memories revolve around food. I’m a foodie and eating local food is so much part of the experience for me (as is the beer!).

So, on to the next one. This year I’m off to explore Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Looking forward to making new memories and meeting people from all over the world and the food, oh the food.

Until next time….

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home”  – James Michener

Cheers,

Wayne

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Wonders of Turkey – Part 3

Reliving my tour of Turkey has been special for me, remembering how I felt and what I experienced on any given day while re-looking at my photo’s is what travel is all about. It’s sometimes the little things that make you remember something more than just the incredible sights each destination brings.

Next up was Cappadocia, the landscape of which seems totally alien. It’s incredible to see the ‘homes’ carved out of natural rock.

Homes carved out of the rock

Homes carved out of the rock

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People lived like this

Then it was on to the incredible spectacle that is Pamukkale – which means “cotton castle” in Turkish and you can see why in the photo below.  The thermal springs created these terraces because of the carbonate minerals left by the water. It is a sight to behold. We even got to walk in the water!

Incredible thermal springs of Pamukkale

Incredible thermal springs of Pamukkale

Walking in the healing waters of Pamukkale

Walking in the healing waters of Pamukkale

Terraces - Pamukkale

Terraces – Pamukkale

Ancient Pamukkale

Ancient Pamukkale

And on to the incredible ancient city of Ephesus – built in the 10th Century BC near the city of Izmir.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus

Library of Celsus in Ephesus

We were also introduced to the incredible ceramics that Turkey is known for by visiting a ceramic factory with the option to purchase the incredible ceramics that they create here. The artistry is unbelievable and the pieces totally unique, one of a kind masterpieces.

The intricate ceramic art

The intricate ceramic art – absolutely breathtaking

We then also visited the underground city of Sarhatli. It is unbelievable to think people lived and moved about in these underground cities without the luxury of light we have today. Some of the passages are extremely tight and narrow and low to the ground. I am not the slightest bit claustrophobic but even I was heavy breathing and after a while you just want to get to the end, to daylight. If you are claustrophobic don’t go anywhere near this. For me it was an incredible experience and I cannot even begin to imagine how people moved about without light in these tight tunnels.

Underground city of Sarhatli  - Extremely narrow passages!

Underground city of Sarhatli – Extremely narrow passages!

Just to give you an idea – The passage above I had to go through sideways as my shoulders were too broad to go through while facing forward! Scary doesn’t begin to describe the feeling!

We then also visited the ancient city of Pergamon with it’s medical center.

Ancient medical centre of Pergamon

Ancient city of Pergamon

 

We also got to visit the city of Troy – what was left of it at least, which is mostly just rubble. This is where the Trojan War took place. The replica of the Trojan Horse is found at the entrance to the ancient site which is visited by many tourists to Turkey.

Trojan horse at Troy

Trojan horse at Troy

We also paid our respects to the Australian an New Zealand soldiers on the Gallipoli peninsula which we got to by crossing the Dardanelles via ferry near Canakkale. Many soldiers lost their lives during World War 1 in 1915 and 1916. There are memorials erected and for me personally it was extremely heartbreaking to note the ages of these soldiers, many not much more than boys at 17 years old when they lost their lives. An incredibly moving experience.

Memorials to the many soldiers who lost their lives during World War 1

Memorials to the many soldiers who lost their lives during World War 1

And so yet another incredible Trafalgar tour came to an end. Turkey was a revelation and I do not for one minute regret going to this incredible country. Words cannot describe how absolutely amazing Turkey is and it should be on the top of every travelers bucket list. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this wonderful country, with it’s incredible history and fantastic people. I wont hesitate to visit again one day, in fact I hope to make a pit-stop in Istanbul next time I fly into Europe.

Once again, thanks goes out to Trafalgar Tours – check out their new website at http://www.costsaver.trafalgar.com – for a well organized tour with an incredible tour guide. My friends list in far away countries is growing!

Also a special thanks to Doriane Ribeiro, travel agent extraordinaire from Sure Travel Scene  – http://www.suretravel.co.za; Doriane@travelscene.co.za.

Bosphorus strait - Istanbul

Bosphorus strait – Istanbul

 

My parting words are this: Don’t let anyone discourage you from a destination, go find out for yourself and be open to explore the world, be curious and go find the answers and you’ll end up being surprised.

Till my next travels,

“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures” – Lovelle Drachman

Cheers,

Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

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Wonders of Turkey – Part 2

So as promised, let me continue with my incredible tour of Turkey.

The following day we were lucky enough to go on an incredible cruise of the mighty Bosphorus. This is the strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. As you know Turkey is the only country in the world that sits on two continents and it isn’t more evident that from the Bosphorus where you can see both sides clearly.

Istanbul from the Bosphorus

Istanbul from the Bosphorus

Mosque

Mosque

Great views from our cruise on the Bosphorus

Great views from our cruise on the Bosphorus

Asia on the left Europe on the right

Asia on the left Europe on the right

Istanbul

Istanbul

The famous Galata Tower

The famous Galata Tower

Galata Tower from the Bosphorus

Galata Tower from the Bosphorus

We then headed to the more modern capital city of Ankara. It’s evident immediately that we have left the old town of Istanbul when you see all the high rises of Ankara.

The capital city of Ankara

The capital city of Ankara

The highlight of a visit to Ankara is the incredible Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The history is incredible as you cannot believe how far back the history of Turkey goes.

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9000 year old jewelry!

9000 year old jewelry!

Statue of King Mutallu (1200 - 700BC)

Statue of King Mutallu (1200 – 700BC)

Wayne with the King, it's how I roll!

Wayne with the King, it’s how I roll!

The first form of Art - decorated bowls 9000 years old!

The first form of Art – decorated bowls 9000 years old!

Simply astonishing for me was this ‘letter’ in an envelope, made of clay! Feel sorry for the postmen of 9000 years ago!

Letter in an envelope, in clay!

Letter in an envelope, in clay!

More 'letters'

More ‘letters’

Afterwards we visited the mausoleum of Ataturk, founder and first president of modern Turkey.

Mausoleum of Ataturk

Mausoleum of Ataturk

Incredible views over Ankara

Incredible views over Ankara

And later that evening we got to witness the performance by the Whirling Dervishes. These are men who have devoted their lives to focusing on the universal values of love and service, deserting the illusions of ego. It is not a performance in the traditional sense and clapping or noise of any kind is forbidden. To become a Whirling Dervish it is said that these men have to fast (as in the Muslim faith) for three years!

Watching them is both mesmerizing and enlightening.

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes

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I hope you enjoyed part 2 and a photo heavy post of my tour of Turkey.

Join me next time for the trip towards the interior of Turkey and the alien landscape there.

“To Travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries” – Aldous Huxley

Cheers, till next time…

Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wonders of Turkey – Part 1

This blog is entitled “Wonders of Turkey” – partly in reference to the name of the tour I just undertook with @TrafalgarSA but more so because Turkey is just a wondrous country filled with incredible wonders to explore.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

I have just returned from this incredible country which left me speechless at times. There is so much to awe you from it’s incredible history, to the once in a life time sights that you will never see anywhere else in the world.

Turkey is the only country that happily straddles two continents, Asia and Europe and it tells. Not quite Asian, not quite Europe but an eclectic and wondrous mix between the two. This makes Turkey a worthy and unique destination and one I have long since wanted to explore.

Wow, where do I begin…..

First we visited Topkapi Palace, the view from there shows perfectly the mighty Bosphorus dividing the continents between Asia and Europe.

Europe on the left, Asia on the right. View from Topkapi Palace,

Europe on the left, Asia on the right. View from Topkapi Palace,

Topkapi Palace itself is something to be marveled at. The grandeur of it is incredible, gold leaf and Mosaic painstakingly placed everywhere to create the most beautiful art.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Domed Ceiling - Topkapi Palace

Domed Ceiling – Topkapi Palace

Just look at the designs!

Just look at the designs!

Golden ceiling, can you imagine the hours that took!?

Golden ceiling, can you imagine the hours that took!?

 

After Topkapi Palace I went to Hagia Sophia, first a church, then a mosque now a museum.

After the church was taken over and converted to a mosque the Christian symbols were covered up. Thankfully it was only covered up and not destroyed and now the government has commissioned the restoration of the Christian art to make it visible to visitors hence the scaffolding in the Hagia Sophia museum.

Hagia Sofya

Hagia Sophia

The sheer volume is incredible!

The sheer volume is incredible!

Hagia Sofya

Hagia Sophia

Uncovered Angels surround the dome

Uncovered Angels surround the dome

Partially uncovered Christian mosaic. Done with tiny tiles the size of your pinky nail. Incredible!

Partially uncovered Christian mosaic. Done with tiny tiles the size of your pinky nail. Incredible!

After vising the incredible museum of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace we came across this freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Well known in Turkey and available almost everywhere. It is really quite tart and not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was cold and delicious and certainly helped on an incredibly hot day in Istanbul.

Freshly Squeezed Pomegranate juice. Yum!

Freshly Squeezed Pomegranate juice. Yum!

The next stop on a very full day in Istanbul was the famous Blue Mosque, so named for the incredible interior covered in blue ceramic tiles. Here you may not enter with your shoes and get given plastic bags to put them in. You also need to be appropriately dressed, long pants for guys and ladies need to have their legs, shoulders and heads covered at all times. This is after all a mosque and is used for prayers daily. Pull on pants, tops and head scarves are available to borrow at the entrance but know that thousands of other people may have used that head scarf before you. Your decision.

The interior of the incredible Blue Mosque

The interior of the incredible Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

 

Street scene in Istanbul

Street scene in Istanbul

We then took a visit to the frenetic Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It comprises of 61 streets and, reportedly, over 4500 shops. It’s hectic, chaotic and an absolute must do when in Istanbul. Beware shopaholics, you may spend your entire budget on the first day! The Spice Bazaar is quieter and nicer, in my opinion, but more of that in a later blog.

Apologies for the poor quality photo here but there is so much movement my camera cant focus. It’s just to give you an idea of the scale of it. It is extremely busy and every shop owner is trying to sale his wares. A polite “no” worked every time, so I’m not sure about the stories I heard of the shopkeepers being persistent to the extreme. May be different for ladies though I don’t know but I didn’t see anything untoward.

Grand Bazaar, 61 streets, 4500 shops!

Grand Bazaar, 61 streets, 4500 shops! Shoppers heaven!

 

Grand Bazaar entrance

Grand Bazaar entrance

The day was then capped off with a meal and a belly dancing show at a great restaurant in Istanbul. A fun night to end an absolutely incredible day in Istanbul and this was only day 1! Whew what a start!

Belly dancing moves. Great evening!

Belly dancing moves. Great evening!

I honestly did not consider the fact that this blog would need to be in separate parts and going on what I achieved today, it’s going to be many parts! I hope you’ll join me for the ride and my next blog, coming soon.

Istanbul is incredible, I doubt I’m done with this wonderful city.

I leave you, as always with some inspiration to make your own dreams come true.

“Change your location and you may just change yourself” – Eric Weiner

Till next time,

Cheers,

Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Liebster Award: Discover new Blogs

So today I got the greatest email on arriving at work that my awesome friends from http://thesmartwayround.com , Natalie and Dean – well travelled friends who I aim to be just like one day when I’m big – having nominated me for a Liebster Award! Check out their fantastic travel blog which not only covers the most incredible destinations but, as an added bonus, also provides great tips for travellers.

Liebster

The Liebster Award was created to recognise and discover bloggers – it’s a great gesture to recognise someone’s efforts and helps bloggers to connect with one another and also helps expose those bloggers to new audiences. So thanks to The Smart Way Round for this gracious gesture. You can ask 11 questions of other bloggers to keep the chain going.

Here’s to getting to know many more bloggers out there and here’s some more info on Wayne Central as per the questions posted by http://thesmartwayround.com

1. What three things can you not go travelling without?

Lipbalm, it’s a requirement (addiction?) since my army days many, many moons ago. I take extra just to make sure I’m never without it. Headache tablets, I always, but always get headaches from flying and lastly my trusty Dri-mac jacket. Thin enough to fold into a small ball in my backpack but keeps me both dry and warm in any weather. A must have when travelling in Europe.

2. If you could only visit one more place in the world where would that be?

Right, I know this was not the intention of this question but if I could only visit one more place in the world it would undoubtedly be a return to Italy. It is such an incredible country and my first two week trip to this wonderful country was only scraping the tip of the iceberg. I’m sincerely hoping to return for a milestone birthday year in 2018, if I could have my way, for 3 months to really discover every nook and cobblestoned cranny of this remarkable country.

3. What is the most unusual food you have tried on your travels?

I am very open to trying new food and live by the adage that I will try anything once. I am an adventurous eater but sadly havent been offered anything very adventurous on my travels. The most unusual for me was probably a north African stew in Zanzibar, Tanzania. However coming from South Africa we have our share of unusual food and ‘Mopanie’ worms would top most unusual for me. Dried worms crispy on the outside but a bit chewy on the inside tasting much like a peanut (except for the chewy part!), wouldn’t try it again though.

4. Are you a luxury traveller or more of an adventure traveller?

Oh anyone who says that they dont like a little luxury is just plain lying. I would not say no to a luxurious 5 star retreat one day but I must admit for me it isnt a priority. All I need is a bed, shower and working plumbing as I really dont intend spending long times in a hotel room in any event. For me travelling is getting out there and doing, discovering and expereincing stuff. I can sleep when I’m back home. I’m sadly not the type to jump off of or out of things though so enjoy my adventure a bit milder.

5. Who inspired you to travel?

Travel has always been a lifelong goal of mine but for a South African with one of the weakest currencies in the world a very difficult prospect. It takes a lot of sacrifice to be able to afford international travel in my country however I have always made it a point, thanks to my parents, to travel within SA every single year since I can remember. We didnt have much in the way of luxury but I can still remember those trips in vivid detail, we had so much fun going to Cape Town and Durban etc every year. My brother and I still do that by returing the favour to my elderly parents and taking them away at least once a year, on us! My first international trip was to Italy, inspired by a book I had read called ‘Beach Music’ by Pat Conroy – the man has an incredible way with words which made me feel as if I was walking the streets of Italy while reading that book. I still have it and Italy was a revelation and a must do!

6. What is your biggest travel regret?

I ensure I always live my life with no regrets and I travel in the same manner. Doing everything and anything I’m offered when I travel. I will go on all the experiences even if my feet fall off from all the walking but I wont go home wishing I had doen something. I do however have one regret, not lathering my legs with sunscreen during a tour in Zanzibar. I’ve never known that one can burn your legs while walking, not lying in the sun, walking! My tip for anyone going to Zanzibar, put sunscreen on your entire body when you get out of the shower in the mornings, you wont regret it.

7. What is the coolest thing to see in your hometown?

Our City Sightseeing Hop-on-Hop-off bus is an absolute blast: http://www.citysightseeing.co.za/joburg.php – it’s a fun opentopped bus taking you to all museums and places of interest in Johannesburg. You can literally hop on and hop off when you want to and catch the next bus to the next stop whenever you are ready. It’s great fun and a wonderful way of seeing our city.

Image courtesy of City Sightseeing Red Bus

Image courtesy of City Sightseeing Red Bus

 

 

8. Share your favourite travel photo and why is it your favourite?

Only one!? That’s hard, ok…

The Island of Burano - Venice, Italy

The Island of Burano – Venice, Italy

The Island of Burano, Venice, Italy – during my tour of Italy it was one of the quietest places I had visited and believe me in Italy that is quite a feat. It really did not have a lot of tourists at the time I was there and I really felt like I was immersed in every day life on this great island. Children playing in the street, old ladies sitting outside their homes having a chat, just normal Italian life. Walking these streets was absolute bliss and I choose this photo not so much how it looks but rather how it made me feel.

9. What is the worst souvenir you have ever bought?

I try really hard to buy souvenir’s that are not your average tourist fare but rather something that can stand the test of time such as original paintings of major sights of the countries I visit or T-shirts that are embroided, painted rather that plastic stuck on the front etc. In Italy I just could not resist buying a small cement replica of the Coloseum, yes it’s terrible and mass produced but will forever remind me of my tour of this majestic structure.

10. If you could live in any country which country would that be?

I guess by this time you could guess a recurring theme here, definitely Italy. I could live there tomorrow (anyone offering jobs?) – the food, the culture, the people and of course that language that makes my knees weak when I hear it spoken, yes definitely Italy.

11. What do you most enjoy about travelling?

Discovering new culture, food and history tops my list of joys when travelling. I must say the planning is also super exciting but nothing tops just experiencing every moment with an open mind and an open heart and of course I make it my mission to discover delicious food, coffee and wine not necesarily in that order!

Wow, this was fun! Thanks Dean and Natalie for the nomination.

Now the hard task of nominating others, I hope you all take up the challenge!

My nominees for the Liebster Award are:

Vanilla Blonde – http://www.vanillablonde.co.za/

The Incidental Tourist – http://theincidentaltourist.com/

Mzansi Girl – http://www.mzansigirl.com/

Jozilicious – http://www.joziliciousblog.co.za/

Duff’s Suitcase – http://duffssuitcase.com/

Your task, is to answer the following 11 questions and nominate as many bloggers as you want with your own list of 11 questions to keep the awards going and to get bloggers connected.

1. What’s your best Travel memory and what made it so memorable?

2. What’s the most exotic/memorable experience you’ve ever had?

3. What are the top three destinations on your Travel Bucket List and why?

4. What is your favourite experience to have in your own country/city?

5. Name three things to convince tourists on why they should visit South Africa?

6. Describe a normal day in the life of… (you).

7. Name three favourite destinations to visit in South Africa but not where you live and why?

8. If you could learn a new language what would it be and why?

9. Share your favourite photograph of anything and tell more about what makes it special to you.

10. What talent do you always wish you had?

11. If you could do anything for a job/career other that what you are currently doing what would it be and why?

Have fun and share with other bloggers. Here’s to making many more friends on the bloggersphere.

Cheers,

 

Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

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Take a break in Zanzibar

Here’s the third and final part of my short but incredible trip to the gorgeous island of Zanzibar.

As I last mentioned the day I decided to do a full day tour I also did the Spice tour. This was incredibly interesting and insightful but unfortunately it makes for very boring pictures I’m afraid. All the photo’s would simply be of trees or bushes!

It was, for me, very insightful though to see what all the spices etc. look like in their natural form from cloves to vanilla (my favourite). The clove tree is the pride and joy of Zanzibar and highly governed. Each family is given a clove tree by the government and it is highly illegal to chop down a clove tree.

There were only three of us on the tour the day I went, a very recently married couple on their honeymoon joined me. They had just gotten married only a few days previously!

Decked out in our gifts!

Decked out in our gifts!

The locals are expert weavers and they made us these gifts of hats/crowns and ties for the guys and a handbag for the ladies. They were awesome and so well made. I gave mine to a tiny little boy in Stone Town who took my hand and asked serenely for it, I simply could not refuse him. I was so enthralled by the cute little tyke I never took his photograph, but the locals are not fond of it and seldom allow photo’s anyway. And since there was no adult in sight I couldn’t ask in any event. I felt good anyway…

We then went for a delicious lunch at the harbour in Stone Town before exploring the World heritage sight that is this amazing city.

Stone Town is incredible, it’s like nothing I have ever seen before. The buildings are basically falling down around you in very narrow streets and then you get these intricately designed wooden doors that are simply beautiful. On the streets are just shops after shops with extremely friendly shop keepers welcoming you inside their store.

Narrow Streets

Narrow Streets

Stone Town

Stone Town

Intricate Doors - a sure sign you're in Zanzibar

Intricate Doors – a sure sign you’re in Zanzibar

I’m not sure how many people know this but Freddy Mercury from Queen was born in Zanzibar.

Mercury House

Mercury House

Another door

Another door

The House of Wonders is best viewed from the Forodhani Gardens on the old town’s sea front. It is so named because it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and also the first building in East Africa to have an elevator.

House of Wonders

House of Wonders

IMG-20140924-00834

Zanzibari scaffolding

Zanzibari scaffolding

I really had such a laugh at the above picture, yes those are simply wooden poles tied together with twine used as scaffolding in Zanzibar. They build these themselves as needed and simply climb up and do what is required. You would not catch me dead on those precarious poles!

Now for what Zanzibar is famous for, sea, sand, surf. Enjoy!

Sunset

Sunset

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

Sand, sea

Sand, sea

Cool, clear water

Cool, clear water

Beautiful

Beautiful

Zanzibar is really an incredible island, there is much to see and do or you can simply do nothing at all.

I had a fantastic time and once again I need to thank Sure Travel for suggesting this incredible experience. I honestly cannot wait to go back!

It is the four day Easter weekend this weekend and here’s wishing everyone happy and safe travels!

Take care, till next time….

“The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.” – Wallace Stevens

Cheers,

Wayne

 

 

 

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